Hello, !

Oh, man! I had the most AMAZING time last weekend at the Florida Nature and Culture Center in Weston, FL. I was totally inspired! So I've been in a fabulous place to write this week's episode!

If you voted last week, then you know that we see Jake and Natalie get Lily in the past. So much of the story is reminiscent of when I got my little angel, Lani. But when Lani couldn't stop crying that first night (the entire night), I was sure I'd made a HUGE MISTAKE! It turned out well for me, but will Jake and Natalie have the same luck? 

Before we get to it, I just wanted to announce that the winner of the signed proof copy of Lingerie on the Floor was Mary O.! 

Congratulations Mary!!

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

My Two Husbands Episodes 1-6

If you don't remember what happened in episode 6, here's a quick recap (WARNING! Spoilers from Ep. 6!!):

Kyle lays it all on the line. The only way Natalie can make up for what she . . . said, is to ask Jake to move out. Easier said than done.

Back in the past . . .

Natalie and Jake have been together for over a year when they finally tie the knot. It's just a simple justice of the peace wedding, but you can totally feel their love. 

Now it's time to fast forward to Jake and Natalie adding to their family. Can they handle a puppy or two? Find out now on My Two Husbands- Episode Seven!

Episode Seven

NOW

When I pull up in my driveway, Jake’s carrying a large brown box toward his truck.  Looks a lot like a moving box. Huh? Forgetting about my purse, phone, and candy wrapper, I get out of the car and hurry over. More boxes are piled on top of each other in his truck bed.

Jake doesn’t say anything. But his cold look says it all. He places the box on top of the others, then turns back toward the house.

I follow him. “What are you doing?”

“What does it look like I’m doing? I’m moving out.”

“Why?” Did Kyle change his mind and get to him before I could? Or did I piss him off that much this morning?

He marches straight ahead. “It’s time, Natalie.”

Natalie? Has he ever called me Natalie before? I can’t remember. “Is this about this morning? Because I’m sorry about what I said. You caught me at a bad time.”

“Yeah, no kidding,” he scoffs. “You were right though. I need my own place.” I can’t argue that. Especially not now. “I’m sick of pretending anyway.”

My heart thuds in my chest. What does that mean? “Pretending what?” I’m one step behind him up the stairs to the air-conditioned loft.

He still won’t look at me. “Pretending that it’s okay that my ex-wife is married to my best friend, and that we’re all living together like some happy family.”

It’s not until those words leave his mouth that I even consider that maybe I’ve been pretending too—pretending for Kyle, for him, and myself. “I thought you were fine with all of this. Why didn’t you say anything before?”

Jake opens one of his drawers and begins tossing its contents into one of the boxes. “I don’t know,” he shakes his head, lowering it almost shamefully. “I was fresh out of rehab. And I had screwed things up with both of you so royally, that I wanted you two to be happy whatever that meant. When Kyle suggested I live here, I was relieved because I know that you two weren’t going to disappear on me when I needed you the most.” By the grip Jake has on the edge of the box, I can tell this is difficult for him to admit to himself let alone say out loud.

I sink down onto the sofa, a long frown pulling down the corners of my mouth. Jake always acted like he got it. Like he accepted it. I had no idea he struggled with it this much.

“Head’s up,” he says and I look up. Jake tosses a candy bar my way and I catch it in the air. “You look like you need this.”

I stare at the unopened snickers bar in my hand and let out a sigh. “Thanks but I already had one today.”

“Why? Because I saw you naked?” he asks, a much lighter tone filters his voice.

Heat creeps up my cheeks when he says it. Talk about bad luck. I shake my head. “No. Kyle and I had a fight.”

He leans back against the dresser and folds his arms. “That’s surprising. You two looked pretty happy together last night.”

Now my cheeks are on fire. Jake still has no idea what happened last night. What I said to potentially jeopardize things with my husband.

“What was the fight about?” he asks.

Why did I open my big mouth again? I guess when you’re used to telling someone everything for years and years it’s kinda hard to break the habit. I don’t look at him, just grit my teeth wishing it weren’t weird or wrong to tell him everything.

