Chapter One: I have some big news for you!
Bob Hartley was thinking back several months to the day that changed the course of his life more dramatically than any other day that had ever preceded it, and wondered if he and Emily had done the right thing. Now that it was all coming to a head, he had to acknowledge the fact that it was too late to debate any of it or take it back. And that was difficult. For a man who had spent his life helping other people through change, Bob was unusually resistant to it himself.
A little less than a year before, Emily had initiated a set of changes, that Bob was not happy about when she'd insisted that they move from their comfortable, homey fifth floor apartment to a larger, posher place on the building's top floor. He had thought he'd always feel at home wherever he was with Emily, but he soon found out he was more than wrong about that.
You know what they say, every action has an equal and opposite reaction. So Bob made the decision to run. Or rather, change their lives completely. And I know what you're thinking…Bob would never…leave Emily would he? Well no. Bob knew he could only be home when he was with Emily…it was like the one romantic thing about him. But Chicago….the practice…everything, while they were at it, just wasn't…satisfying for him anymore.
He wanted to teach so he began applying for teaching jobs at small colleges where he and Emily could move out to the country, spend more time together and maybe he could write, start a business like an inn or something…those were always things he had had an interest in doing.
Now that Jerry had dropped his bombshell, he was seriously contemplating whether he'd done the right thing to Emily all those months before, in just suddenly announcing that they were moving across country. He now felt so guilty about how much stress the impending move had put on her. Bob looked up from his place on the couch when he heard someone slam his front door.
"Oh, hi Howard. What's new with you?"
"Well I've come to a decision, so it looks like I have some news for you guys."
"Oh." Bob was really listening now. Howard had been mulling over something for days. But he wasn't sure what it was.
It was as though everyone in his life had news for him lately. Emily's was the scariest, his own was the dumbest now that he thought of it, Jerry's was sad, Carol's was exciting and Howard's…well Bob expected that Howard's might really be the dumbest. He was just glad Mrs. Bakerman had been kidding about that sex change operation. But Emily who was listening in the den suspected that Howard's news might possibly be the most romantic and not the dumbest.
"News?!" Emily asked excitedly as she came back into the living room. "Howard, what news? Is it about you and Ellen?"
"Emily!" Bob cautioned. He hated it when his wife played matchmaker, it usually put him in a bad spot. "Don't push him into it."
"I'm not pushing him into anything Bob."
"Well actually she's just perceptive. It is about Ellen."
"See I told you." Emily smiled.
"No you didn't. I did Emily." Howard corrected, missing the point completely, Bob would miss that about his friend that was for sure.
"What is it Howard?" Bob asked.
"I'm going to Cleveland, I'm going after her!"
"Howard that's so romantic." Emily sniffled. She'd been overly sensitive lately.
"Why? She left you, Howard." Bob reminded. "A year ago."
Bob knew his sister had real feelings for Howard, but on that same note, had no desire to become anybody's wife…just like he had no desire to become anybody's father…and probably for the same reason.
"Honey, why now?" Emily asked Howard.
"Well, I guess because of what you're doing here. With you guys leaving me, and moving across country, starting a new life. And little Howie growing up…he's going to be fourteen soon…and I just realized…I love her! I've never been this crazy about anybody in my whole life! I don't want to waste anymore time and I'm going to do whatever it takes to get her to marry me. Even move to Cleveland, change my routes, anything she wants."
"Oh Howard you're so sweet. That's exactly what you should say to her." Emily suggested. "I remember what Bob said to me about change when we got married." She smiled at her husband now, intending to remind him of his old stance on change, now that they were going through a lot of it and he was very unhappy.
"I said that changes are a healthy part of marriage and that I hate change, but I love you, Emily." Bob admitted.
Emily smiled, taking his hand in her own. Bob was sickened by this. He had said that to her and to a million couples he'd counciled…but he had to admit that he meant it, especially where Emily was concerned.
"Yeah Howard. She's right. That is what you should say to Ellen." Bob agreed.
Emily kissed his cheek, happy he approved of an idea she was very excited about. Some people thought Howard and Ellen made kind of a strange couple, maybe that was true, but she thought they were just perfect.
"You're right. In fact, I'm going to go do it right now!"
"You'll be back before we leave, won't you?" Emily asked.
"I'll make sure of it. See you in a couple of weeks." Howard smiled, shutting the door behind him.
He didn't plan to spend that long trying to win Ellen's heart back for good. He intended to sweep her off her feet.
"Oh honey that's so sweet." Emily remarked as she began crying again. "Don't you think it's so romantic?"
"Yeah, I guess."
"Bob, what's wrong?"
"I just…everything's changing and I hate it Emily."
"I know Bob, but life goes on, no one can help that. And you promised me…you promised me that you'd change with me."
"Yeah, I…I guess you're right." He said.
"I know you're anxious about our little changes but…I think you'll really grow to love them." She said, taking his hand in her own and placing it on her abdomen. "I mean, it's not as though they weren't of your own making: it was time for a change, or two."
"Yeah I…I guess so." He hesitated for a moment in agreeing with her and began to think about what had happened months earlier.
Back in the previous fall nothing had changed for Bob, except for the fact that he now lived on the top floor of his building and hated it… But that day he'd received a special call…two actually. The first, stating that he'd gotten the teaching job in Oregon. He didn't know how he would do it or what he would say, but he planned on telling Emily over dinner. The second call had been from Emily, who had told Carol that she had some news for over the dinner hour as well. Bob sure hoped she hadn't accepted a job in Boston or anything like that, because it would surely complicate things for the worse.
Bob snuck into the apartment quietly, carrying a bouquet of roses in hand. He had no clue what was going to happen that night, but he figured roses would help the situation more than they'd hurt.
