We left the auction with a ‘56 Ford F100 pickup and the ‘41 Coupe that Tray had been dreaming about since he was probably a teenager. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if the Coupe ended up in his private collection for a while. If it did, I’d be alright with that. It was a damn good looking car. I ended up having to call Patrick out with a second truck and trailer to load up the pickup. I was pretty sure Tray was going to dive into the Coupe after he was done with the Galaxie.
I, on the other hand, had yet to make contact with my son, so I was headed home to pull the spark plugs out of his truck. If it was gone I’d call my brother and have an APB put out on it. Jason knew as well as I did that Josh wasn’t a bad seed kid. Running away wouldn’t really occur to him. I wasn’t a domineering, oppressive mom. Hell, I probably gave Josh too much freedom.
That was about to change.
I pulled into my driveway just in time to see my son walking to his truck. Quickly I shifted courses to block him in. He wasn’t going anywhere until I knew where the hell he’d been all day.
“Is your phone busted?” I asked when I got out of the car a minute later.
“No,” he sighed. “Sorry, Mom. I didn’t mean to ignore you.”
“Why weren’t you in school?”
“Girl problems?” He said it as a question like he wasn’t sure how to respond.
“Girl problems? What the hell does that mean?” I knew he wasn’t dumb enough to think a day date was a good idea.
“Some, uh… I’ve been seeing a girl for a few months now and yesterday we had… some issues. I have to meet her dad right now.”
The girlfriend was news to me. He hadn’t mentioned her. Like I told Isabel, either she was a mess or Josh really liked her.
“Oh no you don’t. You have to deal with me right now,” I countered.
“I’m sorry, Mom, I swear I won’t skip school again,” he promised. “Madi and I are going out to talk about it some more. I really lik– I love her, Mom. She was upset this morning so we took the day off…”
“I’m sorry she’s having problems, but that’s no excuse for cutting school and not telling me. You know if you would have told me you needed a day I would have let you have it. Instead you pulled some shit and then ignored me. You’re not an adult yet, Joshua. I still make the rules. You’re not going out tonight,” I told him.
“But, Mom,” he whined. “It’s a big deal. I don’t want to look bad in front of her dad. I…” He paused a moment before he continued. “I need to tell you something…”
“You’ve got all night to tell me. You can wow her dad tomorrow.” I wasn’t going to budge. He knew it.
Josh sighed and ran his fingers through his hair. He looked more stressed than I’d seen in a long time. Something was up, that was for sure.
“What is it, Josh?” We weren’t besties like we were when he was six, but I liked to think we could still talk about stuff.
“You’re gonna be really mad,” he said. Josh wasn’t a drama queen. I liked that he was a straight shooter like me. He got right to the point, and like me, he didn’t play around with what he meant. If he said something, he said what he meant. No guessing games.
“Should I be sitting down for this?” There was a gnawing sense of dread creeping around my gut. I didn’t like it.
“Probably lying down,” he replied.
“You didn’t drop out of school, did you?” I asked.
“No, I didn’t drop out. I uh… My girlfriend told me that uh… Well she’s kinda pregnant,” he said.
“There’s no kinda, Joshua. Either she is or she isn’t.” I wasn’t going to lose my shit in front of him. I remembered all too well how scared I was to tell my parents I was pregnant.
Dad had snapped. I knew it was something he regretted, but it was still a painful thing eighteen years later.
“She is,” he said quietly. “I went with her to get the test this morning. We’ve been trying to figure out how to tell you and her dad.”
I took a deep breath and let it out slowly.
“Josh,” I sighed. I shook my head, knowing exactly what a difficult road he was headed down.
“I know, Mom. We were careful, I swear. Not even one accident,” he promised. “I want you to meet her… You’re going to love her.”
It wasn’t how I imagined I would find out I was going to be a grandmother. I figured by the time that happened Josh would be working at some amazing restaurant with his life together, and on a definite path. At the very least he’d be capable of remembering to put his dirty clothes in the wash without me telling him to.
“You’ve already decided what you’re going to do, I take it.” I wasn’t going to push one way or the other as far as their options. It was their decision to make.
