“No need to walk me out. Stay inside where it’s warm.”
I slip on my jacket and hat. “Not happening. Be thankful if you don’t see me chasing after your rental car like a dog.”
“Stubborn.” He shakes his head and opens the door for me.
We stand by the door to his car.
“I’m going to cry my normal tears, multiplied by one thousand because … pregnancy hormones.”
“Crying’s not necessary—oh, Elle.” He pulls me in for a hug as I blink out the first round of tears and sob at the same time.
I knew it would hit me hard when it came time to say the words.
“There’s s-so m-much I want to s-say.”
He hugs me tightly, kissing my forehead. “Then say it.”
I shake my head, fighting back more sobs. “It’s st-stupid.”
“It’s not stupid. Just say it.”
I take a few seconds to reel in the burst of emotions so I can get all the words out before falling apart again. “I love you, so don’t die in a plane crash. Don’t change your mind. Don’t sleep with another woman. Don’t think about me getting fat or getting stretch marks. Don’t ruin your relationship with Harry to be with me. But be with me. Gah! I know that sounds impossible. But …”
He kisses me. And kisses me. And kisses me until I could faint. “Heaven and Earth,” he whispers over my tear-stained face.
I nod and sniffle. “God … you sure do look the part, Flint Hopkins.” I grab the top to his jacket because he doesn’t have lapels to hold.
He grins. “What part is that?”
“My man, of course.”
“I like that part.” He kisses just the tip of my cold nose and opens the door.
“I love you.”
He slides into the seat and starts the car. “I love you too. Take care of my baby and her mommy.”
I lift my shoulders to hide from the wind. “Her?”
His lips purse as he nods. “Just a feeling.”
“Bye,” I whisper just before shutting his door. I watch him pull out, but I don’t chase after him. Harry needs him. And I love Harry. That’s what’s going to keep me going while Flint, god of my world, moves universes to be with me.
The quiet hum of the plane mixed with the impossible decisions on my conscience makes my eyelids heavy. There’s nothing more exhausting than the unsolvable.
“You haven’t said much about Ellen.” My dad nudges my arm. “You two figure your shit out?”
I grunt, shaking my head.
“How’s her dad?”
“Better. But far from healed.”
“And Ellen? How is she?”
I glance across the aisle to my mom reading a book and Harrison, on the other side of her, leaned against the window of the plane, sleeping.
“Pregnant,” I say in a voice just above a whisper.
I give him a long sideways glance. He heard me.
After a few seconds, he blows out a slow breath. “It’s yours?”
He holds up his hands. “I had to ask.”
I get it. It’s the same question I would ask anyone else in my shoes.
“Should I be concerned that you’re on a plane going in the opposite direction of where she’s at?”
“She can’t leave her dad. I can’t leave my life in Minneapolis. The odds of this working are stacked against us, but I’m going to make it happen.” I’m going to move Heaven and Earth. “I’m not sure what the biggest obstacle will be, her dad or Harrison.”
“Don’t complicate this. Get her ass back home—with you—ASAP.”
I laugh. “You make it sound so simple.”
“It goes like this … ‘Harrison, Ellen’s pregnant with my baby. You’re going to be a big brother. She’s moving in and so is her dad. He’ll use my office for a bedroom until we build an addition to the back of the house for him.’”
I shake my head. “All of it.”
“Pull your head out of your stubborn ass and do what needs to be done.”
“I can’t just ask her dad to move.”
“Does he know about the baby?”
I shrug. “I don’t think so … maybe. Ellen thinks he suspects something.”
“He will move for her. He will move for the baby. You can get him new doctors and therapists in Minneapolis.”
Rubbing my chin, I stare out my window into the dark starless night. We must be getting close to landing, I can see some lights below.
“I wanted to tell Harrison about the accident before I brought someone else into our lives.”
“Then tell him.”
“He’ll hate me. I don’t want that environment for Ellen or her dad.”
“Then don’t tell him.”
“It’s not that easy.”
“Is your need to tell him for your sake or for his? Because I don’t really see how this benefits him. It just feels like you need to clear your conscience.”
Could it be that simple? Can I not tell him? Can I move Ellen and her dad here? Whether I deserve it or not, can I have a second chance?
“You’re home,” Ellen answers her phone.
“Did I wake you?” I sit on the edge of my bed, tired from the long day of travel.
“No. Just playing with my babies.”
“Can you start referring to them as rats, since you do have an actual baby now?”
“I will not, but thanks for the suggestion.”
“Are you taking the herbs I left you?”
“The liquid weed? Yes.”
“It’s not weed.”
“Good. I think New York was a little overwhelming for him. He was pretty excited to get back to his rats. I think you and Harrison officially have Amanda sold on rats for pets.”
“They’re the best.”
“Agree to disagree.”
I grin. I’m sure she has them running all over her bed right now. “Have you told your dad about the baby?”
“No. I dodged him as much as I could today. I know he suspects something.”
“Or I will tell him if you want me to do it.”
“No. Harry may take the news better from me, but I guarantee you my dad will not take it better from you.”
“Then tell him tomorrow. I can’t have you fifteen hundred miles away from me.”
“Does this mean you have a plan?”
“Yes. You and your dad move here. He can use my office as a bedroom until I have an addition built for him to the back.”
“You’re asking my father and me to move in with you and Harry?”
“Asking? Not really. I’m just telling you my plan.”
She laughs. “He’s recovering from a stroke. His doctors and therapists are here.”
“He’ll find new ones here.”
“This is his home.”
“You are his home.”
I sigh. “His parents. His boat. His friends. His favorite coffee joint. His collection of nudie girl magazines …. I get it. It’s all there. But you are having my child, and I need you here, which means he needs to be here too. Tell him you’re pregnant and let him make the decision. Don’t underestimate his commitment to your happiness.”
“Do you think we should wait a month or two?”
“You could miscarry. I get that too. I’m not asking you to move here to have a baby with me. I want you … period. Get that through your stubborn head.”
She whispers something.
“What did you say?”
“No. Tell me.”
“I said I want this life.”
I let her words hold the space between us for a few seconds. “This life? With me?”
“Yes,” she whispers.
“Then take it. I’m giving it to you. I’m moving Heaven and Earth. Just take it. Tell your dad. Pack a bag and I’ll send a moving company to pack the rest. I’ll arrange transportation. I’ll find your dad the best doctors and therapists around here.” I rub the back of my neck. It’s tense with guilt and worry. Guilt that I don’t deserve this. Worry that the laws of the universe will figure it out and take away what I haven’t earned so that all can be right, just, and balanced again.
“Give me a month.”
I shake my head even though she can’t see me. “I’ll give you a week.”
“A week? I can’t be ready to leave in a week.”
“Then you don’t have the right people.”
“The right people?”
“Yes. Successful people surround themselves with the right people.”
“Like your lubricant messenger?”
I smirk. “Exactly. I’ll loan you my people. One week. Now get some sleep and share the good news with your dad in the morning.”