No. No no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no. No.
“You can’t be.”
“I am! And don’t even ask me if it’s yours! You’re the only person I’ve been with in the last year. It must have happened that night.” God, I hoped she didn’t fucking spell it all out right here. I knew the night. The night I’d pulled out and the condom had had a small hole it in. I’d been furious, and she got furious about how furious I’d been. The thought had crossed my mind then: she’s sabotaged me. It wouldn’t be the end of the world, she’d said. We’re thinking of getting married soon anyway.
I’d forgotten about it. Put it out of my mind. I’d been preooccupied with Lila and Jake and work. And Lila, always Lila.
When had that been? Almost two months ago. It might have even been a few days – or the day – before the job interview. The turnaround had been swift, once Lila had entered the picture.
That’s why Shawna had been so frantic, so persistent about getting in touch with me. I’d ignored it all, since the night Lila had walked in on a heated conversation. I’d made a decision that night: I was done.
And now this. Now a lifetime of being tied to Shawna.
I knew she wouldn’t get rid of it and I wouldn’t have asked her to. In a deep corner of my psyche that I could in no way analyze at this particular moment, I didn’t believe terminating a life was the right thing to do. Some other deep corner of my psyche felt almost triumphant, oddly. Some caveman corner where procreation in any circumstance called for an instinctive high-five. A son! it hollered.
No. I didn’t want a son with Shawna. I wanted a son – or a daughter – with Lila.
I looked at her. And I could already see the shift there, somewhere behind her tear-filled green eyes.
“Lila,” I said. “It doesn’t matter. You’re the one I want. We can deal with this.”
“It doesn’t matter?” she said, emotion thick in her voice. “How can you say that? Of course it matters. That baby needs you.”
It hit me hard, the way she said that. On a million different levels. That baby needs you. There was so much at play here my head was spinning.
“I can’t do this,” she said, gathering her skirt and turning away from me, as though to run. I put my hand on her arm, but she shrugged me off. She gave me a look that was so haunted and so pleading I felt it all the way to the bottom of my soul.
“Alexander,” she said. “I’m going away for a while. I need to think this through, in my own way and in my own time. I don’t want you to follow me. I don’t want you to track me or have your investigators keep tabs on me. At all. I’m trusting you. And I want you to trust me to do what’s best for me right now. If there’s anything left of me when I figure that out, I’ll let you know. If you care about me at all you will not try to stop me, you will give me some time and you’ll listen to what I’m asking you now: let me go and do not try to contact me. I’m leaving and I do not want you to come after me. I’m begging you with all my heart: please, let me go.”
She left me standing there as she walked away.