I do not own Twilight. If I did, Bella would be blonde.
Huge thanks to Vampshavelaws, Filia, Andrea, Catherine, and Jenny. I'm not lying when I say this literally would not be the same without all of your help.
A small note: I'm not writing Pickup Truck to debate opinions about abortion, nor am I forcing my opinion on any of you. I'm simply telling a story.
The reaction to the last chapter stunned me. Thank you so, so much for all of the love. I swear I didn't mean to make anyone cry.
Thanks for reading.
The U.S spends an average of seven billion dollars each year due to the cost of teen pregnancy.
Eighty percent of unmarried teen mothers end up on welfare.
For more information visit: (www) teenhelp. c o m
It's nice not to wake up alone, but real life demands to be lived. The hex we were under in the early-morning hours disappears the moment our eyes open, and everything becomes heavy and blue and frustrating and daunting. I thought the weight of my reality would lessen once it became our reality, but it hasn't. It almost seems worse.
On with the difficulty of the next step: choosing.
He hasn't said anything yet, but I know Edward's awake. His breathing is rhythmic and too controlled, purposely taking measured breaths in his attempt to become invisible. Our hands are still linked. My fingers are sore from being curved to grip his for so long. He wants to let go, though. I can feel the hesitance in his hold.
My partner in this crime is as far away from me as he can get on my queen-sized bed, lying completely straight and stiff on the edge. I'm positive the only reason his right hand and my left are together is because of the death clutch I have on his fingers.
There's no uncertainty in my grasp.
He can't get away from me. This boy lives three doors down. I will find him.
"I know you're awake," I say. "You've always sucked at breathing."
He inhales deeply and exhales with a sigh. Edward tries to pull his fingers from my lock, but I hold tighter. I move closer to him, too. He has no other choice but to be here for me. And it's not about the sex, either, which shouldn't have happened again considering Dani and Remington and the fact that I just told my lifelong friend he knocked me up. It's just separate from this mess and not as important—our sins of the flesh are not as significant as the sin in my womb. Although I have no doubt it'll come up eventually, destroying everything the news of the baby misses.
If we keep it.
I turn my head and look over at evil penis boy. His cock is such a life-breaker—six and a half inches of horrible, low-down hang down, dumb dong, wicked wang, bullshit baby-maker—a shaft of terrible.
I can only imagine the names he's coming up with for my hooha.
Edward's eyes are glued to the ceiling, and I know he's not counting the glow-in-the-dark stars. He's blinking, lost in thought. Lost in how fucked we are. His free arm is behind his head, and his chest is bare. If we were a couple and we were in love and we were happy, waking up to him shirtless would probably be really nice, but we're none of those things.
When he finally speaks, Edward's voice is rough. "How did this happen?"
I roll my eyes. "Do I really need to have a talk with you about the birds and the bees, Smirks?"
He sighs again. "Don't be a smartass."
I bet he'd appreciate it if I released his hand. It's probably all in my head, but I swear he's slowly creeping away from me. If he gets any closer to the edge, he'll slip to the ground.
I move closer, until we're side by side.
He smirks a little.
I turn and face him, becoming parallel with my deep thinker. He won't look at me, but he's not trying to get away anymore. Edward's long, calloused fingers wrap around mine. In the most comforting rotations, his thumb brushes back and forth across the tiny bones on top of my hand. When we were kids, I used to make him tickle his fingertips up and down one of my arms until I fell asleep. He would give me a hard time about it, but he always caved.
"How long have you known, Bella?" he asks. His thumb moves a little faster.
I tilt my head, settling my temple against his shoulder. "A couple of days," I answer.
My eyes wander around the room, because now, I'm the one who refuses to look at him. My cheeks warm as my temperature rises. I'm embarrassed, and I'm ashamed. Edward's thumb stops circling, and I can feel his grey eyes on me. I bend my knees under the blankets, moving sand around the sheets. The scabs on my knees protest and crack, and I think about asking Edward how his back feels, just to get the attention away from me.
"The other night on the beach…" he starts.
I can tell by his disappointing tone that he's upset. Maybe I should have told him right away. But really, I just wanted there to be a chance it wasn't true.
