“I’ll make sure he knows you love him.” My heart is breaking.
She nods. “I did this because I do love him. I can’t give him anything he needs. And I’m not one hundred percent sure you can either.” She looks at me. “Are you going back to your sisters?”
“I doubt they’d have me at this point. I kind of closed that door.”
She nods. “Take care of him, okay?” Her voice cracks and I can’t stand it anymore. I go to her and pull her into my arms. She falls into me and lets me hold her for a minute, until her sobs quiet.
“When you’re ready to see him, call me?”
“You don’t know how you’ll feel a few years from now.”
She nods. “Be good, Tag.”
Then I see her new boyfriend standing outside the door. She’s leaving with him. She’s leaving me with a brand new baby, and she’s going to go to college like none of this ever happened. She’s going on with her life, and I get to keep the beauty we created together.
I go back to Benji’s room and the nurse passes him to me like’s a tightly wrapped football.
My phone rings in my pocket and I shift Benji over so I can pull it out. My heart beats faster thinking it might be Julia. Maybe she changed her mind. “Hello?”
“Tag?” a male voice says.
“This is Josh, and I’m going to marry your sister Star in a few days. We’d love it if you could be here.”
“Y-yes,” I blurt out quickly. I clear my throat. “Yes,” I say again. Then my heart falls. “Wait. I don’t have any money to get there.”
He laughs. “Don’t worry, we’ll take care of it.”
“I’ll need a bus ticket.”
“When can you leave?”
“I’ll take care of the tickets. Give me your full name…”
I give him all the information. “I’ll be traveling with my son,” I tell him, wincing inwardly.
A pause. “Your son?”
“Yes. Is that okay?”
“Hell yeah it’s okay,” he says on a laugh. “Star will be so happy to see you.”
“Is she mad at me?” I ask him. I did just leave with fifty thousand dollars of Wren’s money.
“Not that I know of. But she has a vagina, so that might change in about ten minutes,” he says with a chuckle.
Something tells me my sister would slap him if she heard him say that. And something else tells me he wouldn’t care.
“We’ll see you when you get here, man,” Josh says.
“Okay,” I reply, finally releasing the heavy breath I’ve been holding.
I shove my phone back into my pocket. It only has a couple of days of service left on it, so I’m glad he caught me now.
I look down at Benji. “We’re going to New York, little dude.”
We’re going to New York to face my family, to face the past, and to run from the future.
It has been two months since he snuck out like a thief in the night. Two months since he fucked me and then fucked me over. And he had the nerve to show up with a child. I do not like babies, not even babies that are related to two of my favorite people. And particularly not a baby that belongs to him.
Star shoves it into my arms and I hold it out in front of my chest with my arms extended, trying to keep it as far from me as possible while still supporting its head. It squirms, its little feet flailing as it scrunches its face up.
Star lays her head on my shoulder and gazes at it like it’s the best thing she has ever seen. She looks at our sister Peck’s baby the same way. Star lays a hand on her own pregnant belly and I throw up a little in my mouth. I try to hand it back to its father, but he’s talking with Star’s new husband Josh and doesn’t even notice my struggle with his demon spawn.
“It’s going to throw up on me, isn’t it?” I ask. I look everywhere but at it. It lets out a wail and its father finally looks over.
Benjamin “Tag” Taggert Jr. has the same scowl on his face as his offspring. He takes the baby from me and pulls it into his chest. “Did the mean little woman refuse to hold you?” he says, baby-talking at it. His eyes meet mine and I look away. He nestles the baby in the crook of his arm and sticks a bottle into its mouth. The kid shuts up immediately. Thank God.
“I didn’t refuse,” I mumble. I turn and whisper to Star, “Did he just call me little?” She rolls her eyes. I have to fight this with humor. If I don’t, I’ll let my emotions take over and I’ll slap his face or kick him in the nuts or do something equally as stupid.
He laughs. “He won’t bite you. He doesn’t even have teeth yet.”
“She doesn’t like babies,” Wren tosses out. She laughs and her brother rolls his eyes.
“How could you not like babies?” he asks. “They’re a gift from God.”
I snort. I can’t help it. Star gives me a look and I murmur, “Sorry.”
I know her brother wants everyone to think he’s religious. That he believes in God and blessings and prayer and divine intervention and all that bullshit. But he fucked me senseless and did crazy things to my pussy for quite some time, so I know him for the fraud he is.
Star got married today. Tag showed up out of nowhere with a baby in a carrier, and was here to watch Star get married. Star permitted it. I’m not sure I would have been so generous, considering how he took off two months ago with fifty thousand dollars of Wren’s money.