Blissful Aftermath [ROMANCE]

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Twenty-Two

December 24th 2018

Isaac had picked up on the fact that something was odd about them both the moment they stepped back into the house the previous day, that something had happened during the short amount of time that they were away but before he could ask about it, he received a warning look from his wife. Taking her silent advice, he decided against probing and instead, hoped that his sister would come to speak to him about whatever was bothering her once she was comfortable.

Thankfully for his sake, that was sooner rather than later.

Since Claire had plans to grab breakfast with some friends and exchange gifts as they wouldn’t be able to see each other on Christmas day, Audrey had whipped up some toast and eggs for the both of them. She had also planned to fry up some bacon but after one sniff of it, she had rushed to the bathroom and thrown up. After that, bacon had very quickly vanished from the breakfast menu.

There was only so long she would be able to hide her pregnancy from her brother, not that she would want to, of course.

Holding herself back from telling him after she got back from the drugstore yesterday had been very difficult but after a whole night thinking about it, she decided she would tell him in the morning.

He deserved to know what was happening.

It was somewhat comforting to know that her child and her brother’s child would be a similar age growing up but other than that, she was still very much freaking out, especially since she hadn’t told Joe the news yet as she was still immensely angry at him.

“This all smells delicious but I thought you were also making bacon.” Isaac noted as he sat down at the kitchen counter, eying the plate in front of him.

“I changed my mind.” She simply stated and took a seat at the dining table across from him, wanting to watch him for his reaction when she eventually broke the news to him. It also put some space between them in case he reacted negatively and spilled his food or drink all over her.

Isaac eyed her warily, before reaching out for a sip of his orange juice.

“Is everything okay?”

She nodded. “Everything’s better than okay, I think.” Her voice trailed off, suddenly feeling unsure.

This happened to her all the time.

Every time she felt finally ready to share something meaningful to her with someone else, she choked up and it was impossible to get the words out. She suspected it was her body’s coping mechanism, a sort of self-protection but sometimes, people needed to take risks and, on the scale of danger, her news landed pretty low.

“Audrey, should I be worried?” He took another sip of his juice.

“There’s nothing wrong with me. I’m just pregnant.” She exhaled quietly, her eyes not daring to waver away from his face as she anticipated his reaction, especially with the casual way she had just dropped the news on him.

Isaac coughed violently on his juice, sputtering all over the place at having just received such surprising news.

Audrey frowned and wiped the side of her face with the sleeve of her shirt, sending him a disgusted look.

“What did you just say?” He gasped after a moment, having calmed down now.

She sucked in a deep breath and sighed, preparing herself yet again. Whatever happened, she just hoped she had her brother on her side.

“I said, I’m pregnant.”

“What? How?” He sputtered again but luckily for her, this time, his mouth was void of any food or drink. She didn’t particularly fancy with being covered with the contents of his mouth for a second time. Getting his juice all over her was bad enough and she made a mental note to change her top after breakfast.

She rolled her eyes with a small, nervous smile on her face, hoping that he didn’t react too negatively.

Audrey had spent the whole night lying on her back and caressing her stomach, her mind wondering all sorts of things. She was immensely and utterly angry at Joe, there was no doubt about that as she strongly believed that he had gotten her pregnant on purpose. She had told him numerous times that she hadn’t been taking birth control – but was considering going back on the pill as they were having regular sex – yet he had messed up with the condom, literally the one thing that he was in charge of.

However, she couldn’t bring herself to regret anything. Even if it did turn out that Joe had orchestrated this master plan from the very beginning, she still wanted the baby. Sure, she would sort him out for attempting to trap her but what he probably hadn’t anticipated was that she didn’t feel trapped at all.

In fact, she felt free and liberated. The exact opposite of how she thought she would felt when Claire had shared her suspicions that Audrey could possibly be pregnant.

When she was married to Calvin, even before things had taken a turn for the worst, what she had wanted the most was a baby. For so long, she had truly believed that it had been her that couldn’t have kids but finally, it had revealed that all along it was Calvin however, that didn’t make her feel any better about things.

