Trevor stood in front of the jewelry counter with his hands propped on the glass, staring into the brightly lit sea of gold and diamonds. The choices were endless.
“How about that one?” Lucas pointed to a gold tennis bracelet. “I don’t think Mom has a gold bracelet.”
The sales clerk removed the bracelet from the display case and set it next to the gold chain, chandelier earrings, and mother’s ring. Her long red fingernails clicked on the glass as she drummed them impatiently. It was the morning of Christmas Eve, and there were many other anxious customers she was eager to help. Trevor and Lucas had been mulling over jewelry for the better part of an hour.
Trevor took off his hat and rubbed his head briskly. “I don’t know what to choose.”
Lucas was losing his patience now too. “Dude, why can’t you make a decision? I vote for the tennis bracelet.”
Ready to close the deal, the sales clerk picked up the bracelet. “Shall I box it up for you?”
“Yeah, the bracelet is fine.” Trevor’s indifference was obvious. It wasn’t that he didn’t care about his mother’s Christmas gift. He was just too preoccupied to make a decision about anything.
Why had Audrey been avoiding him? Was it about that Matt guy who Destiny had mistaken him for on the phone? It frustrated Trevor to no end.
He wished she would’ve called him and told him that she wanted to see somebody else. Of course he wouldn’t have liked the idea, but he would’ve given her space. It sure would’ve been easier than suffering the silent treatment.
“Hey Trev, snap out of it,” Lucas snapped his fingers in front of Trevor’s face as they stepped out of the department store and into the mall.
Trevor unclenched his jaw. He took a deep breath, and then let it out slowly. “Sorry, man. It’s time to get my mind on the festivities, huh?”
Lucas gave him a sympathetic smile. “Maybe just for a couple days. It’d be a shame for your whole Christmas to be ruined.”
“I’ll do my best.”
“Have you thought about talking to her?”
“You have no idea how hard I’ve been trying to talk to her. She won’t have anything to do with me. And we never had a fight or anything. I can’t think of one thing I did to make her hate me.”
“Maybe it has nothing to do with you. Maybe she fell for some smooth talker, and now she feels too guilty to face you.”
“You’re probably right.” Trevor sighed. “I’m ready to forget about it and have myself some Christmas cheer.” Trevor forced a smile.
Lucas patted him on the back. “Atta boy.”
They picked up a gift card at the golf store for their dad, and then stopped at the food court for a drink.
Trevor spun around to see Becca and Jake, hand in hand, heading toward him and Lucas. He looked past them, expecting to see Audrey trailing behind them, but she was nowhere in sight. He wasn’t sure if he was disappointed or relieved. “Hi, guys. Merry Christmas.” He pasted on a smile.
“Merry Christmas to you too,” Becca eyed the small shopping bag Trevor held in his hand. “I see you’ve been doing some last-minute jewelry shopping. Is that a special ring for a special someone?” Becca raised her eyebrows.
Trevor fidgeted with the bag. “Nah, this is a gift for my mom.”
Becca frowned. “I thought Audrey was getting a ring on her finger.” She nudged Trevor with her elbow. “Or are you just trying to keep it a secret?” She winked at Jake. “Your secret is safe with us.”
Trevor, put in an awkward situation, looked to Lucas. The only support Lucas offered was another sympathetic look and another pat on the back. Apparently, Becca was even more in the dark than he was. Had Audrey shut all of her hometown friends out of her life? A chill ran down his spine. Maybe the guy she was seeing was one of those control freaks who tried to keep the girl all to himself. “There’s not going to be a ring this year, Becca. She hasn’t talked to me in weeks.” He tried to act like it was no big deal.
“Me either.” Jake shrugged. “She hasn’t even been posting on Instagram.” The coincidence was uncanny.
“I swear she’s avoiding me.”
Becca crossed her arms. “It’s worse than I thought. I knew something was wrong, but she promised me she’d talk to Pastor Mitchel. Lately, I thought she’d been busy with school and cross-country. I thought that’s why I hadn’t heard from her.”
Trevor stepped over to a nearby table and sat down, mulling over this new information. “Cross-country season ended a while ago.” He slapped his hat on the table.
Becca slid on the bench next to him.
Trevor put his hat back on his head and tried to regain control of his emotions. “Is it about a guy?”
Becca shrugged. “She never mentioned a guy…except for Matt something or other.” She laughed. “I swear that guy is crushing on her.”
