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Reanimated: » Games » Geek loves Geek production » Book Series » One Step At A Time

One Step At A Time

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126 Re: One Step At A Time on Fri 18 May 2012, 12:23 pm

It was end of August and Jo didn’t catch up with her health. She was constantly cold and tired, but she refused to see a doctor.
Ricky picked Jo up one night they were in their way to see a ballet in London.

“Are you sure you can go?” Ricky looked worried at Jo.

“Yes of course, I’m fine. Liam where are you? We are leaving.” Jo sighed she was annoyed that their flat under the roof wasn’t even started yet. They lived in one of the guest room. Jo knocked at the bathroom door. “Are you decent?”

“Why you want Ricky to come in?” Liam said while he opened the door grinning. When he saw his beautiful wife he couldn’t resist, he pulled Jo in the bathroom and kissed her passionately. “You smell good.” He whispered. Their passion might had slowed down a bit and suffering under Jo’s tiredness, but they were still crazy about each other. Jo moaned when Liam tucked her blouse out of her skirt and his hands moved up the waist.

“Liam I have to go, and Ricky is waiting and oh.”

“So? He heard us already once, and he knows that we barely can keep our hands off each other.” Jo had a hard time resisting his cheeky smile. She kissed him once more, held his hands in place and whispered back. “You can have me when we are both back home. And we still have a bottle of chocolate sauce in the kitchen.” Now it was Jo that grinned cheeky. She kissed her hungry looking husband once more. “I love you. See you tonight and no funny business with Alfie.”

Jo was already half out of the door when Liam who was just dressed in boxers grabbed her hand and pulled her back into his embrace. “You are lovely.” Jo smiled, not only because of what he said but because she felt so safe in his arms. This was the place where she belonged and always will be.

Ricky had the decency to leave the bedroom when Jo disappeared in the bathroom. He was waiting in the corridor looking outside over the estate of Waterfall Downs. “Hey Ricky what are you dreaming about?” Jo took her best friends hand and together they went to the stairs. “I was just wondering how it must be to grow up here.”

“Lonely, strict and tightly scheduled.” Jo looked a little bit sad, she knew very well what a great luck she had to be able to grow up in this wealth, but if she could give it all away to grow up as a child and not a mini adult she would do it. A small smile appeared around her lips. “But there are some great places for children to play here, there are secret passage ways through the house and even into the garden and even a secret garden. One day I show it to you.”

You have a secret garden?” Ricky glanced curious at Jo. “Yeah, it is a wild garden no one ever goes in there. And I forgot about it myself for some years now, but last night I dreamed about it and I want to go and have a look at it again. But not now we have to get to London.”

Jo didn’t need to tell Ricky that he wouldn’t be the first one she would show this garden. On a nice day she would take Liam and show him that garden first.
The two friends went to London and enjoyed the ballet. In the intermission they met a few old friends from Oxford and some people Jo just knows. It was a long time Jo was at a high society event and this ballet premier was such an event. She missed Liam, even though when she had fun with Ricky, but it was not this that made her feel weird. She had offered to be the driver for the night since she didn’t feel like drinking in the first place. Being sober between all the high society snobs it made Jo wonder. Why Liam fell for her, well no maybe not really why. She knew she was not at all like these people. She was… free of the boundaries the people of the top upper class felt. Yes she had money, lots of it and if she decided she would never have to work a day in her live again, but she used the money. It made her proud to think about the students she would soon teach and be taught by.

“My dear Josephine, I heard you are opening soon your school?”

“Oh Mrs Winter. Yes, I and my husband are opening our doors in five month.”

“That is wonderful. You must be very proud to achieve this pleasure of teaching children and form them into adults.” The old Lady Jo knew since she was a baby herself smiled friendly.

“Yes we are. It is a great honour to be able to give children what Liam and I never had in our childhoods. A school that challenges us, that is a place to make friends and a family.” Jo smiled proud at Mrs Winter. She was her governess whenever her mother decided she had to stay in London for some time. It was Mrs Winter that taught her the first steps to play the piano.

“Missis Jo the teacher at Waterfall Downs. Just like in one of your books.” Mrs Winter took Jo’s hand. “And you are glowing like you should. Enjoy this time there is no better time than those short month. You will never be closer then you are right now and at the same time I know you will do so much better. Take care of yourself promise me this, my dear. Take care!” Mrs Winter petted Jo’s hand before she disappeared back into the crowed.

“There you are Jo, we have to take a picture together.” Ricky wrapped his arm around Jo’s waist and they smiled into the camera. But Jo had a weird feeling, she wasn’t sure that she understood what Mrs Winter was talking about. If she wouldn’t know it better she would think Mrs Winter thinks that she is pregnant but that is not possible.

Poor old Mrs Winter, since Mr Winter died she is a little confused.

“Tell me something not shallow, Ricky.”

“Your husband adores you that if I would be ten years younger I would say it is sick how much you love each other.”

They both started laughing, while they went back to their seats. Jo knew that she finally made the step out and left her chains behind. She was free, free to be herself.


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127 Re: One Step At A Time on Fri 18 May 2012, 4:58 pm

Alfie’s flat was –unsurprisingly- in the most posh area of Oxford, where Bentleys and Jaguars filled up the streets. The building his flat was in looked like a five-star hotel, with doorman and fancy carpet in the entrance all included. The flat itself was huge, the measurements were definitely those of a small house, evenly spread on one floor, and of course, the view was awesome. Liam didn’t dare to ask how expensive the flat was, not to mention all this stuff inside the flat. Just the furniture probably cost as much as a big house with swimming pool, and there were so many other objects that looked incredibly valuable. There was even a bar in the flat, a real bar. That was insane!
Alfie noticed Liam’s astonished look as he noticed the bar.

“That was my dad’s birthday present”, he said, getting out a few bottles of different alcohols to mix some drinks. “He’s never been at any of my birthdays, in fact, he would always forget about them if his secretary wouldn’t remind him, so that’s kind of his way to get rid of his guilty conscience…”

Liam sat down at one of the bar stools. “Your family’s house is in Oxford as well, isn’t it?”

“Yes.”

“So why don’t you live at home?”

Alfie looked up. “Because I want some privacy. I mean, our house is big enough that everyone can just disappear in their corner and wouldn’t run into each other at all, but my mother…let’s say, she’s a bit annoying and snoops around, and everytime I come home she follows me everywhere and bombards me with questions. And my sister-“

“You have a sister?”

“Yes, she’s a couple of years older than me and the most egocentric person I know. She’s married to some millionaire’s son, poor bastard. Can’t even open his mouth without having her interrupting him. Don’t get me wrong, I love my sister, but she’s one big, old bitch.”

Liam stared at him, obviously shocked how he talked about his family. “And your dad?”

“Selfish prick. Works all day, likes to chase younger women and thinks he can buy absolutely everything with money.” Alfie handed him a glass.

“What’s in there?”

“Don’t ask, just drink.”

Liam sniffed suspiciously at first, but then he took a sip and it tasted very strong, but actually not that bad. “Doesn’t that…ehm…bother your mother?”

“Please!” Alfie waved dismissively. “The more time he spends at work and with other women, the more time she has wasting all his money on clothes, jewellery and purses.”

“That sounds…like a very caring family you got there”, Liam mumbled, taking another sip. That at least explained Alfie’s personality.

“That’s the world you married into. They’re all like that, each one of them. Well…except your little wife, but she was always a bit different anyway.”

“Hey!” Liam shot him a warning glance to make him understand that he would defend Jo no matter what, and Alfie got the message.

“Sorry, didn’t mean to offend her…” He emptied his glass in no time. Unlike Liam he knew how to drink without getting completely wasted, or better, he was just used to the amount of alcohol whereas the younger boy still struggled to stay sober after one glass of champagne. Nevertheless, Liam drank whatever Alfie had given him, not really thinking of possible consequences. He started feeling the alcohol kicking him, which made him automatically chattier. He generally talked a lot, but when he was drunk he talked non-stop, and he slowly got to the point where he talked more than he realized.

“So…do your parents now…ehm…”

Alfie just watched him blankly. “Know what?”

“Um…about Ricky…and stuff…”

“You mean do they know that I’m screwing guys? I think so…” He shrugged his shoulders and poured Liam another drink, either not noticing that the younger boy was already slightly drunk, or not caring. Since it was Alfie, it was probably the latter.

