“Travis.” She whispered. “You have to get up.”
I took one look at my watch and saw that it was seven in the morning, I had only about three full hours of sleep since Claire’s puking kept the two of us up all night. “Ten more minutes.” I said groggily.
“Travis you have a meeting in an hour.” She whispered what I already knew. “Come on get up.” This time it wasn’t a whisper, and the next thing I knew I was on the floor. She had pushed me out of bed.
I got up off the floor and put my suit on. I was tired, and I mean tired. It had been four weeks since Claire and I married and she had been sick most of the time. I don’t even recall Rose being this sick with Parker, though I never brought that up to her. I looked over at Claire, who was fast asleep again. I felt defeated. I had given her the day off the night before. I swept over the bed kissed her on the forehead and headed out the door with my briefcase.
Only to be greeted by my uncle. Jake was eating breakfast with a spiked coffee when he turned and saw my tired-ass walking out of the room. “Dude, you look like shit.”
“No!” I answered sarcastically. “Oh and I feel like it to. You got anymore of that coffee?”
“Nah, I walked down the street to get some.” He stared at me from head to toe before carefully asking his next question. “So. . . what gives?”
“Claire was up all night, puking. Morning sickness my ass. She’s been non-stop sick since she found out.”
This normally would have gotten a chuckle out of Jake, but he looked more concern. “Which bathroom did she use?” He looked over at his door.
I smiled. “Relax, I made her use ours for once.”
You see, not too long after we married Claire and Jake started some type of war against each other. I honestly don’t know how it started, but they were at each other’s throats. She called him an alcoholic on more than one occasion, and he called her a bitch. And because she’s always so sick she’s been taking it out on Jake by using his bathroom rather than ours. Which in turn causes Jake to call me up at the office and complain. Though I only know this, because I found Claire yelling on the phone one afternoon and took the phone from her and found that it was Jake. He told me about the puking, I laughed and then I told Claire she needed to use our bathroom, and in the next morning she made it worse by waking him up and puking in his bathroom yet again. I finally gave up and stepped away from their little war.
Just after we married Claire went out and got a total complete make-over. I didn’t know about it until I came home from a meeting with one of the CEO’s. (He took me out to lunch.) When I walked in and found Claire, cleaning, my breath was taken away. She looked absolutely stunning. I walked up to her and took her by the waist and spun her to face me and kissed her. “So do you like it?” She asked.
“Yes. You look beautiful.”
“Good, because I don’t know how long I’m going to be able to wear these pants.”
“That’s okay.” I kissed her again. “To me, no matter what you look like you’ll always be beautiful.”
I came home from the early meeting and found Claire working at the computer. “What are you doing? You should be resting.”
“I’m working.” She answered. I looked over her shoulder and saw that she had downloaded one of those work-from-home programs and I was staring at the schedule from work. She was adding in some meetings and one I was definitely inclined of not wanting to attend.
“No.” I pointed. “I am not going to meet with that ass.”
“You are.” She answered. “If I hear you bail on him one more time I am going to take this pair of scissors” she grabbed a pair of scissors out of the desk drawer, “and shove them up your ass.”
“But he’s an idiot.” I complained like a two year old. She nodded in agreement. “I don’t want to go, and you can’t make me.” Again sounding like a two year old. She gave me a hardened stare. “Who the hell is the boss around here?” This time I tried to act my age.
She narrowed her eyes. “Who the hell do you think? I make sure you get to work, I make sure that you get to your meetings, I schedule and do everything around there and here, so who the hell do you think?”
I bit my lip. Her hormones (which I would never point out to her) were showing their true colors. “Fine, I’ll meet with the idiot.” I turned to leave, but stopped just at the door, “Oh and just so you know, I am the boss.” She flung a book at my head just as I exited. I heard it slam against the back wall.
I found Jake making drinks at the bar. He was laughing and then to make matters worse he made a whipping noise. “OH shut up. I am not whipped.”
“Oh yea?” He asked offering me a drink, “Then how come you fled from the room and didn’t stand your ground?”
“She threw a book at me!” I answered, he only laughed and then again made the whipping sound. “I told her though, who’s the boss.”
