The Legacy Tree: Chapter 12
Story continued from our Premiere Issue
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Robyn didn’t sleep, but mostly paced along her family room. It was only eight thirty and she was all wired up. She nearly jumped through the roof when the phone rang.
“Robyn…I’m sorry, but I’m running a little late.” Erik said breathlessly. “I had a flat tire and my spare wouldn’t carry me all the way to Maryland. The guy at the tire place says I should be out of here within an hour.” He also said that the puncture in his tire had been no accident. The conversation had not gone well with Tiffany last night.
“Dammit, I’m really sorry, honey. But I will be there, okay?”
“All right.” she responded hesitantly.
“Are you okay?”
Her whole body was trembling. “Uh huh.”
“Did you sleep at all last night?”
“No.” she whispered.
He grunted. “We’ll take care of things, Robyn. I won’t let you down.” he promised before saying good bye.
She stumbled to the couch and sank down onto it. Would he let her down? Would he turn away from her? Even having been awake all night, she still had no idea what she was going to tell him. Or rather, how she was going to tell him what had happened. Flopping backward onto the couch cushions, she moaned. “Erik, I was pregnant.” she said out loud. The words sounded harsh in the quiet room. “I lied to you about Jake…I never went out with him.”
She rolled onto her side and curled into a ball. Within a few minutes, she had drifted off to sleep.
Knocking on the door woke her several hours later. Robyn rolled to her feet and stumbled to the front door.
“Just a second.” she called, running her hands through her long hair. Then, with a whoosh, she pulled open the door.
She tried to muster up a smile. “Hey.”
Man, she was beautiful. Sure, she had dark circles under her eyes, her hair was tousled and she had pillow lines on her face…but she was so damn beautiful it hurt him to look at her. “Here I am.”
Stepping back, she let him in. “Are you thirsty or hungry or anything?”
“I’d really just like a hug.” he said softly, holding open his arms.
Her breath hitched, but she stepped into his arms. This might be the last chance she had to feel his strong arms wrapped around her.
“Hi, honey.” he whispered into her hair. “God, it’s good to see you.”
She sniffled against his chest. “Thank you for driving down here.”
Pulling away, he took her hand and led her into her family room. “Lets sit for a minute, okay?” She still looked a little sleepy.
“Okay.” she settled onto one end of the couch, allowing him to pick his own seat.
He sat a few feet away on the couch and just looked at her for a moment. “I missed you, Robyn.”
“I missed you, too.” She looked away and wrung her hands together in her lap.
Obviously she was anxious to start their conversation. Sighing, he sat back against the cushions. “Okay, lets talk.”
Pressing her lips together, she kept her gaze averted. “This isn’t going to be easy.”
He pried her hands apart and clutched them tightly in his. “Whatever it is, we’ll handle it together.” When she didn’t respond, he shook her hands slightly. “Is this about Jake? Did something happen with Jake?”
She cleared her throat. “Actually, nothing happened with Jake.”
Frowning, he watched her face turn a rosy shade of red. “What do you mean?”
“I met Jake at my mother’s house…and he did ask me to go horseback riding with him.”
“But I said no…” she whispered, biting her lip.
“Then why did you go with him?” he was confused.
“I didn’t. In fact, I never saw or heard from Jake again.”
“I don’t understand.”
She squeezed his hands before letting go and getting to her feet. “I thought telling you I was seeing someone else was the right thing to do.”
“Why?” His eyes followed her agitated pacing.
“I thought it was best for us to go our separate ways.”
“You lied to me. For weeks you lied to me. You broke my heart over and over again…and it was all lies.” he cried.
“I’m sorry.” she whispered. “Wait…I broke your heart? What are you talking about? You were the one who pulled away!”
“When? When did I pull away?”
“Before we even left the campgrounds. And then after…you brushed me off before you went away to California.”
He blinked. “I was confused.”
“So was I.”
“But after that, I tried to see you. I tried to talk to you…” now he stood and faced her, hands on his hips. “You blew me off.”
“I was scared.”
“Of what?” he asked, exasperation evident in his face.
“Of telling you the truth.”
He froze, taking in her pale features and shaking hands. “What truth?”
“I was pregnant.” she blurted hoarsely.
His knees gave away and he fell onto the couch. “What?!”
“When we were together…we didn’t use anything and I…I was pregnant.” she repeated.
He hid his face in his hands. “When…Oh God…the flu. You lied to me and told me you had the flu.”
“Actually, you assumed it was the flu and I didn’t correct you.” she murmured.
“Semantics, Robyn!” he bellowed. “You lied about being pregnant with my baby!” Pausing, his eyes flew to her stomach. “My baby…what happened to my baby?”
She pressed a hand against her middle and stared at his reddened face. “Our baby.” A hysterical sob bubbled up out of her throat at the look on his face. “I lost it.”
