Monday, April 19, 2010

74.) Honest Woman

I realize I'm saying this almost consistently with each post, but I really can't emphasize enough how much I love you, my readers. Your comments kept me going as I powered through and wrote wrote wrote, determined to get this up for you to read tonight. Seriously, all of your comments are so thoughtful, and I get a kick out of your reactions! I'm really kind of anxious for your thoughts on this one, as well. I hope you enjoy. Love ya! Oh, also, the picture below is from PostSecret.

Soundtrack Song - Eric Church, Two Pink Lines

I had never felt as utterly alone as I had felt upon being back in Pittsburgh that Wednesday night. Not only was Kris still home in Montreal for five more days, but my best friend was out in Philly with better things to do than talk to me, and even Kelsey and Heather had gone home with their respective boyfriends, since they were hometown girlfriends with their own families to visit. And I mean, it’s not like I hung out with them all that often anyway, just once or maybe twice a week if that, but everyone I could possibly hang out with, it seemed, was out of town.

I used to be not so needy. I hated feeling like I was needy, like I had to be around other people. Not that I was necessarily a loner before, because I always had Tubby. He was busy now, though. Off to school, taking classes, going to parties, dating lots of girls. Every time I called him, I felt like I was interrupting something. And after I had effectively pulled him out of school for a year, so he could stay in Pittsburgh with me, I hated feeling like I was taking up even more of his precious time. I wanted him to live his life.

This particular morning, though, I couldn’t stop myself. I had driven myself onto campus early in the day because I needed to be around people, even if I wasn’t going to talk to any of them. I camped out in one of the overstuffed, uncomfortable chairs in the lounge in the math and science building, intent on studying or people-watching or something, but I still felt isolated as I watched groups of laughing people pass by me on their way to class. So I called Tubby, desperate to connect to someone.

“Jo-Jo,” he answered cheerfully. “How’s it going, baby girl?”

“It’s going, Tubs,” I sighed, happy to hear his voice. “You sound chipper this morning.”

“Why wouldn’t I? I’m on my way to my lit class, which is my favorite class this semester, got a cup of coffee, and my best friend calling me. Best Thursday morning ever.”

I giggled. He always knew how to make me feel better, even though he didn’t know anything was wrong. “Well, I’m glad I’m a part of your best Thursday morning ever.”

“You know it. Of course this makes my whole week. I hardly ever hear from you anymore, it seems.”

“You’re always busy,” I mumbled vaguely aware that it must have sounded like I was whining. “There’s never a good time to call you and talk to you.”

“It’s always a good time to talk to me, Jo-Jo. You’re still my best friend. And now the only updates I get about you are whatever you write on Facebook.”

I laughed. “The phone works both ways, you know.”

“Yeah, you’re right.” He paused. “So, are you back from Montreal now?”

“Oh, yeah. I flew back yesterday. Kris’s still up there, visiting with his family, and he’s not coming back ’til Tuesday, because they start practice up again on Wednesday. Although I don’t know why I’m telling you all this, because you don’t care about hockey.”

“I don’t need to follow it, because you tell me everything I need to know. Besides, everyone out here’s a...” he paused and lowered his voice before he said dauntingly, “Flyers fan.”

“Ugh, I’ll pray for you. It sounds horrible,” I chuckled. “But at least it’s no longer football season, so you don’t have to put up with all the Eagles smack-talk.”

“Oh, no, I still do. Once people hear I’m from Pittsburgh, they start raggin’ on the Steelers. Nothing I can’t handle, though. What about you? How’s life out in ’Burgh going?”

“Good, ya know, things around here are always the same. Been busy with class, especially trying to keep up since I missed class at the beginning of the week to go up to Canada. Was sick, but I’m feeling a lot better today, so—”

“You were sick?” he asked with a sigh, joking around with me. “I’m so out of the loop. Did you have the swine flu?”

“No I didn’t, el stupido. Just, you know, not feeling well. Sick to my stomach, I even threw up, and just, well, generally icky.”

“And you’re sure you didn’t have the flu?”

“Yeah, no fever or anything. It wasn’t that bad.”

“Uh, I don’t know how to ask you this, but um, when’s the last time, the, uh... the British invaded?”

