As soon as he saw her, he was immediately captivated by her all over again. See moron, he thought to himself. This is why you shouldn’t be here. He noticed something else too- a strange, worried look on her face. It immediately made his heart race with concern. What could be wrong?
Straight-shooting Aspen went right to the point. She walked up to him and the first words out of her mouth were “I’m pregnant.”
He stood there, dumbfounded. Normally he’d have said in this type of situation a million thoughts would be running through his head-but the reality was that he was blank. The word “pregnant” was like a neon banner across his brain; it was all he could think.
"And it’s yours, obviously," she said after a few moments of silence. "I wouldn’t be bothering telling you if not."
"Shit" was all he could manage to say.
"You can say that again, slugger," she said with a wry look.
Tristyn didn’t sleep much that night, visions of Hayley screaming at him haunting him as he lie in bed. Her face, identical to twin sister Nadia, was a knife to his heart.
As he stumbled toward the kitchen in the morning bleary eyed and in search of coffee, his phone rang. Aspen. He ignored it. And he ignored i the second time.
The fourth time in a row, he sighed. Either she was a crazy psycho girl, or had something important to say. She didn’t strike him as crazy. No, he told himself. Even if it’s important, it’s none of your business. One night with her doesn’t make you responsible for taking care of her. But of course, that little voice was silenced once again as Tristyn, against all his better judgement, picked up the phone.
"Tristyn. You obviously don’t want anything to do with me. I don’t really know why because I thought we had a great time but I can take a hint."
"It’s not you, really… we did have a really great time, and I think you’re a great girl, but-"
"Look," she said, cutting him off, "I don’t need your ‘it’s not you it’s me’ speech. I’m a big girl, I can handle someone not liking me. But I have something I really need to talk to you about. Can you meet me at the park in an hour?"
"Sure," he said, resigned. Might as well see what the big deal is. Now that Hayley caught up to him, he might need to move anyway.
"You and I both know I’m here about Nadia." At the sound of her name, Tristyn flinched a little. "I’m here because I’m hoping we can settle this without me taking you to court."
"There’s no reason for you to take me to court, Hayley. We both know it. It wouldn’t have taken you this long if you had a leg to stand on. I haven’t done anything wrong."
"Ha!" She barked an angry sounding laugh. "She dies, and you disappear. Don’t even come to the funeral. No one hears from you and it takes me a full year to track you down. You conveniently are in touch enough with her lawyer though to accept the life insurance she supposedly left you. You took her money and abandoned her family and forgot about her. Don’t tell me you didn’t do anything wrong.”
At this, Tristyn finally got angry. “Don’t you dare say I forgot about her! Not an hour goes by that I don’t see her face. Of all the terrible things I’ve done in my life, forgetting Nadia is not one”. When he said her name, a lump rose in her throat. How long had it been since that word passed his lips?
"Tristyn, save the sob story. I’m going to say this just once. Her family wants her inheritance returned to us. How you manipulated her into leaving it to you in the first place is beyond any of us, but you don’t deserve it. It should stay in Martin family, go to her nieces and nephews. It should go to real family, Tris. Not you. You’re not family."
She turned and left after those last few words, leaving Tristyn feeling like he’d just been slapped in the face. The last sentence echoed.
An hour later, Tristyn waited for his visitor on his front porch. He had considered just cutting and running, but he wasn’t sure he’d have time. Besides, he’d just gotten here. He didn’t especially want to start over again, as unpleasant as this meeting was likely to be.
When Hayley stepped out of the car, her face was unpleasant. She headed toward him and pain cut through him like a knife as he looked at her. He tried not to let it show, and stood up.
"What do you want, Hayley?"
"What do I WANT?" she asked, half enraged and half incredulous. "What do you THINK, Tristyn? Why do you THINK I’m here?"
When he had woken up the next morning, Aspen had been gone with a note that said she was running late for work and would call later. She called later. He did not answer. She called the next day. He ignored it again, even though his hands were positive itching to pick it up.
She didn’t call again. Tristyn was part relieved, and part disappointed. He should want anything to do with this girl. That wasn’t why he had moved here; he had moved here to get AWAY from attachments like that. Somehow though, she was pulling him in after just one night in a way that wasn’t fading with time.
It had been three weeks and when the phone rang, Tristyn was torn between hoping it would be her and wouldn’t be. When he heard the voice on the other end of the line, his face turned a shade of grey. He hung up the phone without saying a word and slumped to the floor, leaning heavily against the wall.
Great. He did not need this. He did not need this at all. He just wanted a little peace.
Next thing he knew, they were laughing and stripping and jumping into his shower, unable to keep their hands off of each other. The little voice in his head was finally silenced by the feel of her skin under his hands.
And drank, and drank.
Tristyn was too drunk, and he knew it. His judgement had flown out the window. When she leaned in and kissed him, the voice in his head telling him what a terrible idea it is was muffled by alcohol, coming from too far away to cut through the taste of her on his lips, and he kissed her deeply.