Hello, !

See, I told you I'd get these out every week. I've been getting some great feedback and last week someone guessed where the storyline was headed. Good job! 

So originally, I thought we'd end up with about ten episodes, but depending on how you lovers vote this week, it could change. We may need an additional four episodes. This is the point of the story where I really have no idea what's going to happen next. It's exciting, isn't it?  

If you've missed any episodes, you can get them all here:

My Two Husbands Episodes 1-7

If you don't remember what happened in episode 7, here's a quick recap (WARNING! Spoilers from Ep. 7!!):

After Natalie's stress-reducing snickers bar, she drives home to sing, "hit the road, Jake!" Only, when she gets there, he's already packing his things. Is this the last day she'll live with two husbands? 

Back in the past . . .

Natalie and Jake are expanding their family with . . . you guessed it, a puppy! Little do they know their new family of three will soon become four. Find out how the pregnancy goes now on My Two Husbands- Episode Eight!

Episode Eight

NOW

I watch Jake quietly from my upstairs window as he loads the last box into the bed of his truck. This is it. He’s really moving out. Kyle’s white Audi pulls up in the driveway next to him.

What’s he doing home this early?

I tuck behind the curtain in my home office in case they can see me. My two husbands stand in the driveway, having what looks like a normal conversation. At least it looks normal from here, but unless I open the window I can’t hear anything they’re saying. My heart races as I watch the scene unfold. What are they talking about? Kyle nods, his hands are firmly on his hips, a stance he takes more with colleagues and less with good friends. Jake, as usual, talks with his hands and a soft expression. Finally, Kyle offers his hand and Jake takes it, pulling him in for a manly, but genuine, hug.

Hmm. Whatever it was couldn’t have been that bad. Jake waves goodbye and hops in his truck, and Kyle casually heads toward the house, not turning back to see him leave. I rush back to my home office. My heart pounds like a kid who’s just changed the channel from HBO to Nickelodeon before their parents walk in the room. Ridiculous, I know. I slam my butt on my chair, slightly panting and pretend to work diligently on a listing. Real estate is the farthest thing from my mind.

The front door squeaks open. Lily’s welcoming barks reverberate through the entire house, the sound of her nails clack against the hardwood floor. After a few moments, Kyle calls up the stairs. “Natalie, are you home?”

“Yes!” I yell. “In the office.”

Kyle’s footsteps draw up the steps and nearer down the hall. I take a deep breath, hoping to release my tense shoulders and dry my damp palms. He leans against the doorway and I swivel around in my chair to face him. “Are you working at home today?”

“Yeah, Lily was acting kind of off this morning, so I wanted to stay here with her.”

The sixty-pound chocolate lab walks in behind him and lies on the floor with a short-lived whimper. It’s just as pitiful as it was when she was a puppy. Kyle leans down and pats her head. “She seems okay to me.”

He’s right. She’s just fine. But what other reason would I have for staying home while Jake packed his things?

“It’s subtle,” I say. “A mom knows these types of things.” Lily is my daughter for sure. She’s probably the only baby I’ll ever have, so I feel a twinge of guilt for giving her a phony issue.

“So what are you doing home so early?” I ask.

He shrugs, giving me a look like he doesn’t have to explain shit. “Well, you know I went in early this morning, so I figured I’d give myself a little break. I didn’t exactly sleep much last night.” Jake moved out, but I think he’s still pissed. But then his cold stare softens. “So Jake’s gone already.”

“Yeah,” I say, lowering my eyes. “It happened pretty quickly.”

“That’s good. I’m glad he didn’t make a big deal out of it. He seems fine. Good even.”

“Oh!” I widen my eyes, forcing a surprised look. “You talked to him?”

“Yeah, I caught him just before he left.” Kyle pauses, glancing around the office and taking in a deep, audible breath. “I have to admit. It feels really good knowing that he’s gone.”

I’m not quite there yet, but I’m sure I will be soon. “Yeah, I feel the same way.”

My husband hints at a smile. If I wasn’t scrutinizing his expression so closely, I might’ve missed it. “Thank you for taking care of that. I know it probably wasn’t an easy conversation.”

Actually, it wasn’t a conversation at all.

“Like you said, he’s good.”

