Chapter 21

Second Chances

When the movie was over, Dodger and I said goodnight and headed to the bedroom.

"I'm gonna go wash my face and stuff," I told him. He nodded and I drifted out the door. For some reason, I just couldn't sit in the bedroom with him… I was too restless… and it felt like we were together. I wanted to be together, but I didn't want to put Dodger through hell again. I washed my face with icy-cold water, trying to clear my head. I just needed to calm down and have a talk with him. In the end, we'd settle on what was best for both of us. I brushed my hair and teeth and returned to my room. Dodge was stretched out on the bed in his boxers, staring at the ceiling.

"Hey," I said softly. I changed into my pajamas, well aware that his eyes were on me. I was wearing red and green undies, and he seemed intrigued.

"In the spirit, I see," he murmured. "Not that I was staring… well, I was… but anyway, it's cute."

I smiled slightly. "Thank you."

"Welcome… you gonna come lie down?"

I nodded. "I suppose so." I got into bed beside him and propped my head up on my elbow.

"We need to talk," he said.

I nodded. "Yeah…so where do you want to start?"

"I've missed you since the day you left…seeing you again is kind of like salt in the wound…"

"That sounds like you don't want to be here."

"It's not that," he assured me. "It's just… I look at you and I think of how lucky Reagan would be to have a mother like you…and I just end up feeling disappointed, because I know that's not what you want."

"Dodger, think about it. Do you really want me raising your child?"

"There's no one I'd rather have," he said earnestly.

That scared me a little. I mean, I thought Reagan was adorable, and I'd like to dress her up… but taking care of her? I wasn't sure I could do it. Then again, Dodger and I made a pretty good team. Maybe parenthood would be no different. Or maybe I'd be a miserable failure and Rae would be forever screwed up.

"I remember how you used to play with your baby dolls. Take 'em to the grocery store in your little pink stroller. You were good." He grinned. "I know you'll be good, Bananie. I wouldn't trust anyone that I didn't think would be wonderful."

I closed my eyes and drew in a deep breath. It was a commitment and he was looking for an immediate answer. Say no, break his heart. Say yes, lose what was left of my youth to become a mother. Choosing between the man I loved and my lifestyle.

"Let me think," I said after a bit.

"Sure. Not a problem," he lied. He'd always been so damned impatient.

So, instead of talking about our relationship, we somehow ended up with our tongues down each other's throats. When in doubt, make out. That was my motto, made far more awesome by the fact that it rhymed. His lips were warm and smooth and they felt better than I remembered. Everything about the moment reminded me why being in bed with Dodger was better than being in bed with anyone else…even Davenport—who was amazing. I started to pull my shirt off and Dodger stopped me.

"We can't… not right now."

"Why the hell not?" I snapped, the sexual frustration was having a negative affect.

"Because when you give me an answer—which you will do before the night is over—I don't want it to be in a post-coital haze."

I chewed on my bottom lip. "Fine," I pouted.

We were silent for a little while after that, mostly because if I even glanced over at him I was gonna go after him like a bitch in heat.

"I have a present for you… from me and Reagan."

"You already got me a present," I reminded him. "And I loved it. It's scary that you have great taste in clothes."

He smiled and reached under the bed, withdrawing a small box. It was wrapped in Frosty the Snowman paper with a bright red bow on it. He handed it to me and I gingerly fingered the wrapping paper. I glanced up at him and he smiled slightly.

"Open it," he said.

I felt nervous. Something dangerous could have been in that box…something that could make me feel obligated to tell him I'd stay with him forever and ever and ever. I tore back the paper and stared hard at the box. It was jewelry—or something in a box from the jewelry store… I prayed that was the case.

"Go ahead," he urged. He looked like an excited puppy waiting for a bone.

I lifted the lid on the box and there it was, just what I was afraid of. A diamond ring.

"Oh Christ, Dodger!" I whispered.

"It's not an engagement ring…not exactly." He searched for the right words. "It's a…will you be my baby's mommy ring."



What could I say!? The ring was beautiful, and Dodger looked so hopeful. If I said no, I'd never be able to so much as look at him again. He loved and trusted me enough to give me this chance…and I just wasn't sure I was the right girl for the job. I knew the longer I hesitated the more unsure I was going to get, but when dealing with issues such as this impulsiveness is a no-no. I closed my eyes and tried to regulate my breathing. I was going to fucking hyperventilate; but at least if I passed out I would buy myself some time.

