Tattoo of Love Ch. 11byvirgofemme©
*Thanks for continuing to stick in there with me, guys. This story is taking me places I never expected, and it's actually turning out to be longer than i'd originally planned, but i'm happily allowing the characters to take me where they will. :) I hope you'll enjoy this chapter, and as always, a big thanks to everyone for their continued support!!*
Having come to the end of their weekend getaway, Nolan and Julia were seated in a small, cozy diner. Located along the pacific coast highway, the eating establishment had a charming, retro feel to it. The booth cushions were made from a powder blue vinyl material, and the table they sat at was rectangular shaped and lined with shiny chrome.
Deciding to stop for breakfast before they began their drive home, the couple was mulling over the various items which the diner had to offer. After ping ponging between two breakfast specials, Julia finally made a choice and flipped her menu closed.
Glancing beyond the large windows of the diner, she stared out at the stretch of road which lay endlessly beyond them. Despite a few dinky looking gas stations and a small vegetable stand, there really wasn't much else in the surrounding area.
The day was fairly sunny and there were few clouds in the sky, and as the branches of a palm tree swayed in the wind, she found her eyes following its rhythmic dance. Grasping the mug of hot chocolate in front of her, she brought it up to her lips and took a sip. As she placed it back down her eyes locked into Nolan's and she saw his lips turn up into an expression of amusement.
"What?" She playfully asked.
"You have a funny way of sipping drinks."
"How do I sip them?"
"You make this little slurping noise."
"Does it bother you?"
His shoulders pulled into a small shrug. "Not really. I just wonder why you do it."
"Well it's a hot drink. I'm trying not to burn my tongue."
"I've seen you do it with cold beverages, too."
Her eyebrows furrowed lightly. "Really? I never realized I made any noise."
"Yeah, it's okay though. It's actually sort of cute."
Raising the drink back up to her lips, she took another sip. As the slurping noise filled the air, Nolan emitted a chuckle and cracked into a smile. Suddenly realizing that she'd done it again, she immediately lowered the mug and offered a look of embarrassment. She'd actually heard herself that time, and was ashamed to discover that she sounded like someone who lacked good table manners.
"Okay, now you're just making fun of me."
His face creased into a wide grin and he said, "No, I'm not. I just find it amusing that you don't even realize you're doing it."
"Have I been doing this the entire time we've been dating?"
Nolan nodded his head. "Yep."
"Well why didn't you ever point it out me? I sound terrible."
"It isn't *that* bad, Julia."
"Yes it is."
Suddenly thinking back to an event in the weeks which had passed, she realized just how damaging her annoying habit could have been.
"Oh no, I just remembered that day I stopped by your house and had tea with your mom. That probably means I did it with her, too." Wincing in embarrassment she said, "She probably thinks I was being completely rude."
"I doubt it. My mom really likes you, so it obviously didn't bother her too much."
With a shake of her head, Julia offered a little sigh. "I must have seemed like such a moron to so many people."
"Oh come on, it's really not that big of a deal."
"That's easy for you to say. You weren't the one doing it."
As Nolan fought back a smirk the waitress approached. She retrieved a pen from behind her ear and then poised it above the notepad she was carrying.
"What can I get for you two?"
"I'll have the banana pancakes and an order of mixed fruit," said Julia.
"And you?" The waitress's dangly earrings swayed as she turned her head to look at Nolan.
"A large breakfast burrito and make it spicy, please."
After their server had collected their menus and walked away, Nolan questioned Julia.
"So what kind of annoying habits do I have?"
As she thought about his question she took a brief glance out of the window, and then turned her gaze back upon him.
"You're a cover hog." As his eyebrows rose in a questioning manner, she followed it up with another statement. "You always pull the covers off of me when we sleep."
"Sorry babe, I never realized it. That is annoying."
"If you weren't so cute, i'd have kicked you out of bed the first time you did it."
His lips tugged into a smile at her words. "Well now that you've let me know about it, i'll definitely make sure it doesn't happen again."
"How will you do that? You can't control yourself while you're sleeping."
"I don't know, but i'll figure something out. Can't have my baby freezing through the night, can I?" He reached across the table to grab her hand in his, and offered it a tender stroke.
"Well I suppose I could always climb into a sleeping bag." Her lips pulled into a little smirk as she said, "I bet you won't be able to pull that off me."
