Catch up here. The story jumps ahead to three years after J.D. and Ari’s wedding.
J.D. wraps my arms around his neck and pulls me forward in the wheelchair. His arms encircle me and he lifts me to my feet slowly. “Hang on to me, babes,” he whispers then sweeps his left arm down under my knees. He carefully sets me on the passenger seat then gently lifts my legs under my knees and places my feet on the floorboard.
I squeeze my eyes closed and push the tears through. I hear the clicking of the seatbelt then the clunk of the door closing.
He takes the same care getting me out of the car and into our condo in Makiki. He sets me down on the futon in the living room and turns on the CD player.
You make sense of madness
When my sanity hangs by a thread
He plays the messages on the answering machine while getting water in the kitchen. Message after message from family and friends calling to make sure I was okay, to say they were sorry, and offering help.
“Turn it off,” I say feebly when he returns with the water.
“Turn it off!” I shout and the floodgate opens.
J.D. stops the machine and rushes to me. I fall into his lap and tuck my legs up behind me on the futon. He brushes my hair out of my face and caresses my arm.
The racking sobs peter out and I turn over to look at J.D. “What did I do wrong?”
“You didn’t do anything wrong,” he reassures me and cups my face with his hand. “Miscarriages just happen sometimes and it has nothing to do with you.” He lifts me up and cradles me. Streaks left by tears line his face.
“It hurts so much,” I cry and bury myself in him.
“I know, babes,” he says mournfully. He hugs me close and our bodies shudder together in our grief.
“Baby,” I call as I close the front door.
Synthesizers and David Gahan’s voice and fill the living room.
Love needs its martyrs
Needs its sacrifices
“J.D.?” I slip off my shoes and drop my bag.
“On the lanai,” he calls back.
I cannot tell where on the wraparound lanai his voice came from with all the window jalousies open and the music on. “Which side?” I ask looking to the left through the kitchen.
I walk to the sliding door straight ahead of me and slide the screen open. J.D. is on the left leaning with his arms crossed on the railing and a beer in his left hand.
“Hey, babes.” He gives a half-hearted smile.
“Hi, baby.” I rise on my toes and press my lips against his. “Rough shift?”
“Do you want to talk about it?”
He raises his left hand holding the bottle around the neck and wags his index finger at me. “Therapy ended when you left the office.”
I embrace him around his waist from behind and rest my chin on his shoulder blade. “Talking to me isn’t therapy. It’s communication.”
He cocks his head back to the right and rubs his right hand over mine. “Sorry, babes. We had one major accident victim of one kind or another after another after another.”
“Would you like good news?”
“I’m pregnant.” I smile brightly.
“Fo’ real?” He raises his eyebrows.
His eyes swim with glee. He twists around in my arms, drops to one knee, takes hold of my waist then smacks my belly with his lips. “Hello, little one. I can’t wait to meet you.”
“Who should we call first?” he asks happily.
“I want to wait.”
I press my index finger against his lips and join him on my knees. “If I miscarry again, I can’t go through grieving while feeling like everyone pities me.”
“No one pitied you,” he states adamantly.
“I said I felt like they did,” I clarify.
“It was my loss, too.”
I run the back of my fingers along his cheekbone. “I know, baby. And you were so strong for both of us. I just want to make sure we get through the first trimester before telling everyone.”
“Whatever you want, babes,” he accepts, taking my hand and pressing his lips against my fingers.
J.D. rocks Ethan in his arms as he strolls around the nursery and croons.
Let me show you the world in my eyes
I lean wearily against the doorjamb. “Depeche Mode is not lullaby material, J.D.”
He peers up at me with a crooked grin. “It can be.”
I roll my eyes at him and head into our bedroom. I lie down and pull the quilt up around me. Karen walks in and places a glass of coconut water on the nightstand then sits next to me on the edges of the bed.
“How do you feel, dear?” she questions in a concerned tone and sets a warm hand on my arm.
“Exhausted,” I respond wearily.
“Rest and don’t worry about Ethan,” she encourages. “Rick and I will keep an eye on Jack.”
I snicker softly. “Thanks, Mom.”
The bed shakes beneath me then settles. I lift my eyelids. J.D. is sitting against the headboard cuddling Ethan, humming Danny’s Song.
“There’s Mommy,” he coos.
“Hey,” I say drowsily and reach over stroking Ethan’s chin with my fingertip.
J.D. lays Ethan next to me and I brush my lips against Ethan’s forehead just below a tuft of dark curls, resting my hand gently on his torso. His obsidian eyes stare at the ceiling. HJ.D. lays down facing me, props his head up with his right hand, and weaves his fingers into mine.
I scratch my Mont Blanc pen across paper in a client’s chart to document the session I just finished. A light rap comes from my open door. I glance up and Brian, my boss, stands in the doorway.
“Can you take a new client?” he asks.
“Good.” He enters and hands me the new chart. “No one else can.”
“Wait,” I call to him as he reaches the doorway. “I can’t take him.”
He spins around. “You just said you could.”
“I know him, Brian.”
“He’s my ex from high school. He stalked me when J.D. and I were still dating. I haven’t seen him since the police hauled him off for assaulting me on New Year’s Eve in ninety-three.”