He goes back to packing. “Never mind. It’s none of my business.”

When Jake did what he did, I hated him. He hurt me so badly that I wanted him to feel what I felt—the rage, the injustice, the insecurity that starved me of any happiness for months. Before you even go there, that is not why I married Kyle. But it is why I hired the best lawyer in the city. Back then I wanted him to feel as much pain as I was suffering, but now that I see him hurting—I don’t like it.

“Jake,” I call and he turns to me. “Do you hate me?”

He looks at me for a moment like he doesn’t want to say—yes, I hate you. But then his expression softens and he shakes his head. “No, I don’t hate you. I don’t think I’m capable of hating you.”

That’s good to know, I guess. “I don’t hate you either,” I offer, just to clear the air.

He chuckles, offering a much-needed break in the tense moment. “You sure about that, Quinn?”

I narrow my eyes and pitch the candy bar at his chest and he catches it like a fastball. “I’ll let you pack.” I stand up and walk toward the door glancing around the loft. Cleared off shelves and counters. No linens on the bed. He’s really leaving. This is the end.

“Wait.”

When I turn around, Jake’s coming toward me with open arms and he wraps them around me. My arms slowly curl around his back as he holds me in a tight embrace. I hold my breath until I can’t anymore. Then, I take a deep inhale of him. He smells and feels exactly the way he did when we met, when we got married, when we . . .

He moves his head and for a moment my heart races. Is he going to kiss me? His lips just barely graze the hair covering my ear. “I know I didn’t do the right thing by you—by us. And I will regret that for the rest of my life. But I appreciate everything you’ve done for me. I just want you to know that.”

 

THEN

 

“Look at her, Jake. She’s so cute.” A small sleeping chocolate lab lies on my chest as Jake turns onto our street. Her sweet, soft breath tickles my skin.

He glances over and touches my cheek. “Yes, very cute.”

The car pulls up the driveway of our new house. The one we closed on about six months ago. The one with white stucco and Spanish style roof, an extra bedroom, screened in pool, and the big fenced in yard—the perfect place for a growing labrador. Keeping the new puppy close to my chest, I climb out of the car while Jake unloads all of our new pet supplies. She stirs on my chest, letting out a whimpering cry.

“Oh, no. Why is she crying?” I ask, petting her little head.

“She’s okay. She’s just missing her litter mates.”

I frown. That’s so sad. This little puppy’s lived with her mommy and brothers and sisters her whole nine-week life. Then Jake and I just took her away. If only she could understand English so I can explain it to her. “How long do you think she’ll be sad for?”

He shrugs. “She should get used to us in a few days. Puppies are pretty adaptable.”

“I wish we could have taken all those little dogs home,” I say.

“I know, but little dogs turn into big dogs, with big appetites that need a big budget.”

The little lab continues to cry. “Maybe we should go back and get one more. We can just have two.” I’ve never had a dog before but how hard can it be? Walk them, play with them, feed them, and let them snuggle with you. Easy!

Jake shoots me a placating smile. “Let’s just see how this goes, then we can think about getting another one. C’mon let’s take her outside.”

Jake and I walk out onto the screened in patio and open the door to the yard. I place the little dog down in the grass and she sniffs around, walking like she’s still trying to learn the skill.

“What should we name her?” I ask Jake, keeping my eyes on my new baby.

“I was thinking snickers since she’s a chocolate lab.”

I tilt my head considering it. “That’s really cute. Snickers!” I call out to her. She doesn’t acknowledge my call in the least. I twist my mouth. “I don’t think that’s it. Doesn’t feel right.”

“What about Daenerys?” he suggests, bouncing his brows.

I shake my head. No way I’m naming my dog after a character on a TV show that barely has two seasons. Jake’s never even read the books. “The right name will come to us. For now, I’m just gonna call her Puppy. Come on, Puppy! Let’s go inside, mommy has to pee now.” I clap my hands and wave for the puppy to follow me and she does. We spend the rest of the evening just watching her do her little adorable doggy things. I never knew an animal could be so engaging. Especially when all she does is play, eat, sleep, and cry sometimes. Is this what motherhood is like? Not so bad.

