Forever

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When Rafa doesn't text me back, I heave myself off the sofa and pick up my mess from the day

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When Rafa doesn't text me back, I heave myself off the sofa and pick up my mess from the day. I don't need to clean—Rafa has hired someone, of course—but I'm not slovenly. I need to feel useful. I've only been out of work for a day, and already I'm feeling irrelevant.

Of course, that will all change when the baby's here. I'll be a working mother. I'd wanted to have that conversation with Rafael by now, how I was going to return to the paper six months after giving birth.

Being a publisher, going to work every day, fighting for quality journalism—I want my child to see me do those things. I'm not sure if Rafa will agree, and I suspect he'll ask me to stay home. Once this nightmare with Christina is over, we'll be able to sort out the truly important things in life.

If this nightmare ever ends. I'm beginning to have my doubts.

I'm still not tired. The more I move around, the more I clean, the more I think about Rafa's lack of response, the more awake I become. In the kitchen, I check the three floral arrangements that Rafa's sent in recent days, changing the water and pruning out the wilted blooms.

Padding up the stairs in my bare feet, I wrap my cardigan tight around my body and shiver. It's so quiet in this villa without Rafa. His presence makes the house seem full of life. And when the baby comes, I imagine it will be downright raucous.

Now, it's kind of spooky.

I poke my head in the nursery and flick on the light. The room's coming together. I'd decided on mint green, white, and gold, and two overstuffed patterned chairs had arrived yesterday. I run my hand over the sturdy canvas fabric, daydreaming about how I'll breastfeed the baby in that chair.

I'd selected a second, matching chair for Rafa, in case he wanted to spend time in here with me and the baby. I hadn't told him about this yet—I'd wanted to surprise him when he came home for good.

What's he doing tonight? It's not like him to not respond to texts.

When I make it into the bedroom, I check the time. It's ten. Rafa likes to go to sleep early because he rises at the crack of dawn—even on Fridays, like tonight.

With a feeling of cagey despair, I wash up, making sure to slather my belly with cocoa butter. It's cool in the villa tonight, probably because I'd been sweaty earlier and had cranked up the air conditioner. I swear, pregnancy is doing something funky to my inner thermostat.

I keep my lounge clothes on, shivering, figuring I'll bundle up with the heavy duvet at the foot of the bed. I shut out the light, trying to sleep, but images of Christina and Rafa pop into my head.

Ridiculous. Of course he wouldn't let her seduce him; she was trying to blackmail him.

Still, the idea that they might be in the same room together leaves me feeling deeply unsettled. I grope at the nightstand, checking my phone again.

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