“And they are okay with that? I mean, aren’t families like yours very conservative?”

Alfie huffed. “My father pretty much gives a shit what I’m doing and with whom I’m doing it, and my mother is more conservative, but she worries that I’m not going to come home anymore if she says something about it, so she shuts up. And my sister is too busy caring about herself, so, you see, it really doesn’t matter what I do, as long as I come home at least for the holidays. My mother is the one who pretends we’re a real family, so she makes sure my sister and I visit at least for every holiday.”

Wow. What a family. That really explained so much.
Liam started to wonder if Alfie was even able to really cared for someone. After all, he never learned how to care about something, so how could someone expect him to actually care for another person? Liam had no idea how he felt about Ricky. They had been together for quite some time, but on the other hand Alfie didn’t seem like the kind of guy for committed relationships, and he had already mentioned that their ‘relationship’ was very casual. It surprised Liam how two so different people could even stand each other, after all, Ricky was pretty much as emotional and sensitive as Jo, whereas Alfie was the complete opposite, even more ruthless and harsh than Liam was. But he had to care about Ricky somehow, otherwise he wouldn’t stay with him for so long. Liam didn’t really want to think much more about two guys being together and all, it made him uncomfortable thinking about it, so he changed the subject.

“And you know Victor Gray, right?”

Alfie laughed coldly. “That little son of a bitch…We’ve known each other since kindergarten, and our families are pretty much like the Capulets and Montagues, totally hate each other for decades…the only difference is; Victor and I are not like Romeo and Juliet.”

Liam had to laugh. “That would be disturbing.”

“Tell me about it.” Alfie sat down next to him on a bar stool, another drink in his hand. “We’ve basically been competition since we were four. Only that he never really was any competition for me because I always won. I always had more money, got better grades, and of course, all the girls. So yeah, he was the one competing with me, not I with him.”

Alfie was perhaps one of the most arrogant, self-absorbed, self-confident people Liam knew, and yet he was somehow fascinated by him, he had no idea why. He really couldn’t explain what it was, but he really liked his company, which didn’t make sense at all because for as long as he could remember he couldn’t stand those sons of rich families, and generally the world both Alfie and Jo came from. But for some unexplainable reason he really liked hanging out with Alfie, as long as the older boy didn’t say anything bad about Jo.

“Must have been tough for Victor.” Liam couldn’t hold back a grin.

“Oh yes. And boy, you completely finished him off!”

“What?”

“I had to laugh so hard when I heard that his last hope, which was marrying Josephine Williams and living off her money for the rest of his life, was taken away by none other than some Irish country boy who appeared out of nowhere. That really was the cherry on top, and you had no idea where you had walked into, clueless as you are…”

“Clueless?”

“Don’t take it personally, Liam, but when it comes to the world of the rich, you are completely clueless. Which is very entertaining at the same time, you’re the attraction. Boy from the Irish country side waltzes into Oxford like a sheep walks into a cave full of wolves, and you just took that one thing away that our dear Mr Gray wanted more than anything, and the funniest part is, you had absolutely no idea.”

“Great…” Liam finished off his second drink. “The result was, that douchebag won’t leave us alone.”

Alfie shrugged his shoulder. “And he never will. For the rest of his life he’ll try to make your life a living hell, that’s what you get for messing with Victor Gray.”

“That’s really…comforting.”
Alfie sure as hell knew how to make him feel better…

“Don’t worry about it, you have way more support than you think, and definitely more than he’ll ever have, so you’re in advance.”

“Hopefully…” Liam started to feel dizzy. He couldn’t remember much more of their conversation because shortly afterwards he passed out on the couch, sleeping like a baby.


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128 Re: One Step At A Time on Fri 18 May 2012, 5:38 pm

Jo had dropped Ricky off and came home alone in the big house. Teddy greeted her at the door, but she had hoped that Liam would greet her.

"Hey Teddy is Liam home?"

Teddy pressed his body against Jo's leg and she knew that this was his way of saying now he is not. Jo sighed and went in the kitchen to make some tea.

"So I guess it is just you and me until the man of the house comes home."

Jo made herself a pot of custard. It was nearly one in the morning.


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129 Re: One Step At A Time on Fri 18 May 2012, 6:13 pm

The next morning he woke up from the sound of a typewriter. He opened his eyes and blinked, because it was so bright, since the sunshine fell directly on the couch. He had completely lost any sense of orientation, he had no idea where the hell he was.
Wait…where am I? Where is…where is Jo?
He turned his head slightly to the side. Boy, the headache was killing him! And then he realized where he was. Apparently he had spent the night in Alfie’s flat. And at the moment he couldn’t remember a thing.
Oh. Shit.
First thing he checked: his pants.
He was still wearing them.
That was good.
Very good.
Although…Alfie could have just put them back on very easily…

Liam immediately sat up, his head was spinning. Alfie sat on the other side of the room, writing something on his type writer. He was wearing an expensive looking bathrobe, and Liam had no idea if he was wearing anything underneath, he couldn’t see it from the distance, and he didn’t dare to think about it. That same moment Alfie looked up, smiling weirdly.

“Looks like someone slept it off…”

Oh man, was I that drunk?
Liam felt sick. Not because of his hangover, but because of the questions that were running through his head.
“Why am I here? What did I do…what did we do…did we…did…?”
Oh, please not. Please, please, please not!

Alfie sat back in his chair and crossed his arms, smiling amused at him. “Did what?”

Liam rubbed his eyebrows and tried to get back some memory from last night, but his mind was completely blank.
“Ehm…we didn’t…you know…”
Oh God, how can I ever make that up to Jo again?!

“Have sex?” Alfie crossed his arms behind his head. “Not that I can recall…”

Liam looked so freaked out that he couldn’t mess with him any longer and laughed.
“You seriously think I would take advantage of you while you’re passed out? Now that’s classy…” Alfie raised his eyebrows. “Besides, that’s only half as much fun, so don’t worry, you had your clothes on for the entire night.”

Liam sighed in relief. Now he only had to find out how in the world he would explain to Jo that he had spent the night somewhere else.

“By the way, I called your little wifey yesterday”, Alfie said as if he just read Liam’s mind. “Just told her what really happened, that you got drunk and were passed out on the couch. She wanted to get you, but I told her you were so sound asleep that she couldn’t even wake you up if she played the trumpet right next to your ear. Which was true, as a matter of fact, you were so sound asleep that you didn’t even hear the alarm of the house across the street going off.”

“How did she sound?”

“Who?”

“Jo.”

“Ehm…let’s see…since it was 1 in the morning when I called her, she was less…let’s say, friendly, and when she wanted to drive over here to get you and I told her not to, she started arguing with me, accusing me of getting you drunk on purpose and that sort of stuff. Meanwhile I took the liberty to put down the phone for a while and picked it up a few minutes later, after she was finally done yelling at me, and yeah, did I mention that she sounded pissed?”

Liam sighed. “Shit.”

“Well, I would love to offer you my help, but I think little wifey Jo is not particularly happy with me right now, so I better stay out of this and let you deal with her alone.” Alfie went back to his typewriter.

“She’s going to kill me!”

“Good luck.”

“No, seriously…”

Alfie looked up again. “I think she’s not upset with you, more with the fact that she had to be alone.”

Liam was a bit surprised since that was a rather unusual thing for Alfie to say. The older boy continued writing. “Anyway, you can use my driver to get back.”

“Your driver?”

“The guy who gets paid properly for driving me around. I’ll give him a call and he’ll be here in five minutes.”

Liam just stared at him. Rich people…
Anyway, it was time to get home and make it up to Jo again. He had to tell her that he hated it not waking up next to her, he really did.


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130 Re: One Step At A Time on Fri 18 May 2012, 8:05 pm

Jo woke up slowly -after she had wondered with Teddy through the house and double and triple checked all windows and doors were locked- she fell asleep on the small couch in Liam’s lab. It smelled a little bit weird in there but it also smelled of Liam. Teddy was on the floor next to her, and Liam’s Goofy jumper warmed her. She was mad, but not that Liam spent the night at a friend, that he got drunk, or that it was Alfie who had called her, she was mad that she missed him so much and how sad she was that she had to figure out herself what she would want to drink, and had to make her breakfast herself.

“I guess it’s still just you and me Teddy.”

