Zephyr had been right when asked. For enough money, any restaurant would deliver food to a hungry couple. Even a couple who had refused to leave their hotel room while sating a different hunger than that of the stomach.
How could she end their sexual liaison without ending their friendship? Did she have enough strength of will to be his friend without falling back into his bed? And even if she did, would maintaining their friendship be the best thing for her emotional well-being? How was she going to get over him if she continued to see him?
But how could she stop seeing him without totally shattering what was left of her heart?
This morning had only added to her already roiling thoughts and emotions. They’d once again made love and it had been so profound, she’d been a breath away from blurting out her love for him.
She’d needed some time to get her emotions back under control and insisted Zephyr take one of his military-length showers. Alone. He often bragged about the quick grooming habits he’d learned on the ship he’d worked when leaving Greece and she wasn’t above playing to that pride. She’d used the excuse that they needed to get going if they were going to make it to the seaside village that was home to Trident’s temple ruins in time to actually see them.
Clearly indulging her, he’d agreed. And she’d gotten a few precious and necessary minutes to herself, both while he showered and now while she did.
The only problem was, her emotions were just as raw now as they had been while she and Zephyr made love. She ached with the need to tell him of her feelings, but was afraid that they would be an unwelcome burden. And she couldn’t squash the hope that maybe if he just realized it was safe to love her, that she wouldn’t betray him as others had in the past, he might let his heart out of its self-imposed prison.
Carefully, she swiped soapy hands over her birth control patch. Or rather where the patch was supposed to be.
No. No, no, no, no.
It was there. It had to be. She craned her neck over her shoulder to look down at her right hip, but saw nothing except smooth skin. She looked over the other side, praying she’d forgotten that she’d used a different hip this time. But no fleshcolored square resided there, either.
Where was it? She wasn’t due to replace the weekly dose of birth control until the day after tomorrow and she wasn’t scheduled to be without until a full week after that.
Oh, God. The prayer left her lips in desperation as she tried to remember the last time she’d checked the patch.
Having it there had become such second nature that she barely even noticed it anymore. She was always careful in the shower, never soaping the area directly. She’d lost one the first month she was using them, but she’d soon learned how to avoid corrupting the adhesive that held the hormone dispenser in place.
She forced her mind to bring up and scour images from the preceding days, but the last clear impression she had of her patch was during her shower in a Midwest hotel room the morning before catching her flight to Greece. No, she couldn’t have lost it her first day in Athens.
It wouldn’t have just fallen off. But the way she and Zephyr had touched that first time making love after their weeks-long separation had been rough, urgent and not at all careful of clothing, much less an adhesive square attached to her body. But if she’d lost it then, they had made love a number of times since without any form of protection.
Her breath choked in her throat at the very real possibility of what that could mean. No. She refused to believe God would be that cruel.
She felt like hyperventilating as she asked herself what to do now. How was she supposed to walk away from Zephyr if she was pregnant with his child? Would he believe that she had not done it on purpose? Losing the condoms had been his idea, but would he remember that when faced with the unexpected results?
She didn’t want to tell him pregnancy was even a possibility. Doing so would only add stress between them when there was as much a chance she wasn’t now carrying new life as that she was. Maybe even more so, considering how long she’d been on the patch.
However, if she didn’t tell him, how would she explain the need to return to using condoms? Also, if she didn’t, how would she ever be able to explain that level of dishonesty to herself? A lie of omission was still a lie, wasn’t it?
She wanted Zephyr to believe it was safe to love her, that he could trust her with his deepest emotions and needs. How could she build that trust with him if she hid something this important from him? Wasn’t it better to be honest and up-front about what was going on, rather than pretending everything was fine when it very much was not?
Hadn’t Art done that to her? And before him, her parents? Who often waited until the last possible moment to warn her about the next move? They’d always justified this behavior by saying they had enough to deal with without her and her brother and sister having a month-long temper tantrum about leaving their friends behind. They gave just enough time for their children to say goodbye to their closest friends before uprooting them for her father’s newest military assignment.