Falling into Us Read online
I shook my head to clear it of football thoughts. Enzio and Leena de Rosa sat on the love seat opposite us, Enzio’s arm around his wife’s shoulders, his thick fingers tapping an idle rhythm on the cushion.
“Mom…Father,” Becca started. She glanced at me, then her father. “Dad, I mean. I…Jason and I have something to tell you. ”
Enzio and Leena glanced at each other, exchanging some kind of silent communication. Their eyes contained the shadows of long-term sadness. In the months since Ben’s suicide, they’d changed. They’d invited Becca and me over for dinner on numerous occasions, and seemed to be genuinely taking an interest in us, and in me. Becca had seen this change in them and had consequently been making an effort to repair the strain on her relationship with them. She’d even gone so far as to start calling her father “Dad” instead of “Father” as she had for so long.
Becca dug a small envelope out of her purse and handed it to Leena, whose eyes widened as she withdrew the ultrasound pictures. “I’m pregnant,” Becca said.
“How long are you?” Leena asked in her thick accent, then cleared her throat. “I mean, how far along are you?”
“Four months. ” Becca’s eyes were shifting from her mother to her father and back, assessing. “I won’t find out the gender for another few weeks, though. ” She said the last part for her father’s benefit, I figured, since her mother, as a pediatrician, would know that.
Enzio cleared his throat, sitting forward. “This was…unplanned, sì?”
“Yes, sir, it was,” I answered.
“And what are your thoughts regarding this…unforeseen development?” he asked me.
I drew a deep breath, choosing my words with care. “It may have been unforeseen, sir, but it’s not unwelcome. I love your daughter with all my heart. I think you know that by now. I will be with her every step of the way. I will take care of her and our child. ”
Enzio nodded. “Perhaps once I would have demanded you wed her immediatamente, right away, yes? But…now? She is happy with you. This I have seen. She has never been without. You do love her, I have witnessed this. She is…my only child, now. I only want to see her happy. ” His voice broke and he looked away, clearing his throat again and blinking hard. “I worry, of course, that this will interfere with her plans for a career, but that is her choice. ”
“Mr. de Rosa…Enzio, sir, that is completely her choice. I want her to do what makes her happy. I will do everything in my power to make sure she finishes her degrees and has a career, if that’s what she wants. ” I paused, then continued, “I don’t know how much you know about my plans for after college, but I’ve been scouted by the NFL for the last few seasons, and there’s no question of my going pro. I will take care of your daughter, and I’ll do it well. Money won’t…won’t be an object. ”
He nodded and glanced at his wife, then back to both of us. “And marriage? Have you discussed that?”
Becca spoke up, answering for us. “Yes, we have. We’re not officially engaged, but we are getting married. I hope you’ll approve, and that you’ll be a part of the wedding and our lives. ”
“Of course we will, figlia,” Enzio said. “I know…I know I was often very strict with you, but it…I only wanted the best for you. I am only sorry for it taking the…the death of your brother for us to—for me to realize…” He seemed to run out of words then, and he trailed off awkwardly.
“What your father is trying to say is that we are all of us family. ” Leena rose and glided to the couch where Becca and I sat, drawing her daughter into her arms. “I love you, Rebecca. I can’t believe I will be a grandmother!”
Enzio sat back against the cushions, looking stunned. “And I…I will be a nonno. Amazing. ”
We discussed, or rather Leena and Becca discussed, plans for baby showers and wedding location ideas. No one brought up my parents, which was fine by me. I hadn’t spoken to them since the day I left with Becca, and I had no intention of that ever changing. I wouldn’t reach out to them, either of them, ever. I hadn’t thought of them in a very long time, but all of this talk of weddings and babies somehow brought Mom and Dad to mind. I wondered what they would think of me being a father. I wondered if Dad would approve of me playing for the Saints. Probably not. Whichever team I chose wouldn’t be the right one, most likely, and I wasn’t fool enough to seek his approval anymore.
By the time Becca and I were on the way home late that evening, she was chattering a mile a minute about all the plans she and her mother had made. Apparently, we were having a small spring wedding, around March. We were inviting only those closest to us, mainly Enzio and Leena, Nell and Colt and their parents, a few of Becca’s friends from the university, Coach Hoke and few of my closest buddies from the team. Becca would be about ready to pop by that point, as she was due at the end of April. Apparently, unbeknownst to me, Becca had already been looking at wedding dresses and had found one online that would be perfect for her to wear eight months pregnant. I wasn’t quite sure why we didn’t just get married sooner, like in December or January, but when I suggested that, Leena and Becca both just gave me matching what are you, stupid? kind of looks.
“I’m not getting married in the winter,” Becca had declared, and that was that.
Enzio had smirked at me, drawing me into his study, where he poured me a glass of thick amber scotch. I almost never drank, so the scotch burned all the way down and settled in my stomach like a ton of bricks, but after the first few sips I’d started to like the heat of it.
“It’s best to let the women have their way with these things,” Enzio had told me, clapping me on the shoulder. “They will ask your opinion, perhaps, but it doesn’t really matter, unless you are fool enough to say you don’t care, which is the wrong answer. I remember when my niece was married, I saw this whole thing play out. The poor boy Maria married was hopelessly confused, always not understanding when they asked which napkin he preferred, or which flower arrangement was best, and they would never pick the one he liked. ‘Why ask me if you aren’t going to listen?’ he wanted to know all the time. It is women, I told him. You cannot understand their ways, especially as it comes to weddings and parties. ”
I nodded at his words and sipped the scotch, feeling a warm buzz settle over me as I finished the tumbler of fiery alcohol. Becca drove us home when she realized how buzzed I was, and giggled at me whenever I spoke, the words slurring slightly.
“You’re funny when you’re drunk,” she said, pushing me into our apartment and guiding me to our bedroom.
“It’s weird. I don’t like it,” I told her. “I feel disconnected. ”
“Well, maybe you should just lie down and let me have my way with you, then. ” Becca shoved me backward so I stumbled and fell onto the bed, then caught my foot in her hand, unlaced my sneakers and drew them off, then my socks.
“Sounds good to me,” I mumbled, watching her as she reached for the button of my shorts.
When I was naked, she stepped away from me and kicked off her flats, then reached behind her to unzip her skirt and let it fall to the floor. I felt myself hardening at the sight of her thighs and muscular legs, the lacy red “V” of her panties. She unbuttoned her shirt slowly from the bottom upward, gradually revealing a bra that matched her underwear. I swallowed hard at the sight of her standing in her bra and panties, skin dark and firm, black eyes roving my body. I lay still and waited, licked my lips, and shifted back on the bed, pillowing my head on my crossed forearms. She unhooked her bra and tossed it aside, her heavy br**sts swaying as she moved. Her panties went next, and then she was naked and crawling over the bed toward me, pressing a kiss here and there as she climbed over me, a predatory gleam in her eyes. Her knees settled on either side of my ribs and she leaned over me, draping the soft, heavy heat of her br**sts onto my face and dragging them downward, kissing my chin and my cheek, my shoulder and my chest. . She slid and slid, her body flush against mine