Every Friday, Jude told himself he wasn’t going to go. Every Friday, he locked up after closing and drove there. He’d spend a few hours in bed with Desiree, then leave.
The bar was closed on Mondays. It was his day to run errands, to catch up on chores…to relax. So, he’d been surprised when Desiree walked into the bar Sunday night, handed him a note, and left. She hadn’t come to Drafts and Grub since he’d started sleeping with her. What had it been now? Three months? No, four. Their Fridays together had become an addiction—for both of them.
The minute he had a chance, he read what she’d given him. Please come to see me tomorrow. We need to talk.
He’d been expecting this. She wanted to call it off. Or maybe her husband had asked her to quit seeing him. If she slept with a different man every week, she wouldn’t get attached. No one would read more into the arrangement than there was. Maybe she’d go to a new bar to pick up people, and he’d never see her again.
Life never let you be happy for any length of time. He’d gotten lucky, and it lasted longer than he thought it would. He’d miss her, but he’d deal with it.
More people stayed until last call than usual. By the time he and his crew cleaned up, it was almost six. He drove home, fell into bed, and slept. He didn’t wake until close to noon. He’d left the note on his nightstand, so it was one of the first things he saw when he opened his eyes. Damn. Goodbyes were always hard.
He fixed himself scrambled eggs and bacon before getting dressed and driving to Desiree’s. He squared his shoulders. He could do this. He sprinted up the staircase to her apartment. Get this behind thee. He gave a quick knock on her door, and a male’s voice called, “Come in.”
What the hell? He turned the knob and gave the door a nudge. Unlocked. He cracked it and looked inside. Her husband sat in his wheelchair, waiting for him. Jude didn’t see a gun or weapon in his lap or anywhere near, so he opened the door farther.
The man smiled. He was good-looking with brown hair and dimples. His biceps and upper body were toned. His legs had shriveled from no movement. “I want to thank you in person.”
This just felt too weird. Jude hovered on the threshold.
Desiree walked into the living room, carrying two trays of appetizers—cubes of steak on skewers with a dipping sauce, tea sandwiches, and tiny cookies. She looked up and smiled at him. “You have to help us celebrate.”
“Celebrate what?” He took another step inside, closing the door behind him.
The room spun. He reached out to grip the doorknob. “But you’re on the pill.”
“I was on the pill.” She rubbed her stomach, her eyes sparkling with excitement.
Jude felt like he might get sick. He took deep breaths, trying to calm himself.
Her husband shook his head. “This wasn’t to trap you. You don’t have to have anything to do with the baby if you don’t want to.”
“Then why? Why go off the pill without telling me?”
Desiree glanced down at the floor, avoiding his gaze. “Lex can’t make babies, and I wanted one. I like you. I decided to have yours.”
Jude looked at Lex. The man rolled closer, smiling at him. “And you’re all right with that?”
“I’m ecstatic. I didn’t think we’d get to raise a child. You made it possible.” Lex leaned forward to make his point. “We tricked you. We should have asked, but we were pretty sure you’d say no and run. We took advantage of you, so we agreed to let you decide what you want to do. You can still come every Friday.” Lex looked at Desiree and grinned. “My wife’s even more needy now that she’s pregnant and I’d rather she didn’t sleep with just anyone. You can become an uncle and visit the baby often, or you can walk away and wipe your hands of us.”
Jude went to a worn chair and sat down. A baby. His baby. He didn’t know how to feel. Angry. Desiree should have been honest with him. Confused. How much did these people want a child? Horrified. What if they asked him for child support? They didn’t have much money. He frowned. He’d buy a new crib. What else did babies need?
Desiree laid her hand on his shoulder. “I’m sorry.”
He shook his head. “I had sex with you. That was my fault. I took a risk. And now you’re pregnant.”
“I wish you’d be happy, that you’d celebrate with us.”
He stared at her. When he left here, he’d visit Damian. He’d have him tattoo the Tarot symbol for the Magician on his calf. Earth, air, fire, and water. The elements of life. He’d created a new life. His seed. “I’ll help you with anything for the baby. If you need someone to go to the doctor with you, I’ll go. If you need money, I’ll pitch in. But I can’t come on Fridays. Never again. And I can’t stay now.” He pushed to his feet and started to the door.
“I’m sorry,” she said again.
He didn’t answer. She wasn’t that sorry. She’d wanted a baby, and now she had one. With Desiree, it was all about her wants.