The Love We Choose

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Chapter 11

“So....did you tell him?” Ava asked Lynne as they sat down at an empty round table with their lunch trays in the school’s employee lounge.

Lynne’s eyes widened as she hissed at Ava. “Why must we talk about this now and here of all places?”

“Because in your current state, we cannot commence at an adult drinking establishment. Now quit evading, did you tell Dr. Fix-It?”

“Yes, I told him.”

“And...?”

“And what?” Lynne responded, irritated, swirling her spoon around in her tomato soup. “I told him, and we have decided to keep it and co-parent.”

“Co-parenting. That sounds so modern. Are y’all moving in together or anything like that?” She asked between forked bites of her chicken caesar salad.

Putting down her soup spoon, Lynne wiped her mouth with a napkin. “Our conversations haven’t gone that far. We only made it as far as we’re,” she paused to mouth the word ‘pregnant’ to prevent prying ears nearby from having their interest piqued, “we’re keeping it, and we aren’t telling our families until we’re out of the woods. Also known as entering the 2nd trimester.”

“That’s pretty smart for the both of you. Oh, I can’t wait to hear how both of your families take it. My money is on nuclear explosions all around.”

Pushing her tray away from her, Lynne covered her face with her hands. “Urrggh. Don’t remind me. I’m still trying to figure out how I’m going to tell them.”

“At least you’re not alone in this.” She pointed her fork with a piece of chicken speared on it at Lynne. “Dr. Topknot seems like he is invested in this as well. Not everyone is as lucky as you in that regard. Buck up, young lady. Now, finish your soup. Auntie Ava’s baby is hungry and needs sustenance.”

“Can you not say stuff life that so loud please?” Lynne whispered as she picked her spoon back up and settled her tray back in front of herself.

Ava and Lynne passed the remainder of their lunch hour talking about how the new hires in the History Department and Admissions Department seemed to be doing this week, along with filling in gossip details surrounding Helen and Armand before returning to their respective offices.

XXX

Before either of them knew it, Saturday night had rolled around and Huan was calling to check-in on how Lynne was doing and to confirm the time she would pick him up from the train station the next day. After she gave him a run-down of how she couldn’t get out of bed before eleven that day, due to dizziness, and going over approximate pickup times they hung up. Lynne was feeling ravenous so she made herself a sandwich piled high with pepperoni, turkey, havarti, lettuce, tomato, onion, drizzled on a raspberry vinaigrette, and grabbed a bottle of apple juice. She took her dinner over to her couch where she settled down, turning on Netflix and watched an episode of “The Haunting of Hill House” while she devoured her food. Sated, she relaxed underneath a blanket and fell asleep.

XXX

“So how are we going to fool them?” Lynne asked Huan as they pulled up in front of McKenzie’s Sports Bar & Grill the next day. She put the car in park and turned to look at him.

Returning her stare, he calmly took her hand in his. “Fair Lyndy of the Garden State, you are just going to have to trust that the good doctor has it all under control. Now, let’s go inside, I’m starving.” He told her as he released her and exited the car. After grabbing the giftbags out of the backseat, he came around to her side of the car and waited for her to lock it before they headed inside together.

“You’re always hungry.” She mumbled as she walked beside him.

Lynne sat down with the gifts at one of the tables reserved for her family while Huan walked over to the bar. They had gotten there early so they would have an excuse to leave early as well. She took out her phone and scrolled through her emails to pass the time. About ten minutes later, Huan walked over to her and placed two bottles of beer in front of her: one Angry Orchard, one Dogfish Head. “I ordered us a basket of sweet potato fries and some hot wings to tie us over until the party starts properly. And there’s your drink.” He said pushing the Angry Orchard bottle towards her.

She gave him a pointed look, “what is this?”

“Our game plan for today. You will be drinking Angry Orchards all night.” He said, taking the other beer bottle up to his lips and taking a swig.

“Have you lost your ever-loving mind?” She dropped her voice to the level of a whisper. “Or are you forgetting that I cannot drink?”

