"So, when did you first set eyes on Nathaniel Bazile?"
Cate sighs, the memories flowing back to her. She hasn't thought about this time in her life in a long while, and she can't believe she's discussing it with her husband, but he was honest with her about Julia, and now it's her turn.
"I first met him in high school. I was a bit of a nerd back then. I was heavily involved in the school newspaper, debate club, stuff like that. I wore thick coke bottle glasses, had a small steel factory in my mouth, it wasn't a pretty sight. Baze was the local jock. Everyone loved him, especially the girls. I just thought he was an arrogant, self-involved idiot."
"So what changed your mind?"
"I never did, not really. It was the night of the winter formal. I wasn't going to go. I told everyone it was because it was a stupid, archaic ritual that held no importance. Part of me did believe that, but it was really because I didn't have a date."
"Did you go with Baze?" asks Ryan, confused as to how she could make such a massive change in her plans.
"Oh no, he wouldn't have been seen dead with me. We were in totally different stratospheres in high school, and hanged out in very different circles. I know he thought I was a wimpy girl and not worthy of his attention. His date at the formal was the head cheerleader, a girl named Chelsea. They were the perfect couple, even though everyone knew she was cheating on him with the head of the baseball team."
"She was? Did he ever find out?"
"Yeah, he found out at the winter formal. That's how we ended up together."
"How did that happen?"
"I had been invited to the formal by the lead reporter at the school newspaper, a guy named Christopher. I wasn't attracted to him or anything, but he was a nice guy, and we could spend the time talking about the newspaper, which was my major passion at the time."
"And did the two of you have a good time?"
"Pretty much, yeah. We had been there for a few hours, when I needed some fresh air. Christopher stayed where he was, and I headed out to the car park. There, I found a very distressed Baze. He had just walked in on Chelsea and her other boyfriend, and was stunned. He was the only person in the school who didn't know about it."
"And you walked up to him and started talking to him?"
"Yeah. I had never seen a person that devastated before, and I was a little worried that he was going to do something stupid, so I just wanted to make sure he was all right."
"And that's when everything happened?"
"Yeah. He had some Zima with him, and he gave me some. I rarely touched alcohol so it went straight to my head. Stupid thing to do. He was being really nice to me, which was a new experience for me. I really liked spending time with him, which really surprised me. He kept telling me how pretty I was."
"Do you think he was being genuine?" asks Ryan. He knows the type of guy Baze was in school, and they would say anything to get into a girls pants.
"I like to think so, but who knows. Anyways, he invited me to take a seat in his van. It was getting late, so the temperature was dropping. Innocent as I was, I thought that was a great idea. And then, well, you can guess what happened then," she adds.
Ryan is very relieved when she doesn't go into details about their rendezvous. That would be too much to hear.
"Did you talk to Baze after that night?"
"No. We could barely look one another in the eye at school. He got back together with the cheerleader after she apologised for cheating, and promised him that she would never do something like that again."
"And he believed that?"
"He seemed to, yeah. I think he was just doing it to have something to distract him from what happened between us. We were both very embarrassed about it, and just wanted to forget it ever happened."
"But that didn't last long, huh?"
"No, it really didn't. When I found out I was pregnant, I called him. He didn't want to talk to me, and kept putting me off, but I eventually got him alone at school one day and told him I was pregnant."
"What did he say to that?"
"He thought I was joking at first. When I assured him I wasn't, he decided I was trying to get money out of him. His parents were, and still are, very successful people, and money was no object for them. A fact he loved to laud over others."
"Did he finally realise you were being truthful?"
"Yeah, but not until I showed him a picture from the scan. He told me that he didn't want to be a father, and that I could do whatever I wanted."
"You're kidding? He was that callous about it?" asks Ryan, stunned and shocked. He can't get his head around any man being so uncaring. Baze may not have been his favourite person for a long while, but he never would have expected him to be like that."
"At the time, he wasn't a very nice person. The only things in life that consumed him were football, girls and fun. If he could combine all three, then all the better. Being a father wasn't on his list of things to do."
"So he left you to it?"
"Pretty much, yeah. I didn't want people at school to know I was pregnant, and I didn't really see much of Baze again after showing him the scan photo."
"Did you tell him when the baby was born?"
"Yes. I knew he wasn't interested, but I told him that I had given birth to a baby girl. I wanted to hear his reaction to the news that he was a father before telling him about my decision to give her up for adoption, but he didn't ask. He didn't even want to know if the baby and I were all right."
Anger swells inside Ryan. He could never grasp why Cate was so angry with Baze after Lux came back into their lives. Now he knows, and understands fully.
"I can't believe he would treat you like that. Was that the last time you saw him?"
"No. I would see him around school after Lux was born, but we barely looked at one another. We basically went back to where we had started. The last time I saw him was at graduation. I was a couple behind him in the queue to go up to pick up our diplomas, but we didn't acknowledge one another. The next time I heard from him was when he called into the station to say he needed to speak with me outside."
"Have the two of you discussed what happened since you met again?"
"Only on the night that Lux ran away from the courthouse," she answers quietly, knowing that he will remember that as the night that she and Baze slept together again. Considering this is the reason she and Ryan split up a few months ago, she doesn't like to think about it.
"Oh, yeah," says Ryan, clearly remembering the story about that night as well. "So, tell me one more thing. If you could go back to that time in high school, would you do anything different?"
Cate has to think for a few moments. She had never given it serious thought before.
"Knowing what I do now, I wouldn't have given Lux up for adoption. At the time, it seemed like the best thing to do. I know that if I had kept her, I would have moved out of my mother's house, as that was no place to raise a child. It would have been a tough start for her, but I think it would have been worth it."
"But your life would be very different. Would you still have gone into working at the radio station?"
"Yes, of course. I still had dreams and things that I wanted to accomplish, and having a daughter wouldn't have changed that. It just means my time wouldn't have been as free, but I have always been very ambitious, and known that I wanted. That wouldn't have changed," she answers strongly.
Ryan can only smile. One of the things that made him fall in love with her in the first place was that she knew what she wanted and went after it. He has always been like that himself, and respects it in others.
"That's just one of the things I love about you," he says, pushing his face forward and kissing his wife.
"I'm actually glad we had this talk. I didn't think I would, but it's nice to get those things out into the open," she says, surprised at her own reaction.
"Me too, but we have hit a reset on our marriage, of sorts, so it's only right that we should air out our dirty laundry. And now, I need a nap," he says, a mischievous smile on his face.
Cate shakes her head. Some things never change!