24 Hours Earlier
Shae grumbled as she mixed the drink. She absolutely hated working at the Reserve Tavern. Oh, the customers were nice enough, it was her boss that she couldn't stand.
"What did I ever see in Griff?" she wondered. Perseus Griffyn, or 'Griff' as he preferred to be called, was the shallow and arrogant owner of the bar and her ex-boyfriend. He was more apt to remember a woman's bra size than her birthday.
"Speaking of birthdays, how am I going to get out of here in time to get things set up for Devon's party tonight?" Shae puzzled.
She needed this job; being in a band didn't pay the bills and her tattoo parlor barely pulled in enough to cover the cost of insurance. Griff, who still held a torch for her, paid her handsomely so she would stick around. Plus, the tips weren't bad either. But every time she needed a day off or had to leave early, he would hassle her.
Shae, he would say, you know you're my favorite, but I can't continue to keep paying you such a high wage if you're never here. Perhaps if you were to make it worth my while though, I might be able to work something out...
"As if I would sleep with him just to get some time off," Shae thought as she curled her lip in disgust.
Shae sighed. She couldn't miss her son's birthday; she'd have to convince him some other way.
"Hey Shady," she called to her fellow bartender, "When's Griff getting in?"
"He's not coming in today," he replied.
"Oh thank God! Could you cover the rest of my shift?" she begged. "It's Devon's birthday tonight, and I still have to get things set up for his party."
"Sure, Shae, no problem."
She got out of the bar as fast as she could. Who knew if Griff would suddenly decide to show up?
Shae looked around at her bustling kitchen as she held Devon. She'd only gotten a few hours sleep after coming home from the bar. Then she'd barely had enough time to pick up the cake from the store and throw some ratatouille in the oven before guests started arriving. All her bandmates had shown up, as had Morgana, Devon's babysitter. A few of the neighbors, having seen the balloons outside, had also turned up.
Shae had considered explaining her situation to Adrian and inviting him, but she ended up rejecting the idea. She really liked him, and she knew as soon as he found out she had a son, there was a good chance he'd go running for the hills. Of course, if he did, he wasn't worth her time anyways, but it had been so long since Shae had had a chance to let loose with a guy as though she hadn't a care in the world, and she was loathe to let that go so soon.
No one seemed to notice Shae's melancholy. Everyone was excited for her son and and whipped out their noise makers when it was time for Devon to blow out the candles.
Soon afterwards, a strange glow surrounded him and he finally became a child.
"Hey look, Mom! I can cross my eyes now." Devon bragged.
Shae laughed, "Very good, dear. Why don't we have some cake now?"
It was starting to get late, and a few of the guests had to depart. Jacob, Shae's next-door-neighbor and the pianist for her band, managed to stick around. Devon was excited about all his gifts. He explained to Shae and Jacob how he particularly liked the pirate ship Hunter had given him.
Shae had barely had a few bites of cake when she started to feel sick to her stomach. She rushed to the bathroom, barely making it in time. Of course, her phone started ringing as soon as she couldn't possibly answer it.
"What?" Shae asked, irritably, as soon as she had finished emptying her stomach.
"You're fired, you ungrateful bitch!" Griff yelled at her. "I was generous and gave you last Tuesday off so you could spend it with your son or something. Instead, I find out from my P.I. you were at the beach with some architect!" He was livid.
"You sicced a private investigator on me?!" Shae was just as angry. "We are over, Griff! If I ever see or hear from you again, I'll go to the tabloids and expose you for the sick bastard you are!" she said before she hung up on him.
It wasn't an idle threat, Shae had plenty of dirt on him. She just wasn't the type to use it to her advantage, but if Griff had hired someone to follow her, it meant he was a lot crazier than she thought. And that meant he was dangerous. She wouldn't jeopardize Devon's safety if there was anything she could do about it, and Griff's weakness was his pride. No way would he want the things she knew coming to light. She hoped it was enough to keep him off her back.
"This is just what I need," she thought, sarcastically, "I'm unemployed and pregnant." Of the latter, she had no doubt. The only time she'd felt sick like this was when she'd been pregnant with Devon.
Shae sighed. It was time to explain everything to Adrian. She pulled out her phone.
Shae perched nervously on the bench. When she had talked to Adrian last night, he had tried to get her to tell him what was wrong, but she refused to get into it over the phone and had asked him to meet her at the park.
It wasn't long before Adrian showed up.
"Shae, what's wrong?" he asked, concerned.
She took a deep breath, "Adrian, I'm pregnant."
He was speechless for a few moments before he spoke, "That's...that's not so bad, is it?" Adrian asked slowly. He hurried on, "I mean, I know you probably weren't planning on having kids so soon, but I've been thinking a lot about starting a family lately and—"
"Adrian," Shae interrupted him, "I just lost my job and I already have a son."
She gestured to where Devon was playing in the sandbox.
"Why didn't you tell me?" Adrian asked. He was hurt, she could tell.
Shae sighed. "I should have, I know that. I was just afraid of how you'd react." That probably wasn't the right thing to say, judging by the look on Adrian's face.
He rose to his feet. Afraid he was going to run off before they could get things sorted, Shae followed suit and prepared to stop him. Then he dropped to one knee.
"Shae, marry me," Adrian pleaded.
"Oh, Adrian." Shae said sadly, "I know your heart's in the right place, but we can't possibly get married. We've only been on one date for crying out loud. We don't love each other."
"I could love you," Adrian said, softly.
Shae sighed, "That's not good enough and you and I both know it, even if you don't want to admit it." She hated herself for the pain she was causing him, but she couldn't let them both make a huge mistake.
"Then what do you want me to do?" Adrian asked, his voice cracking. "I won't let you raise our child alone."
"I was thinking I might give the baby up for adoption. There's just no way I'll be able to afford to feed another mouth. I don't even know how I'm going to manage to take care of Devon as it is."
This rendered Adrian speechless. "Look," he said when he finally spoke, "I know you don't want to get married, but what if we move into together? I could help you take care of Devon and the baby, and we could pool our resources so you wouldn't be in such dire financial straits." He looked at her expectantly.
"I don't know about your house, but I don't think mine can fit two more people," Shae replied after deliberating for several moments.
"Then I'll build us a new house. I'm an architect for God's sake." Adrian would not be swayed.
"I couldn't ask you to do that." Shae's pride wouldn't allow her to accept.
"You're not asking me," Adrian said, his frustration evident. "You're the mother of my child and I'll damned well see to it that you and yours are provided for."
Shae didn't know what to say. This really would solve everything, and she doubted whether she'd be able to raise another child on her own. So, she said the only thing she could think of. "Thank you."
Adrian swept her into his arms, "I'll take care of you Shae, I promise," he whispered.
A single tear was her only response.