Hi Folks. I wanted to do something more shocking with this story. But I liked the characters so much that I wanted to give them a chance. All the way until the moment I posted it I was torn between which version to use. I decided in the end to do both. Like "Fur" last year I'm putting out both versions. Most of you will already know where to find the other version.If you don't just shoot me an E-mail. This is the mean version. The nice or hopeful version is somewhere else. As usual the story wouldn't be as smooth or as easy to read without the help of the truly gifted Mikothebaby so please include her in any Kudos and since I'm the one who wrote any goofs are all mine. SS06
Have you ever run into something out of nowhere that caused you the most intensive pain you've ever experienced? I mean not like a sudden heart attack or getting shot by a stray bullet because those are pass/fail situations. And wait, before we go into this, I know that women are going to trot out child birth. Well sisters, you've been riding that old horse for too long. Child birth is voluntary pain and you get the greatest reward on earth for it so just let it go. I'm talking about soul searing pain that never goes away and continues to affect your life long after it's over.
The shitty thing about it is that I've always expected it in a way, but I'd kind of allowed myself to become complacent. I'd started to believe that if it hadn't happened by now, it probably wouldn't happen. So I let my guard down and I started to believe that something I'd gotten away with stealing was mine. I'll tell you, all that shit they say about how crime doesn't pay is right. The sad thing is that if I had to do it all over again and this time I knew what would happen ... Shit, I'd probably still do it anyway.
My name is William Place. My friends and family call me Will. When this all happened I'd been married for eight years to the most beautiful, magical woman I'd ever known. Strangely enough, she doesn't seem to think so. I guess over the years I've gotten so used to seeing her in varying stages of beauty and grooming, that I'd forgotten how truly breathtaking she is. Most people who see her coming into a store or walking down the street watch her as she passes. My son and I don't give her a second look. She's just, "Honey," or "Mom," to us.
I guess the weirdest thing about Peyton is that she almost never goes all out. Peyton can grab a shower, throw on some lip gloss, step into a dress, brush her hair back and then stand next to women who've been at the hairdresser's and a salon and a makeup artist for several hours and just look so much better that there's no contest. Peyton is an angel made flesh.
The shitty thing about growing up in a moderately sized town is ... well everything. If you grow up in a large city, you're only one of millions of people, so whatever happens to you doesn't matter much and people tend to forget about it. When you grow up in a small town, you're only one of a few and most of the people get along and they're friendly to some extent so you already kind of know who the bad guys are. In the middle there are enough people that you can't meet or know everyone, so the bad guys have a place to hide. But the town is small enough that everyone still knows when something shitty happens, they just probably don't know the parties involved.
Growing up, almost everyone in my circle knew about Larry Miller. I think that I probably heard about him for the first time when I was about 18. Larry was my age and people around town called him the prince of pussy. The rumor was that Larry was one of those "lock up your daughter" types. If there was a woman around and Larry saw her and had an interest in her, he would probably eventually fuck her.
I thought for a long time that Larry was probably some kind of old wives tale. You know, just a story they made up to scare the average guy into getting married. He was like the Boogie man or the Wendigo. But instead of eating children, he was more like, "Oh shit; you should have married her. She's with Larry Miller now."
In the first place, there were so many women in our town that got married right after high school or part way through college that I believe a lot of the girls just threw out Larry's name when they were tired of waiting for a ring. A lot of them were wide assed farm girls that normally wouldn't be considered ... Okay I know that what I'm about to say is going to sound sexist, or chauvinistic, or misogynistic but I'm sorry, it's the truth. Anyway, a lot of them, my own sister included, would normally be considered, "practice girls."
A practice girl is someone you have a relationship with and fuck and do all of the things that everyone else does but you never intend to marry them. In a lot of cases, there's only one thing wrong with them or a couple, or even nothing wrong with them, but for some reason you just don't see yourself being with them for the rest of your life.
