#76 Everyone finds out eventually
When I arrive at the apartment, my arms filled with groceries, I struggle to get out my keys.
“Allow me, my lady,” Thomas’ voice says behind me.
A second later, he’s holding open the door to our building for me and he takes a bag from me. I fumble with the other two bags and the prenatal vitamins I just picked up from the pharmacy fall onto the floor. Thomas takes another bag from me and bends over to pick up the fallen bottle, frowning at the label. “Why are you taking…?” His eyes go wide. “Oh wow. Josh knocked you up.”
“Erm… yeah.” I blush fiercely. I wasn’t planning on telling Thomas like this.
“Are you keeping it?” he asks bluntly. “Oh, wait, obviously you are, since you’re buying vitamins. Are you…” He takes a deep breath. “Are you happy?”
“Yeah,” I say, putting a hand over my stomach. “Very happy.”
His gaze focuses on my hand and his eyes almost pop out of his head when he sees the engagement ring. “Oh wow. He proposed. Wow. Okay. Congratulations, Franny.” He doesn’t sound like he means it, to be honest. I thought we were past the awkwardness of me picking Joshua over him since that was over a year ago, but I guess that never goes away, does it?
“Thanks,” I say, putting the bottle of pills back into a shopping bag before walking up the stairs.
Thomas follows me into my apartment and helps me put the groceries away the way he’s done a million times before. Today feels different, though. Weirder.
“I don’t…” He grunts and runs a hand over his face. “I don’t know what to say, Franny. I wasn’t expecting…” He gestures to my belly.
“Neither was I,” I say honestly. “I freaked the fuck out.”
That makes Thomas laugh, and the tension diffuses a bit. “I bet you did. Joshua was probably over the moon, huh? Crying and hugging you and proposing right away. Good for him. He’d be a fool to react any other way.”
“Thanks. How’s the General doing?”
Thomas smiles. “Great, actually. Took him to the vet for a check-up and he’s healthy as a fish, or whatever the saying is. Healthy as a fiddle? Horse? Ox? Dog? Cat?”
I grin and nudge him playfully. “Healthy as a cat, sure.”
We chat for a little while, and then Joshua comes home from his first day at his father’s firm here in the city. His dad isn’t too happy that Josh moved back here, and he doesn’t know what yet since we haven’t informed our parents just yet, but luckily Mr. Chambers did agree to allow Joshua to start working as a junior accountant in the closest office.
“Hey man,” Thomas says, holding out a hand to Josh. “Congrats on the baby, the engagement, the whole damn thing.”
Joshua smiles brightly as he shakes his hand. “Thanks. I’m the happiest man in the world.”
“Yeah,” Thomas agrees, his eyes locking with mine, a sad smile on his handsome face. “You are.”
We were planning on surprising our parents with a gift or something, but at 18 weeks, I popped. Pretty much overnight, and without any warning. I woke up a few days after Joshua got back from London, got up, looked down on myself and thought: holy fuck, I’ve got a bump.
I’m too skinny to truly cover it up, although I’ve been trying with big baggy clothes, but it’s not working. So instead of buying cute gifts for our parents when they’re finally all free from work, in the same city, and able to get over to our apartment for dinner, I hide in the bedroom while Joshua opens the door. I’m in a formfitting blue dress with my due date printed across my bump, ready to get this over with. Joshua is so convinced they’re all going to be happy for us, but I’m not so sure. This is all so sudden and I’m still wrapping my mind around it myself.
At least we know that the baby is fine. I didn’t hurt him by having a few beers or eating sushi or anything. I’m on a strict diet now, eating as healthy as possible, and I take my prenatal vitamins religiously. At work everyone already knows, and Joshua has been to the OB-GYN with me to see the baby with his own two eyes. He cried when he heard his son’s heartbeat for the first time. It was such a sweet moment, and he kept telling me how much he loves me and how he can’t wait to meet our baby boy. Even Dr. Gio got a little misty-eyed.
“Did you propose to her?” I head Joshua’s mother ask. My ear has been pressed against the door of the bedroom from the moment his parents arrived a moment ago, and I can hear them quite clearly.
“Wait and see,” Joshua says with a smile in his voice.
“I still don’t get why you moved back here without even consulting me,” his father grumbled. “Only three more months, Joshua, You can still go back. Why is Francesca suddenly pressuring you to come back home sooner? Is it because you proposed?”
I grunt. I knew his dad wasn’t going to be happy about Joshua dropping out of the training program when he was so close to finishing. I feel horrible about that, but Joshua doesn’t want to leave my side for even a second now that I’m carrying his baby, and I get that. He has a hard time letting me go to work without him, so being in a different country isn’t really an option.
“Where is she?” Mrs. Chambers asks, sounding like she’s ready to start squealing.
“Finishing her make-up,” Joshua lies with ease.
The doorbell sounds and I know it’s my mother. I want to rush out there and open the door myself, but then Joshua’s parents will see my baby bump before she will and I don’t want her to be the last to know. I did things all wrong with Joshua, and we’re sort of making up for that by doing this the right way. All parents at once, in person.
“Hey Josh,” I hear my mother say. She greets Joshua’s parents warmly – they met at Christmas, so they know each other already. Mr. and Mrs. Chambers are very cool about me having a wild mother who gets drunk during the Holidays and belts out Mariah Carey songs without being able to carry a tune to save her life.
