Without looking, I shove my arm out to pull Avery close to my chest for some morning cuddles. My eyes snap open when there’s nothing on her side of the bed. The room is bright with mid-morning light shining through my curtains. I sit up, looking around. The bathroom door is open and the room dark. My eyes scour the room. The clothes she was wearing last night are still on the floor, but her duffle bag is open with things falling out.
I get out of bed pulling on a clean pair of boxers then I search my house for Avery. She’s not in the kitchen, but there’s a note in her cute round handwriting saying she’s gone out for breakfast and coffee. Thank the good lord. I need me some fancy coffee.
I don’t know how long Avery’s been gone already, but after waiting ten more minutes, I get up and start my morning workout. I’ve been going nonstop for an hour and, still, Avery isn’t home. I shower and dress before I call her. The call goes straight to voicemail and I’m worrying.
Did I do something last night? Did we move too fast? We’re pretty much back to where we started in terms of intimacy or whatever. She’s my girlfriend, I’m her boyfriend. We had the talk about labels and what we want and all that shit. We both decide we’re all in. I wonder if she had second thoughts and split. Wait, no, she wrote a note.
I sit at my piano, mindlessly playing a tune when I hear the front door open. I jump up from the bench so fast; I have to grab it quickly so it doesn’t topple over. I practically run to the entryway. She’s got tons of shopping bags in her hands and I rush to grab some of them.
“Did you go grocery shopping?” I ask.
“Yeah, we needed stuff for the house,” she replies with a wave of her hand. She doesn’t look at me, but I don’t miss the way she implied it’s our place. It makes my heart beat faster. Does she want to move in? I’d be down for that.
“I would have gone with you. You didn’t have to do that on your own,” I say putting away the things as she hands them to me.
Avery doesn’t answer, nor does she look at me. Her foot won’t stop tapping against the tile and she looks on edge. I wrap my arms around her body and hold her close to me. She stiffens at the contact at first, then she melts into me. We stand like that for a bit before I feel her body shaking. At first, I think she’s laughing, but it only takes a second to realize she’s crying.
I spin her around fast and crush her to my chest. She grasps my hips like I’m a lifeline and I’m so fucking confused. What happened while she was shopping. Maybe she ran into Rich. What am I thinking? That can’t be it. He wouldn’t shop for himself at a place like that.
“Avery, babe, what’s wrong?” I ask, pulling her away from me so I can see her face.
“I—I. Oh, Noah, I don’t want you to be upset,” she sobs. Her green eyes are glittering with her tears and they almost look like emeralds. I’m so colossally confused it’s not even fucking funny. There are very few things she could do that would upset me.
“Just tell me what’s wrong,” I plead.
I don’t let go of Avery because I know somewhere in my mind that she needs me to not stumble back in shock and leave this all to her, but internally, it’s like I was just punched in the gut. My breathing accelerates and I’m just staring into Avery’s beautiful eyes without seeing much as I work through what this means. Kendra didn’t want kids. She said they would ruin her body, but I love them. I always wanted kids… someday. Shit, I’m pretty much best friends with a five-year-old.
Kids are not something I’ve thought about since all the shit with Kendra went down. Who would I have them with? Avery’s going to make a kick-ass mom, but what about me? Will I make a good dad? My dad was okay, but by no means perfect. I don’t have any examples of good parenting except maybe Evan and Brooke.
“I’m so sorry, Noah. I promise I didn’t lie to you. I was on birth control. I don’t know what happened.”
My mind is brought back to the here and now. I blink a couple of times and Avery’s still standing in front of me crying. I give her a confused look.
“Why are you apologizing?” I ask.
“I don’t want you to think I tricked you into this. It wasn’t planned.”
“I know that. Avery, we’re having a baby,” I reply and it comes out sounding amazed.
Now that the initial shock has passed, I’m astounded. Avery’s growing my fucking baby in her stomach right now. Oh my god, we’re having a baby! Inside, I’m jumping up and down like Allie and Kristie do when they’re excited.
