He looks at me. He doesn’t say anything.
“You know,” I continue, “maybe you and I would have gone out that night and stayed out partying and drinking until the early morning. And maybe we could have walked around the city all night, talking about our feelings and rehashing old times. Or maybe we would have left that bar and gone to another bar, where we ran into Matt Damon, and he would say that we seemed like really cool people and he wanted to give us a hundred million dollars to start a cinnamon roll factory.”
“We don’t know what would have happened. But whatever would have happened wasn’t supposed to happen.”
“You really believe that?” Ethan says.
“I think I have to,” I tell him. “Otherwise, my life is an absolute disaster.”
Otherwise, my baby is gone for no reason.
“But yes,” I say. “I really do believe that. I believe I’m destined for something. We are all destined for something. And I believe that the universe, or God, or whatever you want to call it, I believe it keeps us on the right path. And I believe I was supposed to choose Gabby. I wasn’t supposed to stay with you.”
Ethan is quiet. And then he looks up at me and says, “OK. It wasn’t . . . I guess it wasn’t meant to be.”
“Besides,” I say, trying to make a joke, “let’s be honest. If I’d stuck around with you, we’d just have ended up making out and ruining everything. This way is better. This way, we can finally be friends. Good, real friends.”
He looks at me, looks me right in the eye. We don’t say anything to each other for a moment.
Ethan finally speaks up. “Hannah, I—”
He stops halfway through his sentence when Henry comes walking in the door.
“Oh, sorry,” Henry says. “I didn’t know you had visitors.”
I feel myself perk up at the sight of him. He’s wearing the same blue scrubs from last night.
“I thought you were night shift,” I say. “Deanna is my day nurse.”
“I’m covering,” he says. “Just for this morning. I’ll come back if I’m interrupting.”
“Oh,” Ethan says.
“You’re not interrupting anything,” I say over him.
Ethan gathers himself and looks at me. “You know what? I should be getting to work,” he says.
“OK. You’ll come visit me again soon?”
“Yeah,” he says. “Or maybe you’ll be out of here in a few days.”
“Yeah,” I say. “Maybe.”
“Anyway,” he says, “enjoy the cinnamon roll.”
Henry laughs. “This is a girl who loves her cinnamon rolls,” he says.
Ethan looks at him. “I know,” he says. “That’s why I brought her one.”
I took three pregnancy tests in the bathroom of the CVS just down the street from Gabby’s place. I could have left Charlemagne in the car, but I felt terrible doing that, even with the windows cracked, so I put her in the backpack and brought her with me. She yipped in the bathroom once or twice, but no one seemed to care.
All three sticks were positive. And there wasn’t a single part of me that was surprised.
Now it’s almost nine p.m., and I’m pulling up in front of Gabby’s. She must hear my car, because she looks out the window. I see her and laugh. She looks like a crotchety old lady. I’m half expecting her to call out, “What’s all that racket?”
By the time I open her front door, Charlemagne trailing behind me on the leash, Gabby is standing on the other side of the door. I feel bad about what I’m doing, by the way. I feel bad about bringing a dog into Mark’s house. I know he’s allergic, and I’m doing it anyway. But I couldn’t stay with Ethan. And I couldn’t abandon Charlemagne. So here we are.
“You bought a car?” Gabby says. She’s in her pajamas.
“Where’s Mark?” I ask her. Charlemagne is behind me. I don’t think Gabby can see her.
“He’s working late again,” Gabby says.
“I have some news,” I tell her.
“I know, you bought a car.”
“Well, I have more news.”
Charlemagne yips. Gabby looks at me askance.
I pull Charlemagne around to the front.
“You have a dog?”
“I am adopting her,” I tell her. “I’m really sorry.”
“You are adopting a dog?”
“Is it OK if she stays here just for tonight? I bought Mark a whole bunch of allergy pills.” I take the five packages of medication that I got in the over-the-counter antihistamine aisle.
Gabby looks at me. “Uh . . . I guess?”
“Great. Thank you. I have news.”
“You have more news?”
I nod, but Gabby continues to stare at me. I stare back, unsure if she’s really prepared for this. Unsure if I’m really prepared for this.
“We should maybe sit down,” I tell her.
“I need to sit down for this?”
“I need to,” I tell her.
We move over to her couch. I pick up Charlemagne and put her in my lap. Quickly, Charlemagne moves off me and sits on the sofa. I see Gabby waver about whether she wants a dog on her sofa, so I pick up Charlemagne and put her on the floor.
Hearing it out loud, hearing the words come out of my mouth, brings forth a flood of emotions. I start to cry. I bury my head in my hands.
Gabby doesn’t say much at first, but soon I feel her hands on my wrists. I feel her pull my hands away from my face. I feel her take her fingers and put them on my chin, forcing me to face her.
“You know it’s going to be OK, right?” she says.
I look at her through my tears. I nod and do my best to say “Yes.”
“Does Ethan know?” Gabby asks.
I shake my head. “No one does. Except you. And Charlemagne.”
“Who is Charlemagne?” she asks me.
I look at the dog and point to her.
“Oh,” Gabby says. “Right. Makes sense. I didn’t think we were still naming people Charlemagne.”
I start crying again.
“Hey,” she says. “Come on. This is good news.”
“I know,” I say through my tears.
“It’s Michael’s,” she says, as if it’s just dawning on her.
“Yeah,” I say. Charlemagne starts whining and jumping, trying to join us on the couch. Gabby looks at her and then picks her up and puts her in my lap. She curls up and closes her eyes. I do feel better, honestly, having her in my lap.
“OK, stop crying for a minute,” Gabby says.
I sniffle and look at her.
“We are going to handle this, and we are going to be fine.”
“Well, I’m not going to let you go through this alone, you moron,” she says. The way she says the word moron makes me feel more loved than I’ve felt in a long time. She says it as if I’d be a complete idiot to think I was ever alone. And to know that the idea is absolutely absurd to her, to know that it’s so far-fetched as to make me a moron, it’s a nice feeling. “You know, years from now, you’re going to look back on this as the best thing that ever happened to you, right?”
I snort at her. “I’m having a baby with a married man, and I’m pretty sure it’s going to ruin my relationship with my new old boyfriend.”
“First of all,” she says, “let’s not go assuming things. You never know what Ethan will say.”
“You know what I’m pretty sure he’s not going to say? ‘Hey, Hannah, I’m super excited to take on the responsibilities of raising another man’s baby.’ ”
I’m right, of course. Which is why Gabby changes the subject. “You are going to love this baby,” she says. “You know that, right? You are such a loving person. You have so much love to give, and you are so loyal to the people you love. Do you have any idea what a great mom you are going to be? Do you have any idea how loved this kid is going to be? The love it will have from its Aunt Gabby will eclipse the sun.”
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