Notes: I know I surprised you all with the last chapter, even possibly turning some of you off or at least weirding you out. But, I said in my disclaimer they would not have an easy time of it. It is going to be a while before they get together. I hope those reading will find the journey entertaining, heart-wrenching and at last fulfilling, as Jump and Bernadette will at the end of it all.
And, for what it is worth, I am a firm believer in love finding you and not the other way around. We dont have a choice in who we love, we only have a choice to act on it or not. Hell, if falling in love were a choice, wouldnt we all choose it? If it were easy, wouldnt we all be doing it?
Well, thats my two cents on the matter
Thanks to those who email me with reasons why they like story and why they dont. I enjoy them all.
Hammer and Nails
"You are beautiful."
"You are just saying that, you damn liar."
"Oh, that book was right on."
"The one that talks all about hormonal changes it can make a pregnant woman moody and such " Sue chuckled as she ducked yet another shoe her pregnant friend couldnt get her swollen foot into.
"Im going to remember all the cruelness youve bestowed on me when you get knocked up by Wonderboy." Jump stated as she bent down to grab one of her shoes. She gave up trying to reach it and kicked it into the closet.
"You do glow though." Sue said seriously, ignoring her friends idle, hormone induced threats.
Jumps answer was a large grin and a request for a tuna and peanut butter sandwich.
It was early September and Jump was seven months pregnant. Everything was going along fine. With each doctors appointment shed begun to get more excited. With the hard part of telling Mark and his family over, she could now look forward to the birth of her son.
Shed made Sue promise not to tell Matt or Bernadette until she could get into direct contact with Mark. After a couple of agonizing weeks for both Sue and Jump, she was finally able to reach Mark on a landline in Japan.
At first he didnt believe it. But he had the good sense to not ask if it was his. He knew there was no question it was. He slowly began to get excited until Jump told him how she would raise the baby alone, but he could be involved in its life if he chose.
Up until that point he was excited at the prospect of raising the baby with Jump. His mind was racing about how he could possibly get home earlier and he and Jump could pick up where they left off and start making plans. But as she continued on about her plans, the truth of the situation cut into his heart.
To him this changed everything; to her it changed nothing.
It took a few more long and sometimes heated phone calls to come to an amicable agreement between the two. Mark could not let this go without a fight. He argued the fact that the baby should have a mother and father. He felt he deserved a chance at making her happy. He promised that hed be good to Jump. Not knowing what else would convince her, he told her that he loved her. It momentarily threw her; she didnt expect him to say that at all. Once he did say it, he felt a weight being lifted from him and he began to tell her all the things he wanted to tell her that day he walked out of her apartment.
He was putting up a good argument. He was building his case on why this could work between them. Why she had to give it a chance at least.
Finally, they decided. It was essentially this- when he got home, theyd start dating again. It would be Jump who would decide if this would be something she might want. It was a huge emotional risk to Mark whod already given his heart to her, but he figured he couldnt lose what hed already given away.
"Are you sure its straight?" Asked Jump as she sat in a worn directors chair, watching Bernadette hang pictures of snowy scenery in the new ski shop.
Bernadette gingerly slid the hammer into her tool belt and looked back at the seven-month pregnant nit-pick machine with a placating little smile. She had grown accustomed to Jumps little mood swings coupled with her perfectionist tendencies, so when Jump asked if the picture was straight, she pulled out her level and watched as Jump leaned up in her chair and squinted to see for herself.
"Wow. Maybe the wall is crooked then." Before Bernadette could do anything harmful to the mother of her unborn nephew, Sue stepped in with some cookies and lemonade.
As Sue handed Bernadette a cookie, she whispered, "Breathe "
Bernadette did just that and let out a soft chuckle.
When Bernadette had learned that Jump was pregnant, she didnt know what to think. She knew Jump wasnt the type of girl who was trying to trap her brother or anything. She had the sense from the way things ended between the two that it would have been the other way around if anything.
So, Bernadette had asked Jump what her intentions were regarding her brother. Bernadette was impressed that shed already talked with him before the rest of the family knew. But when Jump stopped short of saying what this would mean for Mark and her relationship, Bernadette was a bit put off. Again came the knee-jerk reaction from Bernadette to protect her brother.
Jump must have sensed it and explained that her and Mark needed to talk some more and figure it out for themselves before discussing it in depth with anyone else because it would be unfair to him.
Bernadette respected that and was admittedly happy with Jumps honesty. In turn, Jump realized Bernadette was just being the protective sister and admired her for that. That brief but telling conversation between the two was the start of a friendship of sorts for the women who up until then had just been perpetual acquaintances brought together by the brothers and Sue.
