My heart warmed, “How did you even know how far along I was though?”
“I overheard Chase talking to Brad about your due date.” His face fell at the same time my little gummy bear started in on a string of softer kicks.
“Oh there he goes again!” I grabbed Brandon’s hand and put it on my stomach.
I don’t know why I did it, that wasn’t fair to do to him. I was silently cursing myself for unintentionally hurting Brandon even more, but his face lit up as he whispered he could feel them. We stood like that for a couple minutes until I remembered Chase was waiting for me, and might walk in on this. He didn’t care when the guys he lived with or worked with would rub my belly, but I’m sure he would throw a fit if he saw Brandon do it. I stepped away, but kept smiling at him so I wouldn’t come across as rude.
“So um, why are you up so early?”
He blinked and looked up from my stomach before going back to retrieve his mug, “Couldn’t sleep last night, so I went surfing this morning.”
“They were decent.” He shrugged, “Why are you here this early? I thought Chase left for his parent’s last night.”
“No, he stayed. He texted me not too long ago asking me to come over. Speaking of, I should probably go let him know I’m here.” Brandon and I hadn’t shared more than a handful of words since our breakup, and I honestly would have loved to sit on the couch and talk to him for hours, there was so much I wanted to say to him.
Brandon nodded slowly and flashed a quick smile, “It was good to see you Harper.”
“You too.” I walked to the hallway entrance and turned back to find him watching me with a sad expression, the same one he’d worn every time I’d seen him in the last few months. “I never meant to hurt you Brandon, I hope you know that.”
I hurried down the hall and turned the knob to Chase’s room. It was locked so I knocked and stood there for a few seconds, pressing my ear to the door to hear if there was movement. There wasn’t, he probably fell back asleep since it took me so long to get here. With a sigh I turned back and walked into the kitchen where Brandon was rinsing out his mug. He turned to leave and started when he saw me.
“I thought you were going…?”
“His door is locked, he probably fell asleep again.”
“Oh.” He looked towards the hall on the opposite side of the living room that would lead to his room, then back to me, “I could make you breakfast? I don’t have anything going on today.”
“Don’t worry about it, I already ate. I’m probably going to –”
A door opened down the hall and my jaw dropped to the floor when I saw Trish walk out in nothing but underwear and Chase’s favorite concert shirt. She rubbed her eyes and stretched, causing the shirt to rise up farther.
“Was someone knocking?” She asked groggily.
Oh. My. Word. No effing way she just walked out of Chase’s room. I spared a quick glance to Brandon whose face was getting red with anger and staring at the hall, then pushed past Trish to walk into Chase’s room that now had the door wide open. Chase was asleep in bed in only his boxers, his arm stretched out where I guess Trish’s body had just been. All the air left my lungs and I had to grab the door frame with one hand and the knob with the other to keep myself standing.
“Harper?” Brandon breathed behind me.
I turned and tears started streaming down my face when I saw him. I’d hurt him so badly, cheated on him and crushed him though he’d never once done anything but love me. Now here I am looking at my boyfriend and the father of my unborn child after a night with another woman. I would expect Brandon to smirk, say that karma’s a bitch, and I deserved this. Instead his face was worried when he looked at me, and downright murderous when he glanced at Chase. I stumbled away from both of them and down the hall, stopping short when I saw Bree. She was standing across the living room from me with Konrad, both looking like they just woke up and didn’t understand why Trish was in the kitchen. Bree did a double take when she saw me, Brandon now behind me again, and her eyes went wide as her head slowly turned back to the kitchen.
“YOU BITCH!” She screeched and lunged towards Trish, Konrad barely caught her arms and slammed her back to his chest. “You whore! He’s about to have a baby!”
A painful sob broke out of my chest when Trish simply smirked at me, then Breanna. “I ha – I have to – I have to go.” I grabbed for my keys in my purse and dropped them, before I could bend down to get them, Brandon grabbed them and ushered me toward the front door.
He walked me to my car and opened the passenger door, “Get in, I’m not going to let you drive.”
“Harper!” Bree yelled as she ran down the driveway, “Harper, are you okay?”
“Why would I be okay?! I thought you were watching them!”
“We were, I swear we both thought he went back to Mom’s so we went to sleep.”
I covered my face and leaned into the seat, “God, I knew this would happen.”
“Let me take you to Mom’s Harper.”
“I can’t Bree, I can’t go there yet. I can’t tell her about this.”
She unbuckled my seat belt and pulled me into a hug, her tiny frame shaking with sobs. “I can’t believe this is happening Harper, I’m so sorry. I swear we were watching them, I swear!”
“I believe you, it’s not your fault.” I let my head drop to her shoulder, “I always knew he would leave me.”
“I’ll castrate him for this, Harper.”
I took in a deep breath and sank back into my seat, “Bree stop. This was his decision. I was stupid to think he would want to be with me and raise this baby.” Bree started to talk but I cut her off, “Can you tell Mom and Dad please? I can’t face them yet, and I don’t think I can tell them.”