I screwed up my face. “What did you just ask me?”

“Oh come on, you know. The red coats. Red coats.”

“You’re talking in code, buddy. I don’t get it. Or maybe I’m just too dumb for your Ivy League genius.”

“Jesus Christ, Jo, you never could learn how to be discreet,” he groaned, lowering his voice. “When’s the last time you had your period?”

His question stunned me for a second. At first, I didn’t know why the hell he’d even ask me that; why would he care. Then, suddenly, it dawned on me. No, it couldn’t be. It was impossible.

“Well?” he pressed.

“I-I’m thinking, I’m th-thinking,” I stuttered, hurriedly flipping through my mental calendar.

“If it’s taking you this long to remember, I assume it’s been a while.”

“Uh, um,” I mumbled, starting to panic. My heart started to race, and my palms instantly got clammy and sweaty. The words just flew out of my mouth as I spoke my thoughts aloud. “Maybe New Years? But things have been so hectic since then, with classes starting and then the dreams they really stress me out and plus going up home with Kris and all that and meeting his mom and all these people that mean a lot to him during a really stressful time for him it was a lot to deal with and I mean it’s ’cause I’ve had a lot going on that I’ve skipped one that’s all it happened to me before when I heard about James so I mean it’s not like it’s never happened to me before it’s fine—”

“Jo, take a deep fucking breath,” he calmly instructed. I did as he bade and then he questioned me further. “Are you sure?” His voice was cool and smooth, but I could tell he was just as anxious for my answer as I was to give it to him.

“Yes!” I hissed quietly. “We’re safe, every time. Kris is too anal about it not to be.” I tried to be purposely vague enough since there were other people in the lounge who could have heard my personal business. “So, you can see, I’m not, I mean, I can’t be....”

“No one method is fool-proof, Jo. You know that. We were in health class together,” he teased, trying to lighten the mood. “It’s okay, just, you know, take a test. See for sure.”

“A... a test...” I repeated, not even able to say the P word. I couldn’t think it, nor could I say it. Wouldn’t I know if I were... that? I mean, it’s my body. I would know, just know somehow, wouldn’t I?

“Don’t freak out, okay? Maybe it is just the stress, like you said, but you need to know, either way. Because then you’ll have to go to the doctors and get checked out, and then, well, I guess you gotta tell Kris.”

“Oh my God, what am I supposed to tell him?” I gasped. My voice went up in pitch and tone, and people started to look over at me. “We’re always so careful. He’s not gonna like this. I don’t know what he’s gonna do.”

“He’s gonna be a fuckin’ man about this, is what he’s gonna do. This is as much his doing as it is yours. And whatever happens, he’s going to support you, I’ll fuckin’ see to that myself if I have to—”

“Oh, Tubby, please don’t. Don’t do this now. I don’t even know if I am... you know. And Kris, he just, you know him, he always makes the right decision, he’s such a stickler for being careful about everything. He’s not going to believe this.”

“He’d better fucking believe it!”

“That’s not what I mean, Tubby. Stop it. You’re not helping,” I sighed, pressing the heel of my palm firmly against my closed eye and holding it there until I started to see spots. “Kris would probably drop down on one knee and drag me down to the justice of the peace tomorrow to make this right, if I were... you know. What I’m saying is, Kris plays it safe, and he wouldn’t even have sex with me if he thought for a split second that this would happen. Fucking hell, he wouldn’t even try the thin condoms. This is going to, I mean he’s gonna, I don’t even know. I just can’t tell him until I know if I am or not.”

“All right, well, sounds like you’ve got yourself a plan. Just stop at a Rite Aid or Eckerd’s or something, do whatcha gotta do, and then you call me and let me know.”

I looked up at the big clock in the lounge to see that it was only ten in the morning. “I’ve got class in half an hour. I already missed it on Tuesday, so I’ve gotta attend this lecture. I can’t miss it again.” I exhaled deeply and shakily. “This afternoon. I’ll go shopping this afternoon.”

“Atta girl. Just be sure to call, baby girl, if you need anything. Moral support. Whatever.”

“I will.” I wiped my free hand on my jeans to remove some of the sweat, and then I switched my phone to my other ear to the same with my other hand. “I should thank you, Tubby, but you’ve just made me feel worse.”

