Eva sat on the floor of her living room, reading to Alistair. She was supposed to be getting ready to go on a date with Glasgow, but she couldn’t muster up the enthusiasm. All she wanted to do was cuddle with her son and stay in. She smiled ruefully at herself – when had the highlight of her day become snuggle time with a toddler? Motherhood certainly changed a person. As Al sat staring at a picture of a banana, Eva thought about the day she’d learned she was pregnant. Everything about her life had changed then.
It had been two months since her night with the cute stranger and she was late. Sitting at the doctor’s office, she closed her eyes and took a deep breath. She was pregnant, she knew it now, could feel the changes in her body. She could even feel the tiny rapid flutter of the baby’s heart. She was only here for confirmation and to hear someone else say it out loud because then it would be real.
She was going to have a child. And she didn’t know who the father was.
The nurse walked into the room, “Eva London?”
“Yes.” Eva opened her eyes and looked up. Her palms were sweaty and she felt sick. She followed the nurse down a hallway and into a sparse white room with a sink at the far wall, a desk with a chair next to it and the examining bed. The nurse indicated for her to sit on the chair and she did.
Placing her backpack on the floor near her, she rubbed her sweaty hands down her jeans. She was going to have a baby. She was only 20, still in school, no job – at least nothing that could put food on the table for her and a child. She would have to tell her parents. She could imagine how that would go, the disappointment in her mother’s eyes. And Glasgow. He would be so angry.
When the doctor walked in, she shook herself out of her thoughts and smiled. “Hello Dr. Cade.”
Dr. Margaret Cade smiled back at Eva before sitting down in front of her computer. “So, why are we here today?”
Margaret was a colleague of Dr. Gates. It had been too weird having the same doctor as her mother and Eva had insisted on a woman, so they’d compromised. Dr. Cade would be her primary doctor and Eva would go in to see Dr. Gates for annual check-ups. Small price to pay for the pretense of independence.
“I’m pregnant,” Eva said.
“Really, when was your last period?” Dr. Cade turned on her monitor and pulled up Eva’s file.
“Two, maybe three months ago. And that’s the problem, I need to know for sure.”
Although she raised an eyebrow, the doctor said nothing and just finished typing. After a minute of silence, she turned towards Eva and asked, “How many partners have you had in the last three months?”
Feeling herself blush, Eva said, “Two.”
“Did you use protection?”
“Yes. Even though I can’t get sick.” She’d never had the flu, or chicken pox – not even the common cold. Ever.
“You don’t know that and we’d rather be safe than sorry, right?” Dr. Cade waited for Eva’s grudging nod before continuing. “Okay, so undress and put on one of those gowns and we’ll take a look and figure out the exact date.”
Nodding again, Eva did as she was told.
She met up with Glasgow at the eatery on James street. It was their favorite local spot and she needed the comfort of a familiar place. Three months – she was three months pregnant, not two, which meant that the baby was Glasgow’s. Her initial relief, however, had been replaced by nervousness. Would he be happy?
Sitting at the table, she watched him eat a muffin, formulating the words in her mind. She was so preoccupied he had to say her name twice for her to focus on the present again. “Eva. Eva! What was so important I had to drive all the way out here to meet you?”
Eva’s hands fluttered in her lap, a nervous gesture. Before she could say anything, one of his friends walked by. “Yo, Scot! I didn’t know you were still around campus. What you doing later?”
Eva frowned at the interruption. It seemed to annoy Glasgow too, but then he hated the nickname Scot. One of his frat buddies had coined it because Glasgow was an area in Scotland. Now everyone referred to him as the Scot. Except Eva. It was a stupid nickname – he wasn’t even Scottish.
He and his friend exchanged a few pleasantries and then he and Eva were alone again. He eyed her across the table. “Just tell me Eva.”
“I’m pregnant,” she blurted out.
She waited for his reaction, but he just sat there for a minute. Then he said, “How far along are you?”
If he had slapped her, it would have hurt less. He couldn’t possibly think she would…she didn’t even know what he was thinking. “It’s your baby Glasgow.”
“Is it Eva?” He asked quietly, looking down at her stomach. “You don’t look three months pregnant. I mean, I decide to end things and you turn up pregnant three months later.”
She bristled. Was he implying…before she could finish the thought she reminded herself that it was perfectly within his rights to imply anything he wanted, she’d wondered herself. Plastering on a smile, she asked calmly, “What should a three-month pregnant person look like?”
“I don’t know, but you aren’t even showing.” He stood up. “Whatever, Eva. What do you want me to do about this? You want to get back together or something?”
Definitely not. “No. I just thought you’d like to know you’d be a father soon. Guess I was mistaken.”
So, alone then. Eva stood up too. This conversation was clearly over. She really was going to be a single mother. Aside from the hurt she was feeling about him doubting her, she couldn’t honestly say she was upset he didn’t want to be a part of this. She hadn’t expected him to want to help.
“Goodbye Glasgow.” She could do this without him. She could do this alone.
Eva opened her eyes and shook her head clear of the memories. Being pregnant had been difficult, but she hadn’t done it alone. Her family and friends had been major sources of support. They still were. And even though he’d caused her more pain than happiness, Glasgow had eventually asked for a second chance and she’d given it to him. Having his father around was great for Alistair and there was a warm body in her bed at night. Romantic it was not, but it worked for them and that’s all that mattered.
She wiped away a tear and gave her son a kiss on the cheek. “Okay sweetie, mommy needs to get ready for her date with daddy. Sam will be here soon though, so in the playpen we go.”
Alistair looked up at her and shook his head, then took the book and walked to the TV area. Eva laughed, he clearly hadn’t liked her plans. Okay then. She got off the floor and headed to her bedroom to get ready.