The bad thing about it is that the practice girl never realizes that she's a practice girl. She really believes that you're her one and only and vice versa. So she starts to put some pressure on you. It can be very subtle, like cutting down on the frequency of sex. Or slightly less subtle like walking you inside of the local jewelry store and standing in front of the engagement ring display.
Anyway, Larry Miller turned a whole lot of practice girls into wives at the mere mention of his name. I heard my sister planning out her strategy with her best friend who also used it successfully.
My sister, Summer, had never even seen Larry Miller, but she told her boyfriend Mark Thyme that she'd met the most interesting guy that afternoon at work. Mark asked her what was so interesting about him and she'd told him that she couldn't put her finger on it, but there was just something about him. Mark asked her what his name was. I guessed that he just wanted to try to find the guy and tell him to lay off of Summer. When Summer said, "Larry Miller. Do you know him?" Mark turned green.
The thought of having his steady supply of pussy gone sent him into fits. And the thought of being one of those guys who's taken a girl back after she fucked Larry Miller was worse. Everyone in town would be laughing at him. Shit, if Summer got pregnant ten years from then people would still wonder if it was really Larry's baby. Larry probably had some type of super sperm that laid there, waiting for just the right time to fertilize an egg.
So Mark jumped up and proposed to Summer. They went out and bought a ring the very next day. I guess Mark was hoping for a long engagement but before he knew it, he was married. The same strategy worked for a couple of Summer's friends. There are probably a lot of guys around our town who realized years later that they'd been trapped and it was too late to do anything about it.
I myself finally got a chance to meet Larry our third year in college. He, like me and almost everyone else in our town, went to the state university that was about twenty miles outside of town. To tell you the truth, I didn't see anything special about Larry. He was taller than I was at the time and a bit bigger, but he was just a regular guy.
When I saw him around girls though, my opinion just changed. Larry was as smooth as they come. That part was probably from all of the practice he got. He was also the biggest fucking liar I ever met. Larry would just make shit up and somehow it never blew up in his face. There was also something more to Larry and his success than met the eye.
I saw several guys try to use the same lines that Larry got away with and they were never able to pull it off. Larry could also go into a party full of women from another school and five minutes later, take one of the girls upstairs. After seeing him in action, I just couldn't figure it out. Years later, I came to realize that it probably just had something to do with pheromones. But then it was a mystery.
Around school, Larry left a trail of broken relationships, to say nothing of broken hearts in his wake. As more and more women fell for Larry's charms, he went from being called the prince of pussy, to the baron of bullshit. Most of the guys on campus hated Larry with a passion. He had very few male friends and most of the ones he had were bottom feeders who only wanted Larry's leftovers.
I watched the drama from the sidelines. I had no interest in it. I looked at college as the last vestiges of childhood before my real life began. I didn't form any lasting relationships because I was very sure that I wouldn't be sticking around in my small town when I finished. In fact, I didn't even intend to finish school here. I wanted a Master's Degree in Engineering. And although our University had a program, I wanted my Master's to come from a more prestigious school like the University of Michigan or MIT.
I had girlfriends or girls that were friends while in school but I made it sure that there were never any strings. I'm a decent looking guy so there were a couple of times during my time in college that girls mentioned "permanence," or "commitment," to me. I quickly moved on. One girl during my senior year even tried the Larry Miller move on me. Kathy and I had gotten to be very close. She'd even started leaving things around my apartment and had some clothes and a toothbrush there because she stayed over so often.
Kathy had been so subtle about it that she even knew all of my neighbors. Shit, I didn't know most of those people so I thought it was funny that she did. But out of nowhere one night, we'd been watching TV and I started to yawn. I wasn't actually sleepy, I was horny.
"You know, I met the most interesting guy today," she said.
I was so amped up about getting my dick wet that I continued to listen to her. "What made him interesting?" I asked.
