"So..." Cindy drawled as she drove behind the line to the drive-thru. Lily had been silently seething the entire ride.
Lily cast her an icy glance. Cindy squared her shoulders in deliberate nonchalance. "Either you tell me what has your hackles up or my mind will do a better job."
Lily shook her head, slowly. "I don't want to talk about it, Cindy."
"I know. That's why I didn't ask but damn it to hell, I have anxiety!"
Lily looked outside the window to avoid further discussion when her eyes fell on a familiar face rushing out the backdoor of the building. A face sodden with tears nonetheless.
"Stop." Lily perked up and spied her disappearing into a car parked in the lot.
Cindy frowned. "We're in the middle of a line, Lily."
Lily threw her a concerned look. "Order roasted deer meat, three buckets. And anything else you like–" Lily pulled out her credit card from the pocket in her dress and handed it to Cindy. "I'll be back soon, just park the car nearby. I'll find you."
"Lily! What the bloody hell–"
She didn't let her finish and slid out of the car. Her urgent footsteps zig-zaged through the cars and reached her quest. Stacy was not in a good shape. Something about her scratched her instincts. She knocked on the window and waited for Stacy to open the door.
Stacy recognized her and hesitantly let her take the passenger seat. Her nose was red like her eyes which were swollen. Her skin was rather pale and her clothes wrinkled. She looked like a mess.
Is this why she didn't pick up her phone when Kyne tried calling her?
"Stacy?" Lily grabbed her frail hand, worry seizing her sense of space. She'd only met her once. The reaction was odd but overpowering.
Stacy wet her dried lips and pursed her lips to stop the sobs. Unfortunately, she couldn't stop the tears.
"What's wrong? Are you hurt?"
Stacy looked up at the genuine concern in her eyes and let the dam burst.
"Oh, Lily!" She threw arms around her and let out a broken wail.
"Goddess!" Lily held onto her, supporting the weight of her sorrow on her shoulders. A part of her, she didn't know existed, sparked. She was definitely feeling protective.
"I don't want this..." Stacy sobbed brokenly, "I don't know what to do. Kyne will hate me. I will hate me. But I don't have any other choice. I just don't..."
She continued her broken speech of guilt until her tears dried out. Lily held her, stroking her back. "It's okay, everything will be fine..." Her encouraging words drained some of her misery.
Stacy sniffled a few times in silence on her shoulder then lifted her head and wiped her eyes with a tissue. Lily never let go of her hand.
She gave it a squeeze. "Take your time, Stacy."
"I don't have time." Stacy's breath hitched, her eyes downcast. "I...I..."
"It's alright if you don't want to talk about it. I was worried someone hurt you."
Stacy worked on her gulp painfully. "... It's I who is going to hurt someone." She whispered.
Lily blinked. "You can talk to Kyne if something is bothering you."
Stacy's eyes welled up once more. "I don't know how!"
Lily grabbed her chin and lifted it until she could see the anguish in her eyes. "Talk to me?"
Stacy's jaw quivered...
Lily realized she was about to cry again. She'd seen it. That look. The one which said you're about to tip over.
She gave her a reassuring smile. "I know it's hard to put into words what we feel. Sometimes the problem is we don't know how we should feel. Sadness is a cluster of confusion. If you don't feel comfortable about it, don't share it. Just know... Every problem has a solution, no matter how big or shattering it might be."
Stacey curled her legs on her seat and buried her head in it. After a long crushing pause, her muffled voice emerged, "I'm pregnant."
It was hardly audible yet it flood Lily's heart with warmth. Lots of it. A baby.
A stubborn smile broke the somber expression on her face. "You're pregnant?... That's amazing, Stacy. Congratulations!"
Stacy's back rose with a long inhale. "It's not..."
Lily heard the pained strain in her voice. How could becoming a mother possibly hurt a woman? In her mind and heart, it was supposed to be the most beautiful gift a woman can give her man.
The girl in question rubbed her face against her arms and gazed at the obvious astonishment on Lily's face. "I have... an appointment. Today. I-I was thinking about... abortion..."
Lily's eyes went wide. "Do you know what you're saying?!"
Stacy sniffed. "Actually, no. I only know Kyne told me he's not ready to be a father yet. Neither am I ready to be a mother. We moved in barely a month ago. I haven't even started considering what I want from my life after Kyne. I'm scared Lily... I'm terrified..."
Lily could barely believe her ears, or eyes, or anything really. Perhaps it was just her. Thinking being a mother made you a warrior. It made you want to live more. It made you powerful. How can that be true when Stacy considered it a weakness.
"You can't be serious. Tell me you didn't just make that decision on your own."
Stacy stole her guilty gaze away. "It's not easy..."
"Killing a very much essential and alive part of you is easier?"
Stacy had only silence to offer.
Lily combed the hair away from her face in disbelief. "Stacy... Have you told Kyne yet?"
Stacy shook her head. "We went to the doctor together when I insisted on taking the pills. I promised him we'll settle down on our own pace. He's going to resent me. I know him, he won't tell me but it will impact him more than me. I can't do this..."
Lily stared at her. "You're not as smart as I thought you were. You're going to make that decision on your own? He has the right to know."
Stacy whimpered and buried her head in her knees once more. She was literally hiding from reality.
"How long have you known?" Lily asked.
"I was afraid... I couldn't do it at home. I came here for lunch and... In the bathroom– the pregnancy test–" her barely coherent sentence broke off into another sob.
Lily reached out and clutched her shaking shoulder. "Stacy... I think you should tell Kyne before you... uhm... go for abortion... It's not fair. And before that, think about it. That living breathing life inside you is a part of your mate just as much it is a part of you."
Stacy peeked at her with tearful eyes. "I know... I saw a family with twins and it... It just made it harder. I already have an appointment... I don't want to risk Kyne hating me. I don't know what to do Lily. It feels wrong but I feel like I'm obliged to go through with it to save my life..."
Lily sighed. Heart clenched, she weighed the pros and cons again, and again, the abortion felt horrible.
"What if you... regret it afterwards?"
That earned her a crestfallen reflection of a mother. Stacy was close to collapsing with the burden she was carrying. Lily couldn't allow it. Not when her maternal instincts were rooting for the baby.
I have never in my life felt this much protective of an individual. Where are these feelings coming from?
"Look," she suggested firmly, "Kyne is working the cafe as of now. I guess you know. We're taking food for the crew. Call him, talk to him and come to a conclusion. I'm not in the favor of it but if you insist then abort it after you talk it out with Kyne."
Stacy went quiet for a good minute. "Lily. Kyne–he won't..."
Lily patted her hand. "Come with me. You don't have to say anything... Just sit with your mate for a while and if he made you feel like he won't be there for this, then I'll go with you to the clinic."
Stacy placed her trembling hand on top of Lily's. Her insides were shaking like a leaf. "Promise?"