“And she threw a book. Apparently Trav, she didn’t get that memo.” He laughed again. “To women.” He toasted. “You can’t live with them and you definitely can’t live without them.”
I raised my glass to that toast and chugged the glass of whiskey. “Another.” I ordered and Jake poured me another.
Three whiskey shots and a dry martini later Claire walked out of the room. “Hey baby!” I said slurring my words.
“Travis, how many have you had?” She asked sternly. I shrugged my shoulders. “Your done.” She took the glass out of my hand.
I took the glass back. “Pregnant women should not be drinking.” I said, of course I was too drunk to notice that she was taking the glass from me to stop me from drinking more.
“Travis hand it over.”
“But why?” I asked just as I hiccupped. She in turned tore the glass from my hand and sat it on the bar and then took me to the bedroom. I thought I was getting lucky. Turns out she just wanted me to sleep.
As the second trimester came around I started to act like a romantic husband rather than a crying little baby. However, Claire’s hormones were still in full swing. I was trying to be the good husband by making her some breakfast. I was flipping pancakes when she walked out of the bedroom. “What the hell are you cooking?” She asked.
“Pancakes.” I answered with a smile. Claire had already started to show and as I eyed her. My eyes darted straight for the little bump, “for you and the baby.” I added.
She wrinkled her nose up and gave me a dissatisfied expression. “Gross. I’m just going to make a sandwich, peanut butter and olives.”
This time I gave her the “ewww” expression. “Suit yourself, I am having pancakes.” I said with an evil grin. Pancakes were my favorite and Claire knew this one simple fact.
We sat down together and ate. (Okay, she ate while I inhaled my pancakes.) She took one look at my awful habit and her mouth dropped. “That is so disgusting!” She cried out.
I chewed the last of my pancakes and looked at her sheepishly. “Sorry.”
“Didn’t your parents ever teach you how to eat?”
I laughed at that line of questioning. Not only did both my parents try to rid me of this habit when it came to eating pancakes, my father stopped making me them until I learned “more manners.” “Yea they did, I didn’t really listen.”
“You really are disgusting sometimes Travis.” She said as she went back to eating a peanut butter and olive, yes olive, sandwich. I kept my mouth shut though, knowing I would never win that argument. I knew from experience that women often craved weird food. Rose craved the wildest things and even though my dad made it for her, we both would look at her like she was mental.
My uncle and Claire’s battle never died. Jake somehow would end up on her awful side. I may have wound up on her “bad” side occasionally, it was nothing like what Jake endured. That was until one unforgettable day.
I had just got home from a long working day. Claire was home already. (I sent her home at lunch, seeing that she was having a really bad morning.) When I walked in the building I headed to the mail box and took out all the bills. As I went through them I found one envelope with Claire’s name and it read, “Sims National Trust and Bonds” which is a bank that my bank often competes with. I mumbled “What in the hell?” before pocketing it.
I found Claire cleaning the kitchen when I walked in. “This came for you.” I said as I slid the envelope over to her. She took one look at it, and then paid no attention. “You know that’s a crappy bank, right?”
“You going to tell me what’s in there?”
More silence. I went to grab the envelope and she pounded my hand hard onto the surface of the counter. I flinched in pain and tried to win my hand back, it, however, was a losing battle. “Don’t you dare think about it.” Claire said in a low voice.
“I just wanted to know.” I said in a high voice and with a tear in my eye. She was really hurting me.
She looked up at me and seeing that I was in pain allowed my hand’s freedom. I knew it was her hormones, it had to be her hormones. “Travis, I’m rich.” She said as she rubbed the back of her neck.
I looked at the envelope again, “oka-a-ay.” I said not knowing what she was meaning.
“You know Hogan’s?” She asked. I nodded. Everyone knew of Hogan’s Deep Fried Diner, they were the biggest franchise in the state. “Do you know of Hogan Morris?” This time I shook my head. “He’s my father, well was. Travis I own Hogan’s, well part of it anyway. The company was split up after he died, and I got a huge chunk of the company.”
My mouth dropped. I went for the envelope again, this time she didn’t fight me. I tore it open and gawked at it. “100,000!” I said as I took out a balance sheet.
“Yea that’s my bank statement.” She tried to play it off. I looked it over. She hadn’t used much over the year. Hell, she never touched it.