Eva looked at her reflection in the mirror and sighed. Her hair was a mess. It was a bland, uninspired reddish brown. All the color had grown out of it in the last two years. Glasgow preferred it that way. As a political figure, he had to look a certain way to the media and by association, so did she. It meant no streaks, no bright colors and definitely no magic hair dye jobs. In fact, she hadn’t used magic once since she found out she was pregnant with Al. It was boring as hell.
As she put her hair up, she wondered if Matias had a hair preference for the women he dated. She’d had braids the night they met. When she caught herself braiding the right side of her hair, she put all thoughts of Matias and his preferences firmly aside.
She finished getting ready just as Sam, the babysitter, arrived and with a final kiss to her son, left to meet Glasgow.
Sitting across from him, Eva watched as Glasgow ordered his meal. She should have never let herself think about her pregnancy. Looking at him now, the old bitterness was back. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. She thought of what Siobhan taught her. Emotions were useless, feelings should never control you. She was better than the pain and the hurt. Opening her eyes, she let out her breath and smiled up at the man sitting in front of her.
“You look lovely tonight Eva.” Glasgow looked her over. “Although, I would have preferred your hair up.”
“Thank you Glasgow.” She sighed, “Next time.”
“Well, I wanted to take you out tonight so we can talk about the future. You know I’ve been working overtime and we’ve been hosting all these parties. Well, as of today, I am officially running for mayor.”
Eva just stared while he continued to speak. Mayor? She wasn’t surprised per se, but that kind of decision would change their lives completely. It would have been nice to have been included in the making of it.
“With all these changes, I’m going to have to insist that we make some of our own. For starters, you must start wearing your engagement ring. And I think it’s time you put your house on the market and move in with me. Alistair is three now and he’s going to start asking questions. I just think it’s time to put this need to be independent aside. Living with me, marrying me isn’t going to strip you of it.”
“Glasgow,” she began.
But he cut her off. “I know it’s a lot to take in, but you knew this was coming. I would move in with you, but let’s face, that house is not suitable for the image I will need to portray. Having Alistair out-of-wedlock is already a mark against me. I can’t afford to make anymore mistakes. You understand, don’t you?”
A mistake. Yes, that’s what all of this was, a huge mistake. “Alistair is not a mistake.”
He sat back in his chair and looked at her. “With all that I said, that’s the one thing you heard? And you take it out of context. Of course he’s not a mistake.” He lowered his voice and leaned back in, “Not taking proper precaution was a mistake. Waiting three months to tell me you were pregnant was a mistake. But I own up to mine. My son was the best thing we’ve ever done together. He is not the mistake.”
His eyes narrowed. “I’ve been nothing but supportive of you, Eva. Of your art, of your need to be independent. I asked you to marry me, to try to make us a real family. And every day that you refuse to move in with me, every time you walk out in public without your ring on, is a slap in my face. But I keep quiet. I say nothing. I make appointments to see my son like I’m some deadbeat dad. I plan dates to see my fiancée. I’m missing all the important firsts in his life because of you! I want us to work Eva. I want us to be a family. Sometimes I feel like you don’t.”
Glasgow stopped speaking when the waiter came by with their meal. By the time they were alone again, he’d calmed down. Eva, though, was trembling. He was right. She was being unfair to him. He was a great father and a good guy. Her mother was so unhappy that she ran away every chance she got. Alistair deserved more than that from his mother. She should be better, but could she? Was this the life that she really wanted for herself?
They spent the rest of the evening in silence. She couldn’t think of anything to say that wouldn’t end in an argument and the restaurant was not the place.
“We need to talk,” she said over the top Alistair’s head.
Glasgow shifted his gaze away from his son to her face. The smile he’d been wearing slipped from his lips. “Now? I’m kind of in a hurry.”
Eva walked over to the feeding chair and placed Alistair in it. After dinner last night, Glasgow had wanted to spend the night. And she’d let him. She couldn’t keep doing this, though. Kissing the top of her son’s head, she turned around to look at her fiance.
“Before you start Eva, I just want to say I really am sorry about your eye.” He reached out to touch her bruised right eye. “You know I didn’t mean to hit you.”
She brushed his hand away from her face. “I know. That’s not what I want to talk about.”
He frowned, all gentleness gone. “Then whatever it is can wait. I have a meeting in an hour and since we don’t live together, I have to go home and change.”
If she’d had any doubts about her decision, they were now gone. “Glasgow, I don’t think I’m the right person for you. You need someone – better than me and after last night, I just – I can’t do this anymore.”
“You’re breaking up with me? Seriously, after everything I’ve done for you, you’re breaking up with me?” He shook his head, as if he couldn’t believe what he was hearing. “You don’t get to do that to me. I said I was sorry about last night. I was just still so angry, I was rougher than I should have been.”
“It’s not that. I’ve just been doing a lot of thinking. I’m not ready to get married. I don’t want to be a politician’s wife. We’ve been trying to be something we’re not for too long now. You need someone who likes hosting dinner parties and going to fundraising events and likes the media attention. That’s not me. I need my privacy and my independence. You pointed that out yourself yesterday. I’m sorry. I just – I can’t do this anymore.”
She reached down and removed her engagement ring. She took his hand and placed the ring in his palm, closing his fingers around the thing. When he kept his hand shut, she couldn’t help but breathe a sigh of relief. It felt like a weight was being lifted from her heart. They weren’t happy. Not for a very long time. It wasn’t fair to anyone to try to make this work.
Glasgow took a step away from her and tightened his hands into fists. “I hope you know what you’re doing Eva,” he said. “I won’t take you back a second time. Make sure this is really what you want.”
“It is, Glasgow. I’m –”
He held up a hand, “Don’t. Don’t say you’re sorry.”
She watched as he turned around and headed upstairs.