Hiding my pregnancy from my husband was easy. He was never home and when he was, he barely paid any attention to me except to yell at me. Every time he would raise his voice at me, a little voice inside my head said to think of the little person growing inside of my belly. He or she needed a Papa, and as terrible a husband as Conrad might be…he just had to be a good father. I couldn’t believe that a person could be so uncaring. I had to believe that we were all born with goodness in our hearts, some just don’t know how to listen to it. It’s silly I suppose. I convinced myself that Conrad was being so horrible lately because he had to close his Paris office.
I was lucky that Conrad left every day before I got out of bed, because usually the first thing I did in the morning was vomit. Some days it was better than others and I couldn’t help but wonder if I was progressing normally or not. I couldn’t go to the doctor without Conrad finding out…and Conrad couldn’t find out. Not yet, not until we were back in Riverview. I don’t know why I thought telling him in Riverview would be better than doing it here in France…but I just had to believe it would be.
Oh, diary, what a mess things have become.
* * *
Will Eliot was not a man to be easily swayed. I was glad that our little spat wasn’t enough to drive him away. We would come over nearly every day after Conrad left for work. I felt a little like I was sneaking around on my husband…I had to convince myself that I was only seeing a friend, not a lover so it was okay. He was my only friend in France…maybe even in the world. He was kind and attentive, even when we weren’t speaking or doing the same activity. I always felt as though he wasn’t ignoring me, like my husband does.
Still, he kept telling me to leave Conrad and divorce him. The argument was getting so tiresome. I almost told him why I couldn’t leave Conrad yet. But, for some reason…I just couldn’t bring myself to tell Will. I had never been the kind of girl for secrets, and it wasn’t as though I was ashamed of my baby…but my heart told me that it wasn’t time to tell Will yet. This baby couldn’t help its parentage, and I would love him or her regardless.
It didn’t help things that Will always seemed to know to come over when I was feeling especially sick. I’d have to put on makeup and get dressed and pull my hair up when all I wanted to do was go back to bed. It was getting so tiring, pretending.
One morning my body had had enough of it. I felt so sick to my stomach that I just put on some sweats and curled up on the couch. My mind was so occupied with being sick that I didn’t even think about Will coming over. I just laid there on the couch, willing for myself to not throw up. But, inevitably, I did. I clambered to my feet and I ran off to the bathroom, clutching my stomach and emptying its contents. I had never had it this bad before, I was actually starting to get worried. I wanted a friend…I wanted my mother. My mother should be here, with me…helping me through this. The thought made me want to cry.
As I was finished, I brushed my teeth, used mouthwash twice and wiped off my face. I looked at myself in the mirror and burst into tears at the sight of me and all of the mess surrounding me. I willed myself to stop crying and managed to calm down temporarily and wiped the tears from my face. As I opened the bathroom door and stepped out, I walked straight into the concerned face of Mr. Will Eliot.
His eyes, oh they were filled with such concern for me. Me, diary…he actually cared that I was okay. His voice had such an edge of worry and concern to it. I burst into tears and practically threw myself at him. He scooped me up in his arms and held me against his chest while I cried and cried.When I felt drained I pulled back from him and made to wipe his shirt. I saw a huge wet mark where my eyes had been.
“Oh, Will your shirt. I’m so sorry!”
He shrugged as he looked down at his shirt, “don’t worry about it. Why don’t you tell me what has you so upset?”
His eyes flicked back up to mine and I saw him start a little. I reached up to my face and hair nervously, worried that I looked back. I realized then that I had my hair down, was wearing no makeup and I was in sweats. I wanted to cry all over again.
I sniffled, “I’m sorry that I’m not dressed, I just haven’t been feeling well.”
He shook his head, his piercing blue eyes boring into me, “no, I like you like this better. Without being made up like French Poodle. This is more real…this is more you.”
I smiled at him, my heart giving a little flip. Those were the kinds of words a woman wanted to hear from a man. My problem was that I was hearing them from a man who wasn’t my husband.
* * *
Conrad called me and told me that he had to take the Eurostar to London to handle some business and would be gone for the weekend. As I hung up, I told Will. He grinned and climbed to his feet.
“Good, I’m taking you to dinner.”
He offered me his hand and helped me off of the couch I had been lying down on. I had told Will that I wasn’t feeling well, he didn’t pester me about it nor did he ask me any questions. Instead, he read aloud to me from one of the books of poetry I had brought with me from Riverview. It was very soothing, I decided and I actually had trouble staying awake.
As I got up, I hurried off to get dressed. Will scoffed at me, saying that I looked fine. I got dressed anyway, somewhere in the back of my mind I felt like Conrad was watching me.
