Friday, March 28, 2014


"You okay, Emma?  You look a little pale."  Dale eyed me as I entered Kate's apartment.  The two of them were drinking boxed wine and watching YouTube videos.

I shrugged, embarrassed by what had happened.

"I'm fine, really.  I got sick during dinner, not at the table or anything.  But Rob's blue cheese was too much for me, I guess!"

"Rob, that's your neighbor, right?" Dale asked.

"Yeah, our super cute neighbor who Emma hangs out with like, every day!" Kate chirped, toasting me with her coffee mug full of wine and waggling her eyebrows.

"Ooh, but what about waiter-guy, I thought you were a thing?" Dale perked up at Kate's insinuations.  Dale still insisted upon calling Eric 'waiter-guy' for some reason, despite knowing his name and having met him previously.

"Oh, no, it's not like that," I waved him off, "Rob is just a friend.  And I haven't even seen Eric in a week, so I wouldn't really say we're a thing.  Even if we were, though, Rob is still just a friend."

"Uh-huh, a cute friend of the opposite sex that you see more often than the guy you're dating.  Just friends, suuure!" Dale laughed, rolling his eyes at me.  These two were on a roll tonight.

"Yeah, well you two see each other and hang out all the time despite being the opposite sex, so your point is moot!" I laughed them off and put my food in the fridge.  Dale raised his eyebrows at Kate and shrugged, as if to say 'point taken'.

I could see where Dale and Kate were coming from, though.  It was a little weird that I hung out with Rob practically daily, yet Eric hadn't tried to see me in a week.  I thought on it for a bit, but Rob had never expressed any sort of attraction towards me.  We just got along really well and he cared about my well-being.  The more I thought about it, the more it bugged me that Eric has been so aloof.  Checking the time on my phone, I decided to call him and ask to see him that night.  I'd made up my mind that tonight I wanted to see where we stand.  I'm not looking for a label on our relationship, but honestly, we've been seeing each other for a few weeks now.  It's time to have a talk.  The fact that he sounded excited to see me just confused me even more after his distance this past week.

I brushed my teeth and freshened up before heading out, kissing Kate and Dale on their foreheads and telling them to behave on my way out the door.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Inner Peace

Man, nothing in life feels better than a long, hot shower after a full night of sleep.  The caress of the hot water, the swirling steam, the peaceful sound of water beating against the tile.  I could stay in there all day!  I stood there, conditioner soaking into my hair, basking in the water's warmth and clearing my mind.

No thoughts of Eric.  No thoughts of Michael or Manda.  No worrying about Kate and her destructive habits.  Just me, right here, enjoying a steaming shower.  Of course, all good things come to an end, and I shivered as I dried off, wrapping my hair in a towel.

It had been a week, now, since I'd last seen Eric.  We'd briefly chatted through text, nothing of substance and no plans to be made.  I realized I wasn't too sad, really.  I like Eric, truly, but when we are apart, I feel so disconnected now.  When we first met and started texting, it was flirty, provocative banter and chit-chat.  It was nearly constant contact.  I'd still like to see him, obviously, but he hasn't made an effort.  If he doesn't ask to make plans within two days, I'll do the asking and we will see how it goes.  I found myself daydreaming about our last encounter and wondering just what happened between a deep kiss goodbye at the door and now.  Who knows, maybe he's been courting another woman?  We aren't exclusive and he's a very sexy guy with a lot to offer.

I pushed those thoughts from my mind and poured a glass of orange juice.  The best part of having a roommate who loves vodka is the variety of juices the fridge always held.  I had the day off and planned on trying out yoga with Kate later in the afternoon.  She's always been fit, even moreso after she became a stripper, and she swears by yoga.  She assured me that pregnant women attend all the time and the instructor is more than willing to accommodate and assist anyone who needs modified poses.  I smiled at the thought.  It's funny how Kate and I are really bonding and spending time together now, just days before my move-out date.  Despite all my bitching and irritation with her sometimes, Kate is a truly awesome friend.  She's been letting me live on her couch for months for cheap which is something she really didn't have to do.

I dug through my purse for my phone, stopping to pet Whiskers who was perched on the back of the couch.  It's weird, at first I was so aware of Kate's cats when I moved in.  Whiskers and Roofus would wake me up constantly, climbing on my head and belly or knocking things over, meowing loudly during the night. I don't know if they calmed down, I got used to them or a combination of both. Now they just blend in with the furniture. Michael was very anti-cat when we were together, despite my desire for one.  I liked having them around.  When Kate worked late nights at the club, I at least had the kitties for company.  I gave Whiskers another scratch behind the ears and sank into the couch, unlocking my phone.

