Josh had fucked off to work but said Aleah would stop in after she saw Helena. I actually wanted to thank her for helping me with everything, I was such a nervous wreck yesterday I’m not sure I did.
There’s finally some life back in my phone so I check through my messages, fire flooding through my veins as I see another message from Chrissy saying we need to talk. Take a fucking hint love, it’s been months, I have fuck all to say to you.
Slamming it down on the bed it suddenly begins to ring, for a second I get ready to rip her damn head off but see it’s actually my boy Ross from work.
“Hey man, everything good? I got your email but I can’t work on the code in here, WiFi’s fucking shit.”
He laughs. “It’s all good mate, it’s not going anywhere, I just sent it so you’d have it when you get out. Any news on when that will be?”
I look down at my laptop screen, the soothing rows of ones and zeros staring back at me like they’re mocking my existence. Yes I see you, annoying little shits that control the world.
“Just waiting on the doc, should be here any minute. If they can get the surgery done this week and it all goes good, I will be home in like a week or two.”
He breathes a sigh of relief. He’s a good bloke, the three of us started this company from nothing, just three guys in a college dorm with too much time on our hands. Now we’re set to blow a wide open hole in the market with our latest software.
“That’s good man, I tried to come in and see you last week but some crazy pregnant girl said you’d just fallen asleep and if I tried to get in to wake you she’d have me castrated. Friend of yours I hope?”
Aleah, people told me Brie was the mental one but I think they all underestimate that girl.
“Friend, resident psycho, whatever you like to call her. Pretty sure she ate all my Cheetos while I was sleeping.” All my chips seem to disappear when she’s around...
“Well I’m glad that kid ain’t yours because that is one crazy baby mama.” You and me both mate. “You thought any more about Germany? I’ve told them we wouldn’t be making any decisions until after Christmas with you still being in hospital and that but they’re going to want an answer soon.”
Germany. The only thing I’ve thought about more than Brie these last few weeks. Our company got the offer of a lifetime to co-create something world defining with an elite engineering company based in Berlin, but they want one of us to physically be there for eighteen months or more while it’s happening. Ross and Jack both have kids here, lives they can’t easily just pick up and move, I seemed like the best option.
Now I have so much to stay for too... I can’t imagine leaving her right when everything is getting going.
“Yeah I’m still thinking about it. They sent me the offer and it’s insane, we’d be moving into a whole new fucking league, I just want to make sure we’re ready.”
He knows I’m full of shit, but he’s a good enough mate to let it go.
There’s a gentle knock at the door and the doctor I’ve grown so used to seeing opens it, his white grizzly beard entering the room before he does.
“Docs here, call me about the bug on the app when you find it and I’ll see what I can do from here.”
I hang up as the doctor comes to the bottom of my bed and checks over my charts. I feel fine now, yeah I’m still sore as shit and my shoulder is probably fucked for life but otherwise I’m golden.
“What’s up doc?”
He gives me the glare he gives me every time I say that but I still can’t stop myself.
“How are you feeling today? Any headache or nausea?”
I shake my head. “Nope, all good. We set now for this week so I can get the fuck out of here. No offence doc but I’d rather wake up to anyone else’s face but yours now.”
He chuckles. “It’s my understanding that you woke up to a face much more glorious than mine this morning. Want to explain to me how you got the nurses to agree to your romantic escapade when I can’t even get anyone to bring me a half decent cup of coffee?”
Poor guy. “What can I say? They like my charm.” Or more precisely, forty year old women whose husbands haven’t satisfied them in twenty of those years tend to bend to my will when I stand there flirting with no top on. Abs and tats get them every fucking time.
“We’re set for Tuesday, do you need me to explain the procedure again?”
“No. You go in, scramble my brain a bit, get out and I get to go home as soon as it’s all back together.”
He laughs. “Put simply, yes. Have you spoken to your next of kin about the risks? I see your father is listed as the payee for the treatment but I have your brother as next of kin, is that correct? Would you like me to explain it to him?”
Please don’t remind me that my father is paying for all this shit, if I was in a position to argue when they put me here I never would’ve let them. Although it is bringing me more pleasure than I thought it would to know I’m draining the only thing he actually cares about - his bank account.
“Josh will just freak, he’s crap with this type of stuff. I’m gonna be fine so no need to worry him.”
