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Time is supposed to heal everything, but two long and agonizing months had passed since everything had happened and I was still struggling to adjust to life without Jason and Natalie.
Fortunately for Jason, the district attorney reversed course and offered him a very lenient plea deal that he accepted as long as he testified against Marcie and turned over evidence. However, under the terms of his plea deal, he had to serve a year minimum of his three-year sentence. It was hard on the entire family, but the kids had an especially hard time getting used to the fact that they no longer had their father around. We had discussed bringing them to the prison to visit him on more than one occasion, but neither of us were sure if we wanted to expose them to that environment or not.
So for the time being, I would go visit him by myself even though I dreaded going. I hated the fact that I had to get searched by the prison guards before and after I could enter or leave the facility. My car was also randomly searched and even though it was only done as a precaution to protect the other prisoners, it was still a nuisance.
But coming here was the only way for me to see Jason and I knew how much my visits meant to him. He tried to hide it from me but it was quite obvious that being away from the kids was mentally taking its toll on him. The only consolation was that his attorney was optimistic that he would be released early on parole. And I for one looked forward to the day when I didn’t have to go through so much just to see him.
For instance, the woman at the front desk didn’t even bother to look up as I approached her, “Hi, I’m here to see Jason Westbrook.”
She rolled her eyes and flipped to another magazine page, “Are you on his visitors list?”
“Yes. I’m his wife.”
“Name?” she asked in her usual monotone voice.
“Sign here and hand over your ID,” she instructed and handed me her pen and clip board.
I scribbled my signature onto the sheet of paper and handed over my identification so that she could buzz me inside the visiting area. There were several other prisoners visiting with their loved ones so I sat at a table near the window and waited for him to arrive.
I tried not to think of her, but before I knew it, in my mind I saw Natalie’s face and she looked as beautiful as ever. I missed her smile, her sense of humor and her easy going nature.
And despite the fact that it sounded pathetic, I waited for the day when she would walk back into my life and tell me that this other woman meant nothing to her. She would tell me how much she missed me and it would seem as though we’d never been apart. It was a fantasy of course because she had moved on and I’d clearly seen it with my own two eyes. But that still didn’t stop me from thinking about her nor did it stop me from wondering about what might’ve been. . .
I tried to accept that it was probably for the best, but I deeply regretted the fact that I never had the chance to make things right with her or tell her that I still loved her.
While I was in the midst of thinking about her, Jay finally appeared in the doorway, clad in his orange jumpsuit and he made his way over to where I was sitting, “Hey, sorry to keep you waiting.”
“It’s okay, I don’t mind. How are you?”
“I’m alright,” he replied and sat down across from me. “I received my work assignment this morning so that was pretty interesting. How are the kids?”
“They’re hanging in there. I went to Cam’s parent-teacher conference two nights ago and his teacher said he’s been a little quieter than usual but other than that, his grades are fine.”
“Has he still been acting out at home?”
I nodded. “Every now and then. But I know it’s his way of dealing with everything that’s happened, so I try not to get too upset with him.”
My husband grimaced and sighed regretfully, “It’s all my fault. I royally fucked up and I really let him down.”
“You’re not alone. We both made mistakes that turned our lives upside down.”
“Maybe,” he conceded. “But what I did is a lot worse than what you did. My mistake changed all of our lives and now the kids are paying the price.”
I reached over for his hand and tried to reassure him. “What you did doesn’t change you as a person. And it definitely does not change your ability to be their father. Speaking of which, Sophie drew you a picture,” I explained and handed him the folded up drawing. “She wouldn’t let me leave the house without it this morning.”
He unfolded the piece of paper and I saw tears well up in his eyes as he regarded the crayon drawing of the two of them, “We have the sweetest child ever.”
“She loves you Jay, they all love you and nothing that you did or will ever do can change that.”
“Thanks Vanessa, I really needed to hear that.”
“Have you spoken to Victor lately? I tried calling and I left him a voicemail but I still haven’t heard from him.”
My husband sighed and set Sophie’s drawing to the side, güvenilir canlı bahis siteleri “That doesn’t surprise me. Marcie really did a number on him.”