Jo got up and suddenly felt nauseas. She ran to toilet and barfed her late night custard and well everything else up. When her barfing was nothing but a hollow gagging, she leaned against the wall, at some point she had started crying hysterically. Something wasn’t right, and now she really wanted Liam to be here. Because she had no idea what was happening to her. What if she got really sick?

“Oh my God what if Mrs Winter did mean my glowing as…” Jo couldn’t finish the sentence. She could not be, not for another five years. They had a plan. It was hard enough to know to start a marriage and a school, but all this was enough to deal with she could not be bloody… glowing.

“Liam, please come home… I need you.” Jo was hugging her knees trying to take slow breaths to calm down, but she wasn’t sure what she was doing if…


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131 Re: One Step At A Time on Sat 19 May 2012, 10:50 am

After Alfie’s driver dropped Liam off in front of Waterfall Downs, he hurried back inside and went immediately to the bedroom because he expected Jo to find there since she was probably not feeling well. But she wasn’t there.
Liam left the room and tried to find Jo in this huge house. Of course he checked in the library first, but she wasn’t there either. He met Gracie and Ellen and asked if they knew where Jo was, but they didn’t know it.

“Gracie, did you see Teddy anywhere today?”, he asked the little girl. Teddy was usually always with her unless he was with Jo, so there might be a chance she knew where Teddy was, and that would lead him to Jo.

“No, Mister Liam”, she said, shaking her head. “I couldn’t find Teddy today.”

“Okay, thank you anyway.”

“Are you okay?”, Ellen asked concerned. Liam definitely looked hung-over.

“Don’t worry, I’m fine.”

“You want us to help looking?”

He shook his head. “No, thanks, I’ll find her, I’m sure.” Liam turned away and went into every room, shouting her name. He passed a mirror occasionally and was reminded that he looked like crap, dark circles under his eyes and tousled hair, but he couldn’t care less at the moment. He started to get worried because he just couldn’t find her. After he went into pretty much every room, he stopped in front of his lab, the last place in this house he would expect her to be in. Wait a minute…the door was slightly opened. He always locked the door, and Gracie couldn’t have gone in, because she didn’t have the keys.
“Jo?” Liam walked into his lab and was immediately greeted by Teddy, but he didn’t pay attention to the dog. Jo sat on the floor, her back leaned against the wall, her face hidden behind her knees. When he said her name she looked up. He could tell she cried, her eyes were red and puffy, and she was incredibly pale. She definitely looked worse than him.
“Jo!” Liam knelt down next to her and touched her cold face. “What happened? Why did you cry? You knew I was coming, right?”

“It’s just…I feel like everything is getting too much.”

“Do you think we rushed the wedding?”

“No.” She shook her head. “It’s just…I’m cold, and tired, and sick, and sick of being cold and tired all the time. And you were not there and…and…” She was too weak to talk. Liam pulled her close and stroked her hair.

“It’s okay, I’m here now, and I won’t leave you alone.” He didn’t want to admit it, but he was kind of overwhelmed by Jo’s constant outbursts of feelings. Not only that she was sick and he didn’t know what to do, but she was also unpredictable. One minute she was smiling, the next minute she sat on the floor, crying. He didn’t know what to do, he couldn’t remember the last time he felt so powerless. He slowly started to worry that she was becoming more like her mother, not in terms of her personality of course, but in terms of emotional levels. Her mother was very unstable and had needed professional help in the past. Liam didn’t want to think about it, but Jo started to go more and more into that direction.

“Jo, what do you want me to do? You want me to read something to you? Want to watch TV? You want to eat? Is there anything I-“

“Just…stay with me”, she whispered, holding on to his shirt as if he wanted to leave her any second.

Liam nodded. “Sure. I can do that.” He kissed her on the forehead. “By the way, I absolutely hated not waking up next to you. That really sucked.”

A weak smile crossed her lips. “Good.”


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132 Re: One Step At A Time on Sat 19 May 2012, 2:47 pm

It was a few days before her birthday, just a few more days before she wouldn’t be a teenager anymore. Liam was the last two days rather busy to build something for the Impossible Mission Force which was quiet handy that way she could hide very well that she was puking her guts out each morning. Today she finally did the test and she didn’t like the result at all. Liam had promised her to come so that they could have breakfast together. Jo was not dressed yet, when she scuffled into the kitchen.

“Good morning…” Liam seemed happy he was chatting and setting the table for breakfast.

Jo had this hunch since nearly two weeks and now she had the proof. She was not ready yet. This wasn’t supposed to happen, not yet not for another few years.

“Liam how likely is it that a test that has two possible outcomes has an error when ten tests have the same answer.” Jo mumbled not touching the toast or her tea.

“Erm…” Liam knew that she was not good with numbers, so he had to explain it that she would understand it. “Not very high. Why, what test did you do?”

Jo was trembling when she took out of her pocket all the pregnancy test. “They are all positive.” It was such a quiet whisper that even a mouse would have difficulty to hear her. “I’m pregnant.”


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133 Re: One Step At A Time on Sat 19 May 2012, 3:18 pm

This was not only a deja -vu, this was a bloody awful, cruel, horrible, crappy deja-vu. It’s been three years when Jo said the same thing to him, and fortunately it had been false alarm. But now…she was standing there, with those stupid tests in her hand, saying that awful goddamn p-word. Oh man, he hated that word! And she looked like she was very close to crying.

“You sure they were all positive?”, he asked.

Jo nodded.

“You have any more left?”

“What?”

“Do you have any of those stupid tests left?”

“Yeah, but…Liam, I did more than enough tests, I don’t want to-“ She couldn’t finish her sentence because he just grabbed into her pocket and got out the ones she hadn’t used. “What are you-“

“I’m going to pee on those bloody…things, and show that they are wrong.”

“What?” She stared at him in disbelief, but he just turned around and went to the next bathroom. Jo followed him and waited in front of the door.

“Jo!” He almost hit her with the door when he stormed out. “I hate to tell you this…but I’m pregnant.”

“What?”

He held up the test. “See, it’s positive. So according to this little piece of crap I’m pregnant.”

“But…but this was just one test. I had ten and-“

“Okay, I’ll be right back.” Liam almost slammed the door behind him. He tried three more, and this time all of them were negative. And so was the first one. It had turned negative within a minute. Damn.
Damn!
This wasn’t happening. They had just been married for less than three months, they were in the middle of building up a school and would open in four months. This wasn’t happening, goddammit, this was NOT happening!!!

Jo looked at him when he walked out of the bathroom, pale as a wall. He didn’t know what to say to her, he wasn’t able to say anything to her.
He was sure that it all was wrong, a mistake, a false alarm.
This could not be happening right now.
No bloody way.

“Jo…I…” He started, but just wasn’t able to say anything to her. “Sorry”, was all that came out, then he turned away from her and walked out, leaving her alone in the big hallway.


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134 Re: One Step At A Time on Sat 19 May 2012, 5:13 pm



Jo looked at where Liam just disappeared. This was not happening. “I didn’t plan this.” She mumbled after him, know he couldn’t hear her.
Jo sighed she wasn’t hungry so there was no point in trying to eat. She went into the bathroom and drew herself a bath. When she was standing naked in the bathroom she looked at herself. She looked still the same, she felt the same, but she was pregnant. And Liam…

The bath relaxed her a little bit, but she wasn’t yet ready to face the fact that Liam had left her. So that’s how he felt when she said no after he proposed, or Catherine when Graham left her. Here she was in this huge house all alone with a baby on its way. Jo went back to bed her hair still wet from the bath, she couldn’t believe that Liam left her. Not long ago they were so happy but now all was breaking apart.


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135 Re: One Step At A Time on Sat 19 May 2012, 6:49 pm

Bloody.
Hell.
No, no, no, no, no.
Shit.
Crap.
Holy.
Saint.
Patrick.


