I furrowed my brow. “What do you mean?”
I knew exactly what she meant.
“I’m six months pregnant.” An excuse, and a flimsy one at that. Sure, my body ached as my stomach had doubled in size in the last month. And yes, I was hungry and tired all the time and could barely get comfortable enough to sleep at night more than a few hours, but it was nothing compared to the sickness of that first trimester.
“You’re a horrible liar,” she said, her voice light, loving.
I had missed her so much, and while this month had been an amazing time catching up with her and helping the locals…pieces of me were still in Raleigh.
“How can you still not know if you’re together?” she asked, taking up a good ole’ mom lean against the table across the room, her arms folded over her chest. It wasn’t the first time she’d asked me, and it wouldn’t be the last.
“I don’t know, Mom.”
“He calls you every week,” she said.
“He wants to check on the baby.” I folded my hand over my growing bump, and the baby kicked in response.
“You love him,” she said.
“I do.” I’d never tried to deny it. “But I shouldn’t have to give up everything I’ve ever worked for just because we have a baby together. Why is his dream more important than mine?”
“Did he really mean it like that, Lib?”
I shook my head.
No, Nixon hadn’t meant it like that, but in reality that’s what it came down to right? His career held more value over mine because it returned the most secure income. Sure, it came with paparazzi and life in the limelight, but the money? It would protect our baby, make sure it had the best healthcare, the best schools, the best everything. But I hadn’t been raised with monetary values, so it was hard for me to wrap my head around it. Even with my profession, where I helped people explore their own minds, I was at a loss on how to fix the situation between Nixon and myself.
“You’re not happy. Admit it,” Mom pressed.
“Not everything is about my own happiness,” I argued.
“Not everything has to be about self-sacrifice either,” she said, crossing the room and kneeling next to me. “Look,” she said. “I know I raised you differently than most kids of your generation. And I don’t regret a second of it. I raised you to stand on your own and explore the world and value substance over quantity. But having a partner who matches your ambition, your passion, and your drive, is not a bad thing. You deserve someone who loves you, and so does this baby. Not everything has to be one or other, Lib. There is such a thing as compromise.”
“You think I don’t know that?” I asked, swallowing hard. “I’ve been going over and over our fight in my head, trying to find some way back to common ground. But…I can’t get past the fact that his dream is more important than mine.”
“You want him to give it up?”
“No!” I sighed. “Of course, not. He’s brilliant at it.” I bit back a smile at the memory of watching his games, how he lit up on that field, and the pride I felt cheering for him. “But, I can’t just throw away my life because of a man.”
Mom sighed, then kissed me on the forehead. “Well, once you figure out what brings your life the most value, you come find me.” She pushed off the floor and disappeared to our shared room.
Her words sunk into me like the drops of rain on the ground outside. I was miserable because I missed Nixon. So this grand dream of mine? Did it really fulfil the longing I’d had all my life?
Not really, not anymore.
But I was so, so proud of the work I was doing here—not to mention the fact that the research hours and internship alone would send me right to graduation. And the idea of leaving it stung me almost as much as the distance between Nix and I.
A ringing from my computer screen chimed before I could fully succumb to my pity party, and I quickly answered the call.
The screen took a few moments to de-pixilate, but soon Nixon’s face filled my screen. He hadn’t shaved since the last time we’d spoken from the look of scruff lining his strong jaw. Purple smudged beneath those dark eyes which were now locked and walled off like they’d been when we’d first met.
“Hi, Nix,” I said, my voice cracking.
“How are you feeling?” he asked, no light dancing in his eyes. No smile shaping those delicious lips. Though, to be fair, I could tell I looked as miserable as he did from the small box showing my image on the screen.
“Good,” I said, scooting back enough so he could see my belly.