tagRomanceWhen You Know Ch. 06

When You Know Ch. 06


"Well, little one," Vicky said rubbing her belly, "It's you and me now; we're in this together."

For the first time in a long time, perhaps ever, Vicky had no job to be at, no school assignments; no parents to please. She was free to live her life on her own terms, and for the new life growing inside her. The problem was, of course, the life she wanted desperately for both of them would always be out of her grasp now.

Despite the situation, Vicky was so happy to be pregnant, more than she ever thought she'd be. She wanted to be a good mother, to not repeat the mistakes of her parents. But she was sure they said that as well when she was born, and then they went on to not only repeat mistakes, but to make new devastating ones.

The little voice in Vicky's head constantly whispered to her that she already made a big mistake, one that wasn't too late to fix, at least yet. But she ignored it; it WAS too late, and anyway it wasn't a mistake. She had to let Joe go, it was the only thing she could do.

The only event on her schedule this week was her follow-up appointment at the doctor, and her first ultrasound. Emma was going with her; along with Rebecca she was the only one currently aware that Vicky was pregnant. Vicky was going to need them, because she realized she couldn't rely on anyone else.

Her parents were out, for obvious reasons. They would find out at some point, obviously, but she no longer wanted them in her life. They may have helped ruin her happiness, but they were never going to be put in the position to do the same to her own child.

She desperately wanted to tell Ken and Annie; she considered them her family now. But she couldn't, because they would tell Joe, and she knew what would happen then. Sadly, Vicky also realized they would hate her as much as Joe would when they finally found out. But it was the price she had to pay for all of them, and for Joe's success.

Joe, she sighed audibly, he was always at the forefront of her thoughts. She knew his 3 month orientation in New York was ending this week, and he would be flying off to London right after that. He was probably home right now at that beautiful little house in Elmwood Park, packing his things. So many times in the last three months she pulled up his number on her phone and placed her finger on the speed dial number. Thousands of times maybe, she figured, especially since learning she was pregnant.

She knew those were the only words that needed to come out of her mouth to get him to stay. Before she even finished the sentence he would be on his way back here, to be with her. And he would no doubt say all the right things; that it wasn't just the baby, that he loved her and wanted to be with her, that no job mattered more than her. After all, he had said the last two plenty of times to her even as she was convincing him to leave.

But despite that, Vicky would never be able to shake the doubt in her own mind that he was really staying only for the baby, that otherwise he would be living his life in London and getting ready to do the great things she knew he was destined for. She would never be able to shake the feeling she trapped him, and eventually she feared he would feel the same way. Then she truly would lose him forever, and she couldn't bear that.

And sometimes she wondered if maybe that was her plan all along, to trap him. She still couldn't quite figure out how she hadn't realized she wasn't safe that fateful weekend, when Joe came back and begged her to ask him to stay, when they made love that one final time.

She was in a mental fog, desperately unhappy and devastated that Joe was gone. But maybe a part of her understood this was a way to get him to stay. Just another reason why she couldn't tell him, she lamented.

But she had to let all this go, at least a little bit, and focus on the baby. That was her #1 priority, and she attacked it like only Vicky Mullen could; it honestly was the only thing that made her get out of bed at the present moment.

She purchased all the first time mother help books she could find and downloaded them to her Kindle. She was sitting in her kitchen reading one when she heard the doorbell ring. Her heart skipped a beat, for every time it did it held the promise that it was Joe on the other side of the door.

But of course, it wasn't Joe ringing the bell. In fact, it was her worst nightmare, she realized as she opened the door; on the other side stood her father.

"Father," Vicky intoned with little emotion. "What do you want?"

"I want to know what the hell you are doing, young lady?" Henry started. "Your firm called me; you turned down the full partnership and resigned? Have you gone mad?"

"No, I'm finally thinking clearly," she replied. "I hated that job; I always did and now I'm free of it." She moved to close the door on her father, but he stopped her.

"Don't you dare close the door on me!" he yelled, forcing his way inside her apartment. "After everything we've done for you, all our planning, you just throw it all away in a moment?"