I had a text from Kate, confirming our yoga date.  She'd be finishing her shift at the library around 3 and we'd be meeting at 3:30 at the gym.  I texted back that I'd see her there.  I had another text from Rob, asking if I'd be free around 7.  He's having dinner with his lawyer sister Rebecca, who had offered to help me out with my Michael/Manda issue.  Knowing now that he worked from home a few days a week, I decided to just head over to his apartment.  I threw my hair into a low ponytail and pulled on my trusty yoga pants and a loose, comfy shirt.

The cold weather had broken for now and I was thankful for the warm sun on my face.  Sunshine makes me so happy!  Knowing the Midwest, it would feel like winter again within a few days.  

I knocked on Rob's door, hoping he wasn't too busy.  He pulled the door open, smiling when he saw me.  His dark hair was tousled and he hadn't shaved in a few days.  The scruffy look suited him well.

"Hey, Emma, come on in!" his green eyes sparkled brightly in the sun.  I hadn't noticed what pretty eyes he had until now.  He had thick, dark lashes that I envied.  Why was it that men always seemed to have the gorgeous, natural lashes that looked like a mascara ad?

"Actually, I was hoping we could sit on your deck.  The weather is beautiful and I won't be staying long."

He nodded, leading me inside then back out to his balcony.  We each settled in to a chair on his balcony.  I stretched out, tilting my face towards the sun.

"You look happy today!  Anything I should know about?" Rob teased.

I made a face at him and laughed.

"Nah, I just love the weather.  Today feels like it will be a good day.  I have a yoga date with Kate later.  Plus, I saw your text and wanted to let you know I'm free."

"That's great!  My sister wants to meet up at that new burgers and beer place, Brew Kitchen.  I figured if you could make it, we could just ride together.  Unless you have plans after?"

"Nope, no plans after.  I've heard of that place, actually.  My friend Holly went there and she loved it, I've been wanting to try it.  So that's perfect!"

We sat in the sun, chit-chatting for a bit and confirming that we would leave his place at 6:30.  That gave me plenty of time after yoga to hang out with Kate and get ready to go.  Rob spoke very highly of his sister and I was excited to meet her.  I told Rob I would let him get back to work and walked back to Kate's.  I ate a light lunch and cleaned up a bit around the apartment before it was time to head to the gym.

Friday, March 21, 2014


Settling in to my new position at work has been a breeze!  Let me just say, I do not miss manning the phones.  I have dealt with one too many people who seem to get a kick out of basically abusing customer service reps.  I've always been the emotional type, but lately, my hormones have gotten the best of me.  I even cried a few weeks ago because a customer told his friend I sounded like a bimbo!  Embarrassing.  At least I didn't vomit at my desk like another pregnant girl did!

Now, I'm responsible for monitoring call volume, queue time, scheduling requests and various other mundane tasks.  I'm loving it so far!  I actually enjoy writing reports and taking calls from fellow coworkers instead of irate customers.  The shift change is great, too.  I can sleep in on the days that I need it and my shift ends early enough to run a few errands or grab a late dinner with friends.

With my daily reports done and our peak hours having passed for the day, I found myself thinking more and more about Manda.  It had been a few days since she sent me that message.  After my talk with Rob, I had tried to put it out of my mind and focus on the positive aspects of my life.  Unfortunately, the implications had been eating away at me.  I felt helpless.  I had called Officer Reilly first thing this morning to ask for any advice.  He basically told me to screenshot the message, print it off and block Manda from Facebook.  If she contacts me through other means, write it down, log the details, print off any electronic communications, etc.  Document, document, document.  Since the TRO only pertains to Michael, there is nothing to be done about Manda contacting me unless it escalates or becomes harassment.  Still, the more I thought about her message, the more it bugged me.  I would need to get in touch with Rob's sister soon to gets her views on the matter.  I hate the fact that this is something I even have to deal with.  I feel like I'm on a soap opera or about to become an MSNBC special.

My sulking and lamenting was interrupted by the buzz of my phone from somewhere inside my purse.  I fished around for it, hoping to see a text from Eric.  I hadn't seen him since I'd spent the night and we'd finally had sex again.  Again, he's pulled the whole distance-after-banging thing.  Granted, in the past it was because he was still "secretly" roommates with his ex and didn't want any unnecessary drama or tension.  And yeah, my life is complicated right now and we aren't "official" or anything.  It would just be nice know I'm more than a booty call.  When I'm with him, he's super sweet, caring and seems totally into me.  We talk, we flirt, we connect.  Since I left his place, our only communication was a few cute or funny pictures from the Internet.  Is this what dating is like?  I'm kinda new to the whole casual dating thing.  Ugh.

