Chapter 25: Surprises
Thank you for not giving up on me and for continuing to read and support this story.
It's the greatest encouragement I could ever ask for.
A tremendous thank you goes to Belindella, who co-wrote this chapter with me and who edited all three versions. This has been one of the hardest chapters to get right, but I hope you'll think it's up to par.
So here we go again…
Tuesday 8th July
I scrubbed one of my fluffy white towels over my wet skin in the rush to catch the next bus. Last night, I'd promised Angela I'd have breakfast with her at eight o'clock, and I was cutting it close. Poking a foot through my only pair of undies, that I'd hand-washed last night, I tried not to think of the ickiness of having to wear yesterday's shorts and T-shirt. But I only had to wait till I got to Angela's, then I could put on something clean from my suitcase that was still in her spare bedroom.
My stomach made a sound like a growling cat as I walked into the kitchen. I stretched my arms through the sleeves of my shirt and opened the fridge door. But all I had was milk.
Music sang from my phone.
"How are you, Ange? Did you get much sleep last night."
"I'm okay," she said, sounding tired. "Mom's here." Her mother's high-pitched voice called from the background, 'Is that Bella-boo? Tell her I said hi!" Angela gave a short laugh. "Mom says hi."
"Oh, I can't wait to see her!" Kathy had been like a second mom to me ever since Angela and I became best friend's freshman year of high school. "I didn't know she was in Seattle. I thought you'd said she was in Portland for her book signing."
"Well mom called last night – her Monday night check in – and when I told her what happened with… him, well, she insisted on driving straight here. Her publicist is apparently pissed at her for ditching an appearance this morning at a major bookstore but mom promised to make it up to her tonight."
A pang of jealousy plucked my heart strings as I thought about my own mom, out there somewhere. Was she missing me? If she found out where I was, would she drive through the night to see me? I cleared my throat and brought my thoughts back to Angela. "So what time did she arrive?"
"After midnight. We sat up talking till three and only woke up a little while ago."
"How about we go out for breakfast together then? I'll be at your place in about ten minutes."
"That's why I'm calling," Angela said, regret in her voice. "I'm going to join mom on her book tour for a while. She thinks it'll be good for me to get away from Seattle for a bit, and to be honest, I could do with getting out of town for a while. I've already cancelled my shifts for the next two weeks."
Two weeks? "So… when are you leaving?"
"As soon as I'm packed. I'm sorry I didn't call earlier, but Mom's got to go straight away as she's speaking tonight at a children's charity event."
"Aww," I whined. "I was looking forward to catching up with her."
I heard Kathy's regretful voice in the background, telling Angela they had to go in order to beat the morning traffic.
"Well… make sure you enjoy yourself."
After I said my good-byes, I sighed, thinking about my lonely suitcase at her place, full of my clean old faithfuls. Since I also needed food for my deprived fridge and my empty stomach, I snatched the keys from the living room table, deciding to do some shopping and use Angela's spare key to get my stuff.
My finger paused above the TV remote's 'off' button as the corny commercial playing caught my attention, showing a 20-something woman flushing a toilet and wiping her mouth before holding her stomach. Pretty gross to show someone throw up, I thought. I kept watching as her expression turned hopeful while she looked down at a pregnancy test. And the words on the screen said know for sure. Just a preggers-test ad.
All that for that? Now I'd probably missed the bus.
Flopping down the stairs in flip-flops, I blamed the pregnant woman on TV for delaying me. Her and her stupid throwing-up self. My footsteps slowed.
She'd felt sick. I felt sick… She was pregnant... Oh crap. I couldn't be… pregnant? Could I? I stopped. My head swam with questions and doubt.
I couldn't be… pregnant! Edward and I had been safe. Every time. But I had had sex in the past two weeks. A lot.
Mrs. Forrester, my land-lady who lived in the bottom apartment, burst through her door, holding a bulging garbage bag. "Oh! Good morning, Bella."
"Hi... Mrs… Mrs. Forrester."
She stuffed her trash into the bin outside her door, complaining how hot it was, but my thoughts were somewhere else.
"Bella?" Mrs. Forrester laid a hand on my shoulder.
"Is everything okay, hun-bun?"
"Yeah, yeah, everything's good. Thanks." I suddenly remembered the time. "Sorry. I've got to go, Mrs. Forrester. See you later." I plonked my butt onto the cold bus-stop bench, watching the rear of my bus accelerate down the road. Now I had to wait fifteen minutes until the next one. My stomach squeezed… then squirmed like a worm on a hook that knew it was about to be swallowed whole. Could I really be…?