The seed of doubt had been planted in her mind and over the years, she had been forced to grow accustomed to the thought that she would never be able to carry her own child. Even though that theory had been proved false at the very end, a statement as bold as that, and for so long too, would affect any and every woman.

Seeing those two lines on the little screen of the pregnancy test yesterday, had inevitably changed her life.

“Surely you know how this all works.” She grinned despite her nerves, chuckling nervously before she forced herself to continue. “Otherwise I wonder how Claire managed to get that child inside of her.”

Isaac chuckled. “Very funny!” He rolled his eyes before pausing for a second. “Are you really pregnant?”

Audrey nodded. “I wouldn’t joke about something like this, you know that.” She explained, referring to the doubt of fertility issues she had confided in him earlier that week.

“When did you find out?” He asked curiously, his eyes still wide with shock as the news continued to settle in.

“Yesterday.” She grinned.

“So, that’s what you two were being secretive about. I would have never guessed it.” Isaac chuckled before he paused and stared at her, but she didn’t miss the smile on his face. “And that guy you’ve been seeing, is he the one that got you pregnant?” Surprisingly, he didn’t sound angry.

“His name is Joe.” She nodded again and replied warily, suspicious of why her brother was so happy and calm about all of this.

“Have you told him?”

Audrey sighed and shook his head, having expected this question.

“Why not? He deserves to know.”

“I know, I wanted to tell him yesterday when I found out but I needed some time to think about it all before I could tell him.”

Her brother nodded in understanding and reached out to hold her hand with both of his, a comforting, gentle look on his face. “I don’t want to rush you, but it’s probably better if you tell him sooner.”

“I know.” She sighed. “We’ve only been dating a month and while things are serious between us, it’s not that serious.” She paused and laughed sarcastically. “Well, I guess things have just become that serious for us now that we’re having a baby.”

“I know the situation isn’t ideal, but he could surprise you.” Isaac added positively, genuinely hoping that whoever her sister was going out with and managed to knock her up, would step up and take responsibility.

“He already has.” She whispered quietly. This time, she felt sad instead of angry.

“What do you mean?”

Audrey chewed on her lip as she mulled over the thought. As angry as she was at Joe, she couldn’t prove that he had gotten her pregnant on purpose and frankly, she wanted to see the look on his face when she asked him. She would know if he was lying, but the same couldn’t be said about breaking the news over the phone.

“I definitely need to speak to him. Sooner rather than later would probably be best.” She suddenly announced, having made up her mind.

“That’s a good idea.” Isaac hummed and patted her hand. “Are you going to call him?”

She frowned. As much as she wanted him to know as soon as possible – and he deserved to know, he was the father after all – it didn’t feel right breaking big such news over the phone. It didn’t also didn’t feel right waiting until New Year’s to tell him that he was going to be a father, and with the way they were speaking on the phone at least twice a day, she didn’t trust herself to not just blurt it out in the spur of the moment.

Audrey was confident that if she stuck around, she would find a way to talk herself out of it and not tell him, leaving him to figure it out for himself when her body began changing.

Before that could happen, she stood up and jogged up the stairs to the guest room where she had staying these past few days, not bothering to finish her breakfast as there were now bigger things on her plate.

Isaac stared with wide eyes and followed her.

“What are you doing?” He asked as he peered into her room to spy taking her phone off charge and stuffing it in her purse before grabbing her car keys and a pair of comfortable shoes.

“I need to tell him in person.”

“Now?” He asked, dubiously. “But it’s Christmas eve.”

“I know. But I can’t tell him over the phone and I don’t think I can wait.” Audrey threw him a sad smile over her shoulder. “I promise to be back tonight, though. There’s no way I’m going to miss Christmas this year.”

“Alright, I’m coming with you.

“What? Why?”

“I need to make sure this man steps up and takes responsibility.” He grabbed the keys from her hand and began down the stairs, pulling out his phone to call Claire and let them know where they were going. “Plus, I don’t want you driving alone.”

Audrey couldn’t keep the grin off her face as she followed her brother out of the house, grateful for the support.

The drive over from her apartment to her brother’s apartment had felt like it had lasted forever but now that she was going back, it felt like it took hardly any time at all but perhaps that was due to having a driving buddy this time around. Or perhaps that had something to do with her being lost in her thoughts for a good portion of it, thinking and planning every possible scenario in her head.

