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Chapter Thirty Five

June 2,1998

New York

Nick looks like he’s going to faint. I’m pretty sure that’s how I also look. “Aw...Awesome?”

Brian laughs. “Absolutely. This has to be the greatest prank you’ve pulled. It took me a minute to figure out, but wow.” He looks at me. “You even look pregnant. It doesn’t even look like a basketball or anything.”

Nick and I both seem to understand where Brian’s mind is at the exact same time. Nick looks at me, confused. Obviously this didn’t happen the first time around.

“No, Brian. She’s pregnant. Really pregnant. This isn’t a joke. I got an apartment in Orlando and bumped into Courtney. I remember seeing her with you on your birthday. She wanted to come up here and tell you in person.”

Brian shakes his head. “No. No, you can’t be pregnant.” He looks at me and the color is quickly draining from his face. “Right?”

I really want to tell him he’s right and run away. The panic spreading across his face is sending me into my own panic. Combined with the baby moving at the speed of popcorn popping…

Nick, on the other hand, isn’t so kind. Before I can swat him away, he lifts up my shirt enough to show that I’m not smuggling a small cantaloupe or piece of sports equipment underneath.


“Oh shit.”

Nick steps back as I pull down my shirt. We both look at Brian. He swallows hard.

“You’re pregnant.”

“No offense, but how do I know this baby’s mine? Kevin just read that a girl in Japan who claimed she was pregnant with his baby just gave birth. They showed a picture of the baby and it’s part black.”

“Why do I imagine that AJ had a joke about that?”

Brian almost smiles. Almost. Then he stares at my stomach again. “He did.”

“There’s a test,” I say softly. “They can do it and it will tell you.”

“But you’re not doing that,” Nick argues.

I look at Nick. “I will.”

“It’s too dangerous.”

“It’s not that dangerous.”

“What the hell are you two talking about?”

The doctor so eloquently called ‘Dr. Ass’ had mentioned the possibility of doing an amniocentesis since I didn’t have a clue on Brian’s family history. The moment he had mentioned the 1 in 200 chance of miscarriage, Nick flipped out.

But if it was needed to ensure Brian connected with Ben right from the beginning…

The change could only be positive.

“They can take a sample of fluid and do a DNA test.”

“But it’s dangerous,” Nick adds.

Brian sits back in his chair. He kicks his legs out in front of him, grinding the heel of his sneaker into the ground. He looks up at the sky. For a second, I think he’s crying, but then he looks at Nick.

“Why does this matter to you so much? I can’t believe that you just stumbled over a random girl I picked up in a bar months ago.”

I expect Nick to stutter, but he doesn’t bat an eye.

“I invited Courtney to our show in Orlando. Kevin found my cigarettes and instead of meeting Court like planned, I had to go get my ass reamed out. We’ve been friends for a couple years. By the time I came down to meet her, she wasn’t around. When I called her a few days later, she told me she got drunk and you guys slept together. She was so embarrassed she took off in the middle of the night. The more we’ve been hanging out the past few months...I feel like she’s more than a friend.”

It’s a story that I have a feeling he’s been perfecting for awhile. It’s so smooth and polished I actually believe it.

And Brian does. I can see it in his face. In the way the reality washes over him. He inhales so hard I’m afraid he’s going to pop his stitches.

“I’m back with Leighanne,” Brian says. “This...this is…” He runs a hand through his hair. “Is this test really dangerous?”

“Just a 1 in 200 chance of a miscarriage. That chance is really higher for women that aren’t as far along as I am. I’m seventeen weeks.”

“Seventeen weeks,” Brian repeats.
“But there’s that 1,” Nick protests. I think he knows that he is fighting a losing battle.

“I need this test done,” Brian says. “You’re not going to the press, right?”

“Absolutely not.”

“How soon do you get the results?”

“Two weeks.”

Brian nods. He’s quiet for a minute.

“I’m kinda tired now.”

Nick takes the hint. “We’ll head out. But are you doing okay? I mean...the heart?”

“I feel like I’m eighty,” Brian gives us a forced crooked smile that kills me. “Of course I think the last twenty minutes just aged me a few more years.”

“I’m sorry,” I choke.

“My doctor will be in touch with yours,” he says. “If...if the test says...something we’ll talk. Okay?”

I know the ‘something’ covers a lot of things. I nod. “Okay.”

Nick gives Brian a hug, but I don’t step forward. Brian wheels away, shoulders hunched, and I feel the tears on my cheeks. Nick wraps an arm around me.

“Take it from me,” he whispers.

“That went a whole lot better than last time…”

“You still have all your hair intact.”