After catching the bus to the shopping centre, I strode into the large drug store with one purchase in mind – a pregnancy test. The advertisement's words, know for sure repeated in my mind, so I bought five. Just to be certain.
"Would you like some pregnancy brochures too?" the lady at the counter asked as she put my little boxes into a paper bag. "They're free."
Without a computer at home, I did kind of need some pregnancy literature. Just in case. "Thanks."
Sitting in the half empty food-court, with the pharmacy bag sitting on the seat next to me, I tore into the warm croissant I'd bought for breakfast. Soft, buttery flakes melted in my mouth and for the first time in a while, I didn't feel like throwing up after I ate. That proved it: this morning's idea had just been a little scare. I wasn't pregnant at all. I was definitely going to go on the pill right away. First, though, were the tests in my handbag that had to prove my new theory. I washed the croissant down with the sweetest orange juice I swore I'd ever bought and after purchasing a couple of bags of essential groceries, I realized I shouldn't have bought the tub of yogurt until after I'd gotten my suitcase.
On my way out of the shopping centre, colourful frocks displayed in a window caught my attention. Pressing my fingertips to the cold glass, I wished I could feel as whimsical as the mannequins looked. I thought I'd save myself a taxi ride with my warming yoghurt, and spoil myself a little instead. When was the last time I wore something new, anyway? I was still wearing jeans and hoodies like I had when I was in high school. I was a woman now, with my own apartment and a sophisticated boyfriend. I needed those clothes in the window.
I busted through my front door and crashed into my apartment, my hands bulging with my groceries and a few bags from Bohemian Booty and its neighbours. After I'd chosen two dresses, I saw a few embroidered tops, skirts and scarves I needed to have, too. And then I just had to visit the shoe shop next to it to complete my outfits, and Victoria's Secret was another necessary stop. It was all very logical; I could hardly hand-wash my same old bra and undies every night, and now I had matching sets in gelato coloured lace!
With my foot, I slammed the front door and dropped my parcels at my feet. I wanted to open and inspect every one except for the one bag I realized I'd been avoiding by purchasing all the others.
"Rip it off like a Bandaid," I said. Snatching it up, I put the white paper bag onto the kitchen counter and opened it. "Quick and painless!"
The thing about pregnancy tests, however, is they're not quick, and they're not painless. Sitting on the side of my cold tub, chewing my lip and chanting that it was all in my head, that the condoms wouldn't have failed, I waited the required two minutes while whistling the tune of Zippity Doo Dah. After five minutes, I still sat glued to the tub. Mentally, I was back in those shops, avoiding something that couldn't be ... but might be.
Just look at them!
Five white sticks lined up like a white picket fence. But what side of the fence will I be on? Their little windows showed ... Two blue lines. Two lines! I squealed. "Ha, ha!" All negative! I knew it. "Phew…" I blew out a huge breath and picked up one of the boxes to read the back – to doubly, doubly, doubly make sure.
And then I fainted. Well, almost. All the strength went out of my legs, I crumbled to the floor. Two lines meant positive. All five of the tests were positive! I read the box again. And again. No mistake. I was... I was...
Funny how when there's so much to think of at once, all thoughts get jammed in the doorway of your mind so that none of them get through and you just… zone out. I tried to think of who I was supposed to tell or what I was supposed to do first as I wandered around my apartment staring, not seeing, overcome with the feeling I wasn't alone. More than a feeling; a knowledge.
A little pea of a person was right here with me.
Laying on the sofa for a long time, my limbs heavy and weak, I was watching the TV intently when I realized the screen had been black for so long because it wasn't on.
And yet I couldn't make myself touch my stomach. Somehow it would all be too much, too real if I touched where it lived. Where it was growing.
It was... mine. The pea belonged to me. It was my family. I had a real, blood family member now. Just… miniature sized. I sat up with a jolt. Not just mine! Edward had made this pea with me. It was half his.
It... the pea would be his baby one day, too, with diapers and bottles and a crib to sleep in. I fell back into the couch cushions. We'd only been officially together for four days. You don't tell someone you're growing their pea after dating for four days. A tear slid from my closed eyes, burning a hot, wet path down the side of my nose.
Though it certainly wasn't the ideal time for us, I knew Edward would want this baby. He loved Henry so much, he would never say no to another child. He'd wanted another child so desperately, that he still grieved for his still-born little girl he'd lost three years ago.
