It had been so long since she felt this way; since she felt so torn. Hearing the news about her pregnancy put Gabriella at war with herself. Part of her, the one that wanted so badly to give Troy the family he deserved, was completely elated by this situation. But the other part, the one still hurting from her miscarriage six years ago, was utterly frightened by it. So many scenarios ran through her head: what if she miscarried again? What if she couldn't carry the baby to full term? If only she had been more careful. If only she had paid attention. Sighing, she placed her head in the palm of her hands as she tried to hold in her tears; the urge to break down was strong and threatened to take over. So caught up in her thoughts, she failed to notice the approaching figure of her best friend until the blonde sat down across from her.
"Sorry I'm late," she said, not failing to notice her best friend's distressed state, "traffic was a bitch." Removing her designer shades from her face, her light brown eyes connected with the dark ones of Gabriella's. "You all right?" she asked; concern shining brightly within her gaze. "You sounded a bit upset over the phone."
Gabriella nodded, absentmindedly, as she encircled her arms around herself; a sign that she was trying to keep herself from falling apart. Suddenly, the vertical shakes of her head became horizontal and a soft sob escaped her lips. Sharpay, sensing that the brunette needed her, moved her chair over and brought the crying woman into her arms. Nothing was said as the blonde tried to get her to calm down. It was minutes later that Gabriella found her voice stable enough to speak with. "Shar…I'm pregnant," she whispered and felt Sharpay's entire body tense. Pulling away slightly, the caramel-eyed woman looked at her best friend with shock and concern.
"A-Are you sure?"
"Yes," she answered, tears still falling from her eyes. "I'm positive."
"When did you find out?"
"This morning." She wiped the salt water from her cheeks. "I noticed yesterday that I missed my period, so, this morning, I bought a home pregnancy test…and it came out positive. Unable to believe it, I went to my doctor to make sure and…once again, it came out positive."
Sharpay nodded. "How have you been holding up since then?"
"Not good." Running a hand through her hair, Gabriella tried to regain the composure she'd lost and pulled completely out of Sharpay's arms. "I'm scared, Shar. I'm scared and I don't know what to do."
"Well, have you told Troy yet?"
"No," she answered quickly, her chocolate eyes going wide, "and I'm not going to; not yet, at least."
She breathed in deeply. "Because I want to be sure that…that I'm going to keep it; that I'll be able to keep it."
Immediately jumping to conclusions, Sharpay stared at her best friend with disbelief. "You're not thinking about getting an abortion, are you?"
"What? No!" Sharpay visibly sighed. "I meant that I'm going to wait and see. I-I don't know what that miscarriage did to my body; I don't know if it made it harder for me to carry children. I just… I want to make sure that I can give him children."
"And if you find out that it had lasting repercussions; will you still tell him?"
"What do you mean?"
"I mean that if—God forbid—that you miscarry again before you've reached the safe zone; would you tell him about the baby?"
Realizing what her friend was asking, Gabriella shook her head. "No."
"I just couldn't."
Sighing, Sharpay grabbed her hand. "I still say you should tell him," she suggested, "but I understand why you don't want to. Have you, at least, talked it out with your doctor; let her know about your concerns?" Gabriella shook her head. "The next time you go, you should. She probably has the answers you need."
"You're welcome. And, remember, I'm always here if you need to talk."
To say that he loved Gabriella Marie Bolton was an understatement. He loved her more than life itself. Hell, she was his life. She saved him from a deep hole he'd dug himself into; pulled him out of the darkness and into the sunlight. He would do anything for her if it meant keeping her safe; even if it required for him to go to prison. She was worth it. But, sometimes, he allowed himself to hate her. Hate her for the things she did; for the secrets she kept from him. And he always knew when she was keeping something from him. He told her time and time again that she may have been a skilled liar, but she failed when it came to wiping her emotions from her eyes. Those warm, honey brown orbs were like windows; always transparent. She couldn't keep anything from him. One look into her eyes and he knew when something was bothering her.
This time wasn't any different.
