Chapter 41 - Not now
River was fast asleep with her head on my chest but I couldn't rest if I tried. So many things were racing through my mind, but mainly that acceptance letter.
I hadn't considered an opportunity like that. I'm not sure why, but I didn't. I hadn't realized Ivey league colleges were on her radar but why shouldn't they be?
I wrapped a lock of her hair around my finger and marveled at all the different colors that were naturally there. I let my fingertips graze over her soft skin and couldn't resist resting my hand across her stomach.
It would be a normal thing to do if I were thinking of any normal thoughts. But I couldn't stop my mind from picturing what she would look like with a swollen belly. I rubbed my hand over her very nonpregnant stomach once more before resting it on her hip.
It was incredibly stupid to think about, I was aware. And I had zero intentions of getting her pregnant but no matter what I did, I still dreamed about it too much. And the fact that she didn't want me to use a condom really threw me for a loop.
Was it possible that she had thought about that same thing?
The answer didn't matter.
I had to force myself to stop thinking about it because River was going to college and she was going to finish. And I was the last person that would stand in her way.
She groaned and turn her body around, freeing my arm. I needed to get going but I knew if I left without telling her I would regret it.
I rubbed her back and pressed my lips to her temple.
"I've gotta go."
She turned back toward me.
She asked with her eyes still closed.
I tucked her hair behind her ear and smiled down at her.
I had to leave because I couldn't fall asleep and run the risk of her brother finding us like this, again. It drove me insane that I had to think of things like that but I wasn't going to make anything more awkward for her if I could help it. Although, it was really hard to help it because all I wanted to do was sleep beside her.
"I could come with you."
Her voice was unsure as if she was scared to suggest it.
"You could. But where would you tell Jackson you were all night?"
"I could be back here before he gets home in the morning, I have a car now. Remember?"
I had forgotten that Jackson bought her a car while I was gone. Now all I wanted to do was check the oil and tire pressure.
"You want to come to my stinky apartment?"
"Yeah, I do."
"Okay, but I'm driving your car."
I said as I stood up, pulling her body with mine.
"Of course you are."
My roommate was gone and thank God for that because I didn't need him asking me why Stafford's little sister was at our apartment.
I showed River around, not that there as much to see in the small space but she still beamed up at me like every word I said would be more important than the last. That's the sort of thing that I had missed the most. It had always been the small stuff with her.
I held her hand as we walked to my room and she sighed as she sat down on my bed.
"I wish you were still at my house. It feels weird that you're back here now."
"Me too. I don't think that's a good idea though."
She nodded and laid down. She put her arms behind her head and it made her shirt climb up. I reached out to pull it down but was too tempted by her soft skin to do anything other than run my fingertips over it.
I wasn't sure how much time had passed before she spoke.
"What are you thinking about right now?"
About how perfect you would look with my baby in your stomach.
About how it would feel to see him or her moving around on an ultrasound monitor.
About what type of names you would come up with.
I had to get it together because every bit of that was true. I couldn't understand why these things were consuming my thoughts when they had never once crossed my mind before.
River's fingers brushed mine and it wasn't until then that I realized I had been rubbing her stomach.
"I read some of your mail while you were in the bathroom."
I had to change the subject before I did something stupid like begged her to be the mother of my children.
She eyed me and I shrugged.
"You have quite the stack of acceptance letters, have you decided where you're going to go?"
She sat up, breaking eye contact with me and I couldn't tell if it was intentional or not.
"I'll probably stay here, or at least somewhere local."
I already knew the exact words that were going to come out of her mouth but I still had to ask. I needed her to confirm it so I could rattle off the never-ending list of reasons as to why it was a bad idea.
"Because you're here."
I was about to open my mouth when she grabbed my hand.
She rested it back on her stomach and put her hand on top of mine.
"And because I want the same things that you do."
I felt my heart pound in my chest. There was no way this was happening.
"You can not want that."
I whispered as shook my head, not allowing the thought to sink into my mind because I knew it would latch onto anything it could and I'd be even more screwed.
"Is that so bad?"
She asked, rubbing her fingers over mine.
"Yes, you're eighteen."
I moved my hand and ran it through my hair before continuing, "You shouldn't be thinking about that sort of stuff."
"You aren't? I thought maybe. . ."
I looked over at her, she was picking at her nail polish and her cheeks were flushed. I couldn't let her sit there and think she was the only one who was thinking about these insane things.
I slid my hand onto her thigh and she peeked up at me through her lashes.
"I am, but that doesn't mean that you should. Being deployed makes your mind go to places like that. It makes you consider your future in different ways. But you don't need to do that, the only thing you need to be thinking about regarding your future, is which college you're going to pick, that's it."
"And after that?"
I wasn't sure what would happen after that. I was scared shitless to think that her thoughts were even close to mine. I was in my mid-twenties, I didn't consider myself to be old but I did know a lot of guys my age who were married with kids but she wasn't anywhere near that stage and as much as my mind liked to wander there, my natural instinct was to keep her far away from it.
"Worry about that then, not now."
I wanted to tell her that we would worry about that then, but the word felt wrong.
All of a sudden it all felt wrong.
I pulled her into my lap and wrapped my arms around her the way that I had wanted to for months on end. Nothing about it was romantic, it was possessive and I should've felt bad about it. I should've felt bad about deciding right then that I would make sure that she would still be mine no matter what happened. I had no idea what that would be exactly, but it would be enough for her to hate me.
And I didn't feel bad about that either.