"I don't know," she said. She got this weird listless tone in her voice as if she was remembering something really special. The tone in her voice was either fake or real. If it was fake the bitch was trying to manipulate me. If it was real, then she had either fucked Larry already or was thinking about it.
"Grab your purse," I said. "Let's go for a ride." She looked startled. I grabbed her by the arm and pulled her out of the apartment. I made sure she got her purse. We drove around in circles for a while and she had the biggest smile on her face. In her mind, she'd successfully executed the Miller maneuver on me.
I think she was really surprised when I pulled in front of one of the dorms on campus and parked. I got out of the car and pulled her out after me. I think you all can imagine her surprise when I sat her down on a bench in the park that over looked the dorm building.
I got down on one knee in front of her and took her hand in mine. I looked up into her big pretty eyes ... And believe me there was nothing wrong with Kathy. She was a pretty woman. She had big soft boobs that I loved playing with. She had great legs and an incredible ass. Kathy was one of those curvy, Marilyn Monroe types. And as I've said, there was nothing wrong with her. She'd make a wonderful wife for someone. But I wasn't that guy. As nice as Kathy was, she was, at least for me, a practice girl. Shit, if Kathy had been patient and waited a few more years, I probably would have married her. But what I wanted most in life then was an advanced degree and a ticket out of that small town. I didn't bust my ass in the first phase of college to end up working in the local Factory.
I took Kathy's hand in mine and looked up into those big pretty eyes and did some acting of my own. "Kath, Honey?" I said. "Uhm the guy you met this afternoon; the interesting one. Was his name Larry Miller?"
"Yes," she said. "Why are you asking me that?"
"Because if you sit here on this bench for a while, you'll probably see him stagger in after he's done fucking some other guy's girl. That's his dorm across the street. Good night," I said.
I got back into my car and rolled down the window. I was driving my first car then. It was a 1998 Mustang in Arctic white. It was only a V6 and it had those annoying rims that were panted the same color as the body, but it was a great car for a college kid.
Kathy was still in shock as I rolled down the window. "Your dorm is only a few blocks that way," I told her. "When you come by tomorrow, to pick up the rest of your stuff from my place, please leave the key on the table."
She was too shocked to even react. She just stared at me wide eyed as I drove off. I felt like an asshole. It just wasn't the way I normally did things. But I had no intention of being manipulated into something that I was ready for.
As I've said before, I've seen too many guys who got Millered and were stuck in relationships they didn't want to be in. When I got married, I wanted it to be to someone who just knocked my fucking socks off. I wanted to marry someone that I had lots of things in common with. I didn't want to get married to someone just because we were comfortable together and I liked fucking her. As hard as this is to say when you're a guy; I wanted romance and magic. Other than that we may as well just be friends with benefits.
When I finally got home that night, it was well after midnight and I had an early class the next day. I'd had several calls while I drove around trying to calm down and get my head straight. Most of them were from Kathy so I ignored them.
The next day she continued calling and I kept ignoring her. Finally my phone rang and according to my caller ID it wasn't Kathy. It was my sister, Summer. I was immediately worried about my parents, so I answered it.
"Hey Will," she said. "We need to talk."
My sister and I aren't very close so I wondered what the hell she wanted. My sister is the type of woman who's always there when SHE needs you.
"Are Mom and Dad, okay?" I asked.
"We're all a little shaken up," she said.
"Were you guys in an accident?" I asked. "Is everyone okay?"
"We weren't in an accident," she said. "It's about Kathy. Why the hell are you treating her like shit? She's all broken up and crying. We all thought that the two of you would probably have some kind of announcement soon."
"Why the fuck would you all think that?" I asked, smelling a rat.
"Well ... the two of you are so good together and, uhm, I uhm, kind of spoke to her and..." she said.
"You kind of thought that I was stupid enough to fall for the shit you bamboozled poor Mark into marrying you with, right?" I hissed.
"Uhm ... yeah," she said.
