Check, please.

“I knew it was your month to pay the bills, so I made sure to use a lot of hot water.” I watched as he used the towel to dry between his legs and his torso, admiring his cleanly shaven male parts when the towel flicked up just high enough. “And your hair looks fine, Miss Over-Dramatic.” I bit my lip as I looked up and down at the bare and glistening body in front of me. “Been working out?”

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24. chapter 23

The next two days could not have gone by any more slowly than they did. I literally got to the point where I was counting the number of breaths I took in an hour. I managed to get James to take me to the store once so that I could get food for myself and then to the apartment where I retrieved my laptop, but I tried not to bother him any more than that. Something in the back of my mind kept saying, James has a family, leave him alone. From late-night discussions we had before, I knew he had kids and grandkids that he adored and spent most of his days with, so I felt bad disturbing him, especially in the mornings. He assured me that he didn’t mind helping me in this time of need and constantly reminded him that I was paying him a weekly salary to wait on my texts (which I had completely forgotten about, to be honest) but I didn’t want to make a habit of relying on him since I didn’t know how long I would be living in the studio. Should I start looking for a new apartment? Or at least buy my own car?

I sat in the studio and watched movies all day long. I even tried at one point to set up the camera on a tripod and take pictures of myself in this desperate and depressing state that I was in, but after seeing how… well, desperate and depressing I looked, I nearly threw my camera across the studio with anger. These are too posed, I growled at myself. This is why I didn’t take pictures - because I just ended up looking stupid. However, I kept thinking about pictures that I needed for Wentz - the pictures I had been pushing off - but the pictures I needed in order to acquire my dream job. I had so many opportunities to take pictures of emotional beings in the last couple of days: Anna in her rage, Louis in his disappointment, and Harry in his disbelief. But how were any of them supposed to take me seriously if any time they were vulnerable or volatile I just whipped out my camera and snapped a few shots of them? Nothing says, “I’m seriously listening to your concerns” like taking pictures when your friends are losing their minds over your personal mistakes.

I laid on my black velvet couch and watched Juno. I laughed at the hilariously worded script but cried the rest of the time. I know that Ellen Page gets pregnant with Michael Cera’s child in high school, but to be honest I felt like I had the mentality of a high schooler at the moment. I wasn’t ready for a child and I knew it. I felt like I needed an adult to come and yell at me, almost like Bonnie did but to a worse extent. Maybe like Juno, Louis and I could put the child up for adoption… I thought halfway through the movie. I punched the black velvet couch. I could never do that to my own child.

I was tense the whole four hours that I sat waiting for Louis to text me and let me know he was on his way to pick me up the day of my appointment. My nerves got the best of me and kept me up all night with a wretched pain in my gut; probably gas from anxiety. I had taken a shower, done my hair, and put all of my makeup and clothes on at 6 in the morning despite the fact that my appointment was at 10:30. I stared out the window of the studio and watched the cars and taxis pass, carrying business people who had too much to worry about or city tourists with nothing to worry about at all. Finally, my phone lit up with a text from Louis and I saw him wheel into the parking lot beside the studio.

He walked around the side of the car and opened the door for me. I smiled politely as I fell into my seat. “I still have hands,” I said. “I can open my own doors.”

Louis ran around the front of the car, adjusted his bum in the drivers seat, and laughed. “Well I won’t open the door for you again this next nine months, how about that?”

Louis and I hadn’t spoken since I took the pregnancy test. The air between us was tense, but we both tried hard to keep a conversation going as we drove to the hospital.

“How have you been feeling?” He asked me.

I sighed. “Physically, fine. Mentally and emotionally, I’m struggling a little,” I answered honestly, chuckling uneasily.

“Same…” Louis said, gripping the steering wheel a little more tightly. “Zayn told me that we missed the shoot with Bonnie McLynn?”

I nodded and bit my lip. “But she was pretty understanding. She just rescheduled.”

Louis hummed, almost as if he didn’t believe me.

“Have you talked to Harry?” I asked quietly.

Louis shook his head. “He sent me a text with the appointment information and that was it. To be honest, I don’t know if I want to talk to him about anything yet either.”

I frowned. “Louis, they think that we cheate-“

“I know,” Louis interrupted me harshly, but his face instantly softened and he looked at me with apologetic eyes. “Anna came over right after you told her. Slapped me around a bit. Wouldn’t let me speak. Wouldn’t even stop to breathe. Just kept screaming at me.”

It was upsetting, but I couldn’t help but giggle at the thought of someone slapping around the lady-killer Louis. “Same for me.”

“It’s a bit frightening,” Louis admitted, gazing at the road ahead of us.

