Part 6

Nick watched her silently from the corner of the laundry room. He didn't even know she had a laundry room. She didn't acknowledge him, or even seem to care that he was standing there bare to her. And it was driving him crazy.

Phyllis didn't know whether to laugh or take him right then and there. She never dreamed he would actually do it. Well, that wasn't true. They had never had any trouble ridding themselves of clothes before, but this time, she honestly didn't believe he was serious. They had been serious, but it was never enough.

"I thought I was supposed to be taking care of you."

She eyed him quickly from underneath her lashes. "Not while you look like a sewer rat, you're not."

Deftly, he stepped closer to her and whispered in her ear, "That's sweet."

She turned her head over her shoulder and found his waiting eyes. "I have a clean towel… or would you rather have a loin cloth, sir?"

He raised his eyebrows. "And here I thought you were going all domestic on me."

"Don't knock it until you've tried it." She pushed the terry cloth against his chest and him away from her. She had no idea where to go from here. This was supposed to have ended months ago, yet now it seemed to have a life of its own.

His eyes met hers with months of unspoken pain. "I've been trying it for most of my adult life."

She took a deep breath and stepped forward tentatively. "But you've never done laundry with me."

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"Ok! Ok! I'm here!" Lily burst through the front doors of Crimson Lights, completely out of breath. "So where's the fire, Daniel?"

"Just…" Daniel sunk lower in his coffee. "…just sit down, Lily."

Lily dropped her purse with a thud and hit the seat across from him. Quickly she reached for his hands gripping the cup of coffee. "Uh oh. I know that look. Are you in trouble? Did you get arrested? Don't tell me we gotta go on the run again—"

Daniel shook his head and looked up. "It's my mom."

Lily's head fell back and she dropped his hands. "I should have known! Perfect. What has Phyllis done now?"

Daniel looked around the room, as if the crowd of customers were all looking at him; and he finally whispered, "She's going to have a baby."

"Well…" Lily tried to speak but was at a complete loss for words. Suddenly she laughed awkwardly. "We certainly know what she didn't do."

Daniel looked at her, painfully silent. Lily squelched her laughter and sat on her hands uncomfortably. "I'm sorry… It's just… A baby? I thought you were it."

"I know. It's whacked." He nodded slowly and began to spin his coffee cup in a circle, over and over and over again. "She and Jack tried for so long, and now she's having a baby with Nick… Oh my God."

Lily gently put her hands over his agitated ones. "What, baby?"

His eyes widened in horror. "Noah. What's this gonna do to him?"

"Do what to whom?" Daniel and Lily jumped at the booming voice behind them.

"Jack!"

Jack tilted his head and put a firm hand on Daniel's shoulder. "Daniel… You seem a little on edge. You alright?"

Daniel smiled uncomfortably. "Just fine, Jack."

"Uh huh." Jack narrowed his eyes speculatively. "Have you spoken to your mother tonight?"

"Why?" Daniel asked quickly.

"No reason. I was just wondering if you knew where she was," Jack responded smoothly.

"So things are really patched up between you two?" Daniel wondered.

"Right as rain, son, right as rain." Jack's jaw locked in a confident grin.

Before she could stop herself, Lily kicked Daniel under the table. "Ow!"

"You ok there, sport?" Jack's hand tightened on his shoulder.

"Uh huh…" Daniel glared at an innocent faced Lily before turning to Jack. "Well, maybe you should wait for her to call you."

Jack's laugh broke out across the coffee house, silencing the room. "Oh Daniel. Daniel, Daniel, Daniel. With your mom, things are always better left unplanned. See you kids later."

Lily eagerly leaned across the table. "What was that about?"

"What was that kick about?" He retorted.

Lily's eyes filled unapologetically with drama. "Sorry baby. But you know them. Jack's gonna go nuts when he finds out Nick knocked up your mom. Maybe you should warn her."

"Why? Did I get any warning? I'm sorry, Lily. But my mom's on her own with this one."

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"What are you doing here?"

"You sounded…" Brad stopped and looked at the sight before him. A beautiful woman absolutely destroyed. "Oh God, Sharon, come here. What happened?"

"Nick left, and I don't think he's coming back even though—" She felt his arms surround her, and it was the first time she felt like she could stop pretending. She was falling apart, and she couldn't keep it together any longer.

Brad held her as her frame shook against his body. Everything he had told her seemed futile right now. She wasn't like him. She couldn't lead a double life like he could. So he held her, and pulled her closer, almost forgetting that he had any other lives for a little while. "It's ok, you can tell me anything."

She leaned her head against his chest and whimpered like a little girl, "I'm going to have a baby."

Brad pulled back from her and took her face in his hands. "A baby? Sharon! Sharon, that's—! Sharon?" But Sharon's will to stand had left her, and she fell to knees on the floor. Brad quickly followed her and cradled her in his arms as mournful sobs escaped her body. "Sweetheart, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to make you cry."

"No…no, it's alright." She smiled sadly, her mind clouding as she stared into his dark eyes. "You're just the first person who's been happy for me, that's all."

He smoothed her hair away from her face. "I'll always be happy for you."

And as they sat there on the floor, the truth circled them, and she filled the silence with the question that stood between them, "You do love Victoria?"

His automatic answer didn't come so easily this time as he was lost in the confusion of her eyes. "Of course I do. Sharon? What is it?"

And she wanted to tell him, but she didn't have the right answer. "It's nothing. Nothing at all. Thank you. Thank you for being such a good friend."

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"So this is what it's going to be like?" Nick asked as he watched her feet dangle off of the dryer, matching him in a starch white towel.

"Having second thoughts?" She looked down, feeling her little lump, protruding ever so slightly, no longer hidden, becoming a real part of her. She looked up, at him, and her chest tightened. Was there room for him on the dryer?

He shook his head and stepped in between her fidgety legs. He took her protective hands in his and covered them securely. "I'm waiting for you to say yes."

Slowly, she released the white towel, revealing her body to him. She clasped his hands and put them across her little belly, waiting until he felt the life inside of her. Waiting until he woke up. Waiting until he left her again. She whispered sadly, "This is so unrealistic."

Just like hers, his towel dropped and he pulled himself as close to her as possible. He took her hands and pressed them against his heart. "I don't want realism."

And he lifted her off the dryer and into the air…