Even though I have no f**king clue what she’s talking about, I know I’m supposed to say something. “Well . . . prunes have their uses. A few months ago, James’s pipes were backed up. And we fed him a few of those bad boys and they did the trick. It was like edible Drano—cleaned everything out. Prunes are great.”
She stops. And looks up at me with red-rimmed, perplexed eyes. “What the hell are you talking about?”
“I have no f**king idea! I’m trying to be comforting.”
“Well, it’s a good thing I don’t come to you for comfort often. You suck at it!” She goes back to bawling in the T-shirt.
I pinch the bridge of my nose and breathe deep. Let’s try this again. “You said you were angry. Sad. Why are you angry and sad, Alexandra?”
She wipes at her face and talks quickly—rushed. “I could set my watch to my period. Every twenty-seven days on the dot. So when it didn’t come, I thought, Oh, crap, you know? And even though the test said negative, I assumed it was just too early. So I went to the doctor and I was so sure he was going to tell me I was pregnant. And even though it wasn’t planned, I started to get used to the idea of another one. I was excited. But then . . . then he told me I wasn’t pregnant.”
A cold ball of ice settles in my stomach. “You’re not . . . you’re not sick, are you?”
She shakes her head. “No. I’m not sick.” She takes a cleansing breath. “He said it’s menopause. Early-onset menopause. I can’t have any more children—ever. I’m infertile.”
She weeps quietly for a minute.
I rub her shoulder gently. “Did you and Steven want a lot more kids?”
Her brow furrows slightly. “Well . . . no. We’d always planned on two. After Thomas was born, I’d even talked to Steven about getting a vasectomy. He wasn’t keen on the idea.”
I try to understand the problem. That fails, so I ask, “But, if you don’t want any more kids—then why are you so devastated about not being able to have any more kids?”
“Because I’m a woman, Drew! Creating life. Nurturing—that’s what we do.”
Nope—still don’t get it. “But that’s not all you do. I mean, Jesus, Alexandra, it’s not like you’re a Handmaid’s Tale breeder here. So the egg basket’s empty? Big deal. You have two beautiful children—be happy with them. Maybe this is nature’s way of telling you that you shouldn’t have any more. I’ve seen what pregnancy does to your body. It ain’t pretty.”
Now she’s glaring at me. Which is a good sign. Pissed-off Alexandra I can handle.
“I am happy with the two that I have. It’s just . . . having the option to have more was nice . . . even if I never did. I feel . . . cheated. And old. I have the insides of a sixty-year-old woman, Drew. How long before the outside reflects that? And have you looked at Steven lately? Every year he gets more handsome—more distinguished looking. Soon some gold-digging bimbo is going to try to get her claws in him, and he’s going to be saddled with a wife who looks like Barbara Bush!”
She buries her face in the shirt again, and I can’t help but laugh. Just a little. “Lexi . . . you’re hardly Barbara Bush. I’d say you’re more of the Christie Brinkley variety. And besides—Steven loves you. You. Not your goddamn ovaries. You’re the bitchy-boss center of his universe. You always have been. When the rest of us were jerking off to thoughts of Sister B, Steven was jerking off to thoughts of you.” And don’t think I’m comfortable knowing that. “He’d never trade you in for some skinny-legged twit who’s only interested in the size of his bank account. Steven is too smart for that.”
She looks up. Almost hopefully. “How would you feel if Kate told you she couldn’t have any more kids?”
I take a moment to ponder. To imagine the possibilities. “If Kate told me I could bang her all I wanted and I never had to worry about knocking her up? I’d do the Irish jig down Fifth f**king Avenue. It’d be like Christmas every day. No more PMS, no more abstaining for three to five days every month . . . unless you let Steven go wading in the crimson tide? Which, if you do, please lie to me.”
Period sex is a deal breaker for Kate. No matter what I say, no matter what I do, she’s not interested. Which I will never understand. We’re hunters, ladies. We like blood. It’s part of the reason action flicks and war movies have so much of it. We don’t think it’s gross. We don’t think it’s messy. It’s just . . . more lubrication.
Don’t look at me like that. I’m just being honest.
The tears have almost dried up. Alexandra sniffles and hiccups. “But don’t you want more children?”
“Sure, I want more. James is the best. I’d have twenty with Kate. In theory. Reality’s a different story. Kids are hard.”
“You need to talk to Steven. You’re torturing the guy. It’s cruel and unusual punishment.”
“What if he looks at me differently?”
“How can you be sure?”
I lean forward and try to find the right words. “Because . . . because when Kate was pregnant with James? She was as big as a house—and I still wanted to f**k her every bit as much as I want to right now. Because when I look at her? I just see Kate . . . the woman who walked into my life five years ago and screwed it all up. Who shook me out, turned me upside down, and made me . . . more. So even when she gets wrinkly or gray? She’ll still be Kate. She’ll still make me laugh and make me crazy . . . and she’ll still love me more than I will ever deserve. And I know that Steven feels the same way about you.”