Authors: Mia Caldwell
pretty much stayed the rest of the evening in bed, laughing at ourselves. Every
now and then I would catch a glimpse of the water meeting the sky outside the
window, the line between them fading as the night wore on. It was hard to
believe it had already been most of the day since I had seen the outside of the
room, but then again… maybe it wasn't that hard to believe.
We ended up having dinner in bed, thanks to Julien’s lovely staff on board. I
couldn't quite remember the captain's name, but the cabin boy Peter was very
nice to me. I sat there with Julien tangled up in the sheets and covers and
eating from a fancy silver tray. I had to laugh watching Julien down the
crepes. As lean as he was, I found it pretty entertaining to see just how he
could go to town on some sweets.
what do you have in store for us tomorrow?" I asked him, twirling my fork
around in the pasta before scooping it up and bringing it to my mouth. I
groaned—it tasted like heaven.
cleared his plate off, his brown eyes sparkling at me. "I was thinking of
fishing. Have you ever been fishing before?"
snorted. "Not exactly. Does involve putting little wriggling worms on
hooks? Because if it does, no way. Not a fan of injuring poor little worms just
to catch a fish. But that's just me."
rolled his eyes at me, shaking his head in mock indignation. "It's the
circle of life, Amira. And no, we will use lures, not live bait. I'm not
looking to catch anything big. Marlin are off-season right now.
guess there's always a first time for everything." The very idea of
fishing kind of seemed boring to me, to be honest, but if it meant something to
him, that meant something to me, too. It would definitely be interesting to see
where tomorrow would bring us.
After finally making it to the first level deck, I took in a breath of fresh
air, enjoying the breeze that whipped around my blouse. It felt good to be out
in the open again, even though watching the waves undulate had a certain ill
effect on me. I tried not to think about it, but it was hard not to notice how
my stomach roiled in on itself. Hopefully I could keep it from Julien, because
Lord knows he would bring me right back to land if he knew I was getting
I was having way too much fun on the yacht, anyway.
came around the corner, equipped with two large fishing poles and that amazing
grin of his. God, how could I say no to that? It was completely impossible, if
you asked me.
"This one is for you," Julien said, handing me the smaller pole,
"And this one is for me. It looks more complicated than it is, believe me.
So just follow my lead and you should have no problems."
raised my brow at him. "Yeah, we'll see about that." I wasn't putting
too much faith in the fact that I could actually fish. That would be the day.
set to work rigging up our fishing poles, me falling more than anything else.
Julien made quick work of his, before stringing mine up just right. He tried to
get me to practice a couple different baits, but I resisted, already feeling
nervous about swinging a long line with a hook hanging from it around.
you worried you’ll get hurt? I'm afraid that if I whip this baby around too
much, it will end up snagging into your beautiful mouth. And I couldn't do
that, no way," I explained.
just laughed at me. "We're not going fly fishing, Amira. We’ll drop the
line into the water and wait. Easy, no?"
I felt my cheeks reddened. “I guess.”
Julien cast his line in first, coaxing me to do the same, as he stood behind me
with my hands wrapped around the pole. It felt nice having him close against me
again, but I was letting my mind wander off way to quickly before I gave myself
a chance to focus.
I finally dropped my line into the water with a soft plink.
I thought to myself.
Maybe that wasn't so bad after all.
It turned out that fishing was way, way easier than I thought it would be. I
felt a huge tug at my fishing pole line almost instantly. Julien coached me on
as I quickly tried to roll the reel back in my hand. As I reeled it in, Julien looked
over the side, his eyes wide.
did it! Take a look at this," he shouted, helping me bring up the last few
feet of the line. At the end of it was the strongest little tiny fish I’d ever
seen swinging and swaying in the wind. I immediately felt bad.
"How much would you hate me if I wanted to let the fish go?" I asked,
feeling silly that my lip was trembling looking at the poor fish. I hated
seeing the hook hanging out of its mouth.
you have a kind heart. I
understand if you do not want to keep it. Here, I'll show you how to let it
didn't want to touch it, but he insisted, so we unhooked the fish together and
I was happy to toss it back into the sea.
