JULIE'S WEEKEND

​A Merc Series Short Story

The Merc Series



 “Oh hell no! You tell that bitch her ass better be behind the bar tonight or she can go find a new job. In fact, she better get us two five star reviews tonight or she can pack up her shit!”

     “I will give her the message.”

     “Good. Any word from Andrei?”

     “Nope.”

     “Screw him then. His loss, not ours.”

     “Exactly.”

     “Anything else?”

     “No, we good.”

     “Okay. Don’t call me this weekend unless the club is actually on fire.”

     “Yes ma’am.”

     “Hey Vanessa.”

     “Yes?”

     “Thank you.”

     “No problem. Have a great weekend girl.”

     Twenty-eight-year-old Julie Taylor smiled as she ended the call and tossed her phone into the passenger seat of her car. She was bound and determined to do just that, even if this day seemed out to get her from the moment she woke up.

     She wasn’t expecting to get any action this weekend but it would have been nice to at least have that option on the table, but no, this was the weekend her body decided to say haha, screw you. And Julie was already getting sick of it. Two months ago she had the copper IUD put in after she made a really bad decision the month before. Since she’d never had a baby before, her doctor told her to expect some pain and cramping from it, but damned if she didn’t sound as bad as her pseudo-girlfriend, Bobbi Jordan. Then just when things looked to be going okay, her body went and expelled the damn thing last month. Julie was all for sticking out in a crowd, but when only two out of every hundred women have that happen to them, it was a bunch of crap. She was supposed to have gone back three weeks ago to try again but she’d been finding reasons to not make the appointment. She thought about getting the shot, since the pill was how she messed up in the first place four months ago, but seeing how Bobbi was, after switching to it, didn’t exactly give it a ringing endorsement.

     Her drive to the club wasn’t much better as some asshole came speeding by in the lane next to her and clipped her, taking her mirror with him. She snapped a pic of his car for Megan to track down later.

     What was supposed to be a ‘half day’ at work turned into a full day because of all the crap Vanessa added to her schedule without telling her. Vanessa was Julie’s floor manager when she wasn’t around and while she loved the girl to death, she was trying her patience today. Especially when the moment Julie walked through the doors to the club she had to sit through an interview with a girl who was way too happy, cheerful, hyper and perky. By the time the ten minutes were up for the interview, Julie knew she would only be able to handle the girl in small doses but couldn’t deny that she’d be perfect for the hostess spot she needed filled.

     She didn’t get to eat anything for lunch because she had to take a conference call to handle a crisis that had happened in a sister club in Miami. She managed to smooth things over, for now. Julie had a feeling they would have to take more drastic measures with that club, sooner rather than later.

     Then as if she wasn’t in a pissy mood already, she had to sit around for an hour waiting for a meeting with a Russian named Andrei. He was the maker of a new vodka that was huge in New York right now and wanted her club, Alizarin, to sell it. In addition to being late for the meeting, Andrei didn’t even have the decency to show up for the meeting, choosing instead to send one of his mid-level pitchmen in his place. Like that would somehow be just as good.

     The only reason Julie didn’t put her foot up the guy’s ass when she tossed him from Alizarin was because she had her favorite pair of red bottom Louis Vuitton pumps on to go with the one sleeve, thigh length, form fitting, cobalt blue dress she wore. She had an image to maintain, even on half days, not that that had happened today.

     And now that she was almost at her destination, four hours late, one of her bartenders, Courtney, thought she could call out on a Friday night in July like it was no big deal. Fuck that. The girl only worked Friday and Saturday night for maybe 14 hours total and made enough to live off just that, in Boston.

     Julie was glad she had never fooled around with her as it will be less awkward when she fires her ass on Monday. Good luck finding some place that will pay as much as Julie did, especially when Courtney’s left arm was completely tattooed down to her hand and knuckles. She did have a nice body though. But she talked so loud. Maybe she’d wait and see how the girl did this weekend before making a snap decision in her current mood.

