Bill arrived home from New Simoleans, fully ready to start his campaign. I was pleasantly surprised when he was happy to see me. We wasted no time reconnecting between the sheets.
Bill bought me a car as a present. I was grateful since I was usually soaked to the skin with sweat on my walks to work in the morning, or I’d have to bum a ride off one of the Rackets if they were going into town. We took the car for a few spins around town.
Bill treated me to cheesesteak, my favorite, at the Bistro. He even dressed up… though he ordered pizza and ate it with a fork. God only knows why. I chalked it up to just another one of his oddities.
We even went to see a movie – Courdroy in Sunglasses – of course, since Bill loved his shades.
I’d almost forgotten about Shark, Chase, and the mysterious boyfriend abuse until I got an unusual call early one morning from Dennis. He asked me to pick him up at an address I didn’t recognize in town around 5 AM. Nonetheless, I rolled out of bed, careful not to wake Bill, who was still snoring, dressed, and drove over in my new wheels to meet Dennis.
When he climbed into the vehicle, he was soaked to the skin. Apparently he had been waiting in the pouring rain. He was dressed in all black and was even wearing a beanie. He appeared as though he hadn’t slept all night. I debated about asking him what he was doing or what had happened when he spoke.
“I took care of it,” he said calmly.
“Took care of what?” I tried to steady my voice.
Something about Dennis made me queasy and fluttery all at once.
I audibly moaned and covered my mouth, hoping this wasn’t really happening and I wasn’t a getaway driver.
“I just scared him ‘is all…” Dennis clarified. “I snuck into his bedroom and threatened him a bit. I didn’t hurt him.”
I breathed a sigh of relief. I had been doing that a lot lately. My shoulders visibly dropped from their tight and tense position.
“Did he see you? You’re lucky he didn’t cry out for his parents or call the police.”
“I think I took care of that. And no, he didn’t see my face. I was wearing a mask.”
“Why didn’t you just walk or drive home? Where’s your car?”
“I twisted my ankle when I jumped down off the second story into the azaleas.”
I frowned, wondering why he hadn’t called his wife, or his mom, or Bill. He had called me. Maybe it was because I knew about the boyfriend thing. Either way, I hoped that Chase girl would be okay now that Dennis had frightened her boyfriend sufficiently… albeit illegally.
We sat in silence as I drove, although I wasn’t quite sure where I was driving. I wondered if Dennis needed to see a doctor about his ankle. Then again, after his “criminal activities,” he probably didn’t want to go to a hospital looking like he did. I didn’t know if he wanted to go back to the house either so I just drove around Twinbrook for a little while. Dennis never gave me directions, just sat stiffly across from me in the passenger seat. Finally after nearly an hour, I realized I’d wasted gas and I needed to get to work.
“Just drop me at the warehouse,” Dennis said, after looking at the clock on the dash.
I went to work, still feeling queasy. I couldn’t figure out why. Perhaps it was because I skipped breakfast. Maybe it was because the thought of a grown man scaring a teenage boy in his bedroom, even if that boy was abusing his girlfriend, terrified me. Part of me was worried for Dennis’ safety if the boy told his parents. Part of me was impressed Dennis would do something on behalf of his son on my word alone, although maybe he knew something I didn’t. Part of me was freaked out about all the other things Dennis possibly did in the “name of family.”
I made it to lunch time, figuring some water and a salad would be light enough for my stomach, but it didn’t want to stay down. I spent most of my lunch break puking in the bathroom. Wiping my mouth, I washed my hands in the sink and looked up to meet my own eyes in the mirror. Suddenly another terrifying thought crossed my mind.
I left work early and called Bill asking him to meet me at The Red Rendezvous. He met me promptly, always happy for an excuse to duck out of work. It was still raining when I pulled up.
Bill was waiting outside under the awning. I was struck by how handsome his features looked in the dreary light of early afternoon. His blue plaid shirt and khakis made him look portly, but in a pleasant way. Despite his get-out-of-work-free card, he seemed upset when I walked up the stairs to meet him, staring at me sternly.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“Nothing… it’s just this campaign… Silver upped the ante and now she’s taking out billboard ads… no doubt with family money,” he grumbled.
“Well, then you take out a billboard ad,” I suggested, linking arms with him and patting him affectionately on the hand. “And take out bus and taxi ads. We can hire a photographer to get your good side.”
“I’m nothin’ but good sides, baby,” Bill grinned, squeezing my hand. “You’re a genius, doll. What would I do without you?”
I smiled. We walked inside to get out of the cold. Some light jazz was playing in the background. Bill even did a little dance and twirled me on the way to the register. We settled at the bar and he ordered his usual gin and tonic. I ordered a ginseng tea.
“What? No rum and coke?” he asked.
“No,” I sighed. “Not today. My stomach’s been giving me grief. So where do you see us going?”
Bill coughed harshly, and slammed his drink down on the counter, some liquid splashing out.
“Geez babe, you didn’t even give me a chance to swallow first.”
“Sorry. uh… I just wondered… what are your thoughts? About our future?” I asked.
“Well for starters, me winning this campaign and then from there… well… I’dunno. I’ve been enjoyin’ what we have so far…” he shrugged.
“But don’t you want more?” I probed. “I mean… if you could think about it… what’s your life like in a year? Two years? Ten? Do you see us together permanently?”
“Babe if you’re worried I’m gunna leave you… you make me very happy.”
“Yes, I know… I’m…” I paused, almost afraid to say the words aloud because I wasn’t sure I meant them. “I’m happy too… I… uh… just want more, I think, is what I’m trying to say.”
“More what? Playing hooky? Romps in the sheets? More frequent date nights?” he waved his hands around. “You want breakfast in bed? You want an apartment of our own? You wanna fly to Isla Paradiso for the weekend? I can do that. Gawsh! It’d be good to get outta my parents… although we’d have to pay for it ourselves.”
“No… Yes… I mean… I want more… more of everything… I want you… I want all of you… I want my career… I want to be governor someday… I want… I want… loads of friends… and our own place… our own house… and a… uh…” I trailed off.
“What?” he blinked rapidly as he interrupted me. “You aren’t asking me to marry you, are ya?”
“Bill, I’m pregnant.”
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