Trevor winced. “That doesn’t make me feel any better.”
“Am I sensing some jealousy Trevor Hayes?” Jake sipped his pop, making slurping noises. Normally Jake could force a smile out of Trevor in any situation. Not today.
Becca patted Trevor on the back. “Don’t worry. She didn’t seem interested.”
Trevor wasn’t amused. Everyone knew he had a thing for Audrey, and he didn’t care that they knew. Right now he was just worried about her as a friend.
“Dude, you’re probably over-thinking this. You know how busy college can be,” Lucas said.
“Yeah, probably. I’m so sick of trying to guess what’s going on in her head.” Trevor stood up. “Time to get home and wrap some presents.”
Trevor said goodbye to his friends and headed home with his brother. He wished he could move on from his childish obsession with Audrey. Obviously, she had found somebody else and wanted nothing to do with him. But no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t forget about her. How could he forget a lifetime of memories?
Audrey and Darcy trimmed the tree with their dad as they did every year. Christmas music hummed in the background and the smell of Christmas Eve dinner wafted through the air. Audrey lost herself in the moment, hunting for the perfect branches on which to hang her favorite ornaments. But when she came across a glittery star hanging from a string of silver yarn, she felt a tug on her heart. She turned it over and read the scrawl, From Trevor. She tucked the ornament in the back of the tree.
The doorbell chimed, and Audrey’s heart leapt into her throat, helplessly hoping it was Trevor. “I’ll get it.” She practically skipped to the door.
It wasn’t Trevor. She opened the door. “Hi, Becca.” She could do little to disguise her disguise her disappointment at her unexpected guest. “Come in.”
Becca wrapped her arms around Audrey, practically knocking her over. “Merry Christmas! How are you? I’ve missed you.” Her enthusiasm was contagious. So maybe Becca was just the person she needed to see.
“Merry Christmas. I’ve missed you too.”
Becca dangled a shiny red gift bag in front of Audrey’s face. “I brought you something.”
Audrey’s cheeks grew hot. “I didn’t get you anything. I mean, we don’t usually—”
“We don’t usually exchange gifts. I know. But I needed an excuse to see you. It’s been too long.”
The last time Audrey had spoken to Becca was at the Fall Festival when she’d promised to talk to Pastor Mitchel. Prickles crawled up Audrey’s spine. She hoped Becca wouldn’t quiz her on why she’d been distant lately. She forced a smile. “Let’s go up to my room.” Leading the way upstairs, she asked Becca about her senior year of high school.
“School is fine,” she sighed. “But youth group isn’t the same this year.”
Becca sat on the window seat, hugging her knees. Audrey lounged on her bed. “In a bad way?”
“Yeah. It’s not the same without you, and Pastor Mitchel is all weird this year. It’s like he’s detached from us. Like he doesn’t want to be there.”
That didn’t sound like Pastor Mitchel. Audrey’s defenses rose. “Are you sure you guys aren’t pulling away from him?” Considering the partying and Becca and Jake hooking up.
Becca scoffed. “I don’t know. But that’s not what I came to talk about anyway.”
A pit formed in Audrey’s stomach. “What do you want to talk about?”
“Why were you crying at my house that night? What’s going on with you?”
There it was. Straight up. She played up the innocent act. “It was nothing. I was just hormonal. It was that time of the month or something.”
Becca crossed her arms. “Why have you been avoiding all of your best friends?”
Audrey was dumbstruck by Becca’s boldness. She sat with her mouth agape, trying to form a response.
“Jake and I talked to Trevor and Lucas at the mall today. Trevor says he can’t get in touch with you.” She held up her arms. “Spill the beans, Audrey.”
Audrey’s heart rate tripled. “You talked to Trevor?”
Becca’s demeanor softened. “He looked so sad. His brother was trying to cheer him up. It was kinda cute.”
Audrey let Becca’s words sink in. “Because of me?”
She nodded. “You’re breaking his heart. He asked if you’re seeing another guy.”
“What? That’s absurd.” She hadn’t meant to mislead Trevor that way.
Becca crossed the room and sat down on the bed next to her. “It isn’t another guy, is it?” She’d always been intuitive. “Something is wrong. Please talk to me.”
Becca deserved an explanation, and Audrey needed to get things off her chest. She told Becca everything she remembered from the night of the party, ending with waking up in Jake’s guest room.