"Summer, I'm not stupid," I said. "That type of shit doesn't work on me. I will not be manipulated into doing anything I don't feel is right for me. I'm not ready to be married. I have no intention of starting a career at the local plant and buying a house and settling down. I want bigger and better things from my life."
"So did Mark," she said. "Sometimes men have no idea of what's good for them. You guys sit there on your asses playing video games and dreaming of Victoria's secret models and Lamborghinis, when the real world and perfectly good women who love you are right in front of you. I just didn't want you to miss out on a good thing."
"So you put her up to this shit?" I asked.
"Well yeah," she said hesitantly. "What difference does it make?"
"Because now instead of just losing a bed buddy, I've lost a sister as well," I said, hanging up the phone.
For the next few days I fended off comments and questions from family members and friends about why I was being such an asshole. I had two standard lines I gave them and a great kicker. The first line was telling them all that I had a plan for my life and I told them what that plan was. The second part was when I told them about needing to be in love before I got married. Then finally, I told them about my sister's little trick and how she'd used it to get Mark to propose to her and lock him in but I wanted to get married on my own time line and not because Summer had decided that it was time for me to do it.
It seemed to make sense to most people. I think that it did cause a few problems for Summer when Mark called me and he and I talked. He didn't divorce her, but it put his entire marriage in a different perspective. I think Mark realized that he'd been played. He hadn't been able to go to college. He'd had to start working for his father because Summer got pregnant before either of them came close to finishing. Summer is two years older than I am and Larry Miller is my age so Mark realizes now that there probably wasn't anything going on with them.
I think that by the time that everyone got over what I'd done, the whole town knew that I wanted my Master's in Engineering and I wanted true love. That made it even funnier when I ended up doing almost exactly what Summer had planned for me. I was working so hard trying to avoid the girl that Summer had manipulated into Millering me, that I ended up getting Millered for real.
About three weeks after the Kathy incident she was still on my trail. She'd started trying to catch me at home and I knew that eventually I was going to have to speak to her but it just hadn't been long enough. In the back of my mind, I was really hoping that the term would end and I could avoid her forever. I mean everyone knew that I intended to go to MIT in the fall which would involve me moving to a different state. I'd been offered an internship in Florida for the summer. If I could just hold out for another two or three weeks, it would be over.
Anyway, I left the apartment one day and saw Kathy sitting on my car reading a book. It was a warm day and the car was parked in the shade, so it looked like she was going to be there for a while.
I'd actually only planned on driving over to the library to do some research, so instead of confronting her and getting into an argument or a long drawn out and tearful exchange, I did something more mature. I snuck out the back door.
I was on the next block headed for the library when I passed the bus stop. I had just gone past it when I realized that the woman in the bus stop was crying. For the benefit of everyone reading this, I need to point out that I really am not the asshole that a lot of my actions make me seem like. I'm just an average guy who wants to get what he earns. I like to have a plan and a system of morals and stick to both.
The woman crying in the bus stop affected me. I couldn't just walk by without at least trying to see if I could help. She was a tiny little thing with a blue hoodie on. There was an explosion of tawny waves coming from under it. The second biggest miracle was that she'd been able to get the hood on over all of that hair. When I asked her if I could help her, she looked up at me and I saw the greatest miracle of my life.
My crying girl at the bus stop was Peyton Carlisle. Dunt da duh dah! When you read that Dunt da duh dah! part you have to imagine that you've just heard a fanfare of trumpets. Anyway, Peyton Carlisle, Dunt da duh dah! is the most beautiful female creature in our town. Every guy in town is, and was, as far as I can remember, in love with her. Shit, my father was in his mid-forties and even he'd look up any time someone so much as mentioned Peyton Carlisle. Dunt da duh dah! Wow that's annoying.
I couldn't figure out why she'd be hanging out in a bus stop crying. So I asked her again if I could help.
