Authors: Angie Merriam
A Laundromat Chronicles Novella
A Laundromat Chronicles Novella
By Angie Merriam
©Angie Merriam 2016
Published by Entertwine Publishing Services
Cover by Entertwine Publishing Servies
All rights reserved
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without authorization of the Author. Any distribution without express consent is illegal and punishable in court of law.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Laundromat Chronicles is about a group of strangers that meet in an unlikely place and form life long bonds. The first six novellas will introduce you to the cast and tell the reader their individual backstory. The full length novel tying all of them together, Life, will be released after the final novella, Ruby is released.
This has been a fun project that I'm very proud of and truly hope readers can connect with the characters as much as I have. Thank you for giving this series a try. I'm forever thankful. Happy reading!
The moment the words fall from my girlfriend’s mouth my entire world stands still. The sun that is shining brightly in March ceases to exist. The kids screaming at the nearby park may as well not even be there because I can’t hear them anymore. Hell, even my beautiful girlfriend who I love to look at seems to disappear. The only things I’m aware of are the two words she just nervously muttered. Two simple words that will change our lives forever.
I run it through my head over and over. Of course I know how these things happen. I know every time Lena and I have sex there is a chance this could happen. We’re always safe. I always wrap it up, except for that one time last month. Valentine’s Day. Fuck. Yes, I knocked up my girl on Valentine’s Day.
The night was unusually warm for February which I was thankful for. I had big plans for Lena and a warm day happened to be a bonus. I’d saved up half of every paycheck for the last six months to buy her a promise ring. The plan was perfect. Rent a limo to drive us to dinner at her favorite restaurant where I planned to give her the ring. There was no way I was letting anything ruin this night.
I arrived at her house in the limo at six on the dot. As always, I had to wait a good ten minutes for her to finish getting ready. She didn’t need to spend all that time doing whatever it is girls do when they’re getting ready to go out, she’s beautiful just the way she is. Dressing up makes her happy though, and her happiness means more to me than the time I sit and wait for her.
That night, however, the wait was more than worth it. My girl is beautiful in sweats with her hair up and no makeup, but she was stunning in her little black dress. I had to will my dick to stay down the moment she appeared at the top of her staircase. The last thing I needed was a hard on with her mother standing right there watching my every move. She likes me well enough, but Lena is her baby. I understood her concern. I love Lena that much.
“You look so pretty, baby.” I beamed at her, pulling her into a tight hug the moment her feet hit the last stair.
“Thanks, babe. You look pretty good yourself.” She giggled before giving me a quick peck on the cheek. Her mother, still watching, cleared her throat… loudly. I am always on my best behavior around Mrs. Johnson, but every now and then I get caught up in Lena and forget her mother is watching.
“Sorry, Mrs. Johnson.” I released Lena, shoving my hands in my pockets in an attempt not to touch my girl.
She nodded at me before looking at Lena. “Home by twelve,” she said, her words clipped.
“I know, Mom. Goodnight.” Lena leaned in, hugging her mother.
“I’ll take good care of her.” I promised, again she just nodded at me. A small smile played at the corner of her mouth threatening to expose her loving side to me. I didn’t take her sternness personally, if I had a daughter like Lena, I’d be the same way.
Without another word, I escorted my girl to the waiting limo. She squealed in excitement at the sight of the sleek black car waiting for us. Her surprise and excitement made me happy. As shitty as my childhood was, all I needed was her smile. No high from drugs or alcohol matched the high she gave me.
“You got a limo, Hap?” She clapped her hands happily while the limo driver opened the back door, allowing her to slide in first.
“Only the best for my girl.” Flashing her a smile, I slid in behind her. Once we were both inside, the driver, having directions for the entire night, pulled away from her mother who was still watching from the sidewalk. Lena snuggled into me creating warm sensations in my heart and my dick. I just held her though, there would be time for that later.
When we pulled into the restaurant parking lot her face lit up. “It’s my favorite restaurant. You’re so sweet, baby.” Her lips reached mine, lingering there until the car came to a stop.
“Only the best for you,” I replied when our kiss broke apart. “Come on, there’s more surprises ahead.” Without giving her a chance to respond the limo driver opens the door and I help her out.