"I knew," I say in a low voice. "I didn't notice I'd missed my period until Charlie made some comment about it that morning. I called James, and she drove me to Port Angeles." I go on and tell him about how we ran into Alice, and Save Mart Guy and Prune Juice Lady. I tell him about the pregnancy tests in the bathroom, and how I threw up after three of them came up positive.
"But I still wasn't sure," I continue.
Next, I retell all about Planned Parenthood and Dr. Receptionist Lady. But before that, the brochures and the poster on the wall that claims our baby already has a nose, ears, and mouth.
Edward sits up. He scrubs his face in the palms of his hands before dragging his fingers through his auburn hair and looking back at me. "We used a condom."
I roll onto my back, irritated. With an obnoxious laugh, I say, "Yeah, and you ripped the package open with your teeth, idiot."
He doesn't get it. "So?"
I kick the blankets off, suddenly hot. I don't miss that Edward looks right at my stomach, like something should be there. But just because you can't see it, doesn't mean it's not true. I'm full of Cullen baby, and whatever it is—girl or boy—it's real.
This rice-sized fetus will grow, and it will be born, and it'll be ours … unless we do something soon.
"So," I mimic him vindictively. "A condom with a rip in it, Edward, is no good. It's the same as using nothing at all."
Edward's shoulders slouch, and I'm not surprised; this burden is heavy. He drops his face back into his hands and groans. The scratches across his back aren't bleeding anymore, but they're inflamed and red. A few of the lighter ones have scabbed, but the larger wounds are still raw. I feel better, but it looks like Edward took the brunt of the fall. My concern isn't so much for myself or Smirks, though. It's for what our carelessness produced.
Pregnancy must really be messing with me, because three days ago I didn't even know I was pregnant and everything was fine, but today, it's like I can feel it. My stomach seems fuller, and my breasts are sorer than they were yesterday. Behind exhaustion and frustration, I'm kind of nauseated. I'm hungry, but the thought of eating something, like eggs or yogurt, grosses me out.
I just don't know if I really feel all of these things, or if my mind is only playing tricks on me.
While Edward's pouting, I lift my shirt up and rub my hand over my lower stomach. I push my fingers into the same spots I remember Dr. Hansen pressing hers. It feels harder, but not from normal muscle mass—this is different. The area under my belly button looks rounder, too, but only a little bit. Not enough for anyone else to notice, but I do.
At least I think I do.
I'm still pressing into my skin when I feel a small cramp in my uterus. The fall Edward and I took last night flashes before my eyes, and I get scared. After I've pushed my shirt back down, I remain very still, waiting to see if I feel it again. I don't, but I don't relax either.
Then Edward whispers, "You promise you haven't been with Remington, Sail?"
I should smack him, or press my finger into one of the huge gashes on his back, but I get it. I know he isn't questioning my morals or my trust, but before he walked into my bedroom last night, Edward and I had only been together once—Remington was my boyfriend for a couple of years. If I were Edward, I'd ask the same question.
"I swear," I say.
He gets out of bed, and like I did the morning I suspected my current status, he paces. I try not to stare, but I can't help it. He's so handsome. Morning hair. Sex hair. Scraped up arms and chest and back and knees. Edward's shoulders are so broad, and his torso is so long. Smirks has this great body, and I've always noticed, but now I've seen it in action. I've seen the way his face pouts and reddens while he's inside of me. I've felt his muscles ripple beneath my hands. I know what the strength in his hips feels like. I've heard how his chest rumbles when he comes, and I know what he sounds like when he's coming down.
I've trembled around his cock, and yeah, Smirks is hot.
I tug the blankets over my face so he can't see how blushed my cheeks are.
He pulls them off.
I squeak and laugh nervously, like he might actually know by looking at my face that I was just thinking about his dick. Static pulls my hair as the blankets are yanked from my body. Dark blonde strands float around my head before settling on my pillow. I hold the hem of my shirt down, and I lie completely straight. With my bottom lip between my teeth, I look up at Edward.
"I'm not mad at you," he says. My blankets are clutched in his fist, and as a result, the muscles in his bicep are all firm and flexed and a little bit bulging and a whole lotta sexy.
"I know," I say, moving my attention from his guns to his eyes. His face is just as sexy, though. He's gorgeous, and I hope our baby looks like him.
"Then don't ignore me from under the blankets," he says, dropping them.