Finally! My phone!  It had gotten jammed half inside my wallet again.  I swear, my purse is like a black hole sometimes.  I can't lie, I was disappointed to see that the new text was just from Kate asking if I'd be home on time.  I shot a quick reply confirming that, yeah, I'd be off soon and home within 45 minutes.  Now, I just had to count down the minutes until 8:30 when I could head out for the day!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014


"Don't freak out, it's me.  It's just me.  It's fine, I promise."

His voice was soothing, softer than I remembered.  I looked up at his face in the darkness, surprised by his look of concern.  He reached out to touch my shoulder and I flinched.  My nerves were shot and I had lost total awareness of my surroundings.  What was I thinking, sitting out here alone so late at night?  Anyone could've come up and I never would have noticed.

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to scare you.  You've been sitting out here for almost two hours.  I've been keeping an eye on you but it's getting cold, you're not even wearing a coat.  Are you okay?"

I burst into fresh tears at his kindness.  Big, ugly sobs escaped me.  I could barely shake my head, indicating that no, I'm not okay.

Rob sat down on the bench next to me, placing a hand on my shoulder.  He made soothing sounds, assuring me it was okay to cry, I could talk to him, let's get out of the cold.  I sniffled, wiping my tears on my sleeve, shaking my head.  I didn't want to go inside just yet.  He murmured that he'd just sit with me, then.  He draped an arm around my shoulders and I leaned into him, relaxing slightly. He was virtually a stranger to me, but somehow, I felt safe.  Secure.  Calm.

"Shh, Shh.  You're fine," he whispered.  I shivered, finally noticing just how cold I was. He rubbed the tops of my arms, chasing the chill away, inviting me in to his warm apartment so we could talk if I wanted.  I nodded meekly, taking his hand as he led the way.

I sat down on his couch, pulling my knees up to my chest.  Well, at least that was my attempt. My belly made that more difficult than I'd expected.  I looked around his place.  The layout was identical to Kate's, but it felt more like a home than a dorm room.  It was very neat and cozy.

Rob presented me with a fleece blanket and a mug of hot chocolate.  I smiled, thanking him for looking out for me, yet again.  I wrapped myself up, sipping appreciatively from the steaming mug.  He sat near me on the couch, a modest amount of space between us.  Thank god he was a nice guy and not a creep preying on a vulnerable woman.

"So, what's going on? If you're ready to talk, that is. No pressure.  I'm gonna guess breakup or relationship issues?  Something to do with that dude a few weeks ago?"

"Something like that.  Ugh, it's a long story.  A very long, complicated story," I began, slightly hesitant.  Rob had already acted as a savior and I wasn't sure I wanted to burden him with the issues of my life.

"I've got time, if you wanna tell it.  I haven't seen your girlfriend around lately, figured you two might be having problems."

"Ugh. Yeah.  There's that and everything else.  Drama with my ex and the new girlfriend." I gave him a short recap, glossing over gritty details and simply stating facts: we broke up, we tried to make it work -spoiler alert, it didn't-, he'd shown up drunk and belligerent and now his new girl was harassing me.  Add in Kate driving me crazy at home, and voila.  Here we are.  I didn't even mention pregnancy issues, hormones, Eric or Manda's insinuation that they'd take my baby.

He nodded thoughtfully.

"That's definitely a lot to deal with.  You don't need him or his new girl in your life.  They're parasites.  I'm sure you and Kate can work things out, though!"

I sighed.

"Eh, it doesn't matter.  She's stubborn, I'm not assertive.  I'm moving out soon.  I'm sure we'll still be best friends, but space and time apart are totally needed at this point.  I love her to death but she just isn't very understanding, sometimes."

"You're willing to throw in the towel, though?  I mean, you two seemed so happy.  Obviously you haven't been together long, if you just left your ex like 4 months ago?"

Suddenly, it struck me that Rob thought Kate and I were together.  I couldn't help myself, I burst out laughing.  It felt amazing to laugh.  I laughed until I cried, Rob looking at me like I had lost my mind.  He'd referred to Kate as my girlfriend more than once, and I hadn't corrected him because a lot of gals refer to their friends as girlfriends.  I never realized he thought we were an item.

"Oh, man.  We're not gay!  Kate's just my friend, I've been crashing with her!  You didn't think she's my baby-daddy, did you?" the laughter wouldnt stop.  Rob looked at me like I'd grown three heads and punched him in the gut.

"Whoa.  Oh shit, I really misread things.  Hold up, you're pregnant?"

That set me off into another fit of laughter.  How did he not notice?  We'd mostly seen each other in passing but I was very aware of how I looked.

"Uh, yeah.  Like 18 weeks.  Did you just think I was fat or something?"

Rob looked embarrassed.  He shrugged, studying my body.  I realized then that most times I'd seen him in passing, I'd been wearing hoodies or clothes that kind of disguised my expanding midsection.  I suppose I did just look chubby if you didn't know I was knocked up.