"Thanks for asking, Will," she sobbed. "But no one can help me. My parents are going to kill me." I was shocked to see her crying like that. And even more shocked that Peyton, Dunt da duh dah! Okay that was the last time. I was shocked that she knew my name.
"You know me?" I asked.
"Will, we've gone to school together since middle school," she said with the sadness still in her voice.
"Peyton, whatever is going on, we can fix it," I said.
"No, we can't fix it," she screamed.
"Peyton, I'm an engineer," I laughed. "I can fix or rebuild anything. If I can't make it better than it was, at least I can make it so that it works."
"I'm pregnant," she said. If there had been a way to suck words back inside of your mouth, I'd have sucked mine all back in. But I just sat down on the bench next to her and tried to give her a supportive ear.
Peyton's parents were extremely Catholic. She had an uncle who was a priest and her entire family was deeply involved in the church. She wasn't quite as devoted as the rest of them, neither were any of her siblings, but the ramifications of her situation were quite dire.
Part of the way this situation had manifested itself was because of who she was. Peyton is so pretty that guys just took one look at her and fell for her. She just didn't see it. Her two sisters were the same way. When she looked in the mirror she just saw a girl.
Most of her life she'd only been allowed to date guys who met with her parents' approval. For the most part they were guys she'd met through or at church events. So up until a couple of months ago, Peyton at twenty three, was a virgin. Then she'd met a new guy in her church. He'd just joined and it turned out he went to our college as well. His name was Larry and he'd impressed everyone at the church. He actually asked her father first if it was okay for him to date her.
Peyton had put Larry off for two or three weeks, which for Larry, who was used to screwing girls on the first date and then moving on, was something of a record. And Larry stayed with Peyton for a week or so after getting her cherry. Then he moved on and started to avoid her. When Peyton's period didn't come, she took a test and called Larry when she found out that it was positive. Larry told her not to worry and that things would work out. He continued to avoid her. He told her that those home tests were often wrong and that she should get a real doctor's test.
She made the appointment and asked for him to go with her. When the day for the appointment came, she couldn't find Larry anywhere. He'd taken his finals early and moved away.
"What was Larry's last name?" I asked.
"Miller," she said tearfully. "I don't know what I'm going to do. My entire family will disown me."
"Peyton, you need to tell them sooner or later," I said. "A part of us being adults is accepting the responsibility for the things that we do. If you wait until you start to show, it will be far worse on you than if you're honest and up front about it. And don't worry, your parents will love you know matter what. And your friends will support you too."
"Do you think so?" she asked. By that time we'd been talking for most of the afternoon. I took her to a small restaurant and we ate and talked some more. She told me that I'd made her feel a lot better and if her baby was a boy, she'd name him after me.
"I'm damned sure not going to name him Larry," she said. She gave me her phone number and told me to call her the next day. Then she had me call the number right then so it was in my phone. I walked her back to her dorm and I was flying. I'd seen Peyton around town or around school for most of my life and had never even imagined us talking, let alone me having her phone number.
As silly as it seems, that afternoon I fell for Peyton so hard that there was simply nothing I wouldn't have done for her. Even as I walked home after leaving her, I remembered hundreds of little details about her from growing up. I remembered times I'd seen her smile and had been agog at how pretty she was. I remembered the grace that she'd handled embarrassing moments with and I realized that like most of the guys I knew, I'd probably always been a little in love with Peyton, I'd just never thought even in my wildest dreams that I'd have a shot.
Luckily for me things seemed to go my way that day. When I got back to my apartment, Kathy was gone. She'd left a note on my car that she really wanted to talk to me. So I decided to call her the next day. Unfortunately for me, life interfered. I've never really been messy. I grew up in a home that was always spotless, so I tended to keep my apartment that way too. With Kathy having spent the better part of a year auditioning for the role of wife, she'd really helped. So my apartment was never the typical bachelor pad.
