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Two: True confessions
Joey heard loud banging on her door, but at first she thought she was dreaming. Opening one bleary eye, she saw it was still dark and the clock by the bed read 5.30am. The knocking came again and she narrowed her eyes in annoyance, wondering who on earth would be there at this ungodly hour. She shivered as she rose reluctantly from her warm bed, hastily pulling a thick woolen blanket around her shoulders. Joey stumbled out of the bedroom in her socked feet, cautious in the darkened house she was not completely familiar with yet.
"Shit," she muttered angrily when she tripped over a half empty box still lying in the middle of the living room. Her toe stung painfully as she hobbled towards the door, the knocking starting up again. Joey sucked in her breath, ready to let loose a furious tirade when she opened the door. She emptied her lungs loudly when she saw who it was.
Pacey stood on her porch fully dressed and bright eyed, rubbing his cold hands together. He wore a thick jumper under his wool coat and a cap to keep his head warm. It was extremely cold outside, a stiff wind whipping up from the creek.
"What took you so long? I'm freezing my ass off out here," he said good-naturedly.
"Pacey," Joey sighed in exasperation. It took her a few seconds to control her temper. Joey knew she was definitely not a morning person. "What the hell are you doing here?"
"You said you'd come out on the boat, remember?"
"What?" She couldn't think straight at this hour of the day. "Sure, I said I'd go. I just didn't think you meant in the middle of the night!"
"What are talking about? It's almost breakfast time," he replied, never losing the bemused glint in his eye. "So, are you coming or not?"
"Pacey…" whined Joey.
"Come on, you're up now, you can't go back to bed… The sunrise is beautiful a few miles out."
Joey scowled at him but he just grinned and pushed her back inside the house.
"Dress warm, okay? Its going to be even colder out on the open seas."
She continued to grumble as she stomped up the stairs, wondering how he could just turn up on her doorstep like that so early in the morning. