The Substitute(6)

By: Lindsay Delagair

She woke a little after nine to discover that Andy was already out of the bed. She smelled the aroma of coffee as she pulled on her robe and stumbled for the kitchen. Gabe was seated at the breakfast bar nursing a cup of Joe and looking rough. He looked at her and then immediately looked down at his cup.

Andy was already fixing her coffee. He knew how she liked it; two sugars and a ton of cream. He put it on the bar next to Gabe. She picked it up and left a chair between them.

“Did you decide?” Andy asked point-blank.

She felt the color drain from her face.

“Look you two,” he began, “we’ve got to be able to discuss this like adults, not like little kids hiding a dirty secret. Gabe, did you decide?”

She was shocked. She had assumed all along that Gabe told him yes. She never dreamed that he hadn’t given his answer.

Gabe looked up, first to Andy, but then he seemed to realize he needed to address the woman sitting near him. “Jennifer, I—I….”

She was certain he was getting ready to turn down the offer. The offer she had finally accepted just before dawn.

“I would be honored if you’d allow me to be the guy to—to provide a family for you two.”

She had an unintentional quiver roll up from the bottom of her panties to her solar plexus. He was keeping her in his dark blue gaze, waiting for her response.

Oh my god, she thought, my lips don’t work! She took a sip of coffee to thaw them apart. Both men were staring at her by this point. She still couldn’t speak.

“Jen,” Andy began.

“I—yes, okay. Yes I do want a baby.”

“Great!” Andy said sounding as chipper as if they had been discussing another rafting trip. He disappeared from the kitchen for a moment and then came out with her wall calendar in hand. “Okay, you finished your period three days ago and…”

“Andy!” She snapped, pulling the calendar from his grip.

“What? Baby, we’ve got to figure this out because he ships out in two months.”

“Forty-nine days,” Gabe corrected.

“See. We don’t have much time to plan. I googled all of this and next weekend should be perfect. The cabins up by the river would be a nice place to…”

“Andy stop, please,” she said, tears starting to form. “This is hard enough without you—you being so involved.”

“We could make this a three some,” Gabe offered sheepishly.

Jen cut her eyes toward him so hard you could almost hear the slice through the air.

“Or not,” he added and went back to staring at his coffee.

“I appreciate the offer,” Andy stated (to Jen’s utter amazement). “But, I don’t think I could be there watching you do her.”

“Then why….” She began.

“Because I’m okay with this as long as it doesn’t happen right in front of me or in our bedroom. Gabe is the only guy I’d ever trust with you. I know he’d—he’d never hurt you, Jen,” he stated as his emotions started to show. He may have been the one to plan this all out, but it was obviously difficult for him, too. “Friday afternoon,” he finally said sounding a little more in control. “Pick her up. I’ll make the arrangements.”

“But—but what about Candy? Aren’t you seeing each other?”

“No. We’re only friends,” Gabe stated with a little smile, confirming what Candy had already revealed. “I met her two weeks ago when I was leaving a club. She’d been there for a bachelor’s party, and I caught some asshole giving her a rough time in the parking lot. I beat the hell out of him; she and I have been buddies ever since.”

By the time Friday came around, Jen was a nervous wreck. She had changed her mind at least a hundred and fifty times during the week. At the moment she was back to ‘no-way-in-hell.’ Ten minutes later, Gabe’s truck was pulling into the driveway.

She watched him get out and walk up to the door. He was one of the best looking guys she’d ever met, besides Andy. She was up to ‘maybe,’ by the time he knocked. Andy had already told her goodbye. He said he didn’t want to watch them leave together. He was in the bedroom.