“All right.” A pause. “How did it go with Elizabeth Watson?”
“I didn’t recognize her, Bri.” I sound disappointed and, damn it, I am.
“That’s too bad.” She seems just as despondent as me.
“I invited her for brunch tomorrow so we can come to some sort of an arrangement about this child.” If in fact it’s mine.
“It’s your baby, Gabriel. She said so.”
I swirl the ice in the glass and another memory races across my consciousness. A cube of ice, luscious tits. I roll the glass across my brow. Why can’t I bloody hell remember? “I can’t blindly believe it just because she told you it was.” Especially after she placed my paternity in question. “I need proof.”
She sighs. “Very well. Keep me informed.”
“I will. Goodnight. And Bri?”
“Thank you for everything.”
“Oh, Gabe. You’ve done enough for me. It’s about time I returned the favor. Goodnight.”
Hours later I wake, still on the couch, telly blathering with an infomercial. By my watch, it’s 3:18. I grab my cane and stumble my way to the bedroom, strip and fall exhausted into the king-sized bed. My dreams torture me with images of a gardenia-scented female body, mine pounding into hers. Something bound to live only in my imagination, for such an event will never come my way again.
THE FOLLOWING MORNING comes around a bit too soon. After dressing, I fidget about my townhouse, straightening pillows on the couch, alphabetizing spices on the spice rack. Having developed an aversion to strong scents, I stay away from the more fragrant ones. Even a whiff of my gardenia perfume makes me gag. So I gave it up rather than barf.
There are a lot fewer spices since Casey Jackson, the foster brother who raised me since I was six, moved out a month ago. The place seems so quiet without him. Strange, since he rarely spent time here toward the end.
He dragged his feet on the move, but I insisted. After all, he’d done quite enough for me, and now he needs his own life. We get together for Sunday brunch at his new condo off Wisconsin Avenue, the place he and his girlfriend, a nurse at Georgetown University hospital, bought together.
Before he left, I found a new roommate, but she shacked up with her boyfriend instead, waiting until the day before her move-in date to let me know. She forfeited the security deposit and first month’s rent so I have enough to pay the current and next month’s payments. But I’ll need a new roommate after that.
The thought of a new search with the endless phone calls and emails tacked on to a full time job and night law school classes exhausts me. But it’s something I need to do. If I don’t locate a new roommate, I’ll have to find some place a great deal cheaper than the Alexandria townhouse where I now live. As it is, my share of the rent is astronomical, half my monthly paycheck. So paying the full amount is beyond my means.
I grab a white sweater, open the blinds. While I wait for Samuel, I smooth down my dress, an empire waistline navy blue and white outfit I bought in London. Don’t know why I chose to wear a dress which accentuates my slight baby bump since I do just the opposite at work, hiding my pregnancy behind loose smocks and business jackets. Not that it’s done any good. Everybody knows I’m pregnant.
No one’s been bold enough to ask who’s the baby’s father, but the secretaries whisper when I walk by their desks. And I’ve caught more than one conversation behind my back. But what most upsets me is the change in my work assignments. Although Mr. Carrey continues to give me meaningful work, other partners and associates delegate menial jobs, rather than the meaty projects I enjoyed before my pregnancy became noticeable.