Two days ago, when Troy came home from work, he immediately noticed something was wrong by his wife's strange behavior. She sat in front of a black television screen; staring at it like something was playing on it. Already suspicious, he asked her if there was anything bothering her; hoping that she would give him a straight answer, but was disappointed when she answered with the same ole' nothing. Looking into her eyes, he asked her one more time and received the same response, but her gaze told a different story. Knowing he wouldn't get the disclosure he desired, he dropped it from conversation, but kept it in the back of his mind for analysis. He was determined to figure out what it was that was causing his wife's usually bright brown eyes to become dark and vacant.
The sound of her retching into the porcelain bowl was what woke him in the wee hours of the morning. He looked over at her normally occupied spot beside him; wondering if he had just been dreaming it, only to find it empty. The noise once more caught his attention and he sat up; gaze diverting to the slightly ajar bathroom door. Hearing her vomit once more, Troy stood and crossed the room; stopping just outside the bathroom. He knocked before pushing it open and taking in the sight of Gabriella leaning over the toilet bowl as she emptied the contents of her stomach. Concerned, he stepped up behind her and used one hand to hold her hair away from her face as the other rubbed her back, soothingly. When it seemed she was done, she stood and flushed the toilet. His eyes never left her as she moved over to the sink to rinse her mouth out. He had never seen her sick like this in the two and a half years they'd known each other.
"You okay?" he asked, their eyes meeting in the mirror.
She nodded. "I'm fine," she answered before averting her gaze.
Inwardly, he sighed and moved up behind her. Using his arms, he boxed her in and trapped her body against the sink. "I know you're lying, Gabriella." He kissed her exposed shoulder. "Come on, babe, don't do this to me; don't shut me out."
Turning in his arms, she smiled up at him. "I'm fine, Troy; honestly, I am. I think that I just caught something, that's all."
The smile on her face was forced. He could read everything in her eyes and they told him that she wasn't okay. "Stop lying to me, please."
"I'm not." Sighing, he shook his head and started towards the bedroom. "Troy." She grabbed his wrist; stopping him from taking another step. Moving so she stood in front of him, she felt her heart sink when he refused to look at her. "Look at me." He closed his eyes and took a deep breath before turning his eyes to hers. "I need you to trust me. Okay?"
"Only if you promise me that you'll tell me what's wrong?" She nodded, but it wasn't enough for him. "Promise me, Gabriella. I want to hear you say it."
"I promise," she assented. "Just…not now."
Despite the voice in the back of his head that told him to get her to tell him right then and there, he didn't relent to it. He had to trust that she would keep her word; that she would tell him when she felt comfortable enough to do so. It hurt that she couldn't find it in her to open up to him, but he wouldn't force her. "Let's go back to bed." He took her hand and turned off the bathroom light; leading her back into their bedroom.
"I need a doctor!" the young man with dirty blonde hair said as he stepped through the doors of the emergency room. Gabriella clutched his shirt, silently crying. She was afraid. She had no idea what was going on and it scared her.
One of the nurses came from behind the counter. "What's wrong with her?"
"I-I don't know." He was scared. He didn't really know the brunette female in his arms, but that didn't stop him from being fearful for her life. "She just said that her stomach was hurting and then she started bleeding."
The nurse looked at the blood caked on the girl's skirt and inner thighs before telling the man to follow. He did so, eagerly, placing her on a gurney moments later. The nurse called for backup and he was pushed out of the way as everyone began trying to figure out what was wrong with her. The head nurse came over to take a look at the brunette and started to add pressure to her abdomen.
"Does that hurt?" she asked.
She quickly whispered something to the male nurse next to her and he disappeared. She, then, turned to the nurse who had called the emergency and demanded that she get every piece of information on the girl that she could from the guy who brought her in. After, the remaining nurses wheeled her into a room.
"Someone get me an ultrasound!" the head nurse bellowed. "And find Dr. Marco!"
"A-An ultrasound? For what?" she whispered.
The woman smiled and placed her hand on Gabriella's head. "Just procedure. We need to figure out what's going on in there," she said, motioning her eyes to Gabriella's stomach.
Minutes later, a male nurse walked in with an ultrasound. The head nurse quickly pulled up Gabriella's shirt and started spreading the gel on her stomach. She shivered at how cold it was, but didn't complain. She watched as the head nurse searched for the problem and became worried when she gasped.
"What? What is it?"
The woman ignored her and turned to the male nurse. "Please, find Dr. Marco."
