“You heard me. Yvonne’s pregnant.”
Prentiss scrubbed his hand across his stubbled jaw then gulped his draft beer.
“Not what I was expecting for dinner conversation.”
“And not what I had planned.”
“Uh, what? Just when did you find out? What had you planned to talk about?”
Mark Kelly folded his arms and leaned on the table.
“To answer your first question, thirty minutes ago. And the second, I have the next five days free and wanted to know if you could get the time off too and drive up to Fresno with me.”
“Whoa, whoa! Back up. You found out thirty minutes ago?”
Mark hung his head and took a deep breath before answering.
“After we confirmed dinner, I went home to change. Yvonne was waiting for me.”
Prentiss signaled their server for another round.
His brother frowned.
“Slow down, man. We’re both driving.”
“I know, I know.” He emptied his glass and set it aside. “I’m just trying to wrap my head around this… this ambush by your girlfriend. Besides. Uber is just a phone call away.”
“Yeah, ambush is a good way to describe it, but she’s not my girlfriend.”
“Please. Since when?”
“We argued close to a month ago.” He averted his eyes. “Haven’t talked since.”
“And you didn’t think to share this tidbit with your brother?” He threw his hands up in the air just as the server arrived with fresh drinks. He took a large gulp.
“Damn, man. I’m gonna be drunk on my ass at this rate.” He reached for the glass again, but Mark pushed it out of his reach.
“How about we order some dinner before you finish that? You need to eat something.”
Annoyed, Prentiss sat back in his seat. “No, what I need is to understand why my brother’s life is going to hell quick, fast, and in a hurry.”
“You and me both.”
Mark opened his menu, pretending to be engrossed in his meal options.
Watching his brother, Prentiss smirked. “This reminds of the time you cracked my skateboard and hid it until you worked up the nerve to tell me.”
He sobered when Mark lowered the menu and he sawed his pained expression.
“Talk to me, man. You look like something’s eating you from the inside.”
Dropping his menu on the table, Mark emptied his first Seven & Seven before reaching for the fresh one.
“That’s just anger, man.”
“What aren’t you telling me?”
“Well, Yvonne didn’t show up with smiles or the glow of impending motherhood. She was livid, full of attitude, and told me I was going to marry her.”
Prentiss’ mouth gaped open as he fell back in his chair.
“You heard me, Mark. I’m pregnant and we’re getting married.”
“No. We’re not.”
He cut her off. “Just a few ago, if you’d told me you’re pregnant, I would have been on my knees begging you to marry me. Those days are gone.”
“If you think I’m going to be some single mother worn to a frazzle trying to raise a kid on my own, you’re-”
“I will provide for my child. That goes without saying. But I don’t have to marry you to do that.”
“We’re a package deal, Kelly, you don’t get to be a daddy without me.”
“A package deal? You sound like a used car salesman.”
“Save the jokes, Mark, this is serious. My parents are arranging for a small ceremony, and-”
He snapped. “What the hell?”
“Don’t you yell-”
“We broke up three weeks ago… over money and-”
“We did not break up.”
He raised his hand and pointed at her.
“You said if I didn’t transfer the money to pay back your dad not to bother calling you again.”
“Oh, I knew you were just all in your male feelings. Men are such big babies, but I have no more time for that bullshit when I’m having a real baby. We have to get married.”
He dropped his arms to his sides but his clenched fists proved the rage he tried to contain.
“Again, you sound like a used car salesman trying to sell a car to an idiot.”
“No highlighting the amenities… we’re going to be parents; we’ll have our own little family; no ‘I love you, Mark.’” He gestured toward her. “You haven’t even told me how far along you are.”
“Oh, my God. You sound like a starry-eyed girl. I peed on a stick, big whoop. Men don’t care about the details-”
“Some men don’t. But I do and the fact you don’t know that means you don’t know me and I’ve wasted four years of my life with you.”
“Now I’m a waste of time? Seriously, Mark, how could you be so heartless and cruel?” Yvonne turned away.
“I guess the last four years weren’t a complete loss, I learned heartless and cruel from the best… and don’t even think about turning on the waterworks.”
She whirled around to face him. “Feel better, Mark? Are you over your little show of bravado, because we are getting married.”
A wave of sadness washed over him taking the remnants of their future with it. For twenty years, she was all he ever wanted. Now he understood. His brother was right. He was fascinated… and obsessed with what Yvonne represented. His dream girl.
“Earlier today, I thought about us and thought perhaps I’d been too hard on you. Maybe I hadn’t sacrificed enough for the woman I loved.”
Her face brightened.
He backed up toward his condo. “But that was just longing for something I’ve never had with you, a healthy, loving relationship.”
“Don’t you walk away from-”
“I have to meet someone and I’m running late-”
“Mark, don’t you-”
“… and then I’ll be out-of-town for a few days.”
“I’m warning you-”
“You’re going to make a doctor’s appointment for a real pregnancy test and text me the details. I’ll meet you there.”
“This is all just a waste of time when we should talk to my parents about the wedding.”
“Why are you being like this? We should be making plans for the future.”
“That’s what I’m doing, Yvonne because regardless of the tests, we’re never getting married.”
When he didn’t continue, Prentiss let out a long, low whistle.
“Don’t stop there. What happened? What did she say?”
Mark cringed. “Not sure. I walked away. But, it involved a lot of yelling and swearing. I went inside, washed up, shook out my dreads, and found a clean shirt. When I came back out, she was gone.”
“Damn, bro. What are you going to do?”
“My plans haven’t changed. I’m going to Fresno and I’d like to have my brother along for the ride to sing 90s songs loud and off-key.”
“Yvonne told her parents about the baby and got them involved before she told me. Time to get our parents involved. You in?”
Prentiss’ lips twitched into a smug grin. “Sounds like a road trip to me, little brother.”
Mark and Yvonne had their face-time and it didn’t go well. He stood his ground but Yvonne always gets her way.