     Julie let out a sigh as she drove past the titanium gate that surrounded the large property in Maine. Its nickname was the ‘The Walker Compound’. Besides being the General Manager to Alizarin, Julie was also secretly a member of the mercenary team Red Diamond. As a former US Army Intelligence Officer, Julie brought the same abilities to Red Diamond, giving them the inside scoop on everything going on within Boston’s underworld, thanks in no small part to all the hot girls who worked for Julie at Alizarin.

     She parked her car right in front of the house and got out, pausing to pull her dress back down a bit, she reached back for her phone and slung her overnight bag over her shoulder, before walking up to the door and pressing her finger to the big, oak front door. She waited for her prompt and entered her pin number. As this was Red Diamond’s secret HQ, all the entrances had keyless locks.

     Julie walked into the house, closing the door behind her, and walked through the huge front entrance, past the double staircases, through the enormous great room that had been turned into the living room. She exited the living room out the side door that was on the left side and stepped onto the patio. The house was amazing and the backyard was just as impressive.

     A large patio surrounded the just as large, kidney shaped pool in front of her. She planned to be spending most of tomorrow working on her tan right here in one of the very comfy lounge chairs. The hot tub was to her right at the end of the patio and a small one-bedroom cabin style pool house was in the corner opposite it.

     Julie went left though, to the team’s main hangout spot, another pool house. This one was large with a much different design as it was an open concept with pillars. The two areas inside it included a kitchen and a lounging area. The kitchen had a built-in grill and a black marble countertop island that could comfortably seat a dozen around it. Past the kitchen was the lounging area but they had set it up to be another living room, with four couches and a fireplace. An 80inch curved TV was hung above the fireplace and offered an excellent view to those sitting at the island or on one of the couches. A bathroom was around the corner from the kitchen on the outside. Julie’s teammate Clarissa, a former US Army engineer and genius, had built retractable walls around the place to protect it from the brutal Maine winters. Plus, it gave them an excuse to entertain in it all year long. Julie didn’t get much downtime with Clarissa as their alias kept them in different places throughout the weeks, but when they did hangout, fun times were always had.

     Truth be told, with the exception of Bobbi, Julie didn’t get to hang out with most of the members of her team, since her day job kept her so busy. Not that she was complaining about being the General Manager for one of Boston’s top clubs. But it did make weekends like this all the more enjoyable, she thought as she sat her bag on the marble countertop.

     “Well, look who it is,” Nick Walker said and gave her a kiss on the cheek from the other side.

     Nick was technically the team’s leader and one of its co-founders. He was also her friend and one of the main reasons she joined up with Red Diamond.

     “Sorry I’m late,” she said and sat down in a chair.

     Nick placed a frozen blue raspberry margarita in front of her before turning the grill behind him on. He looked at her and asked, “What happened?”

     Julie took a long sip of her margarita then told him about her annoying, crappy day, minus the morning. Nick took it all in and said, “If you were waiting around for this Andrei guy for so long, why didn’t you eat something then?”

     “Well I didn’t know I’d be waiting that long and didn’t want to be stuffing my face if he suddenly walked in. How is that your take away from my story?” Julie asked before taking another sip.

     Nick just flashed that great smile of his.

     “When does the game start?” Julie asked, checking her phone for the time.

     “7:10.”

     “That’s like, half an hour from now.”

     “Yes, it is.”

     “So where is everyone?” Julie asked. She hadn’t seen anyone else’s car out front. “I mean even if they don’t want to watch the game, I can’t believe they wouldn’t show up for your grilling skills.”

     “Why thank you. I don’t know if the others are going to watch the game, even if they do, it won’t be with us.”

     Julie starred at him, puzzled.

     “The team flew out to Vegas this weekend for that big UFC fight tomorrow night.”

     “That was this weekend?” Julie asked covering her face with her hands. This day kept getting better and better.

     “Sure is.”