Seeing as his sister’s Christmas Eve party didn’t start until later that evening and it was just past lunch time, Audrey instructed her brother to pull up outside Joe’s apartment. He had mentioned the previous night that he would be heading over before the party to help out.

Audrey had avoided his call that morning, and when he had called again when she was in the car, she had panicked and turned her phone off. If Joe didn’t suspect something was wrong before, he definitely did now.

Whether he had tried calling again or not, she wasn’t sure and she wouldn’t know until she turned her phone back on, but she wasn’t willing to take that risk.

“Do you want me to come up with you?”

“I need to do this alone.” She shook her head, her hand already on the door handle. When she noted the look on her brother’s face, she paused and sighed. “Apartment 8D. If I’m not down in an hour or if I don’t call you, you can come up yourself.”

He nodded, seemingly satisfied and so she exited the car.

The elevator ride up felt longer than ever and once she stepped foot on the eighth floor, she seriously considered turning back around and lying to her brother that Joe wasn’t in, but that would just make the situation worse and if not today, she would eventually have to face him as this just wasn’t something she could run from.

Her feet felt heavy as she walked down the hallway and to his apartment, the very same apartment which she had shared lunch and exchanged presents with him only earlier that week.

When she finally came a stop in front of his door, Audrey forced herself to knock on the door before she chickened out and ran away. When the door didn’t open within the first few seconds, a relieved sigh escaped her and she turned around, ready to walk away but then she heard the sound of a lock before he called out for her.

“Audrey? What are you doing here?” He asked, both his tone and expression confused. When she didn’t answer him, only staring up at him with wide eyes, he frowned. “Why have you been ignoring my calls? It says your phone is switched off.”

She somehow managed to nod her head.

“I turned it off.”

“Why? Is everything okay?”

“Can I come in?”

“Yes, of course.” He opened the door wider for her but when he reached out to pull her into his arms, she took a step back to prevent him from doing so.

“We need to talk.”

His frown deepened and he watched her closely. This time when she walked into his apartment, he didn’t attempt to touch her.

“I figured that. But what did you want to talk about?” He asked nervously as he led them over to the sofa. Something told him that he would want to be sitting down for whatever she had to tell him.

Audrey took a deep breath before she broke the news to him, completely in the dark as to how he would react.

“I’m pregnant.”

While she had expected for Joe to be surprised with the unexpected news, she didn’t expect to be met with radio silence. When this continued for a few moments, her frown deepened and she repeated herself. Thankfully this time, he seemed to snap out of whatever daze he was in and instead, gaped at her.

She wasn’t sure which reaction she preferred more; the silence or the gaping. Either way, it wasn’t great but she didn’t expect anything better.

“You’re what?”

“Pregnant.”

“Pregnant?” He questioned, almost as if he couldn’t quite believe his ears.

She nodded.

There had been that guy she had slept with about a week before Joe, but he had worn a condom and had even pulled out before he came, so she was confident that Joe was the father of her baby. Regardless, she mentally prepared herself for when he would demand that she take a paternity test to prove the legitimacy of her claim. Once he did, she planned to choose to wait until after the baby was born so their life wouldn’t be under any sort of risk.

“We’re having a baby?”

She nodded again, but this time, she watched him with narrowed eyes.

“You sound happy.” She noted warily, not really sure how to feel.

“That’s because I am happy.” He exhaled and ran a hand through his hair. “Don’t get me wrong, I’m not ready to be a father but it’s happened now and I’m okay with it.”

Her frown deepened until she was scowling at him.

“Audrey, what’s wrong?” He asked, not a fan of the look on her face. “Are you not happy? Do you not want the baby?” He questioned worriedly, his eyes immediately glancing towards her stomach but she wasn’t showing quite yet.

“You’re happy I’m pregnant.” She stated, watching him closely to gauge his reaction.

“Yes. Aren’t you?”

She pursed her lips. “Of course, I’m happy but we didn’t plan for this.”

