I feel the walls start to close in around me. When I thought things were going well, namely my career, shit starts to crumble around me. I feel as desperate as when there’s two outs in the bottom of the ninth and we’re down by one run. I can swing for the fence and hope that I get enough velocity on the ball that it sails over the wall, or I can try for a double and pray that my teammate behind me can do the same.
Either way I’m in a hopeless situation.
We need to meet. Where are you staying?
Months ago a text like this from Cooper would’ve made my heart jump and my palms sweat, but now I feel nothing but dread. I know he met with Wes this morning. Wes made it very clear that he was going to talk with him, and it’s not like Cooper can ignore a meeting with his manager. I asked Wes not to, to let Cooper and me figure it out, but he pulled the father card and I gave in.
After one day and over breakfast, Wes has made it clear that he’ll be in my life, if I’ll have him. Thing is, I want him to be. I want to have a father who I send a birthday card to or have stay at my house for Christmas. To have a father who will be a good grandfather to my baby. I’ve longed for a connection like this. I asked him if he wanted to take a paternity test to verify that he’s in fact my dad and he said no, one wasn’t needed, and that he felt it in his heart and could see it in my eyes when he looked at me.
When he asked about my husband again, I thought I could fake it and tell him that we’re happy, but the sadness in my eyes must have been a dead giveaway. I caved, under his gaze, when he asked about the father of my baby, and I told him the story about how Cooper and I met. I had no idea Wes would summon Cooper to his office.
And now that meeting is over and Cooper wants to talk. Honestly, I don’t know what to expect. I know what I want, but that may not be what’s best for Cooper. I’ve seen the gossip columns and the pictures with other women. He’s moved on, like he should have.
I type out my response, telling him where I’m staying and what room. He replies immediately, telling me that he’s on his way, giving me very little time to prepare. In hindsight, I should’ve chosen a hotel farther from the stadium, but I was trying to make things convenient for me when I met Wes and Cooper the other day.
The knock on the door startles me, even though it shouldn’t. I hesitate briefly before opening the door. If I expected Cooper to be excited to see me, I’d been a fool. The man staring back at me with his arms resting on the doorjamb is not the man I remember. This one is hard with almost soulless eyes, while the one I was falling for months ago could make my knees weak with just one look.
I step aside and let him in, and mentally prepare myself for what’s surely going to be a fight. The only other time I’ve fought with someone was my ex back in college. The day I found him cheating was enough to rip me to shreds and make me pound my fist into his chest. The combination of hurt and anger was too much to keep bottled in, and something in my gut tells me that Cooper is feeling that way now.
“Guess where I was this morning?” he says as he enters. I’m not sure if this is a rhetorical question or not, and I’m not sure how to answer.
“No? No guess?” he states when I don’t answer him. “Help me out here, Ainsley, because I’m really getting confused. You tell me yesterday that we’re having a child after months of not even seeing or speaking to each other, and then you go and tell my boss, who just happens to be your fucking father that you conveniently forgot to tell me about?” His hands flail, and his face is red. My heart beats rapidly, afraid of
the words that are coming out of his mouth.
“It’s not like that,” I retort.
“What’s it like, then? Because I’m having a hard time comprehending all of this. Wes Wilson is your father, and he just reamed my ass for getting you pregnant! I don’t give a shit if he’s on me about my performance on the field, but when he’s fucking telling me to man up not even twenty-four hours after I find out about you and the baby, it’s a bit damn, well, disconcerting.”
My room is small and cheap and doesn’t give us much room to move. I stand by the door while he paces back and forth. “I don’t know.” My words are weak, and my lip trembles. The last thing I wanted to do is upset him. “I found out that Wes was my father after my mother died. It was just dumb luck that he happened to be your manager.”
“Dumb luck.” He sighs. “How long have you known him?”
I take a deep breath. “I met him a couple of hours or so before you came to the restaurant. Once I found out who my father was, I knew I needed my baby to know its father, too.” As soon as the words leave my mouth, I know they’re taken wrong by the look on his face. I close my eyes, wishing I could take it all back.
“Now was the time to tell me? Yesterday you said you didn’t fucking know!”
“I didn’t mean it like that, Cooper.” I plead with him to understand.
“How exactly did you mean it? You found your father and suddenly it dawns on you that I may want to know that you’re pregnant? Were you even planning on telling me at all?”
“When, Ainsley? You’re showing! Call me fucking stupid, but to me that means you’re pretty far along. Is the baby even mine?” he asks as he sits down. He doesn’t look at me, keeping his eyes focused on the ground.
“Yes, it’s yours.”
“How can I trust you?”
“I guess you can’t,” I say, defeated. “I understand if you want a paternity test. We can do one once the baby is born.”
If that is what Cooper wants, I have no reason not to give it to him. I had hoped things would work out differently between us, something amicable, but I can see that isn’t going to happen. If he doesn’t trust me now, will he ever? I don’t want to live my life with someone always second-guessing my actions.
I stand and go to the closet, pulling out my suitcase. Cooper is the only reason I’d stayed in Boston longer than I need to be here. Wes and I can build a relationship through e-mail and phone calls. I hope he’ll understand why I had to leave Boston so suddenly.