Liam sat down on a bench outside. It was unusually warm for September, the sun was shining and the green of the leaves slowly started to turn into red, orange and yellow. Liam felt like something was cutting off his oxygen, he almost felt dizzy. Almost? He did feel dizzy. He ran his fingers through his hair, trying to breathe, but he couldn’t.
He was not upset about the situation, he was scared. He really was scared. Scared because there was no way he could be a father, and no way he was ready for that kind of commitment. In the past three years Jo had mentioned children now and then, and he slowly got used to the thought that they would eventually have one or two in the future, but yes, in the future, and that didn’t mean right the second you get married.
Liam looked up, watching the clouds moving slowly. He felt helpless. So freaking helpless. He had no idea what to do next. He just knew one thing; he wasn’t ready for this. Not now, and not for a very, very long time. And for the first time in his life he actually understood how his father must have felt. Liam felt bad for actually understanding Graham’s actions he did back then, when he was in the same situation. Right now, at this very moment, Liam felt like running away. Just get out of here, somewhere far, far away. Somewhere where he didn’t have to be a father. Where he didn’t have to take care of a baby. That was a very tempting thought…
But then he remembered his mother, his heroine, the woman who had to be strong for both of them because she didn’t have a husband who supported her. And there was no way Liam would do that to Jo, leaving her and letting her raise a child on her own. Jo was not as strong as Catherine was, she wouldn’t make it. She needed someone, otherwise she would be lost. She needed him. And that baby, his son or daughter, would need a father too, every child did. When he was little he thought he didn’t need one, but in the end he realized that he had always needed one, just like his mother had always needed a husband, no matter how much she tried to be strong on her own. No, he couldn’t leave Jo and the child. His child… That was a crazy thought, insane, terrifying. He couldn’t picture himself with a baby, not at all. The very few times he held Edward or Henry in his arms it didn’t feel quite right. Maybe because they weren’t his children, but maybe also because he was just not cut out to be a father. Not now, and not ever. He may be boyfriend material after all, but father material, no, daddy material…Making babies wasn’t the hard part, but being a dad was a whole different story, and he knew he wasn’t ready for it.
But he had to.
Liam took a deep breath and sat outside for another ten minutes, letting the horrifying news sink in for a bit longer, and then he got up and walked back inside. He didn’t need to look long for Jo, he found her in the bedroom, hidden under the blanket. He sat down at the end of the bed, staring out of the window.

“This is so fucked up, you know that?”

She peaked out from under the blanket, looking almost scared. “You’re here…”

“Yes, I’m here, Jo, I’m here, okay?” It wasn’t his intention, but he sounded rather grumpy. “You know, I can rather picture myself in a bloody pink tutu dancing to Swanlake than being a dad. Even though it would totally turn Ricky on, and that’s disturbing… But yes, I can rather picture myself being a ballerina than being dad, and you know that, Jo. You know I can’t be a dad now…”

“I know”, she whispered, sounding like he was about to hit her. “I’m not ready either. I didn’t plan this to happen, Liam, I didn’t plan-“

“So how did it happen then?”

“You want me to explain it to you?”

“No.” He rolled his eyes. “I mean, weren’t you using the pill?“

“I did, but it obviously didn’t work!” Tears were running down her cheeks. “I can’t do this, Liam. And when you leave me, I won’t make it. I can’t raise a child alone and-“

“I’m not leaving you, Jo”, he interrupted her. “Of course this whole situation freaks me out, and I’m not lying, I’m scared…I know I’ll suck as a dad, I never learned how it is to have one around, so I will be a mess and anything but a good dad, but at least... I won’t let you go through the same that my mum had to go through. I don’t believe in ghosts, but if I would leave you now, I swear to you, her ghost would haunt me down and slap me right across the face and drag me back to you, so I’m not going to go anywhere, you hear me?” He looked serious at Jo. “Don’t ever expect me to be a good dad, I will suck, and I’m already sorry for the child, but I won’t leave you and the…baby.”
Baby. That was a worse word than pregnant. It was so…real. A human being.
Oh man, this all was just messed up. He wanted to get seriously wasted right now, but he couldn’t do that to Jo. She needed him, and he would be there for her. After all, he made this commitment to her the moment they got married. Or the moment he first told her that he loved her…


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136 Re: One Step At A Time on Sat 19 May 2012, 8:44 pm

Jo crawled out of her bed cave and climbed on Liam’s lap.

“I think you will be a great dad.” Jo snuggled close to Liam. “I really didn’t plan this I promise.”

“I know.”

“Liam?”

“Yes?”

“Can we not tell yet anyone just now? I can’t deal with people know.” Jo whispered.

“Okay.” Liam held her close but he seemed a little scared to hold her too close.

“And I need to make a doctor’s appointment. And we need books about pregnancy and babies … and just so you know I gonna be a sucky mom.” Jo started crying again. “I’m sorry I don’t mean to cry I just can’t stop and I feel awful I’m hungry and nauseous and I don’t wanna be one of those whiny pregnant girls but I can’t stop and… oh my god…” Jo jumped up and into the bathroom, but all she could do was a hollow gagging nothing came out. Jo felt so helpless.

"Liam?" Jo knew he heard her. "When I'm pregnant can we still have sex?"


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137 Re: One Step At A Time on Sun 20 May 2012, 4:45 pm

“I certainly hope so”, he answered. He had no idea if that was really possible, just thinking of sleeping with her when a huge belly was in between them made him kind of nervous, but on the other side there was no way he could not sleep with her for the next eight months. The longest he had been away from her were those three months when he had to hide, and that really had been one damn challenge he barely managed to make through. But eight months…no freaking way! Liam followed her into the bathroom. “Please don’t tell me this is going to continue for the next months…” He grabbed a towel and held it under cold water, then he knelt down next to her.

“I’m sorry…”, she mumbled ashamed as he wiped her face.

“You don’t have to apologize. I just hope it’s not going on like that for your own sake, because I…” He paused for a moment. “I hate seeing you like that, it…”
…hurts me.
Of course he couldn’t say that to her. But it hurt him so much seeing the one person he loved more than anything suffering like that.
“It sucks”, he said instead, brushing some of her hair out of her face. “And you need a haircut. If you keep throwing up all the time, long hair is really impractical.” He tried to joke a bit, but it was hard, given that the situation was not really funny. And he still needed a lot of time digesting the news, he wasn’t over the shock yet. But someone had to be strong now, and since Jo wasn’t emotionally (and physically) very strong, he had to be, for both of them.
“And you won’t be a sucky mother.” A smile appeared on his face. “Someone with a heart as big as yours can’t be bad mother. You might not be the strongest person, but your heart…it’s just…you care so much for others. How can someone like you not be a good mother?”

Jo was quiet for a moment. She just looked at him, searching in his eyes if he really meant what he said. And he did. She could tell he wasn’t lying to her, everything about him showed simple honesty.

“And besides…” He threw the towel over the corner of the bathtub. “We can’t both suck. It’s enough to have a dad who sucks in doing his job, so that kid relies on you. There is no doubt in my mind you will be great.”

“Why am I not allowed doubting myself, and you are?”

Liam sighed. “I just worry that…”

“You abandon your child?”

“Kind of. When I went outside I was thinking of how nice it would be to just…go away.” He looked up.

“But you didn’t do it, you came back.”

“And there’s no way I’ll do that to you, or the child.”

Jo smiled weakly. “Liam, just because you didn’t have a father for eighteen years doesn’t mean that you will be a bad father yourself.”

“And neither will you be a bad mother because yours wasn’t there for you when you needed her.”

The two looked at each other quietly for a moment.

“We’re going to be parents, Liam”, Jo said finally.

“We’re going to be parents”, he repeated, as if that would help him getting this particular information in his head.

“Wow.”

“Yeah.”

“That is…”

“Freaky.”

“Yes.”

“Oh boy!”

“Good gracious!”

“Good gracious?” Liam started to laugh.

Jo smiled shyly. “I just felt like saying that.”





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138 Re: One Step At A Time on Sun 20 May 2012, 5:16 pm

“I’m sorry you worry about me. I’m fine just… pregnant.” Jo looked at Liam he had his hidden worried look on his face, when he wanted to be strong and make her believe something but on the inside he was just as scared and helpless as she was. She would try and be stronger so that they both have room to be scared and at the same time carry each other.

“Can we go into town and buy some books about childcare and pregnancy and stuff?”

“Are you feeling up to it?” Liam stroke gently over her head.

“Yeah, I think so. I just have to eat a little before we go. Maybe I can eat some toast and keep it even down.” Jo liked being touched by Liam, even just something little as him stroking over her head.

“What about seeing the doctor? Shouldn’t you get checked up?” He kissed her gently.

“Oh I guess, yeah I will call the doctor and make an appointment. You are coming with me aren’t you?” Jo looked worried at Liam, she really wanted him to be with her not only because she was scared but also because she wanted to exclude him as much as possible. After all it was his baby she was carrying under her heart. “Hey do you want a boy or a girl?”


