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Authors: Meg Jolie

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BOOK: Holding On
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He had a crease between his eyebrows and he was no longer bothering to look at her. His hand hit the doorknob and he swung the door open. A light spring breeze floated in.

“No. It really can’t,” he said decisively.

“Can we at least talk about this?” she asked. Her voice wobbled and cracked. He didn’t seem to notice.

“We’ll talk,” he assured her
.

His eyes looked glazed over. He was clearly dazed so she was trying to forgive him for his unexpected
, unacceptable behavior. Carly had warned her he might need some time. Quinn hadn’t thought it would be within the first five minutes of finding out.

“Are you going to be here later?”
he asked. His eyes finally darted back to her face. Yet she had an uncanny hunch that he still wasn’t looking at her. He certainly wasn’t
focused
on her. He was far too distracted.

Where else would she
be? She’d just announced to him she was pregnant. It wasn’t as though she’d planned on heading to the bar with her friends afterwards. Or to a college party with her underage sister.

“Yeah,” she said. Her voice sounded
strange in her ears. It sounded too tight and high pitched. “I’ll be here.”

She
looked away, trying to tamp down the rush of tears that were prickling behind her eyes. She’d hoped she’d be leaving with him, which apparently was not going to be the case. So, yes, she’d be here. She’d thought he’d stick around so they could tell her parents. Or at the very least
discuss
how they were going to tell each of their parents.

She took a deep breath.

If Jake was going to abandon her, at least here at their parents’ house, she had Carly.

He lurched
forward, placing his hands on her shoulders. He dropped a kiss on her forehead. The gesture felt like an afterthought. He darted out of the door, pulling it closed behind him.

She stood there blinking back tears and wondering what had just happened.
He hadn’t even said goodbye.

She’d spent the afternoon with
Carly who had managed to lull her into a false sense of security. Carly had convinced her that everything would be fine.

Jake had walked out on her.

It was not fine. Nothing about the situation was fine.

What the heck did Carly know?

She leaned up against the door and closed her eyes. She heard his truck door slam, the engine start, and the sound of him pulling out and driving away.

What was she
supposed to do? What was the right thing to do? She didn’t know. Was she supposed to follow him? Beg him to stay? Plead with him to talk to her? The hollow, aching inside of her told her that she should’ve.

She felt as if a piece of her very soul had just walked out of the door. Her entire being ached, wanting to be with him when she needed him the most.
Should she have chased after him? A part of her wanted to. A huge part of her. But she wasn’t going to stoop to that. Not if she could help it. Instead, she slumped against the door just as she had slumped against the bathroom wall. A sob bolted past her lips. For the second time that day the tears began to fall.

 

*~*~*

 

“That bastard!” Carly hissed. “Luke is totally going to kick his ass!”

“What do
es Luke have to do with this?” Quinn demanded.

Carly had been worried that she hadn’t kept their parent
s out long enough. Quinn had been relieved when they’d all filed through the door less than twenty minutes after Jake had left. She needed her sister’s support. The sooner, the better.

The restaurant had not been busy so the service had been exceptionally fast. That had been Carly’s excuse. Quinn had a hunch it also had to do with Carly needing her curiosity quenched. She wanted to know how things had gone.
Regardless of the reason, Quinn was happy to see her.

When her family had gotten home, she’d been in her room whi
ch was not unusual at all. When Carly had stormed in, the first thing she’d noticed was her sister’s tear-streaked face. It had been clearly evident that things had not gone well. She’d let herself in and locked the door behind her so that there would be no unannounced parental interruptions.

Carly immediately began
bombarding her with questions. Just the simple fact that Quinn was there and that Jake hadn’t been had clued Carly in to the fact that things had apparently not gone well.

“Oh sweetie, Luke’s always had your back.”
Carly’s eyes were wild. She was livid as she paced the short length of Quinn’s room. Back and forth. Back and forth. Carly had always been the one with a temper. Since Quinn wasn’t furious with Jake—she was confused, yes, but not exactly angry—Carly decided to be furious for her.

What she had said was true
. Luke always had watched out for her. “He shouldn’t have to have my back when it comes to his brother. This isn’t Luke’s problem,” Quinn pointed out.

“Hey! That’s not a ‘problem’ in there. That’s my niece
or nephew,” she sternly said.

“Shhh! Keep your voice down,” Quinn
ordered. Her eyes darted to the door. Their mom was probably downstairs but that didn’t mean she couldn’t pop in at any moment. Or pass by in the hallway. “I’m not ready to deal with Mom and Dad yet.”

“Sorry,” Carly
mumbled.

“Where coul
d he have possibly had to go?” Quinn demanded. She threw her hands up in the air in frustration as she watched Carly pace.

Carly bit her lip and looked at Quinn with sympathy.

Quinn rolled her eyes. “It was a rhetorical question. I know the answer.
Nowhere
! He was just using it as an excuse.” She let out an aggravated sound that was reminiscent of a growl. She had sobbed for a good ten minutes. Then she had pulled herself together and had let frustration take over. “I can’t believe him! I didn’t expect him to be excited. I really didn’t. But I expected him to at least talk to me about it! To take some responsibility.” She paused, still keeping her voice low, despite her anger, which was just now starting to come to the surface. “But he wouldn’t even talk to me about it! He just…he walked out! He didn’t say more than a few sentences and then he just walked out!” Now she was the one with a raised voice and she quickly clamped her hand over her mouth.

And the look on his face? She didn
’t think he could’ve looked more surprised if she’d spontaneously sprouted wings.