I was trying to do some of the studying I'd neglected that afternoon when my phone rang. I assumed that it was Kathy and decided to just go ahead and get it over with.
"Will, it didn't work," said a tearful voice. "They threw me out ... I'm"
I surprised even myself. "I'll be right there," I said.
I was in my car and moving before it even registered in my own mind what I was doing. As I said, I've always tried to be a good guy. But sometimes I tend to lead with my emotions and just let them take over. It often gets me into trouble that a bit of rational thought would prevent.
I drove back to Peyton's parents' house and knocked on the door. The door opened slowly and Peyton's dad stood there holding a drink in his hand. He was clearly upset. He also wasn't the pious church going man that everyone had come to know and respect at that moment.
"What do you want?" he asked taking another sip of his drink.
"I'm here to see Peyton," I said. He took one look at me and his face got red.
"Are you the one who..." he began and I for some reason, was as pissed as he was. As I look back on things now I realize that both of us had misunderstandings at that moment. If either one of us had just slowed down and let the other speak. Things might have gone better. But for me they'd have been far worse. If we had taken the time to talk or to listen to each other, he might not have hated me, but I probably wouldn't have ended up with Peyton either.
"Yes," I said. "I'm the one who..." I was going to say, "I'm the one who told her to tell you she was pregnant."
"Well good," he said. "You can take her ass with you..." I later learned that he was only upset and never intended to kick Peyton out of the house.
"I will," I spat.
Peyton's mother looked relieved. Peyton herself was afraid and shocked.
"But Daddy he..." she began.
"Get the hell out of my house," he said. Peyton had already packed a small suitcase. I guess her mother had intended for Peyton to go and stay with a relative until this thing could be worked out but it just didn't end up that way.
I gently guided a crying Peyton out to my car. We drove around for a while and I finally got her to talk. Then I got her to eat and we talked some more. Once again that moderately sized town thing came up. A lot of people knew who I was and everyone knew who Peyton was. So when people around town saw us together, especially huddled in a booth talking very seriously, it got around.
When I insisted that we be placed in an area without smokers and Peyton sheepishly explained to the waitress that she was pregnant, that was all it took. Word had gotten around town in less than two days that I had gotten Peyton Carlisle pregnant.
That first night we didn't go back to my apartment until almost midnight. Peyton was falling asleep in my car. We'd tried a few of her friends but unfortunately Peyton only knew "good girls," that she'd gone to church and school with. All of them were horrified that she was pregnant; including her best friend, Millie, whom she'd spent the previous day studying with. I didn't understand how one day could make her more or less of a monster.
Finally I told her that we could go to my apartment and she nodded her head. I got out a pillow and a blanket. She headed right for my couch and I grabbed her arm. I guided her into the bedroom. She was so tired she didn't object. I closed the door behind her and headed for the couch.
The next day I had an early final, it was my last one. I woke Peyton and asked her if she had any classes left. She said she didn't, so I let her sleep and went and took my final. When I got back, I made a big breakfast. Apparently the smell of the food woke Peyton, because she quietly came out and sat down at the table. She just looked at me.
"Hungry?" I asked and she nodded. I guess it was too early in her pregnancy for morning sickness and not all women get it. I think that Peyton's appetite and all of the food she eats just goes towards making her prettier. As she shoveled down food, she just got better looking. Realistically, she probably just felt more comfortable and less hungry but I had to feed my fantasy.
"Will, what are we going to do now?" she asked. God damn it, I loved to hear her say, "We."
"Do you mean today or in the long run?" I asked.
"Both," she said. She looked at me intently and I really loved the feeling.
"Peyton, we have some decisions to make," I said. "If hearing her say, "we," had lit ME up, when I said, "we," HER face positively glowed.
"Okay, the first decision to make is yours Peyton," I said. "Do you actually want to have this baby?"
She nodded very quickly. "I made a really bad mistake," she said. "But killing a child would be a bigger one." I heard all kinds of echoes of her Catholic upbringing there but as I'd told her, that part was her choice.