“We’re pretty decided. I know she doesn’t believe in abortion, not that I told her to get one,” he added quickly. “I think we want to keep it. We were going to talk tonight a little more about it.”
I sighed again.
“You’re sure you’re ready for this?”
“No,” he admitted truthfully. “I do know I love her and that I’m not going to be like my sperm donor. I’m going to do whatever it takes to help her with our baby.”
Our baby… dear Lord in Heaven…
I wasn’t much of a crier, but I was scared for my kid. He had a plan for his life. All that was either going to be put on hold or scratched completely because he had to shift his priorities. I was proud of him for wanting to step up in ways his own father never would, but I was also disappointed that he had to.
“I never wanted you to struggle like I had to, Josh,” I said, wiping a tear or two off my cheeks.
He stepped forward to give me a tight hug.
“I know, Mom. I didn’t intend for this to happen either. We’ll make it work, though, Madi and me.”
I didn’t intend to get pregnant either. Just like Josh, I was positive everything was going to work out. In time, I suppose it did, but it wasn’t because I had a lick of help from Ben. My parents loved Josh, and I knew they loved me, but they also believed in making me stand on my own two feet. I chose to be a mom and a wife, and that meant I had to actually take on adult responsibility and not just talk about it. There was no safety net with them. I had some scary nights back in those days, but it also made me stronger and taught me I was capable of more than I thought.
“Her parents don’t know yet, do they?” I assumed not since Josh was still breathing.
“No. Her mom died when she was eight, it’s just her and her dad and sister,” he told me. “She’s a twin.”
“And you haven’t met her dad yet? You better wear kevlar,” I told him.
“I was going to meet him tonight,” he said. “If you’ll let me go still…”
“I really shouldn’t.” I took a step back. “You know I’m too young to be a grandma. My boobs still look good.”
“Mooooom, I don’t need to hear about your boobs. I’m just going to meet him tonight. I think she’s going to tell him this weekend. She thinks it’s safer if she tells him on her own.”
“If he threatens you, you let me know,” I told him. “It takes two to tango just like it takes two to make a baby. He better remember that.”
“I’ll let you know,” he promised.
I didn’t go for all that nonsense where the girl was just some innocent victim, preyed upon by a horny teenage boy. No, I knew better than that. Whether or not that girl’s father wanted to admit it, she obviously wanted to have sex. I didn’t know if he was one of those dads who stuck his head in the sand and pretended that his precious princess was never going to have a sex life, but I had the talk with Josh before he really hit puberty.
That way when he did start having those involuntary responses he didn’t know how to deal with, he wouldn’t be too traumatized by it. From washing his laundry I knew when the wet dreams started. His showers started getting longer and then he started talking about girls. It wasn’t too difficult to figure out that sooner or later, my sweet little boy would be a man.
I had hoped to keep him from being a daddy too early by leaving a box of condoms on his bed right around his sixteenth birthday. Better to be safe than sorry. The way I saw it, I was doing my kid a disservice if I didn’t educate him. Maybe it was uncomfortable for him to know he got boners. Well how did he think he got here? It sure wasn’t immaculate conception. It was no more comfortable for me to know he could become a parent before he was ready, and that was what happened anyway. I didn’t regret my decision to be a mom so young, but that didn’t mean I wanted it for Josh.
“So tell me about your baby mama,” I said.
“She’s not just a baby mama. She’s a sweet girl, Mom. She’s funny and nice, and has the prettiest smile,” he swooned.
“I’d ask about her dad, but you obviously haven’t met him yet.”
“She said he’s a good dad. He’s been taking care of two girls all on his own for the last eight years. She respects him,” Josh told me. “I’m scared to meet him though. She said he’s really big.”
“If he’s got the sense God gave geese, he won’t lay a hand on you.” I wasn’t a big woman but I could do some damage.
“I don’t think he’d do that. Madi says he’s all bark.”
“He better be. So what’s this girl’s last name?” I couldn’t remember all the kids he went to grade school with, but there was a chance he did.
“Northman,” he answered.
Oh fuck my life right in the ass!
“Northman? Really, Josh?” He knew about the shit I’d dealt with thanks to Eric Northman. I may not have cared for him personally, but I never badmouthed the work he did. He, on the other hand…
“Yeah… You can’t help who you love, Mom,” he shrugged.