“Good, I think we can move on now,” he says and a spark of hope lights my insides—hope that he’s talking about moving on from what I said.

“Does that mean I can sleep next to you again?” I ask.

He nods. “Of course. You’re my wife after all.” It’s not the warm, come-around I was hoping for, but at least I’m back in my bed.

***

Kyle and I don’t get much sleep that night either. No, we did not make love into the wee hours of the morning like in some nineties R&B song. Instead, the sounds of Lily’s cries from downstairs carry throughout the house. She’s been at the back door for hours.  

 “Do you think she’s sick?” Kyle asks in a groggy voice.

“I don’t know.” I throw the covers off of me. “I’ll go check on her.”

When I get downstairs, Lily’s pawing at the glass door. This is not her usual need-to-go-potty-behavior but I let her out anyway. The concrete is warm against my bare feet and the sticky air clings to my skin like a wet bathing suit. I keep my eyes on Lily as she walks through the yard and up the stairs to the loft. She stops in front of the door, letting out a mournful howl.

Oh no. She misses Jake.

I climb the steps and open the unlocked door. The loft is dark and cold compared to everywhere else. Even though all of our furniture is still in there, it feels empty. I flip on the light and Lily moves quickly through the loft. When she can’t find him, she finds me, and whines just like she did when she was a baby.

I close the door and sit on the cool tile floor, pulling her in. I’ll never forget that first night we got her. How she cried throughout the entire night. How much I regretted getting a puppy the next morning. Back then, she just missed her littermates. And now she misses her daddy. “I know, baby,” I say, looking into her now gray-blue eyes. “I miss him too.” And the surprising thing is, I really do. Because I can’t help but feel like he won’t be in my life much longer. I know after everything, he shouldn’t be but it doesn’t make it any easier.

***

The next day at the office after my third cup of coffee, I let out yet another yawn. Maybe I’ll send Lily over to Jake’s tonight. Though, I’m not sure where he’s staying and if it’s dog-friendly. I blink my eyes open and lightly slap my face. What I wouldn’t give for a nap right now.

My desk phone rings. It’s Marissa. “Yes?” I answer.

“Your husband’s here to see you.”

Huh? What’s Kyle doing here? Everything seemed fine this morning. “Okay, send him in.”

I rise on my three-inch pumps, straighten my blazer, and smile as much as I can muster in my tired state. The door opens, but it’s not the husband I was expecting. It’s Jake.

I squish my brow. “What are you doing here?”

He let’s out a little chuckle. “Nice to see you too.”

“Sorry, Marissa said . . . never mind. Is everything okay?”

“I’m not sure.” He approaches me with a slightly confrontational stance. “I had an interesting conversation with Kyle yesterday.”

I gulp hard. “What do you mean?”

“He said something about you talking to me about moving out, then apologized. He wanted to make sure that he and I were still good.”

Uh-oh.

What if Kyle knows that I didn’t actually ask Jake to move out? “What did you say?”

“I played it off, said that I understood.”

I breathe a sigh of relief but Jake narrows his eyes.

“We’re you coming home yesterday to ask me to move out?”

Well, so much for getting away scot-free. “Um,” I wring my hands together. “Yes.”

He rolls his eyes and lets out an annoyed grunt. “Why didn’t you just tell me that?”

“Because you were already moving out. Why make it worse?”

“I see. You don’t want me to know why you were kicking me out. This is what your argument was about, wasn’t it? You wanted me out and Kyle fought you on it.”

“No.” I shake my head at his ridiculous theory. If he only knew.

Jake furiously furrows his brow and it’s like we’re married again . . . on the brink of divorce. “I thought you said you didn’t hate me!”

“I don’t hate you! We just thought it was time for you to move out, with the new job and everything.”

We? So Kyle wanted me out too?”

I clench my jaw. I’m definitely going to need a snickers after this. “Yes, but he cares about you and didn’t want to hurt your feelings.”

He shifts his eyes as if putting the pieces together. “So Kyle wanted me out but you didn’t?”

Geez, can’t he just let it go? “It’s complicated.”

“Then explain it to me.”

I don’t think so. “No, Jake. It’s none of your business.”

“Look, I screwed up. Then I lived with you guys for six months and everything was cool. Then one day it’s not. Just . . . I need to know where I stand with you guys. Please, Quinn.”