This whole thing is a bit frightening, I wanted to say.

As if he had read my mind, Louis continued, “Scotlan, I’m not mad at you. I’m kinda mad at myself. I’m really sorry this happened. I’ve never been much of a commitment guy but I want you to know I’m going to be there for you this 9 months and even long afterwards.”

I cocked my head and looked at his face, full of a sincerity that I had never seen before.

“I know you don’t believe me,” Louis blurted quickly, taking in my stare.

“No, no I do…” I admitted truthfully. “We’ll just… We’ll have to help each other… it’s all new for me too.”

After our talk, I felt a hint better about going into the doctors… that was, until we started to see big bellies everywhere. Soon-to-be mothers passed us every ten seconds in the hallways, crying newborns bellowed in the waiting rooms, and nervous soon-to-be fathers tapped their toes apprehensively on the floor. I wasn’t surprised when Louis grabbed my hand and intertwined our fingers. To be honest, I was surprised that I didn’t do it first. We pressed against each other as if getting touched by a pregnant woman would kill one or both of us. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Louis’ chest rising and falling faster and faster until the nurse called out my name in the waiting room – and suddenly Louis’ breathing stopped. I could have sworn he held his breath until the quiet nurse left us in the ultrasound room. I wanted to ask him if he was okay but held my tongue. Of course he wasn’t okay.

The door to our room flew open and a bright individual waltzed in, her white nurse coat flipping about as she twirled. She tapped her short, bare nails on her clipboard and grinned as she studied the information I had just given her assistant. “I’m Doctor Monica but you can call me Momo! A lot of people do.” She laughed and shook my hand firmly and patted Louis on the shoulder, almost as if she was silently congratulating him on being here with me.

“Married? Dating?” She asked, looking from me to Louis. Louis bit his lip and looked at me, leaving me to shake my head “no” to both questions embarrassedly. Blood burned through my cheeks.

“That’s okay! Nothing to be ashamed of,” Momo said, reading over the clipboard. “Okay, so you had sex about two weeks ago…” She frowned. “And you’re on birth control, you had morning sickness, a skipped period… positive pregnancy test… Well boy, that was fast.” She looked up at me and grinned. “Normally this early we won’t see anything on an ultrasound. You guys came in a little soon.”

The corners of my mouth turned down. “I’m sorry. My friend set up the appointment… none of us really knew what to do or when…”

Momo laughed, her short brown bob bouncing as her head moved. “OHH. I know who your friend is. Harry, is it? He’s been the talk of the hospital. Poor guy was a panicky mess on the phone saying you needed an appointment NOW. That’s probably why you’re in here so soon. We’re usually booked about three weeks out but he made it sound like you were already in labor.” She laughed again and wiped a tear from her eye while Louis and I exchanged looks of unease. It was then that I realized that of the three of us in this situation, Harry was probably the most upset.

Momo continued. “I’m actually kind of stunned that you knew you were pregnant this soon. However, we’ll go ahead and do an ultrasound just because you’re here and I would hate to get you here for nothing. So just sit back on the table and hang tight for a few! Do you have any questions?”

I shook my head and looked at Louis. ”No,” he said. ”We might later but not right now.”

Momo left, but the quiet nurse was back in the room with us five minutes later, squeezing a cold goop onto my lower stomach and rubbing the ultra-sound nub over my skin slowly as she watched the black and white picture on the screen.

Beside me, Louis was sitting in the chair and holding his breath again, his eyes not blinking as he focused on the screen with his eyebrows ruffled. “What’s that?” He kept asking.

The quiet nurse didn’t answer him.

"There is a black dot. What is that?"

The nurse remained silent still.

"What about that gray patch? What is that?"

The nurse looked fed up with Louis’ questions.

“Just a moment,” she finally grumbled, tossing me a small, white towel to wipe my stomach off with and leaving the room. Louis and I exchanged uneasy glances.

“Yeah, the nurse said it’s too early to see anything,” Momo said, peeking her head in the room and startling us. She stepped through the door, holding a box. “We actually have another pregnancy test that we want you to take really quickly, if that’s okay. We do it sometimes just to be positive that you’re actually pregnant.” Momo laughed. I hated how it seemed like everything was funny to her.

“But we already took a test and it said Scotlan was pregnant. The little happy face showed up,” Louis said, a hint of irritation in his voice.

Momo sighed. Her sigh even sounded like it was laughing. “Sometimes, what we call a ‘False Pregnancy’ can happen. It’s just that the test is messed up and can read the urine wrong.”

"I know what a false pregnancy is-" Louis snapped. I felt like an idiot. Why did I not think to take another pregnancy test before this?