"Yes, Dad, I did," she yelled back. "Because that's just it, it was your planning, yours and mothers, not mine. I didn't want this life, I never wanted it. And since you ruined the life I wanted, I decided I no longer had any interest in playing your game."

"Don't be dramatic, Victoria," Henry angrily said. "I didn't ruin your life, or his; I only did what was best for both of you."

"At least you're finally admitting it," Vicky sneered at her father. "And the fact that you think you actually helped us only makes me more angry!"

"You both were living in a fantasy, I just forced you both to live in reality," her father sighed. "But I should have known you quitting was all about him. What, he put you up to this? Or you think he'll come back to you if he finds out you gave up the job he hated?"

"No, as always you're wrong about him," she shot back. "You don't understand him, you never have and you never will. He only wanted me to be happy with my job. If I was, he would have always supported me even if he didn't like what I did."

"No, now you're just living your life for him, the way you accuse us of trying to get you to do what we want," her father spat out. "So he's no better than us."

"Joe is nothing like you," Vicky retorted. "He's wonderful, caring, he loves me."

"And we don't?" her father questioned.

"No, not unless I'm doing what you want," Vicky replied. "Well I'm telling you dear old dad, I'm done....with that life, and with both of you."

"You have one more chance, Victoria," her father said as calmly as he could manage. "The other partners are giving you one last chance to change your mind, out of respect to me. There's still time to change this."

"No thanks, my decision is final," Vicky said. "You can go now; have a great life with mother. I don't want to see you either of you again."

"So that's it, we're just cut out of your life?" Henry said. "What are you going to do, run to London and chase that boy?"

"No, I can't," she said sadly. "I can't leave now. And he has to take that job; it's the only thing you were right about. You may not believe in him, but I do and clearly his firm does. He's going to change the world."

"Why can't you just go with him now, Vicky?" he asked, suddenly curious. "You have no job, no commitments; you want nothing to do with us. Just pick up and go and ruin your life totally."

"He needs to do this on his own," Vicky said. "Besides...." Vicky stopped herself from saying anymore; she didn't want her father to know the real reason.

"Besides, what?" her father pressed. "What else is going on, Victoria? Tell me, I'm still your father."

"No, you've lost that right now," she yelled. "You should have lost it a long time ago. You're not my father anymore; Joe's father is more of one to me than you ever were."

"Stop being irrational Vicky, and tell me," her father suddenly pleaded. Clearly something more was happening here, something he didn't know about. This was about more than just the job in London.

"Go away," she said, trying to pull away.

"Please, Vicky, tell me. Whatever it is I can help, I want to help!" Henry insisted, grabbing her arms.

"I'm pregnant, OK!" she shouted, pulling away from him. "There, you know. Now get out before I call the police."

"You're...pregnant?" Henry stammered, the fight taken out of him completely. "Oh Vicky, that's wonderful..." he said reaching out to his daughter again.

"No, stay away from me," she warned. "I want nothing to do with you, or mother, you will not be a part of this child's life."

"No, Vicky, don't do that to us," her father said softly. "We can help you through this, we can!"

"I don't want any of your help," Vicky said firmly. "I'll do this myself, and with Emma's help. That's all I need."

"Joe doesn't know?" he questioned. "I assume its..."

"Yes, of course it's his," she shot back. "And no, he doesn't. I can't tell him now."

"You know that's the one thing that will make him stay," her father replied.

"Yes, and that's why I can't tell him. I don't want him to stay out of obligation," Vicky responded holding back tears. "I made him go because he had the opportunity of a lifetime; I couldn't live with it if he missed it because I forced his hand."

"Well, maybe it's for the best," her father started rationalizing. "But you need us, me and your mother, now more than ever. Don't shut us out honey, please?"

"No, I don't need you," she replied with certainty. "I never needed you. I won't let you ruin this child's life. Besides, it'll save you and mother the embarrassment of having to introduce your knocked up, unmarried daughter at your next function."

"Please, Vicky, I swear that doesn't matter to us. I don't want to be estranged from you, from my grandchild," he started sobbing. Vicky had never heard her father cry before. It stunned her. "I can't end up like Douglas and Barbara," he whispered, referring to Emma's parents.

