I wrote this chapter in more or less three days, so I apologize if it's not that polished or awesome or anything (I also feel like this chapter is very different from the previous two, like Bridget has a bit more distance, but whatever), but I wanted to post something and get closer to being able to post on a somewhat regular basis, so... I was initially reluctant about writing this chapter, since I've already done this scene several times, but yet I felt compelled to give it a go nonetheless. I'm still hoping some real version of this is done in a deleted scene that I get to watch someday (and I will feel incredibly cheated if I don't get to), but here's my shot at it, at a version as realistic as I can imagine. Anyway, this chapter owes a great debt to that picture of Andrew and Bridget side-by-side leaning against a piece of furniture, no doubt talking about this, since they're in the same clothes. Because, well, what else did I have to go on?
Also, this story might bash Henry a little bit, especially at first, but that's largely because Bridget has had about three really awkward interactions with him, and, putting myself in B's shoes, I'd be more freaked out by Henry's stalkerish all-up-in-your-business ways than Andrew's live-and-let-live policy. Also, Henry is a giant, and I need him for some comedic relief. Just sayin'. Bridget does get nicer to him later on, I promise, when/if I care enough to write a scene about him in one of the rare moments when I decide I like Henry.
Anyway, we've finally rounded out episode one here, and the next chapter will, I think, be that first scene in episode two and a bit of Bridget adjusting to living with Andrew, probably her also being freaked out from, you know, killing that dude. So, once I've written that, the sailing gets a wee bit smoother and updates more frequent, and I like to think it gets exciting and tensiony. Anyway, hope you enjoy and please, please review 'cause, mind you, I've been writing this story instead of doing things I should be doing, and I am a busy woman. Or, if you don't review, at least write a Ringer fic, yeah? 'Cause I'd like to see more of them.
If I thought things were bad when I found out when I found out that Siobhan's marriage was a sham, or that she was sleeping with her best friend's husband, I really didn't know what I was in for when I got that doctor's call. It was like a perfect storm of crap piling upon me. And I didn't know how I could stand it, much less how Siobhan had coped with such insanity for so long.
Pregnancy had terrified me for most of my adult life. And I'm not gonna lie; I don't know the first thing about being a mother or being pregnant. All I know is what I gleamed from being there, holding Shiv's hand, and the things some of the other girls would tell me about their kids. All I know is being scared to death of getting pregnant, of having a baby, terrified of the ways something like that could completely change my life overnight.
And I won't pretend it was unselfish of me. It was completely selfish. I didn't want to have to change my life because of this little alien parasite inside of me. I didn't want to have to do a full one-eighty on my lifestyle. I didn't want to get my act together and pull it together for the kid's sake. I didn't want to have to deal with being a single mom and not knowing who the father was but knowing he wasn't a winner, and that the kid I'd have would be half-mine and half some rando sperm donor's. I didn't want to deal with the mess, the complications, the time off work living hand-to-mouth. I didn't want to give up the heroin or the alcohol or any of it.
I mean, sure, I would've been a terrible mother. If I could even carry a kid to term in my state, what with me being skinny and addicted, forgetting to eat and drinking as much as I did every day. I knew that. I knew I had nothing to offer a kid as a broke, drug-addicted alcoholic stripper whore who'd messed around with the wrong people. I couldn't offer a kid safety or stability or material comforts or the life a kid deserved. I couldn't even offer a kid the chance to develop in a decent environment, not even inside of me. And what was my love really worth anyway? Twenty bucks, maybe fifty?
So I did what was best for any kid, and I used protection and made sure to take a little white pill every day. I kind of accepted that I wasn't meant for kids and they weren't meant for me after what happened with Sean. I didn't deserve them, and no kid deserved a dysfunctional, completely screwed-up mother like me. I wasn't vain enough to multiply to suit my own selfish ends and propagate my terribly fried, damaged genes. That was the most love and affection I could show for a child, not wishing to inflict me upon them. I at least loved my little, lonely eggs, desperate and straining to split and multiply and grow into the many little children I wasn't meant to have.
It's sad, too, because I was always the one of us who really wanted to be a Mommy. I always kind of had this inexplicable need to nurture others, to care for sick and wounded animals, to play with younger kids and stick up for the underdogs. I've wanted to make others feel good my entire life, to make myself feel like I had a purpose and that other people needed me. Rather than making myself need and depend on them.