Will took me to dinner at a lovely little cafe in the village. I hadn’t been able to spend a lot of time in the village, mostly because I didn’t speak the language and didn’t want to risk looking foolish. I had gone down there a lot during the first month or two that we lived here, but it had tapered off as my unhappiness grew.
While we ate, the cafe owner watched us and sighed as she whispered wistfully, “ah, amour.”
I lifted my gaze from my bouillabaisse to smirk at Will when I caught him looking at me strangely. His eyes looked dark, and there was a small smile on his face. I lowered my gaze again, determined to eat with my head down. He went back to eating a moment later. Despite that earlier oddity, Will and I had a grand time. He wanted to order a bottle of wine, but I had to refuse. He looked at me strangely after that, almost as though he was working things out. Did he know that I was pregnant? No, I was just being paranoid, diary.
After the cafe, we walked through the village, just talking to each other. I told him about my family and how I hadn’t spoken to them in a year. I got a little weepy, but Will’s hand on the small of my back comforted me. Will and I stopped by the river and he told me about growing up and being raised by people who were paid to do so instead of those that loved you. We talked and talked almost the whole night. I didn’t even feel sleepy, talking to Will was like a breath of fresh air. It was exhilarating, having a person there who you could tell paid one hundred percent of their attention to you. He made me laugh, once or twice he even made a tear fall out of my eyes – granted, that wasn’t hard to do these days – but he just made me feel again.
As we walked back to my house he stopped and faced me.
I smiled at him, “Will?”
“Please…leave Conrad, now…before its too late.”
I took a step back from him, my heart pounding, “I’m sure I don’t know what you mean…and didn’t I tell you to butt the hell out before?”
He stepped towards me again, taking my elbows into his hands, “I know you’re pregnant, River. How Conrad doesn’t know is a testament to how poorly he treats you. He’s bad tempered, he doesn’t show you any affection. River, these are deal breakers in a marriage. Are the bruises from the time he jerked you to your feet at my house gone yet? Do you honestly think that will be the last time he tries anything? For your child’s sake, River…divorce Conrad.”
I struggled out of his grasp and without thinking I raised my hand and slapped him across the face. My hand stung like crazy, and I’m sure I hurt myself more than him, but I couldn’t take it anymore, “Will, please keep your nose out of my marriage. I don’t have to explain myself to you. Thank you for a lovely evening, well…formerly lovely. Good night.”
As I returned home, I found Conrad waiting for me downstairs. He was back home early – I could see light starting to break through the trees – and he was not happy.
“So, I leave you alone for an evening and you go running straight to him?”
Conrad yelled and screamed obscenities that I’m far too much of a Lady to even consider re-writing them. When I tried to apologize, to get him just to calm down a little he got even angrier. I saw him raise his hand and pull it back, ready to hit me.
I panicked, diary.
“No, Conrad I’m pregnant!” I cried as I shielded myself.
He stopped and stared at me. He seemed to think about this development for a moment before sneering at me.
“I knew Will was a dumb fool, but I didn’t take you for one. So what, I’m supposed to pay to raise another man’s child? Is that it? You dumb whore.”
I was taken back as I felt tears fill my eyes, “its your baby, you creep. I haven’t been having an affair with Will. He’s just my friend, my only friend since all you ever do is yell at me or ignore me. How dare you even think that I am cheating on you? I don’t know who you are anymore, but I’m willing to try for this baby. This is your child, Conrad.”
I left him stewing as I walked upstairs. My feet were leading, my mind and heart were still reeling from my fight with Conrad. I didn’t realize it, but my feet were taking me to Will’s house. As I got there, I found him outside checking his mail. He saw me coming.
“River? What did he do?”
For the second time in less than 24 hours, I threw myself against Will Eliot and cried my eyes out.
I pulled apart from him and felt myself growing so angry at my husband.
I told him about how I felt like he was watching me all the time, about how he had been waiting for me when we got home…everything. Will’s eyes were dark with anger, but he refused to let it show through. He led me inside his house and sat me down at his little kitchen table.
We didn’t speak, he just made me some coffee. There wasn’t any real need for words, I was content to be left to my thoughts. I felt safe here, with Will. I didn’t feel vulnerable or afraid that he was going to hurt me. Truthfully, I was afraid to come home. I kept having the image of Rhett pushing Scarlett down those stairs flash in my brain over and over again. How was I ever to survive until the end of my pregnancy?
I laid down on Will’s bed at his insistence and had a good nap. When I woke, I found him in his living room, working on a drawing.
It looked beautiful. He smiled at me as he saw me come close. I had a sudden flash to a life with Will. Living the artistic, bohemian lifestyle. I had an image of me carrying Will’s child in my belly. It felt nice, it felt safe and warm. But, it wasn’t reality.