Crumpling to the floor, she curled over and cried out. “I lost the baby!”
“When?” he gasped, not moving but watching her with eagle eyes.
“The day…after Christmas.”
Closing his eyes, he remembered calling her that weekend and speaking to her mother. “You didn’t tell me. Not about any of it.”
“You didn’t want a baby…you didn’t even want a serious relationship.” she wailed.
“Who told you that?” he ground out.
“You did. You made it quite clear, even early on, that George’s situation was unacceptable to you.”
“I’m not George and you’re not Bernice.”
“The truth, Erik…did you really know if you wanted anything more than a casual relationship?” she asked.
“I wanted to be with you.” he said firmly.
“I wasn’t confident of that.”
“So you kept my baby’s existence from me?”
“I was going to tell you, but before I could…” she trailed off.
“Tell me what happened.” he demanded.
“I need to know.”
“It was Saturday.” she whispered. “I hadn’t slept well. I finally just got out of bed and decided to do a little work on a website.”
“Were you alone?”
“Yes.” She drew in a breath to fortify herself. “I opened a highlighter, but the smell of it made me sick.” At his questioning look, she said, “I was very affected by some smells. So I put it away and reached for a red pen. At that point, I got a sharp pain in my middle. I called 911 and they took me away in an ambulance.”
“You were alone.” At her nod, he closed his eyes. “You must have been so scared. Dammit! I should have been with you.”
She blinked at his response. It was nothing near what she expected.
“Tell me how you found out…and what happened up until then. Please.” he whispered.
“I really did think I had the flu.” she began. “Everyone at work was getting it. So when I woke up one morning, puking, I assumed that’s what I had, too. I went to my doctor that same morning, expecting her to confirm the flu. God, Erik,” she was up and pacing again. “I didn’t even give pregnancy a single thought until she said it. And for two seconds, I denied it. Then I threw up again.” she said wryly.
“And after that?”
“When I realized she was right, I cried.”
He gasped and seemed to shrink back into the cushions.
“I didn’t know what to do. I thought you would feel trapped.”
“Trapped?” he echoed.
“I knew that’s what you felt for George. That he had been trapped into marriage and fatherhood.”
He nodded. He had thought that, in the beginning. “Then what?”
“I didn’t tell anyone. I wanted this baby. Our baby. So every morning, I was up at five a.m. sharp, heaving my guts out.” she continued.
“I get up at five a.m.” he murmured. “You said that smells affected you. Did you crave things, like pickles and ice cream?”
She laughed softly. “I craved bananas…and I desperately wanted a strong cup of black coffee. I ate the bananas, but didn’t drink the coffee. I couldn’t stand the smell of juice, or apparently, highlighters.”
“Were you tired?”
“More so than usual, yes. But it wasn’t terrible. And I really thought it would all be worth it to have a piece of you with me forever.” she finished.
“This is so much to take in. So many lies, so many misunderstandings between us.” he ran trembling hands through his already disheveled hair. “I can’t get past it, Robyn…you carried my baby inside you.”
“At that early stage, Erik, it was more an idea of a baby.”
“Does that really matter?” he spat, then seemed to pull in on himself.
“If you don’t want to believe anything else, believe only this…I wanted that baby with all my heart.” she whispered urgently.
“And what about me? Did you want me, too?”
She sighed and let her head drop forward. In doing so, her curly red hair fell forward to conceal her face. “I didn’t think you wanted us…wanted me…for anything more than a casual relationship.”
He flinched. Was she right? Is that all he’d wanted from her? He wasn’t sure…things had seemed so different back then.
When he didn’t respond, she hiccuped softly. “I was not going to trap you into something you didn’t want.”
“Maybe you should have asked me.” he muttered.
She lifted her head to meet his gaze. “I thought I knew you well enough from our previous conversations. But I was scared to know for sure.”
“How about a little trust, Robyn?”
“You weren’t honest with me, either. You spent time telling me you were so busy…and then you’d tell me you wanted to see me! You’d move in, then pull away in almost the same breath. What was I supposed to do? Trail after you like a puppy until you made up your mind? And then, all of the sudden, I was responsible for more than just me!” she ranted. “I had to think of more than you and me.”
He stood. “I don’t know what to do now. I feel like I’ve let you down…and like you’ve betrayed me. Can we even go on from here? I don’t know.” he answered his own question. “I have to go.”
“Erik!” she called to him as he strode toward the front door. “I know this might not mean much to you right now…” she paused. “But I’ve always loved you. Since we were children. I think the kind of love has changed over the years, but it’s always been there. Through everything, I’ve always loved you.”
He pulled open the door, then looked over his shoulder at her. “I used to think that, too.” Stepping outside, he closed the door between them.
She caught her breath, tears pouring down her face. “Good bye, Erik.” she whispered to the empty room.