Chapter 23 ~ Finding Sanity
I was in shock, there was no other word to describe it, this is what I’ve wanted, what I always wanted… and here is a little white pregnancy test stick confirming that I, Dante James McCarlock was going to be a Dad, A DAD!
I just couldn’t believe it.
I felt the sting across my face before I heard the smack. My head whips to the side as tears prickle at the corner of my eyes, that was a nasty slap. I turned my head back to see everyone looking at Viola as she shook furiously, Blade was holding her arms down. It took me a moment to realise what had happened. Where the hell had Quinn disappeared too?
“What the fuck was that for Viola?” I bit, rubbing the sting from my skin, fuck she hit hard.
“You’re an idiot, she just revealed she’s pregnant and you completely freeze?” She screamed.
“What? I was just… I just…”
“You’re just an idiot DJ, you better go fix this now, don’t make me call Mum.” Her threat was like a cold bucket of ice being thrown in my face.
“Fuck,” I growled, finally my legs moved. I climbed the stairs in sets of three just to ascend quicker and leapt into my bedroom. There, on the bed, with her head buried in her hands was Quinn, an open bag sat beside her. “What are you doing?”
Her face snapped up, her eyes unable to hide the pain my shock had caused. “I’m going home,” she spluttered, standing to her feet and moving to collect her belongings.
“Why?” Her actions were unfathomable, she was leaving? It had just taken a bit for the news to sink in, that was all, I didn’t mean anything by it, I just couldn’t believe the only thing I really wanted was finally happening to me and it was… unbelievable.
“You lied to me Dante, you said a family and a future was what you wanted with me and your reaction to the news was clearly the opposite.” She was ramming in her makeup case with brutal force.
“Quinn, you crazy woman… stop, this is exactly what I want.”
She paused for a moment, eyeing me suspiciously, then deciding I wasn’t truthful and continued to pack, shaking her head in disbelief. “Nope, if you really wanted this you would have been excited, happy, something, but you just stood there.”
She brushed the tears from her reddened cheeks while I stepped forward to illuminate the shitty space between us, grabbing her wrists and pulling her in close. “Stop,” I demanded, “Stop and listen. I couldn’t believe it, I just couldn’t, this is what I wanted, this all with you. You’re certifiably insane if you think I’m letting you walk away from me Quinn, we are going to be a family, how could I not be ecstatic about that?”
“But your reaction?” She fought to pull away only causing a growl to emanate from the back of my throat.
“You’re not listening, I want this, I want you,” I screeched frustratedly.
“Quinn,” I grasped her wet, tear-streaked face in my large hands, forcing her cobalt blues to focus, “this is exactly what I want.” I sounded the words slowly so they had time to filter and embed in her head, “you, and the baby, and our future.”
“You want this?” She stared at me with the most adorable frown on her face, I could stare at that innocence for hours.
“Yes, one hundred and fifty per cent.”
With our eyes locked on each other, I began to disrobe her, relinquishing her of every item of clothing, slowly and methodically. Once we were both bare, I remained on my hands and knees, slowly bringing my face to her abdomen and pressing my lips gently against the surface of her skin, her glistening eyes entranced by my movements. It was a dance, a show of acceptance for our child that now grows within her luscious belly.
That night we made love, gently and full of hot sweaty, romantic ecstasy, we expressed everything with our bodies, and as the first signs of sunlight grew in the distance, we finally closed our eyes, lost within each other’s embrace.
The following days were filled with an excited buzz. Obviously, I couldn’t wait to tell Mum and Dad, but it was Pierre that surprised us, he ordered, no demanded, she gets to the doctors immediately for confirmation, which I was thankful for. After a quick blood and piss test, the Doctor confirmed what we already knew and with a smile on our faces, we headed home.
The weekend rolled around quickly, which I was giddy about, it meant two whole days of sun, surf and relaxation. Next week we will have our first ultrasound to find out the baby’s due date, I’m not going to lie, I was apprehensive about what it would show, I had never seen an ultrasound before and so I didn’t know what to expect. Dad felt it was necessary to tell me all about his first sonogram, where I was growing perfectly and strong within Mum’s womb, he said he shed tears and that it was the happiest moment of his life, I was blown away by discovering he didn’t know of my existence and it was Pierre that happened to walk into Mum’s café for coffee, only to come face to face with a very sixth month’s pregnant Mum. I made a mental note to actually listen to how they got together, I knew she was married before, to Mum’s friend Caleb and that their relationship started with an affair, but there seemed to be so much more attached to their story and now I was curious to find it all out.
As Vinnie, Kason, Blade and I, lay back on the deck chairs shirtless and soaking up the ultraviolet rays, Asher comes bursting through the doorway from inside, “Ah, DJ? I just ran into your girl…”
“Of course you did, she lives here.” I looked at him with a scrunched up – what the fuck have you been smoking? – Kind of face.
“I mean, dick, that I literally ran into her, she was leaving as I entered. I asked where she was going and she replied, home… I need to speak to Tim.”
“Tim’s dead?” The boys and I looked between each other somewhat perplexed by what was happening.
“Yes, thank you,” he replied sarcastically, “I know that, I was there at the fucken funeral, but does your girl know that?”
“His ashes,” I suddenly clicked, “his ashes are on the mantelpiece above her bed.” I jumped up, shrugging on my singlet as I grabbed my wallet, phone and keys from beside the front door and jumped into the car, heading for Quinn’s.
Mr Striker and Brickers were waiting at her front door when I pulled in the gates after Angelique had allowed access, “she here?”
Mr Striker nodded indicating a ‘yes’ and held out his hand which I clasped firmly, breathing a sigh of relief, I was in the right spot. “Mr McCarlock, how have you been?”
