Tamlyn burst through the front door of her apartment and ran down the hallway to the bathroom. She needed to cool off, she needed to be alone. What Sébastien had said replayed in her mind over and over again and she needed it to stop. Out of breath and with tears still streaming down her face, she turned the handle on the door and pushed her way inside. The sight of Piper leaning over the toilet made her stop dead in her tracks.
“Oh my God! I’m sorry!” Tamlyn said, not knowing if she should turn around or go help her friend. “Are you okay?”
Piper’s head rose from the bowl and she glanced at Tamlyn from behind the hair which had fallen in her eyes. “It’s the smell of those fucking vegetables,” Piper said and made a sour face. The second she and Pierre had returned from the grocery store, he had started sautéing vegetables for his soup. She had been able to put up with the smell for almost ten minutes before running to the bathroom and puking.
“What?” Tamlyn gave her a confused look.
“Can’t you smell it?”
Tamlyn frowned and sniffed the air. She could detect a light aroma of browning butter but nothing more. “Barely.”
“It’s fucking disgusting,” Piper said, heaving into the toilet once more as she remembered exactly how the butter and oil in the pan had smelled.
Tamlyn walked quickly to her and held her hair out of her face, gently stroking her back. “I thought you were over your stomach flu.”
Piper gave a halfhearted laugh and flushed the toilet. “Not yet, it seems.”
“Don’t you think you should go to the doctor?” She knew Piper was strong willed but this had been going on for weeks now.
Piper glanced up at her as she sat down on the tiled floors. “Yes,” she answered in a low sigh, her eyes instantly flooding with tears.
“Oh, sweetie,” Tamlyn dropped to her knees and wrapped her arms around Piper. “It’ll be fine. Laila and I will go with you and translate so you’ll have nothing to worry about.”
But Piper started crying even harder and was holding on to Tamlyn like she might fall through the floor. Tamlyn tightened her hug as well, letting Piper cry onto her shoulder. She wondered if her roommate was homesick or if she just missed her boyfriend. They hadn’t been talking as much, Tamlyn had sensed, as Piper had been pretty much keeping to herself the past couple of weeks. Maybe they were fighting, maybe they had broken up.
“I’m pregnant,” Piper whispered.
“What?” Tamlyn exclaimed, pushing away and staring at her friend. Maybe she had been wrong about everything.
“I’m pregnant,” Piper repeated. “I found out in Nice. It’s not the stomach flu, it’s morning sickness.”
“Oh my God,” was all Tamlyn could say. “Pregnant?”
Piper nodded and wiped the tears from her eyes. It was a small relief to say it out loud to another human being.
“Have you told anyone?” Tamlyn asked.
“You’re the first. But I’m pretty sure Pierre figured it out earlier today.”
“Oh my God.” Tamlyn shook her head in disbelief. “What are you going to do?”
Piper stared at her, wishing she could give her an answer. But her mind was blank and would remain so until she saw Alistair. “I don’t know. Alistair will be in London this weekend so I’ll tell him then.”
Tamlyn stared back into Piper’s green eyes, wishing she had some sort of advice for the girl. “I’m sure that you two will come to the right decision. And I’ll be here to help you with whatever you need. We can go shopping for baby clothes! You’ll get back home and have the only baby with good French style.”
Piper laughed out loud and smiled at her friend. Tamlyn wasn’t exactly the first person she wanted to share her secret with, but at least the girl could always make her smile.
“Do you want me to go get Laila?”
“Please?” Piper knew she had to tell her best friend. “And then maybe the three of us could go do something, anything to get my mind off of it.”
“Anything you want,” Tamlyn answered with a smile. She stood up and then extended her hand for Piper. “Why don’t you wash your face and brush your teeth. You’ll feel better.”
“Thank you, Tamlyn,” Piper said, smiling as best she could and then walking to the sink.
Tamlyn waited until Piper had turned the water on and then walked out of the bathroom to find their third roommate. She had just turned the corner when she ran straight into Sébastien. Her eyes went wide at the sight of him, all the anger she had felt only moments before rushing back to her. But she didn’t dare speak to him because she knew Piper would hear her and worry that Sébastien had heard everything.
Silently, she nodded her head toward her room and started to walk down the hallway. Sébastien followed and Tamlyn knocked on the door of the bedroom, waiting for Laila to answer before barging in.
“Hey, Tamlyn! How was the store?”
“Depressing. Piper needs you in the bathroom.”
Laila’s face became worried and she stood up from her bed, glancing at Sébastien who was still standing in the doorway. “Is she okay?”