I unzipped my hoodie, revealing my tight shirt underneath.  Rob's eyes bulged, and he, too, started to laugh.

"God, I feel like an idiot!" he exclaimed between laughs.   That set me off again and we sat on his couch for another hour, laughing and getting to know each other.  Turns out, his older sister is a lawyer.  I had explained the details of Manda's message and he offered to talk to his sister, Rebecca, and set up a meeting between us.  I graciously accepted the offer.

Rob offered to walk me over to Kate's, which I thought was really sweet. It never seemed like he had been hitting on me and it felt really, really good to make a new friend.

I glanced up at the night sky one more time, and thanked the universe for putting Rob in my life just when I needed someone most.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Shots Fired

Kate's apartment felt more cramped than usual.  I loved her to death, truly, but sharing a one bedroom with her was becoming tiresome.  My back hurt all the time from sleeping on her couch most nights.  She either came in drunk or quickly became drunk at least five nights a week.  I felt guilty nagging her about leaving the kitchen an absolute mess, so I'd been cleaning up after her constantly.  Ugh, and the smell.  Mostly-empty beer bottles piled up around the counter and dumping them out turned my stomach.  I'd asked her to please, please, please dump them and rinse them when she was finished, I'd gladly take out the trash, but my plea fell on deaf ears.  Sigh.

Two more weeks and I'd be in my own place!  The lease was signed, I'd ordered some furniture and had multiple volunteers to help me move.  I didn't have a lot to move, mostly clothes, as I'd arranged to have my furniture delivered and brought in for me.  The apartment already had appliances, so I was pretty much set.  I was counting down the days, desperate for privacy and cleanliness.  I'm not a neat freak by any means, but I do like coming home to a mostly clean house.

After my appointment, I'd had a quick lunch with Melinda.  She was so sweet and excited to have a grand baby to spoil.  I let her do the honors of revealing the gender to Tom.  I also requested that she inform Michael, as there was no fucking way I would be calling him.

I'd called my own mom and she had been thrilled.  She had told me from the start that she had "a feeling" it would be a girl.  We talked about her coming to visit when the baby came.  I missed my mama.  And my brother.  And my sisters!  Living 1200 miles apart meant I saw them once or twice a year but I loved living in the Midwest.  Of course, I texted Holly, Kate and Eric to let them know after I talked to my mama.  And then I shared my big gender reveal on Facebook.

I'm not the type to share tons of personal details on Facebook and I'm definitely not the type to update every second of my pregnancy.  So far in the past, I'd only posted once that I was expecting, my predicted due date, maybe one or two sonograms and three "bump progress" pictures at the urging and begging of some friends.  My post had garnered lots of "likes" and comments congratulating me.  The attention was nice and I could see why some people seemed addicted to social media.  I felt like a mini-celebrity.

I felt even more like a mini-celeb when I got a new message notification.  Of course, I felt less like a worshipped and loved being and more like a target of vicious gossip and speculation when I saw it was from Manda.  Yes, that Manda.  Gorgeous Manda.  Michael's "friend".  The Manda who slapped me in the face and ultimately brought me to a breaking point in my relationship with Michael.

"it's reaaal cute to see u posting pics of Ur belly.  Yea, I can see them, we have mutual friends u know.  And I'm so excited that Ur having a girl! Michael is thrilled.  He can't wait to spoil his baby girl.  He's told me all about your disgusting activities and we have no doubt that he'll be able to get full custody.  I've always wanted a little girl of my own but I can't have kids so yours will have to do.  Shell be calling me mommy as soon as she can talk.  See ya around, probably in court ;)"

I felt sick.  Furious.  Humiliated.  Rage.  My whole body felt hot, tingly.  My ears were roaring as my heartbeat increased.  I read and re-read what Manda had written.  She had some fucking nerve.  I wanted to pluck her pretty blue eyes out and shove them down her throat.  How dare she?  Obviously, I now had confirmation that she and Michael were a "thing", but that didn't phase me.  I'd figured that out the night I'd woken up to her and Michael canoodling in the kitchen.  She could have him!  She would never, ever take my child.

I paced the apartment, willing myself to be calm.  The walls felt like they were closing in and I could barely breathe.  I was sobbing, angry, shocked, scared.  Was I having a panic attack?  Air.  I need air.  I rushed outside to the stairs of my building.  I took huge, gulping breaths of the cold air.  Inhale, exhale.  Breathe.  Calm.

Finally, I felt like I wasn't going to pass out or throw up or hyperventilate.  I walked in small circles, looking up at the night sky.  It was clear, starry and beautiful.  I walked out to the courtyard and took a seat on the bench there.  I stared up at the sky, begging for calmness and clarity.  I don't know how long I sat there, huddled up in my hoodie, letting my mind wander.  I tried to think of anything but Michael or Manda.  I focused on breathing.  I focused on how happy I'd felt just hours before when I'd seen my little girl.  I looked for constellations or shooting stars or signs from the universe.