I internally bristled at the sound of her name. “She tried to destroy him and his company and it almost worked.”
“She’s a con artist and a master manipulator, that’s how they operate. Hopefully, the judge will throw the book at her.”
“When you talk to Victor again, let him know that I’m thinking about him.”
“I will but I’m more concerned about you.”
I frowned. “Why would you be concerned about me? I’m fine.”
“You don’t look fine, you look miserable. Why haven’t you reached out to her?”
“How many times do I have to tell you? She’s moved on and so have I,” I snapped irritably but then softened my tone. “Besides, I didn’t come here to talk about her, I came here to talk about you. How are they treating you in here?”
He shrugged casually, “I pretty much keep to myself and I’ve been working out if you can’t tell. I’m even thinking about adding a few prison tattoos to build up my prison cred.”
I laughed and reached for his hand again, “I really do miss having you around the house. It’s just not the same without you.”
“I miss you all too. But I think things worked out the way that they were supposed to. Because as much as I hate being in here, I deserve it. And when I get out of here, I’ll be a better man because of this experience.”
We talked for a little while longer but eventually, the guard closest to us announced that we needed to wrap things up because our time was almost up. “I’ll call you soon,” he promised.
“Please take care of yourself.”
He reached across the table to kiss me on the cheek and we shared one final hug before the guard escorted him back to his cell. “Give the kids my love.”
I tried to hold my tears back but it chipped at my heart to watch him disappear behind the heavy door. Our weekly visits always seemed to end too soon and leaving him behind never seemed to get any easier. And although I would’ve liked to have spent more time with him, I had a doctor’s appointment that I couldn’t afford to miss.
But after I’d signed in and taken my seat in the waiting room, I wanted to be anywhere but there. I couldn’t help but feel slightly envious at all of the other women that had their spouses or partners with them. A select few sat alone like I did, but I for one yearned to have someone by my side. To be more specific, I yearned to have a certain someone by my side.
However as it would turn out, she already had someone by her side. Someone who apparently enjoyed kissing with a lot of tongue and had the body that I used to have before I had my son! Ugh, watching Natalie and the mysterious, beautiful woman swap saliva was one image that was burned into my memory and haunted me continuously at night.
I was admittedly heartbroken about her absence, but the kids were more than a little distraught and confused as to why their new friend had suddenly disappeared out of their lives. It was hard enough explaining to them that daddy had to go away for a little while, but it’d been even more difficult to explain to my four and six-year-old that their good friend, Natalie had to also go away to get better.
It wasn’t true, but telling them that teeny, tiny, white lie seemed like a much better idea than actually telling them the truth: that she’d walked away from us without saying goodbye.
Anger and frustration rose in my throat, but thankfully the nurse appeared from behind the door and called my name before I could think of any other mean or irrational thoughts about my ex-lover. And once she had weighed me, taken my blood pressure, and had me provide a urine sample, I was finally shown to a room so that the doctor could examine me.
My wait was brief and in little to no time at all, there was a knock on the door and my longtime OBGYN stepped inside the room. “How’s the Mommy-to-be doing today?”
I smiled and slightly sat up on the exam table, “I’m so-so today. I woke up this morning feeling a little nauseous.”
She made a few marks on my chart and placed her stethoscope against my stomach, “Did you finally tell Jay about the baby?”
“Not yet. He has enough on his mind but I’m going to tell him very soon.”
“Have you told anyone?” she asked.
I shook my head. “It still doesn’t seem real.”
“That’s understandable. Just know that you don’t have to go through this alone.”
“You’re welcome,” she replied and squirted cold gel onto my stomach so that she could do the ultrasound. “All of your vitals look good, so how about we go ahead and take a look at this little guy?”
Any remaining anger that I had at Natalie instantly disappeared as my little peanut appeared on the black and white screen. He was so tiny and barely noticeable, but the grainy image of him still filled with me so much emotion that it brought tears to my eyes. “Can we also listen to his heartbeat?”
“Of güvenilir illegal bahis siteleri course,” she replied and pushed a button on the machine so that we could listen to the sound of his heart beating. It sounded strong and steady and I yearned to hold him in my arms already. “His heartbeat is perfect,” she confirmed. “175 beats per minutes.”
