“That bitch!” Autumn seethed, taking a sip of her hot chocolate. We were sitting on her couch, the one I would be sleeping on until I got my bed and furniture back. “I always knew you couldn’t trust the little thief.”
“Caleb seems to think he can get my things from her,” I said, leaning forward and taking my peppermint tea from the coffee table. I took a sip of the minty water and savored the sweetness on my tongue. It was the only thing I could keep down, and thankfully, it also calmed my nausea.
“I don’t doubt it, he seems very . . . capable.” She looked at me over her mug and I could see the twinkle in her eyes. “Did you tell him about the baby?”
I glanced away. “No.”
She gaped at me. “Honey!”
“I know. I should’ve told him but—”
“I got distracted!”
She gave me an unimpressed look. “That is the worst excuse ever. You got distracted? By what, his big cock?” When I glanced away again she tsk-tsk’d and shook her head. “You ho.”
I gave her a pointed look. “Speaking of hoes, how was your night?”
She shrugged it off as if it was nothing. “It was . . . you know . . . it was okay.”
She tried to sound nonchalant, but her voice raised an octave, so I knew she was lying.
“Just okay?” I eyed her suspiciously because she wouldn’t look me in the eye. “Oh my God, you like him!”
Again, she tried to downplay it. “Of course I like him, I let him inside my vagina. Three times, to be precise.”
“But you like like him! I can tell.”
She avoided making eye contact with me and busied herself picking at the cushion on her lap.
“Don’t try to deny it. I’ve been your best friend for too long. I know when you like someone.”
She sighed. “Okay, so I like him.”
“I don’t know. I guess I just didn’t expect to like him.”
Autumn had trouble with commitment.
“So are you going to see him again?”
“Don’t try to change the subject,” she said, cocking an eyebrow. “We’re talking about you telling Caleb about the baby you’re growing in your womb.”
I bit my bottom lip.
“You know, maybe I don’t need to tell him,” I said.
Autumn looked at me like I was crazy. “You’re joking, right?”
“Why do I need to tell him? I don’t need some guy to help me with this. I’m quite capable of raising this baby on my own.”
“He’s not just some guy, he’s the baby’s father. And don’t you think he deserves to know?” Seeing the pained look on my face, she gave me an empathetic look. “Look, you of all people know how hard raising a kid by yourself can be.”
She wasn’t wrong. My childhood had been a disaster thanks to my hair-brained, selfish mother. It was the kind of childhood that made you not want to have children. I saw firsthand how easy it was to crush someone’s self-worth and confidence. My childhood was lonely. I grew up in a one-bedroom apartment in Vegas with a mom who was always out cruising the casinos and bars for her next meal ticket.
I spent most nights home alone, and on one of these nights, after watching a Martha Stewart show about cupcakes, I decided to learn how to bake. Mom wasn’t home to supervise or to tell me how to do things, and one time my eight-year-old self almost burnt down our tiny kitchen. But thanks to some fast thinking I was able to stop a disaster from unfolding. Although, the stench of burnt cake and wax paper was hard to get rid of. Not that Mom noticed when she got home hours later, reeking of booze and too drunk to care.
By the age of nine, I was an enthusiastic cupcake baker who knew her way around the kitchen. Money was tight. So I would use the walks home from school to wander through parking lots of the casinos looking for spare change so I could buy ingredients for my next baking adventure.
I was also really good at English, so at school I started my own essay writing service, selling five-hundred words for five bucks. Some weeks I made up to twenty-five dollars, which meant I could afford to buy some baking books and experiment with different recipes and ideas.
My mom made my childhood lonely and sad, but her abandonment gave me the love of baking, and as a result, a rewarding career.
And probably the best mothering skills in the world.
Because I wasn’t going to be anything like her.
I took another sip of my tea. “I want to tell him. I do. But I just don’t know how to do it.”
“Stop having sex with him would be a start.”
“I’m serious, Autumn. I don’t know how to bring it up.”
“So am I.” She gave me a stern look. “You need to go over there right now and tell him you’re having his baby.”