#30 Prenatal vitamins
“Black with only a splash of soy milk, right?” the blonde behind the counter at the coffee shop asks, smiling at me.
“Yeah,” I reply, a little confused. “Am I getting predictable?”
“Only because you come here almost every day and you always order the same thing.” She winks and hands me my drink. “Already made it when I saw you walk in. You always look at all the options, take about four minutes, and then you order your usual, so I figured I’d speed things up for you a bit.”
“Thanks.” I pay for my coffee, leave her a huge tip, and turn around to drink it in my favorite corner booth. I’ve been working on a new app all day long, and I needed to get out for half an hour or so to remind myself that there’s still a world out there, with real people in it instead of computer code.
“My break is coming up in five,” the girl says behind me, her voice hopeful. “You up for some company?”
I turn back around, feeling stupid for not realizing she was flirting with me. She’s in her mid-twenties, I think, and she’s got blonde hair that cascades down her back, ending just above her tailbone. And, most importantly, she has perky tits that bounce a little when she moves, since she is quite obviously not wearing a bra underneath her tight black shirt.
“Sure,” I decide. It’s not like I have any reason not to get to know a cute girl, right? I’m not in the perfect headspace for a relationship, since I’m pretty damn hung-up on Tracy, but that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy getting hit on. Maybe this will be good for me.
When she joins me, she slides in right next to me instead of sitting down across from me, and angles her body in my direction, smiling. The whole same-side-of-the-booth thing reminds me of my first date with Tracy, when she slid in next to me as well, I teased her about it, we toasted to sex, and she called herself an slutty angel. It was one of the best dates I’d ever been on, and not just because it ended in hot sex. She and I had this connection from the start that is hard to explain. She gets my sense of humor, and she’s one of the guys, which I love in a girl. Franny has that about her as well, but Tracy is more at ease in that sense. She curses, takes initiative in the bedroom like no girl before her has ever done, and she’s not scared to tell me off. Sure, she is a little unstable and crazy as fuck, but I’ve come to realize that I even love those parts of her. Not in spite of them, but because of them. She’s not perfect, and that makes her all the more interesting.
I want her to break up with Michel and realize that we would be so good together.
Preferably right fucking now.
“So that’s how I ended up working here,” the barista says, finishing a story that I didn’t listen to at all. I can’t even remember her name, even though she told me and even made a joke about it, I think. “What do you do?” she goes on to ask, touching my arm in a flirty manner.
Part of me wants to flirt back and drag her back to my place so I can bury myself in her and forget all about Tracy, but I know it won’t work anyway. The only reason it worked for me back when I was trying to get over Franny was because it was Tracy who I was having sex with. Tracy was never truly a rebound. She was… well, Tracy.
This blonde perky barista is not Tracy. Not even close. And I’m done with meaningless sex, no matter how hot that can be. I want her, no one else. Aston was right to tell me that I’m fucked. I am. I pray to God that Tracy will find her way back to me, or that I will get over her pretty damn fast. I’m done pining for a girl that won’t choose me. So fucking done.
“I need to get back to work,” I decide, slipping out of the booth. “Sorry. You seem really nice, but I’m very busy.”
The girl blinks up at me, frowning. “Oh, okay. Bye, Thomas.”
“Yeah, bye…” Fuck, I still don’t remember her name. “…you.”
I walk back to my apartment building and smile when I see Francesca struggling to fit her keys into the lock with her arms filled with groceries. She always does this. She should just make a few trips to her car to get it all inside, but she prefers to take it all up at once, even though she always buys way too much to make it an easy trip.
“Allow me, my lady,” I tell her, opening the door before she can drop anything. I take a bag from her and hold open the door so she can get in.
“Thanks.” She follows me, fumbling with the two bags she’s still holding. One slips, and a bottle falls out. She tries to bend over, but it’s obvious she will end up dropping everything this way. I grab another bag from her hands, and bend down to grab the bottle, unconsciously glancing at the label.
Prenatal vitamins. Only the best is good enough for your baby!
“Why are you taking…?” Oh my God. This can’t be happening. “Oh wow,” I breathe. “Josh knocked you up.”
“Erm… yeah,” she replies, her cheeks turning bright red.
“Are you keeping it?” I ask, wanting to kick myself the moment I utter those words. What a stupid question. “Oh, wait, obviously you are, since you’re buying vitamins. Are you… are you happy?”
“Yeah, very happy.” Her hand moves over her belly, rubbing it with a sweet smile on her face. There is something sparkling on her finger, and I squint, trying to see if it’s really – yeah, it is. She’s wearing an engagement ring. “Oh wow. He proposed. Wow. Okay. Congratulations, Franny.” I’m a rambling idiot right now, but what the hell can I say? The girl I once thought I’d end up with, who I could picture myself living in a house in suburbs with, raising our beautiful blonde babies, is getting married and has a baby on the way.
And here I am, pining for yet another cute blonde, who is even more unavailable than Fran ever was.
“Thanks,” Fran says, heading upstairs. Even pregnant and handling grocery bags, she still opts for the stairs instead of the elevator.
Just like we’ve done so many times before, we unload the groceries together. Normally, most of it would be beer and chips, but today she’s mostly bought fruit and vegetables. Of course she did. She’s pregnant, after all. As I put the tofu in the fridge – since when does she even eat that? – I turn to her and run a hand over my face, trying to regain my composure. “I don’t… I don’t know what to say, Franny. I wasn’t expecting…”
“Neither was I,” she says, raising her eyebrows at me and smiling. “I freaked the fuck out.”