A chuckle passed his lips. "Well I guess it's good to be aware of our annoying habits. At least now we can try to change them."
As the waitress arrived with their food, she set their plates in front of them and then sashayed towards another table. The sight of the banana pancakes made Julia's mouth water, and after dividing them into bite sized triangles, she popped one into her mouth. They ate in companionable silence for awhile, each enjoying the taste of their meal.
Once they'd finished eating, Nolan paid the check and they headed for the exit. After buckling themselves in they were ready to take off, so Nolan started up the engine and kicked the car into gear, then turned onto the highway.
Using his left hand to guide the steering wheel, Nolan allowed his right palm to clasp with his lover's. The double yellow lines guided their way along the black pavement, and as the car continued forward she rolled her head to the side and glanced lovingly at her boyfriend.
If she knew anything to be absolutely true, it was that she was truly blessed with a wonderful man. It seemed he complemented her perfectly in every way, and if there was one wish she currently had, it was for them to be joined for a lifetime. Feeling her lovesick gaze upon him, Nolan briefly glanced toward her and offered her hand a squeeze.
"I love you."
Those three words caused happiness to blossom inside her, and she softly repeated her own words of affection.
"Love you too."
"Forever?" His lips curved into a crooked smile.
She knew there really was no such thing as forever, but she still liked the idea of being with someone indefinitely. Neither knew what life had in store for them as a couple. Yet just like the road ahead of them, twists and turns would occasionally cross their path, bringing a variety of experiences that neither could predict.
* * * *
"Home sweet home," said Nolan as they pulled into her driveway.
As the car came to a stop, Julia undid her seatbelt and got out of the car. Nolan retrieved her travel bag from the back seat and then followed behind her, climbing the steps to go up to her apartment. Once they were inside Nolan set her bag on the ground and encircled her waist with his arms, pulling her up against his body.
"I had a wonderful time with you this weekend. I hope you enjoyed it as well."
"I loved it." Wrapping her arms around his neck, she pulled him down for a kiss.
As their mouths pulled apart Nolan ran his tongue against his lips and made a soft smacking noise.
"Mmm, I can still taste the syrup from those pancakes on you."
Her lips tugged into a smile and she asked, "So what are your plans for the rest of the day?"
"My mom's washing machine has been acting up, so I promised i'd go over there and fix it for her. After that, i'll probably stay over and have dinner." He watched as Julia slipped out of her shoes and shrugged her jacket off. "What about you?"
"As of right now, my only plan is to have a nice long bath and then kick back with a good book."
"A bath this early in the day? It's only two p.m."
"That shower at the hotel had pretty lousy water pressure." Rubbing a palm across her arm she said, "I can still feel the soap on my skin. It feels pretty icky."
"Feeling dirty, huh? Maybe I can help you clean up." There was a carnal gleam in his orbs.
"We've had lots of sex this weekend. Shouldn't you give me at least a few days to recuperate?"
"Getting tired of me already, huh?"
"Now you know that could never happen."
"Good, because you'll never get rid of me." Capturing her mouth with his, he graced her with a drugging kiss.
It always amazed her how steamy their oral embraces were, and no matter how many times their lips pressed together, it seemed as if each time was just as exciting as their first.
Reluctantly pulling away from his lover he said, "Well I guess i'll be on my way now. I'll give you a call later tonight, okay?"
Julia nodded and followed him to the door, watching as he crossed the threshold. Offering a goodbye over his shoulder, he descended down the stairs. Once he was in his car and pulling out of the driveway he gave a honk, and then drove off down the street. Heading back into her apartment, she closed the door behind her and grabbed her travel tote bag.
As she headed for the bedroom she began to anticipate the nice, relaxing bath she would take. The weekend had been wonderfully stimulating in every way, and as she remembered the special words he'd said to her, she felt a rush of bliss flood her body. They were just three little words, but they made her so happy. Julia was in love, and she knew without a doubt that there was no turning back.
* * * *
Sitting on the couch with a container of sushi on her lap, Julia grasped a piece of salmon roll and fed it into her mouth. Savoring the flavors of raw fish and rice, she maneuvered her chopsticks towards a piece of tofu and dipped it into some soy sauce.
"Great sushi, Mimi. Thanks for bringing it over." Her words came out slightly garbled around the mouthful of food.
