"So, are you really sure about this?"
I nodded to Krista, who stopped wiping the trays she was about to stack up. She was a great boss. She understood my decision.
"Well, then... As long as your heart is in it," she said with a sigh. I just smiled and stroked a hand over my growing belly.
"You look much better, by the way. I'm glad you two worked it out, because I was getting really concerned about your health. Did you tell your parents yet?"
"Unfortunately, no. But we're going there later today. They'll meet Aaron for the first time, too."
I made a face that caused her to laugh.
"I hope everything goes well, then. With everything."
Krista came over to give me a hug.
"And you better drop by when you're in town."
She pulled back and gave me a strict squint, but both of us ended up laughing instead.
"And you better name her after me."
"I'm not calling my baby a curse word!" I exclaimed, and we laughed even louder. She knew I was just joking.
"I gotta get going, though," I said, and watched as a customer signed for Krista's attention.
"Yep. Good luck with your parents."
"Thanks. I need it. And I hope you get someone to take my shift."
She replied with a smile. And with that, our conversation was over and it was final.
I was moving to San Francisco.
The doctor's appointment went great. Instead of being pissed and on edge, Aaron was excited and held my hand, while he asked to see our little princess just one more time.
"She looks like a little Bambi," he'd said, and the statement did something to me. The way he kissed my forehead and kept smiling, made it really, really hard not to get emotional, but I ended up shedding a few tears anyway. Then he made a comment about practicing on making more babies when we were back at the hotel, and I'd started coughing while I checked to see if Dr. Weldbaum had heard. If he did, he was professional enough to pretend like nothing.
Now we were on our way to my childhood home; a little villa outside of the city that had a lot of similarities to a cottage, without being one, of course. It was made of thick timber walls that were painted brown, with white window frames. My friends had teased me about growing grass on the roof, or maybe even vegetables, but I just rolled my eyes at them. Thankfully, it was made of copper, which literally had made my mom faint when she found out how expensive it was. But together with the modern driveway and Japanese inspired garden, the cottage feeling became less prominent. Nevertheless, it had been a good and safe place to grow up.
I had never been more nervous to open the door, though. Not even after I'd crashed my dad's beloved Mercedes. But with the picture of our baby in one hand, and Aaron's fingers entangled with my own on the other, I took a deep breath when we finally stood on the porch.
"I don't know how long it takes, but I'll come and get you when they're calm enough not to kill you."
He chuckled, but I could see he was nervous too.
"And can we please not tell them that you were my father in law? They never met you since we celebrated the wedding separately, so they don't know anything about you or your relations with Rocco. And what they don't know won't hurt them. Besides, Rocco isn't your son anymore, so..."
Aaron suddenly frowned.
"Yes, he is. Nothing will change that."
I smiled. It seemed like their conversation went well after all. He'd better tell me more about that later. But now... I adjusted my huge hoodie, because it was time for The Talk.
I'd gone through this scenario so many times in my head, but all of them were completely pointless now when Aaron was back in the picture. Exactly how much of the truth should I tell them? Should I twist it a bit to make it less shocking? To fall in love with your father in law was unheard of and morally forbidden, so I knew it was best they'd never know about that. But what about the age gap? Should I lie and tell them that Aaron was younger than he was? I hadn't talked to him about that, and maybe he'd accidentally tell them without knowing about my white lie? That was indeed a huge risk to take.
"Martina! Thank you Jesus!" mom erupted when she saw me. Then she rushed over to hug me, and I awkwardly returned it while I made sure she didn't notice my baby bump.
"Do you have any idea how worried I've been? I thought you said your flight was yesterday? What happened? And why the friggin' frog didn't you answer your phone?"
Because I didn't know what to say.
"I know, and I'm sorry. I've been really busy helping Rocco with... Uhm. Something."
"But he signed the divorce papers, at least."
"He did?" she burst out, and clapped her hands together in joy. I'd only told them half of the truth about why we split. It was best that way, for Rocco's sake.
"And the reason it took so long is that we had to figure out what to do with the apartment, and sort out our belongings."
That didn't even take two hours, but anyway. She didn't have to know that. I hated lying to her, though.
"But why didn't you answer your phone?"
Okay. It was time. But just as I was about to tell her the big news, my dad came out from his home office.
"I knew I recognized that voice!" he exclaimed, and hugged me as well. Once again it felt weird not to hug them like a normal person, but they'd both know why in a couple of minutes.
"Rocco finally signed the papers. They're now officially divorced, and can move on. They've even decided to sell the apartment," she said triumphantly. Then she looked at me.
"You are selling it, right? Or did one of you decide to keep it? Oh, Martina. I don't think it's a good idea if you stay there with all those memories. I'll get harder..."
"Mom!" I yelled, to stop her.
But she cut me off, too.
"Oh, that's good. I mean..."
"Stop cackling, you two," my dad interrupted, and I struggled not to giggle at how right he was.
"Let the girl talk. Now, why couldn't you sign the contract here?"
"I don't know, actually. He gave me an ultimatum. He wouldn't sign unless I came there, and I guess it was because he needed to be close to his parents. He's taken the divorce pretty badly, so..."
Okay, that sounded logical. It was the truth as far as I knew anyway.
"I see. So you'll start looking for your own place, then? Because I'm not helping you search," she said, and I groaned.
