Poison's Bend: Chapter 8
I was surprised Ripp Grunt came to my husband’s burial.
I had not told him of Pascal’s death; indeed, I had not even seen my lover for nearly three months. However, I remembered his family was from Strangetown; he had likely read the obituary in the paper or someone had told him of it.
I couldn’t help but notice out of the corner of my eye the odd looks he was giving me during the ceremony.
Directly after the service, he cornered me, angrier than I’d ever seen him. “Why the hell didn’t you tell me you were fucking pregnant, Aerin?” he demanded. “No wonder you've been hiding from me for the last three fucking months!” He folded his arms and stared at me intently. “Well? Is it mine?”
“Be quiet!” I hissed. “This is neither the time nor the place to discuss...”
“Fuck the time and place!” Ripp interrupted, but he did grasp my elbow and pull me toward the house, away from the other mourners. “Now you will fucking tell me,” he continued, pointing to my rounded abdomen. “Is that kid mine?”
I looked away from him and sighed. This hadn’t been how I had planned to tell him, but he knew now; there was no escaping it, and he did need to be told.
“Oui,” I whispered, sighing. “Yes, I believe the baby is yours, Ripp,”
He stared at me with wide, frightened blue eyes for a few seconds before he swore loudly and pounded the brick wall of the house with his bare fist!
Then a strangled sob escaped him, and he whirled on me furiously! “Goddamn you, Aerin! Damn you! You told me I didn’t need to use any birth control!”
“I’m sorry, Ripp,” I said frantically, “...but I...”
“Well tell me what the fuck am I supposed to do now?” he demanded. “I haven’t even finished my freshman year at LFT! What the fuck am I supposed to do?” He began to cry, and slid down the side of the house until he was sitting on the ground, his arms resting on his knees and his face hidden. His shoulders heaved pathetically.
I stood silently for a long moment, watching him, then I sat down next to him rather clumsily, putting my arms around his huddled form. He didn’t pull away, but instead sobbed anew and clung to me; his fingers pulling at my dress, his tears soaking my shoulder.
Like a child.
And, like a child, I comforted him.
“It’s all right, Ripp,” I murmured, stroking his hair soothingly. “You don’t have to do anything. You can still finish your degree. Nothing really has to change...”
“No, Aerin.” he protested, raising his head and wiping his eyes angrily. “Listen, you may think because I am the way I am that I never wanted kids. Well, that’s not true. I like kids, and I’ve always seen myself with kids, even though it fucking scares the shit out of me.” He sighed shakily and looked up at the springtime sky. “I wasn’t planning on having any this soon ... more like in about twenty fucking years...”
“I’m sorry,” I said again.
“It’s done,” he said, shrugging. “But I’ll be damned if I let you keep my baby and only get to see him or her whenever you fucking feel like it!”
“Ripp, you know that I wouldn’t...”
“It’ll take me about a week to get everything taken care of up at Fiesta Tech,” he interrupted. “...all the paperwork and shit. Then I’ll be back.”
“What… you… You’re dropping out of school?”
“Yeah. And I want to move in with you. I don’t have anywhere else to go. I can’t go home. Not now, not ever... and I want to be with my kid. And I do love you, Aerin.” He took my hands and sighed deeply. “I mean, I wanted to wait about twenty years to settle down, like I said... but whenever I did, I wanted it to be with someone like you.”
I stroked his cheek and smiled.
“So I guess it’s a good thing you’re having my kid now.” He placed his hands on my belly. “I mean, ‘cause in twenty years you’d be way too old.”
“Thank you for reminding me of that,” I said, sighing irritably. “Ripp, I have these mourners here. I have a responsibility to them, and my stepson needs me... ”
“I know,” he said quickly. “I’ll call you later.” Discreetly, he kissed me and then he left, getting into his car and heading back toward the campus.
I watched him go, my sorrowful heart slowly filling with elation.
The child had matured right before my eyes. I was so proud, and I loved him so much.
This was what was meant to be.
Surely it was.
To Be Continued...