That night, we put the puppy in her little crate next to our bed hoping she knows what bedtime and beauty sleep is. She lies down without a sound and I breathe a sigh of relief. Good, she gets it. That’s my girl.

But as soon as the lights go out, she whimpers again. And let me tell you, it’s louder in the dark. I reach my hand down, poking my fingers into the crate. “Shh, it’s okay Puppy. We’re right here.”

Jake yawns and rubs my back. “She’ll go to sleep eventually.”

I lay on my belly with my arm stretched out in front of the puppy. Jake goes to sleep eventually but the dog does not. And neither do I. The crying hasn’t stopped for more than a few minutes over the last hour and a half. Surely, she’s exhausted herself by now. Maybe I should put her in bed with me. Then again, I’m not crazy about dog pee on my Egyptian cotton sheets.

At some point, I finally drift off to sleep. Then the damn dog’s cry wakes me up again. This time, I don’t take it lying down but take her outside. I rub my eyes and let out a yawn. It’s almost ten minutes before she goes and several hours past my bedtime. Jake doesn’t wake up once and by six a.m., I’m back outside with the little devil incarnate. Okay, I know she’s not evil but she did totally rob me of a good night’s sleep.

My stomach churns and my tongue is unsettled in my mouth. Ugh . . . I don’t feel good. I bring the puppy back inside and spill some kibbles into her bowl. The smell of the dried beef does me in and I run for the bathroom. I hurl myself over the toilet, heaving, and wishing I had something in my stomach to release. But it’s nothing more than regret over bringing a helpless, crying creature into the house.

“Hey, you okay?” Jake asks from the other side of the closed door.

I wipe my mouth clean and twist the doorknob. “I didn’t get any sleep last night and I feel sick to my stomach.”

“Why don’t you take the day off? Get acquainted with the dog.” He holds up the now silent lab in his arms.

Of course she doesn’t cry with him. But he makes a point. Maybe a full day with her will keep her from crying all night. Plus, I don’t think I’ll get much work done sleep deprived and sick to my stomach. “Yeah, good idea.”

I kiss Jake before he leaves, but the puppy shows me up by slathering his face with tiny tongue kisses. I take the little tot in my arms and lie back on the sofa, my hand resting over my eyes. She clumsily climbs over me, whimpering like a little monkey. I cringe. When is it going to stop? My stomach churns again, this time with more intensity. I grab the dog and rush back to the bathroom, her little legs dangling in the air as I run and repeat this morning’s events.

Gross. I must have eaten something bad.

I rest my head on the toilet while the puppy walks around the cold tile floor and . . . yep, you guessed it, crying.

My phone rings from inside my pajama pants pocket. It’s Sloan. I’m half tempted not to answer but I pick it up anyway. “Hello?”

“Hey! How’s the new puppy?” She shouts with enthusiasm.  

With a lump in my throat, I sob harder than the dog. “What have I done?”

“What? What’s the matter?” I wonder if she regrets asking as much as I regret getting this little whiner.   

Leaning on the toilet, I hold the phone in one hand and the puppy with the other, hoping she’ll just be quiet. I look into her innocent blue eyes. “She won’t stop crying. I didn’t get any sleep last night. And I feel like shit!”

“Oh no. Are you sure it’s not just PMS? I’m on mine now. Aren’t you a few days ahead of me?” Yes, Sloan and I are so close that our periods are synced up. It’s a real thing.  

“Yeah.” I lift myself up and gaze down into the ceramic basin. The one I’ve been throwing up in all morning. I swallow back my tears. “You know what? The puppy’s peeing in the house. I’ll call you back.” I hang up the phone. There’s no dog pee in the house—at least there better not be. Sure, I’ve been busy but why has it not occurred to me? I’m five days late for my period.

Uh-oh.

If it weren’t for the vomit, I probably wouldn’t worry about it too much. Then again, these events could be totally unrelated. But there’s only one way to find out.