Now that I was looking out at the water, it was kind of hard to remember being
scared of it. It was so calm, almost as if the surface was glass and not
few more hours passed, with Julien finally catching two more fish and handing
them off to the cabin boy before the sun sunk past the horizon line. It was a
relaxing day, and I couldn’t have spent it in better company.
When we finally went downstairs to the cabin, I found that his chef had made
some sort of special treat for us. Pulling the tray open I saw the fish Julien
had pulled from the ocean. At least I knew it was going to be fresh
Dinner was short and sweet because it was pretty obvious we were ready to go to
bed… If that's what you want to call it. I hadn't even made it to the bottom
deck before Julien's hands were firmly around my waist. There was no mistaking
His lips grazed my earlobe, before trailing down to my collarbone, sucking on
the skin between his teeth. My head lolled back, and I bit back the moan that
rose in my throat. He was so good at pulling these noises from me. My body
practically sang with feeling when he dropped down and yanked my pants and
underwear down to my ankles. His tongue lingered over the apex of my thigh, so
patiently. But I was nowhere near as patient. I needed him, and I needed
everything he was about to do to me. I needed it more than the breath that kept
escaping my lungs in quick little pants.
His hand found purchase over my upper abdomen, following upwards until he was
cupping the curve of my breast, squeezing the tender flesh there. His tongue
darted between my folds so gently. When I looked down at him through hooded
eyes, I was brought back to the moment he told me he loved me.
We were in the bed before I knew it, me rising up over top of him, crying out
as his hips met mine over and over again. I reached my arms behind myself,
arching my back as I rode him faster. I would never want to stop doing this.
There would never come a time where there would be somewhere else I'd rather
be. And every time he whispered to me as he slid back inside of me I wanted to
drink in the words. They were my drug of choice.
I didn't know my plans past this temporary placement that had become my life,
but I knew the future had to include Julien. It just had to…
fell asleep in his arms, happy…
something was wrong.
I was there again.
Crouched on the floor, hoping to
God that he would keep walking. But he wouldn't turn back and see me,
pathetically trying to hide behind the cleaning cart. But he did, just like he
always did. But this time instead of the other two men jumping on him, he had
finally done what he set out to do. The gun was in his hand, the second bullet
ringing out, ringing through my head, exploding. I don't feel it at first,
until I feel the wetness on my hand, as I bring it away from my chest. No one's
there to save me this time. No one hears me cry out.
I shot up,
completely drenched in my own sweat. I didn't even realize I had been screaming
until Julien rolled over from his side of the bed, drowsy but panicked.
"Are you okay? What happened? Did you have another bad dream?"
I couldn't answer him, because he knows the answer. There was no reason to
bring it back up. Yes, I had another nightmare. I probably would always have
them, according to the shrink they made me see. There was nothing I could do
about it, but hopefully it would be another month before I had it again.
Julien just pulled me up against his chest, trying his best to soothe me. It
only took a few minutes, but I finally calmed down enough to thank him for
being there for me. Even in the dark I could see him smile, though he was still
half-asleep. He really had no idea, but I would make sure he would find out one
way or the other just how much he meant to me.
rest of the weekend had been incredible. The open ocean was beautiful, but we
mostly spent our time below decks. Julien was trying even harder to get my mind
off of the nightmares, which seemed to be happening more frequently than not. I
didn’t know what was triggering them, but wished whatever it was would stop.
we finally made it back to the château, not much had changed. At least Marie
wasn't about to say anything negative about the times Julien would sneak me
away from my duties…
days turned into weeks, and then the next thing I knew, it had been three weeks
since our weekend on the Mediterranean. I couldn't believe how fast time is
Julien was away working for the past week. He told me how much he hated leaving
me, but I knew he would be back. I had total faith in him and I wasn't gonna
let any kind of weird insecurity sneak up on me. I had let myself trust him,
because if I couldn't, where would that leave us?
Marie kept me plenty busy, but Alain also took the time out of his day to show
me the ins and out of landscaping. I wanted to have something nice to show
Julien when he came back home, sort of like my own little surprise for him. I
didn't have billions to drop at the turn of a dime, but I had my own special
powers. Sort of.
