9.94 The Heart of the Matter

“Hey, little guy,” Juliette said as she embraced her brother. “Despite you seriously needing a shower, I’m glad to see you. I think I missed you.”

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“Whatever. You totally missed me. Thanks for letting us stay here tonight.”

Juliette’s face turned serious. “Don’t be silly. You stay as long as you need to. The little monster could use a man in his life.”

“Juliette,” he said in annoyance. “You’re still not talking to Arjun? Doesn’t he come see him?”

“Well, no,” she said matter-of-factly. “He’s dead.”

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“Oh…I’m sorry.”

“No skin off our noses. Ok, so you guys look and smell terrible, so why don’t you go get showered and take a nap. I’m working tonight, so keep that little troll out of trouble for me.”

Jonathan was too tired, hungry, and confused to even contest her saying such a thing about her child. In the battle between sleep, griminess and hunger, sleep won for Jonathan and he immediately went to sleep. Skyla, being neat, couldn’t stand the thought of putting her grimy body in between clean sheets and showered before she went to sleep. Jonathan woke up first and hopped in the shower. Just as he was stepping out, Skyla ran in to empty the contents of her stomach.

“Man…I’m so hungry, I could eat a cow plant,” Jonathan said. “Hey, are you ok?”

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“I am now,” she said as she wiped her mouth.

“We had some pretty weird food. That currywurst stuff? That was weird. Maybe it didn’t agree with you.”

“Maybe. Can you make something simple tonight? Like, salad?”

“If that’s what my lady wants.”

They smiled at each other, and he kissed her on the forehead before he went downstairs to get dinner started. Skyla cleaned the bathroom, got dressed, and joined him in the kitchen. As they ate, Jonathan and Skyla were both in deep thought about two different things. Mark was upstairs still taking a nap.

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Jonathan was going through the finances over and over in his head. Admittedly, he knew he wasn’t the most fiscally responsible person, but he kept tabs on the balance when they did spend money. He knew they had plenty of money before the vacation, and the trip only cost just over 10000 simoleons. The hotel room was 400/night, and they stayed for 14 nights. They spent seven nights in Granite Falls which was around 2100. The other seven nights were from the resort, and that bill was another 2000. The rest was from food and excursions. It didn’t make any sense, and he was beginning to get frustrated again.

Skyla was trying to figure out what was wrong with her. She could count on one hand—probably half of one hand—how many times in her life she had ever been sick to her stomach. It occurred to her that she never had the currywurst, and even if she did, why would she just now be getting sick? Maybe it was just travel stress. She had never traveled so long or so far before in her life. Perhaps it was a combination of climate changes, schedule changes, and anxiety. However, she put it out of her mind and focused on her husband when she saw his mind was clearly elsewhere.

“Jonathan?”

“Huh? Uh, yeah…you ok now?”

“Yes. I love you.”

Her words eased his tension as he realized he had been distracted. “I love you too, Sky.”

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“I’ve never had so much fun in all my life,” she said trying to bring him back to the heart of the matter.

“I’m glad. We should go back there soon. I enjoyed it too.”

They discussed and laughed about their favorite memories—mostly the nude escapade. They called it “buff in The Bluffs.” They could hardly believe they actually got naked in public even though no one was around. It made them feel like teenagers with a rebel spirit.

After dinner, they retreated to the living room to relax and unwind. Mark finally emerged from his bedroom, and they all got introduced. He had them in stitches all night as he told of his shenanigans with Juliette. The best one was when he thought the fish needed baths, so he put them all in the dishwasher. Jonathan knew he was evil, and he probably shouldn’t have encouraged his behavior by laughing. Mark was a poor young child with no father in his life and probably just needed some discipline. Knowing his sister, he knew Mark was probably yelled at from morning until night. But, his stories were so funny, Jonathan couldn’t help but to laugh at them. And…he may or may not have thought that Juliette deserved this for some of the things she did.

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Mark was a bit rough around the edges, but Jonathan liked him. He promised himself that he would try to spend more time with him in the future.

As the night progressed, Mark’s stories got crazier and crazier. Jonathan wasn’t even sure if any of them were true anymore, so he figured he was a bit loopy from being sleepy. He suggested they all went to bed. Mark fought him a little, but Jonathan won and got him into bed. He tried to read him a story, but Mark protested. Something about bedtime stories being a ploy to plant ideas in children’s minds to give them nightmares. After Jonathan was sure that Mark was asleep, he rejoined Skyla downstairs. He checked his texts and voicemails to see if Tony got back to him, but he still hadn’t received a reply.

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Skyla groaned as she felt another bout of nausea coming on. It pained Jonathan to see her so uncomfortable, so he helped her get upstairs and hoped that she would feel better after getting some rest. She felt a bit dizzy and sat on the bed for a minute trying to get her bearings. She felt like if she lay down, she would definitely hurl. But if she got up, she felt like she would get the same results. Something was off, and she felt terrible. She hated the feeling and wondered what was happening to her. Did I walk up the stairs too fast? Is it just really bad indigestion? She sat quietly on the bed and breathed deeply trying to bring her body back to homeostasis—if that was even possible.

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After a bit, she felt a strange, constant pressure that she had never experienced before in her abdomen. It wasn’t the nausea or even a full bladder. This was different. It felt like something that wouldn’t go away for a while. She gasped excitedly when she realized what was going on with her. “Jonathan!” Her eyes were large and face bright full of joy.

A large grin took over his face. He so enjoyed seeing her happy. She was very happy on the trip, but this was something different. “What?”

“I’m pregnant!”

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He heard what she said, but it didn’t quite register at first. “You’re… OH! That’s why—Oh my goodness! You’re really pregnant?? Oh sweet Watcher! This is incredible! I’m gonna be a dad?!”

For a brief moment, he forgot all about his alleged money woes and his house that was nearly uninhabitable. All that mattered, in that moment, was his wife and the little life she was carrying. He considered how that little life could potentially be the future of the Pruett’s legacy. In the midst of the nightmare, that thought comforted him. At least I did one thing right. Even if the child wasn’t going to be the heir, that little life mattered to him a great deal, and he couldn’t wait to cherish it and love it like only a father could.

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He grabbed her by the waist and pulled her closer to him. He squeezed her so gently and lovingly and planted a sweet kiss on her lips. She was still nauseous, but it made her happy to know why. She had been waiting for that moment for what felt like forever. There was a moment when she had given up hope that the moment would ever come; that was when her nights were the darkest. But, now, the moon was rolling back, and the sun was on its way up. A brand new day was dawning for both of them.

Jonathan massaged her shoulders. He knew it probably wouldn’t help make her feel better, but he loved showing her that he cared—not that she didn’t know that. “Are you ok?”

“I’m perfect.”

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