* * *
Finally, the day arrived when we would be moving back to Riverview. We had been in France for a year, and everything had changed. My marriage fell apart before it even really began. I was pregnant, and I was leaving my best and only friend behind. As we were driving to the airport, Conrad patted my knee.
“Call your parents from the airport, tell them we’ll be moving in tomorrow.”
“w-what? We’re moving in with my family? We don’t have our own home? Shouldn’t was ask first?”
“Please, the house is yours when your Grandfather dies. Last I checked the man was 90, its not as though he’ll be around that much longer and no…we don’t have our own home. No point in buying a house.”
“You’re despicable,” I muttered as I crossed my arms across my body and folded myself against the car door.
As we got to the airport, I called up my parents. After three rings, I heard my mother’s voice.
“Mommy?” I asked her softly.
“River, is that you?”
I heard her put the phone down and yelling to my family that it was me on the phone. I was surprised, hadn’t they been the ones who were ignoring me?
“River? What is it? Where are you?”
“I’m at the airport, Mom…we’re coming back to Riverview. Listen, uhm…we need a place to stay. Can we stay at the house for a little while? Just until we find our own place?”
We talked for a moment longer before we hung up. I glanced at the departures board and then to the clock on my cell phone. We still had some time before we needed to board, so I ducked into the bathroom to change. I looked at myself in the bathroom mirror and sighed as I realized I was starting to show just a little bit. It was easily hidden, so I put on a flowing, houndstooth sundress to hide the bump. One thing at a time, I told myself.
I wiped off the excess makeup and smiled as I glanced in my clean reflection. I took my hair out of the tight bun and pulled it back the way I used to. I smiled even brighter and whispered to myself, “hello, stranger.”
I felt happier, lighter as I walked out of the bathroom. I found Conrad sitting in the terminal, when he saw me his eyes narrowed.
“What are you wearing?”
I glared at him, “I’m not a French wife anymore and I’m pregnant, for goodness’ sake. I’m going to wear something comfortable and I’m going to do my hair and wear my makeup the way I please. Because…here’s the thing Conrad. I’m not going to leave you, because I won’t punish this baby by denying him or her a father. You certainly won’t leave me because you know that you’ll have to pay alimony and child support. You’re just too cheap to do that. So, I’m going to be myself…you know…the woman you married. If you don’t like it, too bad.”
I sat two seats down from him and pulled out a magazine, feeling very satisfied with myself.
* * *
When we arrived back in Riverview, my heart was pounding. Conrad threw some money at the taxi driver and climbed out of the car. He stood there while the driver unloaded the luggage and I struggled to get out. The plane ride had not done wonders for my nausea and I was feeling so lethargic and tired. After the driver finished with the bags he glanced at my husband and then at me before coming over and helping me out of the car. I smiled weakly at him and thank him. As I glanced back at the house, I saw my family had come out front. Someone must have been watching from the front windows to see when we arrived. I could see my mother and sister glaring at Conrad. My Grandparents and father were both staring at me with concern. They must have seen me struggling to get out of the car. I was glad I changed into the dress. I didn’t want them worrying about me.
The reunion was awkward at first. We just stood across from each other, staring. My mother wouldn’t even look over at us, I wondered what had happened. They looked so sad, had they been regretting ignoring me for the past year? I stepped forward to greet them as my Grandfather did the same. We hugged, and it broke the ice enough to go inside and talk about where the year had taken us.
* * *
Oddly enough, things returned to something resembling normal rather quickly. If there were any transgressions on either side of the family we never discussed them. I didn’t have the nerve to bring up my family ignoring me for a year, and they had the decency to not comment on my marriage.
My sister, however, refused to be in the same room as Conrad. Whenever he walked in, she’d get up and leave. After a while, Conrad noticed and began to follow her around the house. It was a cruel thing to do. I sighed as I remembered when I first fell in love with him…being back in this house served as a heavy reminder of how much he had changed. Though I suppose, he hadn’t really changed…he’d just shown his true colors.
I told my family about my pregnancy soon after I got home, they were happy for me…but I know they were sad that this meant I would always have a tie to Conrad. Still, like me they loved the baby already. My mother gave me advice on how to keep my nausea down to a minimum, I was thrilled for that advice alone. It felt like I finally had my support network back.
I decided to go out to my little meadow one day. It had been so long since I had been to it. When I arrived I found the place bright and alive, so full of butterflies. It was almost magical. I smiled as I rubbed my belly, feeling satisfied and as close to happy as I had felt in a very long time.
My phone rang a moment later. I glanced down at the caller ID and saw that it was Will’s cell phone. I smiled as I put it to my ear.