     “Fuck,” Julie said and instantly covered her mouth. Nick wasn’t a fan of swearing and she normally kept it in control but today, not so much.

     “Why didn’t you remind me?” Julie asked and put her head on the counter.

     “Because you’ve been looking forward to this weekend since April.”

     “It’s okay. It’s just a baseball game Nick. Vegas-”

     “Isn’t really my cup of tea,” Nick said and lifted her head up by the chin.

     Julie smiled. This was the only weekend series the Boston Red Sox would play at home against the New York Yankees for the rest of the summer. While she and Nick did sneak in a game or two at Fenway during the season, when she had the time, she enjoyed sitting at home on the couch watching the games while Nick always cooked up the most delicious snacks for them. Knowing it would be the Yankees getting crushed this weekend, made it all the better.

     Julie looked at the time on her phone again and stood up, again fixing her dress.

     “I need to run to Rite Aid real quick.”

     “Why?” Nick asked as he chopped up an onion. There were few things the Walker Compound didn’t already contain, some in spades.

     “Not sure you really want to know.”

     “I see. Well you’re more than welcome to run to Rite Aid or you could go up to my bathroom and check under the sink.”

     Julie took another drink of her margarita, trying not to blush.

     “No offense, as I know you’re use to dealing with Bobbi, but I don’t plan to be walking around in sweatpants this weekend.”

     “I know.”

     “Tell me we’re not having this conversation.”

     “Guess it’s a good thing I like you for you and not your vagina,” Nick replied.

     Any hope Julie had of not being embarrassed flew out the window right then. She covered her red face and went into the house.

     Could this day get any worse?

 

     *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

 

     “Oh come on! That was a ball,” Julie yelled at the TV.

     “I think you might be right on that one.”

     Julie looked at Nick and said, “Of course I’m right. Not sure why it took you to the 9th inning to realize that.”

     Nick smiled and Julie laughed.

     Julie reached down and took the last bite of her fourth hot dog. Nick had grilled and fixed up a bunch for them, including her favorite, a mustard, red onion, dill pickle and shredded cheddar cheese hot dog. She ate two of those alone, but when Nick made her a bacon wrapped one with diced tomatoes, lettuce, and mayo, oh how she was glad she missed lunch then.

     As if four fully loaded hot dogs weren’t bad enough, Julie had also consumed a bunch of homemade cheesy fries, fresh soft pretzel bites, extra butter popcorn, the entire blue raspberry margarita, three beers, and at the 7th inning stretch, Nick brought out a chocolate peanut butter cup sundae with whipped cream and drizzled with caramel. She had no idea how she had consumed it all, but right now she didn’t care. She was loving every bite.

     Nick was about to say something when Julie yelled,

     “Ball four!”

     “You know what that means?” Nick asked.

     Julie grinned at him.

     “Big Papi time.”

     They remained silent as David Ortiz took a first pitch strike. Nick watched contently as Julie leaned forward on the couch. She had changed into a pair of black yoga pants, her red Ortiz jersey and had put her dirty blonde hair into a ponytail to wear her white Red Sox cap better. Her dark navy satin bra had made it to the 2nd inning before Julie realized it really belonged on the floor in front of them.

     Ortiz took a second pitch, this one a ball. He stepped out of the batter’s box to fix his gloves. He stepped back in. Third pitch, a loud crack of the bat. Home run. Ballgame over.

     “Yes!” Julie roared and turned and hugged Nick. “That was awesome.”

     “Not a bad way to kick off this three game series,” Nick said and smiled as the TV showed the final score to be 5 to 3, Red Sox over the Yankees.

     He shut the TV off while Julie cracked open a fourth beer and took a sip. She took off her cap and undid her ponytail.

     “Do you mind if we stay out here a little longer?”

     “Not at all. The fire still has plenty of life to it,” Nick replied and took a sip of his Mountain Dew.

     Julie smiled and leaned back up against him, snuggling her face against Nick’s chest. He wrapped an arm around her and held her tight. She starred at the fire, the soft beating of Nick’s heart filling her ear.