“I’m in love with this little guy already.”
Erica smiled “Trust me when I say that you are going to be okay. You are one hell of a mom and this kid is very fortunate to have you as his parent,” she stated as she took a few measurements and printed out images of the baby for me to have. “Do you have any questions for me before I let you go?” she asked as she wiped the gel from my stomach and helped me to a sitting position.
“I do, actually. Is it unusual for me to feel nauseated after taking my vitamin? Because I’ve taken the same prenatal vitamin throughout every one of my pregnancies, but lately I’ve been feeling nauseated after taking it.”
She nodded, “It’s a fairly common side-effect. But if you’re open to trying something different, I can write you out a prescription for a different one to try?”
“That would be awesome. Thank you so much.”
“Not a problem, I’ll write you out a prescription and fax it over to your pharmacy.”
She left the room and I picked up the sonogram pictures and traced the black and white photos with my fingertips, “I haven’t even met you yet and I’m already in love with you.”
I was telling the truth even though the baby hadn’t been planned. In fact, he or she was the result of a very drunken hookup between my husband and I before he left for prison. We were both feeling pretty emotional and one bottle of wine soon turned into another and another and before we knew what was happening, we were undressing one another and making love.
The brief encounter was totally unexpected and if I’m honest, it only made me miss Natalie that much more. But something wonderful had occurred that night: we’d created a baby.
And while I knew Jason would be ecstatic about this new addition, for the time being, I kept the news to myself and dealt with it on my own. Focusing on the baby and the other kids allowed myself to stay busy and not think about the one person that I wanted to share this experience with. The one person that hadn’t wanted anything to do with me.
I was having that recurring dream again. It had started after I’d come home from the hospital, but I always woke up from it before it ended. The same woman was there again, and when she reached out to touch me, I felt it reverberate throughout my entire body. I had no idea who she was because I could never clearly see her face, but I felt a sense of familiarity with her. “Who are you?” I questioned but she shook her head. “What’s your name?” I asked but she slowly backed away from me and took off running in the opposite direction. “Wait!” I called out, but it was no good because she continued to run away from me and I had no choice but to follow her. I had no idea what she was running from, but I sensed that she was in grave danger and I also knew that if I didn’t help her, something bad was going to happen to her.
Sweat was pouring down my face and my legs and lungs felt like they were both on fire by the time I eventually caught up to her. I reached out to touch her shoulder, but when she turned around, she had a gun in her hand and she aimed it at me. However, before she could shoot me, a sharp pain shot through my thigh that jolted me right out of my sleep and caused me to sit up in bed.
Taya must’ve felt me jump because she lightly stirred against me, “Are you okay baby? Did you have another nightmare?”
“I’m fine babe, go back to sleep,” I suggested and leaned over to kiss her on her forehead.
She nodded drowsily and drifted off back to sleep while I took a deep breath and gently rubbed the area of my thigh where the pain had originated from. It eventually subsided and I once again lied back down next to her.
She’d moved back into my apartment once I’d been released from the hospital, and our relationship had significantly improved. Not only was she more attentive, but on the days when mamá was unable to take me to PT, she rearranged her schedule so that she could take me. However, as great as things were between the two of us, I had the nagging feeling that something was missing.
And while my relationship might have significantly improved, my physical therapy was stalling and taking longer than expected. My therapist, Johnathan, did his best to reassure me that my recovery was progressing at a normal rate, but it still didn’t diminish my fears that I’d never return to normal. I’d always prided myself on being independent so it absolutely annoyed me to no end that I’d had to depend on someone other than myself for the past couple of months. It was also a solid, stinging blow to my ego that I could no longer run or walk normally, and instead had to rely on crutches güvenilir bahis şirketleri to get around.
But I tried my best to not let it get me down. And when I went to therapy that following day, Johnathan made a surprise announcement after my daily stretches and exercises that especially motivated me, “I think you’re ready to start walking on it.”
I grinned and enthusiastically clapped my hands together. “That sounds like music to my ears. I’m so ready to ditch these crutches.”
He laughed and helped me to my feet and held onto me until I was completely balanced. “How does it feel?”