He laughed softly. “I just can’t believe you didn’t think about it.”

“It never even crossed my mind. Like, I never thought this would happen to me.” It seemed like a lot of things were happening to me lately: getting drugged, my accident, and now this. If I were... uh, pregnant, I didn’t know what I would do. It scared me, to be completely honest.

“Well, you are a girl. Things like this do happen to girls. Listen, if you’re okay, then I’m gonna head into class.”

“Yeah, I’m fine, go. Enjoy your class. I’ll be in touch,” I sighed, quickly hanging up. My eyes kind of glazed over as I spaced out and stared at the squiggle in the grain of wood on the table. I got lost inside my head as I followed my line of thought. It all came down to the same sentence: this can’t be happening.

I gnawed my pen as I tried to pinpoint when this could have happened. If it happened. I still wasn’t quite convinced, but the more I thought about it, the more I worried that yes, I was, in fact, pregnant. How could it happen? Well, that was a stupid question. Of course I know how. Sperm, egg, fertilization. But we were always so careful, Kris especially. It’s not like we had drunken sex and just forgot to put a condom on. And we never had one break or slip.

Over and over and over again, I went through that same circle of thinking: no, I wasn’t, we always practiced safe sex; yes, I was, it was an accident but accidents happen sometimes. Not possible, I would know if I was pregnant because my body would be able to feel it; of course my body was feeling it, that’s why I was sick earlier in the week. No, I couldn’t be pregnant, or else I’d be sick right now, it was just stress that made me feel sick those few days and now that I wasn’t stressed I was feeling good again; I was just lying to myself, some women didn’t get sick everyday or sick really bad all the time, I could be one of those few who have easy pregnancies and the past few days were just a hitch in that.

I was brought out of my daze as someone plunked down in the chair beside me. “Fancy running into you here.”

“Huh? Oh, uh, Dave, hi,” I mumbled, pulling my pen out of my mouth and glancing over at him quickly. I was not in the mood for this. “Imagine that, two people, attending the same university, seeing each other in the same building. It’s miraculous.”

“Oh, someone didn’t have their coffee this morning. I’m just saying that I sit out here every Tuesday and Thursday morning to kill time, and I never see you.”

“Oh, well, I have class,” I told him, glancing back up at the clock. Eleven. “Shit, class started half an hour ago. Ugh, I’m not walking in late,” I groaned. No way I’d even be able to concentrate now. Who was I kidding, even thinking that I could?

“Well, I don’t have class or anything right now, I could buy you that coffee,” he suggested with a grin.

I knew it was just innocent flirting, and usually I’d be flattered even though I had a boyfriend, but I couldn’t even stomach the thought of him asking me out for something as simple as a cup of coffee. I was already a horrible girlfriend for getting knocked up. I tried to make my denial very clear. “I don’t think my boyfriend would approve of that,” I said directly, gathering up my books and purse to head for the store.

“Ouch, okay, I get it. You’re not interested.”

“I didn’t say that. I said I was taken.”

“So you are interested?” he joked, and that succeeded in evoking a tiny iota of a giggle out of me.

“It means, Dave, you’re a nice guy, but I’ve got a great boyfriend, so thanks but no thanks.”

“Well, we could still get coffee. Just friends. I’ll even make you pay for your own.”

Biting my lip, I looked up at him. Dave was a nice guy, but this just didn’t feel right. Not with what I was dealing with right now. “It’s a nice offer, but maybe another time. I’ve gotta run.”

“All right, Jo. Maybe I’ll see you around,” he replied, the smile still on his face but the sparkle gone out of his eyes. But to be honest, I didn’t care. I had enough going on.

I dumped my shit in the backseat of my car and headed toward the local pharmacy. Even though I had no reason to be embarrassed, I was feeling timid as I stood in front of the family planning section, wondering if this was how Kris felt when he bought condoms. I looked at all the different boxes, trying to quickly and sagely decide which brand to choose. Weren’t they all the same?

Finally I just picked up an EPT and started toward the counter until something on the package caught my eye: over 99% effective. Over ninety-nine percent? Wasn’t that one hundred percent? What if this test was that less than one percent that wasn’t accurate? I backtracked my steps and grabbed a second package. Just in case, I would use both tests.

