Blood Memory

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I don't know how to answer Justine's question

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I don't know how to answer Justine's question. Is it shitty luck? Bad karma? Poor planning on my part? Why is this happening to us? I press my lips to her forehead, which makes her cry harder. The full weight of what I've done hits me, and I realize how selfish I've been.

"Shhh, Justi. I'm going to explain, okay? Give me a chance. But you need to eat first."

Even though she's in my arms, naked and beautiful—and pregnant with my child—I'm worried about how tired she looks.

"No, you need to explain why you're such a selfish prick. Why did you think you should keep this secret from me? I'm supposed to be the one you trust the most."

I stroke her hair and feel like shit. "You're right. I didn't tell you because I didn't want to hurt you."

She pulls away and give me a withering look. I blow out a breath.

"Okay. I didn't want to lose you. I was afraid of losing you."

"Finally, we get the truth." She rests her head back on my chest, and I stroke the soft skin of her back. My fingers find a cluster of bumps, like a small rash, on her shoulder blade. I turn her body to look.

"It's an allergy to my bra strap or my fabric softener or something," she says, anticipating my question.

"Justine, I thought the whole situation would go away. I'll explain. But I'd like you to eat. When did you last have a meal?"

"I had lunch. Tuna," she sniffles and mashes her nose into my chest. "I'm not that hungry. I'll be fine."

"Let's try to eat, okay?" I'm speaking to her gently, trying to coax her into some clothes and into the living room.

She steps back and looks at me, all big eyes and fat tears. This is killing me, seeing her so sad. I can't let her know how upset I am. I need to tell her what's going on, but I can't explain right now. I'll lose it. I'm a ball of anger and worry. Justine needs me to be strong.

"Do you promise to tell me everything?" She wipes her face, and I can see the anger and the hurt still in her eyes.

"I do. Let's eat first, though." What I'm about to tell her definitely isn't dinner conversation. But she won't let me off the hook for long; I can tell that Justine is gunning for answers and a crater opens in my stomach.

I go to one of the bags and crouch, rifling through it, hoping to prolong the eventual news. "I couldn't find the cotton pajamas you like. It wasn't a big boutique, and I think I almost bought one of everything." I pull out a long, pink tank top and hold it up. "How's this for tonight? I think it's a sleep shirt. That's what the woman in the store said."

Reaching to feel the top with her fingers, she sniffles. "It's soft."

I stand and gather it so I can easily slide it over her head. She raises her arms, and I slip it over her body. It's so long it almost reaches to her knees. "Beautiful," I say, kissing her forehead again.

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