Through the Grapevine
They didn’t tell anyone about the engagement until three days later. It wasn’t so much because it was a secret, but more because they figured everyone already knew. Private information rarely ever remained private among their extended family, so despite the fact that he’d had his own reservations about Kira saying yes, Jamie was pretty sure the venue for their wedding had probably been booked within hours of him telling his father about his plans.
The plan was to officially announce the news at the next family dinner, along with the news of the pregnancy; the trouble was that neither Jamie nor Kira knew exactly how to phrase it. To say that they would soon be parents so soon after proclaiming their impending marriage would be a lot to take in.
Thus, they disagreed on the delivery. Jamie figured the best approach was just to be direct and come out with it, but Kira thought it would be more fun to build up the suspense. Not wanting to do something the other wouldn’t approve of, they decided not to say anything until they could figure out a plan on which they could both agree.
In the meantime, they were still disagreeing about disagreeing.
“So what are we supposed to say if they ask?” Jamie asked calmly as he parked the car in front of the Peters house, ending up with the front wheel crooked and the back wheel about a foot away from the curb.
Kira raised one eyebrow skeptically, unbuckling her seatbelt and turning to face her fiancé. “I’m nowhere near showing. Why would they ask if I’m pregnant?”
“I don’t know,” he shrugged, unfastening his own seatbelt and avoiding eye contact. “Maybe they’ll think that’s why we got engaged.”
She was one hundred percent positive that this was just his way of trying to get her to agree to tell them now. The truth was that Jamie was a terrible liar, a trait that would be pretty admirable under normal circumstances, but in this situation, it meant that he wouldn’t be able to keep this secret to save his life. Kira wouldn’t be surprised if he ended up blurting out the news entirely by accident before the night was over.
“Or,” she replied, unable to keep the smirk from her lips. “They’ll think we got engaged because we love each other and it was going to happen eventually.”
“That’s true,” he admitted quietly, the corners of his lips turning upwards into a small smile.
“Babe,” she reached out, placing a hand on his thigh and squeezing gently. “You got this. You can make it through this dinner without telling anyone anything. I believe in you.”
He rolled his eyes, but let out a soft laugh as he leaned over the center console to kiss her quickly on the lips before turning to push open the car door. “Alright, let’s do this.”
“For the record, though,” he muttered as he pushed open the Peters’s front door, which was unlocked, as it always was for family dinner. “I don’t like this.”
“I know,” she squeezed his arm as she stepped into the house first and flashed him a sweet smile. “But you love me, so you’re gonna deal.”
She almost immediately felt bad for saying that, because although she knew it was true that Jamie would do anything to make her happy, she didn’t want that characteristic to be something she relied on. She didn’t want him to do things just because he knew it would keep a smile on her face. They were getting married, which meant that they should be making big decisions together and she figured that was all part of growing up; learning how to compromise and work things out as a team.
Still, they had plenty of time to figure that out, so she focused on keeping calm in the present, knowing it would be much easier for her than for Jamie, who couldn’t lie to save his life. It wasn’t a bad trait, in fact, in most cases, his inability to be dishonest was an asset because it meant that the lines of communication between them was always open. Unfortunately, today, it meant that she constantly had to keep an eye on him and direct the conversation down a different path if it ever got dangerously close to being about babies.
Jamie managed to remain casual for the first half hour they were there, but soon enough, it was like there was an itch he needed to scratch and she could tell he was aching to just blurt out the news. He almost did it, too, while he was standing there talking to Justin’s wife about his latest dilemmas at work, he almost stopped the conversation and said it ’I’m gonna be a dad.”
But it was like Kira could read his mind and she stepped in and took his arm and apologized to her aunt, saying they needed to have an urgent conversation as she pulled him aside, out of the kitchen and into a nearby hallway. Once they were alone, she glared at him and crossed her arms over her chest. “What are you doing?”