When I was little, I would play baby dolls all the time, and Siobhan would give me hers, calling me the "nanny." I was also the tomboy who played with the neighborhood boys, climbing trees, playing cards, and playing soccer and tackle-football in the mud. She opted instead for tea sets and Barbies, with their grown-up lives and ambitions, perfect hair, perfect clothes, and perfect boyfriend. Sometimes I would even try and play house and make Siobhan my baby, but Shiv always refused, insisting that she got to be the boss of me since she was the older sister.
Siobhan had never wanted motherhood. I highly doubt looking after me our entire lives helped that desire grow. It was more of something that had found her, something she'd ultimately decided was worth it because children softened her colder, more reserved heart with their wonderment at the world and unconditional love. She'd been so good with Sean, a real mom, not like me, the fair-weathered fun aunt... even though I spent more time with Sean than she ever did, except when he was inside her belly. She changed after she lost him, kind of went unhinged, and I had some idea that he was at least part of the reason why she and Andrew had never had children. I guess Siobhan was afraid to replace him, afraid to lose another child.
Or maybe she just hadn't wanted to go through that again, much less have Andrew's child. Either way, I found out sooner than I thought when Siobhan's doctor called me. The alarm bells started to go off in my head pretty much immediately, especially since he wasn't anywhere in her book. It was like my sister felt she had to keep the appointment secret, even from herself. Like she was afraid someone else would see. He said some stuff about positive bloodwork, never a good thing in my books, and I was trying really hard not to have a coronary, imagining the unpleasant conversations I would have to have with Andrew and Henry about potentially giving the both of them STDs. It would be unpleasant, especially on Andrew's end, but I'd had worse conversations, and, hell, I could just leave it in a note, right? P.S. Get tested or something like that.
Fortunately, or perhaps unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, Dr. Marx told me that Siobhan had been pregnant, almost four weeks along. You could've knocked me over with a feather. It was actually a miracle my knees didn't buckle as I was awash in questions. Had my sister known? Did she have any idea? Is that why she...? I wondered how Shiv would've felt to hear that, if she would've freaked out or what. I didn't have time to process the sense of loss I felt, hearing that Siobhan's child, my niece or nephew, had died with her. "I... I'm pregnant?" I choked out, feeling like the wind had been knocked out of me. And then, just as I'd learned this bombshell about my sister (seriously, is that why she killed herself?), I heard a floorboard creak and turned around to see Andrew standing there, hands in his pockets, eyes wide, looking as if he'd seen a ghost. He was mid-step even, but he'd completely frozen in shock like some sort of statue.
I couldn't blame him. That was not supposed to happen. He was not supposed to overhear that phone call, and I'm an idiot... and that's not how a man is supposed to find out he was going to be a father. But he wasn't. I hated this, the not-having-time-to-think-or-find-my-bearings-thing that was continuously happening to me every day I pretended to be Siobhan. Even an ex-addict gets tired of thinking on her feet, being ready to bolt at any moment. Which was all I wanted to do right then. Andrew swallowed hard as I made up some excuse to tell the doctor to get off the phone, gradually turning to face him. "Did I hear that right, Siobhan?" Andrew said after a while, eyes dropping to my stomach. "Are you...?" he began, motioning to my stomach.
I nodded anxiously, whole body stiff and tight. "-Pregnant?" I interjected, finishing his sentence. There it was, the moment of truth. I looked into his eyes from halfway across the room, reading the shocked look in them, the tension in his frozen body, but not getting a read on his emotions at all. But when I looked into his eyes, I just couldn't do it. I couldn't think up a single lie to counter it, couldn't watch that unguarded expression disappear from his face to be replaced with disappointment. "Yeah. He said I'm about four weeks along."
And there it was, that first hole I had to dig my way out of. Ultimately, though, I decided it would be easier to fake a miscarriage or explain that the results were wrong rather than to deny what I'd just said. Andrew was frozen, but I started to explain so he wouldn't question me more. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that pregnancy was a good excuse to explain the differences between myself and Siobhan. She had actually been more serene during her pregnancy, but, then again, Siobhan had been a different woman then. I took a few steps towards him. "I went to the doctor a week ago... I was having trouble keeping food down, feeling emotional... My breasts were tender, you know..." I rambled, shrugging a little and making various nervous hand gestures. After all, I knew more about a pregnant Siobhan than he did.