     Somehow her crappy day turned out to be pretty damn good, all things considered. She was amazed at how no matter what was going on, Nick could be counted on to be the calm in the storm. He was always able to help you find your bearings no matter the mistakes you made.

     Julie blinked away the tears she could feel forming.

     “Thank you.”

     “For what?” Nick asked.

     “For tonight. All this,” Julie replied, waving her hand around.

     “You’re welcome. It was my pleasure.”

     “I ate way too much,” she said and placed her hands over her belly. They didn’t stay there for long, less she really started to cry. She hated being this emotional.

     “I may have gotten a little carried away with the food tonight. I’ll keep that in mind for tomorrow night.”

     “What’s tomorrow night?”

     “It’s a surprise.”

     “The game starts at the same time as today, right?”

     “Sure does. Which gives us plenty of time to get everything done.”

     “Everything what?” She asked and lifted her head off his chest to look at him.

     “You’ll see tomorrow. Best you rest.”

     Julie eyed him suspiciously before laying her head back on him.

     “It better not interfere with my sunbathing,” she teased.

     “Well that all depends.”

     “On what?” She asked, lifting her head back up.

     “On what bikini you’re wearing and if I can take pictures,” Nick said with a grin.

     Julie blushed. She’d been awake for over fourteen hours, had removed all her makeup when she changed before the game, just ate three days’ worth of food in one meal, her hair was beyond words, and she was feeling completely disheveled in her own skin. And yet this friend of hers, looked at her as if she was about to go out on the runway for Victoria’s Secret.

     The same friend who besides seeing her naked numerous times, had also shared an amazing night with her and Bobbi in the most intimate of ways not too long ago. And yet he could now stare at her in this very moment as though he’d never seen her, never held her, touched her, or tasted her. She didn’t know how he could do it, but there wasn’t a doubt in her mind that he meant it. Every look was genuine. That’s what made it such a double-edged sword, knowing that no matter what, they could never be anything more than what they were now.

     “I haven’t decided yet,” she finally said. “But,” she added, “I’ll give you a hint. It’s pink and small. You know how I feel about tan lines.”

     Nick grinned and said, “I do believe that was two hints.”

     “Really? That’s your take away?” She replied and smacked him.

     “Careful, I ate too much,” he teased and laughed.

     Julie couldn’t help but to smile. She saw Nick the least compared to the other girls on the team and rarely got this much one-on-one time with him, so it was nice to hear him laugh. Especially when she was the reason for it.

     She let out a deep breath and nestled into him. She stared back at the fire, trying to focus on tonight and nothing else. Nick hummed something. She didn’t recognize it but she liked it. She was sound asleep minutes later.

 

     *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

 

     “Has anyone ever told you how much you suck?” Julie asked while trying to catch her breath.

     “Well, I guess that depends on the context of the question doesn’t it.”

     “Stop. Don’t make me laugh,” Julie said trying not to do just that. She was almost up the stupid hill.

     She woke up this morning in one of the guest rooms. She couldn’t remember how she got there but was 99.9% certain Nick had carried her there. The only reason she got up when she did was because she had to pee so bad. Next thing she knew, Nick was walking into the room with a black duffel bag, just as she was trying to get back under the covers.

     “What’s that?” She had asked.

     “Some presents for you,” Nick replied and set the bag on the bed.

     Julie’s curiosity got the better of her and she opened it up to find a brand new pair of Saucony Hurricane sneakers, a hot pink Under Armor sports bra with black trim, black Under Armor Capris with pink trim, several energy bars and protein shakes, plus a Go Throw luxury linen beach blanket, that despite its huge size was rolled up like an oversize newspaper to fit perfectly within the bag.

     “Oh my God. Seriously Nick. This is, wow,” she said while feeling the softness of the blanket.

     “Softest one they make. You like it?”

     “I love it.”

     “Good. Now go change so we can get started.”

     “On what?”