"I'm assuming you're not accepting?" he asked.


"No you're not accepting?"

"No… I'm not…not accepting. I'm… I'm saying yes, Dodger," I said finally. The minute the words left my mouth, I started to feel more confident in my decision. The words had just slipped out of my mouth, and I knew it was because deep down I knew it was the right answer.

"…Really? No shit?"

"No shit."

He seemed stunned. "Wow… I never thought you'd say yes. Can I put it on ya?"

I nodded, handing him the little velvet box. His eyes were glistening in the moonlight that was coming through the window as he slipped the ring on my finger. It fit perfectly…it was a sign. Probably it wasn't a sign, probably I was just desperate for good omens… but I'd take what I could get.

So wearing this ring didn't make me a fiancée, it made me a mother. It was a bit unconventional, I suppose. Then again, it was Dodger's style. I was still in high school, but then again, what difference did it make? Realistically, graduation wasn't going to make me more mature. Maturity's a state of mind, and motherhood was gonna get me there. It wasn't like I had to be some creepy matronly woman who never plucked her eyebrows. I could be a cool mom. I'd take her to soccer practice in my super-hip minivan and we'd tell ghost stories at her sleepovers. The more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea.

Money would be tight if Dodger's parents didn't want to help us out—but they loved their son, despite all of the mistakes he had made. With luck, they wouldn't look at Reagan as a mistake… I didn't, at least not anymore. Now she was a blessing that was bringing Dodger and I back together. The pressure was on to make the relationship work, 'cause the last thing I wanted was to put that girl through losing another mommy. She may have been too young to understand, but someday she'd ask questions; what would she think when Dodger told her that I ran away because I couldn't take the petty fights? She'd think I was a bitch, and she'd be right. When she got older, she'd probably think I was a bitch anyway—I just wanted her to think it for the right reasons. Reasons like me not letting her go to a party on a school night, or for grounding her when I found her first bottle of beer stashed under her bed. Motherly reasons, not cowardly reasons. I could do this, I decided. Maybe I wouldn't be a pro, but I could do it. Dodger was a hell of a dad, so it was a relief that at least one of us would be a good parent.

"You look like you're thinking awfully hard, Annabelle. You're not reconsidering, are you?"

I shook my head. "Nope. I'm not gonna run away from a good thing twice. I've already lost you once, Dodger…I'm just glad you believe in second chances."

"And third…and fourth… I love you Annie…even if you screw up a thousand times, I'll still love you."

I chuckled. "Glad that you're anticipating more screw ups."

"Nobody's perfect," he said simply. "We're gonna have problems—everyone does… I'm just not going to let those problems get in the way of our happiness."

I smiled. He had matured. Dodger used to let stupid arguments keep him angry for days—maybe now he was finally going to be able to just let the little things slide. It would sure make our relationship a lot less stressful. Either way, I decided, we were gonna have fun. Sure, I was a little daunted by all of the new responsibilities I was going to have, but I'd have Dodger to help me. What could go wrong?

"Should we uh…go tell Ben that we're moving in together…again?"

I nodded, grinning at him. "I think it'll go over better this time."

"I think everything will go over better this time, Bananie."

I knew he was right. Things wouldn't be perfect, but they'd definitely be better.


So, it's the end. I know this chapter was short...and the end was rushed... but... it's over. It's a happy/vague ending...just like Sleeping Around and Chaysing Elliot... but anyway, I hope that you don't hate me too much for the lame ending... enjoy your weekends and...yeah, that's it.

Review Replies

Crazy Bitch--Hope you're feeling better!

ArghImaPirate--Yep. He's all grown up.

tanya2byour21--Well, it's a pretty happy ending.

adge24--Hope you enjoyed!

Oooh.Look.A Cat.--Haha, well, hope you loved it.

RockMusicFreak--Well, it's pretty happy.

ClaimingUntoughable--Well, maybe she'll mature more now that she's gonna be a mommy.

Jayjack--I get out of school Wednesday!

AMM3485--Haha hope you liked.

Marisa Gittinger--It was gonna be the end... but it just didn't feel right.

midnightbeauty--Yeah, Annie makes everyone mad.

LoveUrSpells88--thanks a lot!

SummerBaby94--Glad you liked it!