Andrew raised his brows, unable to wipe the curious look from his face. Okay, I'll admit that I partially said that to make him feel awkward and distract him, and that I totally noticed how his eyes shot right to my very covered breasts. Andrew looked away after a moment and motioned towards one of the couches, a vaguely nervous expression on his face. "And... how do you feel about this, Shiv?" he began delicately, leaning against the back of the sofa. I did the same, putting my hands down and pushing myself up to sit on it, balancing precariously on the edge. I frowned at him, uncertain of what to say other than that I'd just made a huge mistake and needed to find a way to extricate myself from this situation as soon as humanly possible.
He cleared his throat uncomfortably, crossing his arms over his chest. There were at least six inches between us, not exactly a typical position for a husband and wife after she'd just told him she was pregnant. Our heads were more or less level so that I could look directly into his eyes without having to move my head. "You were very clear and really very set on not having children. We've always been very careful to use protection..." Andrew said quite bluntly. I tried not to wince. There was an underlying tightness in his voice that suggested it irritated him. It would, though, I guess. I suppose, though, that it meant my sister was being safe? Not safe enough, apparently, but still. His lips were in a tiny line, his forehead already wrinkling.
I looked away, embarrassed. I kind of wanted to stick my fingers in my ears and un-hear everything he was saying. There were certain things I did not want to know about my sister. "I mean, the last time we were in this position, you nearly had a panic attack and accused me of poking holes in condoms and replacing your birth control pills with aspirin," he continued with a dry, rather bitter laugh, shaking his head. "You said I was trying to trap you." I whipped around to face him so fast I nearly fell off the couch. Had Shiv been pregnant with his child before? There had been another time... what had happened? The dour look on Andrew's face answered my question; it had just been a scare, then. And wow, it could not be clearer that this was an unplanned pregnancy. Andrew moved towards me a little, his expression cautious, his shoulder almost touching mine. "So..." he began, taking a deep breath, "what do you want to do, Shiv?"
I froze, unable to think, unable to react. I'd never been in this position before, not really. I'd had a few scares; what woman hadn't? But I had never actually been pregnant to my knowledge. I was far too careful for that, so careful that Siobhan wouldn't believe it. You have to be when you're a stripper who's turning tricks on the side. Can't afford to lose your livelihood. I shrugged a little, not sure how to feel. "What do you think, Andrew?" I asked slowly, watching him. He'd said nothing about his own feelings on the subject, just a lot of things about how my sister didn't want kids... and it seemed a bit like he'd taken it personally. I just wanted to know if he was happy about this... or not.
But why wouldn't he be, right? They were married, after all. He already had a child. He wasn't going to leave her overnight, not like Dylan. Andrew was ready, well-off, seemingly well-adjusted, perfectly ready to be a father again. What objections could he have, regardless of how bad things were between the two of them?
Andrew's eyes widened a bit, and he tilted his head to look at me more closely. His jaw tightened, but when he saw that I was serious, he opened his mouth and began to speak. "I always wanted more children. Of course I'm... happy, but I'm not going to force your hand," he told me quietly, cautiously, not daring to get excited about it. He faltered a bit, said it in a strange sort of halting voice that wasn't quite hopeful. Andrew shrugged nearly imperceptibly, turning towards me. "This is your choice, Siobhan. It's all up to you. Do what you want. I'll be here for you either way," he said firmly, unfolding his arms and putting a hand lightly on my arm. The look in his eyes was hard and inscrutable.
I looked at it and then back up at his face, blinking disbelievingly. He hadn't demanded anything, hadn't tried to push me or emotionally blackmail me. A man had never given me a choice in my life, so it was strange. Something about the whole thing wasn't quite sitting right with me since it was all so abnormal, but I didn't know him well enough to put my finger on it. Andrew sighed, staring ahead in thought, arms crossed once more. "I know it isn't something we planned for... The timing's not the greatest, and it would require a big adjustment to the way we live our lives. It could... change everything," he murmured. I blinked. Was he trying to convince me not to do it? Did he not actually want a baby?
