The Coffee Shop

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The smell of fresh coffee hit my nose as I walked through the door. The second I walked in, Cler ran up and hugged me. I hugged her back, starting to remember what it was like to have her around.

"Oh my gosh, hey preggers! Hello babies!" she said, rubbing my baby bump. "I missed you so much!"

"I missed you too! I'm so glad you're back. Let's order and then sit down," I said.

We got in line. Cler ordered a fruity iced drink. I got a mocha and caramel frappuccino. I was craving chocolate and caramel with this pregnancy. We sat down at a booth by the window and took our masks off.

"So, welcome back to the states," I said, chuckling.

"It's good to be home. London was amazing, but there's nothing quite like your own home. Everything feels different, especially because of the pandemic and everything. Like, it's just so weird."

"I'm just glad you passed all your classes and survived long enough to get your degree. I was getting worried."

She chuckled. "The nightlife out there is wild. And you can drink at bars and stuff because the legal age is you know, eighteen there. I'm almost like, kind of thankful that I didn't have to go to college here. Heather was telling me about how she had to keep sneaking around and get a fake ID and all that."

"Oh, you guys still keep in touch?"

"Uh huh," she said, taking a sip of her drink. "Her and Maddox had a baby but they didn't work out. She's married to some other guy now."

"Oh...that's nice," I said, trying to sound polite.

I was secretly enjoying the thought of Maddox getting dumped and ending up alone after how mean he was to me after I got pregnant. Serves him right.

"I feel bad that I missed both of your weddings, though," Cler said.

"Don't. The wedding I had with Ivan was really small. It wasn't a big deal."

"Well it was to me! My bestie got married and I missed it! At least I won't miss Poppy's wedding, at least."

"And my gender reveal in two weeks," I said.

"Oh my gosh. I can't wait. Do you think it'll be two girls this time?"

"I hope so, but if they're boys it won't be a big deal. I saved so much stuff from Ollie and Blaze that we won't even have to buy that much."

"I seriously can't believe they're gonna be identical this time! Aren't you scared that you won't be able to tell them apart?"

"Don't remind me," I said, taking a sip of my drink.

"Have you heard from Jace at all?"

"Well, uh—" I took a deep breath. "He got arrested last week."

"He what?" Cler asked, way too loudly.

"Shh. Keep it down. He was in Vegas partying and crashed the car he was in. Two sex workers were in the car. One of them didn't make it."

"Holy. Shit."

"Yeah, I know," I said, taking a few more sips. "I did everything I could to help him. I tried to get him to go to rehab. I tried to get him into therapy, but the grip that drugs like that have on a person just completely destroys them. I wish he never went to that after party on prom night when he started using."

"But it was a choice that he made. You guys did interventions. You did everything you could to help him. You shouldn't feel bad about it. After he started using that stuff, he was completely out of the boys' lives anyway. And besides, you moved on. From what you told me, Ivan is a great guy."

"He really is," I said, looking down at my wedding and engagement rings.

"I feel like you still have feelings for Jace, though."

I shook my head. "I don't."

"You sure?"

"He's the father of my babies, and that's it."

"Okay. Whatever you say."

"I say that I'm married to Ivan and pregnant with his twins. Jace could face a maximum of fifteen years in prison out there in Vegas. I feel bad for him, and I hope he recovers, but honestly I don't care right now. I'm too busy getting ready to have four kids total and working with Bridezilla Poppy on her wedding."

"I can only imagine," Cler said.

We both laughed, enjoying our drinks and talking about the future. Life was starting to get pretty wild, and I could only imagine where it would go from here.

***

Readers: if you didn't like this chapter, what suggestions do you have? I'm keeping everything I can in mind for a rewrite in 2024!

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