As I’ve thought before, I have a serious problem. And his name is Gabe.
“I get too caught up in you. Every single time we’re together.” He shifts away from me so he can stare down into my eyes. “It’s like you’re the only thing I focus on when I’m with you, Luce. Hell, even when I’m not with you, you consume my thoughts. It’s…wild.”
His words warm me from the inside out but I frown, wanting to make sure what he’s saying is a good thing. “Wild in a good way or wild in a bad way?”
He chuckles. “In a good way. Well, also in a bad way because I didn’t wear a damn condom.” The laughter stops and I hate that he’s beating himself up over this.
“This is no big deal,” I tell him, placing my hand on his cheek so he looks at me. I’m lying. This is a huge deal but what can I say? What can I do? Absolutely nothing. What’s done is done. We just have to move on and learn from our mistakes.
Hopefully our mistakes won’t come back and bite us both in the butt.
“What the hell calls for this meeting so early?” Tristan asks as he tries to hide a yawn and fails.
I sit across from him and Shep at my kitchen table, the both of them looking a little worse for wear. It’s barely eight o’clock on a Thursday morning and I texted them both last night right after I closed down shop, letting them know we had to meet at my place and I was providing doughnuts from our favorite bakery as incentive. They think this is purely a work thing. Business is slow. I think the novelty of a gambling house just off campus has lost some of its luster. The new students coming in don’t seem that interested. Our regulars are clutching their wallets close like a bunch of old ladies scared of being robbed blind and when we’ve usually opened up on Sunday night by now, instead we’re considering keeping Wednesday night closed too.
It’s not looking good. What’s funny? I’m okay with it.
So yeah. We need to discuss business, but first I have something else to tell them. And the promise of doughnuts brought them in, which didn’t surprise me. I know how to lure them and it’s through their stomachs. I’m the same damn way. Well, and alcohol used to do that for me too. Oh, and the promise of very fine women being readily available.
But Shep has changed his ways. So have I. Tristan’s the only one who’s interested in readily available fine women.
And I’m okay with that.
“First, I have something to tell you both and it’s…personal.” I resist the urge to take a drink from my coffee cup. I’ve already had two cups before they even got here. I don’t really need anymore. I’m jittery enough as it is.
Shep and Tristan look at each other for a moment, before they turn to study me, both wearing concerned expressions. “You okay, man?” Shep asks with a frown.
“You’re not bailing out on us with the casino are you?” Tristan chimes in.
I rear back in surprise. “No way. Why would you think that?”
Tristan shrugs. “It’s not been going well so far. I wouldn’t blame you if you wanted to end it.”
I’m floored. Does Tristan want to end it? “It’s here, at my house. I wouldn’t just do that to you guys.”
“We know this,” Shep says, giving Tristan a meaningful glare. “We’re both worried about the state of business. It’s not that lucrative at the moment but we need to give it a chance.”
“I totally agree,” I say firmly. “I also think we should only keep it open three nights a week.” Damn it, I wanted this topic of conversation to come last. I’m a nervous fucking wreck and the need to spit out what I really want to say is just sitting on the tip of my tongue.
“Good,” Tristan says with a visible sigh of relief. “There’s been so much change around here lately, what with Shep a total goner over Jade and you walking around with moony eyes over Lucy.”
My stomach churns. Great lead into a change of subject. “That’s another thing I wanted to talk to you about.”
They’re both watching me again like I’ve lost my mind.
I grab a napkin and start tearing it into shreds. Anything to keep my anxious fingers under control. “I’m in love with Lucy.”
Tristan rolls his eyes and reaches for the pink box, popping open the lid and pulling out a chocolate bar. “Of course you are. I’m scared to death to drink the damn water, I swear. I think this falling in love stuff is catching.”
“It’s not a bad thing, Tristan. You find the right girl, and suddenly she changes your entire world. She becomes your world.” Shep just nailed my feelings exactly. “And I’m not surprised,” he says like the wizened old man he is in regards to love. “The way you’ve been acting with her these last few weeks, and how she looks at you. You’re a sucker for her, man, and I think she feels the same way. I’m happy for you.”
Could Lucy be in love with me? She’s still so closed mouthed about anything personal or from her past. She’s fed me a few more tidbits lately, but nothing major. It’s like she’s purposely keeping things from me and I don’t like it.
“That’s not all though.” I pause again, secretly enjoying the high drama of the moment as they both watch me expectantly. “I think she might be…pregnant.”
It’s like I just dropped a bomb in the room with that last word. I haven’t said it out loud since that night. Its impact is leaving me reeling.
Tristan nearly spits out the bite of doughnut that’s in his mouth. “Are you fucking kidding me?” he sputters.
I slowly shake my head. “I wish I was.”
Shep tilts his head, contemplating me. “What happened?”
It’s been two weeks since that fateful night and Lucy and I have been together almost every night ever since unless she’s working—and that sort of blows my mind still, though when I ask her exactly why she has to work, she gives me some bullshit excuse about liking to make her own money.
Whatever, I’m getting off track. Spending that much time with one woman is some sort of miracle for me. But it’s been amazing, despite my wondering if she’s keeping secrets. It’s also been worrisome, because what we did, what might result from that, still lingers in the back of my mind. And I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one worried. I think she is too.
Hell, I know she is.
I explain to them briefly what happened, how I forgot to use a condom. I haven’t forgotten again, but I can’t help but think it’s too late. That she’s somehow pregnant with my baby and I’m supposed to take care of her for the rest of my life. That sort of thing should scare the hell out of me. Send me running.
So why does the idea of taking care of Lucy and our baby for the rest of my life not sound so bad? Why am I tempted to do the right thing and stand by her side no matter what, regardless if she’s pregnant or not. Now that’s crazy to even contemplate, but here I am ready to make the offer.
I probably need someone to talk me down off the ledge. This is the reason I’m spilling my guts to Shep and Tristan. I need reasoning, though really these jackasses are not always the most reasonable people I know. But I need my two best friends to help me figure out what I’m going to do.