The Midwife's Confession - novelonlinefull.com
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I kicked her leg with my bare foot. "You're so rude," I said. It was practically the first words I'd said since we'd come upstairs. Why did I feel so stupidly shy around him all of a sudden?
Cleve grinned. "It probably didn't hurt," he admitted.
"I have time to figure it out," Jenny said. "All I know is I want to go into a helping profession."
"What the h.e.l.l is a helping profession?" Cleve asked. "You mean like a nurse?"
"Or a doctor, you s.e.xist a.s.shole." Jenny laughed again. They'd always talked this way to each other. "Or a teacher or a counselor. Something that helps people, unlike architecture that only helps buildings."
"G.o.d, you are ignorant," Cleve said. "Who do you think lives and works in buildings?"
I was watching his hands as he tossed the pacifier from one to the other. I knew how it would feel to have him slide those hands up my thighs and under my skirt. Seriously, if Jenny hadn't been there I would have stood and unzipped my dress and been all over him. Well, maybe not. But that's what I wanted.
"At least Grace has some ambition." Cleve caught me totally off guard by mentioning my name. "How many people do you know who can write as well as she can?"
"Yeah, but it's hard to make money writing," Jenny said.
"Hard but not impossible. And she'd be doing something she loves and that's what matters." They were talking about me like I wasn't there, but I didn't care. He was smiling at me. A really good smile. He's still into me, I thought. I wanted Jenny to disappear. I could talk to him much more easily if it was just the two of us.
Cleve tossed the pacifier high in the air with one hand and caught it with the other. "Let's go to the park," he said, standing.
Yes, the park! We'd spent so many evenings there. We'd had s.e.x there for the first time the night before he broke up with me. I'd always worried there'd been some connection between the two things: s.e.x and the breakup.
"That'd be cool." Jenny got to her feet.
"I'll catch up," he said, heading for the hallway. I guessed he wanted to use the bathroom. I grabbed Jenny's arm before we started down the stairs.
"Could you stay here, Jen?" I asked. "Please? I'm sorry. I just need to talk to him alone."
She looked surprised, but only for a second. "No prob," she said. "I feel like c.r.a.p, anyway. Tell him my mom asked me to help with something."
"You're the best," I said, hugging her.
"Just-" she wrinkled her nose "-don't get hurt, okay?"
I was already halfway down the stairs. "I won't," I said. The thought of getting hurt wasn't even on my radar.
I waited for him on the front lawn and saw him walking down the driveway. He'd come out the back door, probably to avoid all the people in the living room.
"Jenny's got to help Emerson," I said when he was close enough to hear.
"Cool," he said, but I could tell by the way he said it that he meant "okay," not "that's great." We headed toward the park, walking in and out of the pools of light from the streetlamps. "Jenny should probably be with us, though," he said after a minute. "Why?"
"Just...not a good idea for you and me to be alone together."
I laughed. "You think we need a chaperone?"
"Actually, yeah. Especially with how hot you look tonight."
Oh, G.o.d. "Thanks," I said.
"Seriously. I was looking at you tonight thinking what an a.s.shole I was for breaking up with you."
Did he want to get back together? I nearly asked him, but I was afraid of pushing my luck. "Yeah," I said. "You were."
"It was the right move, though, Grace," he said. "I mean, you look amazing tonight, but I'd only hurt you if we got back together. I'm three hours away and I want to be able to get to know people without feeling guilty about it."
"Other girls, you mean." We'd had this conversation before.
"Girls. Guys. New people." He shoved his hands in his pockets. "I just need to be free for now."
"I know all this," I said. "Let's not talk about it." Talking about it now only reminded me of how much it hurt when we discussed it the first time. "I get it. We don't need to go all over it again."
"Good," he said. Neither of us said anything for a couple of minutes. We'd gotten to the park entrance and headed toward the playground as if we were on autopilot. I was honestly having trouble thinking of things to say to him that had nothing to do with us getting back together. Before everything fell apart, I could talk to him pretty easily and now I couldn't think of a single thing to say to him that wouldn't end up with me crying.
He sat down on one of the swings, and I took off my shoes and sat on the swing closest to him. "I didn't care if we had to be long distance," I said before I could stop myself.
"Grace," he said, "don't start."
"You could even go out with other girls, as long as you didn't...you know. I know you need to make friends and stuff."
"Look," he said, "who knows what'll happen in the future? But for now, we really need to experience the rest of the world. Both of us. Until we get to know lots of other people, how can we ever know who's the right one for us?"
I was speed-reading between the lines. I heard him say, You're the one I want, but I need to be able to say I've gone out with other girls so when I come back to you, I know for sure.
Neither of us was swinging on the swings. We were just holding the chains, pushing ourselves around a little with our feet in the sandy pit beneath us. Suddenly, I couldn't stand the physical distance between us any longer. I stood and walked over to his swing. I knew how to do this. I knew how to change everything in less than a minute. I held on to the chains right above his hands and leaned forward to kiss him. He didn't resist at all. I knew he wouldn't, and when I finally lifted my lips from his, it was only to reach down and touch his hard p.e.n.i.s through his pants. He caught my hand, more to hold it there than to pull it away. But I stepped back, hiked up my dress and slipped my thumbs under the top of my panties.
"Oh, Gracie, don't," he said, but he didn't mean it, and when I climbed onto the seat-onto him-he was every bit as lost as I was.