“River? I miss you and I have good news. I’m moving back to Riverview. Your husband won’t let me come to see you, but I’m going to find a way. Okay? I’ll see you soon.”
With that, he hung up. I thought I had heard some strange noises in the background, could he already be at the airport? Why was he leaving his lovely home in France? Still, it was nice to hear his voice and it would be nice to see him again. Having him here in Riverview would be amazing.
* * *
The next day I went out to my field again to read. It was so peaceful that I dreaded returning home again. The meadow had become my little place of solace. I didn’t want to share it with anyone. When I started to get hungry and tired, I decided to go home. When I entered I heard people talking. As I stepped into the sitting room, I saw my sister hugging Will.
Without helping it, images of her and Dylan wrapped up together flashed through my head.
This time, I was jealous. My heart felt like it was being pulled out of my chest. She was going to steal Will from me, the same way she had stolen Dylan. How could she? Why did she always have to take what was mine? I felt so angry and so hurt all at the same time. I wanted to scream and throw things at them.Then Will looked over to me.
His eyes lit up and a smile slid across his face. All of those feelings of jealousy and anger just melted away. He strode over to me and hugged me tighter than he had hugged Parker. She smiled and went upstairs to give us some privacy.
“I’ve missed you,” I whispered against his shoulder.
He pulled away from me, “I’ve missed you too,” he glanced down at my belly, “oh, starting to show I see.”
He smiled and ran his hand across my belly.
He looked into my eyes as he cupped my swelling belly and whispered, “Conrad’s a damn lucky man. Too bad he doesn’t know that. If I was a man so lucky, I wouldn’t squander it.”
I felt my face grow hot as his eyes bored into me. I felt like the heat of his gaze was going to set me on fire. I wanted to look away from him, but I couldn’t. It was as though my eyes were glued. I did what I could and changed the subject.
“How do you know my sister?”
“We met at the wedding, she asked me to dance,” he said nonchalantly.
It sounds horrible, but the dismissive way he spoke about meeting my sister made my heart flutter even more. I know its immature to still have such a sibling rivalry, diary, but I’m only human. Will and I sat together and talked for a while longer while I showed him my home. Then he checked his watch and said he should leave before Conrad comes back. I was inclined to agree with him.
When Conrad got back that night, I noticed for the first time how much he had aged since our wedding.
* * *
My pregnancy progressed smoothly. With each passing day my belly grew rounder, and with the love and support of my family my happiness grew with it. It was just so nice to be home and around the people that loved me. Now that Will was living here, everything felt perfect.
I spent a lot of time with my Grandpa, he said he was so excited to see the birth of his first Great-Grandchild. I was excited for him. My Grandpa meant so much to me, he was always offering me praise and encouragements, but he also wanted to know why I had stopped writing. I knew it disappointed him a little that I didn’t write anymore. But, after all…my husband the publisher said no one would ever put my books in print…so really, what was the point?
Conrad was a jerk, as always. He found the tiniest little things to yell at me over. I began to wonder if the love of my family would replace the need for a baby to have his or her father?
* * *
One evening the night before I was due to give birth, I heard a strangled cry coming from the master bedroom. I ran to see what the noise was about, and the sight made my heart plummet into my chest. The Grim Reaper had come to collect my Grandfather.
I felt dizzy and my knees went weak. Suddenly, I felt this sudden sharp pain in my back. It felt like tremendous pressure pushing downwards and I realized, as I saw my Grandfather beg for his life that I was going into labor. He had wanted so bad to see the birth of my child, his great-grandchild but death came for him first. I stood there and cried. I cried from the pain in my heart and as the first contractions swept through my body. I had read online that these were only the moderately painful ones…I couldn’t imagine any worse pain.
I stood there and breathed as steady as I could through the tears, still so in shock from the sudden death of my Grandfather that I didn’t even know what to do with myself. Finally, I got my head wrapped around the concept that this baby was coming now. This baby was going to be born whether I’m ready or not. My Grandfather would want me to get to the hospital and have a safe delivery.
When I got to the hospital, the labor was quick. I was so tired and heartbroken that I barely noticed until they placed my son into my arms. He was so beautiful. Part of me wondered if there was something to reincarnation…could my Grandfather have been reborn into my son? My Grandpa’s exit and my son’s entry were so close together, they were both tied to the same day, almost the same hour.
I named him Holden-Thomas. Holden after J.D. Salinger’s Holden Caulfield from Catcher in the Rye and Thomas…after my favorite person.
I was torn…I was so happy and so in love with my little son. But I was also so broken-hearted from my Grandpa. I couldn’t believe that he was gone…just like that, he was gone.
His death came as a complete shock to me. He did outlive Hannah though, by a full two days. He was 91, one of my youngest Sims to die of old age.