Hidden From Life Chapter 9

 Hidden From Life
Chapter 9

Maybe that contributed to her feeling sick lately, as there seemed no other cause. Julie initially ignored her symptoms, but when they didn’t go away, she made an appointment to see her doctor. There was no reason to worry him, she decided. Knowing Johnny, he’d insist on taking the day off to drive her when she could go alone.

John arrived home late in the evening after her appointment as his boss had wanted the crew to finish a job that day. When he arrived, he saw her car in the driveway, but the house was dark and silent. As he entered the front door, Emily greeted him impatiently, looking to be fed. After attending to her demands, he headed upstairs. When he switched on the bedroom light, he was startled to see Julie sitting silently in a chair, looking like she had been crying. The joke he thought of about forgetting to pay the electric bill died on his lips when he saw her puffy-eyed face.

“Hey Julie, are you all right?” he asked as he knelt before her.

“Yes, no, I don’t know anymore,” she said, and it appeared like she was about to cry again.

“Come on, it can’t be that bad, can it?”

“Maybe, but that depends on you, Johnny. I have something to tell you.”

He couldn’t imagine what bothered her, but he needed to know.

“So tell me,” he told her while meeting her eyes with his.

“I know we’ve never discussed it, but we should have. That’s our fault, but it doesn’t matter now. Johnny, I haven’t been feeling well lately, so I went to the doctor today.”

That caught him off guard, and now he looked at her with obvious concern. He took her slim hand in his while he waited for her to continue speaking.

“The reason I’ve been sick, let me just say it. I’m pregnant, Johnny; I will have a baby.”

“Whoa,” he managed to say, and Julie thought he looked shell-shocked suddenly. Without warning, he stood and headed towards the door. “I’ll be right back,” he called out to her, followed by the sounds of him stomping down the stairs and then the front door slamming.

She was speechless at his reaction. It was nothing like she expected. Julie had hoped he’d greet the news with the joy she had initially felt when she heard the diagnosis, although she realized it would catch him off guard, and he might not like the idea. But him running off never occurred to her.

Suddenly, she heard the front door close again and heard his footsteps as he bounded up the stairs. In seconds, he was in the room breathing hard.

“Johnny, I’d understand if you said you never agreed to this…” she began before he shushed her and knelt at her feet again. He was looking down at the floor so that she couldn’t read his emotions, and he seemed to fidget in his pocket with one hand.

“Sorry about that,” he began, “but that was unexpected. I’ve wanted to talk to you about something, but I guess I was waiting for the right time. Well, this changes things, that’s for sure, so I guess there’s no time like the present. I hoped to do this fancier way, but your news has trumped my plans, so here goes.”

John turned his face to hers again, and she read joy there.

“Julie Jones, I fell in love with you when I was a dumb kid, and you were my sexy English teacher, though you didn’t know it, and I was too stupid to take a chance. Then I fell in love with you all over again, and I decided this time I wouldn’t give up without a fight, but luckily for me, you felt the same. And now you give me the greatest news I could ever imagine. Only one thing can make this day even better - would you do me the honor of marrying Miss Jones?”

As he said this, he removed his hand from his pocket, and she saw a ring in it, which he slid onto her slender finger.

“Oh my God! Yes, Johnny, yes!” Julie cried out, and before she knew it, they embraced and kissed.

A little later, they lay under the covers with John’s body lying on top of hers as they caught their breath.

“If I’d only known sooner, I’d have asked you earlier, Julie.”

“Known what?”

“That sex with one’s fiance is the greatest in the world. Too bad that it won’t last long.”

“And why is that?”

“I figure you’ll want to be married before our daughter is born.”

“Our daughter? Why do you say that?”

“I just have a feeling, but don’t worry, we’ll work on making a brother for her afterward.”

“Oh, and then what are you doing now, sir, practicing?” she asked as she felt him start to move inside her.

“Practice makes perfect,” he answered as he thrust deep, filling her.

“Hmm, well then, let's keep practicing, Johnny,” Julie said before she kissed him.

“The house is impressive, Miss Jones; how old is it?” he asked to try and change the subject since he had seemed to embarrass her. ‘You idiot,’ he thought to himself, ‘you see her for the first time in years, and you make a fool of yourself and, even worse, offend her.’

“It is quite old, John,” she said, happy to be talking about anything but her appearance. “I believe it was built in the 1880s or ’90s. Thankfully, they built them solidly back then, or it would have fallen apart long ago from the lack of attention it’s received recently.”

They walked to the front door as they spoke, but John continued studying the house as they approached. What she said about neglecting the building was true, and he noted more than a few items needing repair or replacement.

“I know that what we discussed was about the interior, but I can’t help noticing that there are some exterior issues as well,” he said as she fished her keys from her purse.

“Oh dear John, I hope nothing is too serious,” Julie replied as she opened the door.

