“Honestly, David. You’re really going to make me do this?” I asked my husband of three years. He sat two feet across from me on the bed as he flipped his hand toward his face. “Come on. Hand it over.”
Negro tried to appear serious, but he grinned broader than a crooked car salesman. I lifted an eyebrow at him. He enjoyed this way too much, eyes practically danced with anticipation over my enlarged breasts and swollen belly.
I play-pouted, removed my shirt, and flung it onto his head. “How do I know you’re telling the truth, huh?”
“Because, babe, Shmetcher is not a real word.” He sniffed my shirt before tossing it with my footies which became wedged against his backside. Evidence of another word I’d lost. Funny. Every game David chose ended in strip something. Strip Monopoly; strip Pictionary, strip Name-That-Tune. And usually I lost.
“Bren, you should know better, being a writer.” He eyed me as though he’d won a large sum of money.
“I never claimed to be a pro speller or writer. I don’t want to play this game anymore. Cheater,” I teased, giving a coy smile.
He chuckled, ogling my boobs darn-near busting out of my ill-fitted bra.
“You’re the one cheating,” he said. “Speaking of which, did you call Shana? I know you did after you promised you wouldn’t. Admit it.”
Can’t do it. I can’t look at him.
I lifted my eyes to meet his sparkly brown ones, but my chin dipped, which was a straight up giveaway. David pushed the board game aside. We’d played it for close to an hour while sitting in our candle-lit room, nestled in our unmade bed. The smell of strawberries had long departed, and traces of cracker crumbs and cheese shavings rested on a tray by the corner of the nightstand.
“What happened?” he asked.
I held my palms in the air. “She got upset when I asked why she didn’t come to the baby shower. She said I didn’t have a right to disrupt her day with foolishness.”
“See, babe. I told you. I knew she’d have a lame excuse. Stop setting yourself up.”
“You’re right. Shana claimed some phony illness I never heard of.”
“What?” David leaned back and brushed his big toe across my stomach.
I arched my upper lip and smacked his ankle. My mood switched that quick. Not because of David’s hobbit foot, but the mention of my stepmother, Shana. I heaved a sigh so tough my chest nearly deflated. It had been a year since my dad’s death and instead of my relationship with Shana growing chummier, our distance intensified. “She said she gets a dizzy condition whenever she has arthritis in her hand and a sore hip at the same time.” I rubbed my stomach.
David repositioned himself, his weight now on one elbow, and his face close to my thighs. “You have got to be kidding? The woman is never going to change. You do know this. Cut your ties now, before our son is born.”
“You’re one to talk. You allow your babies’ mama—”
I couldn’t finish my ugly remark before his hand flew up in protest. Any statement that started with baby followed by mama guaranteed mild irritation from David.
“First of all, you equate what I do for my kids as watching out for Julie.”
“But, Shana is my mother.”
“She’s my mother,” I emphasized. “After all, she raised me. That’s why I continue to try.”
“She raised you, all right.” His tone slammed my position. “People treat their dogs better than she treats you.”
He’d uncorked my fractured youth, the part that wanted Shana to look at me and smile because she thought I was pretty and smart and good.
As grown as I was, thirty-six and close to being in the “old mamas” club, my heart longed for the warmth of her touch, to be seen by her, and to have her stroke my back.
I wanted what my younger sister, Sherrie, got. But, of course, I didn’t come from Shana’s womb.
I’m gonna be different with my baby. I’ll give every ounce of love I have.
My eyes glazed over by the time my thoughts returned to David. He leaned in and kissed my knee, then my thigh, and my belly. He traced it with his fingertips to the point it tickled, although I didn’t flinch. My baby—our baby—moved. I stared down at David. He tilted his head up at me and gave a side grin. It was genuine and full of promise for our future.
I had everything I needed.
Never Too Late will be available October 23rd, on Amazon!