“This is something never before seen by man.” Bill gasped dramatically as he fanned his arms before the mess of crib parts spread out across the living room floor. I was giggling on the couch, surrounded by a mass of pillows and every amenity Bill could think to set up around me so that I wouldn’t move. I even had a network of straws so I didn’t have to lift my head. It was a bit much, but I couldn’t help but love his care giving nature.
“Do you think it would increase or decrease my ability to get laid if the media found out I was helping with this?” Tom grumbled as he held up a complicated jumble of instructions.
It had been a few days since I had gotten home from the hospital, and Bill had gone crazy with baby excitement. The nursery was already painted, half the furniture was sitting in boxes in the living room waiting to be put together and I was forced to watch painstakingly while the boys tinkered with it all from the couch.
“Don’t worry, I totally got this.” Jackie walked in welding a giant screw gun and started laughing and drilling into the air. She had decided to stay an extra week, and I was so grateful.
“Give me that before you poke an eye out.” Tom rolled his eyes and swiped for the gun, but Jackie leapt back before he could take it.
“Like you know how to operate this piece of machinery! I was born with a screw gun in my hand, stand back boys, let me show you how the West was won.”
“I have way more experience screwing than you.” Tom laughed.
“He really isn’t joking.” Bill mumbled while arranging bolts into different piles.
I just continued chewing on my bendy straw with wide eyes, taking the entire situation into perspective.
Tom gave up trying to get the screw gun from Jackie when she threatened his privates with it, and Bill ran into the dining room to answer the phone.
I laughed when I saw Tom putting the crib side on upside down. Jackie was sitting back smiling, waiting to see if she was going to have to correct him or not.
I heard Bills footsteps as he padded back into the room.
“Honey?” I felt Bill slide his arms around me affectionately. He pressed his cheek up to mine, murmuring into the side of my face with soft kisses.
“Would you or the baby like anything to eat or drink?” He finished.
“Mmmm…no I think we still have a gallon of Gatorade, two glasses of milk and three cups of water to chose from my dear.” I smiled as I waived my arm towards the mass quantity of snacks and drinks organized on tables around me.
“Who was on the phone?” I looked up at him as he pulled away, watching the smile freeze on his face.
“Um, the phone?” He was really bad at stalling, I could always tell.
“Yeah, who just called?” I popped a wheat thin in my mouth as I looked up at his innocent expression.
“Oh you know, just the usual.” Then he turned abruptly towards Tom and Jac and resigned himself to sorting screws again.
“Hm. I think I need to pee.” I started shifting forward on the couch and pushing the trays out of my way when all three of them leapt to their feet to help me. Tom pulled trays away, Jac and Bill put their hands under my arms and I just looked at them in bewilderment.
“You guys, I think I can pee without your assistance.” I kindly pushed their hands away and stood up. Bill was hovering around me like I might fall at any moment.
“If you try to follow me in the bathroom, I will seriously enact a pregnant hormonal rage on you.” I shook a finger at him as he followed me down the hallway towards the bathroom.
“The book says that is to be expected.” He smiled at me. “You’re sure you are okay?” His eyes shifted towards my abdomen.
“I just have to pee.”
“But you haven’t had any contractions?”
“Bill. Pregnant people have to pee. A lot.” I put my hand on my hip and raised my eyebrows at him.
“Ok. Well. Just be careful.” He hesitantly turned down the hallway, looking over his shoulder at me in concern as he went back to the living room.
“Ok. I will let you know if any toilet monsters come after me.” I mumbled as I turned on the bathroom light.
When I came back to the living room, three anxious eyes were watching me. I stopped short at their expectant expressions.
Tom dropped his gaze back to the instructions and started rotating the papers and tracing lines with his fingers. Jac sucked her lower lip in, and Bill looked like he might explode with anticipation.
“You guys really need to stop freaking out every time I have to pee. Everything has been fine. Promise. The first time I feel a contraction, you will be the first to know.” I rolled my eyes as Bill tucked me back into the couch.
I stopped him by touching his hand as he turned back to help with the crib.
“I know you have been purposefully avoiding telling me what is going on with Josh, but I would appreciate knowing. I have been really good about staying on the couch and relaxing. Please? I need to know.” I stuck my lower lip out and widened my eyes at the last part in an attempt to garner sympathy.
Bill smirked and let out a sigh. He gingerly picked up my feet and sat down.
“Ok, I know we have all been tip toeing around the subject since you got home from the hospital. You have been a really good sport about not watching TV or going online to see what is going on. We are only trying to protect you and the baby until the situation smooths out a bit more.” He started rubbing my calves gently at the finish of his sentence.
“Does that mean it hasn’t completely blown over yet?” I closed my eyes as I rested my head against the pillows.
I could hear Tom and Jackie start to butt into the conversation at the same time.