As a result of this burgeoning friendship, Bernadettes protective nature that encompassed her family extended to Jump and the baby, too. As Bernadettes business building project wrapped up, she put off looking for another and just helped out with setting up the ski shop and made sure Jump wasnt tiring herself out trying to get it ready for ski season.
All of the construction was done on it; all that was left was a little finish work and bringing in product and setting up racks and displays. Some days it would be Bernadette and Matt and other days it would just be Bernadette that would work on the last details.
Being the fiercely independent person Jump was, she knew Jump was a little frustrated at not being able to do all of this herself. So, Bernadette made sure to be extra patient with the woman - even when she made her straighten pictures 6 or 7 times.
"Hey, Foreman!" Jump called out from around a mouthful of cookie to Bernadette, using her favorite nickname for the construction worker.
Bernadette looked at her with elevated eyebrows and the cup of lemonade half raised to her mouth.
"You wanna hang the pictures in my apartment too? Theyve been sitting in the spare room for a year and half now. I gotta get em outta there soon, you know!"
Just as Bernadette was about to reply, Jump tossed her a quick, toothy smile and winked at her and then slid out of her directors chair and announced that she had to pee.
And Bernadettes stomach turned over- in a not-so-unpleasant way. Strange.
Jump sat on her couch with her feet propped up under a pillow, resting her eight-month pregnant body. She was dozing off and on while reading a book about what to expect while delivering. Shed put it off until now and could easily see why. Ugh
In the soon-to-be nursery, she could hear Sue and Matt putting together some of the toys and furniture shed gotten at her surprise baby shower.
She had waddled into the surf shop at about 4pm last week, per Sues request to check in some inventory. Shed wondered why Sue and Casey, the help shed let Sue hire, couldnt manage it alone.
But, shed come anyway as Sue had been a bit adamant. What are they gonna do without me for a couple of months? She mused. As she pushed open the door a loud, "Surprise!" exploded in the shop and nearly made her water break then and there. After the initial confusion, she smiled widely at all the people who had come bearing gifts for her and her baby. There was Matt and Sue, Bernadette and Frank, Tim and some of his surfing buddies and girlfriends and to her utter surprise and glee, her dad.
Apparently, Sue had gotten a hold of him and he had driven the four hours from central California to come and see his daughter and celebrate her impending motherhood. It had been almost a year since theyd seen each other last and they had spent the better part of two days catching up and reconnecting.
Together, theyd called her mother (her and Jumps dad were divorced), and talked for a while and her mother had promised to fly from Vermont over Christmas and visit her and the new baby.
If Jump had any doubts about people accepting her pregnancy or being happy for her, they were erased at the baby shower. She was deeply moved when, for the last gift, Bernadette and Matt had presented her with a beautiful handmade baby crib. It had brought Jump to tears and shed stood by the siblings, sniffling softly as they showed her how it converted from infant bassinette to toddler bed, pride and tenderness evident in their demonstrations.
"Are you sure you guys dont need any help? I can be useful still!" Jump yelled back from the couch to Matt and Sue. She heard Sues sock covered feet coming down the hallway so she rested her book on her round belly.
"How are you feeling? Anymore dizziness?" Sue asked as she swept an errant piece of blonde hair from her eyes.
"No, Doctor Lucas. Im feeling much better." Jump replied with a good-humored eye roll and smile. She had begun to feel a little dizzy when she was helping to put away some of the baby clothes in the babys room. Matt and Sue quickly ushered her to the couch to lie down and take it easy.
"This kid is gonna have so many people looking after him, he wont get away with anything!" Jump had laughed as theyd propped her feet up and Sue had felt Jumps forehead for fever.
"Youre just lucky Bernadette wasnt here or youd be at the hospital already!" Joked Sue. "You are probably right!" Laughed Jump.
Bernadette had been a great help and a great friend throughout Jumps pregnancy. Shed often come over to the apartment to make sure Jump was eating well and had everything she needed. Jump had gotten to the point where shed really looked forward to Bernadettes visits.
Theyd talk about their families and growing up. Bernadette would relay some of the same stories Matt and Mark had already shared, but with a different perspective that was equally entertaining and enlightening. They talked about their respective professions and the challenges theyd endured along the way.
They talked about boyfriends and relationships. Jump didnt get too much into her and Marks relationship for fear of making things awkward, but she did share with Bernadette some of the things they had in common.
When talk would switch to Bernadettes love life, she simply repeated what shed told her brothers and dad. She was happy with her life as it is and had no desire to complicate it. Jump seemed to absorb that information in stride and went as far as admitting to Bernadette that that was exactly what she told Sue right before she met Mark.
