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Rocco has never really seen JJ lose her composure the way she is about to now, they argue, have fights, but the last time she lost her mind during a fight was three months into their relationship…
All week JJ had been feeling queasy and waspish, the shop was busier than normal, word had gotten out about it, no question through Rocco because a lot of her recent clientele were baseball players, their wives or baseball adjacent; there were parties, lots of bouquets, weddings, showers. They had only been dating for about three months and here he was an absolute champion. He bragged about her to anyone who would listen, and they patronised her business. He was sweet on her. After meeting his entire family at his “little thing,” his mother invited her over for dinner the following weekend and his sisters have become fast friends of hers. Rocco, she suspected told them most everything about her, because they would come round the shop order more flowers than they needed, stay and chat getting to know her even more. At first, she was disconcerted with how fast things were moving but she soon learned that the Rossi family were almost always in each other’s business with absolute love for each other. They loved their brother, and son immensely and by some fluke had come to love her too in such a short space of time.
JJ was sick for a third time that morning, but she didn’t pay it any mind because she thought she caught a bug that was going around; two of her staffers had been out sick because of it. But Rocco suspected otherwise. They were spending the morning together before she had to go open the shop and he had to hop on a plane for one of his off season practise matches that coach makes them do.
‘You sure you don’t need a doctor?’
‘Why would I for a bug?’ JJ rolled her eyes, dismissing his concern as him being overly cautious.
He had that look on his face, one that always holds her attention because it implies something more.
‘I think you’re pregnant.’
‘You haven’t had your period in two months-’
‘And you would know because we have been at each other’s side every day?’
‘I’m not pregnant, I think I know my body well enough to know.’ She couldn’t be, they’d only been dating three months and they used protection… always? ‘I am not pregnant.’
‘Will you at least take a test?’
‘No. Rocco stop overreacting. It’s just a bug.’
‘I’m not overacting, I just think-’
‘I know my body.’
‘Okay.’ He knows when she is avoiding something, he knows her well enough now to know she suspects something is up with her, something more than the bug. ‘I don’t wanna argue, I have to be on a plane in a few hours so let’s just not fight. Okay?’
But he’d planted that little voice in her head that only got louder as they lay on the couch watching TV. Her mind was a whirl of numbers trying to count the dates from her last period. When had she last bought a tampon? Surely, she would have used them all right? Bloody hell she is not at home to check her medicine cabinet. But she is not pregnant how could she be, they have only been together three months and hardly been in the same place more than four times and all those times… FUCK SAKE she thought they were being careful.
‘Fine, you go get the pregnancy test then.’ JJ snapped at Rocco.
‘Go on. You’re so sure I’m pregnant right? So go get the test so I can take it and put you at ease.’
‘At ease? What are you talking about?’
‘It’ll be terrible for you if I was pregnant, wouldn’t it?’
‘Why would it be?’ How did this become his fault.
‘Because you’re a third baser superstar base baller.’
‘Again, the position is third base.’ His girl was never going to get it right, would she? ‘And no, it would never be terrible if you’re pregnant JJ. Never.’
‘We don’t know that I am, and you don’t know what your reaction would be when we find out.’
‘Fine. I’ll get the tests.’ Instead of sending his assistant, Rocco goes to the pharmacy himself to get the tests.
JJ was frazzled out of her mind with worry, still trying to calculate the dates and she cannot make head or tail of anything. She was so sure they were being careful. They might’ve gotten carried away sometimes, but there was that one time or was it twice when they were in Paris, merely three weeks into their relationship which at the time was undefined. She should have stuck to those pernickety rules, you know the ones; no sex in the first three months of dating, no kissing on the first date. She always thought those rules were stupid but they might have saved her a world of worry about now.
‘Ugh.’ She starts to pack her bags, she needs to check her tampons. She needs to make sure she’d been using them.
‘Where are you going?’ Rocco walked in with a brown paper bag of pregnancy tests she supposed.
‘I need to check my medicine cabinet.’
‘Because I need to check that I’ve used my tampons, because that would prove I am not pregnant.’ She shoved some more things in the suitcase, not even sure what she is packing but she needs to get to her cabinet, the answers will be in there, not in the paper bag of home pregnancy test kits in his hands.
‘JJ. Stop.’ His tone was so gentle it stops her in her tracks and it’s that look in his eyes that tells her no matter what, they will be fine. ‘Do you want to take test? We don’t have to.’
She does. The longest two minutes of her life when it was confirmed that she was indeed, pregnant.
‘Happy now?’ She put the test on the table next to where Rocco sat.
‘What does this mean?’
‘I’m pregnant. Congratufuckinglations.’
For a second time tonight, Rocco knocked her for six. ‘Are you mad?’ Goodness what is up with him.
‘You don’t want to get married?’
‘Rocco we’ve been dating for three months, have barely been together in the same place because your schedule is a minefield. Three months in, I’m pregnant and you want to get married?’
