Tony’s been hanging out with best friend, Matt for most of the morning. Meanwhile, Amber has been waiting to get him alone to grill him about his whirlwind engagement.
I’m heading out. Tell my beautiful nieces I’m sorry I missed them. (Tony)
Whoa, wait a minute. I need to talk to you. (Amber)
What’s up? (Tony, taking a seat on the sofa)
Alright, spill it….what’s the story with this sudden engagement? Will the bridal shower be followed closely by a baby shower? (Amber)
Is that really what you think? (Tony, laughing)
Why else would you be in such a hurry? You hardly know this woman. (Amber)
I know my fiancée better than you think I do. I know that she’s smart and kind and beautiful. I know that she imagined herself married, most likely with children, by this point in her life… (Tony)
So, is that it? She gave you an ultimatum, didn’t she- told you that if you didn’t plan to put a rock on her finger, then you should go kick rocks? (Amber, interrupting)
Nah, she didn’t give me an ultimatum. She didn’t have to. She has a lot going for herself, and she knows what she wants. I’m smart enough to realize that she’s probably not going to wait around for me to become the man she wants. So, I’m going to be the man she wants- the man she deserves- now. (Tony)
Amber looks thoughtful.
What is it now? (Tony)
I’m not sure what to say. I’m relieved…and proud of you…and genuinely happy for you. (Amber)
Well, thanks. Your blessing means a lot to us.
I really gotta get going. (Tony)
Where are you headed in such a hurry? (Amber)
I’m supposed to meet a friend...a girl...an old girlfriend from when I was stationed in California… (Tony)
Seriously, Tony?! How is hooking up with an old girlfriend giving Brandy the man she deserves? (Amber, interrupting again)
It’s not like that! She emailed a few days ago to say she was in town and needed to talk to me about something important. Of course I told her about Brandy, so there would be no misunderstanding. (Tony)
Tony walks into Tastries bakery and spots Lea at a table.
Thanks. Umm, so do you. (Tony, awkwardly)
I live here now…just moved here not too long ago, actually. It’s sort of complicated. (Lea)
You moved here? Alone? (Tony)
Not exactly. That’s the complicated part. (Lea)
No, I don’t think you do. (Lea)
Okay, before I say anything, I’m going to ask you to be patient and just try to hear me out. If you interrupt, it will just make it harder for me to say what I came to say. I asked you to meet me so I could tell you the whole truth to your face. I’ve rehearsed this a thousand times trying to figure out the best way to say it. (Lea)
Lea takes a deep breath and musters all the courage she can.
Okay, here goes. When you left California, I had something I needed to tell you but I was too afraid. We had decided to end things, on good terms I think, several months before that. Tony, I promise you I didn’t know beforehand. You’ve got to believe me… (Lea)
Tony, I was 18 weeks pregnant when you left and I’d just found out a few days before. I swear I didn’t know. (Lea)
I’d been to the doctor a few times trying to figure out why I wasn’t getting my period. Two different pregnancy tests, taken quite a few weeks apart, had come back negative. Finally, after a third test was inconclusive, my doctor ordered a blood test which came back positive. And when I had the ultrasound to date the pregnancy, they estimated I was 18 weeks. I wanted to tell you, but I was scared of what you would think and what you would say. Besides, you were headed back to Georgia. I really am sorry for keeping this from you. (Lea)
I had the baby. She was born a little early at 36 weeks, but she was perfectly healthy. (Lea)
Yes, her name is Kayla Hamilton. She’s three years old. (Lea)
I had to postpone finishing school so I could look after Kayla. I was a year away from my bachelor’s degree. And that’s part of what brings me to Dollton. I want to finish school for myself and for her, and I’m going to need help. Plus, I decided I’d kept this from you for long enough. I hope that in time you will forgive me. (Lea)
Have you been taking care of her all by yourself? (Tony)
No, my mother was helping in the beginning. But at some point- I’m not sure when- she fell off the wagon. She started drinking more than ever, and eventually it made her incapable of helping. (Lea)
Is she here, too? (Tony)
No, she’s still in California, but she’s getting treatment. I asked her to come with us, but she didn’t want to. (Lea)
She’s with a sitter. I thought you might need time to get over the shock before meeting her. (Lea)
Paternity test? (Tony)
I assumed you’d want one. I sure as he!! would want one if it were me sitting in your place. And then there’s your fiancée…she’ll need proof even if you don’t. (Lea)
Tony goes silent for a long time. His mind is reeling with the information he just heard. This definitely changes things.
Thanks for reading!