     “We going on a run girl.”

     “But I wanted to sleep more. And I haven’t had breakfast or showered yet.”

     Nick picked up one of the energy bars and said, “Breakfast in bed, plus you’re just going to get dirty so you shower when we get back.”

     Julie starred at him and pouted.

     “You didn’t really think you’d spend a weekend with me without getting sweaty and out of breath did you?”

     He gave her a kiss on the forehead and headed for the door.

     “Meet me out front,” he said before leaving.

     That was over an hour ago and Julie had been running almost nonstop since. She could feel the burn in her legs as she finally made it to the top of the hill that was part of Red Diamond’s obstacle course, hidden in the several acres of woods behind the house. It wouldn’t have been nearly as bad if Nick hadn’t made them run down the mile-long road leading to the Walker Compound, twice, before they hit the long, always changing wooded trails.

     It didn’t help that it was already 90 degrees out this early in the day. She unscrewed the cap to her water bottle and took a long drink before dumping the rest over her head, soaking her chest in, not that it mattered since she was covered in sweat.

     “Good job.”

     “Thanks,” Julie said and bent over to catch her breath.

     Nick rested a hand on her back and said, “To think I was worried you were getting soft from all that time at the club.”

     “As if. But if you tell me we’re running this again, I may just throw up on you and call it a day.”

     “Nope, we’re done,” Nick said and glanced at the sun for the time. “We’ve got about 30 minutes before we need to leave, if you want to go take a quick shower. I’d recommend a ponytail and your baseball cap afterwards.”

     “Okay,” Julie said slowly.

     “What’s wrong?”

     “Nothing, just starting to feel like I’m your dress up Barbie today,” Julie said and smirked while posing in the sports bra and Capris he bought her.

     “What? That’s ridiculous.”

     “Oh it is, is it?”

     “Yes. Barbie wishes she had a butt as nice as yours,” Nick said and gave Julie’s butt a slap before running down the hill and back to the house.

     “Ha! Nice try buddy but I’m not chasing after you,” she hollered at him, then slowly made her way down the hill.

     Not that it mattered to her, but Julie was thought to have the nicest ass in the group, which considering how hot the other girls were… okay it did matter to her. She didn’t count Clarissa cause girl had more of a booty and-

     A rock came loose under Julie’s foot and she slipped landing right on her butt, before sliding down the hill the rest of the way.

     “Ow,” she said and stood up to brush herself off. She looked around to see if Nick had seen that, but didn’t see him.

     She took off in a light jog once back on the trial leading to the house, trying to think of something else besides the other girl’s asses, though she wouldn’t mind a sneak peak of Carol’s one of these days. Girl definitely had it going on.

     Julie made it back to the house with no further incidents and grabbed her cell phone from the kitchen before going upstairs, surprised she hadn’t seen Nick anywhere.

     She walked into the bathroom and found a small basket of stuff on the toilet for her. Three different kinds of body wash, two shampoos, four mini bottles of lotions, a brand new pink loofah, and a giant, extra soft towel, also pink. Julie shook her head and smiled. She closed the door and turned the shower on.

     She pulled off her damp sports bra first and tossed it to the ground. She was about to take her Capris off but stopped to grab her phone. She covered her boobs with her left arm and snapped a picture of herself in the mirror. She took three more before sending the second one to Bobbi. Something for her to look at tonight.

     Julie took the rest of her clothes off and stepped into the hot shower. It was hotter than she would have liked on a day like this but she was smelling hella ripe.

     She was making good time until she started washing her stomach and once more had to fight back tears. She finished washing up and quickly did her hair, wondering what else Nick had planned for her today.

    

     *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

 

     There was no doubt in Julie’s mind, she was in paradise right now. She took a sip of the Pineapple Mai Tai that Nick had made for her. It was her second one, and considering Nick didn’t drink, damn good. She adjusted her sunglasses and closed her eyes, loving the feel of the hot sun on her skin and the sweat that slowly ran down her. Much nicer workout than the one this morning.