"I'm not," I lie, not able to cover the embarrassment in my tone.
He's struggling over the pregnancy, and I'm drooling over his arm muscles and schlong. I should be embarrassed.
Obviously conflicted, Edward stands at the side of my bed with a tight jaw and dark eyes. I can tell he has a lot on his mind. His eyebrows come together, like he's about to say something. But when they draw apart, it's as if he's decided not to speak after all.
Eventually he just admits, "I don't know what to do."
I smell marijuana as soon as we walk out of my bedroom door. It doesn't usually bother me—not any more than usual—but until Edward and I come to an agreement about this kid's existence, I should at least treat it like it matters. I mean, we could always choose adoption. That road would only partway fuck up our lives, and the baby would be given a decent chance at survival. And in that case, the baby's development matters.
I don't know why, but the thought of giving our child away almost feels worse than killing it.
Edward's at my side, with his hand on my lower back. The walk from my bedroom to the kitchen isn't a long one, only a few steps, but combined with the aroma of the pot is the scent of cooking bacon—it bans me from taking another step. I cup my hand over my nose and mouth, trying to control the onslaught of sickness, but it's too late. As soon as the greasy swine smell hits my nostrils, my stomach twists and curves and pangs. My mouth pools with saliva, and my throat burns.
Edward puts his hand on my shoulder. "Are you going to puke?" he asks urgently.
I crouch over, placing the palms of my hands on my knees. I keep my head low, and after swallowing the spit that gathered in my mouth, I breathe large lungfuls of oxygen, paying special attention not to inhale through my nose. Only I taste bacon in the air, and it's worse than the smell. My stomach lurches, and I gag. Twice.
The only bathroom in this house is directly behind Edward. He kicks open the door and practically shoves me in. I'm sweating now, completely embarrassed but unable to stop dry heaving. I turn on the faucet, hoping that if I take a drink I'll feel better. I hold my hair over one side of my head and part my lips under the stream of cold bathroom water. But I have to breathe, and I'm sipping so fast I don't think as I draw in air through my nose. Right away, all of the water I just drank rises up my esophagus, fighting its way back up.
Smirks takes the liberty of lifting the toilet seat for me. I fall to my knees, squeeze the side of cool porcelain, and retch.
It's foul, and considering it's only mostly water, I'm actually really surprised by how much my stomach releases. Between not being able to control my gut, trying to get in a decent breath between heaves, and knowing this might only be the start of a very long pregnancy, I'm beginning to question if I can even handle this at all. I'm miserable at best.
Making it a little better, my fixer's behind me rubbing circles on my back. He doesn't offer any words, and I'm glad. Eventually, though, he notices the ends of my hair are dipped in the toilet water and he pulls it back for me.
"This is fucking disgusting," he says, loosely holding my vomit-curls in a circle he's making with his thumb and pointer finger.
I laugh, and then I puke again.
I manage to keep myself from gagging for an entire sixty seconds before I think I might be able to get up. Edward's still behind me, holding my hair and rubbing my back. I concentrate on the revolutions his large palm is making. I count them.
Twenty-one, twenty-two, twenty-three…
I take slow, even breaths, and even though I can still smell bacon, it doesn't have the same effect. My stomach remains fragile, but I can stand it.
That's until Charlie walks in with the frying pan in one hand—bacon still sizzling—and a burned strip in the other, asking, "What the hell is going on?"
I watch in slow motion as my father lifts the slice of bacon to his mouth, opening up to take a bite, but as soon as he chomps down and starts chewing—bacon grease glosses his mustache—time returns to normal.
I lean over, hold the toilet, and heave.
We tell Charlie I'm hungover.
He's as disappointed as a father who's lit all of the time can be. I mean, what can he really say while his pipe and bag are on the table beside his plate of eggs and devil bacon? Not much.
He tries, though. And I listen, spooning my oatmeal.
"You know I don't mind, Bella," he lectures. "But you have to be responsible."
"I trust you," he says, shoving scrambled dead chicken fetuses into his mouth.
I swallow a gag.
My dad talks with his mouth full of food. "I don't want that to be compromised, man."
