I throw that into play so he’s reminded how I bent to accept something he wanted when I did not want rats. It’s unlikely that he’ll take that into consideration, but I have to exhaust all possibilities to make my case.
“Did Elle plan on getting pregnant?”
This kid …
“I’m sure at some point, but this is a bit earlier than either one of us planned. But it’s not a bad thing. She wants this baby and so do I. And we hope that you will eventually grow to accept this baby as your brother or sister.”
“I don’t want a sister.”
I chuckle. “Again … adapt. Accept. We don’t get to choose whether it’s a boy or girl.”
He piles two more cookies onto his palm and heads toward the stairs.
“I need some time to think about this before I say for sure yes or no.”
Pinching the bridge of my nose, I shake my head.
I need people. Maybe not a guy who delivers lubricant on the weekend, but people who transport pregnant women, stroke survivors, five rats, and a large moving truck fifteen hundred miles without a bump in the road. I want those people.
We leave most of my dad’s stuff behind. He thinks the day will come that he returns to Cape Cod and his boat. As much as I want him to be close to me and this baby, part of me hopes that he finds his way back to the place I know he loves best.
One day at a time.
Flint stands on the front porch, bundled in a winter coat and hat, as we pull into the driveway just before dinner time. It’s been a long three-day drive, taking lots of stops for my small bladder and my dad’s old prostate. The hotels Flint booked us were top-notch, but nothing beats the sight of our new home.
I get my window seat.
I get the guy.
I get the boy I adore.
I get the life I want.
“Well, aren’t you a sight for sore eyes.” Flint holds out his hand to help me out of the car. The driveway has a light layer of snow on it from recent flurries.
I ease out and throw my arms around his neck as soon as I find my footing. “I can’t believe we’re doing this,” I whisper in his ear before my lips find his.
He kisses me and grins. “Sadly, I think those are the words that are still going through Harrison’s mind.”
The driver helps my dad out, but he’s pretty good on his own.
“Come on, it’s cold out here.” Flint takes my hand. “Mr. Anderson, how was the trip?”
“You’re opening your home up to me, I think Jon works.” My dad winks at Flint.
Yeah, they’re going to get along just fine.
“You’re speaking quite well.”
Dad nods. “Days of being stuck in the car with a bossy therapist.”
I laugh. Things started to click, and in a matter of days his fragmented speech flowed into full sentences.
“Harrison, come down here, please,” Flint calls as I take my dad’s coat and hang it up on the coat tree.
Derek, the guy who drove us in my car, and Greg, the guy who drove the moving truck, unload everything, including my rats.
“Jon, this will be your room until the addition is complete.” Flint leads us to his office.
My cheeks heat just being in here. Flint’s gaze makes a leisurely stroll down my body, letting me know I’m not the only one thinking about what happened in here.
“The stairs.” Dad nods.
“They go to the master bedroom.”
Dad’s attention turns to me. “I can keep an … an eye on you two.”
I smile. “It’s a little late for that.”
Flint raises his eyebrows, but he doesn’t say anything. Not even the slightest apology to my father for knocking up his daughter.
I turn. “Harry.” Before he can protest, I hug him. “I’ve missed you.”
I release him. He has a forced smile and conflict flashes across his face. We’re infringing on his territory.
“This is my dad, Jon. Dad, this is Harrison or Harry.”
Flint rolls his eyes. I grin, coveting the fact that I’m the chosen one he lets call him Harry.
“Good to meet you.” My dad holds out his arm.
Harry stares at Dad’s hand. Flint nudges him, and Harry shakes my dad’s hand.
“Harrison, take Ellen and Jon to the kitchen. Offer them a drink or a snack while I talk to the movers.”
“Where are your rats?”
Of course that’s first on his mind. “They set the cage inside the door. It’s covered with a blanket.”
Harry nods and we follow him to the kitchen.
We are home.