Andrew inhaled deeply, pursing his lips and turning to look at me, attempting a smile. "But it could also make things a lot better and make the both of us really happy. But if things are going to continue the way they were..." He sounded a little dreamy there for a second. Andrew trailed off, giving me a look and then looking away quickly, guiltily, as I would later realize. I caught his eye out of the corner of mine and knew what he'd left unsaid: then maybe we'd be better off not having children. Andrew uncrossed his arms, taking another deep breath, pressing his palms against his thighs and leaning forward a bit. "I'd love to have another child running around the house, but, if you don't, then... that's fine too," Andrew said calmly, oh-so blandly. Did any of this actually matter to him? He smiled at me almost sweetly but looked a bit sick doing it.
I was trying to puzzle out just what all of this meant and how he really felt. He did seem to genuinely want more children and... why was I thinking about this? I could not give him a child. I am not a miracle worker or an incubator. My sister was in the ocean with her baby, dead, and Andrew would never get to know either of them. It didn't matter what I said; either way, the outcome was the same, and it would've been better for me to just kill any potential excitement on his part right away so that it didn't hurt worse for him when I was gone and nothing of his wife remained except bitter, unsatisfying memories and an empty space in the bed.
And this was just one of many points during this conversation where I realized how in over my head I was. I'm not talking about the good kind of feeling or about feeling like I was drowning. I literally felt like I was being buried alive by all the lies, just one thing piling upon another and another until I couldn't see anymore. It was like with every word I said, I was just managing to dig an even bigger hole for myself than the one for coffin I already had to dig myself out of... and sooner or later, I was going to wind up in a bottomless pit with no way out or light at the end of the tunnel.
But, like, really, what could I say? Oh, no, sorry, Andrew, I'm going to callously abort the baby that may possibly be yours but likely is Henry's, you know, my supposed best friend's husband? For no other reason than that I don't want to have children because I don't. Sah-rry, but I'm not, really. I'm not Siobhan, and I couldn't do that.
Since it didn't really matter in the long-run, I figured I'd tell him what he wanted to hear, whatever was least likely to offend him. I looked down at the floor, bringing my hands into my lap and looking at the wood as if it would feed me the right words to say. It had certainly witnessed more interactions between Andrew and Siobhan than I had. "I... know I didn't want to try for children, but that was just because I was scared," I told him finally, bringing my head up and over to look at him. I laced my fingers together, glancing away and biting my lip. "I didn't think I could do it... I never thought I would be good enough, what with the way it was with my parents." Given the expression on Andrew's face, I guessed Siobhan hadn't really mentioned them either; she'd just erased her entire past and family by sheer will alone. No one comes from nothing. How had Andrew never wondered or questioned that?
As I said it, I realized that it was actually true and the main reason why I'd never taken it in my head to get knocked up. I never thought I deserved children or happiness, not after Sean and how I'd carelessly ruined all that. I also knew, almost instantaneously, that Siobhan never would've said that, never would've been so vulnerable to admit that to him or anyone. She would never admit being unable to do something; she would never have been not good enough, not like me.
I had to swallow over the lump in my throat as I forced myself to look at him across the divide. I saw a kind of sympathy in Andrew's eyes, like he wanted to reach out for me and comfort me somehow but didn't know how. Apparently something I'd said had resonated with him. I sensed that he was going to say something, but I kept talking, not wanting to hear what he had to say, to listen to him trying to soothe my insecurities. I didn't deserve his comfort. I shrugged helplessly, hating myself a little bit more as I placed my hand on my stomach and pretended I didn't notice Andrew's gaze drop almost... longingly... to my abdomen, like he wanted to touch it but was forbidden. I took a deep breath, briefly closing my eyes and willing myself to have the strength to do this. "But, now that I'm actually pregnant, well... it changes everything," I said, stroking my empty belly as if it were full.
People used to say Siobhan and I should've become actresses, that we'd both missed out on lucrative careers in Hollywood, just a few hours away by car. They didn't realize we were good actresses out of necessity. As if on cue, I glanced up, throwing my hair over my shoulder, and met his stare, strangely warm and intent. I thought of Siobhan, how she'd decided she was going to have the baby, despite everything, and I thought of the words she'd said. "I know it seems insane, but I want him, Bridge," she'd said. I smiled a little, thinking back to that day, to the happy and terrified tears in her eyes, back before my sister had hardened like the pretty white marble in the lobby and the elevator. "I know it's only been a few minutes, but I... want it. I can't imagine my life without him," I told him in a shaky voice, looking up at him through wet, slightly blurry eyes.