We spent the rest of the day making plans and scheduling appointments. I found out then exactly how sheltered Peyton's life had been. She didn't know how to do anything. Even the classes that Peyton had been taking at the university were all geared towards her someday being the perfect wife.
We went to an appointment with both the local doctor and Peyton's priest. Both of whom looked at me as if I'd taken a shit on the Mona Lisa. We got Peyton the vitamins she needed and signed up for parenting and birthing classes. We also got a very stern lecture from the priest and appointments for both of us to see him separately.
It took a couple of days for things to settle down and for us to get into a rhythm. But we discovered that we got along great and were very comfortable together. Then the phone calls started to come in.
"Will, there's a girl on the phone for you," said Peyton. Her face looked concerned. "Her name is Summer," she said.
I ran over and took the phone from her and hung it up. "Girlfriend?" she asked.
"That wasn't a girl, Peyton," I said seriously. "That thing used to be my sister."
Her face lit up again. The next time the phone rang was far more serious. It was one of Peyton's sisters. She had all kinds of news for Peyton. Her father was still angry and getting angrier as the days went on. He had forbid any of them to have contact with Peyton. Even after speaking to the priest who couldn't reveal any information on Peyton to him, he continued to rail against her. I thought that it was all just posturing because he didn't want his other two daughters to follow Peyton's example.
She was never to set foot in their house again. And if she didn't get married before the child was born she's be stricken from the family forever. He refused to have any bastards destroy their family lineage. Then the priest started in on us. I guess he figured that if we did something to placate Peyton's father everything would work out. But all that did was get my dander up.
I told him we'd be fine. Peyton asked me that night what my plans had been for the summer before she impacted my life. I told her about going to Florida for my internship and then going to Boston and she cried. I woke early the next morning and left before she got up. I think that Peyton had assumed that I'd gone to school. I'd gone to the plant and put in an application. They were always looking for fresh young engineers and hired me on the spot. It was a Thursday and I didn't have to start work until the following Monday. I went to see the priest for my solo appointment after that. Payton's was scheduled for the next day.
When I got home I knew that something was odd. Peyton was fully dressed and her suitcase was by the door.
"I was hoping that you could take me to the bus station," she said.
"Peyton, I'll take you anywhere you want to go," I said. "Where are you going?"
"I'm going to stay with my Aunt Sally," she said.
"I thought you didn't like her," I said.
"I don't," she said sadly. "But she's the only person who'll take me in and I can't ruin your life, Will. You've done too much for me already. You're supposed to be in Florida by next week so I have to go somewhere."
"Peyton, I've already called the company in Florida to tell them I'm not coming. I start working at the plant next week. They're going to pay me a great salary and we'll have benefits too; as soon as I get my ninety days in. So we'll be fine. Plus it'll give you a chance to put some of that fancy education your parents paid for to use." Her face got the weirdest look on it and she hugged me.
She came back to me a couple of hours later with her serious face on. "Will, can we talk about something?" she asked. I just smiled and nodded.
"I don't know why you're doing all of this for me ... for us," she corrected. "But I need to ask you an even bigger favor."
"Okay," I said. "I'll do it." Her face brightened.
"Will, you should probably let me ask you first and give you an explanation of my plan," she said.
"Peyton, you already know, I'd probably do anything for you," I said. She turned around and just walked away then and started crying on my bed. I followed her into the room and started rubbing her back.
"Peyton, what's wrong," I asked her.
"It's me Will," she cried. "I'm just asking for too much. Ever since I've met you, I've just been taking things from you without giving you anything in return. But this is just too much."
"If it's too much, I'll tell you," I said. "What do you want Peyton?" Even as I asked, my mouth dropped open in shock. And she looked up at me.
"No Peyton," I said suddenly. "I absolutely refuse. Even for the most beautiful woman I've ever seen, there are limits. I absolutely refuse to sell my Mustang and buy a minivan."