“Jesus,” he utters.
“If someone has a client who can handle a transfer, I’ll take them, but I won’t see Lance. I shouldn’t even be in the same building as him.” I pass the chart back.
“I’ll refer him out.”
Humidity swathes me on my way to the car. The door slams open behind me. I jump and turn around. I shake my head. “Leave me alone, Lance.”
He steps forward, “Ari-“
I step back and point my finger at him. “Stay away.”
The door opens again and Rob, a security guard, walks through. “’Dis guy bothering you, Ari?”
I drop my hand to my side. “Yeah.”
“Get outta here, bruddah,” he says to Lance.
Lance raises his palms towards me and walks to the street.
I fish my cell phone out of my purse once I’m in the car with the door locked. My fingers shake as I punch in the numbers to J.D.’s pager. I drop the phone in my lap once I finish, lay my arms and head on the steering wheel, and let the tears flow.
“What’s wrong? Is Ethan okay?” J.D. asks panicked when I answer the phone.
I quickly explain how my psycho stalker ex re-entered our life.
“I’ll be home in a few hours,” he says upset.
The tradewind gust blows my hair to the right and cools my skin for the moment. Ethan is asleep on my shoulder and I watch the sunset over the urban sprawl from a deck chair on the lanai. Goo Goo Dolls on the stereo comes through the open jalousies.
I’ve found another someone to take your place
Now if you don’t mind please get outta of my face
The screen door squeaks and I turn my head. J.D. is still in his scrubs smiling with his hands behind him. He saunters over and plants his lips on mine. He brings his hands out with a white cardboard ice cream pint emblazoned with Bubbies’ logo in one hand and two spoons in his other hand.
I light up. “You took a detour on your way home? You are too good to me, baby.”
He places the ice cream and spoons on the small round table between the chairs then holds his arms out. “I’ll put him down.”
He returns wearing a white Georgetown University t-shirt and black shorts with the baby monitor in hand.
We sit on the deck chairs and take turns scooping out spoonfuls of Strawberry Cheesecake ice cream.
“I’m going with you tomorrow to file the protective order,” he states matter-of-factly.
“It’s going to be a lot of paperwork,” I warn. “And it’s your day off.”
“Our family is more important. We have a son who needs both of us.”
Branches whip my face as I tear through the brush and dried leaves crunch under my feet. My lungs burn while I suck in another breath and pump my arms to keep me moving.
A crack comes from behind and arms wrap around my torso while a body collides into me. I rotate my body and land on top of my attacker then roll out of his grip. We scramble to our feet and a knife flashes in the air between us.
“I’m not going anywhere with you,” I tell Lance between breaths. I straighten and hold out my arms. “Go ahead. Do it.”
He looks at me confused. I drop my arms and take off. I’m yanked from behind to the ground several steps later. He clutches my throat with his right hand and raises the knife in the air with his left.
I kick and scream for help.
My body is immobilized by arms and a leg from behind. Tears flow down the right side of my face and my muscles relax.
“Babes, it’s okay,” he says soothingly, loosening his grip and removing his leg from mine. “I have you.” He kisses my shoulder lightly. “You’re safe,” he whispers then rocks us gently back to sleep.
“Ari, you have a delivery,” Diane states over the phone. “They want you to sign for it.”
“On my way.”
A large arrangement of red roses is on the high counter of the modular desk in front of Diane. No one else is in sight. “Where are they?”
“Right here,” Lance says appearing from behind the arrangement.
My heart slams in my chest. I backpedal and grab the counter on the side. “Call Security, Diane.”
She looks at me questioningly.
“What’s Security going to do?” Lance asks darkly.
“Hold you until the police get here. Or I’m sure they’ll be happy to pick you up at home.” I move behind the desk and reach for the flowers.
I make eye contact with Lance’s dull brown eyes and drop the roses into Diane’s trash can. The glass vase thuds against the plastic. Lance purses his lips firmly.
“What is wrong with you?” I lay into Diane once Rob and Charlie escort Lance to their office.
“What do you mean?” she asks cowering.
I slap my hand against the picture of Lance in front of her. “That’s what I mean! You should’ve called Rob and Charlie, not me,” I chastise.
“I’m sorry,” she says meekly
“I’ll be in my office if the police need to see me,” I tell her as I storm off.
My phone is ringing when I walk into my office.
“Ari,” Dad greets.
“What do you want?” I snap.
“Ho, what got into you?”
“Maybe I’m tired of my ex stalking me. Maybe I hate that my parents ignored me most of my life because they couldn’t deal with my brother’s death. Maybe I’m mad because you refuse to come meet your grandson. Maybe I’m just having a really BAD DAY!” I scream into the phone. Heat shoots through my body.
He remains silent.
“How about this. You don’t call me again unless it’s to tell me you’re coming home,” I suggest angrily.
“I won’t call again,” he responds flatly.
“Goodbye then, Dad. Enjoy the rest of your life. Alone!” I slam the phone down in the cradle and drop my face into my hands, taking deep breaths until the heat subsides.
©Debi Smith, 2013