I sat down on the edge of her bed and let out a heavy sigh.
“What’s wrong?” she croaked, opening her eyes.
“Nothing, angel. Just rest, okay?”
She nodded and let her eyes slip closed again. We needed to discuss this, but the conversation would have to wait. One, because I had no f**king idea what I was doing, and two, because first she needed time to heal.
I pressed a kiss to her forehead and left moments later, reeling from the realization that for once, I was totally and completely out of my element with a girl.
Monday morning I was finally well enough to get out of bed. I showered and changed into fresh clothes and then ventured out into the living room. Brian sat on the couch with his back toward me, essentially ignoring me. He was dressed and ready for work, but sat motionless with a mug of coffee. I grabbed a soda from the fridge and sat down next to him, wondering what I’d done wrong this time.
“You feeling better?” he asked, his eyes still glued to the commercial playing on the TV.
“Yeah. Sorry, the last few days are a complete blur.” I opened the can of soda and took a small sip, the sugar and fizz tasting delicious after having nothing in the belly for so long.
“We were supposed to hang out this weekend.”
So that’s what this was about. Brian was giving me the cold shoulder because I’d had to cancel our plans. Did he really think I purposefully chose being chained to the toilet over hanging out with him? “Brian, I got sick.”
“You spent all week working hard and then taking care of him.” He shot me an exasperated look. “What did you expect to happen?”
I shrugged. When he put it like that, I couldn’t argue. His anger was misplaced, but I supposed I had exposed myself to the flu.
“It’s fine.” He turned to fully face me. “It helps me see where I fall on your list of priorities. Dead f**king last.”
Seeing how let down he really was made my heart ache for him. Brian always put me first – always. And he was right. He often ranked last on my to do list. Mainly because I knew he would always be there. My job and my volunteer work came first and Knox and his family were a close second. They were the only things that made me feel whole. Yet sitting here, facing him and looking into his sad blue eyes, I felt guilty. Not because I’d gotten sick and missed our weekend plans, but because I’d never feel the way about him that he did for me.
He’d changed his whole life for me. He moved away from his family and friends, he worked long hours at a tough Chicago accounting firm rather than the simple small town firm he probably would’ve ended up at had he stayed in Indiana. All because of me. And weighing on me most of all was the fact he didn’t date. Like he was waiting for me to see him in a different light – waiting for me to be ready. I just wanted him to move on with his life so I could, too.
Knowing he didn’t support my relationship with Knox was hard. Brian had always been there to cheer me on through everything in life. He celebrated my small victories and praised my every accomplishment. This chance at something real felt like the biggest thing that had ever happened to me, and Brian didn’t support it.
I took my soda back to my bedroom, feeling the need to withdraw into myself once again.
Sitting on my bed, I decided to call Belinda, feeling guilty for missing the last two Saturday group sessions – one because of the retreat, and this weekend’s because I was sick.
Belinda disregarded my apology completely. “Things come up, McKenna. And you were under the weather. No need to apologize.”
“Well, I’ll definitely be there next Saturday and please let me know if there’s anything I can do in the meantime.”
“Perhaps there is something you could do. Amanda reached out to me on Friday….”
She explained that Amanda had yet to have any prenatal care and didn’t have a vehicle to take herself to the doctor.
“Well, I’d be happy to take her, but I don’t have a car, either.”
“Hmm. That is a problem.”
“You know what? It’s not a problem. I can either borrow my roommate’s car or take the bus with her. Maybe just having someone reach out and offer to help will be enough. That way she doesn’t have to navigate going to the doctor alone.”
“I think that would help a lot. Very thoughtful of you, McKenna. Thank you.”
“It’s not a problem.” It would give me something to do today, since I wasn’t due to work at the teen shelter today. Though there was no way I would ask to borrow Brian’s car. Not to mention he needed it to get to work. Hopefully Amanda would be okay with taking the bus.
Belinda took care of the details – contacting Amanda and arranging a time for us to meet up at her apartment. I got myself showered and dressed for the day and headed out to wait for the bus.
Amanda lived in a rundown apartment that she shared with three other girls. It didn’t look like anyplace to raise a baby, but we’d hurdle one obstacle at a time. The first step was getting her well and making sure her baby was healthy.
“Thanks for doing this today.” Amanda smiled at me as she buttoned her coat.
“It’s really no problem. I didn’t have anything going on today anyway.”
She paused at the door, hesitating. “Was everything okay…the last group meeting you ran out of there pretty abruptly, and then haven’t been back….”
I smiled at her reassuringly. “Everything’s fine. It was just a slight misunderstanding….” I left it at that. I had to protect what Knox and I had.
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