I nearly screamed when a figure appeared in the darkness beside me.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014


"Wow, babe.  You feel really tense.  C'mere, you!"

Eric plopped down onto the couch, pulling me down on his lap, facing away from him.  He nudged me to lean forward and I obliged.  His hands gently pushed away the straps of my tank top, exposing my bare shoulders and upper back.  He kneaded the knot in my shoulder, massaging the tight muscles in my back.  I sighed contentendly.  He knew just how to use his hands.  I could practically feel the tension and soreness melting from my body as his hands worked my muscles.  I shivered as he planted a kiss behind my ear, then another on my neck, followed by another on my shoulder.  His hands wandered up over my shoulders, grazing my collarbones.  My tank top had slid down a bit, nearly exposing my breasts.  They had grown increasingly larger each week and my skimpy shirt barely contained them now.

I gasped as he hands wandered forward, brushing against my nipple.  I hadn't realized how sensitive they'd become recently.  We still hadn't had sex, or gone past heavy kissing for that matter.  Until now.  I felt his breath, warm against my neck as his hands slid down inside my shirt, rolling each nipple between his thumb and index finger.  I arched my back against him, and as I did so, my breasts popped free from my shirt.  He inhaled sharply as he absorbed the sight of my bare skin.

"Mmm, you're beautiful, you know that?" his voice sounded thick, husky with desire.  He trailed a line of kisses down my neck as his hands continued exploring.  Eric ran his hands up my bare thighs, teasingly sliding his fingertips under the edge of my shorts.  He laid his palm flat against the thin fabric, cupping my most sensitive area tightly.  I moaned as he pressed against me, tracing tiny circles and watching me squirm.

"I can already feel how wet you are through your shorts.  You like that?" he asked, slipping a hand down the top of my shorts.  I whimpered my approval as his fingertips met bare flesh.  With maddening slowness, he explored further down, inserting a finger inside me.  His touch was electric.  He made slow, deliberate motions, rubbing and stroking my flesh, kissing my neck, whispering in my ear.  He groaned as I grinded against his lap, feeling him grow even harder through his silky athletic shorts.

I fumbled my hands behind me, reaching for his waist band, tugging at his shorts.  He lifted me up, just slightly enough to slide his shorts down.  He was naked underneath and I could feel the scorching heat of him pressed up against my bottom.  With one smooth movement, he pulled my own shorts down past my knees and was inside of me in an instant.  The sensation of him filling me at that angle was unlike anything I'd ever felt.  He tightly gripped my hips, pulling me down as he pushed himself deeper inside of me.  I panted and moaned louder with each thrust, relishing how perfectly he filled me up.  I leaned forward slightly, rocking against him, harder and faster.  His hands were in my hair, tugging gently, then harder as he lifted his hips, thrusting with me.   Within seconds, my whole body was shaking as I had without a doubt the best orgasm of my life.  Eric growled, biting my shoulder, finding his own release.

We sat that way for awhile, him still inside me as I slumped back against him, sweat coating both of our bodies.  I'd never had an orgasm without clitoral stimulation before.  I felt like a new world had been revealed to me and I felt completely devoid of all stress or tension.  My muscles felt like liquid and I savored the sensation

"God, I needed that..." I murmured, getting up from Eric's lap.  His face was flushed and he looked up at me from below his thick, beautiful lashes.  He smiled broadly, voicing his agreement.  He reached for my hand, leading me to his bedroom, presumably for round two.

                                                                       * * * * * * *

I strode into the doctor's office the next morning feeling refreshed, despite spending half the night tangled up in the sheets with a very sexy, very naked man.  Sex with Eric was mind blowing and our conversations were equally stimulating.  He had offered to drive me to my ultrasound, but it felt weird to me.  Melinda, Michael's stepmother, would be meeting me for my appointment.  She was almost as eager as I was to learn the sex of the baby.  Within moments of signing in, Melinda appeared.  She hadn't seen me in quite awhile and her eyes bulged as she took in my appearance.

"Look how big you're getting!  Oh, honey, you look gorgeous!" she exclaimed, holding both hands against my belly, fawning over me.  I knew she would be an amazing grandmother.  I was so thankful to have her there with me.  Any sort of doctor's appointment made me nervous.  We chatted easily while I waited.  I updated Melinda on my new promotion and told her about my new apartment and move-in date, although I did not divulge my new address, which she was understanding about.

I was soon shown to a small room where I waited for the technician to begin the ultrasound.  Melinda was enthralled with the blurry image on the screen.  The image blurred even more and I realized I was crying.  I had never been the type to cry tears of joy, yet here I was.  Melinda tightened her grip on my hand, both of us listening intently to the fetal heartbeat.