He let out a breathy chuckle. “Didn’t you tell me that you trust me, Lyndy?”

“Trying hard to do so at the moment. But I guess so.”

“Then take a sip.” He told her, pushing the bottle towards her.

She slowly brought it up to her lips and let the amber liquid flow over her tongue. Her eyes widened in realization as she brought the bottle back down and swallowed. “Aha. I see what you did there. Clever. Very clever. Thanks. I can do peach flavored tea all night.”

“See, you just had to trust me. I power-chugged the actual beer and then filled the bottle with tea. The bartender was kind enough to help me out when I explained the situation. You just have to keep an eye on the levels all night and let me know when you need a refill. Also, you need to let me know if you don’t feel well. I mean it Lynne.” He let out a small belch. “Oof. Indigestion. Excuse me.”

She looked up at him with adoration as he rubbed the center of his chest with his fist. Reaching up, she cupped the side of his face before patting his cheek. “You did good, kid.”

He made a sarcastic face at her and was about to retort when they were interrupted by a familiar female voice. “Y’all didn’t start celebrating without us?”

Julissa smirked at Huan and Lynne as she walked up to them. Trailing behind her was her husband, Travis, their two teenagers, Liam and Harley, David and his current girlfriend, Amara, and their cousin Yolanda.

“Never. We just wanted to give you all something to catch up to.” Lynne retorted, throwing down the imaginary gauntlet to her sister, before wrapping her in a tight hug. “Good to see you Julissa.” Turning to her niece and nephew she squeezed them in a joint bear hug before they could escape to sit and busy themselves on their cell phones. “And how are my favorite brooding teenagers doing this fine Saturday afternoon?” Not content with only squeezing the life out of them, she peppered their cheeks with kisses.

“Uhh, Auntie Lynne!” Harley complained, failing to keep her face out of kiss range.

“We’re fine! School’s fine!” Liam answered, doing his best to free his arms from the monstrous hug.

“Can you let go of us now?” Harley pleaded for both her and her younger brother’s sake.

“Nope, I will never let you go. As your aunt, it is my civic duty to make sure you are further embarrassed by genetically-related adults in public spaces.” She told them before placing a final kiss on both of their foreheads and releasing them.

“You are almost worse than Mom.” Liam told her as he exaggeratedly wiped his face.

“Where do you think I learned it from?”

Harley rolled her eyes as she walked towards Huan and gave him a hug. “How can you stay friends with her when she’s so embarrassing?”

“Eh. She’s got enough information to blackmail me from here to eternity. So I stick around to make sure it doesn’t get leaked in exchange for giving off the illusion that she has genuine friends.” He told the younger girl as he ruffled her hair.

“See, this is the last time I bring you anywhere.” Lynne stated as she stuck her tongue out at Huan after giving her brother-in-law, Travis, a hug.

“Nope. Your family loves me, I get my own invites without you.”

“Whatever. Where is everyone else?” Lynne asked her sister as she greeted the rest of the crew.

“Elisa, Javi, and the kids are a couple of minutes behind us with the cake, Kris and Natalia are gonna be here in fifteen with the embarrassing ‘Happy 60th Birthday’ balloons, Mom and Dad should be here in about half an hour, and Vinny, Ife, the ‘Double-Mint’ twins and baby Paulo will be here in about an hour. The twins had a soccer game that ran into double overtime. Aunt Shelly and Uncle Phillip should be here any minute. And dad’s friends and their wives will all probably get here five minutes before game time. You know how they are: military precision and all that jazz.”

Their section of the sports bar quickly filled with the rest of their party. Food came out from the kitchen in the back along with some specialties that Mrs. Prentice had made. After a quick blessing of the food, they were free to dig in and enjoy themselves. Some of them peeled off to head to the arcade that accompanied the bar, the celebrant and his friends crowded around the big screen televisions, a few sat around the tables to eat, and others mingled from group to group.

XXX

A/N: Evening lovelies, sorry for the late upload. Hurricane Isaias knocked my power out for a decent chunk of my day and screwed up my editing plans.

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