It Takes My Breath Away

Once I had hung up the phone with Rain, I knew I had an ally to complete the task.

I had to figure out what was behind Sabrina’s curiosity. It started months ago when Eric and I found those video cameras, now here we were months later and Sabrina still hadn’t let go of the nosy grip.

Since I had a while to figure out a plan, I decided to get some cooking done. That always seemed to pass my time.

But first, I needed some antacid for the gas pain I had been experiencing for the past hour. I called my mom to make sure that it was okay. As usual, she picked up on the first ring.

“Hey, Muffin, twice in one day . . . what’s up?”

“Hey, I’m just suffering from gas. Is it okay to take some Tums or something like that?”

“What kind of gas are you experiencing?” She quickly shifted into nurse mode.

“Ma, I am not a patient. Can I have a Tums?” I grunted.

She kept up her line of questioning. “Are you in a lot of pain?”

“No, I just have gas!” I rolled my eyes and exhaled into the phone.

“Is it heartburn gas or ‘you haven’t eaten in a long while’ gas?”

“Mama, does it matter? I have gas and it’s making me feel crampy!”

“What kind of cramps? Are they like ‘you’re on your cycle’ cramps or just a bit of agitation?”

“You know what? I’m getting off the phone. I just asked if I could have some Tums and, now, I feel like I’m in an exam room. Talk to you later.”

I hung up the phone. I swore up and down, between Alex and my mother, this baby wouldn’t come out of me soon enough.

I continued to prepare for tomorrow, but the cramps I was experiencing were taking a bit of a toll. Maybe some ginger ale might help, I thought.

I sat on the couch and sipped my soda slowly. All I could do was pray that the pain would go away.

The more I sat, the worse I felt, so I decided to walk around, thinking maybe I could walk the pain away. While I was pacing, the phone rang.

“Hey,” I said as brightly as I could.

“You okay? You sound like something is wrong,” Alex said, with worry in his voice.

“Nothing is wrong. Just here in the kitchen, bent over trying to find a baking pan. What’s up?”

“Not a thing. I’m over here at Yanni’s, and I had you on my mind.”

“I told you I was staying in. You don’t need to check up on me. I learned my lesson earlier.”

Or so I would like for him to believe.

“This isn’t a check up. You really were on my mind. So, everything’s quiet over there?”

“Very quiet. I even turned off the music, so I could have some thinking time.”

The line grew quiet. I continued to hold the phone, waiting for Alex to admit why he had called, and at the same time, growing ever aware of my increasing tummy ache.

“A penny for your thoughts?” he finally asked.

“I don’t think you care to know much about my veal parmesan recipe. Do you?”

Alex laughed. “You’re right. I don’t care for those thoughts. I’m only concerned with what it tastes like once it hits my taste buds.”

I enjoyed the laugh with him. Then there was another long silence on the phone.

“Hey, Yanni’s got some of this almond milk over here. It’s pretty good. Have you tried it before?”

That’s when I realized what he was up to. The silences were his chance to listen in on my end. Was he on to me? I shrugged that off. Rain would never give me away. We needed each other.

“I lived with her,” I said, playing along with his little game for a moment. “She’s been drinking that for months, and you know that. Now what else do you want to know? Do you want to know where I am at this exact moment?”

“No. I told you, you were on my mind.”

“Alex, please. I’m going to hang up. Know that I’m in the house, and I’m not moving anytime soon.”

“All right, there’s no need to catch an attitude.”

“No attitude has been caught. I’ll talk to you later, sweetie.”

With that, I put him off the phone, too.

I wasn’t a fool and I knew he was trying to figure out if I was at home. I had his number, though. As soon as I hung up with Rain and was sure Alex was gone, I’d forwarded the home phone to my cell. What he didn’t know wouldn’t hurt him.

I bent down to charge my cell. As I plugged it into the wall charger, a pain gripped me that made me know I needed to get myself to the hospital to make sure nothing was seriously wrong.

As I picked up my keys and unplugged the phone again, Alex called me back.

Before I could grunt out something, he started talking really fast, “I know you think I’m checking up on you, but you didn’t give me time to say I love you. So, I love you, Starlet Lovesome.”

I couldn’t say anything, because the pain was taking my breath away.

“You sure you’re all right, Starlet?”

In the best fake voice I could find, “Yes, baby, I’m fine. I told you I was making this veal, and I can’t find a pan. I think I’m going to make some lasagna to take over to the nurses tomorrow, too.”

“Yea, you are all right. My baby’s in cooking mode. I can’t wait to get home. Talk to you later. Love you.”

I had just enough energy to squeak out “love you” before I doubled over with pain.

After a few seconds it subsided and I knew at that moment, it was time to leave. As I slung my purse over my shoulder, I called downstairs and asked for my car to be brought out.

All I kept doing was praying that God would keep my baby safe. But luck never runs that way.

When I flung open the door, I was standing face-to-face with Vincent.