“Claire you haven’t touched a dime of it in over a year.” She nodded. “And your interest sucks!” I pointed out. She didn’t answer. I turned and walked towards the bedroom.
She ran in after me. “You can’t!” She yelled, grabbing me and turning me around. Apparently she understood what I was about to do. “I hate that money. I hate that company. Dad and mom died on their way home from a corporate meeting to expand over to Sim City. I don’t want that blood money. I don’t need it!” She screamed with tears rolling down her chin.
“Claire, sweetie, I am not going to allow my wife to keep money in that dumb ass bank. Look, I’ll move it into a trust for the baby where it will expand with interest, unlike what it’s doing now.”
“No, just keep it there!” She pleaded.
I turned and logged onto the computer. I brought up a few websites, one being my corporate site that I work with everyday and then I brought up Sims National. “Login info?” I asked. She didn’t say anything. “Claire I need your login info.”
“No. I am not moving it.” She said coldly.
I typed in her account info in the lost password and login name and then went to her email, which I knew she was horribly at logging out of. I clicked on her inbox and grabbed the email. I proceeded to create a new password and I was logged in. She continued to glare at me. I knew she was pissed. I moved the money over to my actual bank account and closed hers. She would of course receive a phone call the next day, but that didn’t matter right now.
I went onto my site and started to open a new trust fund. Claire noticed another fund in my name and changed her demeanor, “What’s that?”
“Parker’s trust fund in Riverview. The bank down there is a sister bank to ours so I have access to it.”
“You have a trust fund in his name?” She asked in awe.
“Yea, dad and I made an agreement when I left. I would pay child support in the way of a trust fund and he would take care of Parker for me.”
I didn’t put a name on the new trust fund yet. I just added our last name to it. I then entered the allotted amount. It would take a week to get everything through, especially with the amount I put in it. “There, it’s done.”
Claire looked over my shoulder and stole the mouse. I watched as she read everything. She didn’t say anything when she walked away. I turned and followed her. She grabbed a few blankets and my pillow from the bed and then went out to the couch. She then kicked me out of the room. I looked at my bedroom door and was in total shock.
It took almost two weeks for Claire to talk to me. Even at work, (when she showed) she was very distant. She did allow the move with the money. Sims National did call her and sent her a form to sign. She reluctantly signed it. A few days later the money was moved over to the trust I started.
When I walked in the house late one evening I found my pregnant wife in the living room watching television. “Claire.” I called out and she turned off the television and got up. I quickly walked to her and hugged her. When we both felt the baby kick, it was the moment she started to talk to me again.
I proceeded to rub and feel the baby kick while she took her time to talk to me. “Travis, I been thinking.”
“Uh huh.” I said not really paying attention.
“I think we should get our own place.”
My head shot up to her. “Our own place?” I asked with my mouth a bit open.
“We could use part of the money in that trust to rent and furniture our own place. It doesn’t lock up for another few weeks right?”
“You want to spend some of that money?” I asked in disbelief. She nodded her head. “For a place, of our own?” She nodded her head again. “Well, okay then. You find the place and we’ll buy it.”
She did. At work and at home she spent most of her time on the computer. At work I often found her searching for apartments and not really working. When she thought she found a place she would then email it to me. I would in turn call her in the office and talk to her about the listings. “That one is awfully pricey.” I once pointed out at a four bedroom, two bath condo.
It took a few weeks but one day I opened my email and saw the latest rental listing she sent with a note attached, “I WANT!” I only laughed and called her in.
“You want?” I asked with a smile. The place on the listing wasn’t far from our apartment complex. It was a three bedroom, one bath. It wasn’t small, and it looked beautiful on screen.
“Yea, and I’ve called the land lord. The place just went up on the market.” She said cheery. “Please Travis?”
“Well if you say it that way. . .” I smiled. She screamed and ran towards me, hugging me and kissing me. And might I add, this was the time I looked over to see who the landlord was. “Mr. and Mrs. Mark Riley” I of course panicked, but I knew that I couldn’t say no.
