Nick looked at me, his hands wrapped around the cell bars. He did not look happy.
“They let Hunter go,” Nick complained. “Why the hell am I still here?”
I folded my arms across my chest. “Because I need to talk to you.”
He looked at me surprised. “What?”
“Nick, do you realize how much bullshit I had to think up in order to make sure you weren’t booked?” I said, my foot tapping on the ground.
“No,” he said. “But, this wasn’t my fault. Hunter---“
I held up my hand. “Nick, stop. This thing with Hunter is going too far. I appreciate that you’re trying to protect me, but at the same time you’re not just Joe Blow off the street. One more mug shot and the guys are going to kill you. You don’t want to lose everything you’ve worked for because my stupid ex can’t keep his trap shut.”
Nick ran a hand through his hair; it was getting long again. “He just started spewing off about you and how used up you were and—“
I leaned closer to the cell. The look on my face must have been deadly; he stopped mid sentence.
“How did he find out I was pregnant?” I asked quietly. Nick looked at me guiltily.
“He just kept going on about Jess and how you couldn’t deliver and I---“
“So you had to brag? DAMN you males and your egos!” I yelled out. I was feeling spiteful. I slapped my palm on the bars, my voice lowering so much it was barely inaudible. “For all we know your ego didn’t do the job anyhow.”
Nick looked like I had stabbed him. “Liv—“
I cut him off again. “Nick, I spent four years in a relationship where Hunter controlled everything. He didn’t ask my thoughts or opinions about anything. Whatever he wanted to do he did it. I’ll be damned if I’m going to get into another relationship where the male thinks that he can just do whatever he wants and I’m going to sit back quietly. I’m not a doormat.”
“I know you’re not a doorma—“
“No, Nick. Just today you told my mom I was pregnant, you were looking pregnancy books up at the library where I work, and then you go and tell my ex. Did I have a say in any of that? No.”
I turned my back on him. My chest rose and fell in barely suppressed rage. His arm stretched through the bars for me; I felt his fingers touch my back.
“Liv, I’m sorry. I don’t know what I was thinking. Well, I guess I wasn’t thinking.”
I turned back to him. His forehead was pressed rested hard on the bars. He looked like a shelter puppy desperate for a home.
“You’ve just got to promise that we’re going to work together,” I said. He nodded.
“And you’ve got to promise to try to control that temper,” I said.
He sighed. “I promise.”
I walked over and kissed him softly. He looked at me sadly. “Can I come out now?”
I smiled softly. “Yeah, we’ll let you out.”
I motioned to Larry who was stationed just down the hall. He walked up and unlocked the cell doors.
Nick walked out. He wrapped me in a hug.
“Alright, get out of here, before I change my mind,” Larry said.
We walked out of the station; Nick’s arm wrapped around my waist.
“So, how in the world did you manage to get me out without anyone pressing charges?” he said. He sounded impressed.
Nick managed to behave for the next three days. While he worked with 24-Hour Fitness to create some promotional materials and prepare for an autograph signing at the store, I completed my last three days at the library until September. I had managed to hold down actual food and Nick and I had managed to keep the police station incident from my mom. A six-pack of beer to Larry as a bribe played a big part in that plan.
As I punched out on my last day, I looked around. It seemed weird that in just a few days I’d be back on the road with the guys. Like Nick had told me a long ago, the itch to get back on the road was palpable.
Of course, even before we headed to Washington, Nick and I had decided that a trip to Atlanta was necessary. Deep down, I just couldn’t see springing the news on Brian and Leighanne the first day on the road. By the time we told Leighanne and Brian, I would be yet another week along. It just couldn’t wait.
As I was headed out to my mom’s car, my cell phone rang. I answered as I pressed the trunk release button to put my book bags in the trunk.
“Olivia? This is Daniel Share.”
“Oh, hello Mr. Share,” I said. I unlocked my door and got in.
“I just received a letter from Hunter’s attorney,” Mr. Share said. “I guess I’m a little confused.”
I arched an eyebrow. “Confused? Is it about the credit card fraud? I decided I just didn’t want to slow the divorce down. I’m going to let bygones be bygones.”
“No, it’s not that,” he said. “I just received news that you’re expecting?”
By the time this was all over, the whole town was going to know. I might as well have just gone on the local news and broadcasted it.
“Yes, I am. But, why would Hunter’s attorney tell you that?” I asked.
“Well, Hunter told the attorney there’s a possibility that the baby is his.”
My mouth fell open. I stared at my phone incredulously.
I made a sound halfway between a laugh and a snort. “There’s absolutely no way he’s the father.”
