A Wild Ride

By: Jasinda Wilder

"Leo, I'm sorry," John said. "It was just a stupid comment."

I rolled my eyes and huffed. "Whatever, John. You say that, and then what? Okay, you're sorry. I forgive you. But what does that fix? Nothing. Just leave me alone. Take me home."

"Please, baby. I can do better. I'll change."

"Yeah. Heard that too. Just last week, in fact." I stared out the window of John's VW Golf, watching the suburban side-streets flicker past, rain-drenched and gray and dull.

Like my life.

"Well what the hell do you want me to do? I said I'll do better, and I will. Why isn't that good enough for you?"

I didn't want to answer that question, so I didn't. I toyed with the half-carat ring on my finger, placed there a month ago. Four long, painful weeks, in which we'd argued more than we'd kissed, fucked in anger more than we'd made love, ignored each other more than we'd gone on dates.

"Come on, baby. Please, talk to me." John put his hand on my leg, and I brushed it off, jerking my leg away.

"What is there to say? We've gone in circles, John. Yes, you're right. We fight about something, and I tell you the problem, and you fix it, as best you can. I recognize that, and it's great. The problem is, there's always problems. If it's not one thing, it's another."

"People have problems, Leo," John said. "Couples have problems. We can work it out."

Again, I didn't want to answer. The only response was one that would lead to more arguing, another breakup. We'd broken up four times in the three years we'd been together, the last time less than a week before John proposed. He'd proposed as an apology, and it had been pretty romantic, and it had led to some pretty spectacular sex. By spectacular, I mean he'd fingered me first, so I'd actually had an orgasm, and he hadn't fallen asleep right away afterwards. We'd actually gone a second time, which we hadn't done in months. It was that second time that had me worried.

I was late. Yeah...Aunt Flow was running a few days behind, and I was like clockwork usually, so I was in a bit of panic. I hadn't taken a test yet, and I certainly hadn't told John. Kids were a hot button with him; he didn't want a kid for a few years after we'd been married, he maintained. I wanted them sooner...or at least I had thought I did. Now, with the way things were going with John, the idea of actually having a baby with him scared the ever-loving shit out of me. I was not ready to be tied to John forever, and I wasn't ready to be a mother yet. I wasn't sure which of those two was the more imperative not-ready.

Now, the words were bubbling on my tongue. I owed it to John to tell him. I was cranky and touchy about everything since I'd first realized I was late, and I was taking it out on him. It wasn't exactly fair, even though he had been a royal di**ck earlier, leading to our current argument.

We'd been out on a nice date, all dressed up with reservations to my favorite restaurant, a bottle of not-the-cheapest-kind wine, some good conversation in which I'd been briefly reminded why I'd fallen in love with John. He'd been charming and funny, and he was pretty hot, in a boy-next-door way—which was how I'd met him. He was my next door neighbor at my downtown condo. He was, literally, the almost-sexy boy next door.

But then, in the midst of an inane patch of conversation, I'd mentioned my latest diet and exercise regimen, and he'd made some stupid, snarky comment about how it was "actually working this time."

What did that mean? A natural question to ask, of course, I'd think. And I'd gotten the usual responses: Oh baby, I'm sorry, that just came out wrong, I just meant you were looking thinner and fitter recently is all...

Which had helped so much of course. I'd slapped him and walked out.

Now, don't get me wrong: I'm not a petite, pixie little thing, all size zero with A-cups that seem like B's on a toothpick frame. I'm a woman with a body. I'm five-eight and half, size never-you-mind, but not a zero. I've got an as**s that wants to absorb more of my food than I'd like, and a pair of ti**ts that tends to draw attention even when I wear loose clothing. John always said this was what he loved about me, that I'm a real woman, not a model-thin girl with no assets. But then that comment drew into question all those claims.

I'd catch him looking, of course. Men look at the women around them; they're visual creatures. I get that and allow him some leeway, as long as he's not ogling and doing double takes. But that comment: "it's actually working this time," God, it just made me think. My brain whirred on overdrive all the way home, clicking through memories of the girls he tended to look at when we were out. They were thin, svelte, he'd call them. Little nubbin ti**ts and no booty. Expensive clothes, straight, platinum blonde hair, all that.