Tears streaked down Becca’s face as the story unfolded. “I’m sorry, Audrey. It’s my fault. I shouldn’t have dragged you in there.”
Audrey shook her head, wiping her own tears with the back of her hand. “It’s my own fault. I should’ve been more careful.” Audrey wrapped her arms around herself in attempt to suppress a sudden wave of queasiness. “I don’t feel so good.”
Becca’s eyes grew huge as saucers. “Are you…sick?”
Audrey knew what her friend was thinking. “I’m gonna throw up.” Audrey pointed to the waste basket, and Becca handed it to her.
As sickness overtook her, Becca rubbed her back and handed her tissues. Audrey was grateful to finally have a confidant.
“Girl, you are pregnant.”
Audrey deflated. That comment she could’ve done without.
Darcy couldn’t believe her ears. Audrey was pregnant! She crept back to her room and closed the door. When she’d heard voices coming from Audrey’s room, she’d assumed Audrey and her mom were having a girl talk session. Darcy didn’t want to miss out. But just as she was about to knock on Audrey’s door, she heard the puking sounds. And then Becca said Audrey was pregnant.
Darcy flopped down on her unmade bed. She couldn’t believe Audrey and Trevor had gone all the way. For one thing, Audrey had told Trevor she just wanted to be friends. For another thing, Audrey was saving herself for marriage. They must’ve slipped up. I always knew Audrey liked Trevor as more than a friend.
This was definitely the juiciest girl talk Darcy had ever heard, but it also made her feel sick to her stomach. It had been so important to Audrey that she maintain her purity until she got married, and usually when Audrey made up her mind about something, she followed through. And what about track and field? Would she be able to compete if she was pregnant? Audrey lived for running.
Hopefully, she wouldn’t be pregnant. Hopefully, she and Trevor slipped up one time and it would never happen again. This must be the reason Audrey was keeping her distance from Trevor. She didn’t want to let it happen again.
There was the possibility that the stomach flu was going around campus. Maybe Audrey just had a stomach bug.
There was one thing Darcy was sure of. This was going to be an interesting Christmas. For the first time in her life, she needed to keep her mouth shut. She stayed in her room the rest of the night except for a speedy trip to the bathroom to get ready for bed.
Darcy took her time getting ready Christmas morning. The only plans being a few church friends coming over later to visit with her parents. She relaxed in a bubble bath, spent extra time curling her hair, and carefully applied her make-up. With Audrey’s secret heavy on her heart, threatening to spill off tip of her tongue, the more time she spent by herself, the better.
She heard the front door open and close. Peering out the window, Darcy saw Audrey jogging down the sidewalk, her blond ponytail bouncing behind her. It was a beautiful winter day. Large snowflakes floated down, blanketing everything in white. Although travelers wouldn’t appreciate the snow, it made for a picture-perfect Christmas.
Darcy eased open her bedroom door, peering into the hallway. No one was in sight. She ventured down the hall, tip-toeing. Her mom and dad spoke in hushed tones in their bedroom. She wondered if they were aware of Audrey’s predicament. Her mom had been forgiving when Audrey said she got drunk and passed out at a party. Darcy made a little huff. Audrey could get away with anything. Let’s see how understanding they would be about her getting knocked up.
She went downstairs and was pouring a bowl of cereal when there was a knock at the front door. Peering out the sidelight window, she saw Trevor pacing on the porch. She gasped and hid behind the door, hoping he didn’t see her. What would she say to him? She stood still behind the closed door, willing him to go away.
He knocked a second time. There was a pause. “I saw you, Darcy.” He knocked again, more loudly this time.
He wasn’t going to leave. Darcy looked upstairs at her parents’ closed door. They must be too deep in conversation to notice the knocking. Well, she couldn’t just ignore him and leave him standing out in the cold. She took a deep breath and opened the door.
“Hi, Trevor. Long time no see. Merry Christmas!”
The lines etched in his forehead told her that he was not in a joyful mood. “Is Audrey home?”
Darcy folded her arms across her chest to keep warm. She leaned against the doorframe, attempting to act casual in spite of the knot in her stomach. “No.”
Trevor glanced over his shoulder at Audrey’s car in the driveway. “I know she’s home. I can see her car right there. She probably told you to say that, but she can’t avoid me forever.”