"Speaking of Bernadette, is she coming over tonight?" Asked Matt as he came into the room and sat next to Sue on the loveseat adjacent to Jump.
"I think so. Later though. She said she had a basketball game. She mentioned something about a certain brother too busy to play, so shes had to fill in on one of the teams." This last sentence was said with a little wink.
"Whatever. Shes just jealous that I gots me a honey to spend time with!" Matt grinned stupidly as he put his arm around Sue.
Sue rolled her eyes and jabbed him in the ribs playfully. She did so again and looked at Matt sideways. "You know, I used to be able to feel your ribs when I did that."
Matt got what she was implying and poked at his own ribs. "Well, I guess I better spend some time on the court then ."
The women giggled as Matt stuck his tongue out at them. Just then, the phone rang and Jump grunted as she reached over the coffee table to pick up the cordless.
"Hey Jump." It was Mark.
"How are you?" she asked. She felt a little nervous on the phone with him for some reason.
Matt and Sue picked up on it and mimed their way out the door with a mouthed thank you for everything from Jump.
When she heard the door click shut, she resumed her full attention to Mark.
"I think Im going to be able to come home early." He said. Jump tried to hide the hesitation in her voice. She figured hed find a way, pull some strings or something. For some reason, she felt a bit of trepidation in seeing him again.
"Great. When?" She asked, trying to find the balance between genuine excitement and casualness.
"Im not exactly sure, but within the next two weeks. Im trying to catch a military flight out of here to New York and then get on a commercial connecting flight."
"How are you feeling?" He said after a beat.
"Im feeling pretty good. I havent seen my feet in 3 weeks though." She said lightly, trying to untie this knot in her stomach.
"Wow. I cant imagine " He said, leaving the thought unvoiced. He cleared his throat and Jump heard him take a deep breath.
"I wish I was there with you. Im sorry I had to be gone."
Jump heard the utter sadness and longing in his voice and felt a single tear form in the corner of her eye. He was such a good, sweet man
"Me too." She said, trying to clear her tickly throat, a result of the emotion welling up inside her.
"Is he kicking yet?" Asked Mark, sounding a bit brighter.
"Like a punter." She said with an easy laugh. There was a beat of silence then, "Will you put the phone to to your stomach? So I can talk to him?" He said this in such a small, careful voice, it broke Jumps heart a little.
"Of course of course I will Mark." She said in a barely audible whisper.
Jump was awakened by the telephone ringing next to her ear.
"Jeez, what time is it?" She mumbled aloud as she reached for the cordless shed carried with her to bed after hanging up with Mark.
As she picked it up, she glanced at the clock. 9:08 a.m. Okay, not so early then. The person on the other line wont get an earful
"Jump?" came the voice of Bernadette when Jump didnt say hello into the phone right away.
"Sorry, Im here." Jump said as she became fully awake at her friends voice.
"Ah man, did I wake you? Im sorry "
"Yeah, but its okay. I didnt realize it was so late." Jump yawned loudly which made Bernadette giggle.
"Im sorry, that was rude." Said Jump as she sat up and leaned against the headboard. She could feel her hair sticking up against her head in all different angles. She unconsciously tried to smooth them down.
"Youre allowed. How are you feeling?" Bernadette asked.
"Im feeling good. How was your basketball game last night?" Jump was a bit bummed when Bernadette had not come over last night or called.
"Well, it was fun until I slipped on the court and rolled my ankle. The doctor said it was just a sprain so Ill live."
"Ow. I heard sprains hurt worse than breaks." Jump winced in sympathy. That explained why she didnt come over, poor thing, thought Jump.
"Well, generally I would say thats true. This isnt a bad sprain though. Ive had worse when I was younger." Bernadette explained.
Both women fell into a rare, awkward silence. Finally, Jump broke it by telling her about Mark coming home early.
"Oh yeah?" Said Bernadette with genuine surprise and joy. "I knew hed find away to come early. Will he make it back for the birth?"
"He said it would be about two weeks, so he might be able to actually."
"I hope he does, Jump." Bernadette said sincerely.
"Yeah, me too." Jump said, struggling to sound enthusiastic. As the time for Mark to come home got closer, Jump was feeling more apprehensive about seeing him again. Jump knew she was expected to pretty much continue where they left off and it scared her senseless.
A clearing of the throat by Bernadette brought Jump back out of her head and back to her conversation.
"Hey listen, I was going to hobble down to the Beachside Café for some breakfast. Can I pick you up something?" Asked Bernadette.
"Actually, could I join you? Id like to get out a little and stretch my poor little legs."
Jump could almost hear the smile on Bernadettes face as she said, "Absolutely! Ill come pick you up."
Continued in Chapter 7
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