“Good Striker man, how have you guys been? Bet its quiet without us filling the house with noise.”
He chuckled, “about as exciting as watching paint dry. Anyway, she’s up in the bedroom, she seemed like she had a lot on her mind, everything okay?”
“I hope so,” I gave him a worried look, he had not been informed about the baby yet, so I wasn’t sure if I should say anything, if it was up to me I’d shout it from the rooftops but we needed to decide together, especially after I openly blurted out the news to Mum, Dad, Pierre, Amber, the coffee vendor, the supermarket attendee, the lady from the bank and the man collecting for Unicef.
None of which Quinn was particularly happy about.
As I climbed the familiar steps, striding towards Quinn’s bedroom, stopping only to press my ear against the door but I heard nothing, no sound came from behind that door. Entering as silently as I could, I was surprised to see she was nowhere in the room, but this is where Arid Striker, Tritium’s former bodyguard said she was, that’s when I noticed Tim’s urn on the table outside, on her veranda. I moved toward the open French doors and heard the faint sound of sniffles. Sitting down on the carpet near the door frame, I listened in, not wanting to intrude on her private moment with her husband, but shit, technically I was already doing that.
“I feel like my head is in a million places at once,” she spoke quietly as if speaking directly to him, “I also feel like you had something to do with this Handsome. I’m actually ecstatic, I never thought it was possible, the whole ‘being a mum’ thing. I knew it was not in the cards for us, so to even dream of such notions seemed ridiculous. God, I miss you so much. It hurts Tim, not having you here, when you left, it was like my entire chest was burning from the inside out, like every bone in my body was being shattered again and again and I was powerless against the collapsing agony, and then DJ appeared out of nowhere, he came with his strength and love and held me together when all I could do was break.
“Dante finally confessed about your meeting, you know. Why didn’t you tell me? Hold me accountable for my indiscretions, I never wanted to hurt you, I tried so hard to fight against everything I was feeling, but I couldn’t, I’m weak and I’m sorry, I’m so sorry for everything I’ve done, it was meant to be nothing more than one night of sex, I had no idea it was going to escalate the way it did. I’m sorry, I’m so sorry Tim, god if you only knew how sorry I really am.” She released a loud painful sob and my heart clenched tightly, I could feel her grief, the torment she was suffering was crippling. All I wanted to do was hold her in my arms, comfort her but I couldn’t, I had to give her this time.
When she spoke again her voice was strained, emotion running rife within her heart, “I feel like I have betrayed you beyond forgiveness, that by loving someone else I’m deceitfully denouncing our entire relationship. As if it meant nothing. But it meant everything to me, my heart had always belonged to you, but now, now it’s shared. There are so many things I wish I could talk to you about, I just want to hear your voice, know that you’re okay and that you don’t hate me, god, I couldn’t live with myself if you hated me. How am I meant to know what’s right? That you’re alright with this?
“There have been so many times that I’ve just wanted to give up, to end it all just so I could be reunited with you again. But then he comes, like my own angel and just holds me together until the broken parts reattach themselves and give me the strength to carry on. In all our conversations about me finding love after you leave, you described the perfect man for me, what I don’t think you realised was that you described Dante. I don’t love him the way I love you, which is odd and I can’t even perfectly depict how my love for him is different, it just is.
“He makes me happy, that was your number one requirement, remember? Finding someone that makes me genuinely happy. But how can I feel happiness and sadness all at the same time? DJ is so kind, it’s like his compassion was always hidden away but once he feels like you deserve it, it’s endless. He doesn’t talk down to me, or treat me as though I am insignificant, he respects my boundaries and understands that while I love him, I also love you and always will. I don’t want to lose you Tim, or the memories of our life together and every time I find myself outwardly expressing joy, I suddenly retreat, what right do I have to be joyous when you have died?”
“What right do you have to be sad and conflicted when all he wanted was for you to have a life full of happiness and love?” My mouth spoke before my brain had a chance to catch up.
“Dante?” Shit, I shouldn’t have come, why did I open my mouth? “Dante, is that you?”
“Yeah baby,” I sighed dejectedly, “I’m sorry, I know I shouldn’t be here…”
“Why are you here?”
“I panicked when Asher said you needed to speak to Tim, I thought I had lost you, mentally, for a little bit.”
“How much did you hear?” I could sense the angry lick in her tone.
“A lot, but in my defence, I don’t want you to hurt anymore and I’m pretty god damn fucken sure neither would Tritium. He loved you, Quinn, he loved you more than life itself and he wouldn’t want you to carry this guilt. You deserve a life and a future, he knew you would emotionally beat yourself up after he was gone, that’s why he left you that video message Quinn, love someone and don’t wait. He wants you to move on, I think you falling pregnant is his way of pushing you out of the darkness and out of that torture you hold yourself in.”
She came walking through the doorway, placing his ashes back in its original position and came down to slide comfortably on my lap, curling into the smallest ball she could and buried her face in my chest. “I should be furious at you for eavesdropping in on my conversation.”
“Oh, just that? Not the fact that I followed you here and didn’t give you the time you needed to sort through the guilty feelings?” She quirked her brow, tilting her head to look up at me. “You know what I mean.”
“No, you’ve kind of been that way since the beginning. My knight to slay the dragons.”
“Yeah, it’s kind of like… I want to be there if you need me. It’s torturous really, trying to rescue the princess that doesn’t want to be rescued.” She was quiet for a moment, pondering away and lost deep in her thoughts.
“Thank you, Dante, thank you for catching me every time I fall.”
“I will always be there for you, I love you Quinn and Tritium, he will always love you and you, you will always love him, don’t beat yourself up, all he ever wanted was for you to live a full life.”