I'm not that girl. I've got curly blonde hair that doesn't like to cooperate, and I don't like a lot of bling. I wear a tasteful necklaces to offset my outfit, which wasn't expensive since I wasn't exactly rolling in money working as an ER nurse, and neither was John, managing a bank.

So, yeah, I was questioning John's attraction to me, and thus my own value as an object of attraction. Plus, it was just a di**ck remark.

John pulled the car to a stop at a red light, and I felt the words bubbling up. I tried to stop them, but they came out anyway.

"I think I might be pregnant."

John was silent, but I watched his knuckles tighten on the steering wheel, and the corners of his mouth flatten out and turn down. His pale blue eyes narrowed, and he sighed, almost imperceptibly, but not quite.

"You think you're pregnant." His voice was carefully neutral.

Which only pissed me off. Okay, yeah, I didn't want me to be pregnant either, but where did he get off being mad about it? That was how John got mad: quiet, carefully neutral, always in control, just the narrow eyes and tight knuckles and subtle frown.

"I'm almost a week late. It's not for sure, but it's possible. I haven't taken a test or anything, but I'm never late."

He didn't look at me, didn't respond, just carefully accelerated through the green light, a practical man driving a practical car carefully.

"Let's take a test, then, just to make sure." John pulled the gearshifter into second, still looking straight ahead.

"I guess," I said. "We can stop at CVS on the way home."

He just nodded. And that was when I lost it.

"That's it? No reaction?" I wasn't yelling yet, but I was winding up to it. "You're just gonna be all practical? Just, keep calm and carry on? Say something, damn it!"

John looked at me, a raised eyebrow his only expression of surprise. "What do you want me to say? You are or you aren't. We don't know yet, so there's no sense panicking."

"Would you panic, if I was?"

He shrugged; yes, that was his reaction. A shrug.

"You wouldn't, would you?" I was definitely yelling now; my voice was filling the tiny car. "You would just carry on, practical and calm and...goddamn it, so fucking boring! You wouldn't be happy about it, you wouldn't be mad. You'd just deal with it and move on. God, I'm so sick of your motherfucking practicality! Be extreme about something! React, for once!"

"Leo, you know how I feel about you swearing so much," he said, as calm and unflappable as ever.

I wanted him to be flappable, just once. My mouth opened to swear, or curse, and then something inside me just stopped. Time went gloopy and I saw us, five years from now. We'd have a little girl, pleasant-looking and nice, and John would come home from the bank, and we'd be pleasant, and we'd have our pleasant house, and our pleasant flat-screen TV, not too big, and our little dog, not too big, not too yappy, just right. Then, in ten years...the girl would be older and joined by one more, a boy, just as nice and well-behaved, and the TV would be new, but the same. And the dog would be the same, nice and calm and practical, and John too, through it all, would be nice, and calm, and pleasant, and he'd have his hair, thinning maybe, gray maybe, and he'd be still trim and slim. We'd have sex every Saturday, maybe Sunday morning every once in awhile, missionary position, like always, in the dark, like always.

I nearly vomited.

John carefully pulled the car to a stop at a red light, and I was shaking, my stomach in my throat, and I couldn't help seeing John as he'd been in ten years, in my mind: the same, just older. And me, the same, just older. Unexcited. And our life: predictable and pleasant.

I pulled the ring off my finger and tossed it on the dash, grabbed my clutch purse, my precious Coach bag, the one nice thing I owned, and I got out of the car, in the pouring, sluicing rain. In my heels. I ran out into traffic as the light turned green, and cars honked, and John yelled calmly for me to come back.

I swear to fucking god, John is the only man capable of yelling calmly.

I just gave him the finger, thumb out, Detroit-style. I kept running, made it to the sidewalk and kept going, running blind through the cold, pelting rain. Something snapped beneath my foot and I stumbled, tripped, and fell to the ground, slapping the rough concrete with my hands, ripping my dress. I whimpered and sat down on my butt, splashing into a puddle. I looked at my hands and saw that I'd cut up the heels of my hands on the sidewalk, and my knees were bleeding. The heel of my shoe had snapped. My purse, my two hundred and fifty dollar Coach purse was lying submerged in a mud puddle on the grass next to the sidewalk. Rain beat down on my head, my hands and knees throbbed, and my left wrist started to ache, and my purse was ruined and all my things in it wet, which meant my cell phone was ruined, my uninsured, one-year old iPhone. I heard a car pull up next to me, and a window hum open a few inches.

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