Her eyes fluttered open to feather light kisses on the back of her neck, that sensitive spot behind her ear, then her jaw, his morning whiskers rasping lightly against her face. She turned fully in his arms, her hands softly stroking his hair, then his face, then curling into the soft brown strands on his chest.
She could smell the minty scent of his toothpaste and covered her face with one hand as she climbed out of bed to rush into the bathroom. When she returned to the bedroom a small, red-wrapped rectangular box lay on her pillow and he watched her approach through those gorgeous sapphire eyes.
She pounced on the gift excitedly, pulling off the ribbon and paper quickly, exclaiming in delight at the sparkling charm bracelet filled with beautiful charms representing their life together these past seven years. A pineapple for their Hawaiian honeymoon. A typewriter to symbolize her career. A tiny, three-tiered wedding cake. A heart with a ruby chip to represent their love for each other. And in the box, still to be added, a baby carriage?
Her brown eyes widened in dismay as he splayed his fingers over her still flat tummy.
“But I just found out for sure yesterday. You guessed?”
He shook his head, smiling, and pulled her close. “You’re even more beautiful than usual. More sensitive. So I hoped.” That was all they spoke as she covered his face with kisses and then eventually one thing led to another…
Leaning back from her computer, satisfied with her work, she placed her right hand over her slightly rounded belly and smiled to herself…
Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!
Here’s a link to Part 6 if you missed it!
I woke up the next morning with a dull headache. Then it got even stronger as I remembered all the crap that had gone on the night before. I couldn’t believe it. Bobby was Rob and was here in Maui and I had to see him all weekend because we were in the same wedding! He had been really sweet to me and that just made it worse, because I had so much — maybe hate isn’t the right word — but all those years of feeling abandoned were there inside me and I still felt so angry when I thought about him not being there for me.
And yet –- what if he hadn’t known about the baby? What if it was just like he said and he hadn’t gotten a message from his dad and my mom hadn’t told him how to reach me when I was away at school? Oh, no, I can’t even think about this right now…
My cellphone is ringing and I see that it’s Jamie. “Hi,” I say, trying to sound more cheerful than I feel. “You didn’t call me yesterday,” she says accusingly. “I left you a bunch of messages. I thought we were going to meet for dinner last night.” “Oh, um, I didn’t feel well, James,” I mumble, which is not really a lie. I felt like I’d had the shock of my life last night, which, frankly, I had. Passing out at the airport was just the icing on the cake.
“Oh, no, are you better this morning?” she asks. “Do you feel like getting together for lunch in a little bit and checking out the resort? Mike is talking to Rob right now and we thought you two should have a chance to meet before all the wedding stuff starts.” She sounds so concerned that I start to feel guilty.
“Yeah, about that,” I sigh, “James, I really need to talk to you. Is there coffee around here somewhere?” “Well, Reg, in the kitchen right there is a coffee maker. But there’s a Starbucks downstairs in the General Store.”
“What if you give me a half hour to shower and get dressed and I’ll meet you at the Starbucks?” I say, grimacing at my swollen eyes in the mirror. “Sure,” Jamie says, sounding a little surprised. “We can sit outside on the terrace by the lobby and have coffee and talk if you want. Oh, wait, what, Mike?” She obviously covers the phone with her hand because all I hear is muffled voices and then she’s back. “Okay, I need to know what’s going on. Mike says that Rob wants to meet him at the restaurant and talk. I mean, what are the chances that the two of you both need to talk this morning?”
“Yeah, well, give me a half hour and I’ll explain it all,” I say and she reluctantly agrees. “You better be prepared to spill,” she warns, “because this is just weird.” “Sure, okay, let me get in the shower already. I’ll meet you downstairs about 10:45.”