Gabriella tried to see what was on the screen, but the head nurse made sure to block her view. Finally, minutes later, a man—she assumed to be Dr. Marco—walked into the room; his eyes locking with the head nurse.
"We have a problem," she whispered.
His eyes looked to the screen and they widened a bit before going back to normal. "Get her into one of the GYNO rooms and get her hooked on an IV and started on local anesthesia."
"Will someone please tell me what's going on?"
He looked to her, a sad look on his face. "I'm afraid you've just had a miscarriage."
Shock and confusion ran through her as she was helped out of her clothes and into a hospital gown. Everything after that was a blur. She barely remembered being helped onto the stirrups or the pin prick of the needle piercing her skin. But like the nerve cells in the area, she became completely numb. A single tear slid down her cheek as the reality of the moment came crashing down on her. She closed her eyes, having no interest in seeing what the doctor was going to do to get the dead fetus—or what was left of it—from inside her body. Bringing her hands up to her face, she openly sobbed, still unable to cope with the fact that she had been pregnant and that she had lost her baby.
When it was all over and done with, the nurses gave her one of the hospital beds and volunteered to call someone for her, but she declined. The only person she could ever think of calling was Sharpay, but she didn't want her best friend to know about this. The guy who brought her there came in minutes after she was transferred into a hospital room, wanting to know if she was okay. She plastered on a fake smile and nodded. Awkwardly, he wished her well and left, leaving her alone again. She didn't mind, however; she was used to being alone.
Not long after, Dr. Marco came into the room and began asking questions. Like the procedure, this was a blur to Gabriella. She answered his questions with a nod or shake of her head, using the same tactics she recently learned to use on her father, listening only to key words of the questions. When he was done, he left the room, wordlessly, and she rolled over to her side. She stared out the window at the now darkened sky and started to cry. Why did bad things happen to her? Why couldn't she ever have one good thing happen in her life? Curling into a ball, she cried into the pillow until exhaustion took over.
"Ms. Bolton?" Pulled out of her memories, Gabriella returned to the present and found herself the center of attention. Looking into her professor's irritated forest green eyes, she knew that he had asked her a question and she had failed to answer. "Do you have a response for me, Ms. Bolton?" The brunette shook her head as her cheeks heated up in embarrassment. "No? Then I hope that you will pay attention from now on. Is that understood?" She nodded and he went back to teaching; opting to call on another student to answer what he had inquired.
Gabriella sunk, slightly, into her seat; trying to escape lingering eyes. Drifting into thoughts of her past was unintentional, but unavoidable; a result of finding out almost a week ago that she was nearly two months pregnant. The weight of it all threatened to drown her and sink her beneath the waves of despair that she had gone through before and after her miscarriage six years prior. Realizing she had started to drift off again, she turned her gaze to her professor and attempted to listen to what was being taught. Soon the class was all over and she stood; gathering her things. Being the last class of the day, she was eager to get to the parking lot of UCLA's campus and head home. Head in the clouds, she neared her Hyundai Elantra—a substitute for her beloved Nissan GT-R that she had to leave behind because it was in her father's name—and failed to hear her name being called. It wasn't until a hand came to land on her shoulder did she realize she had been lost in thought. Turning, she smiled as her eyes landed on one of the many friends she'd made after stepping foot on the UCLA campus two years prior.
Duncan Lane, the picture perfect definition of an all-American boy; good looks, dusty blond hair and baby blue eyes. She couldn't deny that the male was attractive—her female hormones wouldn't allow her to deny it—but he wasn't her type. He wasn't Troy. If she had met him before her husband, then she might have given him a chance, but she doubted that they would have had a serious relationship. "Didn't you hear me calling your name?" he asked, though the question held more of a curious tone than one of anger like the words depicted.
She gave him an apologetic smile; shaking her head in response. "Sorry."
Chuckling, he moved to brush a stray hair out of her face. "It's fine, Gabriella."
Feeling a bit uneven, she took a step back from him. It was a known fact to her, her best friend and her husband that the blond male harbored strong feelings for her. This subject matter was the topic of many of the few arguments that she and Troy managed to have. He wasn't comfortable with her being friends with a man who blatantly ignored the fact that she was taken. Gabriella knew he was just being jealous, but sometimes she did see where Troy was coming from; especially when he pulled stunts like the one he was doing just then. "So, um, was there something you need to talk to me about?"