Until I thought that maybe one would be wrong and the other would be right, and I’d get one positive and one negative and not know which was correct. I put both boxes back on the shelf and picked up the three-pack before I headed to the counter. I paid quickly and headed out the door, practically running to my car. Not knowing was eating away at my brain; I couldn’t imagine someone having to go through this type of uncertainty for days, let alone hours.

I hurried home and ripped open the box, taking out all three tests. My hands were shaking as I tried to read the instructions. I kind of knew how pregnancy tests worked; I mean, all you had to do was pee on them, right?

And wait two minutes. Easily, those were the longest two minutes of my life. As I listened to the clock slowly tick down the seconds, deafeningly loud, I wondered about what I would do if the test—tests—were positive. I left all three sticks sitting on the counter of the porcelain sink and sat on the bed in the adjacent room, each beat of the second hand bringing me closer to clarity.

A baby. I couldn’t have a baby. I wasn’t ready to be a mother. I was just getting everything in my life figured out and pieced together again. Going back to school. Dealing with James’s death and learning to live responsibility to carry on in his memory. Being with Kris and trying to be the girlfriend he needed as he dealt with his own demons. Add pregnancy and a baby on top of that, and that was too much.

As much as I knew I couldn’t handle it, I tried to imagine what Kris would think. He wouldn’t be pleased, to say the least. No man would be, to accidentally get his girlfriend pregnant. We’d been together a few months, we loved each other, but neither of us was ready for this humongous step.

And I wasn’t exaggerating when I had told Tubby that Kris would want to do right by me and turn me into an honest woman. He’d marry me and be the best father he possibly could be—and I knew he’d be an amazing dad, despite the nonexistent relationship he had with his biological father and the strained relationship with his step-father Henrí. Whatever he may have thought about himself, he was such a good-hearted person to be anything less. He’d do everything right.

But I didn’t want him to have to. That’s just it—he was too good of a person to be put through the ringer of this, too. Regardless of whether he wanted to go through with it, he would insist on doing the right thing until I complied. I couldn’t make him. No, having the baby, with Kris, wasn’t an option. I had no idea how I was supposed to go through with it, but I couldn’t have this baby, if this baby existed.

I rested my hands over my stomach, wondering what was going on inside of me. Whenever someone asked me, I had always told them I was pro-choice. I wasn’t supportive of abortion as a form of birth control, but under unfortunate circumstances, I would never tell another woman she couldn’t get the procedure, even if I thought she shouldn’t. It wasn’t my place to judge another person when I hadn’t always lived my life wisely or made good, smart decisions.

But now that I was in this position—well, maybe—could I go through with it myself? I just said I couldn’t have a baby, but I could I not have a baby if I were pregnant?

One hundred twenty ticks on the clock had echoed through the room and resounded in my head, signaling me to go check those tests in the other room. I wasn’t sure if I could, but I knew as difficult as it was to physically make myself get off the bed and walk into the room, I had to know. It felt like walking into a trap, but I couldn’t not know.

I looked down at each stick in the row, tears filling my eyes as I saw the same indication on each test. I was three for three. Moving until I felt my back hit the wall, I slid to the ground as the answers sunk in and my vision blurred with tears. One single line on each of the tests: a minus sign.

Negative.

17 comments:

  1. Literary (and literally) genius:

    “Uh, I don’t know how to ask you this, but um, when’s the last time, the, uh... the British invaded?”

    I screwed up my face. “What did you just ask me?”

    “Oh come on, you know. The red coats. Red coats.”

    “You’re talking in code, buddy. I don’t get it. Or maybe I’m just too dumb for your Ivy League genius.”

    “Jesus Christ, Jo, you never could learn how to be discreet,” he groaned, lowering his voice. “When’s the last time you had your period?”

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  2. You are unbelievable.

    Every time I think, "she can't top that." Then, you hit me with again. It was like a work of art inside of a story. Beyond all the ramifications and character development - Jo just dealing with James death and considering abortion, Dave showing up while she is alone and lonely for the first time since she met Kris, Kris dealing with his poor excuse for a father and potentially being a father, their problems and work up to the 'i love yous' and the move in - it on it's own was pure genious. The way her line of thought worked, and Tubby who I must admit, always pulls through for me. UUUUUGH.