I take a chance and look up from cinnamon oats to my only parent. His eyes are bloodshot and hooded, and his expression has the laziness it acquires whenever he smokes. It's like the muscles in his face lose all function, and his skin kind of sags. He took a shower this morning, like he does every morning, but his too-long hair is a wiry disarray, and he has eggs in his beard. Going by the pack of Oreos and Ritz Crackers beside his almost empty bottle of water, Charlie has the munchies.
Father of the year.
I don't really want to talk out of fear that if I do, my stomach will turn inside out again. So I look to Edward for aid. With his own plate loaded with dead chicken fetuses and bacon, I'm not sure he's even paying attention. He's eating, but he's a boy, and boys never miss an opportunity to eat.
Edward. Edward. Edward. Smirks! I scream in my head, hoping that with pregnancy, Edward and I have developed some kind of telepathic connection. No such luck, though. We may have created a life together, but it's obvious parenting doesn't come with special powers.
Silently shouting this boy's name has done nothing more than give me a headache. He's still scooping eggs into his mouth, and Charlie remains relentless in his need to prove who's really boss around here. Tuning him out takes energy I don't have to spare, so instead of further exhausting myself by pretending I'm halfway okay, I slouch and lean forward. After pressing my warm cheek against the cool metal kitchen table, I close my eyes.
I'm semi-listening as my dad goes on and on about learning from his mistakes and recognizing responsibility and being better than him. It's all shit I've heard before, almost word for word.
Depending on Charlie's headspace, he can be one of three different people when he's under the influence.
First, there's Funny Charlie, who's carefree, hilarious, and lighthearted. This version of Dad is probably my favorite, because as long as he's happy, so is everyone else. The only parent I have is often energetic and productive on these days. He'll get a lot done at the shop, and he'll actually stay there for an entire workday. When he's home, he'll clean, cook, and start projects around the house, like refinishing the wood floors or painting the bathroom. He's attentive and really interested in me—fatherly. I quickly learned that if I want something, asking while he's Funny Charlie will always result in my favor.
Second, there's Rambling Charlie: his current form. Because these are the times he likes to flash his parent card like a badge, this version of my life-giver is really hard to be around. It's as if he temporarily understands he's spent so much time being a sucky dad, that he puts too much effort into being a good one in a short period of time. It's a day's worth of lectures and life lessons, and "You're better than this life, Bella." Or "Mom wanted more for you, Sail."
She should have stuck around then, I always think, but never say.
And third, there's Angry Charlie.
Marijuana has the reputation of being soothing and dreamlike—it apparently eases the pain—but that's not always the truth. Sometimes it turns on its user, intensifying the hurt and disappointment and guilt. When this happens, Charlie is mean. He's angry that his wife killed herself, he's angry that I look like her, and he's angry that he has to raise me alone. On those days, I stay over at Edward's or James' house. I used to try to be supporting—he is my pops, after all—but there became a point when I accepted that I made things worse for him. It's better for us both if I'm not around.
Sober Charlie comes around every couple of years, but I don't know him that well.
"Bella," Dad calls too loudly.
I lift my head, wiping the little bit of drool from the corner of my mouth. "What?" I groan.
Edward pushes his seat away from the table and crosses his arms over his bare chest. Returned from oh-fuck-I-knocked-up-my-best-friend land, his plate is empty and his lips are turned up. After taking in his appearance, I realize how suggestive the pair of us look. Straight-up and flat on the left side, Smirks' hair is tousled and inappropriately out of place. He's half-naked, previously completely naked, and his face is just naughty. None of this feels as innocent as it used to be.
At least the night I got pregnant was an honest, not so honest, drunken slipup.
I shouldn't be sitting at this freakin' breakfast table, freshly fucked, in my underwear, morning-sickness scented. I don't even have a bra on under my shirt.
We're bad, and I deserve a Rambling Charlie day.
"It's all the tequila she drank last night, C," Edward chimes in, smiling. "Got any more bacon?" he adds purposely.
I reach for my dad's fork so I can stab Smirks' eyes out.
Unaware of my plans for his utensil, Charlie absently grabs it first; he pokes into his eggs. With a full mouth, he says, "Carlisle mentioned you called out the other day, Sail."
I gather my hair and tie it in a knot before answering, "I was sick."