Edward had loved her, even before she'd been born, and had been so devastated with her premature death, that he'd designed a beautiful pond garden to keep her memory alive. An image of three brightly coloured fish swam behind my closed eyelids as I recalled the expensive, mystical Koi fish Edward had bought for Cynthia's pond garden. Three years after her death and he was still devoted to remembering her. Now that's love.
I had no doubt he would want this baby of ours, but what if I… what if I lost it? My breath stopped. What if I got Edward's hopes up… and I miscarried? Rose had delivered a still-born child and their relationship had deteriorated to ashes quickly after. I'd have to start taking better care of myself. Avoid things like alcohol and… Shit. I'd had a few drinks while camping! Had I hurt my baby pea?
Now I really missed not being at Rose's with her ultra fast internet connection.
I jumped up and found the pile of them on the kitchen counter. Carrying them back to the sofa, I spread them out on the coffee table and opened the first one. The more I read, the faster my heart began to pound. I needed to talk to someone. My fingers couldn't find Angela's phone number fast enough.
"Whaaaat?" she answered in a joking tone. "Miss me already?"
"I'm pregnant. Five weeks. I just found out."
"You're joking, right?" She laughed, but when I didn't laugh with her, she became quiet. "Oh my god, are you serious?"
"Yes. I just took five tests and they're all positive. I… I… I don't—" My voice broke.
"Mom," Angela said. "Can you drop me off at the next bus stop? I've got to go back."
My breath left me in a rush of relief, and I sunk back against the cushions. She knew I needed her here with me.
"What happened?" Kathy asked in the back ground. "Is Bella all right?"
"Bella's…" Angela trailed off. "I just need to get back."
"You can tell your mom," I told Ange, wanting Kathy's opinion as well. Kathy had never judged me or believed the horrible lies spread about me by my bitch of a step-mom. Even though my own father had thrown me out, Kathy had stood by me, continuing to love me as though I was one of her own, dear children.
"Mom," Angela said. "Bella's just found out she's…she's pregnant, and I want to go back. She just took some tests and they were all positive. I'll catch a bus back to Seattle."
Kathy didn't say anything for a few seconds but it felt like minutes. "All right. We'll go back together. I'm not going to just drop you off. I'll… I'll cancel my speech."
"Mom," Angela said. "Don't be silly. Your publicist will kill you if you miss the speech tonight."
"I don't like the idea of leaving you at some bus-stop."
Angela tried to plead with Kathy, but Kathy insisted she wasn't going to leave her after what 'that boy' had done to her.
"Don't worry about coming, Ange," I said, closing my eyes and trying to keep my voice steady. "I'm okay. You and Kathy should go to Portland. Your mom's right – you need to get away and try and forget about… him."
"Are you sure you'll be all right?" Angela asked.
No. I wasn't sure. But I also didn't want Kathy to regret missing the chance to promote her book. "Of course I'm sure. I just… It's a lot to take in, you know? I'm going to be a mom, Angie."
"Does that mean I get to be fun Aunt Angie to a smiling little Swan?"
"Seems like it."
"So you've got, what is it, three or four days to figure out how to tell Edward? He gets back on Friday right?"
"Yeah, Friday night. But, I'm worried. I know I should tell him, but… I think it might be too soon. I've just read that many women miscarry in their first trimester, and I'm only five and a half weeks along…"
When I told them about Cynthia, and how Edward still grieved for her – three years after her death – Kathy, in particular, was very concerned and urged me to hold off from telling Edward. "At least until your relationship is stronger, or until you start showing," she said. "Then if you do miscarry, heaven forbid, you're love will be stronger and you'll have a better chance at surviving that kind of loss together."
After saying goodbye, I reread all the brochures till my eyes were droopy and my mind fuzzy from too much information. I dropped my glasses on top of the brochures and curled up on my side, hugging a cushion to my chest. I was desperate to leave my chaotic thoughts behind for the silence of soundless sleep. Was not telling Edward the right thing to do? I didn't want to lose this precious little pea in a week or so and break Edward's heart all over again. Yes. Kathy was right. Better to wait for the pea to grow stronger…
A pounding boom, boom, boom, echoed through my apartment.
I jolted awake, hoping I'd only imagined it, and closed my eyes again.
Someone knocked on my door again. Whoever it was had a heavy hand.