I called up Sally – not Mark – and explained that I was looking at her property and wanted to rent out the three bedroom place. I also noted to her that I was married and that I had another child on the way. After a few days of waiting I received another phone call, this time it was Mark. When I answered it, after Claire explained to me it was the land lord for the apartment (she did not say who) I realized I was deep over my head. “Hello” I answered.
“Travis Rain.” Mark said, not in a question, it was more like an understanding. “I hear you want to rent another apartment.”
“Yes sir. My wife” I made sure he caught that, “and I are expecting and we are in need of a bigger place. You have exactly what we are looking for.”
“Your wife sounded very persuasive. I’ll give it to you on one condition, stay the hell away from my wife!”
“No problem.” I said as I gulped what little dignity I had. I didn’t need Sally to complicate things anyway. “So, when can we move in?”
“Anytime, I’ll drop the keys off whenever you would like.”
In a week, Claire and I had our things packed and we were moving down the street. I met Mark only once for the keys (where I also received a black eye) and we were set to move in. Claire was not with me and when she saw the black eye I told her that I slipped in the elevator. She did not believe me, but she also didn’t push it. Jake on the other hand knew exactly why I had a black eye. He made fun of me (quietly) for the entire week.
The night we were ready to leave, I almost broke down. I had spent a good portion of my life inside the apartment with Jake. He took me in for a hug and the two of us cried like a bunch of girls. “You take care.” I told him.
“You too. And if Mark tries to mess with you again, you call me. I’ll come and straighten his ass out.” I laughed.
“I will.” We ended our hug and Claire and I were out of the apartment.
We entered our apartment with just the few boxes we had. The place was empty. The bedrooms were all the same. The master (top left) was a tad bigger than the other two (top right). The living room area (middle) was huge, and I mean huge. The kitchen looked lovely and the bathroom was amazing. (And yes there is a roll of toilet paper on the toilet, I had to go! Don’t judge.)
I brought my wife up close to me (after using the facilities) and kissed her. We were in our very own place. I would have lifted her up and carried her over the threshold like a gentleman would do, but seeing as how she was six months pregnant and very heavy, she walked in.
I then gazed into her eyes after the kiss. “Welcome home my love.” I whispered.
She looked around and smiled, we were in fact home. “I love you Travis, you know that, right?”
“Yes, and I love you too.”
It took us a couple of weeks but we managed to furniture the place. We didn’t go to garage sales, if that’s what you’re thinking. Claire and I went over the weekend to all the furniture stores we could muster (well, all that Claire could) and bought a ton of furniture. We bought some ceiling lights and fans, and I made Claire call Mr. Riley to see if we (meaning me) could install them. When he said no she called Sally. Sally of course said yes (understanding that we needed both light and that Claire needed air when she got too hot). Sally even made Mark come and install them. Claire never asked about my history with the Riley’s and I never said a word.
One day while I was off from work (I took it off to be with Claire) I had this brilliant idea. We were watching a movie about a small blonde boy who was an orphan and it hit me, I finally had the space for Parker. “Claire, what would you say if I asked Parker to move in with us?”
She turned and looked at me. “Really?” She asked seriously. “Are you sure, because I don’t want you to be all excited about raising a family and then decide that you made a mistake. Parker deserves more from you.”
“Yes. We have the space. I finally have the space to move my son in with me.”
“Then you better call him and ask.”
I kissed her. We sat there and made-out for a while. I had tears going down my cheeks, I was so happy and so excited. I could finally be with my son and I had another on the way. Claire paused and wiped my tears, “go call him.” She whispered. I nodded and got up and went to make the call.
“Sup Daddio!” My eleven year old son answered the phone.
“Hey, you know how you’ve been dying to come live with me?” I asked.
“You wanna come and move in now? Claire and I just rented a place and we have a room picked out specifically for you.”
“Uhhhhh. . .” This was not the answer I was expecting. “I would love to. . . it’s just that, grandpa promised me he would take me to Egypt if I got straight A’s for one whole year and if I don’t ditch a single day.”
“And you can’t do that here?” I asked with a laugh. I knew my dad would have found a way to get Parker to go to school and to actually study.
“That’s part of his agreement. I have to live here. When he came up with this idea it was after I yelled at him and told him I hated him and wanted to live with you. He then calmly said that he had a deal for me, but it was only good if I lived with him. If I moved then the deal was off, and dad I love you and all, but I really want to go to Egypt.”