Darcy couldn’t help but feel sorry for Trevor. He clearly loved Audrey. He loved her so much that he gave himself to her fully. Darcy wondered if he knew that Audrey was pregnant.
Trevor took off his cap and smacked it on the porch railing, clearly frustrated. He clenched his jaw, trying to maintain control. “Just tell her I miss her.” He put his hat back on his head, and he stepped off the porch.
“She’s really not here,” Darcy called out to him. “She’s running.”
Trevor stopped and stared into the falling snow. After a moment, he turned around to face Darcy, his blue eyes intense. “What is she running from?”
Darcy shook her head. “No, I mean she’s literally out for a run.”
Trevor stomped back onto the porch and stood less than a foot from Darcy. She could see his breath in the cold air and felt it on her face. He wasn’t backing down this time. “Please tell me what’s going on.”
Darcy’s heart pounded in her chest. How could she tell him when she wasn’t even supposed to know? When she didn’t answer, he stepped back, widening the space between them. He pulled himself up onto the porch railing.
“I’m not leaving until I get an answer. I’ll wait for her.” He looked out at the sidewalk, watching for Audrey to come around the corner, but she was nowhere in sight.
He was leaving her no choice. Darcy had to say something to him. She didn’t think it would be a good idea to bring him into the house since her father may or may not know about the situation. If he did, he might not be real happy to see Trevor just yet. “Just a minute. Let me grab my coat.” She went in the house and put on her coat, hat, and mittens before heading back outside. Audrey would be home soon. She could at least keep him company while he waited for her to return.
Trevor looked at her expectantly as she leaned on the railing next to him. “So?” He wasn’t interested in her company; he just wanted answers.
“Trevor, I don’t think it’s my place to tell you. That’s Audrey’s responsibility.”
“But she won’t talk to me. Just give me a clue. Is she mad at me? What did I do?”
“You know what you did.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Trevor looked puzzled and slightly irritated at her remark.
She expelled a nervous giggle. “Well, I know about you guys.”
“What do you know? Tell me because you obviously know more than I do.”
Darcy blushed. “I know that you guys went all the way.”
“What?” Trevor spat the word.
“Trevor,” Darcy looked him squarely in the eyes. “Audrey is pregnant.” Oops. She spilled the beans.
Trevor’s face turned rosy pink to ashen white, then slowly changed to red, bright red. It was freaky. His right eye began to twitch and his chin began to quiver. He balled his gloved hands into fists.
Darcy’s heart rate quickened even more, and she was suddenly afraid that she had said too much. She backed away because she didn’t want to be in Trevor’s path if he were to explode. She tried to think of something to say to calm him down.
“She might not be pregnant though. Maybe she just has the stomach flu. And even if she is, you guys can get married, right?”
Darcy was trying to help, but the more she said, the more it fueled his fury. He turned and trudged through the deep snow across the yard to his house. Darcy wished she wouldn’t have been the one to have to tell him, but she didn’t have a choice, did she? He had demanded an answer.
Darcy went back in the house with her heart still thudding nervously in her chest. Hopefully Audrey wouldn’t be mad that she told Trevor. Darcy decided that just in case, she’d better retreat back to her room.
With Christmas behind her, Audrey knew it was time to face the reality of her situation. She and Becca hovered over Becca’s computer, searching for a clinic. “Let’s try that one.” Audrey pointed to the screen. “Crisis Pregnancy Center. We care for you.”
“I know where that is. It’s downtown. In a little brick building. Looks nice—quaint.”
Audrey drew in a shaky breath. “I never thought I’d go to a place like this.” She wiped sweaty palms on her pants. “I can’t believe this is happening to me.”
“You might not be pregnant after all. They’ll give you a pregnancy test, and maybe it will be negative.”
“Good point.” A touch of optimism brightened her outlook. Then she had a revelation. “I can buy a home pregnancy test at the drugstore. I don’t need to go to a creepy pregnancy center. I mean, what if they tell my parents? I’d be mortified.”
Becca thought about it. “You’re eighteen—an adult. I doubt they could legally tell your parents without your permission.”
“Hmm. I suppose you’re right.”
“Plus, I think you should get checked out at the center. You know…in case you have…an STD or something.”
Somehow Audrey had failed to think of that. The idea of being pregnant was bad enough. She burst into tears. “That’s disgusting,” she coughed out between sobs.
Read a chapter a day from Bittersweet Goodbye right here on this blog, beginning September 1st, 2019.