Enzo had been waiting a long time to tell her that, but then he noticed her reaction and thought perhaps he had picked the worse possible timing. Reaching out his hand he struggled with finding the words. Not something he was accustomed to, “How can you be so calm?”
Even though she asked him the question, there was something hidden in her tone. It gave Enzo the impression that she was not asking ‘how can you be so calm’, but instead wondering why she wasn’t. His fingers lightly teased along her cheek as he offered his response, “My parents taught me three very important things.”
Quietly she asked, “Only three?”
With a smile he stated, “Well they taught me a lot of things, but there were three that were far more important than any others. The first was to always remember that no matter how big I thought I was that my parents reserved the right to beat the shit out of me if I got mouthy.”
“I think they have been slacking,” She tried to tease.
“They probably have been,” He said and then added quickly, “The second thing they taught was that there are billions of people willing to be one of the crowd. It takes no effort and requires a sacrifice of the one thing that you should always hold dear. So, they drilled into my head the importance of being that one person in a billion that does the right thing even when it is hard, goes against the current, and stands out in the crowd.”
“You do that pretty well,” Mikaela stated.
With a smile he responded, “That brings me to the most important lessen I ever learned from my parents.” Enzo took a moment to stroke her cheek before stating, “It does not matter how the journey begins. What matters is where we end up when we finally reach the end of that path. So, you asked me why it is I am so calm. The answer is very simple. I am not worried about the journey because I have intended for you to be at the end of my path since that first day I met you.”
Mikaela groaned, “Why do you always have to turn these moments into sloppy sweetness? I never know what to say when you speak like that.”
His head rested to her shoulder as he gripped her hand, “I don’t expect you to say anything. Just accept that I mean it.” Enzo could tell she was uncomfortable. She always got this way when he articulated his feelings for her in any sort of sensitive fashion. Some women liked it; Mikaela did not know how to react to it. It always concerned him, but up until now he never pressed the issue to understand, “What about you? What were the three lessens from your parents that have guided your hands?”
There was hesitation that lingered around Mikaela before she finally said, “I was taught that everything I do is a reflection upon my mother. So, do not do anything that will make her look bad.” Only a moment did she pause, “Guilt and being told it is not realistic will always trump hopes and dreams, no matter how talented you might be.”
A release of breath left the lungs of Enzo. He felt the heaviness engulfing him with each word she spoke. “Surviving means you do what you have to even if it means sacrifice everything.” Mikaela paused, “What I learned is that no matter what I did it was never good enough for anyone.”
If he could sooth the ache in her heart he would, but Enzo discovered early on that his Sato blood did not work on her. It was part of why he was attracted to her instantly. He lifted his head suddenly and opened his mouth to speak, but she brought her hand up in some form of anticipation. His head tilted as she spoke, “Whatever foolish thing you intend to say, just bite your tongue.”
“Trust me,” He responded.
Noticeably her body stiffened then relaxed, “I do trust you.”
“I have known you long enough to know that you have an impenetrable fortress around you, Mikaela. You do not give yourself over to people easily. So, there is no need to tell me that you do when I know in two years you still have barely let your guard down. Just…” He paused a moment, “Trust me alright?”
Her fingers reached out and touched his face as their eyes locked, “Okay.”
Enzo did not hesitate to pull her to him the moment she agreed. He coaxed her to rest her head against him as he stroked her hair and asked, “Did you go to the doctor?”
“No. I took a pregnancy test.”
“It came back positive?”
“Kind of,” She spoke with some uncertainty. “The box said a pink plus sign would mean positive for pregnancy, but it was really faint. Not at all like how it looked on the box. So, I thought I messed up and I took it again and then again and …” She sighed, “I used all four in the box and they all had that really faint pink plus sign.”
“What about your period?”
“Last one I remember was a couple of months ago. I thought maybe I missed it because of the holiday.”
He tried very hard not to take it to heart that she had been holding on to this by herself for that long. Coaxing her to look at him he swallowed back the sigh that threatened to escape and forced himself not to ask her if she intended to tell him. “Is there something about me that made you think I might walk away?”
The way she looked up at him did nothing to convince him even as she managed an uneasy smile. Those unmoved eyes never matched the expression upon her lips. Enzo leaned down and kissed her forehead and quickly stated, “It is alright. There is no need to answer.”
“I am sorry,” She whispered.
“No, do not apologize.”
Pulling back he took a breath, “Wait right here.” It was clear she wanted to stop him as he rushed out of her room and came back five minutes later with a couple of gifts. Her mouth opened, but he shut her down quickly. “My mom got you something,” He stated as he set the presents on the floor. Took a spot next to them and reached put to pull her down into his lap.
His arms wrapped tightly around her, “My dad said she has been a little sad lately. Buying you something put a bit of spirit back into her. I know you hate this sort of stuff, but there is no pressure.”
“What are they?” Mikalea asked as she shifted slightly to get comfortable.
“I do not know. Neither of them told me.”
“Tell her I said thank you.” She responded and then added, “I will write up a thank you card…”
Enzo stopped her suddenly, “Why don’t you tell her in person.”
“What are you talking about?”
Enzo took a breath before speaking, “We have three weeks left of this semester. We are both registered for the spring, but maybe we should take a break.” He kissed her cheek, “I have seen you pull double credits in the past two years like you were trying to set a new world record for how fast someone can get a degree. No one can run like that forever. Just consider it. No pressure; I just think maybe we could take a semester off and get out of here for a bit. Spend time together and…”
She interrupted him, “Just like that?”
Enzo leaned back pulling her with him until they were in a semi-comfortable position on the floor. He thought it would be easier to answer her if he took a moment to consider his words, “After you explained what was wrong, it made sense to me that you would skip out on class. I remember that time you dyed your hair and you decided to do your eyebrows,” He laughed quietly, “For about two months you asked me if people could tell they were different.”
“I don’t want people judging me,” She whispered.
He squeezed her tightly, “I know. That is why I think we should do this. Finish out our three weeks and then take a vacation. My parents would love to meet you and if we are being honest here, I would like you to meet them. We can take care of a doctor’s appointment, decide what we want to do with school, work, and we will save telling your mother for when we have all our little ducks in a row. So, what do you think?” He asked as he lifted his head slightly to look at her only to realize she had fallen asleep on him.
With a sigh he reached out and brushed her bangs out of her eyes before kissing her forehead and responding, “I like your new hair cut, baby girl.”