Jump watched, mesmerized by the sight of this little cherubic face suckling her nipple. It was quite an interesting sensation at first, but it had come to be something amazing that just she and her baby boy shared. She loved looking at him and studying his little hands and feet, his tiny nose and ears.
Sometimes at night, shed wake up, even without hearing a cry. Shed go into the nursery and just watch him in wonder as he slept. This is the best thing Ive ever done, she thought to herself.
Jumps quiet observation of Ryan was interrupted by a knock at the door. "Who is it?" She called from her recliner.
"Just me." She heard Sue call and then the jangle of keys as she opened the front door. "I thought youd be feeding the little linebacker." Teased Sue as she let herself in and dropped a few groceries off on the counter.
"Thank you so much Sue." Jump said sincerely.
"Not a problem Mommy Jump!" Sue said cheerily. "Ive got a few minutes before I need to be back at the shop." She said as she plunked down her purse and took a seat at the end of the couch closest to Jump.
"How are things going at the shop?" asked Jump as she gingerly switched breasts for the hungry boy. The one-month old baby was growing exponentially and moms sore nipples were living proof.
Sue chuckled as she watched little Ryan latch onto the other nipple with vigor. "Ouch, you little sucker!" Jump laughed.
"Men " Sue said, rolling her eyes. Jump barked out a laugh.
"Things are going great, boss. Im interviewing a couple of those college kids. Did you want to see their apps again?" Sue made a motion to get them out of her purse.
"Nah, I trust you."
"You have no choice, now, do you?" Sue challenged as a smile formed on her lips.
A few quiet moments passed between the friends as they both looked on at the little baby.
Finally, Sue steeled herself and looked at Jump gently. "How are things going with Mark?"
About two weeks ago, Jump had finally filled Sue in about her apprehension on dating Mark again. Jump had explained that she was having a hard time rekindling their relationship, much less thinking about marrying him. She liked him very much and he was just great with Ryan, but there was that proverbial something missing between the two, at least for her.
Sue had reasoned that Jump had been so used to going it alone, she just had to warm up to the idea and to Mark. Jump gave that a moments consideration and quickly dismissed it. She had been through all of this in her head a million times. Each time she came up with the same results. She tried to lay it out for her friend.
"Look, what you and Matt have, its evident in your face when you talk about him. It radiates off of you two." Jump breathed in deeply and let it out slowly. She continued, "It was evident weeks after you started dating him. You even said it yourself that you thought he was the one, even before you slept with him."
"But Jump," Sue said gingerly, "Mark has only been back for a couple of weeks."
Jump blew out a frustrated breath. "Yeah, but we dated for almost 4 months before he left." Jump looked at Sue evenly. "Havent you ever just looked at a couple and known they were deeply in love? Did you see it in me with Mark? Ever?"
Sue listened. She hadnt realized it was that evident for her friend-her love for Matt. But Sue had seen it in other couples. Shed seen it in her parents, in Matts sister Carrie and her husband, James.
But she hadnt seen it in Jump.
"Oh, Jump " Sue said, realization and sympathy evident in her voice. "What are you going to do? Does Mark know how you are feeling about all of this?"
Seemingly not hearing what Sue just asked, Jump began talking, looking unfocused. "Ive tried and tried to do what I think I should. I should be in love with him. I should marry him Damnit ." She broke off, getting too distraught to continue. Sue had never seen her stolid, all-together friend like this. It was breaking her heart.
"You cant go on like this, Jump. I can see it is killing you." Sue reached over and grabbed her friends hand over the kitchen table they were quietly sitting at. Ryan was sleeping in his nursery and they could hear him breathing softly through the monitor.
Jump let the tears come now. She had finally voiced her emotional struggle and her friend had understood. Jump felt a bit of relief, but also knew that the hardest part was still to come.
So, three days later, she sat down with Mark and told him everything.
So, when Jump heard Sues question, she responded by saying, "Things are going as good as can be expected, I guess. Hes still angry. I can tell that. But he comes to see Ryan all the time. Im never going to deny him that." Jump said, sadness evident in her voice.
"Hes gonna rent an apartment near here. He wants to be the boys father, no matter what." Jump sniffled a little as she brought Ryan up to her shoulder and pulled down her top to cover herself. "I told him there is no need to get the courts involved for custody or child support. Well work it all out together." Jump laughed bitterly. "He was at least happy about that."
Sue looked at her friend empathetically. "Hey, I gotta get going back to the shop. Do you need me to bring you anything? You want me to come back later tonight?"
Jump smiled at her friends endless love and support. "No, thats okay. Spend time with your man. I know you havent had a lot of time with him lately."
Sue grinned widely. "Yeah, Im forgetting what he looks like!"
"Oh no! Wouldnt want that to happen!" Jump teased as she rose with Ryan and walked her friend to the door.
A couple hours after Sue left, there was a knock at the door. Expecting it to be Mark, she opened the door without looking through the peephole. She was surprised when it was Bernadette, clad in what could only be her attire for her pick up basketball games. She had on a cut off sweatshirt showing her well-toned arms and long poly-blend shorts with NAVY on the leg. Her hair was tied back, showing her angular jaw.
"Hey." Jump said.
"Hey yourself." Said a subdued Bernadette. They hadnt seen each other much since her and Mark had talked. Jump got the impression that again the tall brunette was upset at her for what happened with her brother.
There was an awkward moment of silence in which Jump shifted Ryan from one arm to the other. Bernadette watched, a big smile growing on her face.
"Hows the big guy doing?" Asked Bernadette as she reached for his little hand. Jump stepped into the touch so Bernadette could see him better.