I hang up quickly because I’m starting to get a pain in my stomach. I’m wondering what Bobby is planning to share with Mike and I try to decide if I have to tell Jamie the whole truth. She knew I’d broken up with a boyfriend right before college, but I don’t think I’d shared all the gory details with her, even after nights of too many beers and true confessions. I’d kept this buried for so long and now twice in two days I had to go over all the details again. Oh, well, catharsis for the soul, maybe…
After the quickest shower on record, I bundle my hair into a knot at the back of my head, slip on shorts and a t-shirt and head down to look for the Starbucks. God, it’s beautiful here. It’s probably 80 degrees and sunny out, maybe one or two puffy clouds in the sky. The pool is huge and blue and sparkling and surrounded by gorgeous tropical flowers growing on hedges. I cross over a koi pond while following the signs to the General Store. As I go in, I see Jamie is already there and she’s looking quizzically at me.
I hurry over and we order our coffees and rolls. I can hardly look at her because I’m so afraid I’ll burst into tears. I guess I’ve been holding these feelings in so long that everything is so close to the surface now. We go outside and find a couple of big wooden rockers to sit in and a table to put our drinks on.
“Okay,” she says, “Please tell me what it is, Reg. You look as though you could burst into tears any minute. Come on, I’m getting married tomorrow. I need you to be happy!”
I want to, too, but that just brings the tears closer to the surface. Then, just my luck, a young couple walks by with a little girl in a stroller and she waves at us. God help me, I can feel the tears coursing down my cheeks. I try to wave back and pretend everything is okay behind my sunglasses, but Jamie is looking alarmed. “Please, Reg,” she whispers, “Tell me what’s going on?”
So for the next half hour, I talk and we rock and sip our coffees while tears run down both of our faces.
~Diane D. ~ The photo is my own
I’m sorry I’m so late in posting Part 6 of Lessons Learned! I’ll give you a little synopsis of what’s happened so far, but feel free to start at the beginning and read Parts 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 for the complete story especially if you’re new to my blog. 🙂
Regina loved Bobby back in high school, they had a huge fight and split up before they knew she was pregnant. When she lost the baby, she tried to get in touch with him but he never got a message to come to the hospital. They haven’t spoke since, until they meet up in the airport on Maui, where they’re unknowingly standing up at the same wedding. He’s always called her Gina and she always called him Bobby, but their friends (Jaime and Mike from my short story Eyes Wide Open) know them as Reggie and Rob.
Bobby and I spend the rest of the evening trying to understand what had happened back in Virginia after high school. When we finally looked around and realized how dark it had gotten, he asked if I would come up to his room, just to talk. Since we were in the same building and on the same floor, I figured it would be okay. And I didn’t think we were going to get much sleep anyway, at least until we’d heard each other out.
Neither of us remembered exactly what we had argued about when we broke up, just that we were young and going away to different colleges. I think it seemed easier to have a big blow out fight and go our separate ways than try to have a long-distance relationship and maybe find out that our love wasn’t strong enough to keep us together.
Then I had the miscarriage almost before I knew I was pregnant and when Bobby didn’t come to the hospital, I had been sure it meant we never had a chance. And now I’m reeling with the news that he never even knew about the baby.
“But I called your house. I talked to your dad,” I say. “I told him it was really important. How could he not tell you?”
“I don’t know, honey, I’m really not sure what happened. He was still traveling for work a lot then and I’d left for college already, with practice every day of the week pretty much. If he called and left me a message, I didn’t get it. I know mom and dad wanted me to focus on school, too. I know they liked you, but I knew they were kinda glad we broke up then. I think they just thought we were too young to get serious.”
“We were too young,” I say ruefully. “But it didn’t seem like it back then, at least not to me.” “Me, either,” he smiles into my eyes and the years just fall away. Then he’s shaking his head thoughtfully. “God, you don’t think they didn’t tell me on purpose?” We just stare at each other and it occurs to me that maybe his mom and dad didn’t love me as much as we thought they did.
“Maybe they really didn’t like me?” I whisper, “Enough to keep you from finding out you lost a child?” I can see the pain on his face and I hope that I’m wrong. But how else could things have gotten so muddled all those years ago?
