At the basement studio apartment that Dani’s friend Jerri is gracious enough to allow her to share -- Dani's Event Planning business not having taken off to the point of allowing her to find lodging of her own -- Dani mopes on the couch that by night becomes her bed. Jerri’s twin, Jenna, and their friend Dayle have by this time moved out into their own apartment, as Jenna’s waitress job and Dayle’s pet grooming business have both proven lucrative enough that they can afford not to have to sleep on Jerri’s floor any longer. The studio apartment had been very crowded with the four of them living there, and Jerri is actively promoting Dani’s business in an effort to get her to the point of being financially capable of moving out as well.
In her misery, Dani does not hear Jerri’s footsteps coming down the stairs. The door opens and Jerri plops her purse down on the kitchen table, looking around at the chaos in her tiny space.
“Dani? Seriously, if you’re going to stay here for free, the least you could do is clean the place up while I’m at work!”
Gradually Jerri’s words penetrate the fog and Dani looks up, blinking.
Jerri is adept at reading people and immediately notes the confusion in her friend’s eyes. She steps up into the living area and takes a seat next to her, putting her arm around Dani’s shoulders.
“Dani? What’s wrong, hon?”
Tears well up in Dani’s brown eyes. “Oh, Jerri!”
She breaks into tears accompanied by great, gulping sobs. All Jerri can do is hold her until the storm passes.
Gradually the sobs subside into hiccups. Jerri decides that the time is right to prod.
“Ready to talk about it now?”
Dani keeps her head down, avoiding Jerri’s gaze. She draws a deep, shuddering breath, then whispers, “Oh, Jerri! I’m pregnant.”
Jerri looks sharply at her friend, keeping a tight rein on the flood of words threatening to spill out. “Oh, Dani. I’m so sorry.” She pauses, but can’t help herself and the question slips out. “Who . . . .?”
If anything, Dani looks even more miserable. “His name is Marlow. I met him at the wedding I put together a few weeks ago. He . . .” She gulps back a fresh tide of tears. “I thought . . . I thought he was my boyfriend! When I told him . . . about the baby . . . I thought he would ask me to marry him . . . but . . . oh, Jerri!” Renewed sobs overwhelm her ability to speak. Jerri’s arm tightens around her friend’s shoulders, but she waits silently for the storm to pass.
After a few moments Dani regains enough control to continue. “Instead of asking me to marry him, he . . . he said not to worry, he’d pay for the abortion!” The last word ends in a wail as she dissolves once again into tears.
Shit! Jerri thinks to herself. How could she be so clueless! This Marlow guy sounds like a real cad . . . but what the hell was she thinking, not using birth control!
This not being an appropriate time for recriminations, Jerri keeps her thoughts to herself and consoles her friend.
“Don’t worry, sweetie. We’ll figure it out. You’ll be okay. The other girls and I will take care of you. Right now you just need some rest. Why don’t you use my bed tonight, and I’ll sleep here. Come on, I’ll get you settled.”
Jerri helps the still sobbing Dani into bed, bringing her a soothing cup of hot chocolate and a box of tissues.
When she hears the sobbing finally ebb and notes that Dani’s breathing is rhythmic at last, she slips out to the kitchen and makes a quiet phone call to her twin, filling her in on the situation and asking Jenna to bring Dayle up to speed as well.
The next morning, after first making certain that Dani is still sleeping off her crying jag of the night before, Jerri once again contacts her twin.
“Hi. How’s Dani this morning?”
“Still sleeping. Hey, you have a pretty good relationship with your boss, right? Can you ask him to recommend a good lawyer?”
“Yes. I think that might be the best place to start.”
“Sure thing. I’ll ask him when I go in this afternoon.” She pauses. “Jerri? How could she have been so naïve and . . . well . . . stupid?!”
“Preaching to the choir, Sis. Of the four of us, I’d have thought she’d be the first to be on birth control!”
“Yeah.” Jenna shakes her head. “I’ll call you after I talk to Darius, OK? Later!”
To be continued . . .