49. Clean Slate
Nate’s heart stuttered to a halt. Then it started back up again.
“You mean... if Lorelei’s baby is mine, right?” Nate asked.
“Uhm... no,” Leila said, getting up from her place on the bed and walking to the bathroom.
Nate heard a drawer open and footsteps coming back to bed, but his stare was still planted on where Leila had been laying moments before. It was taking him a while to get with the program.
Shaking his head to clear it, he watched as Leila handed him a white and purple stick. It had a long cap on one end and a digital screen in the middle. It only said one word, but that word spoke volumes.
Pregnant. Leila was... pregnant? How? And when?
“You... you’re- pregnant?” he asked.
There went his heart again, racing like a stallion at the Kentucky Derby, making a bid to fly right out of his chest. Muscle and bone be damned. That thing was beating like it would take off on a flight headed directly to... somewhere.
Leila nodded slowly, her lips twitching as she tried to read Nate’s facial expressions.
“We... we’re having a baby?” His tone was softer, more sure, though he had asked the same question again.
Leila’s lip curved up in a small smile, her eyes still scrutinizing Nate.
“I... but you... a baby?”
“No matter how many times you ask, the answer’s going to be the same, Nate,” she told him, fighting back her amusement. “I’m pregnant.”
“You are on birth control,” he told her.
“Wasn’t effective, I guess.”
“Wow... a baby,” his voice softened and a small smile turned up the corners of his mouth. “How long?”
“Don’t know,” she told him. “I just took the test earlier today. I wanted to say something earlier, but my Mom called and distracted me. Then you made me play poker and then with the whole Lorelei thing, I wasn’t sure when the best time to tell you was. After you asked me to move in with you- which is still strange since we sort of already do- I figured I may as well spill the beans. Are you okay with it? I mean, Lorelei-”
“You’re not Lorelei,” Nate told her, pulling Leila back onto the bed. “You’re Leila. Lorelei’s child has nothing to do with me or you. And I’m definitely okay with this.” He gestured to the stick he was still holding. “I’m more than okay with it.”
He pulled her into his arms and kissed her. He murmured adorably gooey things to her between kisses. How he was so happy that she was pregnant, even if they were going about it backward. How he hoped the baby had red hair and green eyes like Leila. How he hoped that if it was a boy, he would teach him the proper way to treat women.
“Are you okay? Nauseous?” he asked at once point. “I wasn’t too rough or anything, was I? Should we go to the hospital and check? It can’t be that busy in the emergency room at this time of night.”
“Nate,” Leila stopped him. “Seriously, I’m fine. I’m not nauseous, yet, just always hungry and I want seafood so bad I think I might start growing gills.”
Nate used his hand to manipulate her head side to side to look at her long neck.
“If you did, I’m sure they would be the most beautiful gills ever,” he told her, placing soft kisses on her neck where he thought gills (on a person) might grow.
Leila laughed and collapsed onto her back.
“We can wait until we get back to the U.S. to get me checked out,” she told him. She stretched her arms over her head and yawned. “And I’m super sleepy, so can we go to bed?”
“I don’t think I’ll be able to sleep a wink,” he told her honestly.
“Still nervous about tomorrow?” she asked, her face creasing above her nose.
“No,” he told her. “I know the results in my heart, but since we will be at the hospital anyway, we could get you checked out. Make sure everything is okay with the baby.” He placed a gentle hand on her lower abdomen, brushed his fingertips along the skin. Leila stopped his gentle movements and pressed his hand firmly to her stomach.
“You don’t have to treat me like glass,” she told him. “I’m stronger than that, stronger than you think. I won’t break if you fuck me or touch me.”
Which was sort of what she wanted to do. Again. Sleep sounded nice, but sex sounded like a five-course meal right about now. Hormones.
“I won’t... hurt you or anything?” Nate asked. “I’m not a small man and I don’t want to poke the kid in the eye or anything. Blind him or her before they’re even born.”
Leila laughed at his idiotic statement.
“Trust me, there’s something in between your cock and the baby,” she told him. “I doubt you’ll even get close to blinding our child.”
“I was always horrible with anatomy,” he mumbled and stroked the smooth skin of her stomach. “Are we telling people? My parents. Shit- my mom’s going to flip. In a good way, mind you.”
