I didn’t want anyone to be here. I was halfway up the stairs from the basement and I started to creep back down when I heard Hal’s voice. He was calling my name, asking me to open the door, saying he wanted to apologize for the day before.
Had it really just been a day? It felt like years to me since he accused Doug of… In any case, I didn’t want to see him. I didn’t want to see anyone, but especially not him. So I just crept back down the stairs and flinched when the door opened.
“Sebastian?” Hal called. “I know you’re here. Are you in the bathroom?” I stayed in the basement, trying not to breathe. Go away, I thought. Please, go away. “Seb please, I need to talk to you. I want to apologize.”
It only took a moment for him to see the other rooms were empty, and for him to check the basement. I couldn’t hide so I turned to the washer and dryer. “Hey,” I said as he reached the halfway point on the stairs.
“Seb!” He hurried down the last of the stairs and came up behind me. I didn’t turn around. “I’m sorry about yesterday. I lost my temper. It was wrong–beyond wrong–for me to say that stuff about Doug.”
He said Doug’s name like it was poison. He didn’t feel bad about accusing Doug, he felt bad about hurting me. “It’s ok,” I whispered. “I’m not feeling well so you should probably go so you don’t catch anything.” I coughed a couple times, hoping he’d believe me and leave. Please go.
“You’re still mad at me,” he said.
“No, I’m sick–“
“Come on Seb, can we talk–“
“Please go–no–let go of me!”
During this back-and-forth, he moved to my side and I turned away. Then he held onto my arm and finally got me turned around despite my struggle. His hand pulled away from my arm when he saw my face.
“Please,” I mumbled, looking down at the floor. “Just go.”
“Sebastian…” He lifted his hand and then stepped back. “Grim Reaper. Come on.” His hand was on my wrist, pulling me towards the stairs.
I started struggling again. “Let me go! What are you doing? It’s not what you think! I fell!”
Hal spun around, eyes flashing with anger. “You did not fall, Sebastian. You do not get a black eye like that from falling.”
I was able to wrench my wrist free and I retreated to the other side of the room. “I fell, okay? I’m clumsy.”
“You’re not clumsy!” Hal exclaimed, coming towards me again. “Doug hit you!”
I winced at those words, my stomach flipping over. “No,” I whispered, denying it for no apparent reason. Hal would never believe otherwise, but I felt that if I said yes then he’d do something to Doug. “I fell. Okay? I fell.”
His hand was up on the wall next to my head and he leaned in very close. I held my breathe, willing him to just leave. “Why did you quit your job?” he asked and before I could answer, he said, “Doug told you to. Why haven’t you hung out with any of us much? Because he told you to. You’ve become meeker than ever! You’re in this house all day, almost everyday–and now he’s done this?” He reached up and his fingers touched my cheek gently, just under the sore spot. “I can’t just sit here and let this happen, Sebastian. Why are you still with him?”
I stared into his eyes and then looked away, sliding away from him. “Please go.” I wanted to tell him… but he would never understand. Even if I told him how Doug sobbed apologies half the night, begging for me to forgive him, promising he’d do anything to make up for that little accident. He hadn’t meant to hit me. He loved me, he’d never want to hurt me, he just lost his temper–and he did sort of have a point… I had promised to trust him, and then doubted him.
“How can you still love him after he’s done this?” Hal demanded, following me up the stairs. “He hit you. That’s not love.”
“He has a short temper sometimes,” I said without thinking. I covered my mouth, realizing I had just admitted he had hit.
Hal tugged at my sleeve gently. “Temper or not, violence does not indicate love. Sebastian, I–” He stopped and we just stared at each other for a minute, a minute and a half. Complete silence. Then he let go of my sleeve. “I don’t want you to stay here.”
“Doug loves me,” I said stubbornly. “He needs me and I–I want to stay here with him, I love him too.” I looked over at the door, considering throwing him out again. “What happened was an accident. And if you say anything to anyone, I’ll–I’ll never talk to you again, and if anyone shows up asking questions, I won’t tell them the truth. Besides. It will never happen again.”
Hal’s hand was against my cheek. “I hope not,” he whispered. “And if it does, he’ll regret it. I won’t make you do anything you don’t want to do, so I won’t drag you out of here. But if he does anything like this again, just once, then I am going to take action. Do you understand?”
All I could do was nod and watch in silence as he left the house, his shoulders sagging, an aura of defeat around him. I collapsed back against the counter, reaching up to my black eye. It was just an accident.
Doug brought me beautiful roses when he got home and we went for a walk on the beach. He told me he had a big surprise for me, but I wouldn’t find out about it for some time. “Needs some time,” he said with a laugh. “But you’ll love it, I promise.”