"I've turned twenty-five, mom. I can't live at home forever, besides..."
...I'm moving to San Francisco by the end of this week.
But I never got that far, because my dad wrapped his large bear arm around my shoulders.
"I'll help you search. I actually happen to know a guy, who's neighbor..."
"Guys! Hear me out! Please!"
I got their attention, and both of them suddenly had cautious faces.
"I already have a place to stay. It's with my boyfriend..."
"You have a boyfriend?" mom blurted out.
"...in San Francisco."
"What?" dad choked. Then he shook his head, both in protest and in disbelief. Mom just whimpered.
"You're moving to San Francisco? That's on the other side of the country!"
"I didn't even know you had a boyfriend," mom said, shocked.
"Did you see him behind Rocco's back?"
Yes, I did, but you'll never know that. Hopefully.
"Because I swear I'm gonna whoop your ass to the moon and back..."
"You're not moving in with someone you've known for a couple of months!" dad boomed, and I cowered under his demanding glare.
"I've known him for a year, but I swear there weren't any romantic feelings until lately! Not until after Rocco and I decided to split!"
"That doesn't matter. You're not moving to the other side of America just because you're having a crush on someone."
"But it's not just a crush, dad. It's so much more than that. He's the love of my life..."
"I don't care what you think!" I snapped back at him. Mom just stood there with tears in her eyes and didn't know what to say.
"I love him just the way you love mom. Besides, that's not the whole reason."
I started pulling off my hoodie, and heard my mom gasp.
"Don't tell me..." she whispered to herself, more startled than ever, and for a moment I was afraid she'd faint.
"I'm pregnant. And Aaron Cooper is the father and the man I'm moving in with. He is the one for me. He's the one I wanna grow old with."
I stroked a hand over my belly as to seek comfort and strength, but the silence that followed was the longest and most dreadful kind. This was exactly what I'd feared.
"Please say something," I begged.
"Why didn't you tell us?"
Mom spoke slowly, and I swear I'd never heard her voice that shaky before. I wanted to hug her, mostly because I needed a hug. I wanted her to rub my back and tell me everything would be fine. Instead I had another big thing to say.
"Because I thought you'd hate me. But... Mom? Dad? Aaron is eighteen years older than me."
"I gotta sit down," mom mumbled. She grabbed the nearest chair, and almost crashed into it as she stumbled to sit, then hid her face in her hands.
"Jesus Christ, Martina! He could've been your father! He's five years younger than me. That's..."
"I know! But I couldn't help it! I tried to push him away and out of my life, but I just can't. I'm so miserable without him that I can't even express it. And he was even worse than me."
Mom suddenly looked up and straight at my stomach.
"You're more than a couple of months pregnant, Martina. We're not stupid. You didn't separate from Rocco until a couple of months ago."
She paused, and I hated her judging glare.
"It was your fault, wasn't it? You're the one who ruined your marriage."
"No! Mom! That isn't even important!"
"Isn't important?" she yelled and stood up.
"You lied to your husband! You lied to us!"
"He lied too! Dammit. I didn't want to tell you this because I don't want you to judge him, but Rocco's bisexual. He never loved me the way a husband should love his wife, and he only married me because he had to."
Both mom and I were sobbing by now, and dad was pacing back and forth while he combed his hands through his almost non-existent hair. But I would never ever tell them the whole story behind that. They knew more than they should already.
"Rocco and I are over. Both of us knew that on New Year's eve. And now I'm moving on with the man I love and who is the father of my baby. Your grandchild," I added emphasizing the last part, and mom cried even harder.
"But San Francisco? What did we ever do to you to make you move as far away from us as possible? And then all these lies."
"Don't you get it? Your reaction now is the reason why I didn't say anything!" I exclaimed exasperatedly.
"But what about your education? You were supposed to continue with the last year at the university. Oh, my gosh! Please don't tell me that you want to be a waitress all your life?"
"Of course not!" I scoffed.
"And even if I did, it wouldn't be the end of the world. It's a nice and social job, and somebody has to do it."
I exhaled heavily through pursed lips. I couldn't even remember last time I was this frustrated.
"I only took a break from studying, and I still mean that. Besides, there are schools in San Francisco too, so stop making it sound worse than it is."
Aaron interrupted in the least convenient moment ever, and I wanted to rush over to him and push him out of the house. Still, I kind of understood him too. He came all the way to New York to sort things out. Of course he wanted to meet my parents. The only problem was that right now they represented everything that my family wasn't. The picture I'd painted about a loving and supportive family, which usually was the truth, was thoroughly smashed to bits. And to top it all, my dad stormed towards him and punched him right in the face, even before Aaron managed to defend himself.
"DAD!" I screamed, and ran towards them.
Dad shook his hand and Aaron leaned against the wall while he rubbed his cheekbone. His nose was already bleeding, but it didn't look broken, and surprisingly, mom was sane enough to bring us a towel. But I'd had more than enough, so I turned to them both.
"Mom? Dad? This is not a final goodbye, but I'll have someone to pick up my stuff and bring it to San Francisco. I don't want to talk to either of you unless you have something nice to say. And you know I don't curse a lot, but I'm gonna ask you to kindly fuck the hell off!"
Then we left.