With a heavy groan, I peeled off the sofa and padded bare-footed to the door while sliding my glasses onto my nose. "Who is it?" I croaked.
"Oh my god." I twisted the dead-bolt and opened the door. "What a surprise."
He grinned, holding a small potted plant that was budded all over with little blue flowers. "Happy house warming!"
I forced the most appropriate chuckle I could and invited him in, trying not to think about the secret that would change the life of his best friend.
"Here." He held out the plant to me. "This is from you-know-who."
I closed the door with a teasing smile on my face. "From Alice?"
He frowned. "No, Edward. Oh!" He laughed at my raised eyebrow. "Got me, yah jokester. Yeah, Edward made me pick 'em up from the florist in town." He cast his eyes around my apartment as he walked in and sat on a stool at the kitchen bench, making himself at home. "He was pretty specific about getting you those exact ones. They're called Blue Eyes. He said the name was a secret between you guys. Sooo… What's the secret?"
My heart skipped a beat as I shot him a wide-eyed look. "I… I can't…"
He held up his hands. "Fine, fine. Keep it to yourselves." He grinned. "Must be a good one. I couldn't get Edward to even give me a hint."
I lowered my eyes to the flowers I was holding. "So they're called Blue Eyes?" The small, delicate blue flowers nodded their heads at me as I placed them on the window ledge over the kitchen sink. "They're gorgeous."
"He hoped you would like 'em. Soooo… This is the new place, huh? Swanky."
"Psh! Thanks. Coffee?" I wanted him to stay. I felt so relaxed with him around. He reminded me of our fun times with Edward.
"No, thanks. Just had one with Rose." His face flinched, like he was kicking himself for slipping up and saying her name.
My eyebrows shot up. "With Rose? You had coffee with Rose? Really?"
"Alright, alright. It's not that big a deal." He cleared his throat. "She's not as bad as Edward said she was."
"Well…" I adjusted my glasses. "I thought she was great when I worked for her."
He drew doodles with his finger on the kitchen counter. "She said she feels safe with me, I don't know."
"Who wouldn't?" I asked, smirking at the big boy with a crush. "She deserves to feel safe after what she's been through."
"Bella, I…" He looked worried. "I'd prefer it if you didn't mention anything to Edward just yet. There's nothing going on with me and Rose, but I'd rather he hear it from me."
"You'll tell him soon though, won't you?" I asked. "He deserves to know." Deserves to know… The words swirled around my head. I knew Edward deserved to know about my secret, but mine was different. I was protecting him.
"You okay?" he asked.
"Pfft. Yeah, why?"
"I dunno. You look like you need to get something off your chest."
My cover was slipping. "I'm just tired from… shopping."
"No worries. Can I use the little boy's room before I go?"
"Sorry. I've only got a little girls' room."
He shrugged. "Desperate times."
I heard him lock the bathroom door, and I decided to make myself a coffee. When I put sugar in the cup, I hesitated. Should I be having sugar? Or even coffee? Now that I'm pregnant perhaps I shouldn't be— Oh, no! The tests were still on the vanity! "Emmett! "Emmett!" I yelled, rushing to the bathroom. I banged on the door. "Emmett, I just remembered the toilet's busted!" Maybe he hadn't noticed them on the vanity. "Please!" I whispered to the universe.
"Sorry, Bella, I've already seen 'em. Be out in a tick."
Oh god. I stepped backwards into the fridge. He knew! He knew. What was he going to say? How was I going to explain…? I'd only known for a few hours myself and now Emmett knew? I took a deep, steadying breath.
He opened the bathroom door and leaned against the door frame, looking at me with his hands stuffed into his short's pockets. "You okay?"
I swallowed hard and stared at him.
"Did you just find out?" he asked.
I gave a tiny nod.
He patted my arm and moved towards his stool at the counter. "I might have that coffee after all."
"Okay," I whispered, relieved he wasn't angry or demanding answers. I chose another mug from the cupboard and made his coffee in silence. Unable to look at him, I slid his mug towards his hand. The counter between us was a comfortable barrier.
"So…" he said. "Does Edward know yet?"
I swallowed but my mouth was dry and sticky like I'd swallowed glue. "No."
"Is it his?"
My eyes shot up to his. "Yes."
His brows furrowed. "Don't take this the wrong way, but didn't you guys just get together on the weekend? Isn't it a bit early for pregnancy tests?" Gazing into my coffee, I didn't know how to explain to Emmett about the one night stand I'd had with Edward three and a half weeks ago. Emmett bent forward. "Were you guys together before the camping trip?"
