Feisty Francesca

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#23 This is why you should always use a condom

“Oh my God,” I tell James through the phone while I look at the test results in front of me. “You’re not going to believe what just happened.”

“What?” he asks. I can hear the sounds of the street in the background.

“Where are you?” I ask.

“Curious, aren’t you?” he teases. “I’m just taking a walk. It’s nice out today.”

“God, I’m jealous,” I grunt, looking out the window at the sun. I’ve been in the hospital all damn night and since a colleague in Nephrology got sick, I’m now running tests even though I’ve already finished a 12-hour shift in the ER. You gotta love being a nurse. I’d love to be with James on his day off, but the odds aren’t in our favor today.

“What happened?” James ask, reminding me of why I called him in the first place.

“Right,” I realize. “Okay, so, I’m not supposed to share this with you, obviously. I’m being totally unprofessional, but… well, who cares. Annabel’s test results just came back.”

“She’s the one wanting to donate a kidney to Aston’s father, right?” James asks, trying to remember what I told him. He’s been asking to hear stories about our friends a lot the past few days, wanting to know more about my life. I think he secretly also wants to know who his competition is – he still seems to view Thomas and Aston as such, sadly.

“Yeah, that’s her. She’s a perfect match. But… here comes the catch. I have to tell her in a moment that she can’t donate a kidney even though she’s a match, because…” I take a deep breath and check the results one last time. This is so fucked up. “She’s pregnant.”

“Oh wow,” he says. “Were they trying to have kid?”

“They’ve only been exclusive for like, two hot minutes,” I say, shaking my head while I wonder how this news is going to go over with them. “I’m pretty sure they both want kids, though, so maybe they’ll be happy. I hope so. I hate that I volunteered to give them the results. I seriously thought it would be good news, but now… I’m not sure if this news is good or bad.”

“You’re a feisty little thing,” James says with a smile in his voice. “I’m sure you’ll do great. They’re lucky to have you to support them. Hey… since you’re calling me right now… does that mean you’re on a break?”

“Yeah, I just ate down in the cafeteria. I’ve got fifteen more minutes.”

“Great. I’m in the parking lot.”

“Really?” I squeak. “See you in two minutes then!”

The elevator takes forever, so I take the stairs instead, running down as fast as I can, scaring the shit out of two interns who are sitting on the steps, trying to find a quiet place to review their flash cards for a big test. I rush out the staff exit and spot James right away, leaning against Pinky. He’s in the black shirt that shows off his tats, knowing that I like it when they’re on display.

“Hey baby,” he says when I throw myself at him, laughing at how eager I am.

I kiss him, throwing my legs around him. I’ve been working for so long and we didn’t get to see each other because of conflicting schedules for three days straight, so I’m more than a little excited to finally feel him against me.

“Sorry, I must smell horrible,” I say when we break apart to catch our breath. “And my hair looks like shit and I don’t have on any make-up, and I’ve been working a double shift, and-”

“I don’t care,” he assures me with another kiss. “I like you no matter how you look or smell. And you look beautiful, by the way. Absolutely beautiful.”

“Which is a nice way of saying that I do, in fact, smell.”

He grins. “Well… you could do with some deodorant.”

I smack him on his arm and open Pinky’s trunk so I can spray myself with some deodorant and perfume. I always keep that in the car for situations like this. Well not exactly like this, but just in case I smell. Which I often do after working for so long.

“I promise I will be all clean and smelling like roses when I come over to your place later.” I grab him for another kiss, moaning into him when he tugs on my hair a little and runs his nails over my scalp. I love it when he does that.

“Are you sure you’re up for that after working for so long?” he asks, always concerned for my wellbeing.

“I will probably fall asleep in a matter of minutes, but at least I’ll be with you.”

“I like that,” he says, looking happier than I’ve ever seen him. “Are we still on for dinner with your friends tomorrow night?”

I nod, a little nervous to introduce him to Shaughna and Dshawn. Even though James and I agreed to take thing slow, we haven’t been doing that at all. We text and call all the time and try to see each other as often as possible. I’m liking him more and more each day, and we haven’t had any other issues since that weird morning with Thomas. Obviously it’s barely been a week since then, so it’s too soon to know if we’re truly out of the woods, but so far so good.