Siobhan had said that, almost those very words. She'd said she already couldn't imagine her life without him, that she knew it was going to be hard and scary, but that it would be worth it. I'd put my hand on her stomach and told her that she and the baby had me too, for anything they needed. I told her I would do anything for the both of them, and I meant it. Siobhan had given me a beatific smile, looking as serene, beautiful, and full of grace as the Virgin Mary. Not that Siobhan would've appreciated the analogy. There was, however, something in her eyes that doubted me, something a little patronizing and almost pitying. But I had. I'd done anything for them until... that day when I ruined everything.
I crossed both hands over my abdomen, left hand over right. The rings caught and reflected the light in a little rainbow, and I gazed up at him timidly, praying I hadn't said the wrong thing. I was hesitant to look at him fully, afraid of what I'd find there. I was pleasantly surprised to watch a pleased smile spread gradually across his face. Then he reached out, taking one of my hands, and lightly squeezed it. "I'm very glad to hear that, Shiv," he said softly, pushing off from the couch and rising into a fully standing position. I did my best to smile back as Andrew stared down at me, smile widening into a grin as it hit him. In his excitement, he pulled me toward him inadvertently. "Then, I... guess we're going to have a baby!" he proclaimed enthusiastically, pulling me up into a standing position.
He didn't quite beam, his reaction a bit more sedate than that, but I could feel some sort of joy and enthusiasm radiating from his being. I tried to match his expression but couldn't quite conjure up that level of joy, probably not even if I was actually pregnant. "We're gonna have a baby!" I repeated dumbly, trying to act like I felt anything at all besides wanting to throw up from the guilt of it all. I was watching Andrew very, very carefully to see if he saw through me but trying to do so in a way that he wouldn't notice or find odd, so it was weird that I missed the way he put his other hand on my shoulder and leaned down, bringing his mouth to mine. He paused a moment, mere inches from my lips, smile gradually dying, scanning my eyes for the answer to a question he didn't vocalize.
And then he leaned in the rest of the way, pressing his lips against mine. His mouth was soft and yielding, lips dry but smooth, the pressure of his lips light but just firm enough, brief enough to be sweet. His lips didn't linger on mine too long; it was more of a peck than the hot and handsy make-out session telling your husband he's going to be a father probably should be. At the time, however, I chalked it up to Andrew being British and emotionally stunted and repressed and not particularly demonstrative or passionate. I didn't know him at all then, hadn't gotten past those ten layers stacked one upon the other like sediment or sarcophagi to his heart.
I closed my eyes the second his lips touched mine, trying to match him move for move but not to escalate anything. As he kissed me, his hand came down to rest against my flat stomach, searching for a swell that wasn't there, even when I arched my back a little. I was fine now; Siobhan couldn't be expected to show for months. I knew from my experience that Siobhan was tiny when she was pregnant; you couldn't tell looking from behind that she was pregnant, and Siobhan liked to wear rather large clothes sometimes, obscuring it further. Nonetheless, I froze when he pressed the length of his hand against the thin cotton blouse I was wearing, able to feel the heat of his hand through my skin.
Andrew mistook my sudden lack of response for something else entirely and pulled away, the light in his eyes dimming a little. I felt bad, but I couldn't very well throw his hand off my stomach like I wanted to. I smiled back at him awkwardly, wondering where we went from here. I was about to ask if we could postpone telling people for a couple months since I'd heard somewhere that you weren't supposed to tell people until you were through the first trimester, probably to avoid a painful and awkward conversation in case of a miscarriage... which were most common in the first trimester and decreased every day after it, but Andrew spoke before I could, giving me a kind of skeptical look. "You sure this is what you want to do, Siobhan?" he asked, holding me at arms' length, staring me down solidly.
