Waving him away, I nodded.
“Who was that?”
“That was Cedric. He and Allison are here. You didn’t know it, but I’d planned a party for you tonight. That was the whole reason I initially went to Ivy’s last night instead of today. Skylar and Mitch are here, too.”
“What? Are you kidding?”
“I wish. You made me promise not to call you, so I kept my word. We’ve just been hanging out here waiting for you, hoping you’d come home.”
“Oh my God. I feel horrible. We need to talk, Jake. I was going to come home right now, but I think you need to meet me here if we won’t have any privacy.”
“No lie, you’re freaking me out, baby. But I’ll meet you anywhere you want. I’ll fucking walk to the ends of the earth if you just tell me we’re okay.”
Her breathing became uneven, and it sounded like she was crying.
“Nina? You’re scaring the living fuck out of me. What’s happening?”
“Promise me you won’t be mad at me.”
A lump formed in my throat. “Mad at you for what? Aren’t you supposed to be mad at me?”
“Just promise me you won’t get upset with what I’m about to tell you.”
“Okay. I promise. Whatever it is, I won’t get mad. Where were you today?”
A long, uncomfortable silence put me further on edge. What she said next put me over the edge.
“I went to see Ivy.”
Everything seemed to be making me cry lately, but it was especially bad that particular Friday afternoon. My eyes were welling up at the drop of a hat. I was so gosh darn emotional. According to my calendar, my period was due, so it made some sense. My hormones always got the best of me around this time of the month but never like this.
When my mother-in-law came to pick up A.J., I’d taken a deep whiff of his hair, not wanting to let him go. Then, a tear fell when saying goodbye to him.
What was wrong with me?
His reaction had made me laugh. “Mom, you’re messing up my Mohawk.”
Recently, he’d convinced us to let him wear his jet black hair longer on the top. Jake shaved the sides so that the top was more prominent. Even though the style looked really cute on him, we wouldn’t let him wear it spiked on school days.
A.J. looked nothing like me. With his dark hair, green eyes and dimples, he was all Jake. We used to joke that Jake just shit A.J. out and that I had nothing to do with our son’s creation. But of course, my c-section scar and the months of postpartum depression after he was born served as the evidence that I was definitely his mother. I was just the incubator.
A.J. was only going to be forty minutes away in Malden for the weekend, but for some reason, I was going to really miss him. It was rare that he spent the night away from home. At the same time, it would be refreshing for Jake and me to have some time alone. I was really looking forward to having my sexy man all to myself tonight.
The timing was perfect for it. We’d been under a lot of stress lately between my final nursing clinicals before graduation and the ongoing issues with trying for a baby. Just thinking about the past couple of months caused a fresh stream of tears to fall down my cheeks yet again. I needed Jake to come home and knock some sense into me, make me laugh, comfort me, make love to me.
It would be another couple of hours before he returned from work. To pass the time, I decided to take a walk down to the drug store on Harvard Street for some magazines and shampoo.
I stopped by the local café for a to-go coffee and window shopped in Coolidge Corner on my way. The sun was setting, and the streets were bustling with people heading home from work for the weekend.
We lived in the cutest neighborhood. There were lots of eclectic shops and family-owned businesses. Sometimes, I couldn’t believe how lucky we were. As I pondered that, my eyes once again filled with moisture. Everything was making me cry.
Snap out of it, Nina.
As I entered the sliding automatic doors at CVS, the bright fluorescent lights helped cool down my emotional state. I took my time browsing each aisle. It was a rarity to be here alone without A.J. begging for sour gummy worms or a cheap toy.
When I stopped in the magazine section, a smiling baby with a cherubic face stared back at me from the front page of a parenting periodical. When my eyes moistened again, a thought crossed my mind.
Could I be pregnant? Is that why my emotions are out of whack?
I hated to ponder it because that would set myself up for disappointment again. I knew better than to get my hopes up. Still, when I passed the reproductive health aisle, I couldn’t resist nonchalantly dumping a pregnancy test kit into my basket.
At the register, the attendant smiled at me when she rang up the pink box along with the smiling baby magazine. (I couldn’t resist.)
It was completely dark out by the time I ventured back outside. A harsh wind-driven chill in the air prompted me to adjust my scarf over my face. I remembered they were talking about a pretty bad storm that we’d be getting tonight. It made me relieved to know that A.J. was already where he needed to be.
Back at the apartment, I rubbed my hands together, but the friction did little to warm me up. Despite the coziness of our home, the intensity of the cold outside lingered long after I stepped inside. Without A.J. here, it was also eerily quiet.
I’d decided to head to the kitchen to make some tea. The steam from the piping hot water relaxed me as I steeped the tea bag and debated whether to take the test before or after Jake came home. I hated putting him through the excitement of waiting in vain. The only thing worse than how a negative test made me feel was always the disappointment in his eyes that he tried unsuccessfully to hide. It would be better if I did it alone and kept the negative result to myself.