I rub my face so hard I’m sure I’ve skewed my makeup. “Okay, fine. But if I tell you, you have to promise that you will never. Ever. Ever! Repeat what I’m going to say.”

He wets his mouth like it’s gone dry. “Okay.”

Why am I doing this? “The other night when we went out, I had a little too much to drink,” I pause.

“Yeah, I was there.”

Heat creeps up my cheeks like a bad fever. “Well, after we got home, Jake and I went upstairs.”

He shakes his head. “Spare me the details, please.”

“And I kinda, sorta, accidentally said your name . . . instead of his.”

Jake’s brows shoot up to the tip-top of his forehead. “Whoa! I was not expecting that.”

I can’t look at him when I say, “Yeah, neither was I.”

“Kyle must’ve been pretty pissed.”

“It wasn’t his favorite moment.”

Jake nods with a little smirk. “Okay, I get it. Thanks, Quinn.” He turns for the door.

“Wait! You’re not going to say anything, are you? Things are already tense with Kyle. You better not make it worse.”

He shakes his head. “Don’t worry. Some of us actually know how to keep our mouths shut.”

 

THEN

 

We lost the baby in the first trimester. When it happened, I had just gotten over the shock that I was pregnant in the first place. Seeing as I was in my mid-twenties and not at all prepared for a baby, I should’ve been relieved. But I wasn’t. And neither was Jake.

Especially since, in those last few weeks, all we could talk about was raising our child. They were the kind of conversations that were practical but also romantic—like where you want to retire or go for your honeymoon. Aside from whether or not the baby should be baptized—Jake isn’t a practicing Catholic, but said that it’s better to be safe than sorry—we agreed on pretty much everything. We didn’t start out looking for parenthood, other than parenting a dog, but it found us. And we liked the idea.

So once the dust settled after the loss, we decided to try again. If I got pregnant on the pill, how much easier would it be to get pregnant off of it? We were right. It wasn’t long before Jake and I stared down at a stick I’d peed on with two bright lines on it. Only this time I didn’t freak out. I felt good. Happy. I was carrying Jake’s baby. Plus we kept it a secret for the first three months, which was kind of fun, since we often had to get creative.

I’ll never forget when we got to see him on the ultrasound for the first time. Yep, a boy! Despite the blurry picture, I could tell that he was going to have Jake’s nose. We picked a name. Marco. Jake had already painted Marco’s room a beautiful sea blue because it had the baby’s name in the color. I had a decent sized baby bump and just updated my wardrobe with hangers of elastic-waist pants.

By the next doctor visit, the baby had died. Just like that. I never even got to feel him kick. Thankfully, I was early enough in my pregnancy that they could take the baby instead of me having to deliver him. Up until that point, it was the saddest I’d ever been. Delivering a stillborn would have been unbearable.

After that, Jake and I didn’t have sex for almost two months. He didn’t know it, but I had already gone back on the pill. I knew, even after all that, he’d want to try again. Part of me wanted to try again too, but how could I? Two miscarriages in a row? Sure, Jake and I had suffered some tough luck, but I wasn’t about to add a third miscarriage to the list. It all came to a head one night after dinner.

“I think you should repaint the ba—”I stopped myself, “the spare bedroom.”

His brow flinched. “Why?”

“Because every time I look at it, I think of him. We got that stupid color because it was called Marco Polo Blue. I just . . .” I held back tears. “I need it gone.”

“Okay, I’ll get one of the guys to take care of it,” he agreed but I could feel that he didn’t want to. Not yet.

“Thank you,” I said. “We should probably just turn it into a home gym or a separate office.”

“Or we could keep it empty just in case.”

“In case what?”

Jake reached for my hand. “In case we get pregnant again.”

“No, I can’t do that again.”

“Quinn—”

“No!” Tears puddled in my eyes. “I’m sorry. I know you want a baby but I just . . . I just can’t.” My voice cracked. Jake rushed over and wrapped me tightly in his arms. If only they could insulate me from the pain. But he couldn’t. Nothing could.

The next morning, the house smelled of fresh latex paint. That was months ago now and nothing’s been the same since.