When I feel certain they’re all sitting down and I hear Joshua asking them if they want anything to drink, I straighten my dress, inhale deeply and push open the bedroom door, stepping out with a brave look on my face.
Okay, here we go.
“Hey, Franny!” my mother says, looking over her shoulder at me. Her eyes go straight to my belly and she gasps, her hands going over her mouth. “Oh my God!”
Joshua’s parents both jump up from their seats, and Mrs. Chamber’s clutches her husband’s arm like she needs it to steady herself.
“Hi,” I say, feeling a little shy. “Erm… surprise, I guess?”
Joshua chuckles, way more at ease than I am. He moves over to me and wraps his arms around me from behind, his hands rubbing my belly. “Mom, Dad, Amelia… We’re having a baby.”
“And we’re getting married,” I add, holding up my hand to show them the ring. “Next month.”
There’s a loaded pause where all the parents stare at us like we just told them… well, like we just told them that we’re having a baby. Which we are. So I guess their shock it totally justified.
Then my mother shrieks and she throws herself at me. “I’m going to be a grandma,” she says, kissing my face over and over again. “Oh, baby, you’re positively glowing. Why didn’t you tell me sooner? How far along are you? Was it planned? Oh my God, show me the ring!”
When my mother finally lets go of me, I look at Joshua’s parents, afraid they won’t be so happy. His mother is crying, and Joshua walks over to her to hug her. She whispers to him, and smiles at me over her shoulder, assuring me that she’s as happy as he knew she’d be.
That leaves Mr. Chambers. He looks at me with a strange expression on his face. “Well,” he says, shaking his head. “Now I feel like a complete and utter asshole. Here I am complaining about my son leaving London three months early and blaming you for it, and now…” He gestures at my baby bump. “I’m going to be a grandfather.”
“I know it’s sudden,” I rush to explain myself. “And it wasn’t planned, and it’s all my fault for not being careful with my birth control, it’s a long story actually, but… Josh and I are really happy about this, and we hope you’re okay with it too.”
“Okay?” he repeats, sounding incredulous. “Why the hell wouldn’t I be okay with this? My son loves you and you’re carrying his baby.” A smile light up his stern face and he closes the distance between us to pull me against his large frame. “Congratulations,” he says in a voice thick with emotion.
After more hugging and a million questions from my mother that she doesn’t give me time to answer, we sit down to tell them the whole story – well, not the part about us having sex over and over and over again around Christmas time or me freaking out and calling Joshua crying – but we do tell them about my IUD and the proposal. Mrs. Chambers cries the entire time, and my mom has an arm around her, rubbing her back. They look so weird together: the posh British businesswoman with the pearls around her neck and the woman with flowy purple hair, tattoos, piercing, wearing a cheap plastic necklace of a bedazzled skull. They’re going to be my baby’s grandmothers, and they couldn’t be two people more different from each other, yet they’re equally excited about this.
“I’m moving here,” Mom says when we’re done with the whole story. “I wanna live close to my grandkid, and it’s not like I’ve got some kind of epic career I’ll be leaving behind.”
“Mom,” I say, tearing up. “I don’t want you to leave your home. You don’t need to move.”
“I want to,” she insists. “That city lost part of its charm when your father died, and it stopped being a real home when you moved out and moves across the country for nursing school. I want to see my grandson grown up. I want to be the weird, crazy grandmother climbing tress with him and teaching him to cheat on tests and stuff. I want to be there.”
Joshua knows how much I want my mother to be a part of our baby’s life, so he thanks my mother profusely and rubs my back while I try to keep myself from sobbing. I might be a little emotional, but who could blame me. I’m pregnant. I’ve got the best reason ever to be a little unstable, right?
“Do you want carrots?” Joshua asks while he puts some apples in our shopping cart. I’ve been craving apples like crazy these past weeks, so we need to stock up again. “Or maybe broccoli?”
“Ugh, broccoli.” I feel nauseous just thinking about eating that. Smelling that.
“Carrots it is.” He laughs at my scrunched-up face and kisses me softly. “I’ve been thinking of names, by the way,” he says while we walk into the next aisle of the grocery store. “What about Rick?”
“Rick?” I repeat. “Nah. This douche I knew in high school was called Rick. What about Toby?”
Joshua grimaces. “I hate that name. Petrus, maybe? After my grandfather? We could call him Pete for short.”
“Ew, no.” I grab some paste from a shelve. “No offence to your grandpa, of course.”
“I’m not giving birth to an 80-year-old.”
“You’re horrible at this,” I say, giving him a playful smack on the arm. “What about Davy?”
“Hmm… maybe. Or what about-”
I don’t hear the name he says, because a familiar figure rounds the corner, pausing in front of the display of toilet paper to stare at me, his blue eyes wide and shocked. His mouth opens, no sound coming out, and I’m not sure if it’s because he’s not actually talking, or because my ears stopped working. His eyes move from my 22-week belly to Joshua, and back.
“Hi,” he says lamely, blinking a few times. “It’s been a while.”
“Oh hey, James,” Joshua says, sounding completely unaffected. “Nice to see you again, man.”
“Yes,” I agree, smiling wryly. “Nice to see you.”
Author's note: 2 more chapters and then... it's over. There will be a few epilogues, but then it'll truly be over for Franny. Don't worry, though, the next books are waiting for you already!