“Alright. But the offer is always open.” I said sadly. It broke my heart learning that now, Parker didn’t want to move in with me. I had missed my shot, and I knew it. I figured that if he did make it to Egypt, then maybe after he would come. Or that’s my hope at least.
“I’m really sorry dad.”
“It’s okay. You get those grades, okay.” I said goodbye and told him I loved him.
The next day at work I called dad. He answered the phone. “Figure you’d call.”
“He told you, huh?” Was all I asked.
“Yup, and I’m going to tell you what I told him, it’s his decision. I also reminded him that the Egypt trip is only if he stays.”
“Why? I can look out for him. Heck, I’ll even spring for the tickets when he earns it.”
“Travis, you are about to have a baby. Do I need to remind you what you are about to face. . . again. Those midnight feedings, those diaper changes, and this time you won’t have me there.”
“I got Claire.” I figure I add that little jab.
My dad laughed. “Yea, and more importantly she has you. Look, why don’t we talk about it when that little grandbaby of mine is older and I don’t have to worry about your time being monopolized, okay?”
“Alright.” I said a quick goodbye to my father. Soon after Claire and I went to the doctors and found out we were expecting a girl.
A few days later Claire brought up more news over dinner. “I start maternity leave next week.”
I almost chocked. “Maternity leave? And your just telling me this now? I can’t run that office all by myself!”
“I’ve already hired a replacement.”
“Who?” She stayed quite and jammed food down her throat. “WHO?” This time I asked in a more threatening manner. She still wouldn’t answer me.
And I found out after the weekend. I walked in and found my grandmother sitting behind Claire’s desk. “You’re late!” She yelled.
“What are you doing here?” Was all I said in response. I was too stunned. I could not believe that my wife hired my grandmother. MY GRANDMOTHER!
“Claire hired me. She’s a nice young woman.” I like to mention that I did not tell my grandmother that (1) she was pregnant and (2) she and I were married. “She told me that she was going on maternity leave and asked me to fill her spot. She said she didn’t trust you with any other secretary. Now why would she say that?” My grandmother spread a wide grin across her face. She knew.
“Oh Travis. I’ve known for a while. I’m just surprised that I didn’t get an invite to the wedding like Jake and David did.”
“I’m. . . sorry.” I mumbled. “Now can I have my messages, I’m late for a meeting.”
She handed me a handful of messages and I headed back out the door. I had to find a meeting. I needed to be far, far away from that office.
At home I sat next to Claire without saying a word. “How was work?” She asked with a small smile.
“I can’t believe you. You hired my grandmother!”
“Yea. Nice woman. She seems fairly competent. At least she won’t offer you any favors.”
“EEEWWWWWW.” I said in a long grossed out manner. She only laughed. “You are a cruel one, you know that.”
My grandmother made work a living hell. If I was two seconds late I was told off, even if it was because I was held up in meetings. She kept my schedule tight. I couldn’t piss without her scheduling it in. I felt really sorry for my grandfather, knowing that she had helped him with his P.I. business when he retired. I ended up calling Claire one day when I had an actual moment to spare. “You have got to do something!”
“Like what? I am a balloon sitting on my ass all day. If you have a problem then you deal with it.”
“You hired her!” I moaned liked a two year old.
“Look if you don’t want her working with you just fire her.”
“Yea, like I would fire my own freaking grandmother. You know how insane I would have to be to do that. Have you not met this woman!?!” Needless to say my wife didn’t help me and my grandmother continued to work for me.
A few weeks later, I woke super early in the morning. Claire rolled over and looked at me as I made my side of the bed. “Where you going?”
“I have a meeting at eight with Bernie.”
“Why so early?” She groaned and then before I could say, “ask my grandmother” she was out.
I tip-toes out of the room and into the shower. I then headed out of the apartment and headed to work.
That afternoon I walked in from having lunch with a colleague, (meaning I headed to my favorite bar with my buddy down the hall and we shared horror stories about our wives and their pregnancies), my grandmother buzzed in. “Travis you have a call from a Mr. Wayde.”