I float in our cool pool, gazing up at the sky. There isn’t a cloud in sight. It’s like the hot sun has burned them all away. I fill my lungs with air, keeping my body afloat as my mind wanders. I wonder what’s next for me. What’s next for us?

The patio door slides open and I flip around in the water.

“I’m leaving for work,” Jake says.

I wipe the chlorinated water off my face. “Okay, what do you want to do for dinner? I was thinking Thai.”

“I’m gonna meet some of the guys at the bar, so eat whatever you want.” 

At least now he admits he’s going to the bar. Until recently, he would claim he was working late, then crawl into bed close to midnight, reeking of sex on the beach cocktails. Things have been so off between us that I almost don’t care that he doesn’t come home. Almost. Of course it means that I’m the only one left taking care of Lily. Sometimes I wonder if my miscarriages were a blessing in disguise. Maybe he wouldn’t be as great of a dad as I’d thought.

It’s awful to say, I know. Especially because I know he’s still heart broken over the baby. I am too. But I let myself grieve and I don’t think he really did. I think he just buried it, hoping it would go away. And since it hasn’t, he’s just drowning it out with alcohol. I get it. I’ve drowned my sorrows in some bottles of wine with Sloan too. But not like him.

I even called Kyle last week, but he told me that he’s been keeping an eye on Jake and that he’s certain my husband will be sick of liquor any day now. I hope so. It’s bad enough we lost our baby. I don’t want to lose each other too.

***

It’s barely seven o’clock when Jake walks in the kitchen. I’ve just dumped a container of pad thai on my plate. Maybe Kyle was right.

“Hey, what are you doing home?” I ask with a slight smile.  

“I want to talk to you about something.” He’s lit up. Not in a drunk sort of way, but like he’s excited about something. I haven’t seen this look on his face for months.

“Okay, what is it?” I take a seat at the table and he joins me.

“You know how Tim moved his business to Vegas?” he asks with an eager tone.

“Yeah.” Tim is Jake’s old boss. When Vegas started expanding years ago, he saw an opportunity and went for it. I’m pretty sure he’s got an eight-figure business going now.

“Well, he needs some help. Help he can trust. He wants to hire my company to supplement until the development is finished. The money would be ridiculous.”

Wow, he’s actually sober. And excited. “That sounds like an intriguing opportunity but how would that even work?” Please don’t say we have to move to Vegas. Because there’s no way I’m giving up my business.

“I’d move some of my best guys out there. I’d have to be gone for a couple of months at first, but then I only need to drop in every few weeks once I get them set up.”

I wish he could get this excited about something closer to home. “So you’d be gone for two months?” What am I a navy wife now?

“Yeah, but I’d come and visit. You could come to Vegas. The time would fly by like that.” He snaps his fingers.

“Okay, but how are you going to afford to move these guys and hire new ones?”

He scoots his chair closer to mine. “Well, that’s the tricky part.”

“Tricky?” I don’t like the sound of that.

“Kind of. I was hoping that I could borrow the money we’ve been saving for your commercial property.”

My stomach tightens and I almost choke on my noodles. “What? You need all of it?” I’ve been saving for years to buy a commercial building and start my own real estate firm. Jake’s been contributing too since we got married and now I’m so close to having enough.

He takes my hand and I feel like it’s the first time we’ve touched in weeks. “Yes but I just need to borrow it. The return is going to be four times as much. So it’s not even so much a loan as an investment. A short-term investment”

“How long?”

“I’m not really sure. But based on my conversation with Tim, it should be within a year.”

I chew on my bottom lip. This is a lot to process. Jake’s basically just told me that he wants to take my money and run. “Won’t you lose business here?”

He shakes his head. “No. Dave can run things while I’m gone. It’ll be fine. With the new hires, we can still get all of our scheduled jobs done.” Jake’s been mentoring Dave to be his right hand. The guy means well, but I’m not sure he’s capable of supervising in Jake’s absence. “Quinn, I understand why you’re hesitant but I wouldn’t do this if I wasn’t absolutely sure. Think about it. I could expand my business to Nevada. This could change everything for us. Who knows, maybe we could even retire in fifteen years.” Of course he would argue that. He knows how badly I want to retire at forty.

I’m just not sure if this is a good financial opportunity or a good opportunity to run away from everything. “Can I think about it?”

 

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Amanda Aksel

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