For two whole days, I’ve been a mess. Ever since Jack left my apartment Friday night, I can’t think of anything else. When I close my eyes, I can still feel his hands on me. On the parts of my body that are still craving for his touch. But as soon as I open my eyes again, I’m taken back to reality. A reality where we can’t be together because he can’t bear being physically close to me.
The look on Jack’s face when he left still haunts me. I could see it all – remorse, unease, despair. And I hate myself for reacting as I did. How could I have been so angry with him? He didn’t deserve my irritation. No wonder he fled as quickly as he did.
Damn, I’m so stupid. I didn’t even dare contact him. Instead, I was in a pissy mood all weekend, and my poor brother had to endure my annoyance and frustration. This was supposed to be a fun weekend, but all I did was mope. All we talked about was my pregnancy and my relationship with Jack, whatever that is.
But because Brad is the best little brother someone like me can hope for, he listened to all my whining and was very supportive. But he also kicked my ass, telling me to apologize to Jack because – as he put it – his only fault was that he liked me.
“Call me, like all the time, okay?” Brad says when I say goodbye to him and Stuart at the airport as they’re about to fly back to Baltimore. “And please let me know if you need help with anything. And keep me posted on the little peanut.”
I smile at him. “I will. Thanks, Brad.” I give him a tight hug and a peck on his cheek.
He looks down at my belly and gently rubs it. “Gosh, I can’t believe I’m gonna be an uncle! This is kind of nerve-racking.”
I roll my eyes at him. “Oh, yeah, I wonder if you’ll do a good job. Because being an uncle is hard work.”
“Sorry, Em,” he laughs. “But it does put a lot of pressure on me to be the cool uncle.”
I shake my head and laugh too. “Hey, you’ll be the coolest uncle that baby could wish for.”
He gives me a goofy smile. ”Aw, thanks. And you’ll be the greatest mom,” he says as he wraps me up in another brotherly hug.
“Thanks,” I say with a sigh of relief. Brad did an excellent job to reassure me over the weekend and dissipate my worries a little.
“And call Jack,” are his last words as they take off, and I walk back to the train station.
I stare at my phone the whole way to my apartment. A couple of times, I start typing a message to Jack. A couple more times, my finger hovers over the call button. But I can’t go through with it. I really don’t know what to tell him.
It’s only right before I have to get off the subway, that I’m somewhat happy with what I’ve written and hit send.
E: “Hey... I’m sorry for acting like a bitch. I miss you. Can we talk?”
I walk out of the subway station and start my ten-minute walk home when my phone vibrates in my pocket.
J: “Hey yourself. I’m so glad to hear from you. I thought I ruined it all. I’d love to talk. Miss you too.”
My heartbeat accelerates, and my lips lift in a happy smile when I read his words. So it’s not all lost. I text back.
E: “You didn’t ruin anything, I thought I did a really good job screwing this up. I’m on my way home, do you want to come over? Or meet somewhere?”
I don’t get an answer and already start wondering why. When I turn the last corner before I reach home and look up from my phone, I stop in my tracks and my eyes widen in surprise as I see Jack standing in front of my apartment building.
I quicken my step and come to a stop right in front of him. “Jack! What are you doing here?”
He smiles at me and already the butterflies in my stomach go crazy. “I was in the neighborhood,” he explains.
I nod and smile back at him. Because I’m not sure how to act around him now, I just unlock the door, and he walks in behind me.
And shortly after, we sit on my couch with drinks on the coffee table and a pizza on its way.
After some initial awkward small talk, I finally decide to address the elephant in the room. I turn to him, one leg tucked beneath the other. “Jack–,” I start with a deep breath, and he looks at me expectantly. “I apologize again. I shouldn’t have gotten mad at you, but I was so frustrated.” I lower my gaze and cover my flushed cheeks with my hands.
“Hey, it’s all good,” Jack says and lifts my chin, so I look at him again. “I understand. I was mad and frustrated as well. I hate that this still happens. But I promise I’m working on it. Believe me, it’s already so much better.” To prove his point, he takes my hand and entwines our fingers.