“That’s very, very true.” His own father was proof of that. “Get in the car. I’m going over there with you.”
“Mom, are you sure about that…”
“I’m sure Eric Northman is a pain in the dick and I’m not going to make you deal with his fool ass alone. I just saw him today at the auction I was at, talking shit like always.”
I was convinced it was because he was jealous. I built what I had on my own. I didn’t need my daddy’s connections to make it.
“We weren’t even going to tell him tonight,” he reminded me.
“Might as well rip the Band-Aid off. Trust me when I tell you it won’t be any easier in two days.”
“I don’t want you two arguing. I know you don’t like each other,” my son said.
“I can behave myself. As long as he doesn’t go making one of his smart remarks, I’ll be good.”
Josh rolled his eyes. “You two are like little kids,” he informed me.
“I give as good as I get. It’s not my fault he’s an arrogant douche,” I shrugged.
“If you’re going to share a grandbaby you should work on getting along,” he told me as he continued on to the driver side of his truck.
“Where are you going?”
“I thought we were going to Madi’s?”
“I’m driving.” I opened the door of my car. “When you’re done getting your ass chewed out by her father you’re coming home.”
“I hope he’s understanding,” he sighed. “And please don’t make it worse, Mom.”
“I promised good behavior, didn’t I? Have I ever broken a promise to you?”
“No, but Mr. Northman makes you say and do things you normally wouldn’t do,” he said as he got into the passenger side.
“I can handle myself, Joshua.” I got behind the wheel and tried not to slam the door.
I was trying to play it cool, but the truth was that I was a little pissed off at my kid. Frankly, whether or not he was using protection was pretty irrelevant since his girlfriend ended up pregnant anyway. Maybe I wouldn’t have been mad if he’d so much as mentioned that he was seeing someone. Knowing that he had pretty much been lying to me for the last five months didn’t sit well with me. Given that she was Eric Northman’s daughter I could figure out why he hadn’t told me, but I couldn’t hold it against her that her father was who he was. As long as she was good to my son, that was all I cared about.
I started the car and backed out of the driveway.
“Shit, did you let Opie outside?” I asked. I had no idea how long he had been home before I got there.
“Yeah. I fed him too.”
“Thank you. I fed him when I stopped home after the news this morning, but you know how he gets if he doesn’t get to potty every few hours.” The good thing about running my own business was being able to work from home or just run back to the house anytime I wanted, assuming Opie wasn’t on the road with me.
“He’s fine. I even threw the ball for him a bit.” Josh was looking out the window instead of at me.
No doubt he had a lot on his mind.
I was sure Josh had no intention of getting his girlfriend pregnant. Being a daddy before he graduated from high school wasn’t in his life plan, at least not that I was aware of. I believed that it was unintentional. I wanted to be supportive in a way that my parents weren’t, but I was going to need a little time to let the whole thing sink in.
Josh directed me to Madi’s house. I noticed Eric’s Buick parked alongside the house. They had some weird ass sculpture in their front yard. Straight away from the outside, I didn’t care for the house, but I kept it to myself. I could be as snarky as I wanted to in my head. As long as nothing but sweetness passed my lips, that was all that mattered, right?
I parked behind the Buick.
“Whoa, hang on a second,” I said when Josh started to open the door. “Look, before you go into the lion’s den there are two things I need you to know. First, I love you. No matter what. I can’t lie and say I’m not upset right now because I am, but I’ll get over it. I’m always in your corner. Second, I’m proud of you for being a man right now. That girl’s gonna need you to be there for her in ways you don’t know anything about yet. Let her be there for you too. It’ll make your relationship better.”
Josh nodded and said, “Believe it or not I learned from yours and Ben’s mistakes… mostly.”
“Good. Then you don’t marry her unless you’re doing it because you can’t imagine your life without her and not because you think it’s what a baby needs,” I said. I really hoped he hadn’t already put a ring on her finger.
“I know, Mother,” he chuckled humorlessly.
All things considered, I thought I took the news pretty well. Way better than my parents did. I walked to the front door with as level a head as I could manage.
God help Eric if he threatened my son. I was just unstable enough at the moment to make his life a living hell.