As promised, Cole never left Lilly’s side. He moved an air mattress into her room and slept on that at night. He was there when she started cramping and passed the little baby, barely the size of a cupcake, out in a pool of blood. She cried herself to sleep that night, and woke up screaming in her dreams.
Cole jumped up and ran to her side.
“What’s wrong, Lilly?”
“I dreamed that Sara was yelling at me for killing her baby. She said that I was a disappointment and a murderer.” Lilly cried hysterically.
“Oh, baby, none of that is true. You are wonderful, and loving, and thoughtful. You think of others before you think of yourself. That’s your subconscience bothering you. Sara loved you, even if she didn’t know how to show it. Lie back down and let me get you some water,” Cole said, and returned with a glass of water and a wet cloth for Lilly’s head.
As he was getting ready to lie back down on the air mattresses, Lilly asked if he would lie with her until she fell asleep.
If only Lilly knew how difficult that request was, but he promised to do anything for her, and so he laid down and put his arm under her neck and let her roll into him. He felt her chest rise and fall with each tear until she eventually fell asleep. Unfortunately, he hadn’t thought this through, because she was under his arm and she had her arm around his waist. If he moved, he was afraid that she would awaken, so he lay there quietly, listening to her soft breaths, and tried not to think about her body and the heat it was generating.
The next morning, Lilly awoke to find Cole by her side. She felt comfortable with him. He didn’t try anything or make her feel clingy. He just held her and let her sleep. This time, she didn’t have a nightmare. It was a beautiful dream with her and Cole playing at the beach with a little dark-haired boy with green eyes. He was beautiful, and Cole was teaching him how to fly a kite. It was just how she wanted her life to be. She realized that she wanted the whole package: love, marriage, children. She wanted Cole, but was that fair to him or to Sara’s memories?
She pulled herself out of his embrace and went into the bathroom to wash her face. She looked so white. It reminded her of Sara. She wondered if she reminded Cole of Sara.
Why was she torturing herself?
She went into the kitchen and made a pot of coffee. She assumed that she could be up, since she miscarried the baby already. She wondered what Cole had done with the tiny infant. She would ask him later, but right now it just felt good to be upright.
She fixed Cole a cup of coffee and walked it into the bedroom. When she sat on the bed, she heard him moan.
“Cole. Do you want some coffee?” she asked.
Without opening his eyes, he replied, “Yes, darling. It’s been a long time since you brought me coffee in bed.”
“I’ve never brought you coffee in bed,” Lilly reminded him.
“Sara, stop playing games and kiss me.” And he rose up and planted a huge kiss on Lilly’s mouth.
She dropped the coffee, which caused him to become fully awake and realize what he had done.
“Oh my goodness, Lilly. I’m so sorry. I was dreaming,” he said in haste. He jumped out of the bed and ran and got a wash cloth to wipe up the coffee that was still stinging Lilly’s hand.
“Lilly, hand me the coffee,” he insisted.
She did, and then she walked out of the room and sat on the couch.
Cole ran after her, cursing along the way. He kissed her and worse yet, he called her Sara. He didn’t know how to get out of this except to be honest.
“Lilly, I know you are mad at me.”
“I’m not mad. You kissed me thinking I was Sara. I get that. It didn’t mean anything,” she said, trying to not let her eyes fill up with tears.
“That’s not true - well, not exactly. Look, it’s been along time since I’ve slept in the same bed as a woman...any woman. Naturally, I thought it was my wife.” He fumbled with his words.
“So what part wasn’t true?” she inquired.
“Yes, that it didn’t mean anything,” he said honestly.
“Cole, you didn’t even know who you were kissing, so how do you know it meant anything?”
“Because most nights I dream of you, not Sara. I don’t know why I did last night, but when I dream of you, it’s real. Sara’s not real. She’s gone. You are here, and it did mean something.”
“It’s best if you go back to your room and back to work. I’m fine now. I will stay around the house, but I think it’s best if we keep our distance for a while,” Lilly said, and got up to refill her coffee cup.
“Lilly?” Cole called out in anguish. He didn’t mean to kiss her, not like that, and especially not calling her by Sara. He hated his subconscience.
He got a call from Dr. Winters and he explained that Lilly did indeed pass the fetus. When he got off the phone he went into the kitchen and found Lilly washing dishes.
“You are supposed to be resting,” he said, and then continued, “I just talked with Dr. Winters, and he wants you in his office Friday. He wants to run more tests.”
“Fine,” she said, and then turned around and walked into her bedroom and shut the door.
It felt like the door to Cole’s heart was closing. He didn’t know how to make it up to her. He knew that he had hurt her.
He spent the rest of the day cleaning house and washing linens and towels that were still heavily soaked with blood, and then he went outside and dug a small grave for his unborn child.
When he came back in, he made lunch for Lilly and knocked on her door to deliver it.
She told him to just leave it and she would get it later.
She was totally cutting him out.
He refused to let this happen again.
He opened the door, only to realize that she was standing naked looking at her profile in the mirror.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” he said quickly, and closed the door.
He could tell last night while holding her that she was starting to pooch out a little, but she was still so frail that he wasn’t sure if it would even be noticed by others. However, seeing her naked, he could see that she was definitely showing. and she was beautiful.
When Lilly opened the door, she was red and flushed.