“Sorry, go ahead.” I heard Tom say. I opened my eyes and turned my head towards Jackie, I was suddenly exhausted…and hungry.
“I submitted a statement, and then Bill’s reps submitted statements about why you were in the hospital. They asked for privacy and for the fans support. We basically told them you were pregnant with Bill’s baby and that the stress of Josh’s accusations made you sick, but that you were home now on bed rest and that everyone was going to be ok.”
My stomach started growling. I was trying to focus on what she was saying, but I was starting to crave pickles.
“The media seemed to lay off trashing your name and took our word for it. Josh hasn’t said anything for a few days, and the lawyers haven’t gotten back to us about the slander charges.” Tom finished as he slid together two more crib side panels.
“So everything is smoothing out.” Bill finished as he patted my legs.
Pickles, that was all I could think about. Salmon sounded amazing, but then again, I could totally go for spaghetti right now too. Spaghetti and pickles.
“Jessi?” Bill was trying to read my expression. “Are you okay?”
“Do we have any pickles?”
Bill and Tom were gaping at me when I looked up from my third plate of spaghetti.
“Did someone say we had pickles?” I looked around the countertop as my stomach growled again, then my eyes lit up and I looked excitedly at the twins, “Skittles! I want skittles so bad! Do we have any skittles?”
“Well, congratulations Bill, it’s definitely your child.” Tom slapped Bill on the back as Bill turned towards him with a glare.
“I can go get skittles.” Jac volunteered from the stove top. She was stirring another pot of spaghetti noodles.
Bill and Tom exchanged a glance.
“We will send out one of the temporary assistants, it’s okay Jac.” Bill smiled as she turned around with the spoon still in her hand.
“You sure, I totally don’t mind.” She looked like the perfect housewife with one hand on her hip, her cheeks rosy from the steam and a wooden spoon in her hand.
“We would rather you continue cooking our dinner since Jessi ate the entire first batch.” Tom smiled at me as took a bite of a pickle.
“Sowwy.” I said between crunches. I had to pee again. The twins watched me warily as I stood up and smoothed out my pajama pants.
“I will be right back, I have to go see a man about a horse.” I smiled at Jackie as she rolled her eyes. Bill eyed me warily but didn’t try following me out of the kitchen. Tom just looked uncomfortable.
I walked through the dining room and stopped when I heard movement in the living room. Deciding it was my imagination I continued my trek to the bathroom.
I felt edgy as I walked into the living room. I couldn’t shake the feeling that someone was watching me. I almost turned around and ran back into the kitchen but decided I was letting my imagination get the best of me. I trudged down the hallway and clicked on the bathroom light. I did my business and fixed a wayward hair or two in the mirror before washing my hands and stepping back into the hallway.
I saw him lunge out of the hallway shadows out of the corner of my eye, but he had his hand over my mouth before I could get a full scream out. One hand covered my mouth and nose and another wrapped around my mid section, lifting me off the ground. I was being half carried, half dragged towards the doors at the end of the hallway, the doors that led outside. I threw my head from side to side in a desperate attempt to break his hold, I couldn’t breathe with his tight grip over my nose and mouth. I tried shrieking with my mouth closed and kicking my legs. I hit nothing but air. Then I brought my feet down as hard as I could into his legs, nailing him in the shins. I heard him grunt and his grip loosened on my face. I sucked in a deep breath and screamed as loud as I could before he recovered his grip.
“You shouldn’t have done that you little b*tch.” A rough voice raked across my ear. My heart was pounding in my chest as I realized I recognized the Russian accent. I heard shouts from the kitchen. The outside chill hit my back as my captor pulled me through the door and wrenched my struggling form towards a car in the driveway. I kicked and struggled against his grip with all my might but he opened the door, and shoved me in. I frantically pulled at the door handles as Bill and Tom ran outside just in time to watch the car drive away.
I was still pulling at the door handles and trying to roll down the window in the car when a large pair of hands pulled mine from the door.
“You’re just going to hurt yourself trying. Stay put.” I looked up into the eyes of the Russian security escort that took me to meet Bill so many months ago. I was trembling all over.
“I’m pregnant. Please just stop the car and let me out. Please.” I was desperately trying not to start crying as I looked back at him. I instinctively put my hand to my abdomen.
“We aren’t going far. Just relax. We will take you home in no time.” He gave me his best fake smile, but I didn’t feel any better. I didn’t believe a word he was saying.
“I thought you worked for Bill. Why are you doing this? Where are you taking me?” I was mentally trying to do some breathing exercises to keep myself calm. I was supposed to be on bed rest, not getting kidnapped!
“Don’t worry about it. It won’t be long till you are reunited with your husband.” The way he said husband made my heart drop a little. He wasn’t referring to Bill.