I look at our joined hands, and a tiny shiver runs down my spine when he gently strokes my skin with his thumb. “I know,” I say with a small sigh. “And I know that I have to be patient. But that doesn’t mean that I have to go on pretending that I want to be just friends, right?” I look at him expectantly.
Jack chuckles and shakes his head. “I think we’ve established that we both want more than that.”
I can’t prevent a huge, happy grin from spreading on my face. He wants to be more than friends, and finally knowing that for sure, makes the butterflies in my tummy perform their happy dance.
Wait, no! This feels different. I straighten up and put my other hand on my belly.
Jack gives me a worried look. “Is everything all right? What’s that look on your face?”
There! I felt it again. It’s just the tiniest flutter, but it’s unlike anything I’ve ever felt, and I know exactly what this is. “Jack, the peanut is moving!” And without even thinking, I grab his hand and put it on my belly.
Jack chuckles as I’m trying to hold still so he can feel it too. I look at him expectantly, but he shakes his head. “I don’t think you can feel it from the outside yet,” Jack says. “I remember this from my sister. She was so frustrated that Ethan couldn’t feel the baby until a little later.”
I sigh but don’t let go of Jack’s hand. “You’re right. But that was amazing!” My face almost hurts from grinning so widely. I would have never imagined that feeling my baby move for the first time would be such an overwhelming moment, and before I know it, my eyes fill with tears, and an unexpected sob escapes me. “Oh gosh, I’m sorry,” I say as I cover my face with my hands.
“Hey, it’s all right. Come here,” Jack says, and to my utmost surprise, he pulls me into him and wraps his arms around me. I’m not really sure what’s happening, but when Jack soothingly strokes my back, I relax in his arms and enjoy this rare moment of closeness.
“Jack?” I say in a low voice.
I take a deep breath. “Doesn’t it bother you that I’m pregnant? That there’s gonna be a baby to care for in a few months?”
Jack answers without hesitation or a moment to think about his response. “No, it doesn’t bother me. I want to be with you, and if you come with a baby, then I want that too. And before you ask – yes, even if it’s someone else’s.”
Wow, I need to let his words sink in for a while before I can fully grasp and believe them. I sigh, and under my hand that I place on his chest, I can feel his heart beat a little faster than just a moment ago. I want to pull back, but he holds me tight. “No, it’s okay,” he breathes and gently kisses the top of my head. I lift my gaze to meet his and smile happily.
The fact that Jack isn’t as comfortable with our closeness as I am, puts a small damper on it though, and my smile falters. What if he’ll never feel comfortable with this? “You know, I don’t want to get too invested in this and then once the baby is born, you take off and leave me,” I say in a low voice.
Jack frowns. “Honestly, I don’t know what the future holds, but I promise to be there for you, always.”
I nod and rest my head on his shoulder as he continues to gently stroke my back.
We stay like this for a couple more minutes before Jack stirs a little. “Sorry, can I let you go now?”
I sit up and move away from him, feeling a little disappointed but at the same time glad that we had this small moment. “Of course. Thanks.”
He inhales deeply and exhales slowly. “I’m sorry I can’t give you what you need,” he says as he runs his hand over his face.
I furrow my brows and sigh. “Jack, it’s okay. I told you I could be patient. As long as I know that we both want this.”
“I do,” he says with determination. “Emma, you’re the reason, you’re my motivation. I’m working on my issues for you, to be with you and give you what you deserve. But my brain is only slowly learning that a touch isn’t always intended to give me comfort in a heartbreaking situation. I’m trying hard to remember what else a touch means.”
Jack’s words move me deeply. And suddenly I’m no longer feeling hopeless but indeed optimistic that this might work at some point. All I have to do is be patient.
Two weeks later, I’m spending a quiet Sunday night at my place watching my favorite movie and eating my favorite ice cream. It’s been quite a while since I’ve enjoyed a little alone time because when I’m not working, either Jack or Rob keep a very close eye on me. When I’m not spending time with either of them, it’s Liv who offers to meet. And even Brad showed up for another surprise visit this weekend. But now that he’s gone back home, I relish the time I can spend alone with my TV.