The clink the fork makes as my dad drops it to his plate is like nails on a chalkboard to my delicate head. I close my eyes and rub my temples in a small attempt to alleviate the pounding. Pot, bacon, this impending baby, eating noises, and the mention of tequila is more than I'm willing to sit through. When I open up again, determined to get back to my room so I can rock my crazy ass back and forth in the dark, the sunlight coming through the kitchen window seems a lot brighter than it did before I closed my lids twenty fucking seconds ago. My head thumps, my stomach swirls, and my uterus cramps again.
I'm about to sprint to my room when Charlie says, "I'm afraid for your future." He reaches for my hand. "You can't call out for work. What does that say about you?"
A thin sheet of perspiration layers my entire body, covering me in salty, sticky moisture. I can feel it gathering behind my knees and on my lip, and for a moment, I wonder if I look as bad as I feel. I must, because the hotter my temperature rises, the more spit I have to swallow, the more my stomach dances. Charlie's still talking, but I can only watch his lips move. I nod, but only because it's keeping me from throwing up all over the table.
Smirks gets up from his seat. He's in my line of vision, opening the fridge and reaching for the milk. Charlie's lips ask, "Do you have work today?"
I kind of squeak, "Yes."
Edward pours himself a glass of calcium. I wipe my forehead and then the area below my nose.
It's like I can smell it—thick and white and thick. I know Edward's milk isn't warm; I watched him pull it from the fridge, but my mind has been fucking with me for three full days. I'm convinced the milk is hot and spoiled and clumpy, and if he drinks it, he will die. Milk poisoning. It happens.
"Don't!" I bark out, slamming my hand on the table.
Dad stops talking, and Edward smirks. He holds the glass to his lips and winks.
Just as I reach the bathroom door, Dad calls out, "Remington called while you were sleeping with Edward in your room with the door shut! And Edward has no shirt on!"
Showers make everything better.
I'm in the middle of mine, lying on the bottom of the tub with my legs up, when Edward rips open the shower curtain. Rusty hooks slide along an even rustier rod, and it's disrupted my paradise. I didn't even hear him come in. Which doesn't surprise me; I was too busy not feeling nauseated.
As I'm scrambling to cover my bits and pieces, Edward leans against the sink and says, "Apparently I'm not allowed to spend the night unless I wear a shirt."
I only kind of notice he's dressed in one of Charlie's Hawaiian print button-ups; I'm more concerned with hiding myself from him. With my knees up, I've wrapped my arms around my shins. Water sprays down on me but it's not as comforting as it was before Baby Daddy barged in.
"Get out!" I insist harshly.
He ignores me. "I have to go to work, but we need to talk."
"Fine. Leave." I extend my arm and point to the door. It totally exposes my left breast, and Edward looks.
He smiles. "I'll come to Munchies when my shift's over, okay?"
I meet his eyes. I don't want him to go at all.
"Okay," I answer lowly.
We stare at each other for a few seconds longer, but then he stands straight. Edward closes the shower curtain, and he goes. He's gone from the house when I get out of the shower, but completely on my mind as I get ready for work.
Instead of calling Remi on my walk to the candy shop, I call James. "What are you doing?" I ask when she answers.
She sighs. "Poking holes in Felix's condoms with a sewing needle. What are you doing?"
I've only made it as far as the sidewalk in front of my house, but I stop walking. A man on a beach cruiser chimes his bell at me before riding by. Under different circumstances, like if I wasn't pregnant and hadn't already taken a fall last night, I would have stuck my foot out and watched him fall.
"You're what?" I ask, trying not to laugh, because really, her answer is horrifying.
James scoffs. "You can't be pregnant alone."
I begin to walk again, adjusting the beach bag hanging on my shoulder. The heat from the cement rises through the bottom of my black rubber flip-flops, warming my toes. I only pulled my wet hair into a high ponytail, but the noon sun shining down on me from the bluest sky is already drying it. I can feel UV-rays burning the tip of my nose and the tops of my shoulders. Summer has come with a vengeance this year; the heat's almost suffocating. The water must be incredible.
"You're not getting yourself pregnant because I am," I say with a touch of humor in my tone, hoping she was only joking. With James, though, you never know.
"I would do it for you," she says.
I smile. "I know."
"Where are you?" she asks. "Come over."