I blinked and nodded dumbly, forcing a smile. Andrew didn't exactly look wholly relieved or convinced, but he cleared his throat nervously, eyes crinkling at the corners like he was maybe happy about it. "This could be good for us, yeah?" Andrew asked, almost as an afterthought, dark eyes searching. I heard a strain of uncertainty in his voice, a sense that this could go one of two ways, which left me both confused and simultaneously relieved. I didn't understand Andrew, and I didn't expect to any time soon, especially with the way he shut me out, always so cautious and suspicious of my sister.
I nodded slowly, holding my breath and giving him a slight smile, meeting his gaze. "Yeah, I think it could be." Andrew smiled back gently, and I let out a breath, somewhat relieved. He didn't take move toward me like he could've or should've, didn't show any support, just stood back and smiled distantly. Something about him seemed... not quite removed from the situation, like he was reserving hope or expectations until I gave him a reason to believe me. I couldn't exactly blame him.
"Well, then, I think we should tell Juliet, don't you?" he suggested, raising his brows as if that was that. I blinked even more dumbly but couldn't think up a credible reason why we shouldn't tell Juliet I was going to be giving her a brother or a sister other than the obvious, so I was forced to follow Andrew to Juliet's bedroom. He didn't take my hand, as he should've, which left me a bit miffed.
Hopefully this time I wouldn't walk in on her in the middle of doing a guy. Also, using my sister's scarf as a blindfold... kinda kinky for a sixteen-year-old, but, then again, she was at boarding school... Sex is practically a currency in boarding school, right?
Needless to say the conversation did not go well. Juliet made it very clear that she was not excited or happy and did not want a little brother or sister, especially one that was part me, and she told me where I could shove my baby. She didn't want to have to share her father's attention and accused me of getting pregnant so that we could ship her off again and "replace" her with the new baby, becoming increasingly more emotional and vindictive. She also asked Andrew flat-out if he was sure the baby was his (I about passed out, especially since Andrew looked understandably less than one hundred percent certain), insinuated that I did all kinds of guys when he wasn't around, and said just about every nasty and selfish thing you can imagine. Naturally, this was a conversation I preferred to forget and pretend had never happened.
My impression of her was not particularly improving, but she reminded me of a much sassier, nastier version of myself... which I found rather ironic since it meant that she was like the woman she so hated, only a bit cheaper and crasser. If I told you what she really said, I'd have to bleep it out because I'd heard better language from the truck drivers who used to frequent Club Caged. For a second I actually thought Andrew was actually going to slap her, but he just got all huffy and defensive and grounded her like that meant she wasn't just going to run away at her earliest convenience. Both Martins had pretty vicious tempers.
After that conversation, I tried to slink away to the bedroom, claiming exhaustion, but a weary Andrew, still red in the face from shouting at Juliet to grow up, sighed. He turned to me, breathing deeply and just beginning to smile, and said, "Well, now that that's over with, we should call up Henry and Gemma and tell them the good news. Go out to celebrate and make a night out of it."
I froze but was unable to come up with a credible excuse to get out of it, which is how we wound up at that club with a sulky, obvious Henry and a genuinely excited Gemma. It was one of the most awkward moments of my life, especially when Andrew was looking at me, wondering why Henry was being so unsupportive and insincere and a buzzkill and entirely incapable of mustering up any feigned enthusiasm for us. I couldn't very well tell Andrew that Henry was convinced the baby was his and was probably pissed he had to find out from Andrew, but I couldn't help but notice that, oddly, even though both of these men supposedly loved my sister, their reactions were not what one would expect from a dad-to-be.
Okay, you know what, I can say it. Henry was being a whiny little bitch. I sort of understood why he was upset, but the man had a wife and twins already, and, what, did he expect Siobhan to just pop the kid out, leave Andrew, and ride off into the sunset with him? Regardless of how screwed up Andrew and Siobhan's marriage was, I was pretty convinced there were several million reasons why that was never going to happen. There had to be some reason why my sister hadn't divorced Andrew or left him before, after all, or else she'd have done that, rather than killing herself.