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139 Re: One Step At A Time on Sun 20 May 2012, 6:18 pm

He hadn’t really thought about that, and now that he was thinking about it, he had a hard time making up his mind. Boy or girl? He couldn’t picture anything. He couldn’t picture himself with a baby. He couldn’t picture a baby at Waterfall Downs at all, not now at least. This was just such a bad time for having a baby, and yes, he couldn’t blame Jo, but why did she have to get pregnant now? They had just been married, and he wasn’t ready to share her with anyone else yet. As soon as the baby was there, all of Jo’s attention would go to the child, and he didn’t want to give her up just yet. This baby would change everything, changes he didn’t want to happen yet. But if he could choose between boy or girl, what would he prefer? If he had a daughter she would probably bond only with Jo, why would she want to do stuff with him? He couldn’t picture a little girl working in his lab, so he would be left out while Jo and their daughter had fun times together. So, a son would be better…although…he couldn’t picture himself with a son either, because he wasn’t the typical daddy type who played soccer and baseball in their garden. So, he would try to get his son interested in astronomy and physics, but there was a good chance that his son would rather play outside than listen to the laws of physics. And, just like the daughter, the son would bond with his mother instead of his father.
So, the overall result was clear. It didn’t matter if the baby was a boy or a girl, it would always, always, always bond with Jo, and barely tolerate him. He would always be the guy who got her pregnant, but he would never be the guy the baby wanted to spend time with. He would be a father in a couple of months, but he would never be a dad. And that was precisely why he didn’t want to have children. He wouldn’t gain another addition to the family, he would only lose one. He would lose Jo to this child, because this child would take her away from him, and this child would never want to have anything to do with him, not to mention like him. So he couldn’t care less if it was a boy or girl…

“Liam?” Jo looked at him expectantly. “Would you rather have a son or a daughter?”

Nothing! I want nothing! I don’t want a child right now, dammit!
Liam took a deep breath before he answered. “I…don’t know.”


“You can’t make up your mind?”

I don’t care. I bloody don’t care because it’s only going to love you anyway. Of course it will. It’s so easy to love you. You will be its favourite, and you will love it more than you love me, and it will take you away from me, and it will never love me, because I can’t relate to children, doesn’t matter if it’s a boy or a girl. It will always choose you, always…

“Liam, are you okay?”

“Yes.” He got up, not looking at her. “I’ll drive you to the doctor’s tomorrow, I’ll be back later.”

“Back? Wait, where are you going?”

“To London. I forgot something in my old flat, something I need for an experiment I’m working on, it’s really important.” He looked at her, just briefly. “I’m back later this evening, promise.”


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140 Re: One Step At A Time on Sun 20 May 2012, 7:14 pm

Jo stared at the door through which Liam just disappeared. Jo got up slowly from the floor and went into the bedroom. She got proper dressed and looked in the mirror. She was pale and her hair was messy but she looked okay.

“Okay I guess that’s how it will be.”

Jo smiled at her mirror reflection. “Hello I am Jo O’Doherty, headmistress of Waterfall Downs Academy, left by my husband but with child, but a child or more in a school doesn’t seem to matter right?” She saw tears run down her face, but she didn’t feel the tears, what she felt was the weight on her heart. “So that’s how Liam felt when I said no to his proposal.”

Jo took Teddy and went into town. She bought lots of books about pregnancies and child care. She didn’t speak much and she did at least eat something during the day. She came back around noon but Liam wasn’t back yet. She went into his lab and drew a map on the blackboard he had. She could not stay in the house and hope Liam would come back. She was nearly out of the lab when a thought crossed her mind. She went back into the lab, took a piece of paper and wrote the thought of it.

If you want I make it go away, just please don’t leave me. If I have to chose between you and a baby I chose you. I love you and not this baby that I can’t even see or feel. Just come home.

Jo pinned the note to the blackboard and went unseen through the secret passage ways into the old green house. It was full of wild growing flowers, lilies, daisies and some other flowers that were planted a long time ago, and of course some wild weeds. Jo had left Teddy in the house, for the first time it hurt her to have him around. He reminded her of Liam and it looked a lot like she had to let him go.

“I wish this had never happened to me.” She watched the flowers move in the gentle wind that went through the cracks in some glasses. “Hi, I’m alone and have a baby and a broken heart so I need a nanny to take care of my chid because you know what maybe I want to run away too. Liam you are a selfish idiotic bastard! You asshole! You made a promised yes you might not say the vow in sickness and in bad times but that means being married to be in the bad times together. I hate you! I hate you!”

Jo collapsed on the floor, she was dressed in one of Liam’s jumpers but suddenly she felt the jumper was suffocating her. She started to weed like a manic the green house to help the flowers help them grow. She was shouting, yelling and crying until she fell on her knees exhausted, sweaty and covered in dirt. “You selfish bastard! It is your loss because you know what this baby will love the stars, and build stuff and have your amazing blue eyes and it will fight with me and cry with me and wish for its daddy and you know what I gonna tell her that her daddy was a selfish bastard who couldn’t deal with the fact that she was on her way and he might had to share her mommy. And I do hope the ghost of your mother haunts you because you deserve being haunted. You are mean and selfish and I wish I could tell you this to your face but I can’t because I am a nice person.”

Jo sat down on the bench and waited, waited to wake up, wake up in a hospital bed and see Liam’s face smiling and talking to her but she is too groggy to understand him, but she would know that the nightmare was over.


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141 Re: One Step At A Time on Mon 21 May 2012, 10:46 am

When Liam arrived in London, he headed straight to the planetarium, the only place right now where he could forget about the real life for a moment. He knew every corner of the building by heart, but he still loved going here. He watched the people passing by, young and old. Nobody paid attention to him, to the boy who was about to become a father, but was so not ready for it. A couple of times he saw families walking by, mothers, fathers and their children. How did they make it? How could they be a family like that, and still look so happy?
And then he remembered that day when Jo took him here for his birthday. They had slept under the artificial sky above them, and it had been so perfect. She had been so perfect. She still was.
Jo…
She was probably alone right now, wondering what she had done wrong because he left her once again. Of course he didn’t plan on really leaving her, but going away like that was something he shouldn’t do when he was married. He had to get back and apologize for taking off like that.

Liam arrived back in Oxford in the late afternoon. This time he didn’t expect her in the bedroom, and he was right, she wasn’t there. He didn’t get an answer when he shouted her name, and he started to think that she might have gone to Lorelai or Ricky or someone else so she didn’t have to be alone. Liam went downstairs to his lab, maybe she was there, but there was no sign of her. He was about to leave the lab when he saw a little note on the blackboard.
If you want I make it go away, just please don’t leave me. If I have to choose between you and a baby I choose you. I love you and not this baby that I can’t even see or feel. Just come home.
Liam just stared at the piece of paper, feeling how his heart got heavier with the second. He had actually thought of abortion already, but it was a very brief thought, and seeing it now written on paper by no other than Jo felt so wrong.
And then he remembered that one day when he was about eleven years old, and his mother had been called by the school to come to the principal’s office because of her son’s impossible behaviour towards the teacher. Liam hadn’t really done much, he just kept contradicting that stupid guy who taught the whole class something completely wrong, but the teacher got really upset with him and sent him to the principal. It wasn’t Liam’s first time that he was sent to the principal by teachers, but it was the first time his mother was actually called to school. The entire time he sat quietly in a chair while the principal told her that her son’s disrespectful behaviour towards teacher couldn’t go on like this. After a while he had to answer a phone call and left the room, leaving mother and son alone. Catherine hadn’t looked at Liam at all, and she kept ignoring him, until he finally said what he had on his mind for a very long time:
Why didn’t you get rid of me when you still had the chance? You know that your life would have been easier without me.
He would never forget the way she looked at him that very moment. He had never been able to put it in words, to describe the way she looked at him, but that’s what he felt right now, while he was holding that piece of paper in his hand. That was exactly how his mother must have felt.