It took plenty of hard work, but Alain was patient with me. He showed me how to
till the dirt, and then reprimanded me when I called it dirt.
"No. Not dirt. Soil, there is difference," he had said, scooping up
some of the dark Earth in his hands. Not much really got to him, but the moment
you started dissing mother nature, Alain had plenty to say about it. It was one
of the things I liked about him best.
In the end, we had pretty little perennials growing not too far from the front
entrance. It stood out against the bright green foliage that mainly lined the
sidewalk. I wondered if Julien would notice.
was dying to see him again. I had so many questions.. I wanted to know every
single detail about his trip. I wondered if he’d thought about me as much as
I’d thought about him.
As the days
wore on without Julien’s return, my curiosity turned something sour, just like
my stomach. I was finding it harder to keep on my toes, especially with the
amount of work Marie had thrown at me. Usually I had plenty of energy, but for
some reason something just wasn't sitting well with me. Maybe I had caught
I finally made it into the kitchen to speak with Marie, Gervaise looked at me
"Not feeling well?" he asked, bringing me a cup of steaming hot tea.
I frowned at him, wondering how he knew. Was it that obvious? Did I look that
I tried to smile at him, shaking my head. "I've felt better. But I'll be
okay. Probably just a little bug, or something."
He narrowed his eyes at me, but didn't say anything further.
you for the tea…”
is my pleasure. You should finish it quickly… Julien should arrive any minute.”
coming today? I thought he wasn’t going to be back for another week!”
stood up, a feeling of excitement rolling through me. I wanted to run out
toward the entrance to the estate to wait for Julien, but it was too fast. My
stomach turned on me, and it was all I could do to avoid vomiting on the
Oh yeah, something was definitely going on. My eyes watered and my stomach
burned in agony. It had been so long since something had made me feel like
this. Luckily Marie had just shown up in the doorway, clearly worried.
"What happened? Are you ill?"
“I think I need to go lie down. Is Julien back?" my words jumbled
together, and I clutched at my stomach tightly, hoping to keep from throwing
up. Sweat broke out over my brow and my upper lip. I had no idea what had
gotten into me, but whatever it was I didn't like it.
groaned, wishing the bubbling in my stomach would just go away. If Julien was
home, this was and not the time or place to be getting sick. I wanted to see
him, wanted to touch him and kiss him, tell him how much I missed him. How much
I loved him.
long have you felt like this?" Marie asked me, pulling me by my elbow to
us sit down on the bench at the table.
"A few days. I’m just feeling nauseous. Do you know of anyone else in the
château is sick?"
at me, her eyes steady, and slowly shook her head no. "No… No one
It'd been a while since I had been out in public, so to think that I suddenly
just picked something up was strange to me. It didn't matter though, I just
wanted to see Julien. Hopefully seeing his face would make me feel better…
claminess settled over my skin like a ghost. I patiently sat there, hoping for
the worst to pass. A few minutes later it did just that, even though deep down
I could feel that it wasn't all the way gone. I was still sick, but at least I
could get up now.
Marie helped me walk back to my bedroom, equipped with a plastic wastebasket
and a cool pack for my forehead. I found my way to the bed, gingerly pulling
myself up onto the massive mattress.
It didn't take long before there was a knock at my door. My heart raced.
in," I rasped, my voice still unsteady from before.
Julien burst through the door, his eyes darting all over the place before he
realized I was in bed. He made a beeline to me, his arms immediately pulling me
in and crushing me against his chest. "
, what is wrong? I heard you were ill."
I nodded feebly, but still tried to put on a brave face. The last thing I
needed was for him to worry about me. He had a lot of other things going on at
the moment, I was sure.
"I'll be fine. I must have some sort of bug. Your guess is as good as
mine. It's just strange, because I haven't been anywhere to catch anything. Or
maybe it's one of those illnesses that take a few days to show up. Other than
that, I have no clue."
Julien narrowed his eyes at me, taking me in. Usually I loved when he stared at
me like this, but the intensity in his eyes was more disconcerting than usual.
He was trying to figure out something in his head, I was sure of it.