I can see the doc doesn’t agree but he isn’t given time to argue when the door swing open and in comes a walking pile of potato chips.
“Hey doc, do me a favour and take these will you? This baby just shoved her foot into my bladder and I’m going to piss myself.”
The doctor hurriedly takes the chips from Aleah’s arms and places them on the bed by my feet as she knocks him flying in her hurry to reach the bathroom.
He looks at her scurrying past him. “I’m not actually sure it’s possible for the baby to kick you in the bladder at this point.”
Aleah freezes, turning on her heel to face the doc with a stare so filled with hate I almost want to throw my body in front of the poor guy to protect him from the wrath he’s just unknowingly unleashed.
“Excuse me? How many kids you got in your uterus right now?!” The doc stares down at his stomach and knows he’s made a grave mistake. “Yeah that’s what I fucking thought mate. In the words of the great Rachel Karen Green; No uterus, no fucking opinion. Okay?!”
Doc nods like he’s a five year old being reprimanded by his mother, as she continues to scream something about ‘man-splaining’ whilst slamming the bathroom door shut.
I mean he is a doctor but I’m not going to fucking argue with her when she’s like this.
He realises this is his chance to escape so gathers his papers quickly and hurries out of the room, almost tripping and landing on his face in fear when he hears the chain flush and knows the fourth horsewoman of the apocalypse is returning.
I’m still giggling to myself when she finally re-enters the room, grabbing a bag of chips before pushing me off the bed into the chair so she can lay down. I would gladly have given it to her if she said something but I think a part of her likes she can man-handle people without repercussions at the moment.
Luckily we’ve grown quite close over the last few months and I’ve actually come to really care for the hormonal lunatic.
She settles down against the pillow and turns to face me as I try to fit my giant frame into these tiny little hospital chairs.
“So, I hear last night went well then?”
I smirk as she winks at me, of course Brie has already told her everything, those two are way too close.
“Very fucking well... I can’t stop thinking about her Lee, she’s fucking incredible.” My head buzzes as I let the memories of last night wash over me, I couldn’t have made it any better if I tried.
She smiles. “Firstly, that’s seriously fucking cute, she had that same ‘so this is love’ look on her face earlier too. Secondly though, call me Lee again and Jayce will pull out your spleen. Milo has started doing it too lately and I think it’s taking all the self control Jayce has not to drown him in the pool.”
I laugh, Josh did warn me about the possessive thing and I guess he wasn’t over exaggerating. “Noted... What did she say?”
Al scoffs. “Like fuck am I telling you babe, I like you Steve but you know my loyalty is with her... I just want to see her happy, I think you could do that.”
Fuck I want to. I want to make that girl so fucking happy she forgets all the crap she’s ever been put through, I want to be her happiness.
“On that note, what’s all this crap about you not fucking her?”
Can pregnant people hear thoughts?
How the fuck does she know that? I haven’t even had time to talk to Brie about it.
“Did Josh tell you?”
She shakes her head and laughs.
“No dipshit, that door isn’t exactly soundproof! She heard you. What’s all that about? I mean, it’s totally fine to wait, I just want to understand why.”
Fuck, I didn’t mean for her to hear it that way. She didn’t seem pissed when she came out of the bathroom, I hope she didn’t take it the wrong way.
“I just... I know she’s not ready to be mine alone, I know she’s happy seeing other people. Sex complicates shit, I just don’t want to be another complication to add to her list. If she picks someone else then at least I know we can still be friends after... If I had that part of her I don’t think I could ever look at her as just a friend ever again... Although honestly, I’m not sure I could now anyway after last night.”
Al listens intently, nodding and taking in all my words before she speaks again.
“So, this has nothing to do with her... reputation?”
I look at her completely confused. “What do you mean?”
Al wriggles uncomfortably, her swollen stomach pressing down on her as she tries to turn to her side. I stand up and help her gently guide herself into a more comfortable position, this shit looks painful, I don’t know how she’s doing it.
As soon as she’s on her side she’s much happier, munching away on some chips before returning her attention to me.