“Not really. You go, I’ll be in there in a second,” Tamlyn instructed and watched as Laila flew from her bed and out the door.
She waited until she heard the bathroom door close before laying into Sébastien. “How much did you hear?”
“Everything,” he answered quickly.
“Why were you listening?” She put her hands on her hips as he crossed his arms.
“I was looking for you and I just…I shouldn’t have been listening. I’m sorry.”
Tamlyn nodded. “Are you going to tell your dads?”
Sébastien shook his head and took a few steps toward her. “No.”
“Good. Thank you,” she said, walking around him toward the door. But Sébastien caught her by the arm and she turned her head to glare at him.
“We need to talk about what happened,” he said very matter-of-factly.
“No we don’t.” For the first time in a long time, perhaps for the first time in her life, Tamlyn didn’t feel like talking.
“Yes, we do,” he insisted, his eyes pleading with her. “We can’t just not…”
“In case you have forgotten, my friend is currently in the bathroom, scared out of her mind because she’s just found out she’s pregnant. I have bigger things to worry about right now, Sébastien.”
He stared at her, happy to find that he was shocked by her selfless behavior. “Can we talk later?”
“No,” she said, shaking her arm from his hand. “I’m going to stay out of your way from now on. I won’t be at the store, I’ll spend as little time as I can in the apartment. You won’t have to put up with me anymore.” Her mind was on Piper right now, not on what Sébastien had said, not on the kiss he had forced upon her. Giving Sébastien what he wanted was a small price to pay for helping her friend who needed her at the moment.
“That’s not what I want,” Sébastien said, surprising her.
“You don’t know what you want,” Tamlyn said quickly, knowing he was simply confused by everything, as was she. “But it’s what you are going to have to live with.”
She didn’t look back as she left the room but instantly regretted what she had said. She knew she should talk to Sébastien, she knew that he had no way of knowing exactly how badly his words had hurt her. She owed him an explanation but right now she needed to focus on Piper. She needed to keep calm and didn’t want her anger flaring up again by talking to stupid, self-absorbed, unbelievably rude, insanely handsome host brother. She rounded the corner to the bathroom and stepped inside, finding Laila and Piper embracing in a tight hug.
“It will be fine,” Laila was promising and Piper nodded her head though it didn’t look as if she believed her.
“Do you know when it happened?” Tamlyn asked, closing the door behind her. Her two roommates broke apart and Piper smiled at her as Laila walked over to take her hand. The three of them sat down in the middle of the bathroom floor in a small circle, their heads together as if they were plotting something mischievous.
“I’m pretty sure it happened the first day we got here,” Piper told the girls, smiling slightly at the memory. “You had that date with the Italian guy and Laila had left with Sterling.”
“Did you do it on the bed?” Tamlyn asked, without thinking about the inappropriateness of her question. “They’re awfully noisy.”
Piper laughed out loud and Laila and Tamlyn both sighed in relief as her spirits seemed to lift. “No, we figured that out pretty quickly. We did it on the floor, in case you were wondering.”
Laila wrinkled her nose but Tamlyn smiled. “Good choice.”
“Alistair had picked up this condom from the bathroom at the airport and…I don’t know. It obviously didn’t work or it broke or something.”
“Could it have happened before we got here?” Laila asked.
“Possibly. But only right before. My period ended less than two weeks before we arrived.”
“I just,” Laila started and then shook her head. “I can’t believe this happened. I mean, you were careful. You used protection.”
“I know. Fucking French condom.”
Tamlyn and Piper burst into laughter and even Laila cracked a grin.
“How are you going to tell Alistair?” Tamlyn asked eventually.
“I’m really not sure. I’m going to do it this weekend when I see him. If I told him over the phone, he’d just worry about me.”
Both Tamlyn and Laila nodded in agreement.
“It’s going to be hard, you know? But we’ll figure it out,” Piper tried to convince her friends that she believed every word she was saying.
“We’re here for you, no matter what,” Laila promised.
The three sat in silence, Piper staring blankly at the floor while her two friends wore worried expressions on their faces. She had to shake it off, she knew it. She had support now. She wasn’t in it alone.
“Does anyone have anything else to say?” Piper asked, looking up at Laila and Tamlyn who were shaking their heads. “Good. Can we get out of here, then? I’m starving.”
“Of course,” Laila said supportively.
“Yes, please!” Tamlyn stood up, seeming to be the most excited about the idea.
Piper smiled at her two friends and breathed a sigh of relief. She would tell Alistair in a few days, they would figure everything out and things would turn out okay. Her life would never be the same. But things would be okay again, one day.
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