A/N: So it's been a really long time since I've posted anything. I had wanted to finish this by the end of the year but obviously it didn't happen. Two days before Christmas, my husband and I learned that his sister had been killed in a car accident and I haven't felt much like writing since then. Yesterday was the first day I picked up my computer to do anything other than check facebook. I really am going to finish this story, but its most likely going to be a half assed effort because my mind is somewhere else right now. The new story I'm working on is offering quite a bit of release so I'll be focusing on that for a while. Thank you all for reading! Much Love, Pink
Piper looked up from the books on her bed to see Laila walk into the room.
"Welcome back," she said as cheerfully as she could. "How was Barcelona?"
Laila put her bag down next to her bed and shook her head. "I only stayed one night. I flew to London to be with Sterling because he broke his wrist playing soccer."
"Is he okay?" Piper asked, frowning. Alistair hadn't said anything about that.
"He'll be fine," Laila answered, noticing as Piper tucked her left hand under her leg. "How was your weekend?"
Laila raised her eyebrows and Piper knew that she was going to have to talk. She slowly extended her hand toward her best friend and watched as Laila's eyes went wide.
"Oh my God," Laila whispered, walking toward Piper's bed and reaching for her hand. The ring was beautiful and practically screamed Piper's name. Laila had to smile because Alistair had picked this out on his own, without her help. He loved her best friend so much.
"I know," Piper said slowly.
Laila looked up and could see confliction all over Piper's face. "Why didn't you call me?"
"I don't know. It's all happening so fast. I really haven't told anyone."
Laila studied Piper's expression and waited for her to say something else. But she was staring at the ring as if it scared her. She was staring at it as if couldn't figure out what to do with it.
"Piper, what's wrong?"
Finally her friend looked up and tears started pouring from her eyes without warning. "I'm so fucked up, Laila," she sobbed as she threw her arms around her neck.
"No, no," Laila assured her. "You're not. Just talk to me about it. We'll figure it out."
"What's wrong with me? Alistair is amazing, perfect, and he's so excited about the baby and now about getting married. And I don't want any of it. I just want our lives to go back to how they were before I ever came to Paris."
Laila held on to her friend and thought carefully about what to say. "I know you're scared," she started. "And I'm sure Alistair is scared too. He's just doing what he thinks is right."
"I know he is. That's why I can't break his heart." Piper held Laila with all her strength, feeling as if she was her last hope.
"So you don't want to get married?"
"No," Piper shook her head. "Not right now. Not while everything is so confusing, not because of the baby."
"You have to tell him, then. He'll understand. He loves you."
Piper didn't say anything, but she slowly released Laila from her arms and sat back on her bed. Her best friend was watching her with curious eyes, waiting to see what she would do or say next. Eventually, Piper shrugged her shoulders and smiled.
"Alistair makes everything sound so easy, you know? Right before he proposed, he told me about how he was going to come live with me next year so I could go to school and he could look after the baby. We're going to live off his trust fund. Can you imagine Alistair as a stay-at-home dad?"
Laila smiled and shook her head. "Not really. But he'll be happy to do it."
"I know he will. And he really makes me believe that we could survive, just the two of us and the baby."
"Of course you can. But it won't be just the two of you. You'll have me and Sterling and Luanne. Although, I wouldn't trust her to babysit."
Piper smiled. "I know I should have told him when he gave me the ring, but there's just something about him that makes me never want to tell him no."
Laila grinned. "Well, the twins are like that. And, believe me, they don't like hearing that word either."
Piper laughed. "Spoiled?"
"Like you wouldn't believe!" Laila laughed with her. "Luckily their parents raised them to appreciate everything they had." Laila caught herself thinking about Sterling and how much he trusted her and loved her, how he was waiting to marry her because it was what she wanted. Spoiled was a good word to describe her fiancé at times. But he wasn't selfish.
"I hardly think Alistair appreciates his trust fund considering we'll be living off it next year," she heard Piper say.
Laila smiled. Clearly Piper and Alistair hadn't discussed his trust fund before. "Has Alistair ever told you where his trust fund comes from?"
Piper shook her head.
"Their grandfather started a small bank in New York city right after the Great Depression. Now there are over 1,000 branches and a portion of the profits go into the twin's trust funds every year."
Piper gave Laila a skeptical look. "How large a portion?"
"Everything considered, it's relatively small. But you two could easily live off that money for the rest of your lives."
Piper shook her head and looked down at her lap. Laila worried that she had told her something that upset her.
"There is still so much that I don't know about him," her friend said quietly. "I know that I love him and that I want to be with him. I couldn't possibly raise this baby without him. But marriage? That's such a big step and I just don't think I can do it right now."
Laila took her hand, wanting to let her know that she understood.
