“It’s okay . . . it’s gonna be okay,” she tries.

I shake my head. “No. It’s not. It’ll never be okay again.”

Delores’s arms wrap around me tight, trying so hard to hold me together.

“Why? I don’t understand. Why did this happen? Drew and I are . . . and now the baby . . . and it was all for nothing. Nothing.”

I told you I’d be asking why again, remember?

Delores smooths my hair down. And her voice is calm. “I don’t know why, Katie. I wish I could tell you . . . but . . . I just don’t know.”

We stay like that for a while. And eventually, the tears die down. I make my way back to the bed and Delores sits beside me.

I look at the little shirt again and shake my head. “It hurts so much.

I never knew anything could feel this bad.”

“Is there anything you want me to do, Kate?”

My eyes leak quietly. And my voice is frail. “I want Drew. I want him here.”

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If the world was like it’s supposed to be, he’d be here. And he’d be just as devastated as I am. he’d try to hide it, but I’d know. he would climb into this bed with me, and he’d hold me and I would feel safe, and loved . . . and forgiven.

And he’d tell me that this just wasn’t the right time. But that if I want a baby, he’ll give me a dozen. Drew is really big with the overkill.

And then he’d kiss me. And it would be gentle and sweet. And then he’d say something silly like, “Just think of all the fun we’ll have making them.” And I’d smile. And it would hurt a tiny bit less.

Just because he was with me.

Delores nods and reaches for the phone. But my hand covers hers—stopping her. her eyes look at me with understanding, like she already knows what I’m thinking. And she probably does.

“he’ll come, Kate. You know he’ll come.”

I shake my head. “You weren’t there, Delores. he was . . .

vicious. I’ve never seen him so angry. It was like . . . like he thought I was picking the baby over him. Like I’d betrayed him.”

I close my eyes against the memory. “he’ll be happy. he’ll be glad the baby’s gone . . . and then I’ll hate him.”

And even after everything that’s happened—I’m just not ready to hate Drew Evans.

Delores sighs. And her hand moves away from the phone. “I think you’re wrong. I’ll be first in line to point out what an idiot Drew can be, but . . . I can’t imagine him ever being happy about something that’s hurt you. Not like this.”

I don’t answer her, because the door to my bedroom opens.

And Billy walks in. he looks tired, his face is somber, and I know my mother’s told him.

“You okay?”

I shake my head.

“Yeah. I figured as much.” he sits down in the beanbag chair and rubs his eyes. “This is just . . . totally FUBAR. And when really f**ked-up things happen? All you can do is get f**ked up right along with it.”

That’s when I notice the bag he brought with him. It’s supermarket brown, and bulging.

he picks it up and dumps some of the contents out. There’s a few bags of weed, a carton of Marlboro reds, and two bottles of tequila. I stare at the honey-colored liquid. And I think of Mexican music, and warm skin, and midnight whispers with Drew.

I love you, Kate.

I look away. “I can’t drink tequila.”

Like Mary Poppins with her bottomless bag, Billy reaches back in and takes out a bottle of Grey Goose.

And I nod slowly. “Vodka works.”

Chapter 14

Have you ever licked the floor of the men’s room at Yankee Stadium? Neither have I. But now I know just what it tastes like.

Yep—we’re hung over. It’s hell. Forget the drones; if the army could unleash this feeling? There’d be world peace for all.

I’m in the office of my mother’s gynecologist. Billy and Delores came along for moral support. See us there? Lined up in the chairs, like three delinquents waiting outside the principal’s office. Delores is wearing sunglasses even though we’re inside, reading a pamphlet about the new female Viagra. Billy’s asleep, mouth open, head tilted up and resting against the wall behind us. My mother’s here too, flipping through a magazine without reading any of the words.

And I just sit, trying too hard not to look at those pictures of newborn babies covering the walls.

Billy lets out a snot-sucking snore, and Delores jabs him in the ribs with her elbow. he wakes up sputtering, “Monkey ball banana blitz!”

We all look at him questioningly.

And he realizes where he is. “Sorry. Nightmare.” Then he lays his head back against the wall again, eyes closed. “I feel like gassy stool.” Delores and I nod in unison. And Billy solemnly swears, “I’m never drinking again. I’m going legit.”

his cousin scoffs, “heard that before.”

“I mean it this time. No more alcohol for me. From here on out, it’s weed only.”

Yeah. That makes sense.

Since we’re waiting anyway, let’s take a moment to reflect on one of the most sacred womanly rites of passage: the gynecological exam. It’s completely bizarre.

See, our whole young lives, we girls are told to stay pure. Keep our legs crossed, our knees locked. And then we turn eighteen.

And we have to go to an office and meet a doctor who, based on statistics, will be a middle-aged man. And then we have to strip bare—completely naked. And let him feel us up. And finger us. A total frigging stranger.

Oh—and then there’s the best part: the conversation. Yep, he talks to you during the exam. How’s school? Sure is rainy out today, isn’t it? Is your mother doing well? All in the effort to distract you from that fact that he’s wrist deep in your vagina.

Can you say awkward?

And don’t any of you men out there try and cry me a river about the horrors of your prostate exam. Doesn’t compare. One little finger up the ass can actually be rather pleasant. At least you don’t have to put your legs up in a contraption that originated as a medieval torture device. Women definitely got the raw end of the deal on this one.

A nurse in blue scrubs calls my name. My mother and I stand up and walk into the first exam room on the left.

I take my clothes off and put on the pink plastic robe, opening in the front, of course.

The better to see you with, Little Red Riding hood.

I sit on the table, the paper liner crunching beneath me. My mother stands to the side, rubbing my arm supportively. And in walks the doctor.