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The first week of business was slow but sales started to pick up by the end of it. The café always has a morning rush now that word got out about the fresh pastries, muffins, and gourmet coffee. I think I’m even stealing some of Munch’s lunch crowd. The Villa Bovine is only a few buildings down the street and I already see some of their regulars becoming mine.

Most of the new faces belong to the senior crowd but I don’t mind since retirees tend to enjoy going out for brunch with their other retired friends now that they no longer have to go to work. I remember how Mom and my aunts used to do that all the time. I wonder what she would think of this place if she could have seen it. I’m sure she would have been proud as always, Dad too. Sometimes I stand around in the kitchen before opening hours and I just can’t believe that I actually did it. I opened my own restaurant!

Right now I’m just breaking even so I can’t afford to celebrate too much. Most businesses don’t make a profit so early in the game anyway. I’m just happy that sales keep increasing every day and more and more people keep coming through the doors. Great service and food is the top priority because I need those customers to keep coming back which is why I can’t afford to hire an assistant manager as yet. I need to be on top of things and make sure the restaurant is running like a well-oiled machine before I turn the reigns over to someone else.

That’s why when I started feeling nauseous and realised my period was late, I started panicking.

“Oh no!” I groaned, feeling after another wave of nausea hit me. This was the third time for the morning.

“What’s wrong?” Michael asked. He stopped by for an iced mocha latte to go since he had a meeting with someone from the art gallery.

“I think I’m…never mind.” I didn’t want to get his hopes up until I took a test to be sure. He would no doubt be excited if I was pregnant but I was hoping I wasn’t.

“You sure? You look kinda pale.” He said, gently touching my shoulder.

“I ate two red velvet cupcakes and had a caramel latte for breakfast and now my stomach’s swirling.” I lied. I had a fruit salad and cup of spiced chai.

“That’s all?”

“I’m not used to such an unbalanced breakfast.”

“Poor thing, your refined guts can’t handle too much sweet before 10 am like the rest of us.” He joked.

“I guess.”

“Don’t forget the showing starts at 3 this evening.” He reminded me.

I actually did forget about it. It was his very first gallery showing so I knew I couldn’t miss that. But the café closed at 6 pm. I didn’t want to leave before closing time since there wasn’t anyone else to manage the place while I was gone but I didn’t want to miss Michael’s very first gallery showing either.

In the end, I chose Michael’s gallery and trusted Mia, the head cook, to close up and also begged her to call me if anything happened.

I was so proud of him. His paintings were amazing and even though I had seen each of them already I was still very impressed seeing them hanging on the walls of the art gallery on display for everyone to see. I know he must have been so excited even though he played it cool.

All of his paintings were sold out within an hour and people were already asking him when his next showing was going to be. There was even this one guy visiting from San Myshuno, a club owner, who wanted to commission him for some paintings to display at his new lounge.

It felt like I was the wife of a celebrity or something. The way all those people flocked around him to talk about his work, asking him questions about his inspiration, and sharing their thoughts about each piece, would make anyone think he was some world famous painter. I could barely contain my excitement for him.

I know how hard it was for him to finally decide to chase after this dream and how hard he worked towards it. Seeing him fulfill it was a big deal.

But it also served as another reminder of why having a baby now would be a bad idea.

We just got married. His career was now taking off and my restaurant was still so new. Neither one of us had the time to prepare for a child far less take care of it when it arrived.

I wanted to remain in denial. Maybe I wasn’t pregnant. Maybe I was just late. Maybe the dizzy spells and nausea happened because I’d been working too hard and worrying too much. That was it! That had to be it!

I just had to relax a little, and then my period would come and I’d laugh at myself so hard for worrying about nothing. In a few years once we both get a little more comfortable with our careers and I can spend less time in the restaurant, then we’d start prioritizing a family.

The spiced chai was probably the culprit behind my upset stomach so I decided I would stick to my regular Earl Grey from now on.

Having Liam around was enough for now. He and Michael were practically inseparable and they were always doing everything together. Liam didn’t even want to eat any meals unless his ‘Uncoo My’ was eating too.

He also became Michael’s alarm clock. Instead of waking up Lyra, he would come into our bedroom and wake up Michael whenever he had a nightmare or had an accident. I would usually be at the restaurant already at that time in the morning so I could only imagine what it must be like for Michael to have to deal with a crying toddler at the foot of his bed at four in the morning.

I think Lyra appreciated the break now that there was someone else around that he could attach himself to so it made her feel not so guilty about having to leave him to go to work. She got a job as a music teacher at an elementary school which was great for her because she didn’t want to end up in another band hustling for gigs and having rehearsals until all hours at night.

Michael would look after Liam during the day. She didn’t want to hire a nanny until after she moved in with Aden so he volunteered for the job. Many evenings I would come home and Michael would gush about how Liam completely soaked him during bath time or how he said some new word or phrase.

Michael really loves Liam and seeing how he is with him makes me feel a little guilty about refusing to have a baby right now. I know for sure he’d make a great father but…I don’t know if I’ll be a good mother.