"I mean, when I think about it," Piper continued, "it does make sense. We have to consider the baby and what's best for it. And the list of reason to get married really do outweigh the list of reasons not to."
Laila nodded. This all sounded so familiar.
"But I just feel like I should be ready for something like this. I shouldn't be getting married because it's the convenient thing to do or because my parents would kill me for having a child out of wedlock. I should be ready to spend the rest of my life with him as his wife. Fuck, that title holds so many connotations and responsibilities and I just can't do it right now"
Laila blinked. A wife. She had thought about a wedding so many times but never actually imagined what it would be like to be a wife. She thought about what it would mean, living up to the vows they would recite at their wedding, having Sterling as her husband. A jolt of excitement and understanding rushed through her as she realized she was ready for those things, looking forward to living with all those connotations and responsibilities.
"You should talk to him," Laila said, before Piper could figure out what she was thinking.
"I know I should," her friend conceded. "He won't hate me, will he?"
Laila shook her heard. "Nothing could make him hate you."
Piper nodded and smiled, resting her hand on her stomach.
Sterling opened his eyes from a deep sleep and looked down at his phone on his night stand. Alistair's name was clearly illuminated on the screen but he was unsure if he wanted to open it or not. He hadn't talked to his brother since yesterday morning when he told him of his engagement to Piper. He knew that his mixed feelings over this wedding were due to his own frustrations with Laila, but still, he wasn't sure he could be entirely supportive of his brother.
"Hi," Alistair said from the other end of the line, sounding tired.
"Where are you?"
"I just landed in Boston," Alistair sighed.
"Okay," Sterling said, wondering why his brother had called. "So what's up?"
Sterling paused, unsure of what to say next. "How was your flight?"
"Look, Al, it's really late here, can I just call you…"
But Alistair interrupted him. "Do you remember that time when we were 10 and Mom and Dad took us that cabin up in Ontario?"
Sterling sat up and prepared for a long conversation. "Yeah, I remember."
"And you remember when we found that frozen lake and I tried to convince you that we should walk across it so we could find a place to go ice fishing?"
Sterling smiled. "I remember."
"You wanted to push some rocks into the center to see if it would hold our weight but I was impatient and didn't listen."
"You ran across and fell through the ice," Sterling said as he opened his eyes. Seeing his brother disappear into the freezing water had been terrifying for him. The image was still crystal clear in his mind.
"I've always rushed into things, never thought anything through."
"You think you've rushed into something again?"
Alistair sighed again. "I know I have."
Sterling remained silent, knowing very well that this conversation was difficult for his brother.
"I'm not talking about the baby," Alistair continued. "I know that even though it was a mistake, there is no way I would ever take it back, even if I could."
"You're talking about proposing to Piper?"
Neither twin spoke as they both thought about what could be done.
"Why did you do it?" Sterling asked eventually.
"I don't know. She just seemed so scared and she was pushing me away, not talking to me about the baby, barely talking to me at all. I thought she was scared I would leave her and I just wanted to prove that I would be there for her no matter what. Proposing seemed like a good idea but now she's wearing this ring and probably looking through bridal magazines and expecting me to find a tux and I'm terrified. Absolutely terrified."
Sterling could only wish that Laila would start looking through those magazines and bugging him to pick out a tuxedo. But it wasn't about him at the moment. His brother needed his help. "Maybe you could just suggest postponing the wedding until after the baby is born," he suggested.
"I've thought about that," Alistair said, his voice nearly cracking.
"And she would see right through it."
"Then tell her the truth," Sterling said, knowing Alistair had probably run through all possible scenarios in his head.
"It'll break her heart," his brother said, clearly defeated.
"It might. But you'll just have to prove to her some other way that you won't leave her. She'll understand eventually."
"How do I even start a conversation like that?" Alistair asked, knowing that Sterling was just showing him some tough love. "Sorry, Piper, but you know that ring I gave you? I'm not so sure I actually want you to have it right now."
Sterling chuckled. "I would start by asking her how she feels about the wedding. Maybe you two can come to some kind of understanding before you have to result to something so drastic."
"I guess I can do that," Alistair said, slightly more confident now that he had spoken with Sterling. His brother always had a way of encouraging him and helping him clear his head.
"When are you coming back to Paris to see her again?"
"I don't know. Sometime before she comes back home but that's less than two months away."
"That's not too long to wait, then," his brother told him. "Just think about it for a little while and you'll sort it out."
"Why is it that you got all the good sense and I just ended up with all the good looks?" Alistair asked, laughing at his own joke.
"Good night, Al," Sterling said and Alistair could practically see him rolling his eyes.
"Good night, little brother. And thanks."
"Anytime, you know that."
"I know it," Alistair said, realizing how much he missed his brother at that moment. "Bye, Sterling."