I have to say, though, I do enjoy the attention. It’s nice to have someone to talk to all the time because my need to talk increased significantly. And all my friends, old and new, give me the comfort and reassurance I need. And that’d be perfect if only Jack would stop pressuring himself to offer me more physical closeness. He denies it, but I know he does. I keep telling him that he should take his time. That I don’t want him to force this as he did with his fake ex.
Speaking of which. I don’t like that Kate woman. She and Jack met a couple of times now, to catch up and all that crap. But I can’t shake the feeling that she wants more. Maybe rekindle what they supposedly had before she left. One thing is certain, though, the dislike is mutual. Jack and I haven’t made anything official yet. Only Paul and Rob as our best friends know that we’re kind of dating. But even without knowing about the nature of our relationship, Kate eyes me suspiciously whenever we happen to cross paths. Jack, of course, tells me not to worry about her. But whenever he meets up with her, I can’t keep the pictures from flashing in my mind where she touches him. I don’t tell Jack that because I don’t want to act like the jealous girlfriend while I’m not even a hundred percent sure that this is what I am.
While I’m trying not to think about some woman touching the guy that I have the biggest crush on, I suddenly feel the little flutters in my belly again. Now, at nineteen weeks, the little peanut (which is not so little anymore with almost seven inches and about eight and a half ounces) is a lot more active which is still an indescribable feeling. I place my hand on my tummy and rub gently, smiling a little like a stupid idiot. Who would have thought that I’d be this happy being pregnant, after the rough start I had, emotion-wise?
A knock on my door interrupts my little moment with the peanut. For a second, I’m inclined not to answer, but curiosity gets the better of me, and I get up from my couch.
When I open the door and see Jack, my heart picks up its pace. Damn, every time! Why can’t I react to him like a normal person? To my defense, he looks breathtakingly hot, as usual. He braces himself on the door jamb with his forearm, looking down on the floor. And with a deep breath, as if he needed to collect himself, he looks up.
Oh my sweet goodness! My heart beats even faster now, and I’ve stopped breathing altogether. He eyes me up and down with such an intense and heated stare that I start to believe in spontaneous combustion because I’m seconds away from it.
“Hey, Peach,” he says in a hoarse voice that makes me tingly all over. “Sorry to turn up unannounced, but I needed to see you.” And before I can say so much as a hello, he steps forward and cups my face with his hands. An instant later, his lips are on mine for a kiss that matches his fiery stare. He loses no time and moves his hands down my body while he pushes me backward inside my apartment so he can close the door with a kick.
A small shriek escapes me when he picks me up, wraps my legs around his waist, and walks over to my couch with me. He takes a second to put me down gently, but as soon as my back touches the cushions, he continues to kiss me more fervently than ever before. I really have no idea what’s happening, but who the fuck cares when it feels this good?
Ah damn, I guess I do.
“Jack–” I try to get his attention to find out what’s going on, but he keeps kissing me as if his life depended on it. “Jack!” I try again.
“Shh, Peach, it’s all good,” he murmurs onto my neck. “I’m gonna give you what you deserve. I’m gonna make love to you.”
He what? But why? How?
And then it dawns on me. “Jack, fuck, are you drunk?” I try to push him off me, but he still won’t stop.
“Jack! I’m serious, stop!” I try a little more forcefully. And only now he pulls back, all the way, and sits at the other end of the couch, looking at me with a most painful expression.
I glare at him when he doesn’t speak. “Dammit, Jack! Why? I told you I’d wait for you to be ready. I don’t want this! I don’t want you to get wasted so that you can fuck me.”
I jump up and hold up my hands because he opens his mouth and is about to speak. “No, I don’t want to hear anything from you right now.” I walk over to my front door. “Please, go. And don’t contact me until you come back to your senses!”
Jack follows me wordlessly and stands next to me where I hold the door open for him.
“Peach–” he whispers.
“Don’t call me that!” I yell at him. “Leave. Now.” And with that, I shove him out of my apartment and slam the door shut.
I don’t think I’ve ever been this mad at anyone. How could he do this? Is this thing between us bound to fail after all?
What a fucking mess.