"Oh Bob they're beautiful!" Emily smiled, rushing up to give him a kiss. She didn't ever miss anything like roses.
"Thanks. You did all of this for me?" He was kind of surprised at the grand dinner she'd made…on the fancy dishes.
"Well it's a special occasion." She gushed. He noted that she looked particularly...bright that evening and very happy, which calmed his nerves considerably.
"It is? It's not an anniversary is it, because if it is then I have to go to the uh…" he coughed, "car for a moment."
Emily laughed, knowing he really met department store or gift shop.
"No sweetie it's a new kind of special day." She said, leading him to the table.
"Well do you want to tell me your news first?" He asked. She sure hoped she hadn't been promoted to principal or anything.
"You can go first." She said diplomatically, seeming to pay more attention to the salad than to his news.
"Well honey, mine's kind of big so…honey, what did you do today?" He asked, thinking he was asking a question that might ease them into the arduous task of discussing each other's important news. But then he stopped, suddenly remembering what she had done that morning.
"You went to the doctor's this morning."
"That's right Bob." She smiled, waiting for him to say it for her.
"So, uh…does that have anything to uh…oh no." Emily noted that he had turned as white as a sheet.
"I'm pregnant." She said.
"No, no Emily that can't be. We're, we're too careful, we…" He stammered, looking up into his wife's now slightly sad and obviously confused eyes. He took a deep breath. "You're serious, aren't you?"
"Completely." She smiled.
"Over the moon. And Bob, we're not all that careful."
Bob's mind was flashing back several weeks, to when he'd dreamed Emily and Carol were pregnant…he knew it wasn't just a coincidence and spending the day in bed with Emily after Jerry canceled their golf game had been a horrible failure on his part. He couldn't believe he hadn't taken that dream (the dream in which all of that had happened), as a warning to not sleep with his wife for a while.
"Honey, what do you think?"
"Its uh…its…wow." He laughed.
"I know." She said, "and Bob, I'm so…happy! And here's the really exciting part. I'm due on April 15th!"
"Our wedding anniversary."
"Our tenth wedding anniversary."
"Well great, that's just great." Her face fell when he said this, she had no idea he'd be this upset over the news, she thought it was wonderful news…news that she'd wanted to hear very badly at one point seven years or so before and just decided to forget about. "Emily, we're moving in April!"
"Moving? Where? Bob we just…"
"Oregon…I got a teaching job, I just heard today."
"Oh honey that's wonderful!" She squealed.
He paused for a moment noting how sincerely happy she was for him. How could he not be happy for her, even though he really, really didn't want this baby?
"Bob? Bob!" Emily asked, waving her hand in front of his face and calling his attention back to the present day.
"Oh, sorry Emily, I was just uh…staring off a little."
"That's okay…there's a lot to think about. Listen." She said, sitting down next to him on the couch. "Bob I know you, uh, you don't really want to do this whole baby thing so…"
"Emily. I'm not so happy about this. You know that. But, I really love you." He put his hand back on her stomach. "And…" He just couldn't justify being a jerk about it now that she was days away from having this baby. It wasn't right and he wasn't that type of guy.
"What, what is it?"
"Oh he kicked, that's all sweetie."
"Yeah, uh…I could tell…and…"
Bob was interrupted again when someone knocked on their door. He was annoyed. He had something important to share with her and now that he finally had the words, he couldn't tell her. Nothing was more frustrating than that.
"Now who could that be?" Bob asked, getting up to answer the door. "Oh Jerry." He was surprised to see his best friend at the door. Perhaps he was having second thoughts…hopefully!
"Hi Bob. I hope I'm not interrupting anything." Jerry said.
"No, no, come in."
"Hi Jerry, Bob said you had some news…he never got to tell me what it was though." Emily greeted.
"Oh." Jerry smiled. Emily was intreaged by the fact that he suddenly brightened at just the mere mention of his news.
"Can I get you anything?" Bob asked. He didn't really want to hear the news again, he thought it would lead to no good for Jerry and was concerned, especially given that they'd been down that road once or twice before already.
"Sure a club soda would be great, thanks."
"Anything for you honey?" He asked Emily, he may've been upset about the baby, but Emily was at least glad that he made every effort to pamper her.
"So what's this news?" Emily asked, she hadn't moved from her place on the couch.
"It's great Emily! I'm going to see the world!"
"The world, wow Jerry that is exciting. Bob may not be getting the world." She looked to make sure Bob wasn't listening. "But I sure wish he could try to be happy with our little change." Emily said, rubbing her stomach softly.
"Oh, he's still not so excited about fatherhood, huh?" Jerry asked. Emily shook her head.
"Not so much excited as doomed." She assessed.
"So what is it Jerry?" Bob asked, sitting back down next to Emily and handing Jerry his drink. Jerry could tell Bob was still upset over his news and Emily still didn't know the whole story.
"Well, I…wait, here she is!" Jerry exclaimed getting up to answer Bob and Emily's door when another knock came.
Emily was worried about this. Bob appeared horrified, much more so by this than their move or their impending baby. What could Jerry possibly be doing? And with who? Emily couldn't imagine anything that would upset Bob this much.
"Hi Bob, hi Emily." Came a familiar greeting.
"Courtney?" Emily inquired, looking up to see Jerry's ex-girlfriend, the restless one who spent her life traveling the world and had dumped him two times over.
"We're getting back together, for good! And we're going to see the world! And it's going to be wonderful! Isn't that fantastic!?" Jerry exclaimed.
Courtney's presence peaked Emily's interest, in just the wrong way and she now understood Bob's angst. He was leaving with her…again! Only to get his heartbroken in the end…how could he?! Had he totally taken leave of his senses! For the first time in her matchmaking career, Emily was fully determined to break up a couple, rather than get them together…