“Good,” I replied and tested my leg to see if it still felt strong enough. Last week was the first time since my surgery that I’d been able to actually put weight on my leg and I was determined to only go forward from there.
“I thought you might say that. Now I’m going to let you go and I want you to walk towards me.”
He released my arms and took a few steps back, “Don’t worry about speed. Just concentrate on your steps and take one step at a time.”
I nodded and slowly began to move my feet. The pain in my thigh was still as present as ever but I pushed it to the back of my mind and instead tried to focus on my task at hand.
“Does it hurt when you walk?” he asked.
“Nope,” I lied and continued taking baby steps towards him. The discomfort was beginning to intensify but I still continued to try and walk. I’d only walked a few feet and my body was begging me to stop, but I gritted my teeth and continued to push past the soreness.
“Do you want to stop? You look like you’re in pain.”
“I’m fine,” I lied and pushed myself to continue until an unbearable pain shot down my thigh.
I wobbled and Johnathan quickly rushed to my side so that I wouldn’t fall to the ground. “Let’s stop here, you did enough for the day.”
“No,” I replied in a firm, unwavering voice. “I have to do this.”
“You’re pushing yourself way too much,” he admonished and helped me to a sitting position on the floor. “We’ll try again on Thursday.”
I sighed in defeat and accepted the bottle of water he offered me. “I should be walking by now. It’s been months and I can barely walk a few feet without wanting to stop.”
“Everyone heals and recovers at their own pace, you’re doing fine.”
“I bet you say that to all your patients.”
“Not true at all,” he replied as he kneeled down beside me. “I’m just being honest.”
I shrugged and twisted the cap off the water bottle. “I just want my life back. I used to get up and run every morning even though I hated it.”
“This is a temporary setback, so remember that. Now let’s stretch you out,” he replied as he slowly pulled out my leg towards him and then slowly pushed it back towards my body. “How does it feel now?”
“A little tight. But better than it did.”
The door to the room opened and Taya walked inside, “How’s my girl doing today?”
“She did good today,” admitted Johnathan. “She just needs to be a little bit more patient.”
I rolled my eyes at him before turning my attention to my girlfriend. “What are you doing here? I thought today was mamá’s day to pick me up.”
“It is but I called and told her that I’d pick you up since I got off early. Our UC’s cover got blown, therefore our raid got canceled so I took the rest of the afternoon off to spend it with you.”
“Great,” I mumbled sarcastically underneath my breath.
Johnathan, meanwhile, finished stretching me out and rounded up his equipment as Taya helped me to my feet. “I’ll see you on Thursday,” he promised before exiting the room.
Taya tried handing me my crutches but in a fit of rage, I slapped them out of her hands and they hit the carpeted floor with a thud. “This is fucking hopeless,” I raged.
“Why would you say that? You heard what John said, you’re getting there. It’s just taking a little longer than we hoped.”
I quickly snapped my head around to look at her. “What do you mean “we”? You can get up and go wherever you want while I’m stuck at home looking at the same four fucking walls day in and day out.”
Hurt quickly flashed in her eyes and she looked away from me, “I didn’t mean it like that. I just meant that I’m here for you. I’m in this for the long haul this time.”
My anger instantly evaporated and I hung my head in shame. “I’m sorry, Tay. I didn’t mean to snap at you, I’m just frustrated that it’s taking so long.”
She picked my crutches back up and handed them to me once more, “It’s okay baby, I know it’s frustrating.”
“I keep trying but I’m not getting any better. What if I’m physically unable to be a cop anymore?”
“You shouldn’t think like that,” she chided.
“Look at me, I can barely walk. Being a cop is who I am. What if I can’t do it anymore?”
“If that happens, you’ll find a new career. You could open your own studio, you’re an amazing photographer.”
I shook my head in disgust. “I haven’t been in the mood to take any pictures. I just feel angry and depressed.”
“Everything will be okay,” she vowed and cradled my face in her hands. “You will walk again but if you don’t, I will still love you regardless. Whether you’re on crutches, in a wheelchair, or walking on all fours. You are mine and we will get through this together, okay?”
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