"I was wondering if you were doing anything later. I got invited to this party down by the beach and I was hoping that you would be my unofficial date."
"Sorry, Duncan, but I can't; I'm supposed to meet Troy." It was a lie of course, but he didn't need to know that. In truth, she just wanted to stay home for the night. There was just too much on her mind. And, not to mention, there was no doubt that Duncan and his friends would be drinking and that was the last thing she needed to do in her situation. She also wasn't interested in letting anyone else know that she was pregnant.
"Oh, right, right; the boyfriend."
"Actually, he's the husband, now," she said, holding up her left hand for him to see the glittering wedding band on her ring finger. He stared at it with confusion and jealousy shining in his light blue eyes as a soft 'when?' escaped his lips. "He proposed on Valentine's Day and we got married over spring break."
Nodding, absentmindedly, he swallowed the lump in his throat and brought his gaze to hers; forcing a tight smile. "That's, uh, that's great. Congratulations."
"He's a lucky guy."
"And I'm a lucky girl," she responded, gauging his reaction to her words. She could tell by the look on his face that he wanted to say something; wanted to express his opinion on how he didn't think Troy was good enough for a woman like her. Who was he to determine that? He had no idea what kind of pain Troy had been through. He had no idea what kind of person Gabriella had been before meeting the blue-eyed male that held her heart. "Listen, I have to go; so I'll talk to you later, alright?"
"Yeah, sure. Maybe when you're not busy with your…husband, you and I can hang out sometime."
"Maybe," she said, not really pleased with the way he said 'husband'. "Bye, Duncan."
Turning on her heel, she heads for her car once more and proceeds to toss her bag into the backseat before climbing into the driver's side. She really didn't need any more drama popping up into her life; she had enough of it as it was. Between being pregnant, having to tell her husband about said pregnancy and the constant nagging of her best friend to tell said husband about said pregnancy, she really didn't need something else stressing her out. Pulling out of the student parking lot, Gabriella started on her way home without once glancing back at Duncan.
He hated this feeling.
Staring at the orange and black ball in his hands, he looked to it for the answers that he needed; knowing that it would never give it to him. He was feeling more and more frustrated as time went on. Throwing it to the side, he listened as it rolled away until the sound suddenly just stopped. Looking up, he found himself staring at the concerned face of his best friend. He forced a smile as the African-American male walked closer to him.
"So, is there a reason why you asked me to meet you here?" he asked, stepping further onto the blacktop.
Nodding, Troy sighed. "There is. Gabriella's keeping something from me, and I need your help to find out what that something is."
Chad lifted a brow; confused as to how he would be able to help. "How am I supposed to help you get a secret out of your wife?"
"Because, I know Gabriella. I know that she wouldn't have kept whatever it is from her best friend."
As realization washed over him, Chad begun to shake his head. What Troy was asking of him was something he wasn't interested in doing; something he wanted no part of. "I won't do it. I can't do it."
"Because, Troy, you're asking me to pilfer information from my girlfriend. Do you not remember how fiercely loyal she is to Gabriella? And if there is something that your wife doesn't want you to know, then there is no way that Sharpay is going to let that information slip to me; especially knowing that I might tell you."
"Can't you at least try?"
"Troy, look," He sighed, getting his words together before speaking, "I know that you want to help Gabriella with whatever it is that she's going through, but maybe…maybe this is something she has to deal with on her own."
"But, she doesn't have to!"
"I know she doesn't have to, but maybe she wants to. You have to be patient with her. With as long as it took for you to tell her about the shit you were dealing with in your past, it's the least you can do. When she's ready, she'll come to you; I know she will."
"I know it, too, but…I'm just afraid that when she does, it'll be too late."
"What do you mean?"
Running a hand through his hair, Troy took a deep breath before continuing. "For the past week, she's been acting distant; when I ask her what's wrong, she answers with 'nothing'. I've tried just letting it go, but a few days ago, I awoke to the sound of her vomiting. I asked her once more if there was something wrong, but she gave me the same response: nothing. I know she's lying; I know that there's something truly wrong with her and I'm afraid that it's something I won't be able to fix."
"You think she's…dying."
He shrugged. "I don't know, but the possibility is there and it scares me."