With my cell phone still at my now sweaty ear, I look both ways before crossing the street over to the beach and boardwalk. The asphalt is warmer than the concrete. Even with shoes on, I run because my feet get too hot.
"I can't," I say when I'm safely on the other side. "I have to work today."
First Beach is alive and thriving; it gets my blood pumping, and I'm almost able to forget my unforgettable problem. The slight breeze smells like seaweed and banana-carrot. Seagulls are in the air, circling above anyone with food. Some dig in the trash, and a few actually have enough nerve to walk right up to people eating their lunch. The ocean looks like glass, and I'm envious of every single person who gets to enjoy how perfect the waves are.
"Fucking boo," James whines. "Wait. I have to work today, too. I have a lesson at two-thirty. What time is it?"
"A little after twelve," I say.
"Shit. I have gotta go." She makes a moaning sound, like she's stretching her arms. "Tourists. European tourists. Maybe they're hot."
I stop outside Munchies' front entrance. "Have fun. I wish I was in the water today," I say regretfully.
"Steal some Oreo fudge for me," she says.
"Okay," I answer. Before she hangs up, though, I say, "James, I told Edward."
My favorite girl is quiet for moment. And then she says, "Dani California is going to kick your ass."
I roll my eyes, ready to end the call so I can sell some candy, but then I decide to really get James going. With a smirk that would battle Edward's for greatness, I say, "And we fucked after."
"What?" James shrieks. "Oh my—"
I hang up.
When I enter the shop, Esme's behind the counter that runs parallel with the right wall. Her auburn hair's tied up with a number two pencil, and she has a look of utter disbelief on her face—a look her son shared just this morning. I don't think he would have told her our news before we could talk about it ourselves, but for a moment I wonder if he has. Something's definitely wrong. It can be anything, but my guilty conscience is screaming my truth: she knows!
My baby's grandmother sighs, looking straight at me. "I can't wrap my head around this, Sail."
I stop in front of the doorway. My heart is thudding like the beat of a drum, and I silently wish I would have taken Smirks' eyes out with that fork earlier. Or gouged my own eyes out. Anything would be better than seeing the look on Esme's face right now.
"Wh—what?" I ask.
She pushes herself away from the back counter and walks around the register out to the floor. "Follow me," she says, motioning me back with her hand.
There are two things I know for sure about Esme Cullen: You don't get between her and anything fried, and you don't lie to her. Attempting either will only result in your own agony.
When the parents started living up to their duties, the first thing they left behind was blow. In my earliest memories of Esme, she's slender and perfect and always half-dressed. She wore teeny-tiny bikinis, short shorts, and tummy shirts. It was all an illusion the cocaine provided, because as soon as she stopped using, she gained weight.
She's not exactly fat, but Esme has a thing for fried foods: chicken, burritos, pickles, cookies—anything that can be fried will be fried, and she'll eat it. When she began to put on the pounds, I remember Charlie making a comment about how he dodged a bullet. He was only joking, because no one is unhealthier than my father, but she still got mad.
But not as angry as she gets if you're dishonest with her.
If she knows I'm pregnant and asks, I'll tell her the truth. Dealing with that will be better than facing a lied-to Esme.
The human lie detector test leads the way to the office, which also seconds as a storage room if the basement gets full on shipment days: today. I like it back here; the air-conditioner blows cold, there's a TV, and a computer with internet access. And because it's away from the rest of the shop, when we're slow and as long as I'm not working alone, I sometimes sneak away and sleep in the chair behind the desk.
Being the sort-of daughter of the owners comes with its privileges, like being able to eat all the candy I want and taking a nap if I'm tired. Which I am.
"Carlisle is such an infant," Esme complains as she pushes the office door.
My heartbeat skips at the word infant.
I clear my throat. "What are you trying to say?" I ask with fake confidence.
My sort-of mother looks back at me. She has a small double chin and I feel like poking it.
Esme holds the door open so I can walk past her. "I asked my husband to order twenty-five pounds of Swiss chocolate for the fudge."
I walk directly to the plastic chair sitting in front of the mahogany desk—the same seat I took when Carlisle pulled me to the side to tell me my coworkers were upset because I was sleeping during my shifts. Esme turns me by my shoulders before I have a chance to sit, showing me the boxes piled against the wall.