That cracks me up. I know Franny well enough to know she was probably crying and overthinking the whole time. “I bet you did.” Then I remember who she’s having a baby with and how crazy he is about her, and I sober up. He put a ring on her finger immediately. Smart man. “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.” She rubs her belly again, and she looks so damn happy that it’s hard to look at her. I want to be that happy. “How’s the General doing?”
“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’m rambling, because I’ve got Tracy on my mind again. The way she looked that day I came into the clinic, all skinny and tired, like she needed saving. She may not want saving, but I sure want to be there for her. If only she’d let me…
“Healthy as a cat, sure,” Franny replies with a grin, nudging me.
“How far along are you anyway?” I ask, raking my eyes over her body. She doesn’t look pregnant. Not even when she puts a hand over her belly, smiling like a Cheshire cat.
“17 weeks. We found out a week ago, and Joshua proposed right away.”
“Is he moving in with you?” I ask, already knowing the answer.
“Yeah, he’s not going back to London.” She looks so damn happy. “He had three more months to go at his internship, but he wants to be here for me during the pregnancy.”
“As he should,” I tell her, moving over so I can hug her. “I’m happy for you, Franny. You found yourself a good man. And you will make an excellent mother.”
She chokes up a little, pulling me closer. “Thanks, Thom.”
I spend some more time with Franny, and she tells me about her sonogram, and Joshua’s proposal, glowing in that way she only does when she talks about her man. Joshua comes come after a while, and I congratulate him. He looks at Franny like she’s the son and the moon combined.
I used to wish that Franny would love me, but right now all I can think about is Tracy. All my wishes are about her now. Not even that she’ll love me, but that she will be okay. She’s hurting, and I hate that. I fucking hate that.
Dylan arrives at my place around dinnertime with a look on his face that I have only seen once or twice before in alle the years I’ve known him. He looks guilty.
“What’s up?” I ask, handing him a beer.
He puts it down on the coffee table without taking a sip and sinks down in the loveseat. Normally, he would be stretched out on the couch by now, his feet in my lap as he tries to disgust me by wiggling his dirty toes in my face or something. And he’d be sipping his beer. Something is wrong.
“You pregnant or something?” I joke, nodding at his beer.
He smiles vaguely. “Nah man, everything is… well, I don’t know is everything is good. I have to tell you something.”
“I already know Francesca is pregnant and engaged,” I say with a little smile. It’s cute that he worries it will upset me. “I’ve seen her and Joshua today, they look deliriously happy. I’m happy for them.”
“Franny is pregnant?” Dylan repeats, his eyes wide. “And he got down on one knee? Oh damn!”
Okay, so that wasn’t what he wanted to tell me, apparently. “What’s going on with you?” I ask, putting my elbows on my knees and resting my chin on my fingertips while I look at him. “You look like you’re gonna be sick.”
“Erm… did you get a text from Tracy today?” he asks.
“No…” I grab my phone from the armrest of the couch, and see that Aston texted me. I open it, and curse. “Aston invited her to his wedding? I’m gonna be forced to watch her and Michel stare at Annabel and Aston, talking about what they want their own wedding to be like?”
Dylan holds up his own phone. “It gets weirder. Tracy invited me to come to her place tonight. For pizza and beers.”
“Oh.” I check my phone again, but of course I don’t have that same invitation. We’re not friends anymore. “And she obviously invited Aston too, or he wouldn’t have invited her to his wedding after not speaking to her for so long. She’s inviting my friends to a night at her place, and I can’t come. That’s real classy.”
Dylan grimaces. “I figured you might see it that way. I already told her I’m not sure if I can make it. A few other friends are coming as well, apparently, and Aston can’t make it, so it’s not like Aston and I would be hanging out with her without you, like we cut you out of the group or something.”
“Please, this isn’t second grade,” I tell him, rolling my eyes. “It’s not that I feel left out, I just… I miss her, Dylan. I miss her so fucking much, and I don’t think she’s doing well. At all. I wish I could be there for her, but she won’t let me, because of Michel. I get that, but it still sucks. He’s not right for her. Even if she doesn’t want to be with me, she should still leave him. I don’t trust that guy.”
Dylan nods. “I know.”
“You should go,” I decide, gulping down some more beer.
“Nah, man, you’re my best friend, I’m not gonna spend the night hanging out with someone who is basically your ex-girlfriend.”
“She’s not,” I grunt, even though I’d love to call her that. Then at least I’d have gotten a shot once, but the truth is I was never more than someone to get her off when she was stressed or in the mood. I was never someone she loved, no matter how much I wish I was. “And she was your friend too, you guys spent a lot of time together watching movies and talking and shit. We all boxed together. You don’t have to pretend she doesn’t exist for my sake. Plus…” I take a deep breath and finish off my beer. “She could use a friend right now. I swear, man, she looked like a ghost when I last saw her. I’d feel better knowing she’s got you and Aston in her corner. She doesn’t have many friends.”
Dylan smiles. “You’re ridiculously sweet, man. Tracy is an idiot for not duping Michel’s ass a long time ago and shacking up with you.”
“Yeah, well, girls don’t seem to agree with you.” I’m getting into one of my moods, even though I’m trying not to. Franny is engaged and pregnant, Tracy is living with her good-for-nothing boyfriend and cutting me out of her life without looking back, and here I am, still alone.
General Fluffington jumps onto the couch and settles onto my lap, like he wants to remind me that I’m not truly alone. Guess that makes me the male version of a crazy cat lady.
“Go,” I tell Dylan. “Tell her hi from me. And if Michel is there, please make as many rude comments to him as you possibly can.”
He grins. “Will do.”