"OK, I can fix this," Henry continued after a moment, composing himself and going into problem solving mode. "You win; I'll even bring Joe back to you. All I have to do is make a phone call and he can lose that job in London."

"I don't want that!" she yelled at him. "You still don't get it; the great Henry Mullen can't fix this with a wave of his hand!"

"I'll do anything, sweetie, anything you want," Henry begged. "Please, tell me what I can do, what I can change to help you. There must be something!"

"Please go, there's nothing to be done," Vicky said with little emotion. If her father had said these words to her six months ago, she may have given him credit. But not anymore, they were just empty promises. He wouldn't change; he couldn't at this point in his life.

"OK, I'll go," Henry said softly. "But please call me if you need anything." He started to leave, but turned to her one last time.

"You need to tell him, Vicky, he deserves to know," Henry said. "If he's half the man you say he is, that's all he'll need to hear. And I don't think you really believe he would be staying only because of the baby."

With that, Henry left dejectedly. Despite his daughter's belief, it was never his intention to ruin her life. But her words and revelations brought about an awful clarity in the pit of Henry Mullen's stomach. He now fully realized how deeply he had hurt his daughter.

Up until now, Henry had been able to justify his actions in his mind. It was never about Joe's money or family status, at least not for Henry. The age difference is what concerned him. Joe and Vicky were just in different parts of their lives.

He worried for Vicky; Joe was only 25, just starting his career. As a lawyer, he was in for long hours in whatever job he chose. How could he make time for Vicky, for a family? And was he even ready to start one? He was barely out of school, surely he would want to live his life, enjoy his youth, before thinking of having kids.

But for Vicky, it was the opposite. She had reached a level of professional success to allow for more free time, if that's what she wanted. Also, she didn't have five or six years to wait for Joe to want kids.

It was for these reasons that Henry did what he did. He gave Joe a chance at a tremendous opportunity, so it wasn't like he was ruining the kid's life, he reasoned. The one thing he never bothered to think about until now: what Vicky or Joe thought. He made assumptions of what they wanted or needed; he dismissed everything they actually said or just ignored it to fit his own narrative of the situation.

Now it was all backfiring on him; his daughter was devastated, completely unmoored. And now pregnant; and fully determined to do things on her own, without her parents.

Henry had dreamed of grandchildren for the longest time. Though he would never admit it, he regretted much about how he and Caroline had raised Vicky. Neither of them were ever really there for their daughter; sure they kept track of her schooling and made sure she wanted for nothing, but he knew they were never really emotionally available to Vicky. She had grown into a remarkable woman, but Henry now wondered if that was in spite of them, rather than because of them.

This new generation would be a second chance for both of them. Henry and Caroline were at a point in life where they could see the end, even if they hoped it was still many years off. They wanted to be remembered fondly by the people they left behind more than they were remembered for how much money they earned or help raise for charity. They were determined to be with their daughter's kids in a way they never were for their mother.

It was a big reason why they had often put pressure on Vicky to find the right mate over the past few years. But again, they did it in their own way, not really thinking about their daughter's feelings. Henry now actually realized his daughter was right; they would probably end up ruining this child's life if they didn't change their thinking. He vowed to break that pattern; to figure out a way to fix this and be the kind of father Vicky needed; to be the kind of grandfather this child would need.

But for the first time in a long time, Henry felt helpless. The truth was he had no idea how to fix this. He thought of just calling Joe himself and telling him. Henry knew he made too many assumptions of what Joe wanted, and that wasn't fair. He thought enough of Joe to understand he would never leave Vicky hanging out to dry; he would be there for his child now that it was a reality.

But he knew he couldn't call Joe; Vicky would never forgive him if he did, and he knew she would probably keep that wall up, thinking Joe only came back because Henry manipulated it to happen. It wouldn't solve his problems.

Henry left for home, trying to think of what to tell his wife. He didn't know what to say, frankly they hadn't been real great communicators for a long time; both were too wrapped up in their own lives, and in meddling in their daughter's.