“Patch him through.” I said. Mr. Wayde was still one of the CEO’s even after retirement. He came to meetings every once in a while, but mostly he enjoyed his retirement in the richer part of town and took a lot of vacations with his family. “Mr. Wayde?” I answered the phone.
“Travis, could you come up to the board meeting?” He asked.
“If you can.”
“Alright, I’m on my way.” I said with sweat leaving my palms. I had never been called up to a board meeting with all four CEO’s.
I walked in and the CEO’s were all sitting and staring at each other. Mr. Wayde directed me to a seat. “This is the man I was telling you all about.” He said. I knew the other three gentleman. Mr. Landgraab, Mr. Carson, and Mr. Smith, they also knew me. I waved at them a bit and sat down.
“Travis, I am stepping down as CEO coming this Monday.” Mr. Wayde said to me. “And I think – no, I know – that you would make an incredible CEO. You know this bank better than anybody. You are extremely bright, and you’ve managed to work your way up through the bank over the last ten or so years.”
“CEO? You guys want to make me CEO?” I said choking on my own saliva. Everyone in the room nodded. “Wow. I don’t know what to say.”
“Say thank you and sign the papers.” Mr. Landgraab said to me with a huge smile.
“Thank you.” I said following orders. I then looked at the paperwork that was sitting on the coffee table and signed them. The CEO positioned was passed onto me and Mr. Wayde was completely retired. I spent the next few hours in the office talking to the other members of the board and though they offered me a new office, I declined and told them I would like to keep mine. They understood and we soon parted ways.
I was just too excited when I got home. I was jumping up and down in the elevator, wanting only to see Claire and tell her the good news. I had not only become CEO, I reached my life-long goal with the bank. My life felt so accomplished, and yet I was still young. I had the future still ahead of me.
I found Claire talking and rubbing her belly inside the living room. I smiled as I stood at the doorway and looked at her. “You are going to make a one hell of a mother.” I said to her.
“I know.” She responded. In her eyes I could see the love she had for the child. It was then I realized how she differed from Rose, she truly couldn’t wait to be a mother. It was as if Claire was wanting this her entire life. I smiled and walked towards her and kissed her.
I couldn’t help but rub her belly as well. Claire looked more and more beautiful everyday that she was pregnant. I started to talk to the baby, “Who’s proud that daddy made CEO? You? Yes you are. Daddy’s going to spoil you, yes he is.”
Claire stopped me from rubbing her belly. “Did you just say CEO?” She asked. I looked up without removing my hand.
“Yes I did.” I smiled the biggest smile I think I ever had.
“CEO?” She asked again and I nodded. She then screamed and started to jump.
After the shock wore off she flew her arms over me and hugged me. “I’m so proud of you, Travis!”
“Yea, me too.”
“You totally deserved it.”
“Yea.” I said, not truly believing it. I knew deep in my heart that I didn’t deserve any of it. I worked hard, sure. I also wasn’t the man I wanted to be, I had left my son almost ten years ago and never regretted it. This moment should have made me happy, and I was, but deep down I still felt guilty.
That night Claire took me to the bedroom and the two of us celebrated my huge accomplishment. I made CEO and she could not be prouder.
Did you know that sex can induce labor? Well I sure as hell didn’t. I freaked when I felt the pop and the gory water substance gushed out of Claire. It was the most revolting thing I have ever witnessed. I flew out of the bed. “WHAT THE HELL IS THAT!”
It took me just seconds to realize what it was, because that’s when Claire screamed a deafening scream. She was in total labor. After her first contraction ended we swiftly got dress. I also called my driver. (Being a CEO has one amazing perk, we get a “free” limo service).
As I helped Claire out of our apartment building we found the limo. The driver was there holding the door open. When he saw Claire he went into action and helped me help her to the car and inside. She laid on the floor of the limo (the benches were too narrow for her) and she breathed in and out. Half-way there Claire started to push and I found myself catching the baby’s head. We pulled up at the hospital with our little girl already brought into the world. I was holding her when the doors were opened by the nurses and doctors.
Leslie Rain was born and checked in at the hospital. Claire was admitted as well and I asked to use a shower. I walked into Claire’s room where I found her asleep. The nurses brought Leslie into the room just after two and handed me her. I held her for sometime. By four in the morning both of my girls were discharged from the hospital.