They’re a Match
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The drive back to London from Edinburgh was a seven hour straight shot down the M6. We could have flown, paid someone to drive the Ferrari back. But making a road trip of it felt fun, and delightfully ordinary to me. The lowlands in winter were stunning—fog on the moor, and frost turning the grass into fields of spired icicles. Then the Lake District, with its rolling hills and water formations. Once you approached Manchester and farther inland, the scenery of course become industrial, but Zed loved it nonetheless. We drove the day, eating crisps and sweets and listening to music of every genre.
Until the quotidian bubble of obscurity and normality popped. We pulled up to a beautiful Georgian terraced home glowing in the light of a winter sunset. I’d only seen the façade in digital photos, and in person it looked even more classic and frightfully expensive. As I stared at our home out the window, I tried to hide my ethical war with its opulence.
Right after we stole away to Prestonpans and I’d told him about the baby, Zed asked if we could buy a place and make it ours. No strings, no pushing me to forever, but somewhere we could live as long as I wanted to live with him, where we could be a family. I preferred to blame my acceptance on hormones and gratitude that Zed hadn’t died from being attacked. But perhaps I was just growing up and moving past my fear of letting down my walls of independence. I hadn’t promised him forever, but he also hadn’t asked for it, either.
Which was a relief. Because while I knew everyone who looked at us was only waiting for the engagement announcement, I was still reeling from falling for Zed in the first place. From the insanity of our dynamic in Boston to the violence that plagued us when we reunited in London. Now I was five months along to a world class footballer, and moving into our exorbitant Georgian townhome, when all I’d planned for in life was to be a contented cat lady spinster who slept under the desk in her lab and vanquished diseases.
I stared up at the house, located in the posh historic London neighborhood of Bloomsbury. The place had to have cost him millions, the thought of which made my stomach sour with the kind of nausea that rivaled my morning sickness. I’d felt similarly the first time he showed me pictures of the place while we had been in Scotland.
“Nairne.” He sighed, head falling back on the pillows in my bed. “We need somewhere to live. You go to school there, I work there. That’s how much it costs.”
I swallowed the objections that clawed at my throat when he pulled up photos of the property’s interior in the throes of construction. It looked atrociously involved, and that meant atrociously expensive. “I know that, Zed, but aren’t there more reasonable neighborhoods we could live in?”
Massaging his brow, Zed turned to face me. “Why are you so uncomfortable with me spending the money I’ve earned?”
I stared at him, at a loss for words.
“Nairne, you deserve to live in a home that’s easy to move around in, that’s comfortable and safe, that’s close to your schooling and my work. Don’t you believe that?”
Zed smiled and, as always, it felt like the sun slipping out from behind a cloud, warming my soul. “Then let me give it to you, because I can. Because I want us to have a good life.” He leaned in, softly kissing the corners of my mouth, the tip of my nose, my cupid’s bow. “We deserve that.”
Zed watched me with a guarded expression as he let himself out of the Ferrari, and it broke me from my thoughts. Hands on my belly, I replayed what I’d been telling myself as I gave the situation a good, long think—this was about our child’s life, opportunities, and wellbeing. And if this home was a little expensive, it kept us safe and allowed us to be together as a family. Who was I to demean that? The baby did what felt like a summersault and I laughed to myself.
“You agree then?” I asked.
Zed had come around to my side to open the passenger door, and ducked his head in. “Sorry, I missed that.”
“I was just thinking aloud, and the baby did some acrobatics. I took it to mean he or she agrees.”
Zed frowned and focused on my lips. “Agrees on what? That their dad is a vile cog in the capitalist machine making London even more prohibitively expensive and elite?”
I sighed and scratched my nails against his scruff. “No. I’ve come around to the idea.”
Zed smiled. Then he swept me up and carried me to the door, reminiscent of the bride and groom at the threshold. The door was a shiny black lacquer with fresh brass fixtures. White brick, new, dark-paned windows twinkling like cheery stars against the evening sky. It looked like a home. Our home.
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