The Edge of Always (The Edge of Never #2)(8)

by J.A. Redmerski

She sits on the closed toilet lid.

“Well, it’s official,” she says, grinning down at me, “pregnancy does make the boobs bigger.”

As always, she’s exaggerating.

I raise my hand from the water and flick droplets at her.

“Are you feeling all right?” she asks, toning down the jokes. “You look exhausted.”

“I’m pregnant,” I say flatly.

“True, but Cam, you look like shit.”

“Thanks.” I reach back, readjust the clip I put in my hair to keep it from getting wet, then relax my arm along the side of the tub.

“Well, aren’t you supposed to be glowing? That’s what they say pregnant women do.”

I shrug and shake my head against the back of the tub.

A dull wave of pain moves through my lower back and passes as quickly as it came. I grimace and readjust my body.

“Are you sure you’re all right?” She looks more concerned than she needs to.

“Aches and pains. Nothing to worry about. It’s only going to get worse from here on out, I imagine. Aches and pains, that is.” I don’t know why I felt compelled to clear that last part up, except that I wanted to make sure she knew I didn’t mean it any other way.

“Still no morning sickness?” she asks. “I’d take a little back pain over puking my guts up, any day.”

“Nope,” I say. “But let’s not jinx it, Nat.”

I admit, if it were actually a choice, I’d choose pain over puke, too. And so far it looks like that’s what I’m getting. I guess I’ve been one of the lucky ones who the morning sickness passes right over. And I don’t have any weird cravings, either. So, either I’m a freak of nature, or all that talk about pickles and ice cream is just a load of crap.

I get out of the tub and wrap a towel around my body before hugging Natalie good-bye.

Then I lie across my bed, remembering how comfortable it was. But I don’t miss this room so much, or feel any sense of longing to get back into my old life. No. The “old life” I still want to avoid, and this is the number one reason I’ve been so divided about whether to come home or not. I’ve missed my mom and Natalie, and I admit that I’ve just missed North Carolina in general. But I don’t miss it in the way that makes me want to end right back up here doing the same things I was doing before. I ran away from that lifestyle for a reason, and I’m not about to run right back to it.

Instead of going out with Natalie and Blake later in the evening, I decide to stay here and go to bed early. I feel overly exhausted, as if my body is being drained of energy faster than normal, and the back pain hasn’t really subsided at all, either. It has been coming and going for the past few hours.

Andrew crawls into the bed with me and lies on his side, his head propped on his knuckles. “I feel like I’m doing something I shouldn’t, being up here in your childhood room with you like this.” He grins.

I smile slimly and bury my body deeper underneath the blanket. It’s only a little chilly outside, but I’m freezing. I pull the blanket up to my chin, curling my fingers tight around the fuzzy fabric.

“If my dad was here,” I say, chuckling, “you’d be in Cole’s room.”

He moves closer to me and drapes his arm over my waist. At first it seems like he’s about to take full advantage of the fact that we’re finally alone, but his expression hardens and he moves his arm from my waist and runs his fingers through the top of my hair.

“OK, you’re starting to worry me,” he says. “You’ve been acting strange since I got back here with Blake. What’s going on?”

I pull my body closer toward his and say, “You and Natalie both, I swear.” I gaze at him across the few inches of space between our faces.

“Oh, so then she noticed, too?” he asks.

I nod. “Just some back pain and generally feeling like shit, but you two fail to remember my predicament.”

He barely smiles back at me. “Maybe you should go to the doctor and get checked out.”

I shake my head gently. “I’m not going to be one of those paranoid people who run to the hospital for every little thing. I was at the doctor’s office just last week. Everything’s fine. Even she said so.” I lean toward him and kiss him softly on the lips and smile a little more, hoping to ease his mind.

He smiles back and moves the blanket from around my body so he can curl up next to me. I lift up and lie on my other side so that my back is facing him, and he presses his warm body against mine, wrapping his arm around me from behind. He’s so warm that I melt into him, knowing it’ll only be minutes before I’m fast asleep. I feel his breath on my neck as he kisses me there. I close my eyes and take him in, his natural scent that I always crave, the hardness of his arms and legs, the heat coming from his skin. I honestly doubt I’ll ever be able to fall asleep without him next to me again.

“If it gets worse,” he says in a quiet voice behind me, “you better tell me. I don’t want you to also be one of those stubborn people who doesn’t get checked out when they know something could be wrong.”

I turn my head slightly in his direction, looking faintly amused.

“Oh, you mean like someone I know who refused to see a doctor for eight months because he was so sure his brain tumor was inoperable?”

He sighs and I feel the heat from his breath on my shoulder. My intention was to get a laugh out of him, but apparently he doesn’t find it funny.

“Just promise me,” he says and squeezes me gently with his arm. “Any more pain or anything weird, you’ll tell me and we’ll go to the hospital.”

I give in, not because I want to appease him but because he’s right. I’ve never been pregnant before, so I know as much about what is normal and what isn’t as any other first-time mom-to-be.

7

It’s Sunday afternoon, and I think all I needed yesterday was a good sleep. I feel a little better today, and the back pain is gone. I get dressed and go ahead and pack my things so everything will be ready when Andrew and I leave later tonight to catch our plane back to Texas. But before we head back, I have a girl’s day out to spend with Natalie, and I’m looking forward to it.

“Are you sure you don’t mind hanging out with Blake?” I ask as Andrew slips a navy T-shirt down over his abs. He’s standing in front of the mirror fixing his hair, if you can call running his fingers through it once fixing it. He never has cared much what it looks like as long as it’s not sticking up in places it shouldn’t be.