"He ordered twenty-five cases of Swedish Fish, Sail. We'll never sell it before it goes bad."
I force a laugh. "This is why you're upset?" I ask nervously.
She drops her hands from my shoulders and walks over to the small mountain of cardboard boxes. She pulls the tape from the one closest to her and reaches in, scooping up red gummi fish. I've worked at Munchies long enough to know that we don't order twenty-five cases of Swedish Fish a year, let alone in a week. But when Esme pours sweet fishies back into the box, my mouth salivates and I know I can help with her candy problem.
I lick my lips, completely focused on the open box of Swedish Fish. "Can I eat one?" I ask.
Esme gives me a curious look. "Eat as many as you like, Sail. We have to do something with them."
She walks over to her desk, and I walk to the boxes, shoveling handfuls of a pregnant girl's dream into my bag; I pop a couple into my mouth, too. It's like heaven, so I pop a dozen more. I can't chew them fast enough. Sticky sugar is stuck between my teeth and in my molars, but I keep eating.
"Sail!" Esme gasps. "Get a bag, you savage."
With a mouthful of candy, I turn and guiltily look. "Sorry," I mumble.
I grab one more handful before I leave the office. If someone can figure out a way to fry these, we won't have to worry about selling them. Between Esme and me, we'll finish them off.
Munchies is one of three candy shops on the boardwalk, but we're the best and, by far, the most popular. It's small, but comfortable. We offer a little of everything, including homemade fudge, made in a copper pot, and sea salt taffy. Tootsie Rolls are sold for a penny, and Jelly Belly's are sold by the pound. Kettle corn, licorice in every flavor, Jawbreakers, Bottle Caps, gummy bears, gummy worms, lollipops; candy sold in bulk, and candy sold individually. Munchies has a soda bar and soft served ice cream cones.
We're a junk food junkies dream.
And I've never been hungrier in my life.
By the end of my shift, I've spent six hours stuffing my face. I don't know if Esme's still here or not. If she's gone, I didn't hear or see her leave. My stomach aches, but not like it was earlier. This is a great ache. I'm not a huge candy eater, but the craving hit me hard, and I've eaten my yearly quota of candy. I feel like I could eat another year's worth. It's ridiculous. I'm on my third vanilla cone, and I'm not ruling out a forth.
Nothing can spoil this sugar rush.
Except Remington walking through the door.
Which he does.
The bell above the doorframe jingles as he enters, notifying me of the incoming customer. I wish he were here to buy Baby Ruths or Sugar Daddies, but he's not. I never called him back. In fact, I've hardly talked to him at all. I owe him some kind of explanation, because if the roles were reversed, I'd be livid and confused. We might not be officially dating, but I'm his and he's mine.
Ex-boyfriend really is something special. My baby-filled, vanilla-filled, Swedish Fish-filled tummy flies as soon as I set eyes on him. His skateboard is under his arm, and he's dressed in a white shirt, black slim-straight denim, and red Vans. This boy's curly dark brown hair is down and windblown, and I want to run my fingers through it as bad as I want another ice cream cone.
I lick the trail of melting soft serve from the side of my waffle cone, reminding myself, you are pregnant with another boy's baby.
Remington approaches the counter; I'm on one side and he's on the other, and I swear I can smell the shampoo in his hair and the body soap on his skin. His truck keys are hooked on his belt loop, and he has a chain around his neck that my silver promise ring hangs from. He gave it to me six months after we started dating, and when we split this last time, I threw it at him. He wears it so he can give it back to me when we patch things up.
I take another swipe with my tongue at the cone, trying desperately to be normal. Remington's eyes are on fire, though. He lets his board drop to the black and white checkered tile floor and puts his hands on the counter that separates us. He's upset, and probably really hurt. It's summertime; we should be together and in love and fucking non-stop, but we're not. And we won't.
Even if I don't have this baby, things with Remington won't be the same.
"I miss you," he says with an edge to his tone.
I lick my sugary lips. "I miss you, too," I say. I shouldn't, but it's true.
He pushes away from the counter, like he's relieved. He smiles, but I don't, so then he doesn't anymore, either.
"What?" he asks.
I drop the rest of my ice cream into the trash and start wiping down the fudge station. I shake my head. "Nothing."
