“You’re my best friend, Tasha. I love you. I hope you’ll still be my friend after this.” We’ve weathered so many things, and I need her in my life. I need my best friend for getting through pregnancy and a wedding. “I need you, Tasha. I want you to be my maid of honor when I get married. And I want us to raise our kids to be not only family but friends, too. Please tell me you can forgive me.” I can barely understand my words through my tears.
She hugs me, pulling me tight to her chest, and it’s her turn to rock us as we embrace. The treehouse’s boards creak beneath us, and we freeze, hugging without movement. “It’s okay, Lia. It’s not like you’re moving away and leaving me here. You are my best friend forever. That is always and forever.” She looks at my dress. “That better not have come out of my closet. The lace is frayed from climbing up here, and you smell like my dad’s cologne. I don’t want to think of you getting laid by my dad while wearing my dress. That is too gross.”
Assured it is my own dress, not one that is borrowed, Tasha hugs me again. “I didn’t plan on falling in love with Chris, but I did. I understand that we can’t choose who we love. And I understand hiding things because we’re scared about how people will react. Is my dad mad?” she asks.
Thinking of his reaction at the party, I try to figure out how to explain his thoughts on the situation. “He’s shocked, but he isn’t mad. He is sort of too excited about me being pregnant to have anything make him mad. Except for Jean,” I correct. “So, if there’s anything else you want to spring on him, now might be the perfect time. You could finally fess up about the nail polish stains in the formal living room.” They had to get the square of carpet cut out and replaced because Carrie had refused to get a rug to hide it.
“Do you think he would accept me moving in with Chris?”
I rest my head on hers, coconspirators of the future. “The house is huge. I could move in, and Chris could move in, and we’d still have room for two nurseries and more.” We muse over the weeks and months to come, sharing our experiences with morning sickness we had longed to talk about. After so many years of sharing everything, it is lightening, an unburdening, to open up to Tasha without a filter on my thoughts.
An hour or more has passed when she starts giggling. “Lia, does this mean I have to call you ‘Mom’ now?”
I make a face, wrinkling my nose. “I’ll make out with your dad in front of you anytime you do.” It’s a threat that will be a pleasure to fulfill. “We should go back to the house. Your dad is getting you a taco pizza.”
I text Beck, letting him know we’re on our way to the house, and he writes back immediately for us to take our time and be safe. It’s weird not hiding the smile his text gives me, and I take a moment to let it all sink in. I’m marrying Beck and having his baby. His daughter is my best friend and going to be the maid of honor—or matron of honor since she’ll probably get married sooner than we do. My father isn’t disowning me, but I am getting Jean out of all our lives. I can’t help but do a happy dance once I’m back on the ground.
Tasha bangs her shoulder into mine as we walk, head down as we try to keep to the beam of light made by the lantern she carries. “I was wondering if you would mind, or think my dad would mind too much, if I invited Chris here. He should probably be part of any discussions that take place.”
“I’m good with that. I think it’s a great idea. Just, Tasha,” I say, “Chris isn’t allowed to call me ‘Mom’ either. I will kick him in the junk for getting my best friend pregnant. He didn’t even ask my permission before doing so. How rude!”
We giggle for most of the walk, and Tasha lets us into the house through the back-porch door. “Dad’s home. I can smell the pizza.”
Beck’s sitting up on the kitchen counter, long legs almost all the way to the ground, and I cross the room to him for a kiss. It’s short and sweet out of respect to Tasha, but no less warm. “Lia,” he breathes against my neck. “Your brownie pizza is in the warming tray, and there’s ice cream in the freezer in case you want it.” Beck peers over my shoulder at Tasha, and I turn to see her staring at her feet. “How are you feeling, Tasha?”