I mean, hell, I wasn't pregnant and was feeling antsy about the whole thing, especially knowing what had happened to the real baby, and I could still muster up more fake enthusiasm than Henry freaking Butler. How, again, had neither Gemma nor Andrew found out about the affair? I mean, couldn't Siobhan at least have picked someone discreet? Nothing was discreet about Henry, from his obvious bad mood to his angry drinking. Andrew and I definitely exchanged more than one exasperated look at their fighting; I had a sneaking suspicion that Siobhan and Andrew didn't air their dirty laundry in public, fortunately for us all, because I had the unpleasant feeling that their arguments were rather explosive. Anyway, Henry's reaction was definitely making Gemma uncomfortable, hence her changing the subject and going off with Andrew to get drinks.
To be honest, I'd wanted to go with them (because Henry could only passive-aggressively make passes at me in front of our respective spouses) but had refrained because I didn't need the temptation, and, rather unfortunately, I needed to talk to Henry. I had to pretend like I cared about him, which was very hard since he was hounding me and generally annoying the crap out of me, like a client who expects sex for free every time just because you took pity on him one time when he paid you to put out. Also, I'd only had two previous conversations with him, if we're going to exclude my two past experiences of him stalking me from a distance when Andrew was around. He was so needy and stalkery for a married man that it was just a little intense and overwhelming piled on top of everything else. My sister's husband was, hilariously, not even half so desperate to sleep with her/me.
Fortunately, Henry gave me an ultimatum that took about one second to answer, even though I had to pretend like I was all conflicted about it. It wasn't really a choice. The dumbass didn't realize he'd given me an easy out, a path to having a simple, more Henry-free life where I didn't have to carry on an unwanted affair and could avoid inadvertently hurting more people. I didn't care much about hurting Henry then because I figured he didn't have any right to have an affair with his wife's best friend in the first place, and what he was doing, the feelings he had for my sister, were selfish and hurting his children and Gemma.
I wondered if Siobhan would've given in as easily as he'd suspected, but I didn't think she'd be subjected to such easy psychological manipulation. I don't think she would've made a choice. Her heart might've said Henry, but her eyes and her brain and everything else would've said Andrew, regardless of whether or not she actually said it aloud. She'd probably have twisted things around, managing to pacify Henry and string him along for a while while maintaining the cool status quo with Andrew. I wasn't quite so adept, but it was a lot easier just having to deal with one potential baby daddy, the one I lived with, than two, much less one who was married to my supposed BFF.
Either way, when the two of us fell into bed that night, me exhausted and Andrew a bit buzzed and smiling, so much so that I wanted to lean over him and taste the remnants of red wine on his lips and mouth, sucking every drop of flavor I could from it (insane, I know, but I could smell it on him, the scent of a good vintage, and living my sister's insane life was really making me want a drink, which was part of the reason why I'd temporarily gone along with the whole being-pregnant-thing, which was yet another reason why I thirsted for a drink), I had a new worry. As always, the thought of sweet, delicious alcohol was better than sex... but I was determined not to fall off the wagon.
I had one more reason to lay awake at night, asking myself difficult questions.
Questions like: What kind of person does this to her own sister? What kind of person thinks identity theft of opportunity is acceptable behavior? Do real people actually do this? What kind of person doesn't go straight to the phone and call the police and Andrew and tell them what happened? How sick do you have to be to borrow your sister's life? Am I a sociopath? An opportunist... a what? What would Siobhan think if she knew? How disappointed would she be in me?
And how was I gonna get out of this? What was I going to do? Where was I going to go? Was Bodaway going to find me?
What was I going to do about this baby I was supposedly having? Could I actually do it, actually pretend to be pregnant with my dead sister's baby? How long could I actually pretend?
But, still, a little voice in my head urged me that it was okay to stay a while, that I was trying to make things better, trying to make amends for my sister, trying to give her loved ones the closure she'd given me. She'd had a lifetime, but she hadn't taken the time to say goodbye to her husband, her lover, her best friend, or anyone else. Just me. I was the one she'd given absolution... and why? Why, when I could never give it to her, no matter how much I apologized? And if I couldn't give it to her, I might as well give it to the people in her life, give them what little I could offer so that they had pleasant, fulfilled last memories of her.
Yes, I decided, I would stay just long enough to draw out some money to leave and get a legitimate plan going. I would give them, all of them, the closure they needed (I had no idea how I was going to do that with Henry, but I wasn't going to sleep with him), and then I would disappear like a ghost in the night, leaving their lives the way I had entered them... as a stranger with Siobhan's face.