Home > All Your Perfects(14)

All Your Perfects(14)
Author: Colleen Hoover

I lean my head back against the couch. She was scared to tell me? Does she think I’m that unstable? “Did you think I’d be jealous of you?”

“No,” she says immediately. “I don’t know, Quinn. Upset, maybe? Disappointed?”

Another tear falls, but this time it isn’t a tear of joy. I quickly wipe it away. “You know me better than that.” I stand up in an attempt to compose myself, even though she can’t see me. “I have to go. Congratulations.”

“Quinn.”

I end the call and stare down at my phone. How could my own sister think I wouldn’t be happy for her? She’s my best friend. I’m happy for her and Reid. I’d never resent her for being able to have children. The only thing I resent is that she conceived so easily by accident.

Oh, God. I’m a terrible person.

No matter how much I’m trying to deny it, I do feel resentment. And I hung up on her. This should be one of the best moments of her life, but she loves me too much to be fully excited about it. And I’m being too selfish to allow that.

I immediately call her back.

“I’m sorry,” I blurt out as soon as she answers.

“It’s okay.”

“No, it’s not. You’re right. I’m grateful that you were trying to be sensitive to what Graham and I are going through, but really, Ava. I am so happy for you and Reid. And I’m excited to be an aunt again.”

I can hear the relief in her voice when she says, “Thank you, Quinn.”

“There is one thing, though.”

“What?”

“You told your mother first? I will never forgive you for that.”

Ava laughs. “I regretted it as soon as I told her. She actually said, ‘But will you raise it in Europe? It’ll have an accent!’ ”

“Oh, God help us.”

We both laugh.

“I have to name a human, Quinn. I hope you help me because Reid and I are never going to agree on a name.”

We chat a little longer. I ask her the typical questions. How she found out. Routine doctor’s visit. When she’s due. April. When they’ll find out what they’re having. They want it to be a surprise.

When the conversation comes to an end, Ava says, “Before you hang up . . .” She pauses. “Have you heard back from the last adoption agency you applied to?”

I stand up to walk toward the kitchen. I’m suddenly thirsty. “I have,” I tell her. I grab a water out of the refrigerator, take the cap off, and bring it to my mouth.

“That doesn’t sound good.”

“It is what it is,” I say. “I can’t change Graham’s past and he can’t change my present. No point in dwelling on it.”

It’s quiet on Ava’s end of the line for a moment. “But what if you can find a baby through private adoption?”

“With what money?”

“Ask your mother for the money.”

“This isn’t a purse, Ava. I’m not letting your mother buy me a human. I’d be indebted to her for eternity.” I look at the door just as Graham walks into the living room. “I have to go. I love you. Congratulations.”

“Thank you,” she says. “Love you, too.”

I end the call just as Graham’s lips meet my cheek. “Ava?” He reaches for my water and takes a drink.

I nod. “Yep. She’s pregnant.”

He nearly chokes on the water. He wipes his mouth and laughs a little. “Seriously? I thought they didn’t want kids.”

I shrug. “Turns out they were wrong.”

Graham smiles and I love seeing that he’s genuinely happy for them. What I hate, though, is that his smile fades and concern fills his eyes. He doesn’t say it, but he doesn’t have to. I see the worry. I don’t want him to ask me how I feel about it, so I smile even wider and try to convince him I’m perfectly fine.

Because I am. Or I will be. Once it all sinks in.

* * *

Graham made spaghetti carbonara. He insisted on cooking tonight. I usually like when he cooks, but I have a feeling he only insisted tonight because he’s afraid I might be having a negative reaction to the fact that my sister can get pregnant by accident and I can’t even get pregnant after six years of trying on purpose.

“Have you heard back from the adoption agency yet?”

I look up from my plate of food and stare at Graham’s mouth. The mouth that just produced that question. I grip my fork and look back down at my plate.

We’ve gone a month without discussing our infertility issues. Or the fact that neither of us has initiated sex since the night he slept in the guest room. I was hoping we could go another month.

I nod. “Yeah. They called last week.”

I see the roll of his throat as he breaks eye contact with me and scoots his fork aimlessly around his plate. “Why didn’t you tell me?”

“I’m telling you now.”

“Only because I asked.”

I don’t respond to him again. He’s right. I should have told him when I got the call last week, but it hurts. I don’t like talking about things that hurt. And lately everything hurts. Which is why I barely talk anymore.

But I also didn’t tell him because I know how much guilt he still holds over that incident. The incident that has been responsible for our third rejection from an adoption agency.

“I’m sorry,” he says.

His apology creates an ache in my chest because I know he isn’t apologizing for our snippy exchange. He’s apologizing because he knows we were turned down because of his past conviction.

It happened when he was only nineteen. He doesn’t talk about it a lot. Hardly ever. The wreck wasn’t his fault, but because of the alcohol in his system, it didn’t matter. The charge still lingers on his record and will forever put us out of the running when couples without criminal charges are approved in place of us.

But that was years ago. It’s not something he can change and he’s been punished enough for what happened when he was just a teenager. The last thing he needs is for his own wife to blame him, too.

“Don’t apologize, Graham. If you apologize for not being approved for adoption then I’ll have to apologize for not being able to conceive. It is what it is.”

His eyes momentarily meet mine and I see a flash of appreciativeness in him.

He runs his finger around the rim of his glass. “The adoption issue we’re having is a direct result of a poor decision I made. You can’t control the fact that you can’t conceive. There’s a difference.”

Graham and I aren’t a perfect example of a marriage, but we are a perfect example of knowing when and where the blame should be placed. He never makes me feel guilty for not being able to conceive and I’ve never wanted him to feel guilty for a choice he already holds way too much guilt for.

“There may be a difference, but it isn’t much of one. Let’s just drop it.” I’m tired of this conversation. We’ve had it so many times and it changes nothing. I take another bite, thinking of a way we can change the subject, but he just continues.

“What if . . .” He leans forward now, pushing his plate toward the center of the table. “What if you applied for adoption on your own? Left me out of the equation?”

I stare at him, thinking of all that question entails. “I can’t. We’re legally married.” He doesn’t react. Which means he knew exactly what he was suggesting. I lean back in my chair and eye him cautiously. “You want us to get a divorce so I can apply on my own?”

Graham reaches across the table and covers my hand with his. “It wouldn’t mean anything, Quinn. We would still be together. But it might make our chances better if we just . . . you know . . . pretended I wasn’t in the picture. Then my past conviction couldn’t affect our chances.”

I contemplate his idea for a moment, but it’s just as preposterous as the fact that we keep trying to conceive. Who would approve a divorced, single woman to adopt a child over a stable, married couple with more income and more opportunity? Becoming approved by an agency isn’t an easy process, so actually being selected and the birth mother going through with the adoption are even harder. Not to mention the fees. Graham brings in twice as much money as me and we still might not be able to afford it, even if I were somehow approved for the process.

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