Grace "I don't want to go to church today," I told my mother as we ate breakfast the morning after the party. At least, she was eating breakfast. Oatmeal and bananas. I was too wired to eat the toast on my plate.
"Oh, come with me, honey," she said. "I have a solo today." She was already in her church clothes-tan pants, white blouse, blue jacket with white-and-blue-checked scarf around her neck. I was still in my pajama bottoms and T-shirt.
"I'm really tired," I said. "I just want to stay home, okay?" She looked disappointed-maybe even hurt-but I never really liked going to church. I hated afterward when you were supposed to stand around and talk to people. Of course, that was Mom's favorite part. The only thing that made it okay was that Jenny was usually there. I was sure she'd be staying home today because she was sick, plus I needed to wait for Cleve to call. I wanted to get together with him before he left. Even though it was a three-day weekend, his friend needed to go back tonight and Cleve had no other ride, so he was stuck.
I'd called Jenny late last night to tell her how great things went with him.
"Are you back together?" she'd asked. Her voice was so hoa.r.s.e I could hardly hear her.
"We didn't specifically get into that," I'd said. Last night had been about action, not conversation. I smiled now as I nibbled the corner of my toast, remembering my mother's words from a couple of weeks earlier: you need to take action. Well, Mom, I did and you were right.
OmiG.o.d, it had been so good! Cleve kept saying, "Holy s.h.i.t!" after it was over. He was holding me and kissing my hair and it was just the most amazing night.
"How did it go with Cleve last night?" my mother asked, and I jerked my head up. It was like she was able to hear my thoughts. What did she know?
"What do you mean?" I asked.
"Just...seeing him." She sipped her coffee. "I worried it'd be hard for you."
"It was no big deal," I said. "We're good."
She was looking at me like she wasn't sure she believed me, and I stood to carry my plate to the counter and get away from her eyes.
"Well, I'm glad to hear that," she said. "What did you think of the party?"
"It was nice." I threw my toast in the trash beneath the sink.
"I still feel bad about the travel mug, Gracie," she said.
"I don't want to talk about it." I wasn't ready to let her off the hook on that one.
She stood and looked at her watch. I couldn't wait for her to leave. I was worried Cleve would call while she was still home. My phone was on the counter and I kept looking at the display, waiting for it to light up.
"I have a meeting with the choir committee late this afternoon," she said. "We're meeting at Port City Java to plan the music for the rest of the year. Do you want to come? You could do your homework there and then we could grab something to eat."
I didn't understand how she could even look at Port City Java when that was the last place my dad had ever been. "No, thanks," I said. "I'm probably just going to hang out with Jenny." I rinsed my hands and reached for a paper towel. I couldn't tell her I'd be hanging out with Cleve. That would start a whole new bunch of questions.
"Could you clean your bathroom, please?" she said as she headed for the door. "It's looking pretty bad."
"All right," I said. I just wanted her to go.
At ten-thirty, I carried my phone to the living room and laid down on the sofa. He should be up by now. I texted, U up yet?
A few seconds later, he replied. On my way to CH.
What? I sat up, staring at the words. U said tonite! I typed, then waited, my fingers gripping the phone.
Friend needed go back early. Sorry.
I stared at the display. Screw texting! I dialed his number.
"Hey," he said when he picked up.
"I can't believe you just left without letting me know!" I said.
"Listen, Grace," he said. "I'm sorry about last night."
"What do you mean, 'sorry'?"
"I really shouldn't have... I took advantage of you."
"No, you didn't! I wanted to do it."
"I know you did, and I took advantage of that fact."
"You wanted to do it because you want us to be together again, but that's not what I want."
"Yes, you do," I said.
"Nothing's changed, okay, Grace? Everything I said about us needing to see other people...about being free... It's still all true."
"Look, you know I care about you a lot, right?"
"I always will. No matter what happens, okay? But I screwed up by emailing and texting you after we broke up."
"What do you mean?"
"I thought it would be okay," he said. "I didn't want to, like, cut you off cold turkey, but I think all the contact made you feel like we're not really broken up. We need to chill on being in touch with each other, at least for a few months."
A few months? The thought of not being able to talk to him felt like one more death. I started to cry. I tried to hide it at first, but I couldn't speak and he knew. My life was totally empty. No Daddy. Jenny spending more and more time with Devon. Now no Cleve. He'd been my lifeline.
"Grace, don't," he said. "Come on. I'm sorry, but this is the right thing to do. I should have done it sooner. My buddy says it's like taking off a Band-Aid. I should have done it fast instead of bit by bit. It'll hurt like h.e.l.l for a few minutes, but better than... I think I've been leading you on, staying in touch."
"And s.c.r.e.w.i.n.g me last night!"
"Don't talk about it like that."
"That's all it was to you, though. That's what you're saying."
I heard him let out a big, frustrated-sounding sigh. "This is pointless," he said. "I don't know how to end things with you. We have to just stop. Starting right now, as soon as we hang up, no more texting or anything. It's the best way for you to start living your life without me."
"Because you want to live your life without me," I said.
"Yes, I do," he said. "Right now, I need to."
I hung up, then speed-dialed him right back, but he didn't pick up.
I texted him. Sorry I hung up. I waited, staring at the black display on my phone. Nothing. He wasn't going to answer me.
I remembered how amazing it had been with him the night before. When he was with me, he wanted me. The second he was away from me, though, he was influenced by his stupid friends.
I had to see him.