#57 Epilogue: Poor Michel
One month after the wedding, a few days after finding out Tracy is pregnant
“Pumpkin!” I call out through the woods. “Stay close!”
He yaps, and gives me puppy-dog eyes, which always make me smile. While Pumpkin chases a rabbit or whatever he spots in the bushes, Thomas pulls me into his arms. It’s cold out, so we’re both bundled up. He kisses me softly and puts his hand over my belly. It’s way too early for a baby bump, and we only just got the results back confirming that I’m truly pregnant and that everything looks good. Thomas is over the moon, and so am I, although I have to admit it’s kind of daunting knowing that there is a baby growing in my belly. I want to nail this whole mom things, and I’m a little nervous I’ll fuck up the poor kid.
My phone rings and I pick up when I see it’s Peter. “Hey grandpa,” I say, grinning. Even though it’s way too early to tell people, we did end up telling Peter the day we found out. I wanted him to share in the excitement. He cried when we told him that I want our kid to call him grandpa.
“Hey Tracy,” Peter says with a smile in his voice. “I erm… someone is here to see you.”
“At your place?” I ask, surprised. He moved into my old place the same day we moved into the farmhouse, so it’s all pretty new, but everyone I know is well-aware that I no longer live there. Why would anyone show up unannounced at my old apartment?
“It’s Michel,” Peter says, taking me off guard. “I didn’t know what you’d want me to tell him.”
“Oh wow,” I breathe. I honestly didn’t expect to ever see him again, except maybe at the grocery story or something, by accident. I thought he understood that we were done for good this time. Why would he show up now?
“Want me to tell him to leave?” Peter asks. “Or should I give him your new address?”
“Actually… Thom and I are taking Pumpkin for his walk, and we were about to go home, but we could be at your place in fifteen minutes.” I think it would be better for Michel to find out from me that I’m married now, to Thomas of all people. I don’t want him to hear it from someone else.
When I hang up and tell Thomas why we’re headed to Peter’s place, he laughs. “Oh man, this is going to be brutal.”
“Hey, I don’t want to hurt him,” I tell Thom, smacking his arm. His coat is way too thick for it to hurt, but he still pretends I just tried to kill him, making me laugh.
“I know, I know, but you can’t blame me for not liking the guy,” Thomas says, taking my hand as we walk along the path with Pumpkin ahead of us.
“Be nice, okay?” I warn him.
“I’m always nice.”
I give him a pointed look. “No, you’re not.”
“Hey, that’s the father of your child you’re talking to in that sassy tone,” he teases. “You should worship me, not berate me.”
“Worship you?” I give him a playful shove. “For what? For wanting to fuck me? For your sperm finding my egg when I was ovulating? I think we both know I’ll be the one actually growing this baby in my body and getting it out of me after nine months. You should worship me.”
“You know I do, baby,” he says in that sweet voice he only uses with me. “I so do.”
We reach our old apartment building not much later, and I use my key – well, Peter’s spare key – to let us into the building. We ring the doorbell when we reach Peter’s apartment, not wanting to just barge in. We don’t live here anymore, after all.
Pumpkin yaps happily when he sees Peter, jumping up and down and wagging his tail. Peter smiles and lets the dog into the living room. He takes our coats and puts them on coat hangers – the hallway looks so much more grown-up now that Peter lives here, with a fancy coatrack and an umbrella stand and all that shit. I just had a simple coatrack and a pile of shoes on the floor. Thom and I still don’t have an umbrella stand or coat hangers at our new place, although the farmhouse does have a mudroom where we can keep all the dirty shoes and clean the animals before they come into the house, which is pretty damn nice.
“He’s in the living room,” Peter tells us in a hushed tone. “He told me he went on a date tonight, and going out with another girl made him realize he still loves you.”
“Well fuck,” I grumble. I hate having to hurt Michel. Yeah, he hurt me too, but we left on such good terms that time we met up for coffee to get closure. I knew he wanted to stay friends and I suspected he might still hold out hope for us, but I thought I was pretty clear about not wanting to stay in each other’s lives. We broke up almost a year ago. Why is he still trying to make this happen? We already know we’re horrible together.
“Come on,” Thomas says, stepping into the living room and pulling me with him. “Let’s get this over with.”
Michel gets up from the couch the moment we walk in, and I flinch at the pain in his eyes when he sees Thomas is with me.
“Him?” he asks, shaking his head. “Again?”
“Yeah,” I affirm, not knowing what else to say. “How are you doing, Michel?”
“Well, I’m here, trying to get you back, and you’re fuckbuddies with him again, so not that good.” His voice comes out strangled, and while I hate that he’s hurting, I don’t like the way he talks about Thomas.
“Actually, he’s my husband,” I say, holding up my hand to show him the ring.
“You’re married?” Michel asks, sinking back onto the couch, looking like he’s about to faint. “Are you kidding? We broke up only what… ten months ago?”
