Fuck! I'm never sitting on their couch again.
I don't know what to tell him. I have no advice about this situation. "It sounds like you better get crackin'. You have, what…seven months before it gets here? I'd stock up for the winter while I could."
"But that's another thing," he grumbles. "Emma always has preterm labor and gets put on pelvic rest, so it's going to thwart me months before it even gets here."
Damn. My little brother has me feeling sorry for him. "Does Mum know yet?"
"Yeah. We told her last night. She's thrilled beyond words. She wasn't expecting to get another grandchild until you found Laurelyn and knocked her up."
Until I knock Laurelyn up. There was a time when hearing something like that would've caused me to lose it, but not today. I'm no longer afraid of what life would be like with a family. I'm way more afraid of what it would be like without one—but particularly without Laurelyn. I know she wants babies and I plan on giving them to her—as many as she wants, any time she's ready. I very much look forward to putting them inside her.
"It'll be okay. I'm sure you and Emma will make it work just fine with another kid."
"I know it'll be okay. I'm just panicking because this one wasn't planned. I feel like I've lost control and I don't like it. God, you must think I'm a total dickhead for calling my own kid a cockblocker."
"I told you I wouldn't judge—and I won't—because I don't know how I'd feel if it were me in your shoes. And we both know you'll love the little cockblocker."
I wish I were freaking out about Laurelyn being pregnant. At least that would mean I had her with me.
"Jack, you're going to find Laurelyn and then it'll be you in these anxiety shoes because you don't want to give up that special time with her."
"I hope I get the chance to panic over it. I really do."
I park the Sunset in the garage and find Mrs. Porcelli in the kitchen. "Mr. McLachlan, it's good to see you back. I trust your visit with your family went well?"
I wish I'd gone to Sydney for a casual visit, but that's not what sent me there. I went for entirely different reasons I didn't wish to discuss, so I lie. "Yes, everyone is well and I had a nice visit."
"Oh, that's good. I can get you some lunch if you're hungry."
"Thank you, but that won't be necessary. I stopped at a little café a couple of hours ago."
As I'm walking out, Mrs. Porcelli calls my name. "Mr. McLachlan?"
I turn and see a look of uncertainty in my housekeeper's eyes—as if she's searching for the right words to say to me. "Yes?"
She's wringing her hands like she's nervous. My curiosity is piqued. "I didn't know if I should say anything, but I decided I thought you had the right to know."
I wait for her further explanation but she doesn't give me one. Whatever this is about, she isn't wanting to tell me. "What is it?"
"I was cleaning your bedroom and found something of Laurelyn's under the bed. I placed them on your nightstand because I didn't know what to do with them. Throwing them in the trash didn't feel right."
Ah! A pair of Laurelyn's undies must've fallen under the bed during one of our naughties. I'm sure that's what has this little gray-haired lady blushing crimson.
"Thank you for letting me know."
I smile as I walk the hall toward my bedroom. Those will be a nice little memento to have. Hmm…I wonder which pair it'll be? I find myself hoping that it's the white lace ones. I took those off her the day we made love the first time—instead of fucking—the day she told me she loved me.
I can see from the doorway that it's not the white lace ones; these are colorful. And folded into a tiny rectangle. I can't recall her ever wearing knickers like those, so I cross the room for a better inspection. It isn't undies at all. It's the decorative cloth pouch that houses Laurelyn's birth control pills. I slide the foil package out and confirm what I suspect. This is the pack she would've been taking when she left.
I sit on the bed, holding it in my hand. Does this mean she's going to be pregnant? It only took Em missing two days—not half a pack.
I go to the living room and grab my laptop before I dash back to the bedroom. I don't even know what to search. My fingers are trembling as I type what happens if you stop birth control midpack and hit enter. I choose the first result since it looks like a medical site. I scan the article reading a lot of things I don't understand, but then I come upon a heading called "Increased Chance of Pregnancy." That I can understand, so I read because I'm anxious to see what it says: There is a sudden increase in the risk of pregnancy when you stop the pill midmonth. The hormone levels change quickly by stopping the pill in the middle of the cycle, and this can increase your chances of conceiving. There may be some women who think they are protected for the whole month even if they stop early, but this is not true. You are only covered and protected while taking the pill on a regular, everyday basis.