I waited until just before dessert to give her the tiny box that held the ring I’d bought for her.
“What’s this, Hap? You’ve already done so much.” She picks the box up from the table, never looking away from me.
“Just open it.” I encourage.
“I am, I am…” Slowly, her fingers gently tear the paper away before lifting the box open. Her eyes widen with shock before they mist over with tears. “You got me a ring?”
“A promise ring. I promise to love you as long as you’ll let me and until we’re old enough for that to be a wedding ring.” My arm stretches across the table to hold hers.
“Thank you, Hap. I love it and I love you so much.”
“I love you too. Ready to get out of this place?” I really wanted to kiss her, so badly. She shook her head, quickly gathering her things.
The one thing I forgot that night was a fucking rubber. After dinner we asked the driver to drive around town while we made out in the back seat. When kissing and touching wasn’t enough, I reached into my wallet for a condom and felt my heart and dick fall when I realized I hadn’t replaced the last one we’d used.
“I don’t have protection, babe. I’m so sorry.” Sitting back against the seat I took a second to catch my breath. What kind of idiot plans this extravagant of a night and forgets that kind of detail?
“It’s okay. I just had my period, we’re safe,” she whispered in my ear. It took me a second to comprehend what she was saying.
“Yeah. We’ve only ever been with each other so there is no worry of an STD, and I’m pretty sure we’re safe on the baby thing. Maybe just pull out before you get to that point?” She was biting her bottom lip, a move that never failed to turn me on. Without another word, our mouths crashed into one another and we did it.
“Hap, babe. Are you okay?” Lena’s voice pulls me from the not so distant past and back into our fucked up future. The best night of my life just shattered. The shock slowly rolls off my body giving way to a full blown panic.
“No, holy fuck, Lena! Are you sure? I thought you said you couldn’t get pregnant!” The words come out a little more forceful than I intend. I never talk to her like that. I have no control of myself though. The emotions rippling through my system are taking over any bit of rationality I have.
“I thought we were safe. I’m sorry. I should have never suggested we have sex without a condom. It was just so perfect. I just wanted…” She pauses, her eyes focused on her feet or the ground or something, but definitely not on me.
I can see she feels horrible and I’m just making it worse. Words start spilling out of my mouth without a thought about her feelings. “Wanted what? To have a baby? What are we going to do? I’m supposed to go to college on a football scholarship, Lena! You’re supposed to go to art school! What the fuck are we supposed to do now?”
“I don’t know, Hap. No, I didn’t want a baby. I don’t want a baby. I really thought we would be safe. I’m an idiot. I’m sorry.” She finally lifts her face to look at me. Tears begin to fall from her soft blue eyes. My entire body is shaking uncontrollably. I want to hit something. I need to hit something. I need to get this out.
“FUCK!” I scream before swinging for the tree. My fist crashes into the tree with more force than I anticipated. The moment I pull it away, I see blood dripping down my hand. The pain radiating from my hand to my elbow is a welcome intruder amongst the turmoil wreaking havoc on my mind. My heart.
“What the hell?” Lena shrieks at me, her face now full of fear. Fear of me. Fear of us. Fear of the situation. Fear of a baby. My same fears. Why am I yelling at her? The one person in the entire world to love me? The one person that knows all my secrets, fears and doubts. The one person I let into my fucked up home life. It’s not her fault any more than it is mine. I need to get my shit under control. I hate the way she’s looking at me.
“Lena, baby.” I try but she shakes her head no at me. Backing away, her hands raised in surrender.
“Look, Hap, I get it. You’re fucking scared, so am I. You’re shocked. So am I. But you wanna know the difference between you and me right now?” Her words are dripping with venom. I hate it. I hate seeing my girl like this. I didn’t bother with an answer. I’m just likely to stick my foot in my mouth or freak out again so I just shake my head. “You can walk away.” It came out so simply. What the fuck is she talking about?
“What do you mean?” I ask her, trying to hide the terror I’m feeling.
“You don’t have to stick around, Hap. You can go. Follow your football dreams and go to college. I know how much that means to you. So go. I don’t need you. We don’t need you. See the difference between you and me is you still have a choice. I don’t. Hap, I’m just as terrified as you are, but we made this baby out of our love. I refuse to have an abortion and there’s no way in hell anybody will take my baby so I will do what I have to do. Don’t worry, we’ll leave you alone, just know that I do love you and hope you get everything in life you’ve always wanted.” She turns and walks away from me.