“Where are you going to go?” She spoke through the lump in her throat.
“I don’t know. I’ll come home, just not yet. I can’t handle possibly running into him right now.”
She eyed Brandon warily from where he was in the driver seat, then looked back to me, “Call me. Just because he messed up, please don’t leave us, we all love you too Harper.”
“I won’t, promise. I just need a few hours to think, I’ll see you tonight. Love you Bree.”
“I love you too friend.” She squeezed my hand before shutting my door and stepping back to Konrad, tears still pouring down her face.
“Drive Brandon, please. Just go anywhere.”
He cranked the car and turned to leave the neighborhood, my phone chimed before we’d gone more than a block, it was a message from Chase. Against my better judgment, I opened the text and slapped my hand over my mouth to cover my disturbed cry.
I powered down my phone and threw it to the back of the car, it hit the back seat with a loud smack. Closing my eyes didn’t help, all I could see was those freaking pictures, so I forced them open and tried to concentrate on each individual house, tree, lamppost and car we passed. It wasn’t working. All I saw was Chase and Trish, his hand cupping one of her nak*d br**sts, eyes closed tight, lips locked. The next picture, his lips pressed to her neck, her head tilted back and mouth parted in ecstasy. Chase’s forearm and below were cut off by the bottom of the picture, but from the way his arm was going down the middle of her body, I had no doubt where his hand had been. A small part of me noticed the irony that Brandon was now driving me away from the house after seeing pictures from Chase’s phone, but this was different. Brandon hadn’t actually cheated, Amanda had just sent pictures of herself to break us up. Chase was definitely in, and participating in the pictures I’d just gotten, and our relationship was much farther along than just a week with Brandon.
After a few more minutes of driving, Brandon spoke, “What was it?”
I stared at the road ahead of us, and then out the side window. I let another minute go by before I responded, “Photos of them. Together.” I knew Trish was the one who took the pictures, since her arm was stretched out, and I was positive she was the one that sent them from his phone, but that didn’t change anything. It still happened.
Brandon’s right hand clenched the steering wheel ‘til his fingers were white, his left ran over his buzzed hair, down his face and stopped at his mouth. “I’m so sorry Harper.”
I snorted and turned my head to stare at him, “Why? I deserve this, it’s what I did to you.”
“No you don’t.” He said sternly, “You don’t deserve this at all.” He put the car in park and turned it off.
“Where are we?” I looked at the cliff overlooking the ocean, it was a beautiful view and there were benches near the edge.
“I came here a lot after I found out about you and Chase. I’m sorry, I can take you somewhere else, I just didn’t know where to go.”
“This is fine.”
“Uh, if you want to sit out there, I’ll wait in here. Or if you want to sit in here I can go outside.”
“I’ll go out there, you don’t have to stay Brandon.”
He gently grabbed my hand, “I’ll be here, and I’ll let Bree know where you are.” When I looked down to our hands he dropped mine and forced both of his onto the steering wheel.
Nodding, I took off the seat belt and made my way to one of the benches. I sat there silently screaming. I screamed at Trish for continuously putting herself out there for my boyfriend and ruining everything. I screamed at Chase for doing this to our son, for breaking my heart, and leaving me for another woman when he promised he wouldn’t. And mostly I screamed at myself, for hurting Brandon and being stupid enough to think that Chase and I could be together for any amount of time. After the anger subsided, the hurt came back full force and I cried and held my stomach, promising our son that I would make sure he had the perfect life. I’d been prepared for a life with my baby, one where Chase didn’t want to be involved, but the last two months he’d been so convincing in playing the part of expecting daddy that it hurt to think about doing this alone. Regardless of what Claire and Bree said, Chase was their family, and he came first. I didn’t know if I’d still be welcome to stay there, and for a few moments I panicked while I thought about where I would go, but I knew when the time came, I could take my money back out of the account and go wherever I needed. I would figure it out and we would be just fine. My gummy bear and me. I cried until no more tears would produce, then sat there some more trying to come to terms with what happened and how different things would be from here on out.
Brandon sat down next to me and spoke softly, “I need to take you to eat something.”
Was he serious? The last thing I was thinking about was food. “I’m not hungry.”
“That’s fine if you’re not,” he sighed and turned my head so I was facing him, “but you’re pregnant Harper, you need to eat something.”
“I told you at the house, I just had breakfast.”
“It’s almost five.” His tone was soft, careful.
I quickly looked at the sky and the placement of the sun. He was right, we’d been here for over eight hours. Now that I knew how much time had elapsed, I started noticing my back was stiff, my bottom was completely numb and my stomach was growling. I tried to stand up but was struggling after being in one position for so long. Brandon wrapped an arm around my waist, pulled me up and helped me to the car. We drove to Panera and Brandon led me to a booth in the back and sat in silence until most of my sandwich was gone.