I adjusted my glasses, hating the blush that warmed my face and neck. "Once… Three weeks ago."
He was silent, but I could feel his eyes burning blistering trails over my face. "You both had me fooled," he said. I managed to raise my eyes and see that he was just surprised, not judging me at all. "So when you were working at Edward's the other week, you two had already…" He shook his head, confused. "Edward and I can read each other pretty good, and I would have known if there was something between you guys."
"Yeah, but he didn't know it was me when we'd slept together, so that's why he wasn't… why you didn't see… why he never…" I groaned, hearing my own ridiculous words.
Emmett's eyebrows scrunched into a deep frown. "Wadda you mean he didn't know it was you?"
"Damnit, you're too disarming, you know that, Emmett?" No wonder Rose felt safe around him. He had a certain way about him, like he was your oldest friend in the world who you could tell anything to and feel accepted and safe.
Edward really did have the best choice in friends.
I took a sip of my coffee, trying to think of the right way to explain. "Okay. It's a long story, but I'll give you the short version. I… I went out clubbing with my friend Angela a few weekends ago… I didn't look like myself. You see, I have these blue prescription eye contacts. I rarely wear them, except for special occasions, and… I was wearing one of Angela's red dresses and she'd straightened my hair, so I really didn't look like myself. We were going to this fancy new club in the city and she wanted us to look sophisticated, you know? So…" As I continued to retell what happened that night, Emmett sat quiet, listening, never interrupting. Telling him was easier than I thought. "…and that's pretty much it. Edward forgave me after I told him I was Marie, and we… I guess you could say we really like one another now. For real."
He looked at the blue flowers on my window sill. "Blue Eyes… I get it now." His lips twitched with a smile. "And now you're pregnant."
"Yep. And now I'm pregnant." I sipped my coffee as my whole body sagged with relief. He knew… and he was supportive. Why did I think he wouldn't be?
"Guess you'll have to wait till he gets home to tell him," he said, taking a sip of his own coffee. "It's certainly not something he'll want to hear over the phone."
"Mmm." I couldn't bear to tell him that I'd decided not to tell Edward… for a while.
Later that afternoon, Edward phoned and caught me taking a walk through the park across the road. Kids squealed and laughed as they played on a nearby climbing gym while their mothers stood by their prams and strollers, watching them.
That would be me soon.
"So how are you?" he asked, as I turned away from the playground and headed down the tree-lined path. My blood pounded hard through my veins like an encyclopaedia tumbling in a dryer. He had no idea that in a few months, if I didn't lose this little pea, he was going to be a dad again.
"I'm great!" I said. "How's the show going down there?"
"Not good," he answered. "The guy we got to replace Ben as producer is useless. Completely useless. I hate Ben on a whole new level now." He gave a tired sigh. "Anyway, has Emmett visited you yet?"
"Yeah. He came by earlier." I lowered my voice to a teasing tone. "I think you should know… he brought me some really beautiful flowers."
"Is that right?" I could hear the smile in his voice.
"I think he might have a crush on me." I grinned as Edward erupted with laugher. "I can't believe you found flowers called Blue Eyes," I said. "They're gorgeous. I've got them sitting on my kitchen window sill. I'll think of you every time I wash the dishes." I tried to keep the conversation light, but my pesky conscience kept whispering... pregnant, you're pregnant, tell him you're pregnant! I sighed, feeling the distance between us and longing for his warm spicy scent around me and seeing the smile in his green eyes. "I miss you."
"I miss you, too." His voice heightened with excitement. "I can't wait till Friday night to see you again. I've arranged for a family BBQ at my house on Saturday, and I want you stay. Can you?"
"Of course. I'd love to." The thought of having to hide my secret, to pretend that nothing was wrong, in front of Alice and Jasper, made my mouth go dry and my stomach swirl. And if Emmett came too… "Have you got Henry this weekend?"
"Yeah Rose is going to bring him over Saturday after lunch. She asked if she was invited to the barbeque too, but I told her 'not this time'."
"Oh." Rose wanted to go too? Thank god Edward said no.
"I want you there, because… My parent's have promised to come, too, and… I really want you to meet them."
Oh boy. "That sounds wonderful, Edward. I can't wait."
Chapter's End Notes:
So… Bella knows for sure. And Emmett too! Ha!
With only another 3-4 chapters to go, I hope I'll see you next update!