Between Us: The Diaries of Love is a contemporary fiction online serial novel. It will be delivered through regular installments in its original raw, unedited state. Please feel free to comment and share what you think of it chapter by chapter. Who knows, your thoughts might help shape what happens next.
- three -
Taryn Miller’s fondness for her husband David was just a fraction above brunch.
Now forty-one and no longer a promising publicist, Taryn became reacquainted with the meal that brought the most joy to her as a young adult. Good food and energetic conversation once served as the reminder that her week ahead would be a good one. That was a time when tantrums thrown by entertainment’s elite could throw her emotional state off its axis. It took endless flutes of juice and bubbly to right the world and all its wrongs in the two (or sometimes three) hours they spent at brunch. That was how long it took for her band of girlfriends to catch up once again and brunches with the Millers were no different.
Now a mother to three and a half, she rarely had time for brunch on weekends or even a solid breakfast during the week. That all changed when David came into her life – along with the “half” to the family roster – adding to the household they now shared. On her second marriage and her second wind of childbirth, Taryn found out this would in fact be the day.
The day David and Taryn hated to admit they both awaited.
To say brunch was eventful would have been an understatement. It had little to do with the charming Philadelphia restaurant his sister selected – a hidden gem within an urban jungle. Ashley was fond of the warm, cozy spot nestled within a delightful garden. It reminded Taryn of the French countryside, but with modern urban accents. Taryn knew before sampling the fare why Ashley, the romantic bohemian of the family and lover of all things Anthropologie (well according to Ashley, “the early years of Anthropologie before they lost their ever-loving mind and grew out of touch with their true customers”), always chose it. It reflected her sister-in-law’s personal style and home décor. Fortunately it also mimicked Taryn’s love of farm-to-table cuisine.
After ordering the baked asparagus frittata for herself, David selected the same as his brother Jerry. A breakfast burger of ground short rib, fried farm fresh egg and smoked Gouda on a sesame brioche with red onion rings on the side. Except David told the server to hold off on the sautéed cremini mushrooms. David detested mushrooms.
It was while waiting for their meals to arrive did everything change for David and Taryn. Taryn was nibbling on farmstead cheeses, local honey and candied nuts with fruit when Jerry opened his mouth.
Taryn had a hunch David wanted to share the news, news Taryn preferred to save for another day. Jerry played into David’s plan.
It all started when David suggested they take the Benz that morning.
“Is there something wrong with the car?” he had asked when Taryn said nothing in response.
They both were standing in the living room with plans to make the forty-minute drive to meet his family for Sunday brunch. Then after, it was off to another gathering with more friends and family somewhere else.
She did love the car. It was just too soon to enjoy it. “That’s fine. I don’t mind taking it as long as you drive.” Taryn reached for her clutch. The one David had given her the week before on Mother’s Day. A Tory Burch that she would have never guessed he’d buy. The bag, by a designer she was aware of but had been impartial to, was just the means to give her the real gift. It wasn’t until later that morning, after Taryn made task of moving her essentials from an everyday bag to the clutch when she saw it. Inside the Tory Burch was a fob that operated a silver Benz that she discovered David had parked outside.
The push gift.
Taryn had joked about wanting the car in exchange for having David’s baby. She would have had his baby without the car. But with all doctors had to do to help them conceive her fourth child and his first, Taryn teased that the gift would make up for it all. The truth was a healthy baby was all she wanted in return.
David agreed to pick up Jerry on the way to brunch. Because of it, Taryn anticipated someone figuring it out… as everyone knew and joked about the push gift… and notice they did.
“You should see Tee’s new ride,” Jerry said. That’s what started the conversation. As soon as her big mouth brother-in-law revealed the make and model, Ashley smiled.
Hands clasped together, Mrs. Miller’s eyes were damp. “You’re pregnant.” It was more of a statement than a question.
David positioned his arm around Taryn and leaned back in his seat with a smile that grew by the second. She recognized in that moment that he deserved this day. Like David, Taryn felt relieved that she could finally tell someone.
Giving in, she smiled while leaning into David’s embrace. “I am.”
That’s when Taryn answered the unspoken question no one dared to ask. She knew because of the last time. A dozen concerned faces looked at the couple. “I’m sixteen weeks,” she confirmed.
With that, Mr. Miller signaled for their server and requested a fresh glass of champagne for everyone. And ten minutes later, Taryn felt like she could finally face the growing bump beneath the palms of her hands and relax.
That was until David’s uncle pulled out the Cohibas three hours later.