He placed his hands on my knees, gently rubbing my kneecaps, before looking back
up at me and softening his eyes. "Amira . . . is it possible that you
I raised my brow at him, his words taking a while to sink in. He paused without
finishing his sentence, but slowly, a lightbulb went off in my head.
couldn't be… there is no way.
course there was a way. We hadn't been careful like we should have been. And
between the first time we made love and the many times afterward, well, I
couldn't be totally shocked if something had happened because of it, could I?
Julien bit his lip, casting his eyes downward. I hoped he wasn't disappointed.
We should've been more careful—it was that simple. We were two grown adults
acting like young teenagers. And while part of me had been enthralled in the
last six weeks or so, I had to admit that we definitely could've been more
He sighed, pulling himself away for me. "We need to be sure. I won't be
too long, my love," Julien said, rising up off of the bed.
I nodded, feeling almost numb at that point. There I was, feeling nauseous one
minute, and possibly being pregnant the next.
If there was one thing I had learned during the past year of my life, it was
that things had the tendency to change and just a snap of the fingers. And we
were about to find out just how much they could change…
It had taken
Julien twenty-seven minutes and thirty-nine seconds to get back to my
with a small plastic bag in
hand. I know this because I had been watching my phone, my eyes glued to it. It
felt like forever to me, of course.
the box from his hand, taking in a deep breath before heading over to my
bathroom and quietly shutting the door behind me. Part of me wanted him to hold
my hand the whole time…
tried to take slow breaths as I finished preparing the test and washed my
hands. It was so hard not to keep my eyes on the test, and I had to
continuously find a new spot in the bathroom to stare at every ten seconds or
so, to keep my mind and eyes from traveling back to it.
busy myself, I pulled out the two-page instructions to the pregnancy tests
reading over them with without really taking them in. I couldn't concentrate,
at least not until I was able to look and see what the results for.
This deep breathing is not helping me worth
, I groaned inwardly.
both of my hands I grabbed the edge of the countertop, bracing myself against
it as I looked at myself in the mirror in front of me. My hair had certainly
grown out some since I had been in France, and I had been keeping it up in my
usual French twist, trying to keep it simple and pretty. Suddenly I felt the
need to do something completely different with it, but the only person I
trusted with my hair was my neighbor Raquel Morrison, and she was over
three-thousand miles away.
rolled my eyes at myself at my flippancy and tried to see past the makeup I was
wearing… to really see inside myself.
I be able to handle the news? Was I strong enough to face what might happen?
I knew what my sister would say. She’d tell me to get a grip, and to deal with
whatever consequences I might be facing. She'd be over the moon, of course. She
didn't play around, he got the dummy-proof test. And boy was it easy to read
the word PREGNANT in all caps.
slowly picked it up, tilting it this way and that. No, it definitely said what
I thought it said. There was no mistaking it.
started shaking. My hands were trembling immensely, making it nearly impossible
for me to hold still. I gripped the countertop again, settling myself.
Deep breaths, Amira. Deep breaths.
All these thoughts about the
what-if's and consequences, all of it flew right out the window. There was no
more what if. This was happening, one way or the other.
I waited until my heartbeat had finally calm down from the erratic thumping it
was doing in my chest. I didn't need another hyperventilating scene again,
especially if Julien was right on the other side of the door.
gathered all the courage I could muster and opened the door, the test in hand.
He said nothing. And from the corner of my eye I couldn't tell by his facial
expression what he was thinking. I couldn't handle it anyway, because I had so
many thoughts to process on my own.
A baby? It brought so many different variables into our relationship that it
wasn't even funny. And that was just looking at it from a scientific and not at
all subjective point of view.
"Amira?" he said, his voice nearly a whisper. I looked up, surprised
to see the tears in his eyes. I couldn't yet tell whether they were the kind of
tears that were going to tell me to find somewhere else new to go, or what.
He cleared his throat, blinking back the wetness in his eyes. "I’m going
to be a father?"
nodded, bottling my emotion as much as I could.
love you, Amira.”
tipped my chin up with his hand, softly rubbing his thumb over my jawline. “By
the way, I liked the flowers you put in. They’re
as beautiful and bold as you.”
tucked my head underneath his, silent tears escaping down my cheeks as I smiled
the case was, if I had Julien at my side, I knew that things were not going to
be quite as scary.