“Oh no…” Liam dropped the paper, he just had a horrible thought. What if Jo was already on the way to the hospital? Taking care of it. Getting rid of it.
It.
This wasn’t just ‘it’. This was something that would be someone someday. Someone with his and Jo’s DNA combined, someone with half his and half of her chromosomes. Someone who was not only part of just Jo, or just him, but both of them. Combined. Together. And not only that…this particular someone would also inherit genes of his mum, so a part of her was in that particular someone.
Liam had a hard time thinking straight. He stormed out of the lab and kept thinking which hospital she could have gone to, when he almost stumbled over Teddy who started barking. Liam was about to push him aside when he noticed how Teddy ran to one of the doors, barking louder. He opened the door and followed the dog, hoping he would lead her to Jo and not chase after a rabbit or something else he might have smelled. Teddy was extremely fast and Liam had difficulties keeping up with him, but right now all that mattered was finding Jo.
They reached the Botanical garden. Liam hadn’t expected her to be here, but Teddy seemed to recognize her smell, he jumped nervously up and down. Liam entered the building and left Teddy outside because he didn’t want to startle Jo. He stood in front of the big gate which was covered with thick ivy and heard her voice. But what he heard made him stop immediately. He heard it all, how she cursed him and said how selfish he was, how much she hated him…It was the first time she ever said she hated him, and even though it wasn’t directly to his face, it hurt him, because he could tell she really meant it. This wasn’t just the kind of ‘I hate you’ that someone yelled in a fight. This was the kind of ‘I hate you’ that someone said whose heart was broken. Someone like a pregnant young woman who had been left by the man she loved.
He peaked through some of the ivy, and saw Jo, crawled up on the bench, crying. Liam held his breath for a moment. Was he really doing this? Was he doing what had been done to his mother? Was he really becoming this man he had sworn never to become?
No.
He wasn’t. And he wouldn’t allow himself to become that man. He wouldn’t leave his pregnant wife behind. He would be there for her, and for their child. But on the other hand…did she even want him to be there if she hated him so much?
Liam started doubting if it really was a good idea to walk in like that right now. The fact that she hated him kept him wondering if she wouldn’t be happier if he really would just go.
Nevertheless, he opened the door and walked in. He just looked at her, unable to say something. She didn’t notice him because she was crying heavily into her knees. How many times had he promised her and others he would never hurt her? How many times had he promised himself he would never hurt her? Countless times. And he kept hurting her, over and over again. And he had no doubt he would hurt the child as well, not physically of course, but mentally. He would continue hurting the people he loved the most, and that was why he didn’t trust himself being a husband, or a dad. He should have just stayed with Dick in their flat in London, doing his job, not worrying about crying wives and children. There would have been so much less pain if he had never allowed Jo to get so close to him. She wouldn’t sit here crying her heart out if she had never met him. She would have been so much better off. She was right, he really was selfish. For just waltzing into her life and taking away her happiness. She was safe before she met him, protected, innocent, obviously happier than she was now. And he had ruined her completely, her and her happiness. But he had to accept the consequences of his actions and take on the responsibility. There was no way he could run away now.

“Don’t…”, he started, but needed a moment to continue. She was quiet, obviously surprised that someone was here, that he was here, but she kept her face hidden behind her knees. “Don’t get rid of it.” He wanted to say so much more, how much he loved her, how much he hated himself for hurting her. All the things that had been running through his head for the past hours. But as always he couldn’t put those thoughts into words.
Liam took a deep breath, then he sat down next to her, slowly pushing her arms away. She looked confused at him, she had no idea what he was doing. She didn’t want him to touch her, she wanted to push him away, but then his hand touched her stomach and remained right there. Liam didn’t look at her, his eyes were focused on her stomach.
“Hello…”, he said quietly. “I’m your dad. And I’m really sorry that your father wasn’t anyone better, you deserve someone so much better, you deserve the best, just like your mummy…” He paused for a moment and a weak smile appeared on his face. “Anyway, I know that you deserve so much better than this, but still…I’m really looking forward to meet you in a couple of months. I’ll be right here, I’m not going anywhere. I’ll be waiting for you. Just…be safe, okay? Don’t do anything stupid. I really want to meet you one day.”


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142 Re: One Step At A Time on Mon 21 May 2012, 11:15 am

Jo starred at Liam, he was here and actually talking to their little girl. He said he was… Jo pushed his hand away which shocked Liam but Jo only did this to lift her shirt over her stomach and place his hand on her bare skin.

“I think she will love you so much.” Jo whispered. She kept looking at him, trying to see if he really meant what he had said.

“Liam you can’t keep doing this. When there is a rough time you can’t keep running for London. We are in this together and you have to talk to me. If you can’t say things write them down. But you can’t keep running. And just for the record, you only hurt people that you love and that love you back. It is a way of showing how much you care. I’m not sure how to explain it but I was never mad at you, but mad that you left me alone with this. When we got together I thought I gonna be a horrible girlfriend, until the moment I said myself there is nothing worst as not trying. Try to be the best dad you can be and it will work. But don’t say from the beginning you gonna be a horrible dad. Okay?”

Jo’s face was glittering in the evening sun, her tears were still visible even though she stopped crying. “Only stupid people don’t try and I think you are not stupid.”


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143 Re: One Step At A Time on Mon 21 May 2012, 9:50 pm

“Okay, I’ll try.” Liam’s hand was still on her stomach. He liked having it there.

“Promise?”

“Promise. But I can’t promise that I’ll succeed. I’m pretty positive that I will mess up and-“

“That’s all right.” A tiny smile crossed her lips. “I don’t want you to promise me to be a perfect dad, I just want you to promise me to try to be a dad. And you of all people should know what dads shouldn’t do, right?”

He frowned. “Run away…”

“Yes.” Jo nodded. “Please don’t run away from me, from us…” She put her left hand on her stomach, next to Liam’s. “She’ll need you so much.”

“She?” Liam looked up. “What makes you think it’s a girl?”

Jo shrugged her shoulders. “I don’t know, I might be wrong. Let’s just call it female intuition.” She took his hand and pressed it against her lips. “And I have the feeling that she’s going to have your eyes.”

Liam chuckled. “ ‘She’ could turn out to be a boy with your eyes.”

“I know, but I don’t think so.”

He leaned closed to her and put his arm around her, while she leaned her head against his chest. She was so exhausted from screaming and crying, she could barely sit straight. “I thought I lost you…”, she whispered.

“But I told you I would be back in the evening.”

“You didn’t see how scared you looked when you left, Liam. You looked like you really wanted to go away, and not just for a couple of hours.”

She was right, for a moment he had felt like going away, but then he would have done the greatest mistake in his life, that one mistake that his father always regretted and he would have ended up the same. From the moment Liam would have walked away, he would always looked at children, try to find resemblances with Jo or himself, and he would never forgive himself for what he did to Jo. He couldn’t do to Jo what had been done to his mother. Of course Liam knew there would be moments in the future where he started to get nervous again and overwhelmed by the situation, but there was no way he would leave his wife and the child that was on the way. Maybe Jo was right and it would really have his eyes. That was a weird thought, but a nice one as well.
Liam kissed her on the head. “I’m sorry for behaving like a prick, and for making you hate me. I know that it takes a lot to make you hate someone, and I managed to do that.”

Jo shook her head. “I don’t hate you, Liam.”

“I heard you saying it, the way you said it…”

“I could never hate you.” She looked up to him. “Never.”

“You had every right to.”

Jo shook her head slightly. “You don’t understand. You can hurt me as much as you want, and I can try as hard as possible to hate you, but I can’t. I love you too much, and it’s impossible to hate someone you love that much. I have no doubt your mother never really hated your father. I’m pretty sure she tried, as much as I tried, but she couldn’t. Because hating him would have meant that she would have never been able to really love you, since he would always be a part of you. Just looking into your eyes would have reminded her of him. And that would have been the same for me and the baby. If I would truly hate you, I wouldn’t be able to ever love this child fully, because so much of her will remind me of you.” Her finger wandered over the back of his hand. “So, it doesn’t matter what you do to me, I can’t hate you.”

“Let’s see if you still say that after the nine months are up”, he said teasingly.

She pinched him playfully. “Idiot.”


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144 Re: One Step At A Time on Tue 22 May 2012, 9:47 am

The week until Jo’s birthday passed quickly, maybe too quickly for the soon to be parent. Jo didn’t want anyone to know but she was so tired she had a really hard time getting up in the morning. Today Jo had left her teenager years were over. And as all the other mornings Jo started the day hugging the toilet. Jo slowly calmed down, she less panicked about the fact that she puking her guts out in the morning. “Liam!”

“I’m coming, just a moment.” Liam said loudly.

Jo was still leaning over the toilet trying to breathe slowly. “Liam!”

“I’m here, I’m here.” Liam came in the bathroom, he quietly sat down next to her and were gently rubbing circles on her back. “How long will this go on?” Liam whispered looking worried at her.

