“You have to get tested.”
“I need time. I can’t pretend that nothing happened.”
“I’ll need patience from you if and when I have a moment of jealousy and when it takes me a little bit to remember that it was me who set this all in motion and that it’s mostly my fault.”
Taylor spoke his words slowly, each one emphasized, “This is not your fault. We both fucked up. We both regret it.”
“That’s about the only thing I know right now,” I said.
“No. You know we love each other. And because of that, I know things will get better.”
When I nodded, Taylor sat back in his seat, only a bit more relaxed than before. Either he didn’t believe his own words, or he thought I didn’t. He slid his fingers between mine, and we waited in another awkward silence until our flight was called.
I heard him say the words, but thirteen weeks of work and forgiveness wouldn’t allow me to believe it. I sat on a chair in his Colorado Springs hotel room, the beige carpet and drapes mirroring my blank expression.
Taylor sat on the bed with his head in his hands. He wore only a white towel around his waist, his skin still glistening from the shower.
“You checked in two days ago,” I said.
“You’re going to give up now?” I asked.
He looked up at me, frustration in his eyes. I knew then that I’d lost him. Gone was the longing, the guilt, and the patience.
I stood up, crossing my arms. “What happened to things getting better? To making this work? To forgiveness and loving each other?”
“More than I could ever explain to you.”
“Then I don’t understand!” I said, my volume surprising both of us. My eyes filled with tears. “I’ve worked on this. I’ve spent hours and weekends trying to make things better, working it out in my own head that you’ve had your hands … and other things … on another woman. I’m here, taking a chance on everything, ignoring the images in my mind that haunt me every single time we’re in bed. And you’re just going to quit on me? No,” I said, shaking my head, realizing that I was pacing but not stopping myself. “You can’t just say it’s over. It’s not over.”
“I didn’t,” he said, amused. “But this … this is good. I’m liking this.”
I stood in the middle of the room, narrowing my eyes at him. “Then what were you talking about?”
He sighed. “I haven’t brought up the commute because … well … we were dealing with bigger things, and I was chickenshit.” He stood up, cupping my shoulders. “But I still want that, everything we talked about before. I can’t keep living apart. I want to at least be in the same city.”
I fell to the bed, holding my middle. “I thought you were ending it.”
He knelt in front of me. “Fuck no. After the weeks I’ve been killing myself, trying to make it up to you?”
He interlocked his fingers behind the small of my back, smiling. “I didn’t say it wasn’t enjoyable.”
He kissed my cheek, tender and sweet. I leaned into his lips, giggling.
The landline rang, and after a moment of confusion, Taylor hopped up and held the receiver to his ear. “Hello? Yeah, that’s me. Who?” When recognition lit his eyes, all the color drained from his face. “I’ll, um … I’ll be right down.” He hung up the phone.
“The desk clerk said that a woman is waiting for me in the lounge. Alyssa Davies.”
I shrugged and shook my head, having no recollection of the name.
“I guess so,” he said, rubbing the back of his neck.
He shook his head. “I don’t know, baby.”
“You were tested,” I said, trying not to show the intense panic igniting inside of me.
“Yeah … no, that can’t be it. That’s not it.”
My heart pounded against my rib cage, making the vessels in my head throb and my fingers tremble.
Taylor’s worry vanished, and a contrived smile softened his face. “C’mon. We’ll find out together.”
I took his outreached hand and grabbed my purse before following Taylor into the hall. We took the elevator to the first floor, and then we found the lounge. Taylor didn’t let go of my hand as he paused when he saw a beautiful woman sitting alone at one of the booths along the wall.
He tugged me forward and sat down, scooting across the bench. I sat next to him, looking at the last woman I’d ever expected to meet face-to-face.
“I know you’re surprised to see me,” she said. “I apologize for not calling first.” She glanced at me, blinking and looking down at her folded hands on the table. “But what I have to say needed to be said in person.”
Taylor’s hand squeezed mine. I wasn’t sure he even knew he was doing it.
Taylor nodded. “This is my girlfriend, Falyn. She knows who you are and what happened.”
“Well, she doesn’t know this,” Alyssa said, raising her eyebrows. She pulled a folded paper that looked like it had been wadded up a few times and pushed it across the table to Taylor.
He opened it, read it, and set it down in front of him. I waited, staring at the side of his face. His eyes had lost focus. He was so still that I wasn’t sure if he was still breathing.
I had a few ideas about what the paper said, none of them I wanted to be true.
All the air was knocked out of me, and my eyes instantly glossed over.
“You … do you want me to go with you?” Taylor asked.
I rubbed my forehead and then looked down, trying not to scream. This wasn’t happening to us, to that baby.
“That depends,” Alyssa said, putting the paper back into her purse. Her cool demeanor was maddening. “I’m not in the position to raise it. Are you?”
Taylor touched his chest. “You’re asking me if I want to keep it.”
She folded her hands again. “I’m due December seventh. Shortly after, I have a rather large case that will begin court proceedings. I’m prepared to carry to term and then sign over rights, as I would with a typical adoption.”
She’s beautiful, confident, pregnant with Taylor’s baby, and a lawyer? Could she surpass me in any more ways?
“Stop,” I said. “You need to think about what you’re doing.”
She glared at me. “Excuse me. I respect that you’re here for Taylor, but I’m not asking for your opinion.”
“I understand that,” I said. “But I’ve been in your position. This is not a business transaction. It’s a baby.”