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“Something on the lighter side, I think. I’ve been craving nothing but all-meat pizza for the last month, but I think if I eat another slice of it, I’m going to turn into a human made out of pure grease.”

“Something lighter, huh?” Haley placed her fingertip on her chin, giving the matter some thought. “Oh! I know just the place. It’s this amazing vegan taco joint.”


“Remember that guy Jerrod I was dating a while back? The guy from Boulder who played in that jam band?”

“The one with dreadlocks? I have vague recollections.”

“Trust me, after dealing with that dork for two months, IwishI had nothing but vague recollections. Anyway, he was a super hardcore vegan, which means I now know all the best places in town. I’m normally a meat-eating kind of girl, but sometimes it can really hit the spot when you don’t want anything too heavy. Plus, it’s right here downtown, so we don’t even need to drive.”

“Sounds good to me. I never thought I’d say this, but vegan tacos it is.”

She laughed. “Let’s go!”

We hopped out of the car, making our way around the block to the taco joint. My stomach growled as we approached the place, and by the time we were seated on the patio with menus in our hands, I was starving. I ordered the five-taco platter, which came with two jackfruit tacos, two tempeh, and one with their version of vegan chorizo.

“So, how’re you feeling?” Haley asked once our orders were in, and the waitress was gone. “I know it’s a crazy question since you’re probably still trying to process it all.”

I took a deep breath, still trying to wrap my head around it. “I’m feeling OK, I think. I’m going to have to tell Mom and Dad as soon as possible, but they’re going to be thrilled. I’m looking forward to hearing Mom’s reaction when I tell her she’s going to get two grandkids for the price of one.”

“They’re going to be so happy,” Haley said with a big smile. “And I know they’re crazy proud of you for everything that you’re doing.”

She was right. I was lucky as hell to have parents as supportive as they were. When I’d told them I was pregnant, they hadn’t freaked. In fact, they’d been thrilled to find out they were going to be grandparents.

“Yeah, I know. And they’re going to come in for the first few months after he or she… I meanthey, are born. That’s going to go a long way.”

“You’re going to do awesome. Doesn’t even matter that Dr. Greek isn’t going to be around.”

Some kind of look must’ve come over my face, one that gave Haley pause. She reached over and put her hand on mine once more.

“Sorry, I know I shouldn’t have brought him up. That was stupid of me.”

“No, it’s fine.” My throat felt tight, and I cleared it to make the tension go away. “It’s stupid, really. I’ve got you and Mom and Dad, and I’m lucky enough to be able to live on my royalties for a little whileandhave time to work on my next book while I’m pregnant with the twins. I should be counting my blessings instead of thinking about what I don’t have.”

“You’re allowed to feel a little sadness, babe. You’ve got an amazing attitude about this, don’t get me wrong. But I don’t think anyone who imagines having kids hopes that they’ll have to do it alone when it happens. 8The twins are not going to have a dad in the picture. It’s totally fine that you’re a little bummed about that.”

Tears formed in my eyes, but I made sure to quickly wipe them away. I was going to be a single mother of twins—I didn’t have time for tears.

“Two kids, two parents, right? Sounds perfect. But, if it’s not to be, then it’s not to be.” I cleared my throat, closing my eyes and giving myself a few seconds to compose myself. “And I’m going to be fine with it. These kids are going to get tons of love, no matter what.”

“There you go!” Haley said, her face flashing with happiness. “You’re going to be a kick-ass mom; I know it. And I’m sohappy that I’m going to be in those kids’ lives.”

Tears formed in my eyes once more, this time out of happiness rather than worry.

“Thanks, Haley. You’re the best.”

At that moment, the waitress returned with a big basket of tortilla chips, along with three different kinds of salsa.

“Alright, alright,” I said. “Enough about me. You excited about the next school year?”

Her eyes flashed with the sort of excitement I always saw when Haley talked about teaching. She was born to be a teacher, and few things got her jazzed up like the subject of her students.

“Sofreaking excited. I’m working on this new lesson plan for history, trying this role-playing stuff I saw on teacher TikTok…”

We got into it, eating our chips and salsa as she went over her big plans for the next year of fourth grade. Before too long, our tacos showed up and I was more than ready to tear into those. My stomach rumbling, I lifted a jackfruit taco to my mouth and prepared to take a bite.

Before I managed to do that, however, something across the busy road caught my eye. Walking into a glass-fronted restaurant was a trio of men, all tall and wearing sharp, dark suits. One of them had medium-long dark hair, his stride confident and, more than anything else, familiar.

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