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.