"No problem. It's been awhile since we last had one of our sushi nights, so I figured it be nice if we got back into the habit of doing it again."
"It has been awhile, hasn't it?" Julia popped a piece of pickled ginger into her mouth and then followed it up with a piece of fried shrimp. Releasing a sound of contentment she said, "Why'd we ever stop?"
"You got a man, that's why we stopped."
"Are you saying i've been neglecting you?"
"That's not what I meant."
Setting her container of sushi upon the coffee table, Mimi traded it for a small stryofoam bowl. As she removed the top off of the container steam billowed around her face, and the scent of miso soup filled the air around them.
"You're not upset with me for spending so much time with Nolan, are you?"
"Of course not, why would I be mad?" She cautiously took a few spoonfuls of the hot liquid into her mouth. "Girl, i'm happy for you. Nolan's a good man, and i'm glad you're spending so much time with him."
"Thanks for being understanding about it. The last thing I wanted was for you to feel like I was picking him over you."
"Oh honey, no. I never thought that. If I had a dude that looked as good as Nolan, you'd better believe i'd be spending a lot of time with him, as well." Cocking her eyebrow she added, "Especially in a horizontal way."
Julia's lips tugged into a grin, and she swirled a portion of her avocado roll in some soy sauce.
"So how was your weekend, anyhow?" Mimi asked. "Did you have a nice time?"
"Yes I did, it was wonderful. It couldn't have been more perfect."
"Good, i'm glad to hear."
"So, how have you been feeling? Are you having any morning sickness yet?"
"Not yet, but I have been peeing a lot. I've also been feeling really tired."
"Well if there's anything I can do, just let me know," said Julia.
Scooping a cube of tofu out of the bowl, Mimi spooned it into her mouth and then wiped her lips with a napkin. "Well now that you mention it, I do have a proposition for you."
"Okay, what it is?"
"I was thinking that as my pregnancy progresses, I'll probably want to take some time off and relax a bit more, which means I'll be needing more help around the bakery."
"Are you thinking of hiring someone else?"
"I could do that, but I'd rather give you a chance to take over for me when I'm not there. I could teach you more about the business aspects of running a bakery. That is if you're interested."
"Sure, I'm always up for learning new things."
"Great. So once I do take time off, I'll need you to work longer hours and take on some more responsibility. I'll be giving you a raise though, so you'll be compensated for the increased workload."
"Well I can definitely use the extra money, so it sounds good to me." Tipping a bottle of iced tea to her lips, she took a generous swig. "So when exactly are you taking time off?"
Mimi pulled her shoulders into a small shrug. "I'm not sure just yet. Guess I'll have to wait and see how this pregnancy treats me. Why?"
"You remember how I mentioned that Nolan is going overseas in a few weeks?"
Mimi nodded in response.
"He asked me to visit him while he's out there. So if it's not too much trouble, I was hoping to take an early vacation."
Mimi gave it a moment of thought and then said, "I guess it'd be okay. When do you plan on going?"
"I haven't talked it over with him yet, but I figured I'd go out there a month or so after he arrives."
"Well once you figure it out, just let me know so that I can find someone to fill in for you while you're gone."
"Sure thing, and thanks for being cool about it. Hope it's not too much of a pain for me to reschedule my time off."
"It should be fine, no worries." Mimi drank the remainder of the broth from her soup and then placed the empty container on the coffee table.
"So you'll be going overseas, huh? I bet you'll have a fabulous time." She gave Julia an envious look.
"Yeah, I'm pretty excited. Can't wait to see what it's like." Lifting her feet onto the coffee table, she crossed them at the ankles and gave her full belly a satisfied rub.
As the food settled in their stomachs, they fell into a comfortable silence. Noticing a small paper bag sitting on the coffee table, Mimi leaned forward to nosily peer into it. Sticking her hand into the bag, she removed a small plastic container and offered it a look of disbelief.
"Wow, they still make these things?"
Grabbing the diaphragm from Mimi she said, "Yes they still make them. Why, what's so weird about it?"
"It's kind of outdated, isn't it? And besides, it's the least successful form of birth control."
"Not if it's used correctly."
"Why don't you just go on the pill?"
"I am on it, but it's doing some pretty unpleasant things to my body."
"You could get one of those birth control rings. They're a lot less bulky than diaphragms."