     After her shower, Nick had taken her to a batting cage for an hour and helped her with her swing. After that, bacon cheeseburgers, wings and chocolate shakes at Hooters. Their waitress was hot as fuck and Julie offered her a job at Alizarin before they left. She was coming in on Monday for an interview. They stopped at the Square One Mall in Saugus, MA since they were nearby and Nick bought her the sunglasses she currently wore plus an outfit for tonight’s game.

     At this point her overnight bag had been pointless as Nick kept providing everything for her. Well everything but her reading material, as she had purchased several fashion magazines and a few gossip ones to read poolside. She managed to get through two of them before she couldn’t focus anymore because Nick had the nerve to take a dip in the pool. The guy was a walking, talking, ladyboner with his clothes on, but shirtless and in swim trunks? Oh it just wasn’t fair to be in her current condition.

     She was sure to snap a few pics of him and of herself laying there, sexy as hell. And because she was such a good friend, she sent a few of them to Bobbi, and told her she might want to change her bed sheets when she got home. Bobbi replied with a selfie of her middle finger. She also said she wished she had stayed home but didn’t elaborate further. 

     Julie sat up long enough to undo the string to her pink bikini top before turning over to lay face down on the Go Throw beach blanket. The thing felt amazing. Nick had stopped swimming not to long after her texts to Bobbi and disappeared after bringing her the second Mai Tai. That had been over an hour ago and Julie just laid there not moving a muscle. She didn’t realize just how much she had needed this weekend. She wondered how she was going to be able to show Nick her gratitude and thought of Bobbi in Vegas. Her friend Tara was in Vegas working as a bounty hunter. She’d be up for a fun night.

     Julie smiled. She could arrange that. She stayed on her stomach a little longer before rolling back over. She tossed her top to the ground and gave her boobs a rub before relaxing once more. She wasn’t used to them being this tender. Whatever. She wasn’t letting anything spoil her weekend.

     She finished her drink then dozed off, her thoughts happy.

 

     *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

 

     “What?” Julie asked when she saw Nick starring at her the moment she stepped out onto the patio.

     Nick had set up a table so they could eat out under the evening stars.

     “Nothing. You look very nice.”

     Julie smiled and tucked a loose strand of her hair behind her ear. She was thinking of making it blonder again. After her sunbathing, she’d taken another shower, this one with less urgency and changed into a short jean skirt with ankle black leather boots and a long, maroon velvet shirt, with an open neck that showed a generous amount of cleavage, that her black satin bra was holding back.

     “In hindsight I guess I could have given the girls the night off, huh?” Julie asked, feeling foolish, but at least not sore. The wonders of four Advil.

     Nick pulled out her chair for her and whispered into her ear, “You’re fine.”

     “You’re really sweet, you know that?”

     “Just doing my small part to restore chivalry to this world.”

     “Well, I must say, you’re making a valiant go at it. But I dare say there was nothing chivalrous about the things you did to Bobbi and I not too long ago.”

     Nick placed a huge container of thick cut steak fries in the center of the table, along with four different dipping sauces.

     “Dare I say, I don’t remember the lady protesting such actions at the time,” Nick said as he poured her a big glass of red wine, specifically a 2008 bottle of Brunello Riserva DOCG.

     “That’s cause this lady couldn’t stop moaning to voice a protest.”

     “Oh I recall that all right,” Nick replied while setting a dish of fresh green beans tossed with butter and olive oil and a bowl of garlic smashed potatoes, on the table.

     “Should you like to recall another night like that, it could be arranged,” Julie said, touching his hand.

     “Oh?”

     “I can find someone other than Bobbi too if you’d like. Or in addition too. Do you remember my friend Tara? Works out in Vegas.”

     Nick thought for a second and said, “She’s the one with all the brothers that are bounty hunters, right?”

     “Yes. I was thinking of inviting her over here sometime.” Julie said while trailing a finger nail over Nick’s hand. “I figure it’s the least I can do.”

