I quickly thanked Hester and jumped out of the car. Allie had been standing in front of the windows and now came out on the porch to greet me.
“Enz! You made it!” she exclaimed excitedly.
“Of course,” I said, while hugging her carefully. “Wait, what are you doing out here? You gave birth less than 24 hours ago, shouldn’t you be resting in bed?”
“Oh, please, you sound just like Phil.” Allie rolled her eyes. “I’ve done this before, you know. And Oliver is starting to crawl, do you really think he gives me a second of peace?”
“Fine, fine,” I said. “Can I see my nephew?”
“Only if you tell me who dropped you off here,” Allie grinned. “Because it was not Michelle.”
I sighed. “No, it wasn’t. Remember how I told you Hester lived next door to me?”
“Hester dropped you off? Why didn’t she come in?”
“I think she wanted to give us a minute.”
“But I thought you were with Michelle?” Allie asked softly, so mom and dad wouldn’t overhear. “Why didn’t she…?”
“I’ll tell you inside,” I reluctantly said. “Come on.”
“Here we are, Samuel. Meet your uncle Enzo.”
Allie carefully held up the tiny baby. He was still sleepy, making cute noises and stretching out his small arms and legs. My nephew slowly opened his eyes, then decided the world was still too bright and promptly closed them again.
An involuntary smile crept across my face as I saw Allie hold Samuel close to her chest, kissing his little head and murmuring soft words of love in his ears. Even though it was heartwarming, it also made me sad. It made me so aware that one day, I’d like to have what Phil and Allie had. A marriage, a family, a home, children… And suddenly it hit me, more than ever, that I could never have that with Michelle. She didn’t want any of that. She’d had a marriage and it failed, why would she go through that again, with her employee who was nearly twenty years younger than you?
“Enz, are you okay? You look upset.”
I looked at Allie and sighed. “I think I have to break up with Michelle.”
She was visibly surprised and slowly put Samuel back in his crib. “Where is this coming from so suddenly? Just a few months ago you said you were fine just seeing where things would go and now…”
“I know, I know. We had an argument. She didn’t want to drop me off here, because she thought it’d be awkward to see you or mom and dad, and I just… I don’t want to be in a relationship that I have to keep a secret anymore, Allie. I don’t want to lie to mom and make up excuses why my girlfriend won’t come over on my birthday. I’m sick of it.”
“I understand,” Allie said softly. “I think you’ve given up a lot for her.”
“But how could I ever break up with her?” I said desperately. “She’s my boss, Allie. I’ll lose my job. Or maybe she doesn’t even care enough about me to fire me, so I’ll have to keep working for my ex. I can’t do that.”
“Maybe she’ll realize that what you guys can’t continue this relationship if you talk to her. She must see that this isn’t going anywhere and it’s not fair for her to hold you back.”
“Maybe.” I shrugged. “I just don’t know how to have that conversation. I’ve never broken up with anyone, Allie.”
Allie smiled a little. “Neither have I, so I can’t help you with that. Just do what you think feels right. Be honest with her, mainly. And also, maybe start looking at some job opening,” she added jokingly. “I guess you’re right,” I sighed.
“And if I might make another suggestion,” Allie continued carefully. “Hester was always a nice girl. Pretty, too. Not a bad neighbor to live next door to. Maybe you could grab a cup of coffee with her sometime. You know, just to cheer you up.”
I rolled my eyes at my sister. “Are you seriously already trying to set me up with someone else?”
“Not setting you up,” Allie grinned. “Just giving suggestions.”
I chuckled despite myself. “We’ll see. She might not even want to go out with me after I’ve rejected her once in the most awkward way possible.”
“Oh, come on, you’ll convince her. You’re charming,” Allie joked. “If you can seduce a forty-year-old…”
“Hey! Don’t you have babies to feed or diapers to change?” I nudged her, but talking with Allie had definitely made me feel a little better. At least I knew what I had to do.