Me: Miss you, too. I’ll come over tomorrow afternoon. Can you make lasagna?
As soon as I close out the text to her, I get another incoming text.
Allysa: Come upstairs and eat dinner with us tonight. It’s homemade pizza night.
I haven’t been to Allysa’s in a few days. Since before Ryle came home. I’m not sure where he’s staying, but I assume it’s with them. The last thing I want right now is to have to be in the same apartment as him.
Me: Who all will be there?
Allysa: Lily . . . I wouldn’t do that to you. He’s working until 8 tomorrow morning. It’ll just be the three of us.
She knows me way too well. I text her back and tell her I’ll come over as soon as I finish up with work.
• • •
“What do babies eat at this age?”
We’re all seated around the table. Rylee was asleep when I got here, but I woke her up so I could hold her. Allysa didn’t mind; she said she doesn’t want her wide awake when she’s ready to go to bed.
“Breast milk,” Marshall says with a mouthful. “But sometimes I stick my finger in my soda and put it in her mouth so she can taste it.”
“Marshall!” Allysa yells. “You better be kidding.”
“Totally kidding,” he says, although I can’t tell if he really is.
“But when do they start eating baby food?” I ask. I figure I need to learn this stuff before giving birth.
“Around four months,” Allysa says with a yawn. She drops her fork and leans back in her chair, rubbing her eyes.
“You want me to keep her at my place tonight so you guys can get a full night of sleep?”
Allysa says, “No, it’s fine,” at the same time Marshall says, “That would be awesome.”
I laugh. “Really. I live right downstairs. I don’t work tomorrow so if I don’t get any sleep tonight I can just sleep in tomorrow.”
Allysa looks like she’s contemplating it for a moment. “I could leave my cell phone on in case you need me.”
I look back down at Rylee and grin. “Did you hear that? You get to have a sleepover with Aunt Lily!”
• • •
With everything Allysa is throwing in her diaper bag, it looks like I’m about to take Rylee on a trip across the country. “She’ll let you know when she’s hungry. Don’t use the microwave to heat the milk, just put it in . . .”
“I know,” I interrupt. “I’ve made her like fifty bottles since she’s been alive.”
Allysa nods and then walks over to her bed. She drops the diaper bag down beside me. Marshall is in the living room feeding Rylee one last time, so Allysa lies down beside me on the bed while we wait. She props her head up on her hand.
“Do you know what this means?” she asks.
“I get to have sex tonight. It’s been four months.”
I crinkle up my nose. “I didn’t need to know that.”
She laughs and falls down on her pillow, but then sits straight up. “Shit,” she says. “I should probably shave my legs. I think it’s been four months since I did that, too.”
I laugh, but then I gasp. My hands move quickly to my stomach. “Oh my God! I just felt something!”
“Really?” Allysa puts her hand on my stomach and we’re both quiet for the next five minutes as we wait for it to happen again. It does, but it’s so soft, it’s almost unnoticeable. I laugh again as soon as it happens.
“I didn’t feel anything,” Allysa says, pouting. “I guess it’ll be a few more weeks before you can feel it from the outside, though. Is this the first time you felt it move?”
“Yeah. I’ve been scared I was growing the laziest baby in history.” I keep my hands on my stomach, hoping to feel it again. We sit quietly for a few more minutes, and I can’t help but wish my circumstances were different. Ryle should be here. He should be the one sitting beside me with his hand on my stomach. Not Allysa.
The thought almost takes away all the joy I’m feeling. Allysa must notice because she puts one of her hands on mine and squeezes. When I look at her, she isn’t smiling anymore.
“Lily,” she says. “I’ve been wanting to say something to you.”
Oh, God. I don’t like the sound of her voice.
“What is it?”
She sighs and then forces a gloomy smile. “I know you’re sad that you’re going through this without my brother. No matter how involved he is, I just want you to know that this is going to be the best thing you’ve ever experienced in your life. You’re gonna be a great mom, Lily. This baby is really lucky.”
I’m glad Allysa is the only one in here right now, because her words make me laugh, cry, and snot like a hormonal teenager. I hug her and tell her thank you. It’s amazing how hearing those words gives me back the joy I was feeling.
She smiles and then says, “Now go get my baby and take her away from here so I can have some sex with my filthy rich husband.”
I roll off the bed and stand up. “You sure know how to bring levity into a situation. I’d say it’s your strong point.”
She smiles. “That’s what I’m here for. Now go away.”
Of all the secrets I’ve held over the last few months, I’m the saddest about keeping everything from my mother. I don’t know how she’ll take it. I know she’ll be excited about the pregnancy, but I don’t know how she’ll feel about me and Ryle splitting up. She loves Ryle. And based on her history with these types of situations, she’ll probably find it very easy to excuse his behavior and try and convince me to take him back. And in all honesty, that’s part of the reason I’ve been stalling this, because I’m scared there’s a chance she might be successful.