He still loved his wife, deeply, and still saw the girl that fought for him when they were young. Caroline was so much like Vicky he sometimes was amazed they didn't realize it themselves....or perhaps they did, and it was why they couldn't figure out a way to get along.

Henry realized the only thing he could do is let this play out, without interfering. As hard as that was for him, he had to allow fate to try and fix his screw ups. Henry Mullen didn't much believe in fate; so he prayed someone else could figure out a way to make this all better for his Vicky. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- "How's our favorite guy?" Vicky said over the phone to her "spy," as she called her, after her father left.

"How do you think?" Annie replied, "Miserable without you. He's coming over later to pack up his things to send to London."

"He's leaving on Friday, right?" Vicky asked. She had kept up on the dates and knew his orientation was ending this week.

"Yes, but you knew that already, didn't you?" Annie answered. "Don't you think it's some kind of sign that you know so much about your ex-boyfriend's schedule? Like, that maybe you don't want him to be your ex-boyfriend."

"It's...complicated, Annie," Vicky said sadly. "Sometimes the sign of being an adult is learning you can't always get what you want."

"Isn't that like a Beatles song or something?" Annie questioned.

"The Stones, god you're young," Vicky laughed. "Didn't Joe teach you about classic rock?"

"Maybe, I wasn't listening," Annie said. "Vicky, you know I love keeping in touch with you, but what happens when he leaves? I can't be your spy anymore."

"We can still talk, you're my 'little sister' too now," Vicky replied. "It won't change, I promise."

"But do you want me to still update you about Joe?" Annie asked. "Like, what if he starts dating someone or something? I can't imagine he would, but what do I do then?"

"Um, yeah maybe leave that part out," Vicky said, trying to shake that image out of her mind. "We'll just talk about us from now on, you and Josh, me and my...cats." She almost said baby, but stopped herself in time.

"Vicky, I don't know who's more stubborn, you or my brother," Annie lamented. "I'm only 19, but I'm old enough to know you're acting like children. You love him, you want to be with him; he loves you, he wants to be with you. What's the problem?"

"Call him, Vicky, please?" she continued. "Before he leaves; he wants to be with you more, I know it. Forget this stupid job."

"We've been over this, honey," Vicky replied. "He has to take this job; he'll be set for life if he does. It's a once in a lifetime opportunity; I can't be the one who keeps him from it."

"But what does that matter if he doesn't have you, if he's miserable?" she pressed. "Seems to me like a sad life, for both of you."

"It's..." Vicky started, but found herself suddenly unable to give the teenager a valid answer. "It just does."

"Well, if that's what being an adult is, count me out," Annie said. "I want to be happy first and foremost. That's what my Mom always told me when I was young: to surround myself with happiness at all times."

"Well, your Mom was very smart," Vicky replied. "I know it will work out for you; it's just not in the cards for me."

"It still could be, you have three days to make it happen," Annie pleaded. "Just think about it."

"OK, I will," Vicky said. "Take care sis, I'll talk to you soon."

"You better," Annie warned. "Or I'll come down there and hassle you. You're not getting rid of me."

Vicky hung up the phone and stared at it, her fingers itching to press another button, to take Annie's advice. Annie was still young and a romantic though; the real world was much more complicated. She put the phone down and tried to distract herself somehow. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- "I guess that's everything, Dad," Joe said later at home, closing the last of his boxes to be sent to England. "You OK taking care of shipping these for me?"

"I'll be fine, it'll give me something to do," Ken said. He put his arm on his son's shoulder. "I know you don't want to hear this, because I've said it so many times in the last 3 months. But I'm going to say it again, because I love you and my heart breaks a little more every time I look at your sad face. Are you sure you want to do this?"

"I have to Dad," Joe replied. "It is a great job; if all things were equal I'd be really excited about it."

"But all things aren't equal, are they?" his Dad asked. "And if you're unhappy personally, it's going to impact how you think of that job. Is that fair to anyone?"

"I'm just in a funk now," Joe said. "It'll be better when I'm there, when I can just focus on the work."

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