“I told you to leave it and I’d get it,” she scolded.
“I’m sorry, Lilly. I thought you were shutting me out, and I couldn’t go through that again. I promise I will respect your privacy from now on.” Cole sounded sincere and she could see why he was persistent considering how Sara had treated him, banishing him out of their bedroom.
“Come on in. We need to talk.” She invited him in, and he brought in the tray.
“I get why you kissed me and why you called me Sara. It’s only natural. It’s just been three months since she died. I had no right to be hateful toward you. I was just shocked. We never talk about her, and you surprised me.”
“Lilly, I don’t talk about her because our lives were miserable at the end. She was so consumed with having a baby that she even cheated on me. She kicked me out of our bed and she was hateful toward me. I just chalked it up to hormones, but being with you, I see that she was so different than you. You are loving and thoughtful, and she was angry and vindictive. I’m not trying to speak ill of the dead, but our marriage wouldn’t have lasted much longer. Yes, I said her name, but only because I haven’t kissed another woman in years, and I can’t let myself fall for you,” Cole admitted, while looking down at his hands.
“Why?” she asked with sincerity in her eyes.
“Um, let’s see One: you are my sister-in-law; Two: you are ten years younger than me; Three: you deserve someone who loves you and doesn’t have baggage; and Four: I don’t want to cause your family anymore pain than I already have.”
“Well those are the stupidest reasons I’ve ever heard,” Lilly said with a smile.
“They are?” Cole asked unsure of where this was leading.
“Yes. Anymore stupid reasons?” she smirked.
“Yes. Five: you are a virgin and I shouldn’t be the one who robs you of that.”
“It’s my virginity. If I want to give it away, I can,” Lilly said defiantly.
“I think your father would have a different opinion of that,” Cole responded.
“Do you love me? I mean like love-love not family love?” she inquired.
“Yes,” he said quietly.
“Are you ashamed of me?”
“No, not at all. I think you are brilliant and sexy, even pregnant.”
“Then shut up and kiss me”
He leaned in to do as he was told, but Lilly put her finger on his lips. “After you say my name”
“Lilly, I love you, and I want to marry you when it’s decent and
acceptable.” And with that declaration, Cole kissed her as she had never been kissed before.
She pulled him into her and met his kiss with the same hungriness that he had. She loved him and wanted to marry him too, but he was right. It had to be at a time that was decent and acceptable.
When he pulled out of the kiss she told him that he best take his air mattress out of the room, because she couldn’t have him that close and kiss her like that.
He just laughed and placed it outside her door. He wasn’t going to leave her side.
Later at lunch, she asked about where the fetus was.
She walked outside, holding his hand, and saw the small grave that he made for their lost one. She cried again, but this time, Cole pulled her close and rubbed her belly and said that it was time for her to go and lay down once more.
“You’ve been up too long. Come on, my love, let’s get you in bed,” he said and then heard a voice that he recognized but couldn’t place.
“Lilly? Is that you?”
They both turned their head and saw Ricky Wilcox standing nearly three feet from them and their buried child.
“Ricky? What are you doing here?” Lilly asked, realizing that she was still in her robe.
“I live in the complex. What about you?” he asked, looking her up and down and then shooting daggers at Cole.
“We live here too,” she replied, realizing that she was still holding Cole’s hand. His grip was tighter and he refused to let her go.
“We?” Ricky asked.
“You remember Cole,” she replied.
“Sara’s grieving husband. Yeah, I think I remember him,” Ricky said with sarcasm dripping from every word.
“So you got knocked up?”
Cole instantly dropped Lilly’s hand and headed toward Ricky, trying to bridge their distance.
Lilly instead reached for his hand and said, “Appears that way.
Come on, Cole. I need to get to bed.”
Turning around, she said a brief goodbye to Ricky but nothing else.
Inside, Cole was steaming.
“Why did you let him talk to you that way?”
“Isn’t that what everyone thinks, Cole? That we grieved ourselves to the point that I got pregnant?” Lilly asked in all sincerity.
“Honestly, I don’t know what everyone thinks, but I don’t like the implications, and neither should you,” Cole reprimanded.
“Cole, I don’t care. You and I know the truth, and so do my parents. Who cares what everyone else thinks?”
She reached up and kissed him tenderly on the lips.
“What’s the deal with you and Ricky, anyway?” he asked, as if he didn’t even feel the kiss.
“We went out through high school and then into college until I caught him in bed with my roommate, who was my childhood best friend.”
“He cheated on you? I don’t believe it.”
“Well it’s true. He didn’t tell my parents, and so they brought him with them to the airport as a surprise, but he was insufferable. I finally told my mother and father the truth and they threw him out. They are very protective of me, if you didn’t know that already.” Lilly smiled and thought she might try that soft kiss once more.
“Wonder what they think of me, taking advantage of you?” Cole asked, still ignoring her kiss.
“You haven’t taken advantage of me.”
“I will, if you keep kissing me.” He smiled and kissed her back this time, making up for ignoring her the previous two times.
“I didn’t think you noticed,” she whispered.
“I notice everything about you, Lillian Williams.” And he pushed her back into her bedroom and told her to lie down.
“Or what will you do?” she teased.
“God, Lilly, you are trying to kill me!” he said, and shut the door behind himself.