We get all of my dad’s stuff unpacked and him settled in his room for the night. He’s pretty excited about the TV on the wall opposite his bed. Harrison acquaints all of the rats, insisting they stay in his room, to which Flint doesn’t argue one bit. Shocking.
“I’m going to go shut off the lights downstairs.” Flint nods toward the stairway as I sit on the floor with Harry, playing with the rats.
We’ve had a good evening. Dinner was an interesting dynamic. To my surprise, and I think to Flint’s too, Harry took a huge interest in my dad’s stroke. How he felt. What he remembers. Is it weird to think he could have died? All the questions. My dad answered every single one.
“Every four weeks I will visit my midwife and she’ll check on the baby. Would you like to come with me sometime? You might be able to hear the heartbeat.”
I want to push it. I want him to feel included. I want him to want this baby too. But … I let it go for now.
“Do you want to put them to bed? Or do you want me to do it?”
“I will.” He keeps his focus on them. He’s been a bit more quiet around me than he was before Flint told him about the baby.
I stand, bending over to kiss him on the head. “Goodnight, Mr. Harrison Hopkins.”
All of the boxes with my name on them and my travel suitcase are in the spare bedroom. I ease open the door to Flint’s room. It’s dark except for a sliver of light under the bathroom door.
“My dad changed the sheets in your room.” Harry startles me. He flips on the light to the hall bathroom.
He nods toward the guest room with my boxes stacked along the end of the bed.
I smile. “Okay. Thanks.”
Harry shuts the door and turns on the shower.
Opting to stay in neutral territory, since in the past six hours I haven’t managed to embrace their home as mine yet, I flip on the light to the guest bedroom and shut the door. It’s a great room too—a window seat, a walk-in closet, and a queen bed. I find the box with my pajamas and change into them.
Harry takes the world’s longest shower, so I use the downstairs bathroom to brush my teeth and wash my face, taking the opportunity to check in on my dad one more time, but he’s asleep.
“Crap!” I jump when I turn the corner at the top of the stairs, running into bare-chested Flint. “You scared me.”
He inspects my toothbrush and toothpaste in one hand and bottle of facial wash in the other. “I heard humming. What are you doing?”
I stare at his wet hair and just how low his jogging shorts hang on his hips. “Brushing my teeth and washing my face. Harry is still in the shower, so I used the downstairs bathroom.”
“Harrison recently discovered how fun his dick can be, and my water bill has doubled.”
“How fun his—oh!” My eyes widen. “No.”
“Yes.” He smirks. “Now follow me.”
I follow him into his room and beyond to the en suite bathroom. He flips on the light. “This is our bathroom.” He takes everything from my hands and sets it onto the counter by the sink. “Okay?”
I rub my lips together, nodding slowly. “Harry said you changed the sheets on the guest bed for me, and all of my boxes are in there.”
He leans back against the vanity, crossing his arms over his chest. “You think I want to be roommates with you?”
He’s so damn cocky.
“There’s no reason why you wouldn’t. I’m a wonderful roommate.”
“You’re not. You’re messy, noisy, and you have rats.”
I cross my arms over my chest, matching his stance. “Well, you have OCD, a perpetual frown, and you’re completely irresponsible when it comes to birth control.”
Flint grins just to prove me wrong about the perpetual frown.
“This is weird.” I laugh. “We’re having a baby. You’ve seen me at my worst. My grandma caught us naked in the bathtub and having sex on the vanity. Harry caught us in bed. Your dad caught us in the closet. Abigail saw the embarrassing aftermath of the greenhouse incident. We’ve already survived all the awkward there is to survive, yet I feel very awkward and shy right now.”
He crooks a finger at me. I erase the three feet between us and find my favorite spot wrapped in his arms. Just like that, I feel less awkward.
“I understand.” He kisses the top of my head. “We really need to stop hiding in the closet and start using locks on doors.”
I giggle. “That wasn’t exactly my point.”