“You’re not mad?” Avery asks, and at least the tears have stopped.
“Not even a little. I know we haven’t been together long, but this is a good thing. I love kids. We can do this,” I say.
Avery pulls me closer to her and snuggles into my chest. I hold her tightly as she comes to terms with it all. I can’t run my fingers through her hair because it’s so curly, but I rub her back.
“Everything will be all right,” I whisper.
“I know,” she replies with a deep breath. She pulls back from me and smiles. It’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen, even with the red, puffy eyes and snot coming out of her nose.
I bring her to the living room so we can cuddle up on the couch. I put on the next movie in our Marvel marathon. Avery lays her head on my chest and wraps her arms around my middle. I circle her back with my fingers.
“So there are some things we should probably discuss,” Avery says after ten minutes of just watching the movie. I wait for her to go on.
“I need to schedule a doctor’s appointment for like confirmation and to see how far along I am.”
“Can I come?” I ask.
“Of course. I’d like you there for all of it. If we’re doing this together, we need to be a team,” Avery says.
“Just let me know when it is. I will be there.”
“The other thing is… well… the house I share with Rachel and Holly doesn’t exactly have room for a baby and, um, well, if we’re parenting together, it would make sense to have the nursery here. Right?” Avery stammers. I smile widely.
“Are you asking me if I want us to live together?”
“I know it’s sudden and not where we’re at in our relationship. We don’t have to do anything right away. I just thought it made sense.”
“Chill, Avery. I’m kidding. I would love for you to move in. I’ll move my gym to the garage and we can make that room into a nursery,” I reassure her. I kiss the top of her head and she sighs. She noticeably relaxes against me, and we’re quiet for some time.
“Do you think we should go baby shopping?” I ask.
“Maybe we should go to the doctor’s appointment first. I’ll make it for this week. Do you think we should tell my family on Thursday at dinner?”
“I’m sure they’ll love you’re carrying my baby. Now you can’t get rid of me,” I say with a snort.
“I think they’ll be thinking it’s the other way around. You have to keep me now,” Avery responds.
“That’s okay. I want to keep you.”
“Do you think we should get married?” she asks, and I can tell she’s nervous by the way her voice wobbles.
“Oh, okay.” Avery sniffles and I smile.
“I don’t want our baby to be the reason we get married. I want to get married because we’re so crazy in love we can’t stand not to be. This baby won’t be loved less because we aren’t married yet. I want to do it for the right reasons,” I explain.
Avery sits there in silence for a bit as she thinks about what I said. Am I in love with Avery? Yes, but I don’t want to say it and scare her. Or maybe it’s exactly what she does need to hear right now.
“I know it hasn’t been that long and things kinda went off the rails a few months ago, but I love you. I’m not saying it because of the baby or because of some weird obligation to you. Dr. Ali helped me to realize it during a session. This is so different from the love I had for Kendra. It’s so pure that I didn’t know what the feeling was at first. I didn’t want to say anything because some people might think it’s too soon. We’ve known each other for three months, but I feel what I feel. I love you, Avery, and I love our baby already.”
Avery’s sniffles have turned back into full-on crying. I’d be concerned, but she’s smiling. She moves until she’s straddling my lap. She puts a hand on each side of my face so I can look nowhere but into her eyes. She kisses me once on the mouth and pulls back with the cutest smile on her face.
“I love you, Noah. I thought I loved Rich, but it has nothing on all these feelings I have swirling around for you. It might be the hormones enhancing them, but I’m crazy for you. I don’t want to marry you out of obligation either, but because we’re so crazy in love, we can’t stand not to be.”
I wrap my arms around the small of her back and pull her close to me until our chests are pressed so tightly together I can feel her heartbeat. I kiss her deeply before picking her up and carrying her into our room. Our room! We’re moving in together and having a baby! How did I get so fucking lucky? I think I was due for some goodness in my life after the shit I endured.