“Please.” My control stretched, thinning, and then it just . . . it just snapped. “Why are you still here?”
Nick stopped moving. He might have stopped breathing, and for a long, tense moment there was nothing but silence. I closed my eyes, hearing the helmet scrapping off the table, and a heartbeat later the front door slammed shut.
Nick had walked out, not on me, I would discover, but had simply left the apartment. He’d called Roxy and remained in the parking lot until she showed up some fifteen minutes later.
I knew this because when she knocked on my door, I heard his motorcycle roar to life.
Roxy stepped in before I had a chance to say one word. “I know what’s happened, and Nick doesn’t want you to be by yourself right now. You shouldn’t be by yourself right now.”
“Yeah. You’re fine. He said you kept saying that.” Roxy shrugged off her jacket. “You might as well go ahead and close that door, because I’m not leaving.”
There was a huge part of me that wanted to tell her to leave, but I was suddenly too tired to argue. Exhausted to the bone, I closed the door and then walked past her, to the couch. Sitting down, I picked up the quilt and dragged it over me, tucking it under my chin.
Roxy draped her coat over the back of the kitchen chair and made her way over. She didn’t speak as she sat on the other side of the couch, and I didn’t look at her. I stared at the TV screen, not really seeing it.
“I want to hug you right now,” she said, and the muscles all along my spine stiffened. “But you look like you might punch me if I did.”
I shook my head slowly. I wasn’t sure if I was agreeing or not.
She exhaled softly. “I don’t know what to say, Steph, other than I’m so, so sorry.”
Closing my eyes against the burn, I gripped the edges of the blanket. My stomach cramped and it was painful, but in a way, it was no match to the complete and utter devastation I felt. “I don’t get it,” I said after a moment.
“Get what?” she asked quietly.
I really didn’t know where I was going with any of this, but my tongue was moving and words were becoming attached to the pain bubbling up inside me. “I don’t get why it hurts so much. It’s not like I was even that far along, you know? I haven’t even told my boss yet. Maybe I shouldn’t have told anyone. I mean, I was just entering my second trimester.” A sharp slice of pain cut through me. “Actually, I probably wasn’t even close. The doctor at the hospital said that the ba—said that it probably stopped developing a week or more ago.”
And now that I’d said it out loud, things started to make sense. The exhaustion that I felt. The loss of whatever weight I had gained. “There had been signs,” I told her. I was starting to see white spots behind my closed eyelids. “Signs that I was losing . . . it, and I didn’t pay attention to them. I thought they were normal.”
“How would you know? You couldn’t,” Roxy argued. “And I know that miscarrying is common, Steph. It happens, and no one is to blame for it.”
No one was to blame? I wasn’t so sure. Maybe I hadn’t taken the pregnancy seriously. I know I missed taking the prenatal vitamins once. My diet could’ve been way healthier. And what if the baby hadn’t stopped developing, and if I paid attention to the pain last night instead of going to bed, could this miscarriage have been prevented?
The racing thoughts made me feel sick. I felt like . . . like I deserved this. Like some kind of punishment had been handed down. I’d messed up and I didn’t even know what I’d done.
Roxy scooted closer, placing her hand on my shoulder. “This isn’t your fault.”
I opened my tired eyes.
“These things happen,” she continued, her voice barely above a whisper. “I know that sounds lame right now and doesn’t help anything, but these things do happen, Steph, and no one is to blame.”
My gaze fell to the Christmas tree and my thoughts immediately drifted to the day I picked out the tree with Nick. How we’d roamed into the baby section and looked at all—
I cut those thoughts off as I inhaled sharply, but I couldn’t look away from the tree. God, was that really only two weeks ago? Was the baby even still alive then?
Roxy squeezed my shoulder. “What can I do for you?”
“Nothing,” I whispered.
“Do you think you can eat?” she asked, and I shook my head. “What about something to drink? Or something for pain?” When I didn’t say anything, she dropped her hand. “I’m not leaving you, so you should make use of me being here.”
I pressed my lips together. “There’s nothing I need right now.”
A moment passed. “I don’t think that’s true. You need Nick right now.”
Sucking in a sharp breath, I stiffened.
“And he needs you right now,” she added.
I shook my head again. “He . . . he doesn’t need me.”
“He sounded like he was about ten seconds away from losing his shit.” Her eyes met mine when I looked at her. “Maybe you don’t need to hear that right now, but I’ve never really seen Nick upset. Ever. And he was really upset.”
“I don’t want him to be upset.” My voice was hoarse. “The last thing I wanted is for him to get hurt again. He’s lost . . .” I trailed off, partly because I didn’t want to share his personal business and because Katie’s words rushed back to haunt me.
You’re going to break his heart.
My lips slowly parted. Holy shit. Katie and her super stripping psychic power had been on point. I had thought it was crazy for, well, obvious reasons, and because this whole time I wasn’t convinced that I had the power to break Nick’s heart. But I did. It was the baby, I realized—losing the baby. It sounded crazy, but Katie had been right.
“What happened with Nick?” Roxy asked gently.
I drew in a shaky breath. “I . . . I broke his heart.”
Thursday afternoon blurred into the night.
At some point I migrated from the couch to my bedroom, and as I lay in bed, I didn’t sleep. I couldn’t sleep. My mind turned over everything I had done and hadn’t done since I found out I was pregnant, searching tirelessly for that one misstep I took.
Roxy didn’t leave, but she gave me space, only coming into the bedroom when enough hours had past for her to pester me into eating the chicken soup that I had no idea how she obtained, because I didn’t have any in the house, but that soup reminded me of Nick.
And that made the hurt so much fresher.
I thought I heard Reece’s voice Thursday night, and then later I thought I heard Calla. At first I assumed I was imagining it, but then I realized dimly that Calla was home now. The semester at Shepherd was over. I prayed that she wouldn’t come into the room, and she didn’t.
All night long I lay awake and didn’t cry. There was a vast emptiness that consumed my thoughts. I couldn’t turn any of it off like I had in the emergency room Wednesday night. I just wanted it to be over—the physical pain and the deeper, sharper, and more hurtful pain.
Sometime in the quiet early morning hours, I came to the realization that I had wanted this baby far more than I ever recognized. It was like that cheesy saying, “You don’t know what you have until it’s gone,” and that was so damn true. The burning in my throat and eyes increased.