"Hes doing great. Eating like a horse." She laughed.
Bernadette looked up into Jumps eyes and for a split second something passed between them. It left Jump a bit perplexed, but she figured it was just from not seeing her friend for a while.
"Sorry, where are my manners. Come in!" Jump said as she stepped away from the door.
"I can only stay a minute, Im meeting the guys soon to play." Bernadette said as she stepped across the threshold and into the living room.
"Can I get you something to drink or anything?" Jump called over her shoulder as she headed towards the kitchen. Bernadette followed her and asked if she had some water.
"Sure, can you hold him a minute?" asked Jump, not waiting for an answer as she put the baby in Bernadettes waiting arms. Bernadette cooed at the baby and touched his dark brow.
"He looks so much like Mark." Commented Bernadette. As soon as it was out of her mouth she looked up at Jump a little nervously. She didnt come here to make Jump uncomfortable. If anything it was to make sure everything was okay.
Jump took the comment in stride and walked up to Bernadette, setting the water down onto the counter. She then put her hand on little Ryans head and looked at him. "Youre right. He looks just like him." Jump said with a wide smile. Its okay, Bernadette, I dont hate your brother, thought Jump.
Bernadette looked at Jump until Jump caught her eyes. Bernadette shifted from foot to foot and Jump knew she was about to hear the reason for this impromptu visit.
"Look Jump. No matter what happens with my brother, I want you and I to remain friends. I want to be Ryans aunt in all respects too, if that is okay. If and when Mark gets shipped out again, I want you to always feel free to call on me for anything."
Those four sentences were exactly what Jump needed to hear from her friend. She was so happy she said that because that was just what Jump wanted too. Jumps nose and eyes crinkled from the enormous smile she bestowed upon Bernadette.
"I want all of those things too, Bernsy. Thank you so much for everything youve done already. I know Ive told you, but it can never be enough."
"Im glad I was there." Bernadette said sincerely, knowing what Jump was talking about.
They stood in silence as they each looked down on the little guy who was busily sucking at his thumb now. "Hungry again?" Laughed Jump. "Im telling you, this guy could eat non-stop." As if on cue, he started to fuss a bit. Wordlessly, Bernadette gave him gently to Jump, who went over to her recliner.
Bernadette realized she was going to breastfeed him right there and suddenly felt enormously flushed.
"Uh, thanks for the water and all." She rushed out as she gulped it down in two swallows.
"You have to go already?" Jump sounded a bit disappointed.
"Yeah, Ill be late. They hate h-holding up the court, ya know." Bernadette could not get out of there fast enough as she saw Jump lifting up her t-shirt. Why am I freaking out, I see my sister breastfeeding all the time, went through Bernadettes head as she tried looking everywhere but Jumps breasts. Her ears felt hot and she couldve sworn she just stuttered.
"Okay. Dont be a stranger." Jump smiled widely. Bernadette could only nod as she reached for the door. Before she got all the way out, Jump called her name.
"Thanks for coming over, Bernsy."
A small smile and wave and a sure and Bernadette was out the door and into cool air.
"What the hell was that?" Said Bernadette as she jogged back to her truck. "I acted like a teenage boy or something." Deciding to put that train of thought away for later, she started up her truck, and sped out of the parking lot.
Jump smiled at Bernadettes retreating figure. She looked positively flustered, thought Jump as she positioned Ryan on her right breast. "I guess I should warn people before I start whipping out my boob for you, little man." She chuckled as she sat back and relaxed.
"Jeez, Bernadette, you played like crap tonight!" laughed Matt. "Youre little mind elsewhere tonight?" he continued.
"You keep hassling me and your little head will be elsewhere, little brother." Bernadette growled as she stuffed her towel in her gym bag and grabbed a bottle of water from it.
"Ouch! I was just messin with ya!" Matt said as he flinched at Bernadettes uncharacteristic comment. She could usually take his teasing about her playing because she often wiped the floor with most of the guys out here.
"Sorry, Matt. I guess Im a little distracted tonight." Bernadette reached out her hand, asking for a truce. Matt obliged and gave his sister a conciliatory smile.
"Anything you wanna talk about?" he asked as he began pulling on his sweat pants.
"No, just some stuff I gotta work out in my head." Like why cant I get Jump OUT of my head for more than an hour.
"Well, if you need someone to talk to, you can talk to me, or even Sue if its a girl thing." Matt said, smiling at the last part.
"Thanks, bro." Bernadette said as she climbed into her truck.
Driving home, Bernadettes mind was running a million miles an hour. When shed been introduced to Jump, shed liked her almost immediately. Shed seen what Mark liked in her right away and had set out to try and get to know her as a person, not just as Marks girlfriend.
When she thought of how it was when Matt brought home Sue, shed liked her too, but there wasnt this driving desire to really sit down with her and talk. Shed expressed an interest in getting to know her, but really just as Matts girlfriend.
But with Jump there was definitely something different. Sure, theyd been through a lot with Ryan being born; maybe that was part of it. It started way before that and you know it Bernadette.
Bernadette was not one to run from feelings or fall prey to denial. As she added all these things up in her head it left her with one conclusion- she was attracted to Jump.
The really weird thing about this all was that shed never even considered women before. Shed been accused of it many a time in high school when she wouldnt sleep with any of the guys who asked, but the truth was, she just didnt like any of them. Popularity didnt matter to Bernadette, but being true to her self did.
As it does now. Okay Bernadette, you are attracted to a woman who just gave birth to your brothers baby. What are you going to do now?
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