“I need to go back in,” I say with a sigh, reaching up for one last kiss. “Thanks for coming by to see me.”

“Anytime.” He holds me close and nuzzles my neck for a moment before letting me go and watching me run back inside.

I run straight to Theodore’s room, knowing I will most likely find Annabel and Aston in there. I call out her name as I stick my head around the door to see if she’s in there, and I’m met with the whole Johnson family, including Brittany and the person I’m looking for: Annabel herself.

“We’ve got the results,” I tell her, trying not to give anything away. “Will you walk with me?”

“Can’t you tell me here? I’ll come right back and tell them anyway,” she says, sounding a little annoyed that I want her to come with me. Little does she know that I’ve got her best interest at heart. This is going to be difficult enough without everyone watching us.

“Erm… that’s not the protocol,” I say stupidly, not wanting to alarm them.

“Fran, come on, since when do you give a fuck about protocol?” Aston sounds nervous, very unlike him. “If she’s not a match, just say it.”

I grit my teeth. Can’t they just stop second-guessing me? “I really think we should talk in private.”

“Just tell me!” Annabel orders. “You’re killing me, Francesca. Am I a match or not?”

“Well, that’s the thing…” I groan and get out of the hallway, closing the door of the room behind me so people walking by won’t be a part of this conversation. There are already too many people involved. I really don’t think Aston’s parents should be in the room for this. “You’re a match,” I tell Annabel, “but we can’t let you donate a kidney because of something we found in your blood.”

“Is she sick? Oh God, don’t tell me we need another hospital bed in here.” Aston is holding Annabel like he’s afraid she’s going to have seizure and die any moment now.

“No, she’s not sick,” I assure him. “Are you sure we can’t just go to the nurse’s office to talk?” I gesture behind me. “Or into the hallway?”

“Fran!” Aston yells, getting angry now. “Just spit it out!”

Fine. If that’s what they want… I tried, didn’t I? I lock eyes with Annabel to deliver the news that will turn her whole life upside down. “You’re pregnant.”

No one says anything. All eyes are on me at first, trying to process my words. I see Brittany mouthing ‘oh my God’, and Lesly is clutching her chest. After a minute, their attention shifts to Annabel, who looks like she might faint.

“Babe?” Aston says, shaking her a little. “Are you okay?” He doesn’t look as freaked out as I would have expected. He mostly looks worried about his girlfriend. “Anna?”

Annabel’s legs give out from under her, but Aston was already expecting that, so he doesn’t let her slip to the floor. He holds her up with ease while Jaxon grabs a chair and rushes it over to them, helping his brother to ease Annabel down as gently as possible. Aston kneels down, rubbing her hands softly, looking up at her with worry swimming in his dark brown eyes.

“Pregnant?” Annabel says, blinking rapidly, like she doesn’t even know what the words means. Her eyes find mine. “Are you sure?”

“Your hCG levels indicate that you are, and they don’t lie,” I affirm. “They’re still pretty low, so you’re probably one about two weeks along by now.”

“Fuck,” Aston says, panic seeping into his voice. “When?”

Annabel shifts her focus to him and frowns. “We know when. We forgot the morning-after pill, Aston. Fran’s right. That’s two weeks ago.”

Oh wow. Aston was never that careless with me. Even though I’ve got an IUD we still used a condom every single time, and that was mostly his doing. I expected some kind of reaction from me at hearing he lost control with her in a way he never did with me, a stabbing pain in my heart or something, but I just feel uncomfortable about being here in the first place, that’s all. I’m not wishing that I was the one pregnant with his baby. In fact, I’m more than a little grateful that I’m not in her shoes right now. She must be so scared.

“And it’s absolutely certain two weeks?” Aston asks. “Could it be three?”

“No, it can’t be. It was two weeks ago. You were there!” Damn, Annabel is pissed.

Aston looks up at me instead of focusing on Annabel. “I’m asking Fran.”

