Home > All Your Perfects(20)

All Your Perfects(20)
Author: Colleen Hoover

I laugh and leave him to his phone call while I walk to the table to gather all the breakfast he brought. I don’t think it’ll all fit in the fridge.

“Not much,” Graham says. “Is Dad golfing today?” I watch him chat with his mother. He does it with such ease. When I chat with my mother, I’m tense and on edge and rolling my eyes through most of the conversation. “Yeah, dinner sounds good. Can I bring a date?” He covers his phone and looks at me. “Get your scuba gear ready, Quinn.”

I don’t know whether to laugh at his joke or start freaking out. I don’t even know the guy’s last name yet. I don’t want to meet his parents. I just mouth, “No” very firmly.

He winks at me. “Her name is Quinn,” he says, answering his mother’s question. He’s watching me while he continues the conversation. “Yeah, it’s pretty serious. Been seeing her for a while now.”

I roll my eyes at his lies. He’s unrelenting.

“Hold on, I’ll ask her.” He doesn’t cover his phone this time. Actually, he yells louder than he needs to because we’re just a few feet apart. “Babe! Do you want pie or cobbler for dessert?”

I step closer to him so he can hear the seriousness in my voice. “We haven’t even been on a date yet,” I whisper. “I don’t want to meet your mother, Graham.”

He covers his phone this time and motions at the table. “We just had like five dates,” he whispers. “Chick-fil-A, McDonald’s, donuts, Starbucks . . .” He pulls his phone back to his ear. “She prefers pie. We’ll see you around six?” There’s a pause. “Okay. Love you, too.”

He ends the call and slides the phone into his pocket. I’m glaring at him, but it doesn’t last long because he walks up to me and tickles me until I laugh. Then he pulls me against him. “Don’t worry, Quinn. Once you taste her cooking, you won’t ever want to leave.”

I sigh heavily. “You are nothing like I expected.”

He presses a kiss to the top of my head. “Is that good or bad?”

“I honestly have no idea.”

Chapter Twelve

* * *

Now

When I pull onto Caroline’s street, I see Graham’s car parked in her driveway. But it looks like other than his sister and her husband, we’re the only ones here. I’m relieved by that.

Caroline had her baby boy yesterday morning. A home birth. It’s the first boy born in Graham’s family since him, actually.

Caroline is the only sister of Graham’s who lives in Connecticut. Tabitha lives in Chicago with her wife. Ainsley is a lawyer and lives all over. She travels almost as much as Ava and Reid do. Sometimes I’m a little envious of their carefree lifestyles, but I’ve always had other priorities.

Graham and I are very involved in the lives of Caroline’s two daughters. Outside of the time we spend with them on Sundays, we also occasionally take them for outings or to the movies to give Caroline and her husband time alone. I suspect with the birth of their son, we’ll be spending even more time with the girls.

I love watching Graham with them. He’s playful and loves to make them laugh. But he’s also very invested in their mental health and well-being. He answers every “but why” question with patience and honesty. And even though they’re only three and five, he treats them as equals. Caroline jokes that when they return home after spending time at our house, they start every sentence with, “But Uncle Graham said . . .”

I love the relationship he has with his nieces so much, seeing him with his baby nephew makes me even more excited to see him as an uncle. I do occasionally let the thoughts get to me in moments like this about what a great father he would make, but I refuse to let our depressing situation dampen Graham’s experience with his family. So, I plaster on my happy face and make sure to never allow the sadness to show.

I practice smiling in my rearview mirror. Smiling used to come naturally to me, but almost every smile that appears on my face nowadays is a façade.

When I reach the front door, I don’t know whether to ring the bell or just walk in. If the baby or Caroline are sleeping, I’d feel terrible for waking them up. I push open the door and the front of the house is quiet. No one is seated in the living room, although there are unwrapped gifts lining the sofa. I walk to the living room and place Graham’s and my gift on the coffee table next to the couch.

I make my way through a quiet kitchen and toward the den where Caroline and her family spend most of their time. It was an add-on they completed right after Gwenn was born. Half of the room serves as a living room and the other half serves as a playroom for the girls.

I’m almost to the den, but I pause just outside the door when I see Graham. His back is to me and he’s standing near the couch, holding his new nephew. He’s swaying from side to side with the newborn cocooned in a blanket in his arms. I suppose if our situation were different, this would be a moment where I would have nothing but pure adoration for my husband—watching him hold his newborn nephew. Instead, I ache inside. It makes me question the thoughts that might be going through his head right now. Does a small part of him resent that I haven’t been able to create a moment like this for him?

No one can see me from where I’m standing since Graham has his back to me and I’m out of the line of sight of his sister, who is probably seated on the sofa. I hear her voice when she says, “You’re such a natural.”

I watch Graham’s reaction to her words, but he has none. He just continues staring down at his nephew.

And then Caroline says something that makes me grip the wall behind me. “You would make such a good father, Graham.” Her words fly through the air and reach me all the way in the next room.

I’m convinced she wouldn’t have said what she said if she knew I could hear her. I wait for Graham’s response, curious if he’ll even have one.

He does.

“I know,” he says quietly, looking over at Caroline. “It devastates me that it still hasn’t happened yet.”

I slip my hand over my mouth because I’m scared of what might happen if I don’t. I might gasp, or cry, or vomit.

I’m in my car now.

Driving.

I couldn’t face him after that. Those few sentences confirmed all of my fears. Why would Caroline bring it up? Why would he respond to her with such bluntness, but never tell me the truth about how he feels?

This is the first moment I’ve felt like I’m disappointing his family. What do his sisters say to him? What does his mother say? Do they wish he could have children more than they wish he would stay married to me?

I’ve never thought about this from their perspective. I don’t like how these thoughts are making me feel. Ashamed. Like maybe I’m not only preventing Graham from ever having a child, but I’m preventing his family from being able to love a child that Graham would be perfectly capable of creating if not for me.

I pull into a parking lot to gather myself. I wipe my tears and tell myself to forget I ever heard that. I pull my phone out of my purse to text Graham.

Traffic is terrible. Tell Caroline I won’t be able to stop by until tomorrow.

I hit send and lean back in my seat, trying so hard to get their conversation out of my head, but it plays over and over again.

“You would make such a good father, Graham.”

“I know. It devastates me that it still hasn’t happened yet.”

* * *

I’m standing at the refrigerator two hours later when Graham finally returns home from Caroline’s. I know I’m stressed when I clean out the refrigerator and that’s exactly what I’ve spent the last half hour doing. He lays his things on the kitchen counter. His keys, his briefcase, a bottle of water. He walks over to me and leans in, kissing me on the cheek. I force a smile and when I do, I notice this is the hardest I’ve ever had to force a smile.

“How was the visit?” I ask him.

He reaches around me into the refrigerator. “Good.” He grabs a soda. “The baby is cute.”

He’s acting so casual about it all, like he didn’t admit out loud today that he’s devastated he isn’t a father.

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