Jake thought he was meant to marry Brooklyn, but now she’s pregnant, and he had nothing to do with it. Brooklyn can’t bring herself to name the father as she wrestles with questions about what her pregnancy means and how it will affect her relationship with Jake. If Harold Keen, the man who owns the bookstore across from Jake’s coffee shop, has anything to do with it, the baby will ruin them both.
The door opened, and Brooklyn ducked through. The only mascara left on her face was a faint smudge below one of her eyes. That could only mean one thing: she was pregnant.
She took an uncertain step toward him. He wrapped her in his arms, but even so, she’d never been further out of his reach.
“I can’t do this,” she said against his shoulder.
“You can.” He leaned his head to look at her face. Her closed eyes seeped tears. “We’ll do it together.”
Liar. He couldn’t help her with a baby. That job belonged to Caleb. Yet, he had the sense that the promise answered his prayer. It was God’s direction for
how he should proceed. How do You figure I can help her?
She scrunched her eyes tighter, and he placed a hand on the back of her head as she collected herself. When she stepped away, her gaze focused behind him, and her face reddened. “Can we go?”
Robyn stared at them, forehead furrowed.
Jake lifted a hand in a wave and turned toward the door.
Brooklyn followed him out to the car and buckled herself in. “I don’t want people talking.”
At this point, gossip was unavoidable. The time to worry about appearances was already weeks behind them. He started the engine and navigated to the road.
She gasped like they’d had a close call with another car, but the road was clear of everything but cottony snow. “I can’t do this, Jake. I never planned to get married, let alone have kids all by myself.”
“You’re not alone.” She had God if she wanted him. Or Caleb. He wouldn’t turn his back on his own kid. Then again, Jake hadn’t expected him to make a move on Brooklyn either. He and Caleb had been friends since high school football. That should’ve counted for something.
She remained silent.
Despite everything, he couldn’t stand to see her cry, so he kept his eyes on the road.
She dug through the glove compartment for a napkin, which she pressed to her face. “The doctor said the baby is the size of a BB pellet. A bullet. Who compares a baby to a bullet?”
News that the baby already took up space was at the edge of his ability to grasp, but a bullet comparison was the most sense she had made all day.
“You’re angry,” she said.
A black SUV pulled out of a parking lot, and he slammed the brakes to avoid it. The car slid a couple of inches before the tires gripped. He ground his teeth. Anything he said would betray just how right she was, and she hurt enough without him piling on more wounds. As he parked in his spot behind Hillside, his phone went off. He took it from his pocket and answered.
“I think I messed up.” Devin, one of the youth group boys Jake mentored, rarely bothered to introduce himself.
Join the club. Jake rubbed his hand over his eyes. “Why’s that?”
“Do you have time? We could meet up?”
This had to be about Lauren, Devin’s girlfriend. Or something could’ve happened with the kid’s alcoholic parents. Or school. Jake took his keys from the ignition but didn’t open his door.
Brooklyn sat still and quiet, probably waiting to say good-bye.
“Sure. Let me wrap up what I’m working on. We can grab lunch in about an hour.”
“Who always buys? I’ll text you when I’m headed over.” Jake pocketed the phone before turning his attention back to Brooklyn.
She collected her purse and tugged her coat zipper up to her throat. “I should get to work. I’ll need the time off later in the year.” The door clunked open.
“Let me know if you need anything.”
She must’ve picked up on his hesitance because she nodded once and got out without another word.
You’re a terrible friend, Jake.
He couldn’t imagine doing better. Not when the woman he’d hoped to someday marry was carrying someone else’s child. God, what do I do now?
About the author
Emily Conrad lives in Wisconsin with her husband and two rescue dogs. She loves Jesus and enjoys road trips to the mountains, crafting stories, and drinking coffee. (It’s no coincidence her debut novel is set mostly in a coffee shop!) She offers free short stories on her website and loves to connect with readers on social media.