    I can't even comment beyond that right now because I am going to have to let my brain analyze just how fucking awesome that was and then come back and read it again before I can say anything else.

    Unbelievable, and for the record, although I most certainly know I am wrong.

    "She can't top that."

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  3. Honestly, you make my day so much better.

    “Uh, I don’t know how to ask you this, but um, when’s the last time, the, uh... the British invaded?” I couldn't stop laughing when I read that line. I hope Jo is ok :(

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  4. Is it weird that I thought pregnancy would be involved in this story somehow? Haha, I just felt it.

    I love the Red Coats joke. You come up with the cleverest jokes! I've got to start using them haha.

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  5. Ohhhh Dave...poor guy haha she crushed his little heart!

    I'm not gonna lie, for some fucked up reason, the first few paragraphs all i could think about was "she's doing drugs!" LOL me and my mind!

    Ahh you got me! At the end I forsure thought that she was pregnant!!
    Is she gonna tell Kris about this scare??

    GREAT update girl <3

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  6. my jeez she dodged a bullet there!!!
    not that I don't want Tangerz not to have kids its just not the right time... he'd make very pretty babies.

    I def. thought she was gonna end up pregnant.
    great update.
    can't wait for more!
    =D

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  7. First of all, I feel for Tubby living in flyer's country. I find myself in a similar situation.

    The British Invasion. LMAO

    Is it bad that I'm glad she's not pregnant?

    Loved all the emotions around being lonely and the possibility of being preggers.

    Just love this story!

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  8. So I scrolled down to look at the picture... big mistake - comments are such a spoiler. Note to self, don't read comments beforehand!

    Ahhh! I loved the return of the Tubbers! And I'm glad that Jo isn't pregnant - it's the last thing she needs right now. Now all she has to do is bury those tests in the trash so Kris doesn't know (and freak out) et tout va bien!

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  9. holy crap....

    loved it every part of it...you are such an amazing writer

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  10. Jo's full of contrasts: a crazy risk taker who takes three pregnancy tests, or maybe she's becoming more like Kris. So, not to dwell on all things medical, but I'm wondering what is wrong with her, just carsickness?

    I like the dialogue with Tubby, not just the funny parts (el stupido, redcoats) but the sense of place you get from all the details. Thanks for the humour anyway, I'm still feeling down because apparently my hockey team has no penalty kill unit.

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  11. Stupid dashboard not showing me that you updated! LAME!
    Alrighty, as I go... WHEEEEEE

    "Every time I called him, I felt like I was interrupting something. And after I had effectively pulled him out of school for a year, so he could stay in Pittsburgh with me, I hated feeling like I was taking up even more of his precious time. I wanted him to live his life."
    ^^ This makes me so sad! Poor Jo! She feels like she's all alone (and as someone who had everyone move away after University and leave me on this god-forsaken island, I can relate). We all know that a phone call doesn't just cut it... not when you're use to having the person there with you always.
    The only difference is, Jo could never be annoying... Tubby loves her and they have a fantastic friendship.

    “Why wouldn’t I? I’m on my way to my lit class, which is my favorite class this semester, got a cup of coffee, and my best friend calling me. Best Thursday morning ever.”
    ^^ Aww! Melting my heart! You know how I feel about Tubby but seriously, he's fantastic and I love him so much! He always knows what to say to make a girl feel better =)

    “I don’t need to follow it, because you tell me everything I need to know. Besides, everyone out here’s a...” he paused and lowered his voice before he said dauntingly, “Flyers fan.”
    ^^ Ew! Reasons not to move to Philly... #1. Flyers, #2. Flyer fans, #3. It's Philly... nuff said.
    Silly Tubby.

    "Did you have the swine flu?"
    ^^ Just such a 'man' thing to say. He sounds like my friends... for three months, everything was swine flu. /facepalm
    I think it's comments like this that make Tubby feel like such a real person to me. Love, love, love.

    “Uh, I don’t know how to ask you this, but um, when’s the last time, the, uh... the British invaded?”
    ^^ L O L!
    This whole conversation was just pure genius... omg! I loved it! Tubby is such a goofball and their whole conversation was amazing. Hilarious, sweet and everything else I could have wanted it to be.

