I smiled, knowing he was right. Emmy was perfect. And soon she would be mine. Forever.
• • •
It took me a moment to place the voice on the other end of the phone. Her broken sobs made it nearly impossible to make out what she was saying. “Fiona? Is that you?”
“Y-yes,” she cried, heaving a breath inward.
“What happened? Is the baby okay?”
“Fine. The baby’s fine.” She quieted for a moment, seeming to pull herself together, because when she spoke again, her voice was much clearer. “The results came back.”
My stomach sunk like a stone. “Okay . . . that’s a good thing, right?” It was time to face the music.
“I suppose so.”
“What’s it say, Fiona?” I held my breath, waiting, while my heart jackhammered against my ribs.
“It’s not yours, love.” Her voice went whisper soft like she was breaking the news to me gently.
My fist pumped in the air, but I held back the shout of joy I wanted to let trip. “Wow. So your last fertility treatment must have worked, then?”
“Seems so,” she said, her voice full of melancholy.
“How do you feel?”
“Shocked. Surprised. I really thought it was yours. And I’d gotten over thinking that you and I were going to be together, but I thought I’d always have this little piece of you. . . .”
We each remained quiet for a few moments, letting the weight of this information sink in.
“I need to ask something of you.”
“I need you to let me go, to release me from my contract early. I’m leaving Status to work for myself.”
She hesitated briefly, releasing a heavy sigh. “If that’s what you want.”
“It is,” I confirmed.
“Then I’ll tear up the contract. Consider it my gift to you for five loyal years.”
“Thank you.” The tension in my entire body went lax at once.
“I’ll always love you, Ben.”
“If anything ever changes between you and Emmy . . .”
“It won’t. Good-bye Fiona.”
“Bye,” she murmured.
I wasn’t going to be a father. A sense of relief washed over me. Fiona was out of my life and I was free.
I dialed Emmy the moment I pulled myself together.
“Baby!” I couldn’t contain the excitement in my voice.
“Hi there. What’s going on?” she chuckled softly at my enthusiasm.
“I have some news.”
“Oh yeah? Everything okay?”
“Everything is better than okay. It’s fan-fucking-tastic, actually.”
She giggled. “Okay, so now I’m intrigued. What is it?”
“Two things actually.” I knew I was drawing this out, torturing her, but Christ, we’d waited so long to hear this news, I didn’t know how to just blurt it out. “I just talked to Fiona. I’m not the father.”
“Emmy? Did you hear me?”
“Yes,” she whispered. I could imagine she was shaky and breathless, just like I’d been when I’d heard. “Oh my God, you don’t know what a relief this is.”
“Trust me, babe. I do.”
“Ben . . .”
“I know, baby. I know. We can finally be together.”
“I love you,” she said. I could hear the smile in her voice.
“I love you more.”
“Wait, you said you had something else to tell me.”
“Yeah, I told Fiona that I was leaving Status. As of today, it’s you and me, babe.”
“That’s wonderful, Ben. I’m proud of you.”
Hearing her say those words meant everything. After all I’d done to jeopardize things with her, apparently I was doing something right, too.
“I have news, too,” she said, her voice teasing.
“Spill it, Tennessee.”
“Guess what I’m doing right now?”
“Packing. I decided to move in.”
Damn. This day was getting better and better. “You won’t regret it. I’ll be your love slave and take care of your every need.”
“Hmm . . . I like that. Will you even go to the pharmacy and buy me tampons when I need them?”
If that’s all it took to make her happy, I’d gladly do that and more. “You know it, baby.”
I wished I’d been there to tell her in person, but she and Ellie were having a girls night tonight, and I wanted to be respectful of her time with her friend. “Can I take you out this weekend to celebrate?”
“That sounds perfect.”
My life had turned into a damn episode of Maury. But Fiona’s plan backfired in the best way possible. Ben was not the father. After he’d called and told me, I’d collapsed into a heap on the floor, sucking in deep breaths like they were my first after being underwater too long. I hadn’t realized how tense the whole situation had made me.
I felt as though a weight had been lifted from my shoulders, from our relationship, and it was terrific. And the happiness in Ben’s voice was unmistakable, too. Thank God. Now we could finally move forward. And the icing on the cake was that he’d decided to separate from Status Models, from Fiona, and to work as a free agent. I would help him book jobs and he’d no longer be represented by her. He thought it was for the best, given all the drama over the past several months, and I couldn’t agree more.
Everything was falling into place. I felt happy and secure with my job, our relationship, and even though I felt a little bad about moving out on Ellie, she understood and was happy for me.
Just as I was stuffing the last of my clothes into a suitcase, Ellie entered my bedroom. Her face was masked in a frown. I knew she’d been upset about guys lately, but I’d never seen her so down. “Ells?”
“Honey, you need to come here.” Her tone was deadly serious and I wondered what in the world had happened as I followed her to the living room. She went to her laptop and began loading some type of video.
“What’s this?” I asked completely dumbfounded about what we were doing watching some random video.
“You might want to sit down,” she said.
I smiled uncertainly but lowered myself into a chair. “Ellie?”
Ellie pressed a button and the video began to play. My eyes struggled to comprehend the grainy images I was seeing.