"What is it?" she asked quietly as she snuggled into the firm but gentle embrace of Ben's left arm around her shoulder. She leaned her head onto his shoulder.
This was the best part of Amy's normal routine. In the morning, there was schoolwork, taught by her mother. On Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, she attended classes at the clinic to prepare for the baby. Sometimes Ben went with her and other times he needed to stay at school to take a test or turn in a paper.
But regardless of all that, the one thing she always looked forward to was coming home at five o'clock to Ben's house and just sitting with him. It was their chance to be close to one another. They were both busy – separately – with school during the day, so this was their chance to be together. Dinner with the Sausage King was at six-thirty on the dot – and it was always delicious and fun. Ben and his Dad both had an amazing talent for making Amy laugh. When they were done eating, Ben would offer his hand to Amy, she would smile and lace her fingers through his. Then, he would lead her back upstairs to his room where they would stay until neither of them could stay awake. Now, with contented appetites, they found themselves propped up at the head of Ben's bed.
"It's been months and it still amazes me every time I see you, Amy" he said, tracing the whole contour of her protruding belly with his right hand. "There really is a little life growing inside of there. A baby," he finished. He swallowed and breathed in, causing her head to rise with his chest.
"I'm just glad you don't think I'm fat," she replied so quietly that he barely heard her. She was half joking, but Ben took her seriously.
"Of course I don't think you're fat. You're pregnant. You're carrying a precious life inside of you, and you're doing a good job keeping it safe. Amy, what you look like doesn't matter to me, and it never will. Yes, it's generally best to think someone is attractive outside at first, but eventually the inside takes over."
"You're so sweet," she replied. "I'm carrying a baby," she spoke aloud, as if declaring it made it somehow truer than it ever had been before. "Our baby," she corrected, tilting her head upward and slightly to the side, so that she could meet his eyes with hers. Ben said nothing, but looked a little sad. She tried to sit up straighter, which was a struggle indeed. Seeing her need, Ben immediately set about helping her up.
"You okay?" He asked after she was situated.
"Yes," she said taking a deep breath in. He blinked a few times and smiled genuinely. "Do you see this ring?" she asked, holding her hand aloft and fiddling with the band a bit.
"Yes," he replied. It was the ring he had proposed with. He'd picked it out, of course he recognized it.
"I know you doubt me when I say it's our baby," she replied. Ben looked away. "Look at me," she demanded, though not in a harsh tone. He did as she asked. He always did. "I know you doubt me, but this proves it. This ring," she said. "This ring is a symbol of your love for me. I get that. I cherish it. I know it's a lot to take on. Even if Ricky is this baby's biological father, you're the only father I want for my baby, Ben." As she finished her sentence, she reached for Ben's hand and placed it on her stomach again. She laid hers on top of his. Then she snuggled back into his embrace.
"You know, I didn't sleep a wink the night before I proposed to you. I was so afraid you wouldn't accept me. I knew it was a big step, but as soon as I realized you could be pregnant, it was clear to me what I had to do. I've never been so sure of anything in my life, Amy." He smiled and she smiled back. He leaned in towards her and placed a few soft, slow kisses on her lips. "I will never be able to express to you how much you mean to me. It's funny how your parents talk about me rescuing you," he began again. "It's funny, because the way I see it, you rescued me."
"Ben," she whispered softly.
"No, no. It's true. Before I met you, I was hopeless, wandering aimlessly through life, looking for all the wrong things and not actually living my life, Amy. Then you came to me and you lit up my world. You're the most beautiful, important thing in the world to me; you and the baby. I don't even dare to imagine where I'd be without you two right now." He replied. "As it is, I'll still never deserve you," he replied. "I'm broken, but I'm willing to give you all I have."
"Ben, come on. You're pretty much the most amazing boyfriend --" she corrected herself, "-- fiancé, a girl could ever ask for. We're all a little bit broken," she finished. Ben smiled in response. She was so kind.
"You saved me first, Amy. I was just repaying the favor."
With those words, she grasped his right hand with her left and stopped its nervous movement. In natural rhythm, their hands moved together into the familiar position, fingers laced together with Ben's thumb circling her soft skin. She closed what little space there was between them, wrapping her arms around him in a hug. He wrapped his arms around her as best he could and held on tightly. A small tear ran down Amy's face, and she tried to sniff it away before Ben noticed, but it was too late.
"Don't cry, Amy," he said. "I didn't mean to make you cry. Why are you crying?"
"Because, I love you," she whispered, with a perfect smile, though her eyelids were heavy with the strain of impending motherhood. "Thank you for everything."
"You're welcome. I love you, too Amy. I love you too." He loved her smile so much.
After sharing a brief moment of silence, Amy finally spoke. "I'm tired, Ben."
"Do you want me to get my driver? He'll take you home. I'll ride along with, of course."
She shook her head. "No, Ben. I am home," she said seriously. "Can I stay here for the night? My parents trust you now. Your Dad is right downstairs. Please. Will you hold me, Ben?" Her eyes were wide and sparkling as she asked him these things. There was nothing he wanted more than to hold her through the night.
He turned on his bedside lamp, shut off the overhead light and came back to her. She had laid down while he was gone, and so he situated himself behind her and allowed her to lay back into him. As he wrapped his arms around her, he noticed that the dim lamp light made her flowing amber hair glisten. Ben smiled as their breathing fell into synchronous rhythm. To him, she was perfect.
"Ben?" she asked, softly.
"I'm sorry I almost left. I'm sorry I doubted you. I was so wrong."
"It's okay," he said kissing her cheek and finding her hand with his. "You're here now. That's all that matters."
"Yes. I love you, Ben. As silly as it sounds, I never want to leave. I never want to lose you. I want to stay right here, forever. Please don't let go," she pleaded.
"I won't, Amy. I promise."