The Edge of Always (The Edge of Never #2)(10)

by J.A. Redmerski

I keep my eyes trained out ahead. “I’m not sure what we’re doing, Nat,” I say and then finally look over at her. “I mean, yes, I’m moving back home, but…”

Her dark eyebrows draw inward with a questioning look. “But what?”

I look away, and when I don’t answer her fast enough she says, “Oh, no, don’t tell me Andrew’s not coming with you. Girl, is something going on with you two?”

I swing back around. “No, Nat, it’s nothing like that, and yes, he’s definitely coming with me—I don’t know. It’s just hard to explain.”

She purses her lips, lifting one side of her mouth, and takes a hold of my elbow. “We’ve got all afternoon for you to figure it out, so let’s get to the salon and you can be thinking really hard about it on the way.” She bends over and takes up her purse and bag, dangling them on her free wrist while walking with me toward the closest mall exit.

We’re at the salon in minutes and it’s a packed house, which is exactly how I remembered it being on weekends. Natalie and I are perched high in the pedicure chairs with two girls tending to our bare feet. It’s been a long time since my last pedicure, so I hope my toes aren’t too hideous.

“You know, Cam, you never did tell me why you left.” Natalie looks over at me. “Please tell me it wasn’t my fault.”

“It wasn’t anyone’s fault in particular,” I say. “I just needed to get away for a while. I couldn’t breathe.”

“Well, I’d never do something that reckless, but I admit, the way things turned out was nothing short of amazing.”

That makes me smile. “They did, didn’t they?”

“Absolutely,” she says beaming, her brown eyes lit up. “You ended up with sex on legs”—the girl doing her pedicure glances up briefly—“an engagement ring, and a cute-ass baby on the way.” Natalie laughs. “I’m f**kin’ jealous!”

I laugh too, though not as loud. “First off, why be jealous of me when you’ve got Blake? And second, how do you know what our baby will look like?”

Natalie purses her lips and looks over at me like I’m stupid. “Seriously? The two of you couldn’t produce an ugly baby.” The girl doing my toes rolls her eyes at the other girl. “And I’m not jealous of you because of Andrew, I’m jealous because I’ll probably end up like my mom, never seeing much outside of North Carolina. I’m OK with that. I’m not like Miss Greyhound, and I feel claustrophobic when someone breathes on me too closely, but in a way I do envy you.”

I think to myself about what she said, but I don’t elaborate on it.

My back is starting to hurt again, and I try readjusting myself on the seat without being able to move my feet much. My side hurts a little, too, but I’m sure it’s from all of the walking around today.

“So have you figured it out?” Natalie asks.

“What?”

She blinks, surprised at how easily it seems I forgot our conversation at the mall. I didn’t forget at all; I’ve just been trying to avoid it.

“The truth is,” I begin, looking away from her and picturing Andrew in my mind, “I don’t want to move back home or stay in Texas. I mean I do want to be here, but I’m terrified I’ll end up like your mom, too.” I never would’ve used her mom as an example, but it really was the easiest way to make Natalie understand, especially since she just used the same comparison moments ago, so it was a no-brainer.

“Yeah, I totally get you,” Natalie says, nodding. “But what else would you do? There’s really not much you can do otherwise, especially with a baby on the way.”

God, why did she have to say that? I sigh quietly and try not to look at her so she doesn’t see the disappointment in my face. Natalie is my best friend, but I’ve always known she’ll be one of those people who live out their entire lives in a colorless bubble and only wake up to regret it when it’s too late to change it. She just proved it with her comment about how having a baby pretty much means the end of line as far as a fun, fulfilling kind of life is concerned. And because she’ll never understand, I don’t respond to that, either.

“Cam? You sure you’re OK?”

I catch my breath and look over at her. Another sharp pain moves through my side and suddenly I feel like I’m starting to break out in a mild sweat. Without regard to the girl doing my pedicure, I pull my foot away from her hands and grab the arms of the chair to lift myself out of it.

“I need to go the restroom.”

“Camryn?”

“I’m alright, Nat,” I say, stepping down from the chair. “Sorry,” I say to the girl, and I make my way past her and head toward the short hallway underneath the restroom sign. I try not to look like I’m in pain on the way because I don’t want Natalie following me, but knowing her she will, anyway.

Placing my hand on the stall door, I swing it open and lock myself inside, finally able to show my true level of discomfort. Tiny beads of sweat cover my forehead and the area underneath my nostrils. Something’s definitely not right. This may be my first time ever experiencing a pregnancy, but I can still tell that what I’m feeling right now isn’t normal. I use the restroom quickly, head out of the tiny stall that’s only adding to the discomfort, and move over to the elongated sink.

This can’t be happening…

My hands are shaking uncontrollably. No, my whole body is shaking. I raise my hand to the automatic soap dispenser and wash my hands but I never get the chance to dry them off before what is going on hits me full force. I break down in a blubbering mess, pressing my hands against the edge of the counter. The physical pain is gone for now, but… maybe I’m just being paranoid. Yeah, that’s all it is. Paranoia. The pain is gone, so surely I’m all right.

I take a deep breath and then several more before raising my head from between my slouching shoulders and look at myself in the mirror. I lift one wet hand and wipe the sweat from my face and the leftover tears from my cheeks. I even feel better long enough to be grossed out when I realize I’m standing in a public restroom with bare feet.

The entrance door swings open and Natalie marches inside.

“Seriously, are you OK? No, I take that back, obviously you’re not, so what’s going on? I’m calling Andrew. Right now.” She starts to leave the restroom and go back into the front where her phone is, but I stop her.