“I’m sorry.” Clara whispered for what felt like the thousandth time. “I ruined everything.” She placed her hands on her stomach as she spoke.
Then, the tears returned.
She’d barely even left her bedroom since that terrible night when everything fell apart. Clara didn’t even know what to think anymore. She was angry – so angry. Maybe angrier than she’d ever been in her life. How could Florian call her such awful names? How could he have ever dreamed that she would cheat on him?! Didn’t he know how much she loved him? Didn’t he realize that he was everything to her?
How could he? She kept asking herself.
But then, how could she treat him the way she had? Avoiding him, ignoring him, keeping the babies a secret… “I don’t think I can marry someone who treats me the way you do!”
The memory only made her cry harder.
In fact, her sobbing was so loud that she almost failed to notice the sound of heavy knocking on the apartment door. At first, Clara thought she’d imagined it. But when a second round of knocking reached her ears, she finally allowed herself to rise to her feet.
“Coming!” She called weakly, emerging from her bedroom at last.
Jocelyne was out with Elliot – otherwise, she would have waited for her niece to answer the door. Who could it possibly be? She wondered. They didn’t get many visitors – and most of their friends were the type to just let themselves in unannounced.
At last, she opened the door.
Clara very nearly collapsed at the sight of him. Part of her wanted to throw herself on him, wrap him in her arms, and never let him go ever again. Another part wanted to punch him in the face for how deeply he’d hurt her.
In the end, she did neither – she simply burst into tears. Florian was silent for several long moments, but Clara’s tears did not show any sign of stopping.
“Clara.” Florian’s voice was pained. “I didn’t fly all the way here just to watch you cry.”
“Then why did you, huh? To make sure I’m not with some other guy?” She asked, wiping her eyes. “Or more than one, since I’m apparently such a slut.” Clara threw his horrible words back at him.
“Don’t do this, Clara. Please.” He sighed. “Can’t we figure this out?”
The girl nodded slowly, still overwhelmed by a strange mixture of anger and sorrow. “I guess we can try.” She was already making things worse with her sudden outburst. Nice going, Clara. Without another word, she led him to the couch.
It was still so hard to believe that he was really here, right in front of her. The one person she’d been aching for – longing for – for the past three months. He came all this way… Where had they been? Spain? Portugal? One of the two. It had probably cost a fortune to get a flight on such short notice… And the band had to have scrambled to find a replacement for him for tonight’s gig.
Getting here was probably a nightmare. Yet here he was.
You said you wanted to talk to him in person, didn’t you? Here’s your chance.
She took a deep breath and opened her mouth to speak. But before she could say a word, Florian’s deep, clear voice filled the air.
“Clara, I’m sorry.” His words caught her off guard. “I should never have said all that horrible shit to you.” Florian said seriously. “I know you’d never hurt me like that… I just missed you so damn much, and David and Mia started saying all this bullshit that started getting in my head…” For a moment, he paused, his shame suddenly deepening. “And, uh, not that it’s an excuse, but being drunk off my fucking ass the other night probably didn’t help… But anyway, it wasn’t just that.” He continued. “You were acting all weird and avoiding my calls and… God, I’m sorry. I wish I could take it all back.” Florian held his face in his hands for a moment.
“But what the hell was I supposed to think?!” He burst suddenly. “You were avoiding me like the fucking plague or something! And every time I asked why, you never gave me a straight answer! How was I supposed to know that you’re…” His eyes flicked down toward her small baby bump, and he left the thought unfinished.
“I know.” Clara’s voice was barely above a whisper. “I fucked up so bad. I should never have waited so long to tell you… I was just scared.”
“Of what?! Did you think I’d leave you over something like this?! Jesus, you know I’m not like that, Clara!”
She just looked at him for a moment. Part of her almost wanted to point out the hypocrisy of what he’d just said… But she didn’t. What good would it do? God, we both fucked this up so bad, didn’t we?
“I know you’re not.” Clara replied at last. “I just…” She hesitated. “Florian, we both know how you feel about kids. You’ve never kept it a secret. And I knew you wouldn’t be happy when you found out… But I also knew I wanted to keep these babies. I couldn’t give them away, or…” She couldn’t even bring herself to say the alternative. “I kept telling myself I was too afraid to have that conversation over the phone… But I think I was just too afraid to have it at all.” She confessed. “So I just kept putting it off.”
It was a few moments before he finally replied. “You’re right.” Florian admitted at last. “If you’d told me sooner, I’d probably, um… suggest that you… Not… have them…” He glanced down at her stomach, a look of guilt coming to his face. “I just mean… I really… Don’t want these babies.” He seemed to be struggling to find the right words. “Not yet, I mean. Clara, we aren’t ready for kids yet, are we? Think about all the things we wanted to do. How are we ever gonna do any of that with one baby? Let alone two?!”
“I don’t know.” Clara agreed sadly. “But… Maybe it won’t be so bad. I mean, you always talk about all the adventures we’re gonna have together. What better adventure than parenthood?” She smiled softly at him.
Florian appeared thoughtful for a moment. “Maybe.” At last, he spoke. “This is just really fucking scary… I don’t know if I’m ready for this.” He shook his head.
“I know, I’m scared too, but… Excited. I really want this, Florian. I never thought I would, but… I do.” Clara hesitated for a moment before continuing. “What I don’t want is to fuck up your life. Or be a burden to you… All I’ve ever wanted was to make you happy. And I’m sorry if this doesn’t.” The girl bit her lip. “And… I guess… If you really don’t want this, there are still… options.” She felt her stomach drop as the words passed her lips.
“Clara, I’m not gonna force you to do anything you don’t wanna do. And if this is what you want, then… No matter what, I’m gonna stand by you. And the babies too.” He promised. “I love you. And yeah, maybe I don’t love the idea of being a dad right now, but…” Florian smiled gently at her. “We’ll figure this out… Together.”
For a moment, Clara felt as though she were going to cry again… But not from sorrow. “So… Does that mean you still want to marry me? Even after I kept this from you?” She asked softly.
“Well, that depends.” He replied. “Do you still want to marry me after what I said the other night?” Florian’s face fell slightly as he spoke.
“I do.” Clara promised. “Are you kidding? All I’ve ever wanted was you. You know that.” She shrugged slightly. “I guess we both just kinda fucked up, didn’t we?”
Florian nodded. “Yup, that’s us… A couple of fuck-ups. God, those poor kids have no idea what’s in store for them…” He glanced down at her stomach, laughing softly.
Clara couldn’t help but join in his laughter.
“I love you.” Florian continued. His tone was serious once more. “But I know this whole parenting thing won’t be easy. And… I’m still pretty fucking pissed that you lied to me about this, and kept it a secret for so long.”
His fiancée nodded. “I love you too. But I’m still pissed about what you called me, and that you thought I’d ever cheat on you.” She confessed. “I guess this whole long distance thing brought out the worst in both of us… And, y’know, all these goddamn hormones certainly aren’t helping on my end.” Her lips curled into a small smile.
“We have a lot of shit to work out before we have these kids.” Florian sighed softly. “But… Look, my flight back to Spain leaves in the morning. And then we’ve still got another month and a half before we see each other again…”
The way he looked at her sent a pleasant shiver down her spine.
“So, for the next few hours… Can we just pretend everything’s not fucked up?” He suggested. “No secrets. No accusations. No babies. No drama. Just… us?”
Clara smiled. “Deal.”