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Book excerpt:


Chapter 1 – Adrienne

I wish I could go back in time. Back to a time when I’m not sitting in an examination room waiting on the doctor to return and tell me what I already know to be true.

Closing my eyes to the harsh glare of fluorescent light, I shift on the exam table as the paper crinkles beneath me and blow out a stream of air. I tell myself I have this all wrong. A missed period can be caused by any number of things. I have put off this visit for weeks, content to live in denial. Now, I cross my arms and wince. My tender breast ache and my stomach is queasy.

Three months into my marriage and I’ve already messed up. I will have to tell my husband. And Logan will not be pleased

My stomach churns. I hop off the table and make it to the small restroom in two strides, kneeling in front of the toilet. While on my knees, I send up a prayer that my husband will accept this gift and forget about my reluctant agreement. Logan’s demand to not have children almost doomed our marriage before it began, but I relented to his terms after weighing the option of being left alone again. Marrying a lawyer put me at a disadvantage in arguing a point.

I hear the tap, tap of someone knocking at the door. Dr. Taylor has returned with the results.

“Be right out,” I yell as I flush the toilet. At the sink, I stare in the mirror before I wash my hands. I do not recognize the woman staring back. All my confidence is gone. I want to run, but my legs go weak and I grab the sink for support. Get it together, I tell myself. Being pregnant is not a death sentence. My marriage may end, but I’ve been through worst. I will my limbs to move and open the door.

When I walk back into the exam room, Dr. Taylor and his nurse are beaming. He presents the positive test to me. The plus sign marked in blue makes me ecstatic and terrified at the same time.

I think back to that Saturday a month before we were married. I had convinced Logan to accompany me to one of my student’s soccer game. As a kindergarten teacher, I enjoy interacting with my students outside of the classroom. It helps me connect with the children and their parents. One of my favorite students, Keenan, told me about his soccer tournament and I had promised to be there.

Five minutes into the game, Logan leaned over. “Why did I agree to come to this again?”

“You didn’t want to miss the “Tiny Titans” advance in the playoffs,” I teased.

“No, I think you got me in a moment of weakness.”

“What weakness? You were conscious.”

“Maybe, but I believe you were naked at the time.” His eyes warmed and I knew he was reliving the memory of the night before and the shower that morning.

I elbowed him in the side. “Would you focus? I thought you might enjoy this. Didn’t you used to play soccer?”

“A long time ago.” Logan tucked the blanket around my legs. I liked the way he used any excuse to touch me.

“But you were good, right? Your mother said you had a soccer scholarship to college.”

Logan sighed. “That’s right and then I buckled down and got serious. I left that childish game behind and concentrated on my studies. I had to get ready for law school.”

Logan once told me his father never approved of the game. He was expected to follow in the family business and take over the law firm. I suspect there is more to that story and I started to ask him about it when I spotted my student.

“There he is,” I pointed. “There’s Keenan. Number 5.”

We watched as a skinny sandy haired boy streaked down the field with the ball rolling in front of his nimble feet. The kid was pretty good considering most of his teammates were running in place, looking at someone on the sidelines or utterly clueless.

“Yes!” I jumped to my feet and clapped. “He scored. Way to go, Keenan!”

Keenan pumped his fist and did a dance. When he heard my voice, he looked toward the stands and blew a kiss.

I laughed and sat down. “I told you he’s a mess.”

“I thought teachers weren’t supposed to have favorites,” Logan said.

“We don’t. Unless we do,” I nudged him in the side.

Logan pulled me close. “What’s up with you and this kid? Is he trying to take my girl?”

“Are you jealous, Mr. Rutherford?”

“No way. Besides, he’s not old enough to do this.” He turned my face to his and kissed me.

I remembered getting lost in the promise of that kiss. I was a lucky woman to have a man like Logan love me so completely. And then, my illusion of the perfect man disappeared in a single breath.

After the game, we exited the bleachers and went to meet Keenan and his parents. I kneeled for a hug from my student and stood to make introductions. We made small talk for a few minutes before the conversation turned to our upcoming wedding.

“I bet you guys can’t wait to have children of your own,” Keenan’s mother said.

Before I could respond in the affirmative, Logan piped in. “That’s not something we plan to do.”

A pit formed in my stomach but I held my questions until we were in the car. “What did you mean back there? Why would you say we aren’t having children?”

Logan stared straight ahead and shrugged. “I meant what I said. I don’t need to have any children.”

We argued on the way home. I loved kids. That’s why I became a teacher. I wanted the dream, marriage and two rugrats of my own. I pleaded with Logan, but he wouldn’t budge. He lost all patience and said, “This is a non-negotiable item for me. I don’t want any children. We aren’t having any children.”

When he saw the hurt on my face, his voice softened but not his stance. “All I want is you. I’ll give you everything, Adrienne. I love you and I want you to be my wife. We don’t need children to be happy.”

We discussed the issue for days followed by bouts of strained silence with neither of us willing to concede. Then Logan threw down the final gauntlet. “The woman I marry needs to understand that there will be no children.”

I realized I had to choose. But this positive test changes everything.

“When was the date of your last period?” Dr. Taylor repeats the question.

I struggle to remember. The wedding and honeymoon were a blur. Logan and I dated for five months before he proposed. We planned a wedding in a month. And now, we are about to be parents.

