The mattress dips and my head shoots up as Hawke now crawls toward me. His eyes bore into mine as he kneels beside me. With his hands to my shoulders, he pulls me up and closer to him so I raise to my knees. With his nose almost brushing mine, he asks ever so gently, “A baby. We had a baby?”
Tears brim and then fall unabashedly from my eyes. Hawke blinks furiously to make his own tears go away. I nod my head, confirming the worst news and feel his fingers dig into my shoulders.
“Did you know?” he asks, voice raw like his throat had been scraped with sandpaper.
I shake my head. “No. I mean…when I started cramping, I just assumed it was my period. I was pissed you wouldn’t leave with me, so Avery and I left after you went on the beer run. I started really hurting in her car and that’s when I started bleeding. She took me to the hospital.”
“Goddamn it, Vale,” he shouts, and gives me a little shake. Eyes now blazing in fury and pain. “Why didn’t you call me?”
His voice is laced with so much condemnation it brings back all of the anger I was feeling toward him that night. I wrench away from his grasp, roll to my side and right out of the bed. He doesn’t make a move for me but watches me like a hawk—ironic—as I move to the end and pull my underwear free from the tangle of my jeans lying on the floor. Since Hawke never bothered with my top, I instantly feel more protected the minute I slip them on. I also feel incredibly connected to him in this moment, as I feel his semen seeping out of me and soaking my panties.
The same semen that had knocked me up seven years ago.
“Why didn’t you call me?” he asks again, teeth clenched in anger.
Throwing my hands out to the side, I shout, “I was pissed, okay? It was more important for you to stay with your buds that night than be with me when I wasn’t feeling well.”
“You said it was your period,” he defends.
“Well, it wasn’t my fucking period,” I snarl, feeling somewhat vindicated when he at least looks sad again over the bitter reminder. Immediately, my temper cools because I know how painful this is for him to be hearing he had lost a baby. So I try to explain to him. “I didn’t know what was going on at first. I had no clue I was pregnant.”
“Was your period late?” he butts in, demanding the details.
“I guess,” I say lamely.
“You guess?” he sneers. “Don’t you keep track of that shit?”
“Yes,” I yell at him. “I guess it just didn’t register to me that I was a little late.”
“Didn’t register?” he says incredulously. “How can that not register? You get it once a month; hell, you timed your fucking mood swings practically down to the minute.”
His condemnation of me has my hackles rising, and I yell right back at him with derision. “Well, shit, Hawke, you were fucking me every day, period or no period. Why didn’t you keep track of it? You had the same data I did.”
Hawke drops his ass to the mattress, swings his legs to the floor, and turns his back on me. Resting his elbows on his knees, his head bows low for just a moment. I watch as his muscular back expands with a deep breath and comes out as a misery-filled sigh. He pushes up from the bed, shoulders hunched and with the tired posture of a ninety-year-old man.
When he turns to me, his voice is broken, barely audible. “You should have called me from the hospital.”
I offer a sharp nod of agreement. “I know. As I sit here and look back on it all, I know I should have.”
“And because you were pissed at me,” he accuses, “you cut me out of knowing. You prevented me from sharing in that with you, and giving you comfort. You took away my right to be there with you, all because you were mad at me that night.”
“You chose your buddies over me,” I point out, defending my right to have felt abandoned.
“I chose them over your period cramps, Vale. It was my last night in Sydney. I thought you’d understand that.”
“I didn’t,” I tell him softly…oh, so tiredly. “I didn’t understand. All I knew was that I was in a hospital bed with bloody clots coming out of me with every wave of pain, and it was more important for you to party on your last night in Sydney. It was more important to be with your friends than with the girl you claimed to love.”
“I would have come if you called,” he reminds me again, and this I know is true. The only reason I didn’t call was because I was pissed. And even in that moment, as I lay there with Avery holding my hand and cursing Hawke, I knew deep in my gut that he’d feel terrible about all of this. That the next day, he’d beg my forgiveness, take me in his arms, and soothe away the hurt. He’d share in my grief and make me feel cherished again. I just knew all of that would happen eventually, so it was easy to hold on to my immature anger and not call him from the hospital.
But then something else happened altogether.
Hawke is looking at the opposite wall vacantly, his hands shoved down deep in his pockets. The fight has gone out of him, but he wanted the whole truth, so I’m going to give it to him.
“I didn’t break up with you because of that,” I tell him.
His head jerks my way, his eyes widening with confusion and curiosity. Pulling his hands out of his pockets, he steps around the corner of the bed that separates us and comes to stand before me. “Why, then?”
Taking a step closer to Hawke, I reach out and put my hand on his chest. Right over the middle of his sternum, where I feel his heart beating steady and true. I can almost imagine each beat sucking in knowledge and truth, pumping out pain and grief. “Because you and I were bad for each other.”