Fuck! Does Laurelyn know this? Does she understand what missing these pills could mean? I have no way of knowing, and I can't ask her because she's not here.
Jim's been in the States looking for her for five days. He's phoned daily with updates but that's not enough now that I know she could be pregnant. I'm dying here; I need him to find her already.
I take my phone from my pocket and dial. "Mr. McLachlan…"
I don't have the patience to hear anything except that he knows where she is. "Did you find her yet?"
I already know he hasn't. He would've notified me immediately if he had; he has strict instructions to call the moment he has her whereabouts. "No, I'm sorry, Mr. McLachlan. There is no housing in Nashville registered under Addison Donavon, and the one I found this morning wasn't Laurelyn's friend."
"You're certain? She could be lying."
"The girl was still in high school and her mother wasn't happy about me being at their house asking about her daughter. There's been no new activity on any of Addison's social networking since she posted the day she left Australia. It's like she's dropped off the face of the earth."
One roadblock after another. We found out a few days ago that Laurelyn had dropped her service with her cellular provider, so our best lead was no lead at all. We don't know why she did it, but I have a sneaking suspicion that Blake Phillips is the reason behind it. I keep imagining him chasing after Laurelyn now that she's returned to Nashville, and the thought makes me crazy. I'm back to that place where I want to choke the life out of him.
"So, what's your plan, Jim?" I really need him to tell me he has a new strategy since finding Addison has proven fruitless.
"I understand you wanted him to be a last resort, but I recommend going to see Blake Phillips. It seems like a waste to run all over California looking for Addison when I have him so close."
I'm going to be sick if she's with him. Maybe I wanted him to be a last resort because I'm paralyzed with fear every time I think about her being with him.
I want to see his reaction when Jim questions him about her. I need to read his face and response. "I want you to video your meeting and send it to me immediately."
Wow. I'm driving home in a daze because I have a dad and he wants to ruin the man who threatened me. He said Blake Phillips wouldn't be able to find a job bagging groceries in this town when he's finished with him. The thought makes me happy, until I remember that he has three little kids depending on him. As much as I'd like to see Blake crawl on his belly like the snake that he is, I can't live with the guilt of being the reason behind any misfortune for those children. It's not their fault their dad is a total skeezer. Which is why I asked Jake to do nothing where Blake is concerned.
I park in my usual spot outside the apartment and sit staring at the door. I don't want to go inside. Being alone for the past couple of weeks hasn't been good for me. It's given me too much time to think about how much I miss Jack Henry.
I'm startled out of my trance when I hear Addison's ringtone. "Waddup," I cheerfully answer. I hope she can't tell how phony I am.
"Hey, girl. What are you doing?"
Addison's called to check on me every day—sometimes twice. She's been very attentive for…well, for Addison. I've never seen her so concerned. I think her feelings for Zac have given her empathy—something I'm not certain she was capable of in the past. "Umm, I just got home from my mom's."
I hadn't had enough time to process Jake Beckett, so it wasn't something I was ready to discuss, especially over the phone. And Addison is going to have a come-apart when she finds out. "It was fine."
"What about your meeting with your record pro-doucher?"
I can't help but laugh every time I hear Addie call Blake a pro-doucher. The name is so fitting. "It went great. He was very cooperative—until he followed me out to my car and basically held me down while he threatened to ruin my career if I didn't come back to him."
I hear Addison huff. "Did that fucker hurt you?"
"Nah! You know I'm a tough bird. He scared me a little, but it's more likely that I'm the one who hurt him. I don't think he'll be needing a vasectomy any time soon. I can say with a fair amount of certainty that my knee probably busted his balls."
Addison cackles. "I'm really glad to hear you racked 'em good for him, but what does that mean for your career?"
I sigh deeply before I admit where I stand, as if it'll make it sound better. "It means I've lost it all—everything I've worked so hard for—and I'll have to start over. All because I refused to have an affair with a married man."