“My husband?” I gulped.
“Yes, we are picking him up to. Your flight leaves in an hour. You can’t imagine how difficult it was to get all of this set up for you.” He smiled back at me.
A feeling of dread overtook me. A flight? My husband? Reunited? He was completely delusional! I was trying my best not to have a full on anxiety attack. I had to think of the baby. The baby. I dropped my eyes to my belly and tried to calm myself. Think of the baby, think of the baby.
He stopped the car about an hour later at an abandoned warehouse in the countryside. I tried to ignore the feeling of dread that lurked in my stomach. I was in the middle of nowhere, with a delusional ex-bodyguard who thought this was an airport where I was supposed to meet my husband. I gave a silent prayer as he ushered me out of the car.
“Don’t try anything stupid now, we just have to get in the terminal and then you and your husband can catch your flight.” He looked wildly from side to side as he ushered me towards the old rustic doors of the warehouse. He moved one hand from side to side as if he was pushing back a crowd.
“The paparazzi knew we would be here.” He mumbled to himself as he continued to push back the pretend crowd. I continued praying as he wrenched open the doors. Even if I made a run for it, there was nowhere for me to go. All I could do was hope that someone would find me, soon.
There was a small table and couch set up in the warehouse. The interior was actually decorated and it appeared that someone had been living here.
“This is your terminal miss. Just wait here, your husband will be here soon.” He ushered me over to the couch and sat me down. I looked around to see if there was a phone, or anything I could use to tell someone where I was.
We sat in silence for a good fifteen minutes after I sat down. He stood stalk still staring down at the table with a blank expression on his face while I tried to keep myself calm. Both of our heads shot up at the sound of tires in the driveway.
“Your husband is here.” He stated matter of factly. He went back to staring at the table.
“My husband?” I watched the door in dread as I heard footsteps approaching. My heartbeat was coming in sporadic flutters.
My mouth fell open when the door opened.
“Josh?!” I stood up in astonishment as my low life ex-boyfriend walked in the door.
“Honey!” He exclaimed as he walked forward with outstretched arms.
I waited until he was about to wrap his arms around me before I decked him. He staggered back, anger crossing his features as he realized what just happened. The bodyguard was still staring at the table.
Josh whipped his head up and glared at me. “I can see you are going to make this difficult, honey.” He practically spat the word at me as he walked forward again. I cowered at the malice on his face. He stopped reaching for me when I recoiled.
“Jessi, you know I wouldn’t actually hurt you.” He whispered, feigning concern at my fear.
“Josh I am pregnant, and you are endangering my child with your shenanigans. I am supposed to be on bed rest! What are you doing?” I threw my hands up as the anger got the best of me. I turned my head as tears welled in my eyes and looked around the warehouse before glaring back at him. I had to keep my hormones under control if I was going to negotiate my release.
“I know you want me. I know you are only with him because you can’t be with me. You wouldn’t return my phone calls, so I had to take matters into my own hands.” Josh was pleading with me now. He was rubbing his chin with one hand and cautiously reaching for me with his other.
“Josh, I don’t want anything to do with you. I want Bill. I love Bill. You forfeited any right to be with me when you slept with Holly. We have barely spoken since I left you. This is crazy. Josh, this is kidnapping! And what are you talking about ‘I ignored your phone calls?’ You have never called me.” I was shrinking away as he walked towards me now, slapping at his hand as he reached for me. He was stalking me across the warehouse, like a predator plays with its prey.
“Jessi, I made a huge mistake. I see that now. I know you are only making up this pregnant story. You love me. I know you love me. You always loved me, no matter what you always loved me. I have been calling your house for the past few days begging to meet with you, but they wouldn’t let me talk to you.” He had walked me into a corner now. I didn’t really know where I could go to escape him, I looked around desperately for an escape route. Then I saw the bathroom.
Josh reached up and stroked my cheek. I tried not to vomit.
“Jess, you know I love you. Just relax.” My eyes widened as he leaned forward, closing the gap between our bodies and pushing me against the wall. I instinctively pushed against his chest with my hands and turned my head.
“Josh, I have to pee. Where is the bathroom?” He sighed, completely caught off guard by my request.
“Over there.” He pointed to the far side of the warehouse towards a door that sat ajar. “We can continue this conversation when you get done.” He glanced me once over before he turned away and strode over to the couches. I breathed a shaky sigh of relief as I walked to the bathroom. I closed the door and slid the latch across the lock. I would never fit through the tiny window above the toilet. I stepped up, trying to ignore my shaking limbs and tried prying the slider open. It budged an inch. I pushed again with all my might. Another inch. I sighed. This was going to take a while…I looked down at the sink and got an idea. I squirted the soap along the seams of the window. It wasn’t WD-40, but it was better than nothing. Then I started wrenching at the window again. Another four inches, it was halfway open when I heard a knock on the door.