I stand there, stunned, watching her go. What the hell am I doing? Is football really that important? Do I love it more than I love that girl? Hell no I don’t. It doesn’t take long for me to realize what I want. It’s her. It’s her and our baby. Fucking A, I’m gonna be a dad.
“Lena, wait,” I call out to her, running in the direction she took off in. She doesn’t stop until I make it to her, grabbing her arm. “Lena, stop,” I say again.
“What? Why? So you can break my heart a little more? Just let me go, Hap.” She’s full on crying now. I’m such a dick.
“No. Listen. I’m sorry. I freaked out… bad! But a baby? It’s scary. And I don’t know, I guess I just panicked. The thing is, I’d never ask you to have an abortion or give our baby away. Never. And there is no way in hell I am going away to college and leaving you. You’re more than just my girlfriend. You’re my best friend, Lena. I need you. I need us.” I pause to gauge her reaction. She’s not running away from me so I’ll take that as a plus.
“I don’t know how we are going to do this but we are going to do this together. We made that baby together and we will raise that baby together.” Despite the fear threatening to crush me from the inside, I’ve never said truer words to anyone in my life. We will do this and we will do it together. She has my word on that.
“Are you sure? I don’t want to trap you or have you think I did this on purpose to keep you with me. I didn’t.” Her hands fidget the way they do when she’s nervous. I’ve never been the cause of that kind of anxiety, until now. I never want to be the cause of it again. Of all people, I know she didn’t do this on purpose, hell we were both there.
“Shhh, babe, I know you didn’t. I was there that night too. We did this together. Come here.” She doesn’t hesitate when I grab her, pulling her into my arms. Her arms wrap around my neck, holding on tight. I bury my face in the curve of her shoulder where I can smell the shampoo she uses. Smells like a bouquet of flowers. I love that smell. I inhale her scent deeply, allowing myself to be calmed just by being close to her. Being physically close to Lena has always had a calming effect for me.
“You’re gonna be a mom, babe.” I kiss the delicate skin of her neck.
“And you’re gonna be a dad.” She giggles nervously.
“Holy shit,” is all I say as I giggle too.
I’m ten years old and sporting a black eye from my father. I made the mistake of looking at one of the photos of my mother. I knew Pop couldn’t handle looking at pictures of Mom. He hadn’t even spoken her name since she died six months earlier. Cancer. I didn’t understand then the extent of what took my mother away from me, and I didn’t get a real chance to be sad about her death. The day of her funeral he forbade me from talking about her, looking at pictures of her and really anything that had to do with her. He was sad. My mother had been his whole world. He didn’t know how to function without her. Even at such a young age I understood that to some degree so I did my best not to remind him of her.
However, I kept a picture of Mom under my mattress. I rarely pulled it out for fear he’d see it. It had been months since she’d died and I was afraid I’d forget her face so one day when I thought he was napping I pulled it out. I sat there crying, looking at my pretty mother’s face and missing her so much. I must have been really crying because Pop woke up and caught me with the picture. The sight of her face did strange things to my father. He became a man I didn’t know. A scary man. Without thought he lifted his hand then let it fall against my face. That was the first time my father hit me. It wasn’t the last. That was also the night he began drinking… heavily.
The next morning at school I had a black eye that was impossible to hide. Before leaving my house my father made sure I knew the story to tell. “I tripped and fell, hitting my face on the coffee table.” I had no trouble lying for Pop. He was my dad after all, and he didn’t mean to hurt me. At least that’s what I told my six year old self.
The moment I stepped onto the playground I was surrounded by my friends asking about my injury and I repeated the story over and over just like my dad said. As the years went on I became a pro at making shit up. I was a professional liar thanks to my father’s abuse and my need to cover it up. I met Lena when I was ten. She was new at my school and the prettiest girl I’d ever seen. Up to that point I never thought about girls, they were irritating drama queens. Until Lena. That girl single handedly kick started puberty for me. She was also the first and only person to call my latest story bullshit.