“Fran wasn’t there! It was you and me, Aston!” Annabel is screaming now, making Lesly and Theodore stare at her in shock. “In bed. In the kitchen. In the shower. You were there, I was there, we both know what we did and that we weren’t being safe.”

Oh my God. Doesn’t she realize that everyone can hear her? Including Aston’s parents? And me! I don’t want to hear this either. Damn woman, get a grip.

“Erm, guys…” Brittany says softly, voicing my thoughts. “We’re still here…”

Time for me to answer Aston’s question, I guess. “It could be anything between a week and a half and three weeks,” I say, trying to sound professional. “Most likely two weeks though.”

“Most likely,” Aston mumbles. “Most likely…”

“Aston, stop being stupid,” Annabel hisses at him, sounding like she wants to smack him. “Do you have a fucking hole in your memory? We know when it was!”

“No, we don’t!” Aston has shut down. He looks like he doesn’t even know how to function anymore. What the hell is going on with him? “I need to know if it’s two weeks or more,” he tells me without any emotion in his voice.

Annabel sighs. “It’s not-”

“I’m asking Fran,” he bites out at her. “Not you.”

Well fuck. I thought that he wanted kids too, but I guess maybe not. I don’t get what’s up with his focus on the timeline, unless… Oh shit. Unless Annabel slept with someone else three weeks ago. Oh fuck.

“Two weeks is most likely,” I say, wishing I had let another nurse handle this. “But we can’t know for sure this early on. So… we can’t be sure yet.”

“That’s not good enough,” Aston says softly, shaking his head.

“Who the fuck cares which time it was! We both knew we were being careless!” Annabel is still yelling, and I understand why she’s angry. She needs his support right now, but he’s all up in his head, trying to figure out of this baby is even his.

“It matters!” he bites out at her, pacing the room.

Jaxon asks the question everyone but me is asking themselves. “Why?”

Finally, Aston breaks. He tears up and turns to his brother. “Because if she got knocked up more than two weeks ago, the baby isn’t mine!”

“What?” Annabel sounds confused. “Of course it’s yours!”

“Guys…” I say, feeling bad for Aston’s family who don’t even know where to look right now. “Maybe you should step out into the hallway.”

“Yes.” Annabel gets up and motions for Aston to follow her. “Let’s step out.”

He walks out after her and slams the door shut so hard that I swear the walls are trembling. Fuck. Now they’re out there and I’m stuck in here with Aston’s family. This wasn’t my best plan ever, huh? I turn to the other four and give them a wry smile.

“Are you sure she’s pregnant?” Lesly asks, her eyes brimming with tears.

I nod. “Absolutely positive.”

“Oh wow,” she breathes, grabbing Theodore’s hand. “We’re having a grandkid. Our first one.”

“Erm, Mom, in case you weren’t listening, they’re not even sure it’s his,” Jaxon says.

“Aston isn’t mine,” Theodore says, looking just as excited as his wife, “but he’s my son anyway. You’ve seen the way he looks at that girl. There’s no way he’s leaving her even if the baby isn’t his. No way. That’s the same way I looked at Lesly back in the day. The way I still look at her.”

“Oh honey,” Lesly murmurs, kissing her husband softly. “I love you too.”

“The biggest player in the world is going to raise another man’s baby with the first girl he ever fell in love with,” Jaxon mumbles, shaking his head. “It’s like the plot of a really bad low-budget chick flick.”

“Let’s hope it’s a romantic comedy and not a tear-jerker,” Brittany adds, giving me a weak smile. “How are you holding up, Fran?”

I’m surprised she’s asking me how I’m doing. Then again, she’s perceptive and I guess that it’s quite obvious to anyone who has been paying attention that I’ve been in love with Aston all this time. Well… until a few weeks ago, I guess. I’m not saying all my feelings for him are gone, but I don’t feel as gutted about this whole thing as I thought I would.

“I’m fine,” I assure her. “Let’s hope Aston and Annabel are alright as well.”

Right on cue, we hear someone – probably Aston – hitting the wall. “Fuck!” he yells so loud that the whole goddamn hospital can hear him.

