Page 21 of Principal Obsession

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One Year Later

Iscan the office, making sure that I’ve gathered all of my personal belongings before shutting off the lights and closing the door for the summer. Rose is cooking tonight and texted me a not-so-small list of items that she forgot to pick up at the store. She’s been more forgetful than usual, and it worried me enough that I convinced her to schedule an appointment with the doctor. We’ve been planning a getaway to the Bahamas next month as an early anniversary trip, and I need to be sure that she’s in good health before we travel. Our wedding planner had convinced us to go with a Caribbean theme for our reception and Rose became hooked on the food and culture, so it’s only right that she gets to experience the real thing.

I wanted to go to her appointment with her, but this was the only day that they could see her, and I had a graduation ceremony to perform. I walk swiftly through the store, glancing down at her message to make sure I don’t miss anything. When the last item is finally checked off, I rush to pay and load the bags in the car. Rose invited her mother to dinner, and I want to find out about the doctor's visit before she arrives.

Rose is in the kitchen cutting vegetables when I get home.

“Did you get everything?” she asks and I look down at the six bags that I’m carting in and shrug.

“How did everything go with the doctor?” I try to sound casual, pretending that I haven’t been worried all day.

She puts the knife down on the cutting board and wipes her hands on a nearby dish towel. She starts removing items from the grocery bags and doesn’t make eye contact with me when she speaks.

“I didn’t know if I should talk to you about it now or wait until mom gets her to tell you both at the same time.”

Her face is stoic, and I reposition myself on the kitchen stool to brace myself for whatever she has to say.

“Tell me, baby. If you’re having issues, we need to deal with them together. It’s my job to take care of you.”

“You’ll be happy to hear that there’s no reason why we can’t go to the Bahamas,” she tells me.

“That’s good, but is there something wrong?”

“The bad news is that I might not look very good in a bathing suit.” The corners of her mouth curl up, forming a slight smile.

“I don’t understand. Why? Are you having your appendix removed or something?” I tap my foot as I start to grow a little agitated at the way she’s drawing this out.

“No, they aren’t taking anything out. I’m just gonna need more room for what you put in.” She eyeballs me intently, waiting for it to register in my brain.

Suddenly, something clicks.

“Wait. You’re pregnant?” We never really talked about kids, but I never worried too much about taking precautions either.

“Yes, are you happy?” She does an adorable little nervous dance that melts my heart. “I really want you to be happy.”

“Yes, princess. I’m happy.” I hop off the stool and scoop her off her feet, spinning her in circles.

“I didn’t know how you were gonna feel. I’m so glad you’re happy! I can’t wait to have your little son or daughter,” she exclaims.

“Why wouldn’t I be happy? You’re the love of my life, baby. Of course, I want to have kids with you. As far as what you’ll look like in a bathing suit, well, I bet you with a baby bump is going to be really sexy.” I rub her belly and feel a twitch in my pants.

“Do you mean it?” she asks.

“More than you could know, baby.”

* * *

Sittingon the beach with a drink in my hand, I watch Rose tiptoe out into the clear blue water. She was concerned about wearing a bikini on this trip, and I can’t imagine why. She’s the best-looking woman here by a long shot. She throws the water over her shoulders and comes running back to me. I watch the two other husbands on the beach strain their necks to steal looks at her without drawing the attention of their own wives.

“We should go for a swim. The water’s beautiful,” she says as she plops into my lap.

“It matches your eyes,” I say, tasting the salty droplets on her back. “I’d rather sit here and watch your hot little ass play in the water.”

She kisses me and says, “I’ve been thinking about baby names. We’ve known that she’s a girl for a while now, and she still doesn’t have a name.”

“Okay, what did you have in mind? You know, working in a school as long as I have, there aren’t many names left that don’t remind me of one student or another.”

She’s been randomly tossing out names to me for over a week now, and each time, I tell her the story of a student by that name. Jessica was the girl who got drunk before homecoming and vomited on the dance floor. Samantha was the girl who tried to fight her chemistry teacher for failing her. Each name leads to a story about an unsavory memory. I know it frustrates her, but I don’t want my daughter to remind me of anyone except maybe her mother.

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