Lacey Davila’s heart thundered in her chest as she sat before her computer monitor and opened Skype. The pregnancy test trembled in her hand as she logged in. Jesse would not be happy with the news. They hadn’t wanted to start a family yet, and she was taking birth control, but the last time he’d been on leave…
She had debated waiting to tell him, but she knew he’d get mad if she kept the news from him, too.
So she waited until he came on the screen, and forced a smile. She couldn't pretend to be too happy, or he’d think she’d planned this to trick him into marriage. But if she wasn't happy to see him, he would read something awful into that reaction as well.
Funny how he could frighten her with his moods from five thousand miles away.
“Hey, baby,” he said in a quiet voice, with a gentle smile. “Good to see you.”
Some of the muscles in her stomach loosened at that. He was in a good mood. For now.
She started the conversation focusing on him, what he’d been up to, because that’s what he liked. What did she have to share, living in a small town like Broken Wheel, Texas, anyway? He was the one living an adventure, deployed on the other side of the world.
Though to be honest, when he was talking about traveling to towns near the base in Germany, it didn't sound all that different than living in Broken Wheel. But she listened with an interested smile on her face until he turned the conversation to her.
“What’s new with you? You look terrible.”
Of course she looked terrible. She couldn't eat or sleep because of the morning sickness, which was really all-day sickness. “Well, I have some news.”
“Yeah? What? Something exciting happen in BFE? A new menu item at the diner or something?” He chuckled at his own cleverness.
God. She was going to be tied to this man forever. What had she done? Why hadn’t she broken free when she had a chance, before she got pregnant? For a moment, she considered not telling him, keeping the news to herself. But she’d worked up the nerve, something that had taken her all day, and she was going to tell him. The consequences be damned. Her life was changing one way or another.
“I have some exciting news,” she modified. If she was excited, maybe he would be, too. She held up the pregnancy test, willing her hand not to shake, all the while watching for his reaction.
His expression froze, and for a moment she thought—hoped—it might be the computer.
“You’re going to be a daddy,” she prompted.
“Whose is it?” he said through his teeth, and even thought she’d expected the accusation, the vehemence behind it gave her a jolt.
“Yours. Of course it’s yours.”
“Bull. We always use birth control. Why are you trying to pass someone else’s brat off as mine? You want my benefits or something?”
She would not see how his words hit her. She forced her chin up, and concentrated on keeping her voice steady. “I’m not. I’m on the pill. Or, I was until I took the test. But we always doubled up on protection, and before you left we…didn’t. So this baby must be meant to be.” She cursed the tears that filled her eyes because he would read them as guilty.
It didn't matter. She already knew, before he started calling her names—names she’d heard before, and new ones, each one hitting her like a blow.
She didn't know why she sat and listened until her friend Poppy walked into the room, flipped him off on the screen, and ended the call.
“Why do you let him talk to you like that?” Poppy demanded, leaning against the desk and crossing her arms over her chest. “God, how I wish you’d never met him. You deserve so much better than that, Lace. I wish you could see that.”
She could see it, and many times over the last few months, she’d wished she had the strength to leave him. But then she remembered how devastated her dad was when her mother left, and she just couldn't bring herself to do it, not when Jesse was overseas.
And now it was too late. She was tied to him forever.
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