Allysa drops onto the couch beside me and Rylee. “I miss you so much, Lily,” she says. “I’m thinking about coming back to work a day or two a week.”
I laugh, a little shocked by her comment. “I live downstairs and I visit almost every day. How can you possibly miss me?”
She pouts as she pulls her legs up beneath her. “Fine, it’s not you I miss. I miss work. And sometimes I just want out of this house.”
It’s been six weeks since she had Rylee, so I’m sure she would be cleared to come back to work. But I honestly didn’t think she’d even want to come back now that she has Rylee. I bend forward and give Rylee a kiss on her nose. “Would you bring Rylee with you?”
Allysa shakes her head. “No, you keep me too busy for that.
Marshall can watch her while I work.”
“You mean you don’t have people for that?”
Marshall is passing through the living room when he hears me say that. “Shush, Lily. Don’t speak like a rich girl in front of my daughter. Blasphemy.”
I laugh. That’s why I come over here a few nights a week, because it’s the only time I laugh. It’s been six weeks since Ryle left for England, and no one knows what happened between us. Ryle hasn’t told anyone, and neither have I. Everyone, my mother included, believes he simply left for the study at Cambridge and that nothing has changed between us.
I also still haven’t told anyone about the pregnancy.
I’ve been to the doctor twice. It turns out I was already twelve weeks along the night I found out I was pregnant, which makes me eighteen weeks along now. I’m still trying to wrap my head around it. I’ve been on the pill since I was eighteen. Apparently being forgetful a few times caught up with me.
I’m beginning to show, but it’s cold out so it’s been easy to hide. No one suspects a thing when you have on a baggy sweater and a jacket.
I know I need to tell someone soon, but I feel like Ryle should be the ﬁrst one I tell, and I don’t want to do that over a long-distance phone conversation. He’ll be back in six weeks. If I can somehow keep things quiet until then, I’ll decide where to go from there.
I look down at Rylee and she’s smiling up at me. I make silly faces at her to make her smile more. There have been so many times I’ve wanted to tell Allysa about the pregnancy, but it makes it hard when the secret I’m keeping is being kept from her own brother. I don’t want to put her in that kind of situation, no matter how much it kills me that I can’t talk to her about it.
“How are you holding up without Ryle?” Allysa asks. “You ready for him to come home?”
I nod, but I don’t say anything. I always try to brush off the subject when she brings him up.
Allysa leans back into the couch and says, “Is he still liking Cambridge?”
“Yes,” I say, sticking my tongue out at Rylee. She grins. I wonder if my baby will look like her. I hope so. She’s really cute, but I might be a little partial.
“Did he ever ﬁgure out the subway system there?” Allysa laughs. “I swear, every time I talk to him, he’s lost. He can’t ﬁgure out whether to take the A-line or the B-line.”
“Yeah,” I tell her. “He ﬁgured it out.” Allysa sits up on the couch. “Marshall!”
Marshall walks into the living room and Allysa pulls Rylee out of my hands. She hands her to Marshall and says, “Will you change her diaper?”
I don’t know why she asks him that. I just changed her diaper.
Marshall scrunches up his nose and lifts Rylee out of Allysa’s arms. “Are you a stinky girl?”
They’re wearing matching onesies.
Allysa grabs my hands and yanks me off the couch so fast, I squeal.
“Where are we going?”
She doesn’t answer me. She marches toward her bedroom and then slams the door once we’re both inside. She paces back and forth a few times and then she stops and faces me.
“You better tell me what the hell is going on right now, Lily!” I pull back in shock. What is she talking about?
My hands instantly go to my stomach, because I think maybe
she’s noticed, but she doesn’t look at my stomach. She takes a step forward and pokes a ﬁnger in my chest. “There is no subway system in Cambridge, England, you idiot!”
“What?” I am so confused.
“I made that up!” she says. “Something hasn’t been right with you for a long time. You’re my best friend, Lily. And I know my brother. I talk to him every week, and he isn’t the same. Something happened between you two, and I want to know what it is right now!”
Shit. I guess this is happening sooner rather than later.
I slowly bring my hands up to my mouth, not sure what to tell her. How much to tell her. I had no idea until this moment how much it’s been killing me that I haven’t been able to talk to her about this. I almost feel a little relieved that she reads me so well.