“Yeah, I don’t think they are,” Jaxon comments dryly.

Their voices are more subdued now, but then, suddenly, Annabel starts screaming. “I’m not letting some doctor put my baby at risk with a huge needle just because you’re freaking out!”

Oh shit. It happens more often than you’d think that people think that’s how paternity tests work. I blame movies like Bridget Jones’ baby. I rush over to the door and step into the hallway, needing them to know that we don’t actually need to do something so drastic to find out if Aston is the father.

“Sorry guys,” I say, cutting into whatever Aston was saying. “I need to get back to work. I also just want to say… I couldn’t help but hear what you were just yelling at each other, and there’s a paternity test that’s non-invasive and that can be done at seven weeks. It’s just a blood test and a cheek swap. I can go right ahead at schedule that for you. Since we don’t know exactly how far along you are, I’d suggest waiting seven weeks from this point on to make sure the test is accurate.”

Aston sags against the wall in relief. “Seven weeks. Okay, yeah. Let’s do that. We can wait to decide what we want to do in seven weeks.”

“What do you mean, what we want to do?” She snatches her hand out of Aston’s grasp, her eyes spitting fire at him. “If you think for even one second that I’m getting rid of this baby, you’re crazy!”

“I get that, Anna… But if it’s not mine… I mean… Even if it’s Christopher’s?”

“It’s not his! And I don’t care! I’m having this baby whether you like it or not, and it’s either going to be with you by my side or on my own. That’s up to you, Aston.”

“But Chris-”

“I don’t give a shit about Chris! And in case you haven’t noticed, I’m freaking the fuck out as well. I could use some support instead of you telling me that you want me to have an abortion if it’s not yours.”

“I know, Anna, I know. I just… I can’t right now. I just… I need a moment.”

“Take all the fucking time you need.” Annabel is crying and Aston doesn’t even notice. He’s standing there like an idiot with his eyes closed. “I’m going home,” she says, sounding defeated.

“Anna, you don’t have a key to my-”

“I said I’m going home, not to your place.” She storms off through the hallway, not looking back even once.

“Aston,” I hiss at him, smacking his arm. “Don’t just stand there. Go after her!”

“I can’t,” he says, breaking down into tears as well. I’ve never seen him like this. “I just can’t.”

“You’re a fucking moron,” I snap, disappointed in him. “That’s your girl walking away from you. If you don’t go after her, you’ll regret it forever.”

“Shut up!” he yells at me through his tears. “Shut the fuck up, Fran!”

“Fine,” I snap at him. “I’ll go after her instead. Sometimes you’re such a stupid motherfucker, Aston Johnson.”

I take off running, hoping I’ll be in time to catch her. She’s already gone down two flights of stairs by the time I find her, storming away from Aston as fast as she can.

“Annabel!” I’m panting, praying she’ll stop walking for a moment. “Give him some time. This is his first relationship and he only just found out Theodore isn’t his father. You can’t expect him to jump for joy when he finds out you may be pregnant with someone else’s child.”

“I think I should be allowed to expect my boyfriend to at least comfort me,” Annabel says, slowing down a little now that she’s almost at the exit. “Listen to me. Be there for me. He’s not even coming after me. Well, fuck him. Tell Theodore and Lesly that I’m sorry.”

Even though I’m defending Aston, I actually agree with her. In my humble opinion, she’s absolutely right to walk out on him right now. He’s being a baby. He should just man up and be there for her. She’s the one with the little baby in her belly while dealing with the fact that the father of her child might want an abortion. Poor woman.

“Annabel!” I cry after her while she walks out of the hospital. I’m not sure if I should keep running after her or just leave her alone. She barely knows me. I barely know her. Aston should be the one to hug her and tell her everything is going to be okay, not be. Besides, I’ve got other patients who need me.

I’m starting to feel like I truly dodged a bullet with Aston. I can’t even begin to imagine how Annabel must be feeling like now. Aston may be my friend, but he’s also an idiot. Hopefully he mans up before it’s too late.

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