“I can’t do this, Kira,” he sighed, shoving his hands into the front pockets of his jeans and shrugging, not needing to ask what she meant, because the truth was that one minute longer, and that entire kitchen would know the truth. “I hate lying to your parents. I hate lying to everyone.”
“You’re not lying to anyone,” she blinked, wishing his morality wasn’t so black and white all the time. “No one asked.”
“But they’re suspicious, I can tell,” he insisted.
“Yeah, probably because you’re acting super weird.” The tension Jamie felt from keeping a secret wasn’t blatantly obvious, but everyone who knew him – meaning everyone with whom they were currently interacting – could tell that something wasn’t right. It was frustrating Kira too, but they had agreed that they wouldn’t tell yet and that was that.
“What’s going on there?” Jack asked, his question muffled by his mouthful of tortilla chips. From their place right beside the appetizers at the kitchen island, he and Ethan could see Jamie and Kira having a tense conversation, but they couldn’t hear the words being exchanged.
Normally, Ethan might have been tempted to get a little closer, but Nathan’s wife was in the process of stirring up a new batch of salsa and Ethan had first dibs. So he settled for just guessing. “I don’t know. Are they arguing? I don’t think I’ve ever seen them argue before.”
“Dude, they’ve literally broken up before,” Jack reminded his guitarist best friend, dipping a chip into what was left of the salsa to his front.
“I know, but I didn’t personally see any of the fights,” Ethan clarified, causing Jack to roll his eyes as he searched for his next chip.
“What’s up?” Nathan asked, entering the conversation to deliver the fresh bowl of salsa, as per his wife’s orders and following his friends’ gaze to the hallway which led to the backyard.
“Jamie and Kira,” Jack nodded towards his son and soon to be daughter in law, still not having wrapped his head around the fact that his baby boy was getting married. “They’re fighting.”
“Isn’t this exactly why you were so worried about them dating in the first place?” Nathan replied. “Cause you were afraid they’d break up and it would make things weird.”
Ethan shrugged, eagerly digging in to the new bowl of salsa, seeming completely unperturbed by the events which had a possibility of occurring. “Nah, I mean they broke up before and it was fine. I’m sure this time won’t be any different.”
“Who’s breaking up?”
The three at the counter turned their heads to see Justin approaching, his eyebrows lifted in surprise because he had only heard the last part of the conversation.
“Jamie and Kira,” Ethan said before depositing a salsa laden chip in his mouth.
“Jamie and Kira are calling off the engagement?” Justin repeated, blinking in confusion and wondering why everyone seemed to be so unaffected by the idea. Usually, he was the one who was calm and collected, but currently he seemed to be the only one at all concerned.
Jamie and Kira ending things would definitely make things tense between Jack and Ethan, no matter how much both of them thought it wouldn’t be a big deal. Ending a high school romance was one thing, but this was engagement. They were about to promise to spend the rest of their lives together and to end a relationship like that would cause a lot of carnage.
But Justin decided it was best not to start a fire if no one else was concerned, so he let it go, joining the chip party and changing the subject. Kira managed to remind Jamie why it was that they weren’t telling people yet and everything went back to normal.
At least, it did for a whole fifteen minutes, until Kira stepped into the Peters’s backyard to find the other kids, only to have Caroline jump out of the patio chair she had been occupying and block her brother’s fiancé’s path to the seating area.
“Hey, Care…,” Kira furrowed her brow in confusion at the look of determination on the younger girl’s face. “Mind letting me through?”
“Hey, so look,” Caroline replied, ignoring Kira’s request and instead continuing with the speech she had prepared just five minutes before. “I know my brother can be kind of a pain in the ass sometimes, but please don’t give up on him, he loves you so much.”
Kira blinked. “I know that.”
“And you’re like the best thing that’s ever happened to him,” Caroline went on, looking extremely concerned.
“I know that, too,” Kira laughed lightly before she processed Caroline’s original statement, at which point, she too was concerned. “Wait, why do you think I’m giving up on him?”
“Because you’re calling off the engagement.”
“What?” Kira’s jaw dropped, wondering where the hell that information came from. “Where did you hear that?”