Momo giggled and shook the box with the test in it. ”Well you just didn’t look like you knew a whole lot about babies and all of this stuff so I thought I would explain…”

Louis frowned more and started to say something, but stopped when I jumped off the table and took the pregnancy test from Momo. I followed her to the bathroom down the hall and tore down my jeans quickly, sat on the seat, and held the stick under me. I huffed when I tried to pee but couldn’t. I was too nervous. I grabbed a paper cup from the dispenser by the sink and filled it with water. I drank four full cups, sat back on the toilet, and held the stick between my legs. I sat for a full ten minutes before I got a little bit of a tinkle, but that wasn’t enough for the stick to test. Angry and impatient, I gulped down six more glasses of water until I felt like my stomach might explode, and finally I forced myself to pee it all out. I walked back to the room slowly, trying to waste some time before I faced Louis again. I stared at the stick, not blinking even as I entered the room. Out of the corner of my eye, Louis shot up from his chair.

“Well?”

“I don’t know yet.”

He huffed. “You were gone for like, twenty minutes.”

I glared at him and then glanced back to the stick. Momo entered the room behind me and looked over my shoulder. “Anything yet?” She giggled. I shook my head.

And then it appeared.

A tiny.

Red.

Negative sign.

“Oh!” Momo gasped. “See! It was a false pregnancy. I’m so sorry, I know that’s upsetting.”

Upsetting? Why in the hell would it be upsetting? Oh, maybe because it destroyed my friendship with Anna? Or maybe because Harry now thought I was a cheater and couldn’t even stand to be in the same room as me for longer than a minute anymore? Because I’m now sleeping on a prop in my workplace? Or maybe it was upsetting for the fact that this false pregnancy messed up the “balance in the universe” the same day Bonnie McLynn was supposed to come for one of the biggest photo-shoots of my career? Upsetting was an understatement. I was at a complete loss for words. Relieved, definitely. A smidge sad? Sure. As for the rest of it, I had no idea how to even react. Louis grabbed my head and buried my face in his shoulder. Whether it was an act of sympathy and comfort or a relieved and thankful hug, I didn’t know, but I appreciated the gesture. Who were we, talking about being together and supporting one another for the rest of our child’s life? We weren’t ready for this. Who were we trying to fool?

I wasn’t paying attention to where Louis was driving on the way home, so I was slightly surprised when we showed up at Zayn’s.

“I know it’s soon but I would much rather tell everyone now,” Louis insisted. “This has been eating me up for the last three days and I want them to know so that we don’t have to bring it up ever again.”

I nodded in agreement, a little dismayed that Louis was making this sound like such a horrible thing, but at the same time I completely understood what he meant.

Not only was Zayn in his apartment, but so were Liam and Niall. They all three hugged me tightly as I walked in with Louis and then stood in a semi-circle, awaiting any kind of news.

“It was a false alarm,” Louis said before even greeting the other boys with a handshake. I crossed my arms over my chest as each of the three boys looked from me to Louis and back, unsure of how to react.

“I suppose that’s good, but it’s still a little sad,” Zayn managed, putting his arm around my shoulder and rubbing it. “I’m sorry.”

Zayn’s apology hit me in a sensitive spot I didn’t know I had. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I was pretty sad about the whole thing. I glanced up at him and responded with a soft smile. Liam held my hand gently and smiled warmly at me as well. I looked to Niall’s comforting grin when suddenly it hit me that he was actually here and not at our apartment.

“Is Harry here too?” I asked, looking around the apartment, trying not to seem too frantic.

“No,” Niall laughed. “After you left, he was pretty furious and started screaming at me about living with you guys and taking his room from him and all that kind of stuff. I knew he didn’t mean half of his insults though. He apologized and told me I could come back because he still slept in your room anyways. But I think it was time for me to move on. It’s okay.”

Of all the things that Niall said, I only caught on to one sentence. “He was sleeping in my bed?”

Niall nodded. “I went to check on him yesterday morning after I’d been gone two days and he was asleep in your room. Claimed he liked the mattress better or something.”

My heart was breaking for the millionth time that week. The emotional pain must have showed on my face because Louis immediately asked if I wanted him to take me home.

Home, I repeated in my mind. Not to the studio. Home to the apartment.

As we neared the apartment, my head started to pound. Why was facing Harry so terrifying? My legs felt wobbly as I walked up the stairs in the garage to the door, my hand shook as I twisted the handle, and my breath staggered as I laid my eyes upon at least two dozen empty beer bottles scattered about the living room and kitchen. If Niall had been gone from our apartment the last two days, who was drinking all of the beer?

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