Based on the best guess of my last period, Dr. Taylor notates that I am exactly twelve weeks along. He conducts an exam followed by an ultrasound to confirm the time frame. In six months, I will have a baby.

I leave the doctor’s office with a prescription for folic acid, several pamphlets and the book, What to Expect When You’re Expecting. Too bad there wasn’t a manual to explain telling your stubborn husband we are expecting. I sit in the car, cell phone in hand and stomach in knots. I debate calling Logan at the office, instead my fingers punch in another familiar number.

“I’m on my way over.”

“Well, hello to you too, Sister. Why aren’t you at work?”

“I took the day off. Be there in a few.” I pull out of the downtown parking garage and head for the interstate. The balmy fall day does nothing to bolster my sullen mood.

The best thing about living in Columbia, South Carolina, besides the mild winters, sweltering summers and Carolina college football games, is that you can get to almost any part of town in less than thirty minutes. Today, I make it to Kim’s in fifteen.

Pulling into the driveway of my first major purchase after college always makes me smile, but not today. I want to celebrate my good news, but the thought of Logan’s reaction tempers my attitude.

I have a key, but I ring the doorbell. Kim opens the door and I blurt out, “I’m pregnant.”

“Oh. My. God,” Kim screams, opening her arms to me. “I’m so happy for you.”

I exhale and hug my sister. Everything will be okay now. Kim will help me make sense of things. I have always looked up to my little sister, literally. The woman is six feet tall without heels with a model-thin body. She has our father’s height. I am six inches shorter with the curvaceous build of our mother.

I follow Kim through the house into her office, taking in the most recent decorations. I marvel that I once lived here. My sister’s eclectic tastes are noticeable throughout the bungalow and reflect our differences in taste, especially her home office. The walls are painted a faux stone texture and compliment the wicker fan back chair that I am offered.

Kim slides behind her wrought iron glass-topped desk and clicks the mouse. “I’m on deadline for this website design.” Her hair falls in ringlets around her shoulders as she works.

“Was Logan excited when you told him?” Focused on the computer screen, she doesn’t see my pained expression.

“I haven’t told him yet.”

Kim stops typing and looks up. “Things haven’t changed?”

I shake my head. “His decision is final on the subject. I couldn’t change his mind.”

“Men say that all the time, but they don’t do anything to prevent it.”

“That’s true.” Once we got married, Logan threw out his box of condoms in a symbolic nod to his commitment to our marriage.

“Then he should know that nothing is one hundred percent effective. No birth control is.”

“Yeah, but he doesn’t know I stopped taking the pill before we got married.”

Kim leans back and frowns. “You know that’s not cool.”

“I know, I know. But I’m already thirty. I thought I would have been married a long time ago with at least two kids by now.”

“Is that why you got married so quick? Because of Christopher?”

The mention of his name makes my heart beat fast. The love I lost. “This isn’t about Christopher.”

“This is me you’re talking to. It’s always been about Christopher. I was there, remember? You dated the man for two years and then it was over. The way he ended it. Don’t try to pretend he didn’t hurt you.”

“Okay, yeah. He hurt me.” I concede the point. “But that’s history. I think I’m over it now.”

Kim shoots me a look and walks over to the printer. She exams her design and smiles, “If you say so. Anyway, Logan will get over himself and be fine. Or not. Either way, I’m going to be the coolest auntie.”

I hang my head and groan. “What am I doing?”

“Don’t beat yourself up. You know you’ll be an excellent mother. You raised me and look how good I turned out,” Kim says with a wink.

I smile. “I guess. You are kind of great.”

“Thanks to you. I know what you gave up.”

I wave my hand. We are not having that conversation again. “No one else would take care of a bratty thirteen-year-old. I was stuck with you.”

Sometimes I wondered how either one of us turned out sane after dealing with so much grief. Mom died after a long illness and we had adjusted to having lost her when Dad passed less than a year later. We lived with dad’s brother, his wife and our cousin until I turned eighteen. They were our relatives, but they made us feel like visitors. Visitors that had overstayed their welcome. I got us out of there as soon as possible. It’s been Kim and me ever since.

“I wish they were here too,” Kim says, picking up on my mood without me having to say a word.

“I miss them at times like this. They would be so excited to be grandparents.”

I nod my head. “Yes, they would.”

“Which Al Green song do you think Dad would play?”

Dad had Al Green’s collection and would play the album every night. Our lullaby was a soulful soundtrack about life and love. Kim leans over her laptop and clicks the mouse a few times. The strains of Look What You Done for Me sing from the computer speakers. “This is a celebration,” she says. “Brother-in-law will come around.”

We listen for a few minutes, chatting about due dates and possible baby names. Then the first notes of How Can You Mend a Broken Heart? start to play. Kim turns off the music but the vibe in the room changes.

“Every time I hear this song I think of Dad playing it over and over after Mom died.” Kim’s voice breaks.

She reminds me of the scared little girl she used to be. I lean over the desk and squeeze her hand. She squeezes back and I walk around the desk to pull her into a hug. We take a moment to honor our shared history.

“You know what I think?” Kim sniffs.

“What?” I step away to grab a tissue.

“I think we should be celebrating. You are going to be a mommy.” Kim does a dancing jig and boogies out of the room.

I follow her into the kitchen, wishing I could match her enthusiasm. I shiver and place a hand over my stomach. I hope Logan is ready for this because there is no turning back now.

I am keeping my baby.

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