    "Wouldn’t I know if I were... that? I mean, it’s my body. I would know, just know somehow, wouldn’t I?"
    ^^ As someone who didn't find out she was pregnant until she was over 4 months into it... no. No. Sometimes, you just don't know! lol

    Ok... Tubby freaking out over Kris is making my day! I love that he's always so ready to defend Jo, no matter what.
    Like Kris would actually just take off on her! Obviously not, and I think Tubby knows that too, but it's fantastic that he give Jo so much unwavering support.

    I love that she can't say it out loud! She won't say 'baby' or 'pregnancy' out loud, just thinks it! It's so accurate and realistic as to how it really is when you think you might be pregnant, and it's not good news.

    “I don’t think my boyfriend would approve of that,”
    ^^ WHEEOOO!!! Love it! You go girl! I mean, poor Dave but... that's my Jo!
    I love how even if she wasn't freaking out over that, she'd still tell him she had a bf. Love it!

    Annnnd is it wrong that I'm super sad she's not pregnant?
    At the start of this I was like... oh no! That sucks! But now I'm like... well... it'd actually be really awesome lol.

    I wonder what this is going to do to her... will she start to get sad because she's not? Will she not want to have sex because she's scared she'll get pregnant? Will she tell Kris?!

    I need more... MORE! haha I hate to be so needy/demanding but when you put up a slur of amazing updates, this close in a row... you spoil me and now I can't wait to see what happens in the next update.

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  12. oh god i wish she was pregnant... better than the alternatives going through my mind. please don't let jo have cancer/maybe dying. i can see how that would fit into the story, and kris dealing with it, yada yada yada but please don't! thanks :) oh geez... i'm nervous about the next chapter

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  13. Oh my god, don't do that! I was thoroughly convinced she was prego before the results came up just by her line of thinking!
    and I really miss Tubby! Their conversation was hilarious. Every girl should have a Tubby!

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  14. Oh god. Oh god. I was so worried that it would be positive! I just hope that the test isn't lying. It would be such bad timing for them right now, especially since neither of them are even close to being emotionally ready for that responsibility!

    And I laughed so hard at Tubby's flyers comment. This past weekend I had my favorite Pens fleece on as I was running errands downtown and some guy gave me the stink eye and kept looking at my sweatshirt. haha

    Great chapter!

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  15. So I haven't read your story all the way through but I thought of a song you could use eventually (if you haven't already)

    "never knew I needed" by NeYo

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RA-6u52VoD8

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  16. You. Are. Amazing.

    Jay, I absolutely adore you and with every update your writing keeps getting better and better. I have no idea how you keep topping yourself over and over but you, my dear, are a wonder.<3

    Thiswassoamazing! I loved this so much! Oh my God! Words cannot even convey. As Jo was sitting there waiting for the results of the pregnancy test my heart was literally beating out of my chest. I felt like I was the one waiting for the results! Just goes to show your fantastic writing skills.

    Ughh I NEED to know what happens next! Will she tell Kris about this 'almost pregnancy'? And will this make her want to have a baby? SO MANY QUESTIONS! I can't wait for the next update!

    Amazing amazing amazing, just like you.(:

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  17. I am shocked that she was not on some kind of birth control. The day she had him tied to the bed she was somewhat offended when he insisted on using a condom. **She pouted. “I’m clean, you know.”** Even though she was a risk taker that's one I didn't think she would take. Thank God Kris was more careful.

    Okay off that rant, I'm glad she isn't pregnant. Babies are wonderful and I'm sure Kris would insist in marrying her and that they both would do whatever was necessary to be good parents. But this is not the right time for them. That said, I hope Jo not being pregnant doesn't mean she has cancer or somthing. (Please Jay!)
    I hope she is honest with Kris about the pregnancy scare. Maybe it will lead to a heart to heart about how they see their future. He might have some issues about being a father. He's already worried he will be like his father and having a child would probably add to that. Issues that they might want to work on before they have children.

    Gotta love Tubby! Poor guy stuck in Flyer land. I'm glad Jo shut Dave down leaving no doubt about his chances.



    Amazing as always.

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