Me, Zari, and Vi had a small party for our birthday but I felt a bit uncomfortable around everyone. I felt like if I interacted with them they’d somehow be able to figure out the truth. Plus Doug was there, and Hal pretty much spent the entire time glaring at him. So when Doug suggested we leave early, I gladly agreed.
I knew I’d get in trouble for my early exit, and pretty much everyone left a text or voicemail. Except for Hal. I tried to spend a little time with my family as my surgery date came closer and closer. I told Mom and Dad first. They were all shocked by my news but took it in stride.
“I can’t believe I’ll be getting so many grandkids all at once,” Mom sighed. “You three really do do everything together!”
I told Vi and Zari next, and they took it all right, though Vi did ask me about marriage. I admitted that I didn’t know if and when Doug would propose, and I tried to get the subject to drop since it was one that annoyed me.
I wish he would propose, I thought idly one day. Though… did I really want that? Doug’s temper tantrums and sometimes the way he acted–No. I love him. He loves me.
I was terrified when it came time for my surgery. Doug stayed with me overnight in the hospital and was there when I woke up after I have the procedure done. There was a small scar on my belly though that’d probably be nothing compared to when I actually had to be cut open to have the baby.
“Just think, in ten months we’ll have a baby!” I said when Doug took me home. Doug just frowned, not even looking at me. “We are still planning on having this done next month, right…?” I asked.
“Y-yes,” he said, finally turning towards me. “I need to talk to you though…”
I stiffened. Those were not words I wanted to hear. “What about?” I asked, struggling to get the words out. “Everything okay?”
“Let’s go sit down.” He took my hand and pulled me into the living room. We sat on the couch and I already felt like crying. I wished he’d just get it out, whatever it was. Maybe it’s good, I thought hopefully but I had the feeling it wasn’t.
“Okay, sweetie… what’s going on?” I asked.
He ran his fingers through his hair and looked at me. “I’m not gonna mince words since you deserve the truth, the complete truth. I love you, okay? Please just–keep that in mind. I love you.” He took my hands suddenly. “I had an accident a while ago.”
“Accident?” I asked, my brow wrinkling.
“During all that time when I thought I might be laid off,” he said with a sigh. “I made a mistake. One I regret.” My heart practically stopped. Those words… did he mean what I was scared he meant? “All I could think of was how much we needed the money, so we could have a kid and get a better house one day–I needed to keep my job.”
“You’re mincing words,” I said bluntly.
Doug groaned a bit. “You’re right, I’m sorry. I–I slept with someone else.”
That’s what I thought he was trying to get at, but it certainly didn’t stop me from feeling so sick. I clutched my stomach, air catching in my throat. I couldn’t breathe. A thin sound filled my ears and I soon realized it was me, a sort of wail.
“I’m sorry…” Doug muttered.
“NO YOU’RE NOT!” I yelled, getting up to my feet, almost falling over. “HOW COULD YOU DO THIS TO ME AGAIN?! You–you went on about trust? Accused me of not trusting you? And you–you go and do this?!” I suddenly saw the temptation in striking someone, but I just kept my balled-up fists against my sides.
He stood as well. “I understand you hate me now but let me tell you my other news–“
“Other news?! There’s more?!” I shrieked. “You cheated on me, for the second time, and expect me to–I don’t–I can’t–“
He grabbed hold of me and kissed me rather fiercely. I tried to push him away, but he had a tight grip on me. “Mmmmppph!” I protested, finally managing to shove him back.
He stumbled and then narrowed his eyes at me. “I think you should hear me out, Sebastian! It’s important.”
I wiped off my lips, then glared at him. “You’re a miserable little piece of–“
He folded his arms, watching as I froze. Had he just said that–that he was–what!? “WHAT?!” I screeched.
He held out his hands, looking rather helpless. “That’s my surprise, remember I told you a few weeks ago? I went in to get the procedure done and had everything set up. I am pregnant. With our child.”
“You… c-can’t… without my permission… I never signed…” I faltered, trying to grasp some sort of sense from this situation.
“Everything was already signed,” Doug said quietly. “I told them that you were unable to come in due to family business, and I had it done.”
“When?” I asked, my voice a whisper.
“When I had to go on that overnight trip for work, that was a lie,” he said simply. “I was in the hospital getting it done. Then about five weeks ago I went in to get the rest of the stuff done, and I didn’t need to stay overnight for it. I thought you’d be happy…”
I fell back onto the couch, rubbing my forehead. He had cheated on me, then went and did this. Did he do this just in hopes I wouldn’t be mad about the cheating thing? I had the sinking suspicion he did. But what could I do now? Leave him, with our child in his belly? He’d be devastated and that would be bad for his health, and that would be bad for the baby.
He had put me in a corner, and as he sank down next to me and put his arms around me, I knew perfectly well that he knew what he had done. It was a calculating move, not one of love–but right now… there was nothing I could do.