Mr. Share sighed. “Unfortunately, Wisconsin law states that if the wife is pregnant at the time of filing or becomes pregnant after filing, the divorce case will be suspended until the child is born or the pregnancy otherwise ends. Without proof otherwise, we’re going to have to put the case on hold.”
“You have got to be kidding me. Why is he doing this?” I said, more to myself than to the man on the other end of the line.
“To be honest with you, it’s a little suspicious that you dropped the case on the credit card fraud,” Mr. Share continued. “Are you sure that your relationship is completely dissolved?”
I suppressed a whole string of expletives. Instead I just hung up on him.
I remembered my speech to Nick about controlling his temper. At the moment, my words were coming back to bite me in the butt.
If I had a gun, I would shoot Hunter.
On the way to the gym, I decided I wouldn’t tell Nick about this latest development until we were on the plane. That way, Nick would be out of the state of Wisconsin and out of choking range of Hunter. If he landed in jail a second time, no fast talking from me would get him out.
It was a Friday night; the gym was absolutely packed. Eighty percent of the people making up the line that stretched down the street were female. As I got out of my car and walked towards the building, I saw the front glass windows covered with posters of a shirtless Nick. If that didn’t sell memberships, I didn’t know what else would.
As I walked up to the door, a couple women began to complain.
“The line is way back there. Wait your turn.”
“Yeah, we’ve been here for two hours,” the lady said.
I looked back at the line again. Two more hours on my feet was not happening. I ducked into the sub shop next door and bought myself a grilled chicken sub for dinner. I took my time eating. My doctor had prescribed me some nausea medication that had lessened the severity of my morning/all-day sickness. For two days straight, I had been able to keep down three balanced meals a day. After tossing my trash, I got in line again to buy a sub for Nick. I loaded it up with veggies and skipped the mayo; he wouldn’t be happy, but after promoting health all day, he’d have to live without the mayo. Clutching the bag, I walked back over to the gym.
The line was still long, but I was armed with food. I walked back up to the door. Another set of women glared at me haughtily.
“You have to wait in line,” they said, pointing behind their shoulders. I smiled.
“I don’t think Nick wants to eat a sub that had to wait in line two hours,” I said sweetly.
They looked at each other. “And why do you think Nick’s going to eat your sub?” the smaller of the two asked.
Because he’s eaten a lot more than my sub, I thought to myself.
“I’m his girlfriend,” I said. I glanced at the staff member at the door. He was the same one that was working the day of the fist fight.
“Yeah right,” the woman said. She tried to bump me out of the way. The guy looked at me, I saw something click. He pushed the lady back, letting me through.
I smiled over my shoulder as the two women stared daggers at me.
Two more employees were busy at a table to the left taking new registrants. Nick was seated on a weight lift bench. He wore a black tank top that made his muscular arms stand out even more as he signed autographs and took pictures.
As he finished up an autograph, he looked up and met my eye. He broke into a wide smile.
“Hey you,” he said. He reached forward to grab another picture to sign.
“Hey,” I said.
“I smell food,” he said. He stopped to pose and smile as a fan came to his side for a picture. When she walked away, his eyes went directly to the plastic bag.
“Sub for you,” I said. “I figured you worked up an appetite sitting there in that tank top.”
His eyes sparkled. “You like it?”
He continued to sign autographs and take pictures for another hour. Finally the line dwindled down until it was completely gone.
The manager walked up, a big smile on his face. I concluded that he must have just finished counting up new memberships. He shook Nick’s hand heartily.
“I’m so glad we were able to work this out,” the manager said, as if the entire thing had been his idea. Nick just nodded, smiling as they shook hands.
“Well, I’m glad to do it and I am truly sorry for any trouble that was caused,” Nick added.
“You’re welcome back here anytime, Mr. Carter,” the manager said.
After packing up his bag, Nick looked my way. I held out his sub.
“Did you eat?” he asked. I nodded. “I ate a whole sub,” I said. “And chips. And a chocolate chip cookie.”
Nick laughed. “Do I have all that in here?” he shook the bag.
“Nope you have a healthy sandwich.”
To his credit, he didn’t make a face until we got to the car. “No mayo?”
I laughed. “No mayo. Just in case you had to discuss your sub to a crowd of fans I thought gobs of mayo would ruin the effect.”
I dug through my purse. When my hand reemerged I held out several packets of mayo.
“But I got your back, dawg,” I said. He laughed.
He turned on the radio and we sat in the car with the windows down. A soft breeze was blowing; the smell of chicken danced in the air as he devoured the sub. My mind floated back to Mr. Share’s phone call. I felt like a bird that had just been caged.