“Look, Brie isn’t like most people. She never limits herself with anything, she lives freely. People judge her for that, it’s fucking stupid but it happens. She’s had guys only want to fuck her for her reputation, she’s had guys refuse to treat her like an actual human being because of her reputation. Then she’s had a guy tell her he’s good with it, only to run the first time her past comes back to slap him in the face. What she needs is something no-one has been able to give her yet. Acceptance.”
Shit, is that what she thinks? That I won’t sleep with her because of her past? “I don’t give a fuck about that stuff Aleah. I haven’t been a fucking angel but people don’t say shit about that because I’m a guy. The truth is found in who you are, not what you’ve done. That woman knows exactly who she is... It’s the sexiest fucking thing about her.”
The next time I see her, I’m going to make her experience it all the way in her bones until she knows how I feel about her.
Al smiles at me. “Good, because that girl is more important to me than anyone can possibly imagine. Before I had anything else, I had her. She deserves to have someone who will give her the fucking world.”
I want to, if she’ll let me.
“She terrifies me Al.” Aleah raises her eyes to look at me directly. “Every second I’m with her I can feel everything inside me expanding to let her in, feeling things I never have before. She is everything I’ve ever wanted; She’s so fiery I think she could take on the world and win, she’s stronger than anyone I’ve ever met yet it hasn’t changed the way she loves the people around her. I’ve wanted to treat her the way I did last night for so long, ever since the night on the beach she’s been my only thought.”
I take a deep breath, remembering the way I felt in that car as it barrelled towards the cliff edge. I looked at her and I knew, even if I wasn’t going to make it, I’d make fucking sure she did.
“The night the car crashed everything was moving so fast but the only thing I could think about was how I might never see her again. That scared me more than any opponent I’ve ever stood across the cage from. I’d had this perfect kiss with this even more perfect girl and it could all be taken away from me in an instant... Nothing is going to stop me trying to be with her Aleah, nothing... I’m not sure I’m even good enough for her. She’s like this fucking goddess and I’m just a guy, but I swear to you, I will treat her better than any other man on this planet ever could.”
I’d been staring at my hands whilst I talked, but hearing delicate sniffles I look up to see Aleah’s face wet with tears.
Oh shit. “Aleah?”
She hurriedly wipes her face with the back of her hand. “Damn fucking hormones. You can’t say shit like that to a pregnant woman! I cried last week when I ripped the cereal box, I can’t cope with this.”
Laughing, I climb into the bed next to her and give her a hug. She rests against my shoulder while her bump sits on my hip. I feel a bang against my hip bone, then another.
“Quit it you!”
I look down at Aleah. “Is she kicking me?”
She laughs. “Yeah, happens a lot. I think her dad has convinced her to attack any men that come near me while he’s away.”
Damn, looks like the next generation of Thompson is going to have their daddy’s attitude.
I rub her stomach gently. “Chill princess, when you get out me and Aunty Brie will take you to the gym to work off those anger issues. I’ll have the next Ronda Rousey on my hands in no time.”
Al growls at me. “She won’t be fucking fighting anyone.” We’ll see. “...Do you want kids Steve? Tiny little fighters you can train like a pack of wolverines?”
I laugh. “No, I’m good. Don’t get me wrong, I love kids, I hope Josh has a million of the little fuckers. I just always liked the idea of being an uncle much more than being a dad... Does Brie want kids?”
Al laughs. “She’d rather wash her clit with bleach.”
“She’s not giving up her career either, so if you have this idea of a picket fence and a housewife then she’s not your girl. She needs an equal, she doesn’t need a hero – She’s her own fucking hero. She just needs someone that’s going to be there.”
I nod. “I’ll be what she needs Al. I just need her to let me.”
Al turns and smiles at me. “She’ll get there. She’s closer than she’s ever been before.”
That’s good enough for me.
We settle back into the pillow, me grabbing the remote and Aleah looking for more snacks. I spot a film that will earn me some brownie points with my girls best friend and put it on.
“Ahhh! I love Mean Girls... Oh yeah, I brought you some replacement Cheetos.” She throws the bag at me. “I ate your last like three bags.”
I fucking knew it!
She glares at me. “Don’t you fucking look at me like that, they’re the extra hot ones which makes them a dramatic improvement from what I stole. Besides, when you marry Brie this baby becomes your niece so you need to be willing to sacrifice for her. No matter the cost.”
Fuck, what have I got myself into?