“From Piper,” Caroline shrugged, turning her head to nod towards where the older Peters twin was seated on a patio couch in the midst of an animated conversation with Jessamine and Lucy.
Calling out over Caroline’s shoulder, Kira vowed to get to the bottom of this. “Pipes, who told you that me and Jamie were ending the engagement?”
Piper blinked in confusion as she was pulled out of her train of thought and took a moment to reply. “I heard it from Evie.”
Evie looked up at the sound of her name, shifting slightly in her seat next to Jessamine on the couch, where she was looking sickeningly adorable with her legs thrown across Tyler’s lap and her fingers absentmindedly tugging through strands of his hair. “What’s up?”
“Eve,” Kira asked softly, because it was kind of impossible to be anywhere near angry at Tyler’s girlfriend, “why would you think that Jamie and I were breaking up?”
“I just repeated what Tyler told me,” Evie replied, scratching the back of her boyfriend’s head and earning her a wide eyed stare from him as he ended up caught off guard with an entire eggroll stuck in his mouth.
“Ty?” Kira said patiently, turning her gaze to the youngest of the boys.
Once he swallowed his appetizer, he replied, “I found out from my dad.”
“Your dad?” she repeated, wondering where her Uncle Justin would get such an idea.
“Well, not directly,” Tyler explained, “I went into the kitchen to get another beer and I overheard him and the uncles talking about it.”
“So is it true?” Brody asked from where he was seated on the other side of Tyler, briefly smiling up at Caroline when she perched herself on the arm of his chair, but returning his expression to one of concern when he returned his gaze to Kira. “Are you and Jamie over?”
“No, Brody, it’s not true,” she whispered, wondering what had started this ridiculous rumor and thinking she needed to nip it in the bud before it got out of hand or before Jamie heard it from someone else.
Despite being antsy about spilling the secret, Jamie had decided that completely avoiding all his aunts and uncles would just look suspicious, so he’s opted to remain inside the house and keep up casual conversation. She could tell he was struggling to keep it in as she stepped through the back screen door and saw him laugh at something her mother was saying and she thought, not for the first time, that she really was incredibly lucky to have him in her life.
The best way to attack this situation was just to confront her uncles and her father directly, so she made a beeline for the men who were gathered around the chip bowl on the kitchen island and directed her question to her father without any sort of context. “Hey, Dad, why does everyone think me and Jamie are ending the engagement?”
“What?” Ethan blinked, his queso dipping process ceasing as he stared at his older daughter.
“Tyler just told me that he overheard you guys talking about it,” she explained hurriedly, “and now all the kids think it’s true.”
“Well, are you?” he asked calmly, continuing to stir his chip in queso and lifting it when it was properly cheesed. “Ending the engagement, I mean?”
“No!” Kira glared at her father, unable to believe they were even having this conversation. Couples didn’t go through all that Kira and Jamie had been through only to call of their engagement right after they actually got engaged.
“Well, shit, Kira,” Ethan replied, sounding slightly annoyed, “what am I supposed to think when you and Jamie are fighting in plain sight? Plus both of you have been tense all night.”
Kira rolled her eyes and crossed her arms over her chest, thinking that sometimes she felt more like the parental figure in the relationship than her father did. It also made absolutely no sense to her that he was this calm about her and Jamie potentially breaking up considering how interested he’d been in the whole process of them getting together. “Okay, so we had a fight. All couples fight. It doesn’t mean we’re over.”
“Then what were you fighting about?” Justin jumped in, leaning his elbows on the counter and looking at her knowingly.
“Nothing,” she muttered, avoiding making eye contact.
Up until this point, her uncles had been watching her interaction with her father with great amusement, snacking on chips and enjoying the spectacle, but now it seemed as though they were all eager to get involved.
“It didn’t look like nothing,” Nathan said.
Jack nodded very seriously, though she could tell the corners of his lips were threatening to burst into a smile. “Yeah, it definitely looked like something.”