“It can be during the entire first trimester and sometimes during the entire pregnancy.” Jo whispered back.

Liam pushed Jo’s hair behind her ear. “Great.”

Jo smiled weak at her husband while she took the water he brought along. “I think it’s over for now. Hey, good morning daddy.”

Liam grinned. “Ready for your birthday present?”

“What do you have for me?”

“Breakfast in bed.”

Jo grinned. “I like that idea. Let me just brush my teeth.”

“Hurry up.”

It didn’t take long until Jo joined Liam their bed. “Oh waffles, I love waffles.”

“I know you do.”

Jo pushed the tray out of the way and pushed Liam shirt up his chest. “Do you know that pregnant women are hornier during their first trimester?”

“Good then you don’t mind when I do this?” Liam ripped Jo’s PJ shirt open.

“Whoa I guess not only women are hornier during the pregnancy.” Jo giggled, but she didn’t mind.

“I’m sorry that breakfast is cold.”

“Not your fault. We had a great starter. I really like sleeping with you.” She wasn’t yet dressed while she lied in his arm. Liam’s hand rested on her stomach as it now often did these days. “Hey Liam? Will still think that I’m pretty when I’m all fat, round and heavy?”


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145 Re: One Step At A Time on Tue 22 May 2012, 8:37 pm

“You’re not going to be fat, round and ugly”, Liam said.

“Have you ever seen a pregnant woman?”

“Yes.”

“Okay, so you do see that they have a big, round belly, right?”

“Yes, but that doesn’t mean they are fat. There’s a baby growing inside of them, so of course they get bigger…”

Jo sighed. “But I will be huge! And I know you won’t find me attractive anymore, not when I’m looking like a hippo and-“

He kissed her before she could continue. “How could I not find you attractive?”

“Yeah…but…but you like to look at pretty women, and unlike me they don’t have a fat belly…”

“Unlike you they don’t carry my child.” Liam drew something with his finger on the skin of her stomach, a star. “And I don’t think there could be anything more attractive.”

Jo felt her heart beating faster. “Really?”

“Yes, silly, really!” He smiled at her, then he focused on her stomach again and continued drawing little stars with his finger. “It’s a weird thought…”

“What?”

“That there’s a heart beating…right here.” His finger rested on her stomach. “It’s absolutely tiny, but still, it’s a heart.”

Jo smiled shyly. “I know.”

That moment they heard Teddy barking outside. “How late is it?”, she asked.

“Time to get up.”

Jo sighed. “I wish I wouldn’t have to! Can’t we just stay in bed the entire day?”

“I would love to, but you’re the birthday girl, and people expect to see you.”

“I really don’t want to deal with people right now. What if they know?”

“Know what?”

“That I’m pregnant.”

Liam shook his head. “How would they know, there’s nothing to see.”

“But…maybe I have this pregnancy aura thingy around me and…I don’t know…”

“Pregnancy aura thingy?” Liam tried not to sound too sarcastic, but it didn’t work. “Don’t worry, they won’t notice it.” He leaned forward and kissed her forehead. “Time to get up, birthday girl.”


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146 Re: One Step At A Time on Tue 22 May 2012, 9:37 pm

Jo got up slow she didn’t want to risk starting to puke again. “Hey Liam?” Jo was searching through her underwear drawer to find something she felt comfortable to wear.

“Do you need help getting dressed?” Liam kissed her bare shoulder. It made her giggle.

“No, but I have a question you might know. Don’t I have to be careful what I eat and drink?” Jo asked sounding worried, she was shivering.
Liam took knickers out of her drawer and a bra I liked on her. “Here wear this and yes that why you are not getting any coffee anymore and you can’t drink alcohol.” Liam closed Jo’s bra. “Hey are you okay?”

“Promise me not to tell anyone yet, because mother will be furious and everyone else will be really surprised but not in a good way. I don’t even know how Lorelai will take it. I’m not ready for anyone to know.” Silent tears were running down her cheek. Liam bushed them gently away with his thumbs. “Sorry I don’t mean to cry.”

“I won’t tell anyone. Calm down everything will be fine. Now come on get dressed as much as I enjoy seeing you naked I don’t want you to get sick.” Liam whispered to his wife. “You are so lovely.”

Jo smiled and kissed Liam. “I’m glad you enjoy looking at me.” Jo blushed.

“Good. I’m not done yet watching you.” He took her hand and spun her around to look at his wife. “Now get dressed.”

Jo leaned close to him, tiptoed and kissed Liam. “Yes Sir!”

Not much Longer Jo and Liam went downstairs to meet with Lorelai, John, Edward and Henry. All four, well at least two started singing as soon they saw Jo a really happy smiling Jo.

“You look so beautiful now that you are finally left your teenager years. Happy birthday sweetie!” Lorelai hugged Jo very tight.

“Are you ready to meet your parents for the big first party in the new cottage which is the size of the Buckingham Palace?”

“Daddy no big.” Edward giggled while he was hugging with his dad together be birthday girl. “Habby Birdday Jo-ey.” The toddler kissed Jo and her cheek rather wet. Jo smiled widely when she took Edward from John’s arm. “Thanks Edward you are so sweet. Do I get presents?”

“Aye. Kuss.” Edward hugged Jo tight and kissed her a second time but this time he hit her lips.


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147 Re: One Step At A Time on Wed 23 May 2012, 10:50 pm

“Hey, that lady is a married woman”, Liam said jokingly to Edward who looked at him with his big eyes.

“Oh, do I hear jealousy?”, Lorelai asked teasingly.

“Well, yeah. What do you expect when I see another man kissing my wife?”

Jo smiled shyly, it made her feel special when he showed jealousy, even when he was just joking because Edward was no older than three.
They left soon afterwards, following Lorelai and John to the Williams’ new cottage. Liam was driving (which made Jo nervous, of course) but he insisted a pregnant woman shouldn’t drive, which was ridiculous since she had just passed her first month, so she was definitely capable of driving.
Of course Lorelai didn’t exaggerate when she said the new cottage was pretty much the size of the Buckingham Palace, and Liam already spotted some insanely expensive cars in the driveway.
“Who else is coming?”

Jo sighed. “Some friends of my parents I don’t even really know, but what can I do, uninivite them?”

“Eh…yes!”

“That would be rude.”

“So? It’s your birthday! Who wants old, caviar-eating, golf-playing snobs at one’s own birthday party?”

“My parents. They always invited friends of them, but that’s okay.” Her hand was resting on his knee. “I have you, and that’s all that matters to me.” She smiled while he pulled into the driveway behind Lorelai and John.

“You make sure you don’t drink anything today, okay? I mean, no alcoholic drinks and-“

“Liam, I’m aware that I’m not allowed to drink, don’t worry.”

“Okay, just making sure.”

“And you have to stop acting like that. I mean, it is really cute and I appreciate it, but if you keep acting like that people will get suspicious and know that something is up, and I really don’t want to drop the bomb tonight at my birthday, in front of all those guests.”

“Okay, okay.”

They got out and walked to the door, which was opened by a maid, of course. As soon as they entered Jo was surrounded by people who slipped her envelopes with money, something Liam still wasn’t used to. While Jo was encircled by rich people handing her envelopes stuffed with money, he finally noticed a familiar face.

“Hey, Ricky. When did you get here?”

“About five minutes ago.” He looked over to Jo, although he couldn’t really see her, only a large crowd of people in expensive dresses and suits. “Being among those people always makes me a bit uncomfortable.”

“Yeah, I know what you mean. Did Alfie come with you?”

“Yes, but last time I checked he was talking with some older men about the current economy and I wasn’t really keen on following that sort of conversation.”

Liam grinned. “It seems like all rich people talk about is money, business and golf.”

Ricky laughed. “Absolutely right.” He quickly looked if nobody was listening, then he got a little closer. “How is Jo? Is she still sick?”

“Well…” Liam was a bad liar, and he was aware that Ricky, as Jo’s best friend, knew her really well, which made it only harder for him to lie. “She…she’s okay, I guess. Still a bit…tired from the trip…and stuff.”

Ricky didn’t really look convinced. “You know, if I wouldn’t know it any better, I would almost say…” He paused, which made Liam nervous.

“Almost say what?”

He checked again that nobody was listening. “Almost say she’s…you know…pregnant.”

Damn! He’s good.

Liam laughed nervously, which totally gave him away. “Yeah…sure!”