"Your baby is developing right on track.  Everything looks perfectly normal and healthy.  Would you like to know the gender?"

I was too choked up to speak, I merely nodded, wiping the tears from my face.

"Lucky for us, the angle is just right.  See right here?"

I nodded, trying to make out exactly what I was seeing.

"You're having a baby girl!"

Friday, March 7, 2014

Girl Talk

"Oh, wow," Holly mumbled, her mouth full of pizza.  Her brown eyes were wide as I went over the whole Michael-losing-his-damn-mind story.  She shook her head, chewing thoughtfully.

"I mean, that's just crazy.  I've known Michael for ages and I've never, ever seen him lose his temper like that.  You guys must've been so freaked out.," she trailed off. "Anyway, I wanna hear more about this Eric guy you're seeing!  You said you spent the night with him...?"

I sighed, grabbing another slice of pizza.  It tasted heavenly, just the right amount of grease, cheese and pepperoni.  The crust was to die for.  I took a bite and shrugged, indicating there wasn't much to hear.

"Here's the thing.  He basically insisted I come sleep over, but that's exactly what we did.  Slept.  In the same bed.  That's it!  Like, he kissed me but made no moves at all.  I wore my cutest, most revealing tank top and short shorts, he was in his underwear.  I thought for sure we were going to have sex.  Nothing.  Nada.  He spooned me all night, we made out a little but that's it.  I don't get it.  I mean, it was really nice, I enjoyed it.  But it wasn't what I was expecting," I rambled on, feeling a well of disappointment.

Holly laughed, scrunching up her nose the way she always did when she found something amusing.  I was bewildered as to what she found so funny and made it known by pouting.

"So, let me get this straight.  You guys had an awesome date, no sex, lots of talking and connecting.  Then, your night was ruined by Michael and then you had a shitty day dealing with the aftermath.  Sounds more to me like he actually cares about you and doesn't see you as a sexual object.  You shouldn't be pouting, you should be happy!  I wanna meet him."

I loved Holly's optimism and enthusiasm, but I still felt achingly disappointed by my sleepover with Eric.  I thought for sure that steamy, all-night sex was on the agenda.  Sex would've been the ultimate stress reliever but he hadn't shown interest.  I still felt tingly and excited when we'd made out, but the passion was lacking.  It occurred to me that he'd never even had an erection.  Ugh.  Maybe I was over analyzing the situation.  Guys can't be expected to be raring to go 24/7.  If our next sleepover or date or what have you turned out the same way, then I could be concerned enough to ask him.  I realized I'd zoned out when I noticed Holly staring at me expectantly.

"Well?" she inquired.

"Sorry, Holly, I was thinking and not really listening.  What'd you ask?" I forced my mind to clear itself from thoughts of Eric so I could focus on our conversation.

"I asked if you're excited about next week!"


"Next week.  Doesn't your promotion kick in on Monday?  And isn't your ultrasound on Wednesday?" she was eyeing me carefully.

"Oh, my god.  I completely spaced.  I've been doing that non-stop lately!  Yeah, I'm excited.  My schedule is switching to a mid-shift, noon til 8:30.  I think I'll like that.  Plus, getting away from the phones will be great.  I've trained on workforce management for a few shifts now and I think I'm gonna love it!  I'm actually kinda nervous about the ultrasound.  But finding out the gender is something I've really been looking forward to!"

"That's so awesome!  You'll call me as soon as you find out, right?  Have you thought about names?" Holly was positively beaming with excitement.  It was no secret that she had a case of baby fever and was now living vicariously through me.  Truth be told, I'd considered quite a few names.  I'd found myself gravitating towards names like Olivia, Natalia and Gianna for a girl.  Boy names were a little tougher for me.  Carter?  Gavin? None of them felt quite right, but I still had months to make up my mind.

I shared my name ideas and Holly gushed over each one.  She was always so cheerful and encouraging.  I'd say Holly was my most stable and reliable friend.  It made me sad how little we'd seen of each other the past few months.  For the rest of the night, I made it a point to focus on our time together.   Being around Holly put me in a better mood.  We laughed and chatted and gossiped for a few hours before I made my exit, promising to meet up again soon.

When I got home to Kate's apartment, I wasn't surprised to find her drunk and out of it.  It was pretty much a daily occurrence.  Although I was used to it by now, I still found it irksome.  Thankfully, the apartment complex had a cute, spacious 1.5 bedroom unit opening in three weeks.  It was designed to be a 1 bedroom with a small office area, hence the term 1.5 bedroom, but the space would make a perfect nursery.  I vastly preferred that setup over all of the 2 bedroom units at the other complexes I had looked into.  I could put up with three more weeks of Kate's drunken chatter.  I knew I was just hormonal and irritable.

