Around eleven in the morning, I got in the car and drove down to Willow Creek. It occurred to me about halfway there that they might not want people coming over right now, like I might be intruding or something. It’s not like anybody died, I told myself.
I pulled up outside of the pink house, the crisp January air immediately biting into my ears and nose as I got out of the car. I went up to the front door and rang the bell. A moment later, Carter appeared from the living room and opened the door.
“Hey, Loralee,” he said warmly.
“Hi, Uncle Carter.” I stepped into the house. “I was hoping to see Nora, if that’s okay.”
“Of course it is. I figured that’s why you were here. I’m glad you came over.” He sighed softly and walked me into the living room. “Haddie and I are both sort of at a loss for what to do.”
I nodded sympathetically and went over to knock on Nora’s door. “Hey, Nor,” I called softly through the wood. “It’s Loralee.”
After a minute of rustling, suggesting that Nora had been in bed, she opened the door. “Hey,” she said listlessly.
I pulled her into a tight hug. “Mom told me what’s going on.”
Nora sniffed softly and dropped down on the sofa in her room. “Come to gawk at the statistic?”
I took a seat next to her. “Never,” I assured her vehemently.
“You should. Everyone else is going to once I start showing.”
“You can send all of them to me. I’ll kick their butts all the way to Windenburg.”
Nora smiled weakly. “I’d like to see that.”
I wrapped my arm around her shoulders and gave her a squeeze. “I’ll make sure you do.”
Nora sniffed quietly again and was silent for a little while. “I don’t have any idea what to do, Loralee,” she finally said with an air of miserable desperation. “I’m not ready to make these decisions.”
“You can talk everything out with me,” I assured her earnestly. “I’m going to be here for you, no matter what you decide.”
“I won’t hold you to that.” She shook her head and laughed sadly. “This all feels like a nightmare. You know I’m grounded? How ridiculous is that?”
I smiled, seeing the amusement in that. “It’s a little like shutting the barn door after the horse got out, isn’t it?”
“And as if I want to go anywhere ever again anyway.”
“That really sucks anyway.” Something something insult to injury. I looked over at her, hesitating for a minute. A question was burning at my lips, but it felt sort of prying to ask it. Yet I couldn’t really contain it. “I have to ask…and you don’t have to answer if you don’t want to talk about it…How did this happen, Nora?”
“The usual way,” she responded dryly. Apparently, this experience had imbued her with a new affinity for sarcasm. She shrugged, staring out of the window. “I thought Kurt really liked me. I thought he was the most amazing, wonderful person I’d ever met. I wanted to be liked by him.” Her eyes welled up with tears. “But it was all an act for him.” A tear slipped down her face. “He wanted me to get an abortion.”
“Oh, Nor,” I said quietly. I leaned my shoulder against hers. “Luc and I will kick his douchey ass. Mama is pretty pissed, too; we might make a family outing out of it.”
She laughed softly. “Thanks. Film it for me, would you?”
“Of course. What do you think Mom will be doing?” I smiled and squeezed her. “Let’s go for a walk, get some air.”
“I don’t think I should.”
I got to my feet. “I don’t think you’re grounded from walking your own neighborhood. Fresh air will be good for you.”
Nora huffed softly. “You’re going to do this all the time now, aren’t you?” She did get up, though.
I grinned. “Yep.” Especially since it seemed like Nora was going the self-punishment route.
We walked outside. The air was still cool, but the sun had peeked out from behind the clouds and taken the bite out of it. As we talked and I did my best to come up with normal things to distract Nora with, I couldn’t help but feel so extremely grateful. I was grateful, yes, to not in fact have gotten pregnant when I thought I had, but it was more than that. More than anything, I felt grateful for Tommy. He’d never pressured me into having sex; albeit probably a bad decision, it had been a mutual one between us. He’d never given me a single reason to believe he didn’t love me; we had our differences and our fights, but I knew who he really was. And if I had gotten pregnant, I knew without a shadow of a doubt that he would’ve stepped up and been there for me and our child. I hoped that someday Nora would get as lucky as me. Until then, I was going to be the best friend that I could be for her.