“Everything okay in there?” I hear Josh call through the door. He was jiggling the handle.
“Yeah, yeah everything is fine. Just a little indigestion.” I rolled my eyes as he jiggled the handle again.
“I will be out in a minute.” My heart was racing. I might have to abandon my attempt and come back in a while for round two. I stepped down from the toilet and flushed the handle for authenticity.
I stepped out and walked past Josh without looking up. Hopefully he wouldn’t go in the bathroom and see the window half open. I said a silent prayer and walked towards the couches, hoping he would follow me.
I breathed a sigh of relief when he sat down next to me.
“We need to talk this through.” He was looking at me eagerly. “I know we can work through this, we can work through anything.”
“Josh, I love Bill. I don’t love you. At all…I am having Bill’s baby. What you are doing is illegal and I want you to take me home.” I pleaded with him, putting as much emphasis as I could on Bill’s name.
“Now you are just being ridiculous.” He sighed and ran his hands through his hair. “I am trying to reason with you. To tell you my feelings and you can’t even be open minded.”
I stared at him dumbfounded. He had lost his mind. I looked back over to the Russian, who looked back up at me from the table.
“Your husband is here.” He mumbled absent-mindedly before staring back at the table.
I looked back at Josh in horror. I mouthed ‘is he ok?’ and pointed at the Russian.
Josh just kinda rolled his eyes, then made a motion to indicate a head injury. Great. I was stuck in a remote warehouse with my delusional ex-boyfriend and a brain-dead ex-bodyguard. Fantastic.
“Are you hungry? I made sure there were provisions here. I remembered how much you loved wheat thins.” Josh stood up and walked over to a wall of cabinets. It was the first time I noticed that the warehouse actually had a full kitchen.
“No, thank you.” My stomach growled in protest. I sighed, “Yeah, wheat thins sound great, do you have any water?” I watched Josh pour me a glass of water and pull out a box of wheat thins. I popped one in my mouth as he sat down on the couch across from me.
“Look. I know I messed up with the whole Holly thing. I made a mistake. I am not perfect. But think about what we are throwing away before you run off and marry some guy for his money.” Josh was pleading earnestly as I tried not to choke on my cracker.
“Josh, wow, first of all, I am not marrying Bill for his money. I love him. Second, yeah, you really messed up and I could never trust you again after what you did. Also, that whole fiasco made me realize I was in love with a lie. I moved here to escape you. I want nothing to do with you. What you are doing right now is called kidnapping. You kidnapped me and my unborn child, and you are holding me against my will. I want to go home. The cops are probably looking for you, and if you take me home right now I won’t press charges.” I tried keeping my voice from shaking as I finished my speech.
Josh looked down at the table in silence. It seemed like forever before he looked back up at me, with tears in his eyes. I watched indignantly as one rolled silently down his cheek. He wiped a hand across his quivering chin then looked back down at his feet again.
“Holly left me cause I am still in love with you, and now you want to marry another man.” His voice was shaking and he looked like a lost little boy.
“Josh, I am sorry. I am sorry, but I don’t love you. Maybe you can still work things out with Holly.” I felt sorry for him as I watched him cry on the sofa. He looked so lost, so utterly lost in himself.
“You don’t love me.” He was sobbing now, wiping his nose on his sleeve like a child. I finished my glass of water. It was dark outside now, and the only light in the warehouse was coming from the soft low lights he had on in the kitchen. They left dark shadows across his face as he looked back at me.
“No Josh, I don’t love you.” I straightened in my seat, clutching my empty glass of water.
Josh stood up and walked to the room across from the sitting area. I hadn’t noticed but it appeared to be a bedroom. He had stopped crying and was cleaning up his face. He disappeared in the room for a few minutes before returning.
“The beds in through that door, I will take the couch. But tomorrow night we sleep together, I am only granting you your personal space tonight so you can think about what you’ve done.” He pointed to the door he just came from and motioned for me to go to bed. “We can talk about this more tomorrow.”
I stood up, stunned by his sudden change in demeanor. I walked to the bedroom to find a blowup mattress on the floor in the corner. I tossed the blankets across the bed and sat down. I looked around to see if there was a window I could get to, but the closest window was a good 12 feet in the air. I sighed in defeat. My only hope of escape was the tiny bathroom window. I only hoped that Josh would fall asleep soon so I could attempt to open it again without any interruptions.
I leaned back against my make shift bed and wrapped my hands across my tummy.
“If I can escape the paparazzi I can escape my idiotic ex-boyfriend. Somehow.” I whispered to the ceiling. His words lingered on my mind as I stared at the ceiling, ‘tomorrow night we sleep together.’ A chill swept across my arms and I pulled the blankets closer.