No Such Luck

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Chapter 3 - Worlds

Brady

I watched from my office window as Lila crossed the busy street toward my building. My heart sped up as the cars jerked to a stop for her. Atlanta's traffic was my least favorite thing about the city and now with the woman that was more than likely carrying my child in the middle of it made my stomach do a weird flip.

Once her feet had safely landed on the sidewalk I turned on my heel and left my office, heading to the elevator bay down the hall.

I passed Ada on the way and she gave me a thumbs up and I took a deep calming breath.

I could do this.

I could do this.

I had to do this.

I watched the numbers change at the top of the elevators until the doors slid open.

Lila's head popped up and her caramel eyes collided with mine.

God, she was so pretty. It was almost painful to look at her.

She swallowed then stepped onto the slate tile in front of me and that was the moment that noticed her belly. It was hard not to picture a tiny version of her or me swimming around in there. She was so slim the thought of her growing an entire baby seemed impossible.

"Brady?"
Her small voice pierced through my thoughts and I looked up from her stomach.

"People are staring."
She whispered as she looked around slowly.

I cut my eyes at a few of the onlookers and they quickly averted their gazes. I didn't do workplace drama and I sure as hell didn't create it.

"Hungry?"
I asked as I offered her my arm.

She nodded and wrapped her hand around my bicep. It felt too good, too right but I wasn't about to move it.

I reminded myself of the list of questions Ada had made for me.

"Are you having any cravings?"
I asked, food seemed like a good place to start seeing as we were headed to find lunch.

"Pasta. All the pasta."
She nodded and she smiled that one shy smile of hers.

"Pasta it is."

We walked across the street and down the block to one of the best Italian restaurants in the city without saying a word.

I wasn't sure what to say and I guess she wasn't either.

After the hostess seated us, I broke the silence.

"What are you thinking?"
I needed to know so bad I couldn't even put it into words.

She sat her menu down and sighed.

"I'm thinking that I should've tried harder to get in touch with you. I should've called you a thousand times a day, I should've bull-rushed your secretary and pounded on your office door until you let me in. I was the one who messed up, and you don't deserve to be punished for it."
She wiped a tear off of her cheek and I caught her hand as she eased it back down.

"It's not your fault," I shook my head before continuing, "I'm shit at communicating, I know that and this really takes the cake."
I smiled at her and she laughed and suddenly my world felt almost right again.

"I didn't sleep with him."
She whispered so that only I could hear and my world went right back to skewed.

No one had ever hurt me the way that Lila had. There was still a tattered edge to my heart that just wouldn't heal no matter what I did. I walked into the record label's office that she works for and saw her lips pressed to some young up-and-coming rock stars and I lost my mind.

My sweet Lila. I never would've thought.

"You've said that."
I sighed as I dropped her hand and picked up the menu. She had told me that a good thousand times and she could say it as many times as she wanted but I wasn't sure that my heart could ever repair itself. It hurt, there was no other way to put it. It hurt all the time and I hated it.

The waiter walked over with fresh bread and Lila practically drolled at the sight. It was such a roller coaster of emotions for me. One second I wanted to jump up and run away from her and the next I wanted to feed her all the pasta and bread that she could want.

"What other cravings have you had?"
I asked.

She took a bite of bread and chewed it quickly.

"Mostly savory things. Oh and fruit. Oh my gosh, a peach sounds so good right now."

Peaches. I could have a bag full of peaches delivered to her every day if that's what she and the baby liked.

"Do you know the gender?"
I asked and she shook her head.

"No, I thought at first that I wanted it to be a surprise but it's driving me nuts. I feel like I need to know. I thought about going to one of those private sneak peek places where they can tell you the gender since I missed my chance on the anatomy scan."

I had no idea what she had just said but I felt some sort of disappointment not being able to find out from her right then if there was a boy or a girl growing inside of her. But that quickly turned into joy when I realized I could experience that feeling in real-time.

"Let's find out today."
I nodded.

"Today?"

"After lunch, if that works with your schedule. We can go to the sneaky peek place you mentioned."
I told her.

"Sneak peek."
She laughed.

"Yeah, that. I'll call them now."
I pulled out my phone and started googling while she smiled at me.

"What?"
I asked as she eyed me.

"You really are different, huh?"

As of yesterday when I hung up the phone with her I was. I had no other option.

I smiled back at her and continued my search. I found the best-rated sneak peek near us and called to schedule an appointment within the hour. After throwing in a free plug in Bolthouse's next issue our appointment was set.

After ordering and watching Lila put down not only her food but half of mine I was betting there was a tiny linebacker in her belly demanding all of those carbs.

After a short ride in an Uber, we made it to the appointment and I laced my fingers through Lila's. She looked down at our hands and I squeezed hers in reassurance. I wasn't completely sure what I wanted from Lila other than to be a part of this and that had to be enough.

After signing in the nurse brought us right back to a room and Lila laid back onto the bed and pulled her shirt up, tucking the hem into her bra. She unbuttoned her jeans and I got a full view of the glory that was her growing belly. I eased my body into the chair next to the bed and pulled in as close as possible so I could rest my elbows on the edge of the mattress.

I looked over and Lila and she nodded slightly as if she already knew what I was thinking.

I slowly laid both of my hands on her exposed skin, one resting just above her pubic bone and the other on top of the tiny bump. My hands covered her entire stomach and it felt amazing. A part of me was in there, I knew it was true. It was growing and moving around and it would be out in this big world in no time at all. Lila's hand covered mine as she rubbed her index finger over my knuckles.

"Are we ready to see what this baby is?"
The nurse asked and Lila and I both nodded. I moved my left hand but kept my right one securely on top of the bump. It might have to be surgically removed when all of this was said and done because I didn't really have plans to stop touching it now. I absentmindedly rubbed Lila's skin on her stomach as she rubbed the top of my hand and my heart ached. I wanted it to be real so bad.

I focused on what was real. The image of my child popped up on the screen and nothing could've ever prepared me for that. It was in black and white and was a little grainy but that was okay. The profile was easy enough to identify and the fact that I could watch him or her as she moved around was nothing short of mesmerizing. The nurse moved the wand around a little and I tried my hardest to identify other body parts.

"Okay, you guys ready?"
She asked and Lila squeezed my hand. I looked down at her and she nodded.

"Ready."
I told the nurse in the most even tone I could manage.

She moved the wand again slightly and I squinted at the screen.

"It's a girl."
She smiled as she looked back at both of us and I felt the moment that the world righted itself again.

It was a solid shift, there was nothing subtle about it. It clicked right back into place as if it had never been off to begin with.

I leaned down and pressed my lips to Lila's tiny bump that held our daughter and I felt the edges of my heart smooth out.

The tiny baby on the screen was already healing me and no doubt for selfish reasons, because the second she was able to hold it, my heart would be hers.
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