“Oh. My. God.”

“What?” Liam sounded just as nervous as he looked.

“Oh. My. God!”

“Why do you say Oh My God like that?”

Ricky looked like he was about to have a freakout- one of those girl freakouts, when girls just started screaming and jumping around like crazy. “No way!”

“Wh….what?”

“Is she?”

Liam tried to keep a hard face, but that was impossible with Ricky in front of him, looking like that. “Is she what?”

“Oh my God, she is!”

He tried to lie, but Ricky was already freaking out, almost jumping at him.

“Keep it down, okay?” Liam looked into the direction of Jo and the others guests. “I’m not allowed to say anything.”

“So she is!” Ricky clapped his hands, trying hard not to scream like a little girl. And he looked like he was about to cry as well.

Liam sighed. So much for keeping it a secret…
Jo is going to kill me…




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148 Re: One Step At A Time on Thu 24 May 2012, 1:11 am

Lorelai managed to get Jo out of the crowed without the crowed actually noticing that Jo was gone. “So Josey how are you feeling?”

“Oh, erm I’m fun much better. I must have overdone it in the honey moon.” Jo smiled at her cousin.

“Okay but if you would be really sick you would tell me right?” Lorelai brushed some lose hair out of her face.

“Yes. I’m fine, don’t worry.” Jo kissed Lorelai on the cheek and went to her husband and Ricky, when she stopped cold a few meters away from them. Ricky was widely grinning at Jo while he still cover his mouth with his hands.

“Liam!” Jo whispered sounding angry.

“I didn’t say anything, I promise.”

Ricky looked at Liam just make sure he was allowed to hug Jo. When he jumped at Jo and hugged her. “I can’t believe it, you are-“

“Keep it down Ricky. No one is supposed to know it. I am just in my 7th week, so at the very beginning. I don’t want anyone to know before the second trimester starts. So if you not stop looking like this I gonna uninvited you from my birthday party, you are not even allowed to tell Alfie. Promise me Ricky that you don’t say anything.” Jo looked determined at Ricky.

“Okay, I’ll try.”

“No not just try. If you tell anyone I will never speak to you again.” Jo poked her finger in Ricky’s chest.

“Okay, okay then I better go now to the bathroom and do a happy dance there.” Ricky kissed Jo on the cheek and whispered. “I am so happy for you two, you deserve this.”

Jo smiled weak, when she hugged Liam. “Liam I’m really begging you make sure you don’t tell anyone else. I’m not ready to let anyone know. I’m begging you.” Jo was shivering. “It is just that I am really scared how everyone will react, I saw how you reacted. Can we just wait at least until end of October? Please.”

“I didn’t say anything.”

“Well you better work on your not saying anything. It’s just this is between us, and… for the record I don’t want to be touched by anyone but you.” Jo was leaning her head against Liam’s shoulder and breathed in slowly. “I love you Liam!”


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149 Re: One Step At A Time on Thu 24 May 2012, 6:28 pm

“And for the record, I won’t allow anyone to touch you besides me”, he whispered into her ear.

“There you are, Josephine!”

Both startled as they heard the voice of Elizabeth behind them. She, as always, didn’t even glance in Liam’s direction and walked straight to her daughter. “What did you do with your hair? It looks terrible!”

“I’m sorry, mother, but I didn’t have time to go to the hairdresser before my birthday”, Jo replied dryly. Actually, she didn’t have the nerve to think of hairdresser appointments, she had other things to worry at the moment, other things much more important than fixing her hair.

“Let’s not stand here, dinner is ready and it is rather rude to let the guests stand in the foyer.” She turned away and announced to the others to go to the dining room.

“You know, for some reason I doubt that your mother will be very happy about the fact that we reproduced”, Liam mumbled. “I’ve never been her favourite person, but now…”

“That’s why I want to keep it a secret for as long as possible”, Jo said. They followed the others into the dining room, which was, of course, huge, with a giant chandelier hanging on the ceiling. Ricky still had a grin on his face, but when Jo shot him a warning glance, he tried to make a hard face, which never really worked for him anyway. Colin welcomed them warmly, quite the opposite of Elizabeth, and asked how things were at home, and Jo had to pretend that everything was great and tried not to show the fact that she hugged the toilet every damn morning. She was actually worried that she wouldn’t be able to keep all the food down, after all, this was a three-course dinner, and she already had difficulties keeping down a piece of toast. If something would happen, she had an excuse and would claim that she recently had the stomach flu and still struggled with the aftermath.

Liam didn’t really pay attention to the conversations around him, most of them included finances and politics anyway (and that on Jo’s birthday!). Elizabeth ignored him for most of the evening, just now and then he caught her looking at him coldly, before she looked away. After the first course was finished she turned to Jo.
“I talked to Mrs Foster recently, you remember her, Josephine?”

“Ehm…I’m not sure.”

“Of course you do! She and her husband attended several parties at Waterfall Downs.”

“I’m still not sure…”

“She is the neighbour of the Gray’s, and she told me that the young Mr Gray has become a father, apparently he had a pregnant girlfriend. Quite scandalous, if you ask me…”

Liam and Jo stared at her in disbelief.

“Wait…what?” Jo looked confused at her mother. “Are you talking about Victor?”

“Yes, of course I talk about Victor, not his father.”

The two kept staring at her until Alfie let out a sarcastic laugh.
“Oh, that son of a bitch gets what he deserves! That’s brilliant!”

Elizabeth looked quite shocked at him, and he quickly apologized, though the mischievous grin on his face remained. Liam looked from Alfie to Elizabeth. She didn’t need to say it, he could already tell that she wished that Victor was not the father of someone else’s child, but Jo’s.


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150 Re: One Step At A Time on Thu 24 May 2012, 11:39 pm

This birthday turned into the worst and best she had like ever. Jo had a hard time keeping the first course down but the fish soup tasted like…

Ass, that’s the taste, maybe some old men feet in it too.

Jo closed her eyes for a moment, under her table she took Liam’s hand, well right after she drew a H on his hand. She wasn’t sure how much longer she could keep it together. And the thought that her mother wanted her to be the mother to Victor Arsehole Gray didn’t make it better.

“Please excuse me.” Jo got up

“Josephine this is your dinner you can’t just get up from the table.” Elizabeth shrieked.

But Jo hurried out of the dining room to have the taste of the soup a second time in her mouth. On normal days Jo hated that her mother disliked her choice husband, but today it was too much. Jo had a minor panic attack while she was puking her guts out.

Meanwhile in the dining room Colin looked at his son-in-law, he had seen this troubled look before to be precise a little over three years ago. “It is alright Elizabeth, Jo didn’t want to trouble you but she had the stomach flu. Please continue my friend I will have a look how Josephine is doing. She wouldn’t want to interrupt this wonderful evening.”

Elizabeth starred at her husband who squeezed Liam’s should to let the boy know everything was okay. He went to the bathroom and found Jo hugging the toilet.

“How far along are you Darling?” Colin asked calmly. Jo went pale and was suddenly really scared.

“Daddy I…” Jo broke off puking again. Colin still knew what Jo wanted to say, he kneeled down and was rubbing circles on her back.

“We better not tell your mother yet, she won’t take the news lightly. I told everyone that you had the stomach flu, I guess that was your planned cover you made up with Liam? I want you to go home.”

“No dad, I’m fine please don’t send me away.”

Colin kissed Jo on the forehead. “I’m not sending you away, but I know that you are worried and scared.”

“Dad please, don’t send me away.”

“Okay but you will take it slow. I will tell the kitchen to make you something stomach friendly. Are you feeling up to coming back or would you like me to send Liam to get you?” Colin brushed her hair out of her face.

“Can you send Liam, please.” Jo sounded meekly.

“Of course.”

Colin got up and smiled at his daughter, he knew she was not ready to be a mother yet but he also knew what a wonderful mom she would be. He went back into the dining room. Colin leaned close to Liam and whisper. “Jo is asking for you.”

Coin sat back down and announced. “Josephine is fine, she will be back soon.”

Jo was sitting on the floor her head on her knees taking slow breath. Hoping to see Liam just for a moment, too many people have found out tonight. She wasn’t ready to announce her pregnancy yet. She was so scared that everyone knew and then she would lose the baby.

“I can’t lose this baby, I love it too much!” Jo whispered to the floor. She wasn’t even sure if she wanted Liam to know this fear.


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