"Yeah, I guess. If this doesn't work out, then I might give that a go."
"So you're actually going to use it?"
"I will if this pill keeps making me sick."
"Well I hope it works out for you. My friend Amy used to swear by those things, but she ended up getting pregnant anyways." Mimi took a sip of bottled water and rested her head against a pillow on the couch. "You better be careful girl, or you're going to end up with miniature Nolan's running around."
"Don't worry, I will be. When it comes to birth control, I don't play around."
Mimi uttered a light chuckle. "Listen to me talking about contraception. I'm the one who got knocked up, and here I am trying to give *you* advice. Pretty funny, huh?"
Julia gave her friend a light pat on the leg. "It's okay, I know you mean well."
Collecting their empty food containers from the coffee table, Julia took them into the kitchen and dumped them in the trash. She was just about to put a kettle on for tea, when she suddenly felt a strange sensation come over her. Feeling a sudden urge to regurgitate, she took off out of the kitchen and made a quick bolt for the bathroom.
"Julia? Sweetie, what's wrong?" Mimi's voice called out after her.
Flipping the top of the toilet up, Julia bent down over the bowl and released the contents of her stomach. She heaved until her eyes watered, and once there was nothing left to expel, she sunk down onto her knees and leaned her head against the edge of the tub.
Stepping into the bathroom with a look of worry upon her face, Mimi asked, "What's going on?" Darting her eyes towards the toilet bowl, she saw the pool of floating sickness and headed towards Julia, bending down so they were at eye level. Mimi brushed a few strands off her forehead, and then took her friend's hand in her own.
"Sorry you had to see that. I know it's totally gross," Julia weakly said.
"Don't be ridiculous. You're sick and you couldn't help it." She leaned over to flush the toilet and then grabbed some toilet paper so that Julia could wipe her mouth off.
"I knew I should have stayed away from you. Your pregnancy is contagious."
Noting the joking tone in her friend's voice, Mimi waved a hand playfully at her. Then she grabbed her by the arm and helped her get onto her feet. "It'd be way too coincidental for us to fall pregnant at the same time."
"Yeah, I guess you're right. The odds of that happening are probably pretty slim." Releasing a shaky sigh she said, "I can't handle those birth control pills. Guess I'll have to stop taking them."
Grabbing a small glass that was sitting on the counter, Mimi filled it with water from the tap and handed it to Julia. "Here, drink this."
Once she'd emptied the cup she handed it back to Mimi, then wiped her mouth off with the back of her hand.
"You feeling any better?"
Julia nodded in response. "Yeah, I should be okay."
Mimi guided Julia into the bedroom and sat her down on her bed. Taking a seat next to her, she pulled her legs up onto the mattress and peered deep into Julia's eyes.
"You have been taking those pills regularly, haven't you?" "Yeah."
Noting a brief look of uncertainty in her friend's eyes Mimi asked, "Are you sure?"
"Okay." Not wanting to press her anymore, Mimi left it at that.
The truth of it was that Julia *had* been taking her pills regularly, so she knew there was a very small chance of her being pregnant. Besides, she'd taken birth control pills before, and they ended up making her sick, so she was pretty certain that was the reason behind her throwing up. She inwardly tried to assure herself that everything was okay, but a seed of doubt had already been planted in her mind.
Always tuned in to how other people were feeling, Mimi offered her friend a reassuring rub on the shoulder. She could sense her friend's nervousness and knew she was more than likely thinking over her last few sexual encounters.
Hoping to ease her mind a bit, Mimi offered some words of encouragement. "Don't worry, I highly doubt you're pregnant. It's probably just your body adjusting to the birth control."
Yet even as she said it, she found herself thinking about how uncertain she truly felt.
* * * *
Glancing at the calendar on her wall, Julia saw that a week had passed since she'd last been sick. Ever since that day that Mimi had come over for sushi, she'd been anxiously waiting her period's arrival. It was more than a week late now, but for the past few days she'd been experiencing light cramping in her lower abdominal area.
Usually a telltale sign that it was on it's way, Julia had begun to feel hopeful. Yet a nagging doubt in the back of her mind had caused her to purchase a pregnancy test anyway. The result she'd gotten back was a negative, but she still wouldn't feel entirely at rest until her menstrual cycle began. Exhaling a heavy sigh, she turned away from the calendar and headed towards her closet.