"Pace," Kylie interrupts my speech, looking upset. "You should go."
I release a huge exhale, and watch her eyes. She looks scared and hurt and confused, but she stands her ground, her posture straight and sure. Taking a glance down at Max, his little face is a mask of concentration and he looks worried. I see now that I'm not welcome here. I'm interrupting a family reunion and fuck, I've lost my cool in front of Max. That pisses me off more than anything.
I clench my fists and nod once to Kylie. "Will you at least call me later so I know you're safe?"
"Yes," she says.
Defeated, I turn and head for my car.
Once at home, my condo is empty and lifeless. I throw my keys and phone down on the counter feeling angry and out of control.
That fucker looked so smug, so cool and aloof. He has no idea what he willingly gave up. And now I'm completely fucking confused about what Kylie wants. After last night, I thought that was it. Our relationship was a done deal in my mind. I wanted to move her in permanently. Make her mine. Give Max my last name if that was what she wanted. I'm not a relationship guy, yet I was willing to change my entire world for this woman and another man's child. But now? Now, I have no fucking clue what's going on.
I consider alcohol, but I know I want to be clear headed when Kylie calls later. I need my wits about me. I need to talk some sense into her. She might think Elan is the better choice just because he fathered Max, but I know for certain he's not. Any man who takes off on his pregnant girlfriend isn’t worthy of this woman.
I pace my condo as the light fades in the sky and wonder why she hasn't called yet. Finally my cell phone chimes from the counter, and I race to the kitchen.
There's a text from Kylie.
We're home, and I just got Max tucked into bed. Sorry if I caused you any worry today.
If she thinks a single text message is going to be enough after all the heart ache and tension I've felt since discovering she was gone, she's insane.
I press the call button and wait while it rings.
"Hi," she answers, her voice sleepy.
There are so many questions spinning in my head, I don't even know where to start. "Why did you leave?" I ask.
"I'm sorry about that. I didn’t mean to just take off without explanation. I want to thank you for your hospitality, but I figured you could use your space back."
The air feels like it's been knocked from my lungs. My hospitality? "We fucked bareback last night. Whether or not you believe it, that meant something to me. You mean something to me. What the hell is going on, Kylie?"
She sighs softly. "Elan called today. He said that he knew he made a mistake walking out on us, and he wanted a chance to meet Max."
"And you gave in, just like that?"
"He could have taken me to court, Pace. Served me with papers for a custody arrangement. I couldn’t have that. So, yes, I was doing what I thought was best. For me and for my son."
Realizing I've wandered into my bedroom, I sink down onto the bed, the phone pressed against my ear, and my heart heavy. "I see." I know I should apologize for my outburst at the park today. I got a little territorial seeing Kylie and Max with another man in the picture. Although, I suppose I don’t know if he's truly back, or if it was a one-time thing, him wanting to meet Max. "So, is Elan back?" I ask, even though her answer has the potential to destroy me.
"I don't know for sure. He says he wants a chance with me. A chance to be a real family, but I told him he's a long ways off from me trusting him again."
I swallow a lump in my throat. "And what about you? What do you want?"
She hesitates for a moment and a wave of panic rises inside of me. "I'm trying to put my son first, and I guess deep down, I believe it would be best for Max if Elan and I could work things out."
She's told me all I need to know. Despite her insistence the past several weeks that I'd only end up hurting her, the opposite has happened. She has just gutted me, and I don't think she even knows it.
"You didn’t have to leave," I say, trying to regain my composure. "Unless your arm magically healed in the last few hours, I'm guessing you still need the help."
"With me trying to be open to exploring things with Elan, I didn’t feel right staying with you. Plus, if I'm honest, I don't think I could trust myself alone with you after what happened last night."
"And what happened last night?" I want to hear it in her own words, I want to know if she feels as strongly about what happened as I do.
"As I told you last night, it had been too long. And the sex was great, if that's what you're wondering."
Of course it felt great, but it was so much more than the physical act. It was her giving herself to me fully, me claiming her as my own. But apparently we are not on the same page. She's not mine. And Max isn't either.
"It was good, wasn't it?" I say, trying to regain some of the cocky bad boy who never lets his heart get engaged.
Kylie's quiet, and I wonder what she's thinking. I want to ask how Max is, how it went when he met Elan for the first time, but I stay quiet too.
Finally, after several seconds of silence, I realize there is nothing more to say. "Goodnight, Moon," I whisper.
"Goodnight," she whispers back.
I lay back against the pillows. The smell of warm vanilla and little boy greets me. My chest tightens and I squeeze my eyes closed, wondering what I'm supposed to do now.
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