His jaw tightens as he looks at me again. I can tell he’s wondering the same thing and it looks like it’s tearing him up inside. I mean, his family had always been super close. His mom and dad and Rhia and him, then me. They had taken me in so many times as a kid. They’d shared meals with me and let me stay at their house all those nights. I thought they were my family, too. I had pretended they were…
But I guess helping me was different than thinking of me as maybe their son’s wife or the mother of their grandchild. My mom’s influence again, I thought bitterly. Nobody really wanted the town drunk’s kid as part of their family. Sure, they felt sorry for me and helped me out, fed me, gave me a place to stay sometimes. People could always feel good about a local charity project. But anything permanent? No, thanks —
I didn’t realize I’d spoken out loud till I saw the shock on Bobby’s face. “You really think that’s how my family was?” His voice is flat. “Well, now I’m not certain,” I say and I’m working to keep my voice from shaking. “It sure seems like that’s the only explanation, doesn’t it?”
“Did they even know you were pregnant?” His voice is rough with emotion and he clears his throat. “Sorry. I mean, what exactly did you tell my dad when you called?”
“I don’t remember anymore. It was years ago!” Now I’m the one getting emotional and I stop and take a breath. “Okay, wait. I started feeling awful and when I told my mom that I was spotting and having such bad cramps, she insisted that I go to Portsmouth. So we went. My mom was driving, so I called your house and your dad answered and I told him I needed you to come to the hospital. That something was wrong.” I know I didn’t say anything specific, I would have been too embarrassed to tell his dad what was going on. I’d been scared and in pain and hormonal and had just wanted Bobby. And he wasn’t there…
He reaches for my hands and holds them in his, rubbing his thumbs across my fingers. “God, Gina, I never stopped thinking about you. When I came home that first Christmas and you weren’t there, I didn’t know what to do. Your mom said she didn’t even know how to call you, that you had a different cellphone number that you wouldn’t give her.”
“But that’s not true!” I hadn’t changed numbers until years later when I moved away from home permanently. “Why would she tell you that? I had that number for years, but I didn’t want to be at home if I didn’t have to, because of my stupid ass of a stepfather. I spent a lot of holidays with Jamie’s family. She was my college roommate and I knew Mike way before they even started dating.”
“Well, what the hell?” Bobby is looking completely perplexed. “I’m guessing your mom wasn’t too crazy about me, then, huh? She just lied to my face.”
“Well, I can understand that a little bit. I mean, she took me to hospital. She saw what I was going through. She saw how scared I was. She knew I lost a baby, our baby, and you didn’t even call me back, let alone come to the hospital!” I can’t believe tears are running down my face and I swipe at them angrily.
Bobby is looking resigned. “Look, maybe we better get some sleep and talk some more tomorrow,” he says. “We’re just going round and round and not solving anything. You know I didn’t come to the hospital cause I didn’t know you were there. Come on, honey, I’ll walk you to your room. It’s late.”
I try to smile back at him as I grab my purse and sandals but inside I’m hollow. Just like that, Bobby’s in charge again and I’m dismissed for the night. Yeah, we’re tired and wrung out emotionally, but I still feel, I don’t know, broken. I know I’m being unfair, but I can’t just let go of all those years of hurt…
I’d been having that dream I hadn’t had in a long while. I felt as though I was under water and couldn’t breathe. I’d struggled to sit up and cried out for help. The baby, I didn’t know where the baby was, why couldn’t I find the baby?
When I opened my eyes, I was lying on a bench and, God help me, Bobby was crouching next to me, slapping my face. “Stop that,” I snapped at him, grabbing his hand before he hit me again. “I’m fine, you can stop whacking me!”
As I struggled to sit upright, Bobby’s arm slipped around me to help and he sat down next to me, pulling me close. “Will y’all just sit still for a minute,” he admonished. “And I wasn’t whackin’ you, I was tryin’ to wake you up. You scared the bejeebers out of me when you fainted like that. What the hell is going on, are you pregnant? You were talking about a baby.”
Funny how our Southern came out when we were scared or mad. I haven’t heard anyone say bejeebers in quite awhile. And asking me if I was pregnant made me spitting mad!
“Bobby, how could you ask me that? I can’t believe you’d say that. Now y’all take your hands off me!”