Like clockwork, Emily decided to appear, but seeing the stranger, she hung back until the door stood open, at which time she darted past them both. He was surprised as the feline seemed to come from nowhere, but Julie ignored the cat. John regained his composure and began speaking again.

“Well, the gutters look in bad shape, and the chimney has a few cracks at the least. It’s hard to tell from the ground, but if that’s all, it can be repaired easily. Now, if it were me and the budget allowed for it, I’d say to install new gutters and as many windows as possible. Those old ones must be very drafty and inefficient, and you’d recoup the money with lower energy bills.”

“Yes, keeping the house as warm as I’d like is tough during winter. Can you do these things? Because to be honest, I hadn’t even thought about such things. I’m afraid I’m not very knowledgeable on such matters.”

“I could certainly do the window and gutter work, though it wouldn’t be cheap. The cost of purchasing the windows will add thousands if you have a lot of windows. Then, depending on the style you want, it will also affect it.”

“Oh, dear, now my head is spinning. It seems like I haven’t thought this out well.”

“Listen, Miss Jones, I’m sorry for confusing the issue. That wasn’t my intention. You’re the boss about what gets done; if you only want to worry about the interior, that’s fine. It’s a big house, and painting the inside will take time. But if, for example, you decided to replace the windows, it would make sense to do so before painting the room's interior.”

“That seems practical. Well, how about at least you see what has to be moved, either to be thrown away or given to charity? Also, get an idea about the size of the rooms to be painted.”

“Good plan, lead the way.”

They walked the house from the crowded attic to the damp cellar for the next hour. Julie felt very self-conscious when they entered her bedroom. She hadn’t made her bed that morning, and her flannel nightgown was lying across it, but he didn’t say a word. After finishing the inspection, they went to the kitchen, where Julie fed Emily before joining John at the table.

He had been reviewing some numbers on a pad, figuring out the time required and how much materials would be needed depending on what Julie ultimately decided to do. Finally, on a separate sheet of paper, he wrote what he would require for himself, though he did give her a break there. John slipped the documents across the table to Julie. When she noticed the price, her eyes widened slightly, but she didn’t comment.

“Now feel free to shop around, but understand that I need an answer soon. I prefer to stay in town. I returned because my Father hasn’t been well, but I can’t go any lower as it wouldn’t be worth my while financially.”

“No, I understand, John; I have no experience in these matters. However, it seems reasonable. I tell you what, at the least, I want to do what was originally mentioned, plus replace at least some of the windows.”

“Great, then I tell you what. I can start tomorrow morning, and for the first few days, I’ll be busy just moving a lot of the accumulated stuff from the attic and other rooms. Then, whenever you get an opportunity, you can look at some paint colors and window styles, and we’ll go from there. So what time do I have to be here tomorrow so you can let me in?”

“Well, I usually leave at seven thirty, so can you make it before that?”

“No problem, Miss Jones, and it’s perfect to see you again.”

“Likewise, John and I’ll see you tomorrow.”

She walked him to the front door and saw him off, waving as he drove away. When she closed the door behind her, she leaned against it for a minute, and her heartbeat rapidly.

‘Stop being silly, Julie,’ she told herself. ‘Not only is he far too young for you, but I really doubt you’re his type, and no doubt he was just being polite about your appearance or, more likely, was complimenting you to help him get the job.’

Still, Julie stayed in a good mood that night, even singing aloud more than once. She labeled many more items to go as she decided to go all out since she was turning over a new leaf. Only when she went to her mother’s room, did she turn somber. Ever since she had discovered her mother there that morning, she had hated the room passionately. Because of this, she decided to put off working there for now, and once she left, her mood improved.

Julie thought John arrived at 7:15 a.m. the following day dressed in jeans, work boots, and a black T-shirt matching his short dark hair. He carried a small cooler and a support belt for his back.

“Just my lunch,” he told Julie as a way of explanation, holding up his cooler.

“There’s no need for that, John; my refrigerator has plenty of room. It’s usually half empty. Give me that, and if you want some coffee, there’s a little left in the pot.”

“Thanks,” he answered as he handed her the cooler.

She opened it and put the items inside, including one beer bottle.

“Just a beer with lunch, hope you don’t mind. If you prefer, I won’t drink it.”

“No, John, it's fine; I’m not much of a drinker, maybe a glass of wine when I’m sometimes at dinner with friends. Mother never approved of spirits.”

“Well, a glass of wine is good - after all, Jesus drank wine, right?”

She smiled as she answered. “That’s true, I guess. I have to go; you have my number if there’s a problem. One last thing: you met or at least saw my kitty Emily yesterday. She tends to come and go as she pleases, but now that the weather is getting warmer, she’s out a lot. But if you hear her scratching on the door, could you let her in?”

To be continued
Written by nutbuster (D C)
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