“We should probably make sure everything’s good before we say anything. People say it’s bad luck to tell anyone before the first trimester is over, but I don’t believe in that.” Leila shook her head.
“So... we can tell people when we get back?”
Christ, the man wasn’t going to give up.
“Yeah, when we get back home, I’ll let you tell people,” she told him, feigning a magnanimous air.
“Let me- hell woman, that baby’s half mine you know.”
“And I’m cooking it, so that gives me the final say.”
“So, can I call people from the plane?”
“Okay, only when we get to flying over American soil,” he determined.
“Nate, shut up and kiss me already,” she told him, pulling him by the back of his neck to place her lips on his.
Nate had trouble sleeping that night.
After he made love to Leila one more time, he was up thinking half the night. He had loads to consider and even more to plan. When he was finally able to get some rest, it was 4 AM and his lids were fighting the battle with his spinning mind.
He was happy. So fucking happy his chest felt like it would burst. He wondered if Leila had been nervous to tell him. She hadn’t acted like it, but she was so steady of mind, it was hard to tell.
His dreams filtered through his mind, one of babies and midnight feedings and crap-filled diapers, but they didn’t distress him. When he woke up that morning, it was with a grin on his face and a plan in his head.
After a few hours of sleep, his mind woke him up and he found it was 9 AM. He looked over at Leila and saw she was still unconscious, her brow crinkled like she was concentrating in her sleep.
Smoothing it out with his lips, he watched her shift and sigh before her eyes blinked slowly open.
“Morning,” she said, voice still groggy with sleep. “What time is it?”
“9 AM.” He placed another kiss on her, this time on her cheek and moved his hand down, splayed on her belly.
It was an errant thought that Leila would have hated, Nate supposed. But he wasn’t really laying claim to her body itself, though he supposed he already had in a way. With his baby.
He was still somewhat in shock about her being pregnant. I mean, what was the point of birth control if it, well... didn’t control it?
Not that he minded. If you had asked him a few months prior, he would have thought this way too soon. He was only 25, almost 26, and he had just started a new job. His health benefits kicked in from the start and he knew that Leila had her own as well. Though her office was small and intimate, she offered it to all her employees, at great cost to her company.
“Should we get going soon? When will the results be in?” Leila was up in a blink of an eye and Nate watched as she made her way to the bathroom.
“No rush,” he called after her, watching as she shut the door behind her. He raised his voice. “The results most likely won’t come in until 10:30 or 11.”
He heard her respond and a moment later the toilet flushed. The door didn’t open and Nate could hear as she turned on the shower.
This wouldn’t do. He was going to shower with her.
Tossing the duvet off his body, he sauntered over to the door and opened it to a puff of steam filtering out of the room. Leila had her hand under the shower, testing the temperature of it. Her head immediately turned to him and her eyes were wide and sparkling.
“Can I help you?” she asked, feigning formality with all but the smirk on her face.
“No, but I can help you,” he told her walking over to her and pulling her against his hardening crotch.
“That feels like more of a distraction than an aid,” she said as her ass moved against his half-hard dick.
“A ’dick’straction?” he asked, smiling.
“Well, what could be better?”
After the shower, Leila speed-dressed like she was late for a flight while Nate chuckled softly and told her to slow down.
“We should get there early, just in case the results come ahead of schedule,” she told him, running a brush through her wild, wet hair and yanking it through the tangles in it.
“Slow down or you’ll scalp yourself. I love your fiery red hair too much for you to go prematurely bald,” he told her, taking the brush from her.
He sectioned off her hair and brushed through her long mane slowly. It helped her relax, to have him playing with her hair, and Leila felt her heartbeat slow from its anxious pace to one more like her normal rhythm. Almost her normal rhythm at least.
When her entire head was knot free and her body less tense, they both decided on a small breakfast on their way to the hospital. It was still only a little after 10 and the earliest they should probably get there was 10:30 AM. They were going to meet Lettice at the hospital where the results would be read in a conference room. Both lawyers had agreed to that since Lettice didn’t want to step foot in Reginald’s oil-slick of an office.
They stopped for a quick bite, Leila drinking chamomile tea instead of her normal cup of coffee. She had steered clear of caffeine since her suspicions about being pregnant came about.
Leila frowned and Nate had a hard time not chuckling at her distaste for the drink.
“Not a fan of tea?”
“Not really,” Leila said glumly. “I’m going to miss coffee in the mornings.
