The intercom buzzed, sending my insides into freefall.
“Mr. Sorenson, security just called up. Mr. Rodriguez and Mr. Bennet are here for you. Shall I let them know you and Ms. Daley aren’t finished?”
Vincent untangled himself from me and strode over to his desk. He tilted his head questioningly at me as if asking me if we were done. A loose strand of hair on his face, coupled with his dimpled smile gave him a boyish look.
I couldn’t tell him. He—no—we were so happy in the moment, that I couldn’t spoil it and drop this bomb on him just before leaving. The important part wasn’t so much me telling him as his reaction, and leaving right after I told him wouldn’t allow me to see that. With that in mind, I nodded quietly and straightened myself out.
“No Lucy, we’re just wrapping up. I’ll be down in a minute.”
“I’ll let them know.”
“Thank you, Lucy.”
He turned to me and the anxiety I had before the meeting returned. We needed to have a discussion about how to handle this, but it won’t be right now. There will be other opportunities. I had at least a few more weeks before I had to make a final decision about the baby.
“Sorry about that, they’re a little early. That’s Kurt and Bernie, they’re keeping tabs on Marty, just as a precaution. You can stay if you want to sit in.”
I shook my head. “No, it’s okay. I have to get back to work anyway.”
Vincent watched me for a moment then shrugged. “I promise, I’ll read through those materials tonight and we can talk about them.”
“Thank you. Sorry we couldn’t get through everything we needed to.”
He smiled. “I think we found a better substitute for our time, don’t you.”
I returned the smile and continued to straighten out my hair.
He laughed quietly as he went to his closet and found a new dress shirt. “You’re good to go, right?”
I was sure I looked a mess, but I could deal with it on my own time. “I’ll stop in the ladies room before I head out.”
He finished buttoning up. “Good as new,” he said.
He opened the door to let me out first. He left, and I headed to the ladies room. Just as I entered, my phone buzzed. It was Riley:
How did the pregnancy convo with V go?
I texted back.
Interrupted. Will do it soon.
I leaned against the bathroom counter and let out a long sigh. It was just a little more time, that was all. I had weeks before I would be showing; surely I could find a good time before then. Missing this chance wasn’t the end of the world.
That evening, when my head was clearer, I realized my mistake. While it was true that I didn’t need to tell Vincent right away, I hadn’t counted on the storm cloud hanging over my head every minute I didn’t tell him.
After an hour of trying to distract myself with TV and cleaning, I decided that the sooner I told him the better. Vincent was too distracting in his office, dressed in his business attire, but maybe we’d both be more focused if we had the conversation at my place.
I called Vincent at his office and asked him to come over, telling him that I absolutely had to see him to talk to him about something. He sounded concerned and told me he would swing by in a couple hours. That done, I talked to Riley about having the apartment to myself for the evening. Good friend that she was, she called her friend Jen and was out for the night.
As I waited for Vincent to come by, I was determined that there would definitely not be a replay of what happened earlier that day in his office.
On my way now. Be there in 10 mins.
After reading Vincent’s text, I took a deep breath and set my phone down on the glass coffee table.
I started heating up water on the stove to make tea. It would help calm my nerves along with Vincent’s during the delicate conversation. I sat on the couch rehearsing the lines I’d prepared to say to him as I smoothed out my t-shirt and jeans.
A few minutes later, a knock at the door startled me. Three raps followed by the faint sound of a man clearing his throat.
I got up from my seat and walked to the door. Looking through the peephole, I saw Vincent standing on my doormat. He was wearing a forest-green polo with sleeves that stretched against his arms and khaki shorts which showcased the taut muscles in his legs. He must’ve changed after work. He was shifting his feet, which betrayed his apprehension. Did he suspect what I was about to tell him?
I opened the door. “Hey,” I said, pasting on the smile I’d prepared beforehand. It was easier once I saw his breathtaking face.
His expression brightened. “Hey,” he said, smiling back at me.
“Come on in.” I stepped back, pulling the door wider and gesturing him inside.
“Should I take off my shoes?”
He was wearing a clean pair of sneakers that matched his polo. I half-suspected he was probing me with the question. Telling him to leave his shoes on could be interpreted as a sign that I was breaking up with him. This was going to be a long conversation and he deserved to be comfortable.
“You can take them off.”
He removed his shoes and set them carefully next to the pile of flats and heels in the corner near the coat rack.
“Would you like something to drink? I’m in the middle of making some tea.” I studied his body language. He was slightly tense, his movements lacking the usual primal confidence.
“I’m fine, thank you.”
The formality of his response made the situation even more awkward. “Okay.” Once he was clear of the entrance, I leaned forward to close the door. The closing of the door would mark the beginning of a very difficult conversation.
The door made an unexpected thud as I tried to jam it shut. I glanced down and saw a dark brown boot wedged into the door frame.
A dull, metallic chrome object slid through the narrow opening in the door. The shape was small and ended in a point—aimed at Vincent’s back.
“Stay away from her!” the voice behind the door screamed.
A force pushed me. I staggered backward, my shoulder blades crashing against the half-wall separating the living room from the kitchen. The door flew open and a tall man with white bandages across his nose and cheeks entered my apartment. He was wearing a plain white t-shirt with black athletic pants and looked very pissed off.
Vincent spun around, startled. “How the hell—”
“I said stay away from her,” the man shouted, hands shaking the end of the pistol. Sharp, blue eyes blazed behind thick spectacles with a crack on the right lens. Strands of dark brown hair parted down the middle hung haphazardly around his forehead.