Noticing that we were attracting attention, Bobby took his arm from around me and stood up, pulling me with him. “Okay, let’s calm down and figure this out. I don’t even know what’s going on here. C’mon, let’s go somewhere besides the airport. We definitely need to talk.” I didn’t really want to go with him, but I was embarrassed by the amount of people looking curiously at us so I followed behind him. We stopped and got our luggage and he turned to me. “I’ve got a rental car so let’s go pick that up and then we can find somewhere nice and quiet and you can tell me what the hell is going on.”
Just like that, I’m expected to follow along and do what he says. But since I was just going to take The Bus over to the timeshare, it was easier to follow along behind him as he pulled our luggage toward the shuttle stop. After getting the car, he loaded our bags in and asked me where I was staying. When I told him the name of the resort on Ka’anapali Beach, he looked flabbergasted. “We might as well just drive there, then, cause that’s where I’m at, too,” he said. “I’m here for my buddy’s wedding this weekend.”
I was starting to get a strange feeling in the pit of my stomach. “I’m here for a wedding, too,” I said. “My old college roommate, Jamie, is marrying her fiancée, Mike, this weekend. And I’m the maid of honor.”
“Crap,” he said looking at me. “Reggie, of course. You go by Reggie now, Gina?” I nodded my head dumbly. “And I’m guessing you’re Rob, not Bobby?” It was his turn to nod at me as it dawned on us that our best friends were marrying each other and we were standing up in the same wedding. As he drove away from the airport, I finally remembered that Rhia had said call her immediately and I hadn’t done that so I texted her. I could guess the emergency now.
I’m in the car with Bobby and we’re on our way to the timeshare where we’re both staying cause we’re in the same freaking wedding! Did you know?? My phone pings almost immediately.
I swear I just found out. Mama told me Rob was going to Hawaii. For a wedding.
Just great. Too late now.
Talk to him, girl! Work things out ❤
We pulled onto Kai Ala Drive and into the gated resort with a beautiful waterfall at the entrance. At the desk, we gave our names and found that our rooms were on the same floor in the same building. Just wonderful, I thought sarcastically, we could walk over together. Bobby immediately took charge, getting a bellman to load our suitcases onto a cart and take them to our rooms.
“Gina, can we grab something to eat and talk a little, just the two of us?” I nod glumly and grab my purse off the counter and follow him out. In just a few minutes we’re seated at a lovely little outdoor restaurant overlooking a pool with the most beautiful turquoise water I’d ever seen. I could have sat there all day just staring at the pool and looking out toward the ocean. As we sipped our Bikini Blondes and waited for our food to arrive, I leaned back in my chair and closed my eyes, savoring the sun on my face. I knew we had to get this out in the open if we had to be together all weekend.
“So, Bobby, why didn’t you come to the hospital?” He’s just looking at me, not saying a word. “Honey,” he says carefully, “I know you think I know what you’re talking about, but I don’t. When were you in the hospital?”
I’m so confused right now and I’m getting upset. “The summer,” I say haltingly, “the end of June after graduation. Right after our big fight. I called your house and your dad answered. I said I needed you to come to Sentara Hospital right away. But you never came.”
“Okay, Gina, but why? What happened that you were in the hospital? ”
“Bobby, where were you?” I’m choking back sobs now. “I know we were mad at each other, but I was in the hospital! Why didn’t you come?”
“Honey, I don’t remember. Maybe we had baseball camp? June, you said? I probably had baseball camp and tryouts for my scholarship. But, Jesus, what does it matter? Why in the hell were you at the hospital??” He’s running his hand through his hair like he always did when he was angry or upset.
“Because I’d just lost our baby, Bobby. I didn’t even know for sure I was pregnant, and then,” my voice is dropping to a whisper, “I started cramping and bleeding and I didn’t know how to find you –”
His beer bottle crashes to the table and he’s up and pulling me into his arms and we’re both crying and he’s kissing me and I can taste the salt of his tears. “I didn’t know. I’m so sorry, baby, I didn’t know,” he says it over and over, clinging to me. And I can’t tell which of us is shaking and crying harder, him or me, and we just hold onto each other and don’t even notice the beautiful Hawaiian sunset over the ocean.
To be continued