"You think I'm beautiful?" she asked.
"You don't want a minivan?" I asked in the same tone.
"No, I wanted a year of your life," she said seriously.
"Peyton, I'm twenty two," I said. "I've got a lot of years left. You can have one of them."
"Seriously?" she asked and her face got even brighter.
"You really don't want a minivan? I get to keep my car?" I asked. Then she hugged me with everything she had and just shook her head looking at me.
"Yes, you can keep your car," she said still smiling at me and shaking her head.
"Okay, what do I have to do?" I asked. "Do I have to become Catholic and go to church for a year?"
"Of course not," she said. "But you will have to go to church a few times, like when we get married and..."
"When we what?" I asked.
"Will, I know it's a lot to ask," she began. "But I've thought this all out. I looked at it from my dad's perspective. He's really into our family history and what other people will think and all of that. So if we get married before the baby is born, then there's really no scandal. I'm sure that once we're married, he'll come around and then once the baby is five or six months old, we'll file for a divorce and you can go on to MIT just one year later. There's not nearly as much shame to the family if I get divorced as there'd be if I was an unwed mother. Being an unwed mother is usually chalked up to the parents not raising you right. But a divorce can be blamed on a lot of things. And of course, you'll have a friend for life and my undying gratitude."
"Okay," I said. But I was a little bit hurt. "Half of the town thinks I got you pregnant anyway," I said.
"I love you Will," she said. "Thank you so much."
"Don't worry about it," I said. "It's probably not going to happen."
"Why not," she said.
"Because Larry will come to his senses and come back for you before the baby is born," I said.
"Why the hell would he waste his time?" she said. It was the first curse word I'd ever heard from her and there was some anger mixed in with it. "There's nothing here for him. My baby doesn't need him in his or her life and I don't either. I wish with all my heart that I'd met you before I met him."
I don't think I heard another curse word from Peyton for weeks afterwards. The next time she'd curse would be on our wedding night.
The next day at Peyton's appointment with the priest, we told him the news. Peyton also got to meet my family that day too. My mom adopted Peyton that afternoon. My dad kept patting me on the shoulder. He had that, "Cat that swallowed the canary," look the whole time. Even my brother in law was smiling at me. Summer wasn't as thrilled, but even she came around when she was included in planning the wedding.
The announcement for the wedding date went up on the church bulletin board so her parents must have seen it, but we still didn't hear a word from them. There were so many people who showed up for our wedding that we had to turn some of them away. The church simply couldn't hold them. I did manage to slip her mom in the side door so she could watch the ceremony without being seen and I pointed her out to Peyton as we did the ceremonial kiss. The strangest thing about is was that when we did the kiss, I only expected a perfunctory peck but Peyton pulled me in for a full-fledged lip lock that lulled the church into silence. Her technique showed that Peyton hadn't kissed a lot of guys but her eagerness shocked me.
My parents had given us a week long cruise for our honeymoon and we had to miss the reception to drive to the airport. Peyton held my hand as we left the church and everyone in town seemed to be happy. On the way to the airport, Peyton asked me why I was smiling so much.
"Are you that relieved that the ceremony is over?" she asked. "Honestly, I don't understand men. Don't you understand that for a woman her wedding day is the highlight of her life? It is the bride's day. Your mom and I have planned this day for the past six weeks. I was barely able to fit in my dress. My little bump here is starting to show. In a few weeks, everyone in town will know who doesn't already."
"Well, don't worry," I said. "I'm sure your next one will be better."
"My next what?" she asked.
"Wedding," I said. She just looked at me strangely.
We got on the plane with Peyton carrying her veil and her book of thank you cards. She was filling out thank you cards for everyone who'd attended the wedding. She'd have more thank you cards after we went through all of the wedding gifts. She spent an hour telling the flight attendants about our wedding.