“I’m sorry,” I say softly, sitting down opposite him. Thomas takes the seat next to me and Peter busies himself in the kitchen, pouring all of us a drink.
“Were you fucking him while we were together?” Michel asks, his eyes boring into mine. “You must have been.”
“No, I wasn’t.” I sigh and rub a hand over my face, looking for the right words. “Look, I get that this all must feel sudden to you, but Thom and I got together two months after you and I broke up, and things have been going so well between us that we decided we were ready for the next step. We’ve been living together for a while now, we bought a house that we moved into last week, and we got married on New Year’s Eve.”
Peter puts glasses of wine in front of Thomas and Michel, and he hands me a glass of water. I could really use a drink right now, so I grab Thom’s glass from the table and bring it to my lips, only to have Thom yank it right out of my hands.
“Tracy!” he reprimands me, shaking his head.
“Oh fuck, I forgot,” I realize, putting a hand over my belly without even thinking about it.
Michel’s eyes follow my movement and I see them widen when he puts two and two together. No alcohol, plus a hand on my belly… that equals… “You’re pregnant?” he asks incredulously.
“Yeah, the baby is due in September,” Thomas replies, putting the wine back down on the table. “We’re not telling people yet, since it’s still so early, so we’re be grateful if you could keep it to yourself for now.”
“Yeah…” Michel breathes, tears pooling in his eyes. “Sure.”
“I’m sorry,” I say again, although I’m not sure what I’m apologizing for. For hurting him, I guess. Certainly not for falling in love with Thomas, marrying him, or getting pregnant.
“That’s why you got married,” Michel says suddenly, understanding flashing in his dark brown eyes. He shifts his attention to Thomas. “You knocked her up and decided to do the honorable thing and marry her.” He shakes his head and turns his intense gaze back to me. “Tracy… you know I’d still have you, right? Even with his baby. You don’t have to settle for this son of a bitch.”
I pull Thomas back on the couch and give him a hard look. Getting into a fight with Michel won’t do anyone any good. “Michel, we’re over. We’ve been over for a long time now. I love Thomas, and he loves me. This baby was planned. Not that it matters, but maybe it will help you move on to know that none of this was accidental. We got together, he moved in here with me, then we bought a house and Peter took my old apartment. We planned on getting pregnant and got lucky right away. We’re happy. I’m very sorry that you’re not, but I’m with Thomas and we’re raising our baby together.” I raise my hand to stop him from speaking up. “One more thing. I’m not settling, Michel. Being with Thom isn’t settling. I need you to understand that. I hate to be so brutal, but we’re never getting back together. I mean it this time.”
Michel looks like he wants to puke. Instead, he gets up, downs his wine, slams the glass down so hard that it shatters, and storms out without looking back.
“Well, that was fun,” Thomas grunts.
“I feel bad for the guy,” Peter says, kind as ever. “He came here to win you back, like he’s done a million times before, only to find out that in ten months, so much has changed that he’s lost you forever.”
“Yeah,” I breathe, rubbing my forehead. I feel a major headache coming on. “I don’t get why he’d think that I’d want him back, though. Or why he would want me after how miserable we made each other. His date earlier must have been pretty horrific to want to revisit this mess.”
Thomas laughs and rubs my back. “He’d have to be stupid not to try, Tracy. I just hope this is the last time. I get that you will always have a soft spot for him, but I hate him.”
“Just like you hate James?” I ask, smiling a little.
“Nah, I don’t hate James. I just don’t like him. I tolerate him. Michel… I know that he didn’t actually abuse you or anything, but you should have seen the way you looked back when you were living with him, Tracy.” He shudders. “White as a sheet, way too skinny, not a spark of happiness left in you. Plus, he hurt Dylan. I’m never going to get over that.”
I understand that. I reach for the glass of wine again, grunting when I remember that I can’t drink. I’ll just have to find something else to take the edge off for the next nine months. Sex, maybe?
“Let’s go home,” Thomas says getting up and offering me his hand.
“I’ll drive,” Peter offers. “Tracy looks tired and it’s late.”
“Okay,” I say, rolling my eyes. “So overprotective.”
“Hey, that’s my grandchild in there,” he reminds me, smiling brightly. “I’m not going to let you screw the poor kid up before it’s even born. Least I can do is give you a ride home.”
When we get outside and pile into Peter’s car with Pumpkin riding in the back. I see Michel’s car on the other end of the lot, and he’s bent over his steering wheel just like he was that time we broke up right before I met Thomas. The time that should have been the last one. I made the mistake of getting back together with him six months later, but I know that there is no way that’s ever happening again. We’re done. Part of me wants to go over to his car to comfort him, but that’s no longer my place.
As heartless as it seems, I tell Peter to drive and lean against Thomas, closing my eyes so I won’t have to see Michel’s heaving shoulders as we drive by his car.
I hope he’ll get his happy ending too, someday.