‘You don’t want to?’
‘No. I don’t. And I never want to get married.’ There is more to that reason but now is not the time to talk about it, not now when she is internally freaking out, she barely had her shit together and has only known this man for three months and now she is pregnant, he asked her to marry him. She needs to get out of her before she screams the house down. ‘I have to go.’
Rocco made to stop her, but that look in her eyes told him not to bother so he gives her the space she obviously needs.
‘Man! She was not happy.’ Rocco had just told his friends about the fight with JJ, finding out that she was pregnant and him blurting out that proposal.
‘Of course she was not.’ Cliff, short stop and one of his best friends says, handing him a glass of whisky. Rocco, not knowing what to do with himself, came straight to his best friend’s home and in true Cliff style he rallied the troops. His wife and children are visiting his parents in Atlanta, so it was perfect timing. Dapo the all-star Pitcher, Jethro the captain, Cliff, Ralph who they met at baseball camp as children and Rocco have been the best of friends for over a decade. All except Ralph grew up in the same neighbourhood, but the five of them have maintained a close friendship, Ralph not being close by physically did not change the dynamic of their friendship, they were all still in each other’s lives.
‘Would you be happy if the shoe was on the other foot?’ Ralph asked over the phone, he’d been conferenced in by Cliff.
‘Do you love her?’ Dapo asked
‘Of course I do.’ Rocco answered.
‘Have you told her?’ Jethro asked, he knows how impulsive Rocco can be.
‘Not really or no?’ Cliff asked.
‘Fuck off!’ It sounded as if they said that at the same time. It felt like a slap.
‘We’ve only been dating for three months and have hardly seen each other.’
‘So you ask her to marry you because she’s pregnant but you have not told her how you feel about her?’ Ralph asked over the phone.
‘It’s not like that.’ Rocco tries to defend himself.
‘Did you tell her you love before you found out she was pregnant and then asked her to marry you?’ Jethro lays it out.
‘Fuck.’ Rocco is deflated. When his friend put it like that… ‘But she said she never wants to get married though.’
‘You’ve been together three months your schedule means you are hardly together, there’s a lot to unpack there player.’ Jethro says.
‘A hell of a lot. It’s a lot to happen in three months.’ Ralph said over the phone. ‘If she doesn’t want to get married, what are you going to do?’
‘I can’t lose her, I love her.’
‘Sounds like something you should be telling her to her face.’ Cliff places a call to his chauffeur, his friend will need a ride to see the woman he loves.
JJ sat on the kitchen floor, ice cream tub open, trying to piece together her life. This only happens in movies; how did her life become such a cliché? Two minutes after she walked through her door, she got the real answer she was after, two unopened packs of tampons in her medicine cabinet. She was frolicking with Rocco without protection, a whirlwind romance where she lost her damn mind and now look.
She was finally in a sweet spot, her precious flower shop had become something more than her wildest dreams, she’d bought the warehouse loft above and was able to work on larger commissions. People came to her for a particular vision and eye for beauty and she loves it, all of it; the life it affords her and the freedom it brings. She gets to be part of the momentous moments in people’s lives, in some small way. She was finally finding her footing, balancing on two feet and along comes Rocco with his charm and sexiness, to throw a wrench in her tracks. As if that is not bad enough, he asks her to marry him! What is wrong with men?!!
The doorbell goes.
Her food order. She is starving. And so it begins.
Except it is Rocco there, with her take out in one hand, his other hand in his pocket and a smile that could melt her heart. The one that makes his eyes sparkle, and reveals the truth of what she feels.
‘Are you moonlighting as a delivery guy now?’
‘I love you.’
‘JJ I realise that I haven’t even told you how I feel about you and that’s my bad. I love you so much, in ways I cannot describe, and I have loved you from the first moment I saw you, before our kismet. Whether or not we get married, I’m in. This is not the plan we had, hell we didn’t even have a plan, but I want you to know I am all in with you. No matter what you decide, I will always be all in with you because I am hopelessly in love with you. You are the most incredible woman I have ever had the fortune of loving. I want to do this thing called life with you, whether we get married or not, you’re my ride or die for life. I love you.’
And there she was, her heart completely melted.
‘I love you too.’ JJ loops her arms around him, looking up at him towering over her, ever so sure of her feelings for him. She’d been in love with him from that moment in London when she stumbled as their eyes connected. On her tip toes she seals them with a kiss. ‘I’m never going to be a part of your sports red carpet culture Rocco, I don’t want that and I meant what I said, about marriage, but I do love you. Is this still something you want to go all in with me on?’
‘Absolutely. Hundred percent.’ There was no doubt in his mind.
The look in JJ’s eyes as she stands waiting for her mother to leave is nothing short of murder, Rocco moves closer to make sure his girl didn’t go full postal. Murderous rage that she will take out on him the second her mother leaves. He is not sure who to be scared for.