“Or at the very least, something-esque,” Ethan added, not wanting to miss out on the fun.
“Oh my god, will you let it go?” she let out an exasperated sigh, squeezing her eyes shut momentarily out of frustration.
Ethan let out a triumphant laugh, dusting off his hands over the chip bowl and throwing one arm around Kira’s shoulder. “See? You’re still tense. There’s for sure something going on.”
“Nothing’s going on,” she repeated, hoping that if she said it enough times, it might turn out to be true.
“What’s going on?”
This time it was Jamie who entered the conversation, getting distracted from the chat he was having with his aunts when he noticed Kira looking particularly distressed.
“Your fiancé is hiding something,” Justin remarked casually, staring Jamie down, technique which worked because he noticed the guilt which flashed across his nephew’s face and grinned victoriously. “So she is hiding something.”
Scrunching his nose apologetically, Jamie directed his gaze to his fiancé. “I’m sorry, babe, you know I’m not a good liar.”
She supposed she couldn’t really blame him, seeing as technically he hadn’t said anything, so she shot him a tight lipped smile to let him know she wasn’t angry.
“What is it?” Nathan asked excitedly. “What is she hiding?”
“Maybe you should just tell them,” Jamie suggested with a soft sigh.
Logically, she knew that keeping it a secret any longer made no sense, but she was still a bit upset about how all of it went down. “This isn’t how I wanted to tell them.”
“I know,” Jamie said quietly, moving around the counter to stand beside her and running his palms up and down her arms comfortingly, “but they’re not gonna let it go.”
“Let what go?” Ethan asked, furrowing his brow in confusion. “What’s going on?”
“What don’t you want to tell us?” Justin joined in.
At this point, there didn’t seem to be a reason to avoid the topic any longer, so motivated by a supportive look from Jamie, Kira took a deep breath and spoke clearly. “I’m pregnant. That’s what I’ve been hiding.”
There was stone cold silence as everyone, mothers, father, aunts, and uncles, processed this information, and it ended up being Ethan who spoke first. “Kiki, you don’t have to make something up just to get us to stop asking.”
That earned him a smack on the arm from his wife and appreciative smile from daughter to mother before Kira’s exasperation kicked in once again. “It’s not made up. I’m pregnant. With a baby. Jamie and I are having a baby.”
This time, only about thirty seconds of silence passed before a loud cheer erupted from the entrance to the kitchen and everyone turned their heads to see Tyler grinning widely as he stood at the front of the crowd of kids who had all heard the end of the conversation.
“You’re pregnant?” Lucy whispered, her eyes shining with delight as she stepped forward and held out her arms toward her big sister, smiling like an idiot into Kira’s chest. “I’m gonna be an aunt?”
“Yeah,” Kira laughed, leaning forward to press a kiss to the top of her sister’s head before lifting her gaze to the other kids. “You’re all gonna be aunts and uncles.”
She and Jamie had every intention of raising their own kids the way they had been raised: surrounded by way too many people who would do absolutely anything for them.
“And you’re gonna be a grandfather,” Nathan reached out to clap Ethan on the back before shifting his gaze to grin at Jack as well. “Both of you are.”
They all knew this day was bound to come eventually, but they thought it wouldn’t be for a little while longer and it was a bit surreal to think that it wasn’t just yesterday that they had been scolding Jamie and Kira for sneaking onto the room of every stadium they’d ever been to.
As the hugs and the congratulations abounded in the kitchen, Ethan’s eyes widened as he had an epiphany and he pulled Jack aside, his voice hushed as he spoke. “I just realized…we’re gonna have the same grandkid.”
“Yeah,” Jack laughed, though to be honest, he couldn’t quite believe it himself. “That’s how it works.”
Ethan’s expression remained one of awe for a moment longer before he pulled his best friend into a hug and squeezed him tight. “Come here, grandpa.”
Out of the corner of her eye, Kira watched the interaction, thinking that she’d never before felt so much love in one room and that maybe everything really had worked out alright in the end after all.