The next month was looking to be busy and full of positive changes in my life.  If only I had known just what my future had in store.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Picking Up the Pieces

His response surprised me.  I knew he'd be concerned, but I certainly didn't expect him to be awake and reading my message at this hour. 

I replied to him immediately.
"That's really, really sweet of u but I can't leave Kate here alone.  We need each other right now and we have a lot to talk about in the morning.  First thing on my agenda after that is getting a new phone.  I promise I'll call u then.  If the offer still stands tomorrow, I'd love to spend the night with u.  Kate's working at the club and I don't wanna be alone..."

The chat window indicated that he was typing.  I could feel myself growing more tired with each passing second but couldn't leave the chat without seeing what he had to say.

"Are you sure?  I'm worried about you...please call me tomorrow asap.  I need to see you and hold you and make sure you're okay.  I felt like I'd been punched when I read your message.  The thought of you being hurt and scared makes me sick.  I know you must be exhausted so I'll let you get to bed.  Sweet dreams, kitten.  I'll see you tomorrow"

I smiled at his sweet message for the first time since I'd left his apartment.  It felt like a lifetime ago that we were cozied up on his couch, kissing and talking about everything we could think of.  I wanted to devour Eric, get to know every thought, secret and quirk he held.  He was one of the most riveting men I'd ever met and the fact that he was willing to date a pregnant woman made him one of the most admirable men I'd ever met.  I cradled my belly, knowing I already loved the baby I was carrying despite how screwed up my life had become.  With a heaving sigh, I stretched my aching back and settled back into bed beside Kate.

* * * * * * * * * *

Pulling my thick hair into a loose messy bun, I turned to stare at my profile in the mirror.  I wasn't quite prepared to make the switch to maternity clothes and had been favoring flowy blouses and cute dresses.  Today, however, I was too exhausted to care about wearing cute, flattering outfits.  I'd chosen a stretchy grey tank and my favorite yoga pants.  They still fit perfectly but the clothes emphasized the curve of my belly.  Knowing I'd be seeing Eric soon, I suddenly felt self conscious.  I rummaged through my tiny closet space, selecting a small black hoodie to slip on and cover up.

After my heart to heart with Kate, I'd gone about replacing my phone and changing my number.  I'd spent hours on the phone, starting with Tom, Michael's dad.  He had been appalled by what went down and apologized profusely on his son's behalf.  My next call was to Officer Reilly, where I informed him I'd reconsidered and would be pursuing a temporary restraining order.  I'd realized that this was no longer just about me, it was about my baby.  Being under undue stress wasn't healthy for either of us.  Knowing a restraining order would be put in place gave me a certain peace of mind.  My next call was to my mom, letting her know everything that had gone and providing her with my new cell number.  She'd been sympathetic on the phone, although a little aloof.  I made a quick call to my friend, Holly, telling her we needed to catch up later in the week.  She promised to get in touch.  My final call was to Eric, confirming that he still wanted me to come spend the night.  He sounded very concerned and reassured me that he was eager for me to arrive.

With a final look in the mirror, I added a touch of blush and mascara to liven up my face.  I grabbed my overnight bag, my purse and my keys.  I only had one item left on my agenda before I could head to Eric's to relax and distract myself.

I knocked gently on my neighbor's door, half hoping he wouldn't answer.  To my mild disappointment, he cracked open the door.

"Hi, there," I began, "I just wanted to thank you for what you did last night.  You didn't have to step in, but you did.  These are for you."

He looked down at the box of gourmet cupcakes I was holding awkwardly towards him and smirked.  I hadn't noticed how handsome he was the night before and felt my cheeks redden when he caught me admiring his shirtless body.

"That's sweet of you, thanks.  I have no tolerance for abusive douchebags, though.  Plus, he was disturbing my sleep.  I'm Rob, by the way.  I've seen you and your girlfriend around, haven't had a chance to introduce myself before," he replied, reaching out to shake my hand.

"I'm Emma.  Anyway, I'm on my way out but I wanted to let you know I appreciate you stepping in."

He smiled broadly, holding up the small box and peeking inside.

"Thanks for the cupcakes, red velvet is my favorite.  Hope to see you around sometime!" Rob winked as he closed the door.

Smiling to myself, I headed towards my car with a newfound bit of energy.  I'd been sad and exhausted and feeling sorry for myself all day long, but I'd soon be wrapped up in Eric's arms, letting the stress melt away.  Maybe the day was looking up.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Author's Note: Blogs and Schedules. Input wanted!