He chuckled and leaned back on the sofa, his eyes not once wavering from hers in glee. “No, we didn’t but it’s happened now. We’re just going to have to step up.”

“Did you do this on purpose?” Audrey asked but the moment the questioned passed her lips, she wished she could take it back.

“Do what on purpose?”

“Did you get me pregnant on purpose?”

“What? No!” He exclaimed. “Why would I do that?”

“I don’t know!” She threw her hands up in the air in frustration. “It’s just a coincidence that I find out I’m pregnant as soon as we decided to start dating.”

“Are you saying that I tried to trap you?” Joe chuckled darkly and shook his head in disbelief.

Audrey didn’t answer him but instead, chewed on her bottom lip in worry. If she didn’t calm down, she would soon chew a hole through it.

He chuckled darkly. “Are you hearing yourself? You sound crazy.”

“Just answer the question. Did you get me pregnant on purpose?”

“No, I would never do that! You can’t possibly think that I would do something like that.” He denied again. “What do you even think I did?”

“I don’t know. We used a condom every time.”

“I definitely used a condom every time, but you know they’re not one-hundred percent effective.” Joe frowned, his voice trailing off. “I can’t believe that you would accuse me of getting me pregnant on purpose just to stay with me.”

“I don’t know what to think anymore.” She sighed and glanced up at the ceiling, not wanting to look at him anymore.

“What are you thinking?” He asked softly when a lengthy period of silence engulfed them. When she didn’t answer him, he slid closer to her on the sofa but before he could reach out for her, Audrey stood up abruptly to put some distance between them.

She turned to face him and crossed her arms over her chest.

“I think we should break up.”

“But you’re pregnant.”

“Just because we’re having a baby together doesn’t mean that we have to stay together.”

“I know.” He sighed but ran a hand down his face in frustration. “But why are you breaking up with me? What did I do wrong?”

“Don’t tell me you’ve forgotten already.” She rolled her eyes and fished through her purse for the pregnancy test. When she found it, she threw it at him.

Joe caught it in and held it between his fingers, his eyes glued to the two lines on it as he spoke, his voice much gentler and calm now.

“You know this isn’t all on me. Both us had sex knowing that there was a small chance that you could pregnant. Hell, you even told me that you weren’t on the pill.”

Audrey gulped and looked away from him, unable to argue with such clear and articulate reasoning.

She had sincerely felt like he had done this on purpose but looking at him now, she wasn’t so sure. In fact, she knew he wasn’t lying.

“I’ve slept with a few guys before you and I never got pregnant, but as soon as I start sleeping with you, I found out I’m pregnant in a few weeks.”

“Bad luck.”

“So, this baby is bad luck?” She frowned and pressed a hand against her stomach.

“That’s not what I meant.” He huffed and stood up, his voice growing louder. “I can’t speak to you when you’re like this.”

“Well, good thing you don’t have to.” She screamed at him and turned on her heels towards the door. “Don’t call me tonight.”

Audrey heard him call after her but she ran into the elevator, not turning around as she didn’t want him to see her tears, confused as to what had gone wrong.

When she got into the car, she found it unlocked but couldn’t see her brother anywhere. He must have gone upstairs looking for her, the both of them missing each other as there were two elevators.

Audrey blinked through the tears as she sat in the car, impatiently waiting for her brother to return.

Why was he even doing up there? What could Isaac possibly have to say to Joe? They didn’t even know each other!

When the car door opened, she didn’t move. Her brother settled into the car but before he could turn on the engine, he turned to look at her.

“Audrey, I think he’s telling the truth.” His voice was quiet and cautious, aware that she was in a state of distress and wasn’t one for reasoning right now.

“I don’t want to talk about it right now.” She whispered quietly, afraid that she was going to burst into tears at any moment now, having just wiped away the first wave before her brother had returned to the car. “Just drive, please.”

She closed her eyes and pinched the bridge of her nose, leaning her head back against the headrest, wanting nothing more than to fall asleep and not have to think about everything that had just happened.

If her eyes were open, she would have seen Joe standing by the curb with his hands stuffed into his pockets, a sad, torn look on his face as he forced himself to watch her leave.

-

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Layla Knight

08.07.2020

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