“Bastard!” Carly
repeated. But then she looked contrite as she took a place next to Quinn on the edge of her bed. “You know, really, maybe it’s not as bad as it looked. Maybe he just needed a few minutes to process. Don’t tell me that when I walked in on you in the bathroom this morning that you wouldn’t have run from the situation if you could’ve.”

So true
, Quinn thought.

“Stop being so reasonable,”
she grumbled. The truth was that she was as frustrated with herself as she was with Jake. While he was the one that had left…She was the one that had let him. She never should’ve just let him walk away like that.

Or maybe she
should have.

Maybe Carly was right.

Again.

Maddening.

Because she was so confused.

M
aybe he just needed some time to get used to the idea. In all honesty, she’d had a few days as she slowly realized just how late she was. She hadn’t mentioned it to him. She hadn’t wanted to worry him unnecessarily. Because of that, she’d been at least a little bit mentally prepared for the outcome.

But Jake? She realized she
’d more or less dropped a verbal bomb on him.

“I think I know how this happened,” Carly said quietly.

Quinn looked at her with raised eyebrows.

“At dinner Mom brought up how sick you were a while ago. That case of bronchitis that you had? The one you couldn’t shake?” Carly reminded her.

Quinn shook her head and her eyebrows bunched daintily. “What about it?”

“You were on antibiotics?” Carly demanded and Quinn nodded.
“Did you know that antibiotics can interfere with the birth control pill?”


What
?” Quinn asked. Her voice was low. She had needed two rounds of antibiotics to finally start feeling better.

Carly nodded, more to herself than Quinn. “I thought so. I can’t believe the pharmacist didn’t mention it.”

Quinn flopped backwards on her bed. “I was so sick…I was staying here. Mom picked up my prescription for me. I get my prescription for the pill filled right at the clinic. But Mom asked me to have my antibiotic prescriptions called over to Bergstrom’s. She and Dad still go there for everything,” Quinn said, citing the small family-owned pharmacy that her parents had always frequented. “He wouldn’t have had my prescription on file.”

“It’s probably written in the fine print,” Carly pointed out. “The stuff that no one bothers to read. Anyhow, I know you two are always careful but when Mom brought up you being sick…I remembered my roommate having strep last fall. She mentioned to me that it was a good thing
she was too sick to be in the mood because she hated using condoms. Well,” Carly said with a shrug, “it just all kind of came together in my head.”

“The timing makes perfect sense,” Quinn admitted. “That had to have been right around the time it happened.” She moaned. “So this really is my fault. I should’ve been more careful. I should’ve read the fine print.”

“Who reads the fine print?” Carly demanded. “No one! Well, maybe senior citizens. But no one else! These things happen. That’s why the call them—”

“Accidents?” Quinn interrupted.

“Surprises,” Carly corrected.

Quinn peeked up at her. She was openly staring at her stomach. A small half-smile
was twitching across her lips.

“You know,” Quinn pointed out
as she grabbed a pillow and placed it over herself, “you would not be this happy if it was
you
.”


I
am not nearly done with school. And
I
am not in a committed, long-term relationship. Or any relationship, really,” she pointed out. “There is a
huge
difference between you and me.”

A sigh escaped Quinn’s lips as she pulled herself into a sitting position again. Even though she was continuously grumbling about Carly’s positive attitude, it was exactly what she needed.

“Thanks,” she finally said. “I couldn’t have gotten through this day without you.”

Carly pulled her into a sideways hug
. Quinn leaned into her so she could place her head on her sister’s shoulder.

“You’ve always been there for
me through all of my melodrama,” Carly readily admitted. Quinn forced out a soft laugh. While Quinn had always been the quiet, steady, stay-out-of-trouble sister, Carly was known for her melodrama. “I promise I will be here for you through absolutely anything.”

“Maybe I should call him…” Quinn finally muttered.
She sat up straight again, wondering where she’d last left her phone.

“Maybe you shouldn’t,” Carly decided. She twirled her long hair around her finger as she released her sister. “Maybe we should go for a drive or something. We’re locked up in here like a couple of teenagers who have nothing better to do.”

“We
don’t
have anything better to do,” Quinn pointed out. “But, I told him I’d be here.”

“So does that mean he’s coming back tonight?” Carly demanded.

A soft knock on the door startled both of them. The doorknob jiggled but because Carly had locked it, it didn’t budge.

“Girls?” Margo asked.

Carly bounced off the bed to let their mother in.

“Oh, you are both in here,” she said with a soft smile.
“Quinn, Jake’s here.”

“I didn’t hear the doorbell?” Carl
y pointed out. She wandered over to Quinn’s window to peek outside. As if she needed to check on the validity of Margo’s statement.

“He’s been here for a little bit but hasn’t gotten to the door yet. Your dad’s outside fiddling with the sprinkler system. He intercepted him. They’re out there chatting. I just thought Quinn would want to know he’s here. In case she wants to go rescue him from your dad,” Margo explained with a wink.

“Okay, thanks Mom,” Quinn said. She forced a smile onto her face.
This is good, right? It has to be good
, she thought. “I’ll be down in a minute.”

“If he comes in, I’ll let him know,” Margo said as she retreated.

Quinn got up from the bed and checked her face in the mirror. She’d scrubbed off her make-up after she’d splashed her face with icy cold water. No sense trying to put more on. It wasn’t as though Jake hadn’t seen her without it plenty of times. She’d probably just ruin it again with more tears, anyway.

“You should definitely go rescue him,” Carly said from where she was peering out the window. “Dad’s yammering away and Jake looks like he’s about ready to bounce right out of his skin. Come on,” she said as she turned away from the window. “You
need to go talk to your man.”

BOOK: Holding On
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ads

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