I walk to her bed and take a seat on it. “Allysa,” I whisper. “Sit down.”
I know this is going to hurt her almost as much as it hurt me. She walks over to her bed and sits down next to me, pulling my hands to hers.
“I don’t even know where to start.”
She squeezes my hands, but says nothing. For the next ﬁfteen minutes, I tell her everything. I tell her about the ﬁght. I tell her about Atlas picking me up. I tell her about the hospital. I tell her about the pregnancy.
I tell her about how, for the last six weeks, I cry myself to sleep every night because I have never felt so alone and so scared.
When I’m ﬁnished telling her everything, we’re both crying. She hasn’t responded to what I’ve told her with anything other than the occasional “Oh, Lily.”
She doesn’t have to respond, though. Ryle is her brother. I know she wants me to take his past into consideration just like the last time it happened. I know she’ll want me to work things out with
him because he’s her brother. We’re supposed to be one big, happy family. I know exactly what she’s thinking.
She’s quiet for a long time as she struggles through everything I’ve told her. She ﬁnally lifts her eyes to mine and squeezes my hands. “My brother loves you, Lily. He loves you so much. You have changed his entire life and have made him someone that I never thought he could be. As his sister, I wish more than anything that you could ﬁnd a way to forgive him. But as your best friend, I have to tell you that if you take him back, I will never speak to you again.”
It takes a moment for her words to register, but when they do, I start sobbing.
She starts sobbing.
She wraps her arms around me and we cry over the mutual love we have for Ryle. We cry over how much we hate him right now.
After several minutes of us sobbing pathetically on her bed, she releases me and walks over to her dresser to retrieve a box of tissues.
We’re both wiping our eyes and snifﬂing when I say, “You’re the best friend I’ve ever had.”
She nods. “I know. And now I’m gonna be the best aunt.” She wipes her nose and snifﬂes again, but she’s smiling. “Lily. You’re having a baby.” She says it with excitement, and it’s the ﬁrst moment I’ve been able to share any sense of joy over my pregnancy. “I hate to say it, but I noticed you put on weight. I thought you were just depressed and eating a lot since Ryle left.”
She walks to the back of her closet and starts pulling things out for me. “I have so many maternity clothes to give you.”
We start going through clothes and she pulls down a suitcase and opens it. She begins to throw things toward the suitcase until it starts to overﬂow.
“I could never wear these,” I tell her, holding up a shirt that still has the tag on it. “They’re all designer. I’ll get them dirty.”
She laughs and shoves them into the suitcase anyway. “I won’t need them back. If I get pregnant again, I’ll just have my people buy me more.” She pulls a shirt off a hanger and hands it to me. “Here, try this one on.”
I take my shirt off and then pull the maternity shirt over my head. When I get it into place, I look in the mirror.
I look . . . pregnant. Like you-can’t-hide-this-shit pregnant.
She puts a hand on my stomach and stares in the mirror with me. “Have you found out if it’s a boy or a girl?”
I shake my head. “I don’t really want to know.”
“I hope it’s a girl,” she says. “Our daughters can be besties.” “Lily?”
We both spin around to ﬁnd Marshall standing in the doorway. His eyes are on my stomach. On Allysa’s hand still on my stomach. He tilts his head. He points at me.
“You . . .” he says, confused. “Lily, there’s a . . . do you realize you’re pregnant?”
Allysa calmly walks to the door and puts her hand on the doorknob. “There are some things you are never, ever to repeat if you want to keep me as your wife. This is one of those things. Understood?”
Marshall raises his eyebrows and takes a step back. “Yes. Okay. Got it. Lily is not pregnant.” He kisses Allysa on the forehead and looks back at me. “I am not telling you congratulations, Lily. For absolutely nothing.” Allysa shoves him all the way out the door and closes it, then turns back to me.
“We need to plan a baby shower,” she says. “No. I need to tell Ryle ﬁrst.”
She waves her hand dismissively. “We don’t need him to plan a shower. We’ll just keep it between the two of us until then.”
She pulls out her laptop, and for the ﬁrst time since I found out I was pregnant, I feel happy about it.