I’m the baby in my family. I’ve never been around babies before. All of my cousins except Aden have kids and Tatiana and Darren also have a daughter, but I haven’t had the time to spend with any of them. My best friend had a baby and I’ve only seen her in pictures, not in person. Even Michael gets to spend more time with Liam than I do. It’s just so easy for him to be around children. What if it’s not that way for me?

And all the bonding with Liam just seemed like a good thing for now. It got him off my case when it came to the topic of babies and I figured it would buy me some more time until Lyra and Liam moved out.

But then life ended up throwing a wrench in that plan.

Jude Patino. I hadn’t seen him since high school. We were never friends but he was Luca’s cousin and I saw him semi regularly when he started hooking up with Lyra. This was the same guy who denied he was Liam’s father when Lyra told him she was pregnant. This guy, who wasn’t there for my nephew at all since he was born, was now standing in my house asking to see him.

I was so annoyed by this. Why would Lyra even waste her time contacting him? Why was she so friendly with him? He wasn’t there for her in the beginning, he wasn’t even there when Liam was born, but now when he’s almost a child and all the dirty work has been done he decides he wants to be a father!

“So Maia…long time no see. I hear you have a restaurant now?”

I really didn’t care to chit-chat with him. We were never friends and I don’t want to be his friend now. “Why are you here, Jude? Aren’t you a few years too late?”

“Better late than never.” Lyra said. “He wants to get to know Liam.”

“Now he wants to get to know his son?” I was struggling to keep my tone calm. “Where were you the whole time when he needed his father?”

He rolled his eyes at me. “Why are YOU getting so worked up? This really isn’t any of YOUR business. It’s between me and Lyra and our son.”

“You’re standing in my house and telling me this is none of my business!”

“Look, I didn’t even know I had a son cause she never told me when he was born. I didn’t even know his name until last week when we talked on the phone!”

“Like you even cared to check up on her!” My eyes narrowed at him. “You knew she was pregnant and you were a possibility!”

“I’m not perfect but I don’t need you getting on my case! I’m here to do right by my son so just chill and give me a chance, okay?”

“Okay, relax everybody!” Lyra said, standing in between us. “Let’s try to focus on what’s important here, which is Liam.”

Almost as if on cue, Liam came wobbling into the foyer and stood next to Jude, looking up at him curiously. Without hesitation, Jude picked Liam up and to my surprise, Liam didn’t push him away. “Hey, little dude! You’re so big already! I’m your Dad!”

“Dada?” Liam mumbled.

“Yeah, I’m your Dada!”

He kept repeating the word ‘Dada’ excitedly and he looked so happy to see Jude. It’s like Jude didn’t have to prove anything to Liam. Liam wasn’t the type of kid to let just anyone pick him up far less snuggle with him and yet he accepted that Jude was his ‘Dada’ just like that.

I stood there watching them, feeling like a total bitch for trying to get in the way of this.

Liam started fussing for a snack so Lyra suggested Jude take him to the kitchen to get one. When we were alone she turned to me. “All that attitude really wasn’t necessary.”

“I know.”

“What’s with you? I thought you’d be happy that Jude decided to step up and Liam could actually have his father in his life?”

“I am…I’m just…I’m just being a selfish bitch right now.”

She chuckled. “Well at least you said it, not me.”

“It’s just that Michael’s become so attached to Liam and…”

“…you’re afraid with Liam’s real Dad in the picture Michael’s gonna start to get on your case about starting a family.”

I nodded. “I’m just not ready but it’s all he talks about. I’ve been so busy with the restaurant and he’s so busy with his art and it’s just too much on our plates right now and…”

“And I’m sure he understands that. Tell me something, is he really pressuring you or are you pressuring yourself?”

Maybe Lyra was right. Maybe I was the one putting pressure on myself. I do want to have a baby with Michael but I also want to focus on my restaurant and I don’t think I can have both in this situation. My mother had a career but that was because Dad’s career ended up taking a backseat so he could take care of us while she worked.

I don’t want to ask Michael to give up his career for me, not after he’s worked so hard to get it started but at the same time, I don’t want to sacrifice my dreams either. And yet, having a family is the one dream we both have in common.

***

“I have something to tell you…I’m pregnant.”

“Seriously?” His eyes opened wide. “Like for real? You’re pregnant!”

I nodded. “I took a test before dinner. I’ve been suspicious for a few weeks but…”

“Weeks? And you didn’t tell me? Why?”

“I was nervous. And in denial. But I’m actually really happy about it.” And I truly was. It was surprising to me how my entire outlook changed the moment I saw that positive pregnancy test.

“I can’t believe it! We’re gonna have a baby! I’m gonna be a father!”

I’d been trying to convince myself that I wasn’t pregnant then when I found out I was all I could think about was this little person in existence that was a part of me and him and it was like nothing else mattered. All of my concerns, fears and doubts went out the window.

We could work out the details later but in that moment I knew that no matter what we decided when it came to our careers and our plans for the future, our baby was going to be our number one priority.

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