Hello, ladies (and gentlemen, although I'm not sure I have any male readers)!  As I stated in my last post, I had lost my drive for writing for a very long time. Since getting back into it, words and thoughts have been coming fairly easily.  If I want to retain my reader base or gain new readers, obviously I need to better maintain my blog moving forward.  My first step will include posting twice more this week to get Emma's tale moving.  All of my posting is done through mobile (iPad or cell phone), so if you notice any formatting or spelling errors, feel free to point them out. Sometimes Swype and autocorrect get the best of me ;)

I'd also like to choose a posting schedule so you all know when to expect new posts.  With my last post, I had sworn I'd scheduled it to post automatically, but it never did show up until I posted manually.  That being said, I'm not sure I can trust posts to show up automatically when posting via mobile so I can't commit to a set time (if that makes sense?).  I work nights and sleep all day, so my posts will be generally up between 4-8am on the days i post.  I'm torn between a Monday/Thursday schedule or a Tuesday/Friday schedule.  Let me know in the comments what you guys think!   I love hearing what everyone has to say.

Next order of business: as should be obvious, I love finding new blogs to read, share and follow.  I've updated my sidebar to include active blogs that I currently read.  Some are new and don't have a lot of posts or readers yet, so be sure to check them out and give some encouragement if you like what you read.  I'm always looking for new content, so if you love a blog I don't have listed, please share it in the comments!

Since there was such a huge gap in my posting, I'm considering going back and changing the dates on the old posts to make it cleaner and easier to follow the story.  I'm not quite sure I want to do that, since this isn't a "real-time" blog.  Again, input is much appreciated.

Thanks again to everyone reading my posts.  I look forward to hearing what you have to say!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Dark Reflections

I snuggled deeper under Kate's big comfy blanket and nestled closer to her.  After the horrifying events of the night, neither of us wanted to be alone.  When she asked if I wanted to sleep in her bed with her, I didn't hesitate to accept.  We'd shared a bed in the past during high-school sleepovers and on a few occasions when we had been roommates in the past, but we'd never shared a bed out of fear.

I replayed the night's scenes over and over and over again, wondering who Michael had become.  He'd still been pounding on the door like an animal when the police arrived.  I could hear a scuffle outside the door but didn't dare answer until an authoritative voice announced that the police were there, please open up.

Officer Reilly had kind eyes and a sad smile.  He listened to the details Kate and I had to share and indicated he would be speaking to our neighbor, as well.  His partner was busy calming down Michael in the parking lot, presumably hearing his side of things.  I filled out the police report with as many accurate details as I possibly could, but I declined seeking a restraining order, despite Officer Reilly's insistence.  He seemed understanding when I explained the circumstances and how I hoped the matter could be resolved more amicably once Michael sobered up in the drunk tank, but made sure to leave me information to contact him at any time in case of another incident.

Lying there, listening to Kate sniffling in the dark, I wondered if a temporary restraining order would be the wisest choice.  Because of me, she'd been terrified and terrorized in her own home.  Michael had shown up completely wasted, pounding on the door and demanding to see me.  When she'd told him I wasn't even home, I was with a friend, he really lost it.  He'd ranted and raved at her, indicating that she was a bad influence and my friendship with her had ruined his life.  Michael had been unreasonable and downright frightening in his drunken anger.  She had already called the cops before I even arrived, which I'm thankful for.  Who knows what could have happened if she'd waited to call?

I made a mental note to find an apartment within the week.  Tom and Melinda had been extremely generous, letting me keep the car they had given me, despite having ended my relationship with Michael.  I could not accept it as a gift, however, and had been making small payments to them over the past few weeks.  Having a car gave me more options in my apartment search and I was eternally grateful to them.  I made another mental note to call Tom in the morning to discuss everything that had transpired before I remembered that my phone had been broken and I'd be needing a replacement.  I added a new phone to my mental lists of tasks to be completed.  Thank god I didn't have to work the next evening, but I'm sure my boss would have understood if I needed a personal day.

Michael had, quite frankly, scared the shit out of me with his outburst.  This was not the Michael I had known and loved.  Thinking back on our 4 years together was bittersweet.  I had loved him madly.  He had been so gentle, generous and kind.  He'd been outgoing, agreeable and fun.  Now he seemed so angry and disturbed.  During the last few months of our relationship, he'd seemed withdrawn and irritable, but he'd never shown signs of a drinking problem.  Nor had he shown signs of anger or violence, with the exception being the day I left him for good.

I couldn't wrap my head around how such a beautiful evening with Eric could dissolve into one of the worst nights of my life.  I realized that I hadn't let him know why I'd rushed out the door or that I'd made it home safely, so I crept quietly from Kate's bed to send him a quick message on Facebook, despite my utter exhaustion.  I made sure to stress that I was fine, physically, but that I didn't have a phone right now and would likely be getting a new number, anyway.  Despite the time nearing 3AM, his reply was almost immediate.

"I'm coming to get you, you can't stay there"