“I think you can have some after a certain point in your pregnancy, but nothing right now,” he told her. He remembered Violet’s same complaints about not having caffeine when she had been pregnant with Mason. It seemed their spotty international conversations had either focused on Nate’s business or the bevy of pregnancy-related complaints she had. Swollen ankles, fat ass, boobs the size of Carl’s head- nothing was sacred. It was both shocking and distressing and he found himself cutting their little overseas chats short once she started talking about leaking nipples and breast pumps.
Well... now he could get that first hand when Leila started her baby-induced rants.
He found he didn’t mind that idea half as much as he dreaded the bi-weekly chats with his own sister.
After a quick breakfast where Nate tried to bully Leila into eating more, they drove off to the hospital, parked in the same underground lot as before, and made it to the building that held medical conference rooms and offices near the back of the campus.
Lettice was already there when they strolled up at 10:55 AM, and she was poring over a file as thick as Nate’s... uhm, yeah.
“Is that all the paperwork you’ve been fielding in regards to this mess?” Nate’s mouth wrinkled in distaste. It made him thankful that he wasn’t a lawyer. Looking at numbers instead of legal briefs was a better way to spend his time. Numbers didn’t lie. People with lawsuits invariably did.
“Yes,” she told him with a clipped British accent. “But the only papers that matter now are these on the top.”
“Are those the results?” He completely forgot Leila was in the room as his eyes narrowed in on a few papers that were stapled neatly together.
“Yes,” Lettice said. “I’m just waiting for Reg and another doctor who can translate this hullabaloo. It’s like reading hieroglyphics. Absolutely unintelligible.”
“Too bad we don’t have Maury and a nice envelope that just says ‘you are not the father’ written on it,” Nate mumbled.
Leila’s stomach swam and she regretted that last greasy breakfast sandwich she had nearly inhaled.
“Nate?” Her voice came out wobbly and weak.
“Lettice this is Leila, my girlfriend,” he told her, finally introducing the two of them.
“Pleased to meet you,” Leila cut her off from her response. “I would love to stay and chat, but I really need the restroom.”
Her stomach gurgled and another bout of nausea caused her to sway on her feet.
“Are you okay?” Nate asked her, coming closer to her.
“Bathroom, Nate, please.” Leila gave a weak smile to Lettice and a panicky one to Nate.
“You need me-”
“Where is it?” If they didn’t tell her soon, they were going to get a first-hand look at her recycled breakfast.
“Down the hall and take a left at the first corridor,” Lettice told her, watching her calmly while flickering a look over to Nate knowingly.
Leila left without further ado.
It was photo flipping finish. Any longer and she would have painted the floors of the bathroom a lovely puke-brown color.
Two waves of nausea rolled through her and she heaved until there was nothing left to heave accept the acidic bile that lingered in her stomach. After, she washed her face with cool water and thanked the heavens that she had gone without makeup for that day. It would have been ruined with the fine rivulets of sweat that beaded her brow and upper lip.
She felt better within a few minutes and made her way back toward the conference room. A few people were outside it, though no sign of Lorelei could be found.
Leila watched the man and then made her way back toward Nate and Lettice. She had only made it halfway down the hall when Nate and his lawyer came out of the room, shook hands and parted. Nate walked steadily toward her.
His face was inscrutable and Leila tried to dissect every little nuance to no avail. She didn’t care what Nate thought of his poker face, because she knew if it was anything like the one he was sporting now, he could have cleaned house any day of the week.
“Nate?” she asked as he walked up toward her. It was a question that made her heart beat wildly.
She watched as his blank face twitched and his mouth slowly widened in a grin.
“Everything’s great,” he told her, pulling her into a hug. “I told you not to worry.”
All the tension in Leila’s shoulders released and she gave the first refreshing inhale of oxygen in what felt like a month.
“Oh, thank God,” she muttered, practically collapsing into Nate’s arms.
“Are you alright?” he asked when he grabbed her by the shoulders to look at her.
“I’m fine,” she told him. “Morning sickness I think. Or nerves. Maybe a bit of both.”
He looked at her and nodded and pressed his lips to the forehead.
“Sweetheart, do you trust me?”
It was sudden, the question. But she had no hesitation.
“Yes, of course.”
“Alright then, come with me,” he told her and commenced walking her down the hall, seemingly in search of something.