Wearing my pajama pants, tank top, and a cheap pair of flip-flops, I race over to the drugstore with the puppy whining in the passenger seat. I park the car with a screech of my tires and stick the dog in my oversized purse. She’s just small enough to fit. Then I remember that she still a baby with no diaper.

Ugh . . . diapers!

I take her out and carry her into the store, marching straight for the pregnancy test aisle. She’s crying of course, drawing even more attention than my elephant printed pajama pants.

“Excuse me!” A store clerk in a red vest follows after me. I turn the corner and spot the display of pink and blue cardboard boxes on the shelf and grab one from the top. “Excuse me!”

I turn to him with red cheeks and flared nostrils. “Yes?”

He’s glaring at me like I stole something. “You can’t bring pets into the store.”

I grit my teeth, glance at the tiny dog, then back at the clerk. “It’s fine, she’s an emotional support dog.”

“While that may be true, she can only be here if it’s a service dog.” The clerk narrows his eyes.

I give a tight-lipped smile, the one I give when my sellers give me a hard time about carpet allowances. “Then she’s a service dog.”

“I don’t think so.”

“Don’t worry. We’re leaving.” I hold up the pregnancy test and watch the clerk’s face change from smug to shaken. He doesn’t say another word.

***

Back in the bathroom, the puppy and I wait impatiently for the timer on my phone to go off. You know how in movies they don’t look at the tests while they’re waiting for the results? They just talk about what happens if it’s positive. What happens if it’s negative? Yeah . . . I don’t do that. I’ve been watching the two lines light up for the last two minutes. A vividly, painful pink.

I’m pregnant?

How could this have happened? I’m on the pill! I bite my lower lip.

I’m pregnant.

I watch the puppy crawling around on the floor. Jake was right. I’m not even sure I can deal with a puppy, let alone a baby.

That afternoon, I sit on the back porch while the dog sniffs around the yard, climbing into the flowerbed, and digging around. I swear I have to pull her out like a weed every five minutes. Finally, Jake comes home.

“Hey, baby. You feeling better.” He kisses my temple but I don’t move or smile.

“Not exactly.”

He looks out in the yard. “Where’s Puppy?”

I let out a long sigh. “Probably getting into the lilies again.” I rise to my feet, ready to pull her out again but Jake tugs my arm back.  

“She’s fine. You can let her play.”

I sit back in my chair and clench my jaw.  

“What’s the matter?” he asks.

I reach into my pajama pocket and toss the positive test on the patio table. “I’m pregnant.”

He looks down at it almost like he’s suspicious, then picks it up. “You are?”

“Yep.”

A huge grin spreads across his face and his eyes light up as he glances between the test and me. “Oh, my God, that’s amazing. We weren’t even trying.”

“You’re happy about this?” I ask.

“Hell yeah! You’re not?”

I shake my head, tears beginning to surface. “No, I can barely handle a puppy for one night. How am I going to handle a baby?” I lower my head into my hands and sob.  

Jake kneels down and takes my hands in his. “Hey, it’s going to be great. The puppy will get easier. Life with a baby will have its challenges too, but we’ll figure it out together.”

I look up at him with tear-blurred vision. “We will?”

“Quinn, this is you and me we’re talking about. We can do anything as long as we have each other.”

My heart skips a beat and for the first time all day, I feel like maybe this baby thing isn’t the worst thing in the world. “Okay, I guess we’re having a baby.”

Jake looks as happy as he did on our wedding day. I can’t believe of all the people in the world, this man became my husband and now the father of my baby. He glances back at the test. “You peed on that, didn’t you?”

I shrug. “If we’re going to have a puppy and a baby, you’re going to have to get used to dealing with pee.”

He nods, then looks back in the yard. The puppy’s back in the flowerbed, digging around like she’s missing her long lost bone. “I’ll go get her.”

I stand up and watch Jake walk along the grass and gently pick up the dirt-covered dog. “She must think she’s a flower.”

He dusts her off with his hand. “Yeah, maybe she’s a lily.”

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Amanda Aksel

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