Since we all lived together, date night had kind of become a group affair. For the first time in our lives, Marta and I had our bedrooms, so Marta was good about clearing out when it got towards the end of the date, but the truth was that Bradley and I felt guilty going out and leaving Marta all evening. Marta, who had once been the complete and utter social butterfly of the family, sitting home alone, just gave both of us chills. So, Marta came to dinner, or the movies, or whatever else it was that we were doing for the evening, and then made herself scarce as we headed home. It was a good system for us.
After all, half the world already thought that Marta was pregnant with Bradley’s kid, what worse could happen? Some sort of polygamist rumor? Actually, that might be fun to spread. Maybe if I dropped a hint to Marie, it could spread around—No, it wouldn’t nice of me to use her like that. She just makes a perfect target for that kind of thing.
It was one of those nights. We’d gone to see the new superhero movie that Bradley was really excited about. Group date worked to my advantage as Marta and I amused ourselves with a quiet mocking commentary. Bradley wasn’t usually so appreciative of my mocking, but Marta got it. When we got home, Marta retreated to her room with a slightly perverted joke, a jar of pickles, a bar of chocolate, and a two liter of caffeine free Mountain Dew.
It was a Friday night, so Bradley was staying the night, which was nice in a purely selfish kind of way. It was really nice to be able to fall asleep and wake up with him. It made it feel like this was really something, like we might actually be able to be a family.
“Do you actually want to get married?” Bradley asked, tracing a lazy circle with his thumb on my side just under my shirt.
“What?” I laughed, tipping his chin up so he was looking me in the eye.
“Mind you, this isn’t a proper proposal. This is testing of the waters, to decide if I’m going to plan a proper proposal.” I traced his bottom lip with my thumb and fought off the desire to kiss him. It was time to have a discussion. He was staying all night, there would be plenty of time for that later.
“Bradley, I don’t want you to feel like you have to marry me because my sister is pregnant. I appreciate you wanting to move in here and help us out, but I don’t want—“
“No, no, it’s not that.” Bradley propped himself up on his elbows and smiled down at me. Resisting the urge to pull him down was hard, but, no, serious discussion time. “No, Ave, I wanted to marry you since I was about six. Five? I don’t know, we can ask my mom later. She told me to wait until we were adults to get married, it was the way things were done. True, I was going to wait to make sure we could survive our first years of college before bringing up, but the little boy moved my time frame up a bit. But—I want to marry you. I just don’t want you to feel pressured into it.”
It took most of my willpower not to propose to him myself right then and there. “Bradley. I would love to marry you. But—I really don’t want to divorce you. We’re young, and our lives are about to get a lot more stressful. We should wait. Be responsible. At least one Andersson sister should be responsible in all this, yeah?”
Bradley gave me a sad smile, “Does it have to be you? Do you have to be the responsible Andersson?”
“Well—Marta’s already pregnant—so I think that ship has kind of already sailed.”
Bradley sighed, and let himself fall to the side, hitting the pillow hard. “All right, All right. We’ll be responsible.”
“Semi-Responsible? I asked, biting my lip and looking at Bradley’s again.
Bradley’s hand found its spot on my hip again, grinning again. “I can live with Semi-Responsible.” He countered. Just as he leaned in to kiss me properly there was a banging on the door. “Oh come on.” Bradley protested.
“Not now Marta!” I called out. If this was just a silly craving, I was going to punch her in the stomach as soon as her baby was safely out it.
“He’s kicking!” Marta yelled through the door, “Our little boy, I can feel him kicking.”
I was out of bed in a flash, Bradley behind me. Marta guided my hand and I felt it move, just slightly. Bradley put his hand on top of mine, and even though I knew that he couldn’t feel a thing, he looked at me, tearing up a little. When I looked back to Marta and saw that she was crying for joy too, I knew I was a goner. We all stood there in silence, for a moment not caring about the rumors, not caring about the complications, not caring about the stress this baby had caused or was going to cause in the coming years. The four of us, we were going to be a family. I mean, I’d known it, but I didn’t really know it. Not till now.
I pressed a soft kiss to the back of Bradley’s hand. “Hey, Little Boy. We’re going to take care of you. Good care of you.”