Chapter 15 - You can
You're my boss.
You're about to be a dad.
You do things like that and I don't know what to think about it.
I always found myself listening closely to anything Eliza said, but when she said things like that, it rattled me.
Two of those were obviously true. I was indeed her boss, and I was without a doubt about to be a dad. Lila's swollen belly was an instant reminder as I looked down. She was wrapped in a light pink dress and heels tall enough to make me nervous.
Ada had been bending over backward throwing Lila and me a baby shower that started in five minutes but we were still sitting in my office.
"So do you think that will work?"
Lila asked. I cleared my throat, trying to get my mind to follow.
We'd been discussing what would happen when Lila's maternity leave was over. Seemed a little early to be worried about that but I couldn't fault her for being thorough. She wanted to hire a nanny, but something nagged at me with that idea. Something that I couldn't place.
"What if I brought her here with me during the week?"
"You want to bring a newborn here? Brady, you're so busy I don't see how that will work."
"I could be less busy. There are plenty of capable people here that I trust enough to delegate projects too."
I assured her. Although, plenty might have been an exaggeration.
Lila chewed her bottom lip but eventually nodded.
"If you're willing to do that, it would definitely help."
"I am. I'd love to spend the time with her."
And that was the truth. I could not wait until that was a reality.
Before I knew what was happening Lila was on her feet and wrapping her arms around my neck. Her belly made it difficult to hug from any position except the side.
She sniffled and I pulled back.
"Hey, no crying."
I told her as she pushed fresh tears off her face. I absentmindedly rubbed her back and she looked up at me. For a split second, it felt as if I'd been transported back in time to the beginning of our relationship. She would cry because of something that happened at work, I would threaten to knock someone's head off, she would laugh lightly and I would-
Lila's lips pressed against mine and I froze. My trip to the past came to a screeching halt and she pulled away and covered her mouth.
"I'm so sorry."
She whispered as she dropped her hands to her belly.
"No, I don't know what happened. I just- it just-"
I assured her. Because I did. It felt all too familiar.
"We should probably go out there now."
She said as she smoothed her hands over her dress. I blinked a few times, trying to wrap my head around what just happened. It was an accident, sure. But hadn't her lips been softer? Hadn't she tasted sweeter?
I ignored all of that and followed Lila out into the hallway and into the large break room on the main floor.
"You look great!"
Ada smiled as she pulled Lila into a tight hug.
"Thanks, I feel huge."
"Nonsense, you're beautiful. You might even inspire me to design a maternity line."
Jess chimed in before looking up at me. Ada took Lila to her chair and I felt Jess' gaze burn right through me.
"Should I hire you? You're here more than you're at your studio."
I teased her, it was our thing.
"Possibly. But before you do, you might wanna remove that incredibly distinct shade of pink lipstick from your lips, it doesn't suit you."
She grinned as she handed me a napkin from the table beside us.
I wiped my lips and looked down at the napkin, sure enough, a smear of Lila's lipstick stared back at me. I looked up and met Eliza's eyes. She quickly looked away, busying herself by shifting food around.
Since the first time I kissed Eliza, I hadn't kissed another woman until now. I hadn't even thought about kissing another woman.
Had she kissed another man?
Who the hell was she kissing?
And why did I make me want to rip someone's eyes out?
The shower proceeded, lots of games, too much food, and more baby things than I knew what to do with but I hadn't ignored the fact that Eliza had disappeared. One minute she was there, and the next she was gone.
I looked around the room once more just to be sure.
"You are incredibly obvious."
Ada spoke from behind me. I turned around and took a while box of diapers out of her hands.
"She left, something about an early dinner with her sister. I'm not sure."
She shrugged then crossed her arms over her chest while eyeing me.
"Just say what you want to say."
I urged. I wanted Ada's opinion on whatever she thought was going on. Listening didn't mean I was confirming or denying anything.
"Brady, you're about to have a baby with another woman."
She sighed. Why did people love reminding me of that?
"I'm aware. And?"
"And, that's a lot. Not only for you but for any woman who wants to be involved in your life. You're about to become a package deal."
A package deal.
Damn it. Why did she have to make sense?
I walked over to set the diapers down with all the other gifts and Ada followed me.
"I'm not going to propose to her. I'm just-"
I struggled with putting what I was thinking into words.
Ada waited patiently for me to finish but it was pointless.
"Look, all I'm saying is your life is about to become more serious. Maybe Eliza wants the same thing for hers. Different versions, obviously."
I agreed as I slumped down onto the nearest chair.
"Sounds like you two need to have a conversation."
Ada squeezed my shoulder as she walked by to move more gifts.
I had tried though. Hadn't I?
I felt like I had, and I felt like Eliza shot me down. Or tried to at least.
It occurred to me then that I was willing to go further than I had anticipated because the idea of not spending time with her annoyed the hell out of me.
I pulled my phone from my pocket as I walked to my office. I pressed it to my ear and sat down behind my desk while I waited for her to answer, which took too long.
"I want to take you on a date."
"I want to take you on a date, Eliza. And if you need me to say it again, I will."
I think a lifetime passed before I heard her respond.
She almost whispered the word and for some reason, I found myself fighting a smile.
"Because I want to."
Seemed simple enough to me.
I could practically hear her hesitation through the phone.
"Just think about it okay. I like you, Eliza. Let me show you."
If it wasn't for the fact that I could hear her breathing, I would've thought the call had dropped. But I waited until she finally spoke.
"I don't have plans Friday."
I didn't even pretend to check my calendar, because even if I had plans I was going to cancel them.
"Friday it is then."
I leaned back in my chair and released a breath.
"See you in the morning, Mr. Bolthouse."
She laughed before hanging up.
The fact that I had to wait three days was bad enough, but I also had to watch Eliza walk around the office as she absentmindedly teased me while doing it.
A knock at my door filtered through the image of her in her curve-hugging dresses and long legs.
Lila stuck her head in the crack of the door.
I said as I stood up and rounded my desk.
"This was great Brady, seriously."
She smiled and it made me smile.
"It was all Ada, I can't take any credit."
"I know. But she did it because she cares about you, they all do."
She walked closer and I automatically put my hands around her belly.
"Is she? Maybe she will give me a good kick."
Just as the words left my mouth I felt a strong kick against my palm.
Lila and I both looked up at each other and laughed.
I'd never once in my life considered something like that could make my day, but there I was, over the moon about it.
"I know that I have no right to say this, but I want to try again."
Lila had whispered, but to my ears, her words sounded more like a scream.
I kept my hands on her belly, slowly rubbing back and forth as I found myself speechless for possibly the first time.
"I still love you, Brady. I never stopped."
Her voice cracked and it made me grind my teeth.
"Lila. . ."
I tried to find something to say but nothing was making sense.
"It's okay. I had to tell you before I exploded."
She smiled weakly as she pushed a tear from her cheek.
She stepped back, leaving my hands empty so I shoved them in my pockets.
"I should go."
She turned around and made her way to the door while everything inside of me begged to say something but I couldn't get the right thing to come out.
"I'll have the gifts delivered to your house."
I told her as I mentally kicked myself.
She nodded then closed the door behind her.
I sat down and tried to sort through my thoughts.
At one point, I'd planned to marry Lila. I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her, and she was pregnant with my child.
Something had changed. One thing in particular.
If it weren't for that, then I might've been able to tell Lila what she wanted to hear. We might've been able to make it work.
But when I thought about that future something didn't feel right.
And the realization of the future that did feel right, threw me for a fucking loop.