“Okay, just for a minute,” I said. We walked silently to a wooden bench in the center of the pier that looked out over the ocean. It was another of my favorite spots when I was a kid.
We sat down and he said, “How are you feeling?”
“I’m doing well,” I said.
“And the baby?”
“He’s good,” I told him, automatically putting a protective arm across him.
“He?” he said. “It’s a boy?” I nodded. I wondered if he was being polite or if he was really interested. “When is he due?” he asked. He seemed genuinely interested.
“In August,” I said.
I heard him sigh heavily and I chanced a glance at his face. He looked sad and I was suddenly overcome with the need to tell him everything that my lawyer told me not to discuss. “Alex?” He looked at me. God, it was hard to think when those eyes were on my face. I swallowed the lump that had built up in my throat and I said, “I didn’t leave that pregnancy test there for you to find.”
He wrinkled his brow and stared at me for the longest time before he said, “Why did you leave it?”
Taking a deep breath I said, “I’d been really sick in the mornings. I thought I just had the flu. My cycles hadn’t been regular and my doctor changed my prescription… my roommate was the one that suggested I might be pregnant. I had woken up that morning obsessing over it. As you know, Jason had just broken up with me and I wondered what I would do and what he would say if I were pregnant. At that point… since you and I had only been together that one time… I just hadn’t considered it may be yours. I bought the test on my way to work. I was a nervous wreck and I thought you were gone for the day so I used your private bathroom so that I wouldn’t get caught. Karen called me away from my work and then you came home early and I was just never able to retrieve it.”
“How do you know that the baby is not Jason’s?” he asked me. It was a fair question.
“For a couple of months before you and I were together, Jason had been really stressed at work… at least that was the excuse he gave me. I was super busy with work and school… It had been at least two months since we’d been together in that way by that day that you and I were. I would have been further along if it was his. I only really realized that later on, after you served me with the papers and locked me out of the mansion.” Okay, the last part was intended to wound. He’d hurt me and I wanted to strike out just a little. It hit its target, he winced.
“So you didn’t intend on telling me at all?” he asked.
“I don’t know, Alex. I didn’t have the chance to get that far. Your reaction was quite unexpected… and frankly, insulting.”
“Insulting?” he asked. Did he really not understand how it could be?
“Of course. Wouldn’t you be insulted if someone accused you of blatantly laying a trap for them and trying to milk money from them?”
“Women do it all the time.” That statement annoyed me. He was right, but men did things that weren’t okay either and you couldn’t hold it against them all collectively.
“Maybe,” I said. “But I’m not one of those women. I never wanted anything from you, Alex. That day we spent together was special to me and I held it… I still hold it in my memory as one of the most special days of my adult life. But, I did not initiate it. I never would have. I’m not saying I’m without responsibility here but I’m willing to shoulder my part of it. I’m willing to raise this child and do whatever it takes to give him a good life. If you have no interest in being a part of that, I would never force it.”
“What about the lawsuit?” he asked. “You’re asking for a lot more than just child support.” I could see that the wheels in his brain were turning, but I couldn’t tell from his questions where they were leading him.
“You brought that on. After I got the papers, Jason told me that since you’d taken away my livelihood I should counter sue. He made it about the baby and how he deserved to be taken care of… I honestly never wanted to do it this way. I hate this. I was just so hurt and angry and Jason was the only one being supportive so I listened to him. Of course the lawyer I saw thought it was a great idea too... Men,” I said, to make my point that it wasn’t only women who were greedy. “I really do hate all of this.”
“I do too,” he said, sadly. I was surprised. Not necessarily because he hated it, but that he was willing to admit that he did. “I’m a good businessman,” he said. “Some might even say brilliant. But as you have borne witness to I’m sure, I’m not that astute when it comes to personal relationships. My wife… when she planned to divorce me, was trying to take me for everything I had. The only thing stopping her from doing that was the great legal advice and maneuverings of my family lawyers. When I found the test, I consulted one of them about what to do. He told me not to worry about it; they would handle it, so I let them. It all got so out of hand.”
“I’m glad to know that,” I told him. “I’m glad to at least know you don’t believe in your heart that I had any sinister intentions. Alex, all I ever wanted from you was my job. I think you would even have to admit that I was good at it. I will need a way to support my child. If you can find it in your heart to allow me to come back…”
“Victoria, my wife and I are back together.” That sentence was like a knife slicing straight through my heart. If all I wanted was my job, then it shouldn’t, I know. The truth was, I would probably never stop wanting Alex… but it was never about money. Not even for a second. I could see how me being in his home working every day, pregnant with his child while he was trying to make things work with his wife wouldn’t be okay.
“Oh… okay. Well, I should really be going.” I felt embarrassed and ashamed for asking him for my job, yet here I was, pregnant with his child and he was willing to let me do without even that. My head was so confused, bouncing from one emotion to the next. My stomach felt sick and I needed to get out of here. I stood up and so did he.
He took me by the shoulders and then leaned down and pressed his lips to my forehead. That simple kiss sent waves of shock racing through me. “Take care of yourself,” he said. “And the baby.”
I just nodded and took a step back before turning and quickly walking away. I didn’t want him to see the tears in my eyes.
I stood on the pier and watched Vicki go. I had to wonder if I was making the biggest mistake of my life. She’s pregnant with my child, my child… a little boy. I let her step off the end of the pier before I put my hands in my pockets and began walking in the same direction. The lawyers tell me that there is no way of knowing yet. If I want a relationship with the child, I can have them order a DNA test after the baby is born. If I want a relationship with my own child? What kind of man would I be if I didn’t want that? When I say I do want a relationship with my child, they start talking about money again. What kind of man worries more about money than the woman who is bringing a new life into this world? This was done all wrong and I’m just not sure how to fix it. I know now that what I should have done was talk to Vicki and asked her about the test. I should have kept the lawyers out of it. I should have followed my gut instincts about her and trusted that she wasn’t out to get anything from me. But I’d trusted my instincts about Cassandra too and look how that turned out. It was an ironic thought, considering that I was going home to her.
About a month after I found out about the baby, Cassie had come to me and said she made a mistake. She said that she loved me and she wanted me back. My suspicions were that she finally realized that she wasn’t going to get anything more out of me than the original pre-nup had designated. Getting back with her was something my lawyers had pushed for because they were actually worried if she got the right judge, she might. I don’t love her anymore, but I did let her come back. If I analyze them now, I know it was for a few reasons. The first one was that as a man who ran a multi-national company, I was forced to attend a lot of ben
efits and dinners and social gatherings. I’m ashamed to admit it, but since Cassie grew up in a similar world as I had she fit in at those things and she knew how she was expected to act. The other reason I took her back was my own behavior. When I was doing the partying and sleeping with different women every night, I knew that it was detrimental to my wellbeing. But that had been an easy way for me to deal with being alone and the stress of the divorce. Taking Cassie back would solve both of those problems. The third, and probably the most realistic reason that I allowed her to come back was because I wanted Victoria. I wanted her so badly that I’d lay awake at night thinking about her… I’d catch myself sitting in meetings thinking about her… I’d look for her everywhere I went. I almost didn’t believe it was her today, I thought I’d seen her so many times before. I’d let my attorneys convince me that she was a gold-digger and I’d convinced myself that she was no good for me. Being with Cassie would be another deterrent to me to keep me from pursuing her.
Seeing her today brought all of those feelings rushing back. I didn’t just want to be a part of my child’s life… I wanted his mother. What I was supposed to do about that, I wasn’t sure.