Remington sits at one of the two booths we have at Munchies. "Bullshit, Sail."
I haven't scrubbed the counter well enough; there's still crumbs of rocky road and peanut butter fudge in the corners of the glass case, but I can't concentrate long enough to do it right. I move on to the register, closing it out for the night. I'm counting twenties when my first love steps to my side of the inventory. He kisses the back of my shoulder. I exhale a shaky breath.
"You can't be here, Remington," I say lowly.
"With you?" he asks defensively.
I look up, but not over my shoulder. "No, on this side of the counter."
He stands back while I finish counting the drawer. When I close it, he turns me around by my hips. The shampoo, soap, beach boy smell is so much stronger with him this close. I sink into his embrace, and when he whispers, "Why does this feel different?" it's all I can do not to cry.
Having him near me, holding me, loving me feels so natural and comfortable, and repetitious. It's as easy as breathing. And I am so guilty.
When the bell above the door jingles again, Remington pulls away first. I forgot all about Smirks until I hear his voice.
"Wrong side of the counter, Remington," Edward says harshly as he walks by. I know he's in the office when I hear the door slam.
Remi presses his lips together, obviously bothered by Edward's attitude. He kisses my forehead before jumping over the counter. With his board back in his hand, he pushes open the door. The bell jingles. "I'll wait for you out here."
When he's out of sight, I untie the apron I'm wearing and hang it up. I turn out all the lights, switch the OPEN sign to CLOSED, and make my way back to Edward. When I enter the office, he's standing in front of the twenty-five cases of Swedish Fish.
"Is this a joke?" he asks.
"An accident," I answer.
He laughs. "Yeah, a fucking accident."
I drop down into the chair behind the desk. Edward stands.
"Did you tell him?" he asks, referring to Remington.
I roll my eyes. "Do you think if I did he'd be so easy about it?"
Edward smirks, like he's entertaining the thought of fighting Remi. I don't know why, either. I thought we were all friends, even if they have roughed each other up a few times.
I sit back in the chair and press the palms of my hands against my stomach. I'm only trying to soothe how full I am from all the junk I ate today, but Edward doesn't know that. He probably thinks I'm comforting our unborn baby or something, like maybe I've made up my mind about it already. It's not easy witnessing how conflicted he is.
My reaction to Edward's proximity is different than my reaction to Remington's, but it's not the same as it always was. There's something in me, and I don't mean the baby, that wants him around. But not like before. Not as my fixer or my best friend or as the boy who used to pour me cereal and tickle my arms. It's something brand new, and it scratches at me from the inside.
Smirks takes a seat in the plastic chair. After lifting his hat off of his head, he runs a hand through his hair. His cheeks fill with air before he exhales, and like he doesn't know what to do with his hands, he crosses his arms over his black Charlie's Surf and Ride uniform tee shirt.
"You're not back with him, are you?" he questions. "Because if we're doing this, that's my kid in there." He nods his head to where my hands still lay over my lower stomach.
I scoff, moving my hands to the desk. "Are you serious?"
Grey eyes meet mine. "I'm dead serious."
"You asshole!" I say loudly. "This is your fault!"
He's taken aback. Smug-smirking, he points to himself. "My fault?"
I nod. "Yeah, you ripped a hole in the condom with your big ass teeth."
His jaw tenses. "Maybe it was your piranha pussy, Sail."
"What?" I ask confused. "What the hell are you talking about?"
"It sucked me in and chewed on my dick. It doesn't surprise me this happened, you tricky—"
I stand up, cutting him off before he calls me something that will force me to kick his ass.
"Don't go," Edward calls after me as I leave the office. "We're talking!"
I ignore him. I grab my bag from behind the register and leave. He can lock the fucking door.
Completely focused on getting home, I forgot Remington was on the beach somewhere waiting for me. I'm too mad to feel bad, though. I'm too mad to turn off the TV when I get home, too. I'm too upset to pull the bong out of Charlie's hands, and I'm too crazy to cover him up.
In my room, I drop my bag and start changing out of my clothes, furious Edward would blame this on me.
"Piranha pussy?" I repeat to myself. "Bastard," I hiss, pulling down my shorts and panties so I can put on my sleep shorts.
Then I see it.
There's blood on my underwear.