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It felt like that was what I was saying, but I was just too damned confused to be sure.

“Because, yeah, a baby’s going to change things, but it’s not going to end your life.”

I wasn’t sure I believed her.

“I love that you’re here for me and are trying to make me feel better, Holly. I really do. But I kind of just need some time to be alone and sort some shit out,” I said. “Okay?”

She looked like she wanted to argue with me but managed to hold herself back. “I’ll have Thomas take LJ tonight so you can have some peace and quiet,” she said. “And then tomorrow you and I are going to find a doctor and make an appointment, because we don’t know if you’re four weeks along or four months along.” I about fainted again, thinking I could be four months pregnant. Surely life wouldn’t be that cruel. I needed as much time as possible to wrap my mind around this grenade that had just gone off in my life, and five and a half months just wasn’t going to cut it.

“And after that, we’ll figure out a way to break the news to Jude and—”

“Holly.” I grabbed her arm. “Too much, too fast. I need some breathing room.”

“You’re right,” she said, raising her hands. “I’m just going to give you one giant hug”—she wrapped her arms around me and gave me one ginormous hug—“and then I’ll round up the boys and we’ll be out of here.”

“Thanks, Holly,” I said, curling deeper into the couch. “For everything.”

“You know, Lucy, for what it’s worth, I’m on the same page as Thomas,” she said, heading down the hallway. “I know you’ll be an awesome mom.”

I tried to return her smile, but I couldn’t do it.

All I could think about was shattered dreams. All I could see was Jude’s shocked face when I told him I was pregnant.

I was sobbing silently into my pillow before the door had closed behind Holly, Thomas, and LJ.

I’d lived on saltines and lemon-lime soda for a week. My stomach was either unable or unwilling to keep anything else down. Those were the first things I asked for when I boarded the plane Sunday morning, and the flight attendant had given me a knowing smile, told me, “It gets better,” and kept the crackers coming.

I’d made it through the entire flight having to take only one lavatory vomit break, and thankfully the driver who’d met me at the airport to drive me to Qualcomm Stadium kept a paper bag in the backseat for emergency purposes.

I’d had an emergency.

It was Jude’s first game of the season, and back when he’d purchased the ticket for me, he’d wanted to make it for the entire weekend. But I thought I’d be dancing lead in a school production Saturday night, and I had class Monday morning, so I was doing a round trip from New York to San Diego and back in one day.

I hadn’t danced lead last night. I hadn’t even gone and cheered on the girl who’d been my understudy. I was in something of a “delicate” state.

After setting an appointment for me, driving me there, and basically pushing me into the waiting room, Holly made sure I saw an ob-gyn on Thursday. After some poking, prodding, and a quick ultrasound, she was able to determine how far along I was.

Almost four months to the day.

Just when I thought I didn’t have any more tears left inside me, that day in the examination room I proved myself wrong. I still hadn’t said anything to Jude. In fact, I’d been trying to avoid his calls all week. I just didn’t trust that if he got me on the phone for very long, he wouldn’t be able to figure out what was the matter with me. So we texted a lot, and the timing worked out well, because he was crazy-busy getting ready for his first big game.

That was how I’d convinced Holly to keep her mouth shut when we left my appointment on Thursday. She insisted Jude needed to know. Like, now. She said he’d need just as much time as I would to get used to the idea of being parents in less than six months. That had, of course, started a whole new batch of tears. I blamed my emotions on the hormones, but I knew they played only a very small role.

I told Holly I couldn’t tell Jude a couple of days before he was playing his first game as starting quarterback in the NFL that I was pregnant. Talk about messing with a guy’s game. Holly had seen the reason in that, but insisted I tell him the week after, or she threatened she would tell him herself.

I’d bought time, but not much. While I didn’t want to mess with Jude’s head right before the game, it was more a matter of not knowing what I’d say to him. A girl just didn’t discover she was pregnant at twenty-one and get used to the idea in a few days’ time. I’d gone through about every stage of coping: fear, anger, depression, uncertainty, and everything in between. Occasionally I’d have a twinge of excitement—I was having Jude’s baby, after all—but then I’d have a reality check. I’d gone on an emotional roller-coaster ride in one week’s time, and I was exhausted.

I was so tired, I passed out the second half of the ride to the stadium. The driver had to wake me up and remind me where I was. It was official. I was a wreck.

As I was making my way through the gates, I got a text from Jude. ARE YOU HERE YET?

Following the usher to wherever they stuffed the wives and girlfriends of the players, I texted him back. JUST GOT HERE. U NERVOUS?

I smiled when I got his reply. NOT ANYMORE.

Following the usher into an elevator, I punched in my reply. SO PROUD OF YOU, BABE. KICK SOME ASS OUT THERE.

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