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With This Heart: Part Two
Rubbing her stinging eyes against her shirt sleeve, Paisley pushed the memories away, determined that she would no longer dwell on what she couldn’t have. A recent visit from a svelte black goddess, a woman so different not only in looks but temperament, had sent her world crashing to the ground.
At first she hadn’t believed the woman who’d cornered her at the student cafeteria. Surely her Kaleb wasn’t a cheater, hadn’t lied to her when he’d promised she was the only one – that her milky skin, auburn hair, and girl-next-door looks were more than enough for him. But with one deft move, the woman freed the chain of an identical locket from her shirt, proving that Paisley’s place in his life was just one of many.
Even the words the woman had tossed at her had been cruel. “Do you honestly think you are the only hole he’s been dipping his wick in, white girl? He does this every time before he gets shipped out, after giving each one us this worthless trinket.” The sneer on the woman’s face had completely ruined her attractiveness. “That Kaleb of mine, is a play-ha from way back. You’re not the first newbie to fall for his devilish good blackness. He likes to brag to his Army buddies about the desperate white chicks he’s screwed before leaving. Let me guess he told you he was leaving and wanted to take a beautiful memory, but he’d wait if you weren’t ready…although you are the first one he’s actually knocked up – if the baby is even his.”
Agony had ripped at her soul. The man she’d thought loved her had indeed uttered those very words, and like any other naïve virgin she’d fallen for it. It hurt that it had been nothing more than a ploy to get her in his bed. She’d quietly gathered up her books and left, her head held high as the rest of students had watched with bated breath. Evidently they’d expected a throw down or a cat-fight but she wasn’t that type of person. She’d stayed strong, refusing to cry or even show how deeply the woman’s taunts had cut as she’d left, refusing to give them the satisfaction. She wouldn’t have given the woman the gratification of seeing how much she was hurting, or how much she wished she was different and could give the woman the fight she’d obviously been angling for. But she now had another to consider – the baby she carried under her heart.
* * * *
Paisley didn’t remember how she’d gotten back to her small apartment, but as soon as the door was locked behind her, all of her defenses had crumbled. Her books fell to the floor, her keys were tossed carelessly on the stand, and her shoes were kicked in the general direction of the shoe rack. She’d stumbled down the hall, in search of her shower – her sanctuary, leaving a trail of discarded clothing. Dazed by the unexpected confrontation and pregnancy hormones, she didn’t even notice the mess she’d made to her normally pristine home.
Stepping into the steamy spray, the floodgates opened. Tears spilled down her cheeks only to be washed away by the water. Leaning against the cool tile, she cried as everything fell apart. She shouldn’t have been surprised by Kaleb’s betrayal but she was none the less. She’d prayed he was different from her biological father, the one who had abandoned her mother and her when she was eight. Not that I don’t love my step-dad. A wonderful man, he’d been more a dad than he had to be to the bratty ten year old who had more knowledge than good sense.
That only made her cry harder as she wondered what kind of dad Kaleb would be. Probably an awesome dad. He was so understanding…if he decides to play a part in our child’s life. She huddled under the water, realizing there may be a very real chance he wouldn’t want anything to do with their child. Remember he’s a “play-ha”.
“Well, player or not, he’ll take responsibility for our child. I didn’t get this way all by myself.” Taking the loofah, she scrubbed her body, before washing her long hair. Within moments, she was out of the shower and wrapping the huge towel she’d kept around for Kaleb around her body. Fingering the soft threads, she closed her eyes as fresh hurt spread at the idea of sharing their child with him, but not being part of a family.
This wasn’t what she’d expected when she’d taken him to the airport to catch his plane after her first night of intimacy. He’d made her feel special, and she’d never forget how he’d held her, cradled her as she gave him her innocence. His ardent kiss before he’d left had promised he would be back – that he would return for her. As a Reservist, he’d gotten called up six months ago to do a tour of duty in the Middle East and she’d understood. He’d made a commitment. And he always keeps his promises. It’d been about two weeks after he’d left that she’d found out she was pregnant despite the fact they’d used birth control.
At first she’d been shocked into a state of denial. Her period was just late. It happened. But after missing her second one, she’d finally pulled her head out of the sand to take a home pregnancy test she’d bought off campus. She’d been both afraid and joyous when the second line had appeared. She loved kids but wasn’t sure how to let Kaleb know about her pregnancy. This wasn’t something that she’d wanted to blurt out over the phone or in a letter – but with his tour lasting six months she had to tell him before he came home. There was no way she could hide it or expect him to understand when he found her big as a whale.
She’d finally gathered her courage up about a month after she’d found out. She’d taken the chicken-shit way out and written him a letter, including a grainy picture of an ultrasound. Why she’d felt inclined to send him proof, she didn’t know other than the fact she was already proud of the little one growing under her heart. It made it seem more real. So for three weeks she’d waited to hear from him. Just when she’d thought that he’d written her off, she’d gotten an international call at three in the morning.
Her fingers tightened around the towel at the memory of his excited voice. He’d seemed nervous but happy. The first thing he’d asked her was if she was going to keep it. As if she’d throw away their baby. He’d relaxed after that, pleased that she wasn’t going to do something foolish while he was out of the country. There had been no mention of marriage, wedding rings or even moving into together. Kaleb had wanted to wait until he was face to face to talk about that. The irony of it now wasn’t surprising now. He probably never planned on seeing me again.
The ring of the phone had her jumping. Glancing at the caller id, she hissed as she recognized the international area code. It was him...the cheating bastard.
TO BE CONTINUED...