     Nick stared at her before walking back to the grill in silence. She took a steak fry and chewed, suddenly feeling really nervous.

     “What do you mean by that?” Nick finally said on his way back with a large wooded cutting board.

     “Nothing, it’s just that you’ve spoiled me like no one else ever has in the last twenty-four hours.”

     “And you think I’m only doing it to get another threesome out of you?”

     Julie shook her head vigorously. “No, no. Tell me this isn’t really happening,” she said and covered her face.

     Nick placed the large wooden cutting board down in from of her. Julie looked to see a 24oz Porterhouse steak grilled to perfection. It looked amazing.

     “I’m never going to be able to eat all that.”

     “I know. I planned to use the rest to make you a steak tip salad for lunch tomorrow. I made some of that peppercorn ranch dressing you love while you were sunbathing.”

     Julie rubbed her eyes.

     “Why are you doing this?”

     “Doing what?”

     “All this,” Julie said, waving her arm around. “Just tell me what you want from me Nick. It’s okay. I’ll do it.”

     “I don’t want anything from you Julie.”

     “There has to be something. No one goes to this much trouble for me.”

     “I do.”

     Julie looked up at him, tears rolling down her face.

     “I don’t understand…”

     “What’s to understand? You’re my friend and I want you to be happy. Why is that wrong?”

     “Because I don’t deserve any of this. Not after what I did.”

     She stared at Nick and the dam she’d been trying to keep together finally burst and she started crying. Nick knelt down and hugged her, which only made her sob.

     “You didn’t do anything wrong Julie. These things happen.”

     She continued to cry for a bit then said, “This weekend would have been the start of my second trimester.”

     “I know,” Nick whispered into her ear and held her tighter.      She started crying all over again.

     Alizarin had an excellent reputation of being a safe place for those of more questionable occupations to cut loose. Julie had been charmed by a mercenary doing a job up here before going back to Miami. Despite the use of condoms, and with her constant forgetfulness of taking the pill, Julie had unknowingly gotten pregnant. It wasn’t until two weeks later when she found herself in the bathroom at her apartment in Boston covered in blood. She freaked out and called Nick because that’s what they all did when there was a problem. He lived on the floor above her in their Boston building and came down to check on her. He drove her the short distance to the ER at Tufts, where they informed her that she had had a miscarriage.

     Nick took her back home and spent the night on the couch with her while she kept going through all the horrible things she had done while pregnant. How could she not have known? She called out sick the next day and just stayed in bed. Neither of them had ever told anyone else what had happened that night.

     “I don’t know why I’m acting like this,” she said, trying to catch her breath.

     “It’s okay Julie. Your body has been through a lot lately. It’s just trying to sort things out. You’re going to be okay.”

     “How can you be so sure about that?” Julie asked, wiping her nose on his shirt.

     “Because I’m going to be here for you. Because we’re family.”

     Julie remained silent for several minutes, her crying eventually subsiding.

     “Thank you Nick. For everything.”

     “You’re welcome. Are you ready to eat?”

     “Yeah. Sorry.”

     “It’s fine.”

     Nick let go of her and went to get his steak, putting the game on as he did.

     Julie cut into hers and closed her eyes savoring the taste.

     “OMG, this is amazing.”

     “I’m glad you approve,” Nick said as he sat down across from her.

     “Be honest. My face looks like shit now, right?” Julie said starring at him. 

     “Truthfully?”

     Julie nodded.

     “A lil bit.”

     “Sorry about your shirt,” Julie said softly. It was smeared with her makeup and tears and… snot.

     “If you wanted me to eat dinner with you shirtless, you could have just asked,” Nick said and winked at her.

     Julie laughed before taking a sip of her wine.

     “So what are we doing tomorrow?” She asked.

     “Whatever you want to do. It’s your weekend after all.”

     Julie smiled and took another bite of steak. It sure was.

     And what a weekend it was.