Sighing, Chad relented. "Fine. I'll see what I can get out of Sharpay, but if she kills me for trying, I'm coming back to haunt your ass."
"So, since we're on a basketball court, wanna play a few rounds?"
Troy smiled and nodded, before snatching the ball from Chad's hands. "First one to twenty wins," he said before making his way towards the basket.
"Cheater!" Chad called with a broad smile on his face before chasing after his best friend.
As she climbed the staircase to her second floor apartment, Gabriella, silently, hoped that Troy wasn't home. She wasn't interested in his questioning glances. The only thing she wanted to do was take a bath and then climb into bed with a good book. Unlocking the front door, she was grateful when she was met by silence. She removed her shoes and quickly padded towards the bedroom. Tossing her bag onto the floor beside the closet, Gabriella proceeded into the bathroom and started the water. As she waited for the water to reach the right temperature, she stripped down to her underwear and moved in front of the full length mirror in the corner of the room. She stared at her reflection; her eyes flickering down to her flat stomach. Brushing her fingertips across the skin there, she imagined herself with a full belly; ready to pop. The thought brought a small smile to her face, but it was quickly erased by the voice resounding in the back of her mind that reminded her of her miscarriage. Shaking her head clear of all thoughts, she went back into the bathroom and closed the door behind her.
For an hour, she sat within the confines of the bathtub and stared into space. After that hour, she climbed out and wrapped herself in a fluffy towel before allowing the water to drain. Moving into the bedroom, she dried herself off and applied moisturizer to her skin. She retrieved a pair of panties from the dresser then went to seek out one of Troy's shirts. Despite sleeping next to him every night, she found her habit of sleeping in one of his shirts hard to break; though, he wasn't exactly complaining. It also provided a sense of comfort when she needed it and she definitely needed it now. She threw the t-shirt over her head and climbed into bed. Grabbing the book on the night table, she settled herself between the sheets and turned to the page she left off at. As her body began to relax, she began to drift off and, soon, she was fast asleep.
Walking into the apartment, he was surprised to find it eerily quiet and without any signs of life. He ventured further into the apartment; calling out to her, but receiving no response. She had to have been home; the presence of her car in the driveway was enough to prove that. Unless she went to the beach to think like she usually did when something was bothering. With one room left to check, he walked into the bedroom and smiled at the sight of her sleeping soundly. He dropped his bag to the floor beside hers and crossed the room towards the bathroom. After playing round after round of basketball with Chad—his best friend didn't want to admit defeat—he was completely sweaty and knew that Gabriella wouldn't appreciate the smell when she was trying to sleep. He took a quick shower and returned to the room minutes later; clad in only a towel. As he changed into a pair of pajama pants and a t-shirt, the sound of sobbing caught his attention and he turned towards the bed. A frown settled on his face when he realized the sound was coming from his unconscious wife.
"Babe?" he called, wondering if she was awake; but when he received no response, he knew she was having a nightmare. Once he finished pulling his shirt over his torso, he made his way to her side and leant over her. "Babe? Gabriella, wake up," he said as he shook her shoulders and sat down beside her. Startled out of her sleep, she was a bit disoriented as she tried to remember where she was. "Hey! Hey! Look at me." Her eyes finally met his and everything came back to her. "Just calm down. You're okay."
"Troy…" Before he knew what was happening, she broke out into tears and buried her head into his chest.
"Shh! It's okay." Stroking her hair, he whispered soothing words to calm her down. Whatever it had been that she was dreaming about, it seemed to have a large effect on Gabriella and it made him curious to know what it was; but he wasn't going to push her into telling him. Minutes later, when she had quieted, he pulled away slightly and brushed her tear streaked cheeks with the pads of his thumbs. "You alright?" She nodded. He kissed her forehead, then her nose and then her lips. It was a chaste kiss; a reassuring one. Pulling her onto his lap, he wrapped her legs around his waist and stood; hoisting her up with him. He settled against the headboard with her still resting against him. He stroked her hair mollifyingly and continued to do so until she fell into a deep sleep. Once she was unconscious, he moved her onto the mattress; pulling the sheet up over her body. He settled in next to her and brought her closer to him. Her head found his clothed chest and nestled into it, subconsciously. Smiling softly, he wrapped his arm around her shoulders and let sleep take over.