Please no... please no... please no.

When the second hand hit the twelve for the second time, I lifted the white stick and gazed into the little window.

I had never seen a more menacing pair of parallel lines.


Just a little while longer and it will all be over with…

“Abby Ford?”

It was another nurse in pink scrubs calling my name, measuring me, making me pee in a cup and giving me the once over. Only this time, it wasn’t in the Coral Pines police station.

A doctor with salt-and-pepper hair introduced himself as Doctor Hodges and promptly asked me to lie down and put my feet in the stirrups. He looked to be in his mid-fifties. He was calm and friendly, but wasn’t going to be performing the procedure just yet. He explained that it was just the initial exam before the big show.

My words, not his.

I closed my eyes and took deep breaths as he poked and prodded with cold instruments and intruding fingers. It was so uncomfortable. The burning inside me built to epic proportions. My eyes watered and a tear ran down my cheek. I had to power through. I tried to sing in my head to distract myself from what the doctor was doing.

When that didn’t work, I thought about Jake.

I wonder if Jake would have gone with me if he knew the truth. If he knew that I loved him and hadn’t willingly let Owen do what he did to me. I couldn’t let myself linger on those thoughts. I was pregnant with another man’s baby, and I needed not to be anymore.

“Miss Ford, I know you already spoke to the counselor so forgive the repetition here, but may I ask, what brings you here today?” He gestured for me to sit up.

Relief flooded me instantly.

“I don’t want to be pregnant anymore.” I wondered if that wasn’t the reason every seventeen year old came here.

“How did you get pregnant, Miss Ford?” His voice was steady and professional, but I sensed something else lingered behind his question.

“Is there more than one way?” I faked a laugh to distract him.

He looked at me skeptically. “Miss Ford, I am going to be honest with you. I see scar tissue within you that suggests you’ve been through a traumatic injury recently.” He took a deep breath and flicked his rubber gloves into the trash bin. “Frankly, I am surprised a pregnancy resulted or survived such trauma.”

It was a statement, but he looked as if he wanted me to confirm his suspicion.

“Resulted,” I blurted. I instantly regretted telling this stranger anything that wasn’t his business.

“Have you filed a police report?”

“No.” But, I’m facing some pretty hefty charges myself.

The Doctor didn’t press me on why I hadn’t. He just nodded as he placed a manila file on his knee and started to write with a fountain pen from his lab coat pocket. He shook his head from side to side, like something he was writing was almost unbelievable to him. “Strong fetus you’ve got in there.” He looked up from his file, his embarrassment written all over his face. “I’m sorry. That was entirely insensitive of me. My apologies.”

“It’s fine.” I wanted to silence his rambling. I hated being apologized to. After all, he was right. This thing in me had such a will to be in this world, it had found a way to exist during the worst of the worst of conditions.

It was a survivor, just like me.

And I was going to kill it.


I spent the next three days searching for a new job with no luck. Bubba still wasn’t hiring seventeen year olds. Sally’s wasn’t hiring. The bait shop wasn’t hiring.

Jake’s home was no longer my home so I was back to sleeping in Nan’s old Chevy, the same one Jake had caught me in all those weeks ago. I’d put his keys on the counter, locked the door, and shut it behind me.

I didn’t want to live there anymore anyway. Just being there long enough to grab some of my shit and lock the door was painful enough. A few times I could’ve sworn I’d heard his bike pulling into the drive. I had to remind myself it wasn’t him.

He was gone.

The Chevy couldn’t be home forever, but it was all I had for now. I’d made a little money working at Jake’s shop, but the hotels on the island were tourist traps, and a single night’s stay was more than half of what I had to my name. I tried to rent a room, but being seventeen and jobless wasn’t exactly an attractive mix to potential landlords.

I lay in the Chevy, tossing and turning.

It wasn’t just the stagnant heat of the night air that kept me restless.

Has it really been only days since I had last seen him, since I let him walk away? Where is he? What is he doing?