The graduation party was in full swing by the time David and Taryn arrived. After brunch, Taryn’s morning sickness took over and they made a quick detour home. She wanted to freshen up before facing the Miller’s extended family and close friends.
David encouraged her to eat something from the array of grilled foods, but Taryn insisted she wasn’t ready for food yet.
“Where’d you get these?” one of the men asked his uncle. David watched the exchange knowing his uncle didn’t care for the guy and only humored him for Aunt Maureen’s sake.
“I have no idea.”
Everyone laughed at Uncle Chuck’s remark, especially David. “That’s some real O.G. stuff right there, Unc. You have them around the house just in case with no clue where they even came from.”
David always admired his father’s brother and worked hard to model his own success after his. The comment brought a smile to his uncle’s face, as David hoped it would and the men nodded to each other. Leaning back in a white resin folding chair, David accepted one of the Cuban cigars from a package Jerry was passing around. David dipped the end of his in a whiskey glass and clipped it.
“This is the real deal. I just looked it up online and it’s not counterfeit. See the markings? That’s how you know,” the man to David’s left said, still talking while no one else cared to listen. “Someone get my picture so I can post this on Instagram.”
Aunt Maureen appeared by her cousin’s side to accept his phone to take the picture. After Mr. Miller announced he was going to be a grandfather again, everyone prepared for the toast.
David hunched forward, leaning low toward the table to light his cigar against the wind. Cupping his hand, he managed to keep his eyes on his wife while waiting for hints that a flame caught the tobacco.
“Congrats David.” The greeting came from behind him from a petite woman with a head full of thick silver curls. She appeared Kentucky Derby ready in a hat covered with ornate silk flowers and bows that matched her orange, purple and pink dress that fit her like second skin.
David sat up now with tight shoulders. “Thank you.” He offered his hand when the woman tried to hug him.
David took a puff before resting the hand holding his Cohiba on his knee. He glanced at the smoke ribbons to make certain none blew in his wife’s direction.
“Hi, I’m David’s cousin Jackie.”
David watched the exchange, again with Jackie reaching for a hug. He interjected before Taryn could respond.
“Taryn, this is Jackie. Jackie, my wife Taryn.” David’s terse voice did not go unnoticed by the others or Jackie. Instead of saying another word, David reached with his free hand to hold onto Taryn’s. With a casual wave to everyone else, Jackie excused herself from the small bunch.
“What did Crazy want this time?” Ashley asked before sitting between her husband and Jerry. The others sitting with them pretended not to hear her, but the hushed conversation proved they were just as curious.
“Everyone needs to stop calling her that. She was just introducing herself to Tee. Jackie means no harm,” Jerry answered with his eyes on David and extended a hand toward the whiskey. “Pass me that glass.”
Conversation resumed before Uncle Chuck raised his own glass. “My wife is telling me to make this quick so Taryn can get away from all this smoke.”
Ashley added, “Me too. I can’t stand cigars. Baby you’re not riding home with me if you plan to smoke that mess.”
Everyone laughed until Uncle Chuck spoke again. “Today has been a remarkable day. First Yvonne’s graduation and now David’s finally going to be a dad,” Uncle Chuck announced.
“Taryn’s the one that’s doing all the work!” Aunt Maureen teased from behind her husband. They all thought she was busy once she had moved on to bother the caterers pointing toward trays that needed replenishing. At least too busy to even notice the celebration within a celebration.
“To David and Taryn… and our family’s newest blessing.”
The love and well wishes coming from those around David and Taryn echoed his Uncle Chuck’s sentiments. David wanted to bask in it, but when he looked to his right at Taryn and saw the sheer panic in her eyes he squeezed her hand to reassure her.
“I’ll be right back,” she whispered after leaning toward his ear.
David held onto her hand, signaling he didn’t want her to leave just yet.
“I’m coming with you.” He set his cigar down on the edge of a dinner plate before standing.
Holding hands, they walked away from the tent toward the house. David stopped, gesturing for her to step into his open arms.
He held her for several minutes. When she cleared her throat to speak, he could hear the torn emotion behind her words. “You smell like beer… and cigar smoke.” David smiled at the sight of her scrunched up nose.
“But you love me.”
In soft-spoken words, Taryn answered. “I do.”
“And you better not start acting like my sister thinking we’re riding home in separate cars.”
“No, but with all the beer you had today, I better do the driving.”
Nodding, David reached for her chin to tilt her face toward his. “Things will be fine this time. It’s okay to celebrate this child.”
She moved, working hard against his firm hand to avoid his gaze.
Finally allowing their eyes to meet, she let out a heavy sigh. “I hope so.”
– to be continued. –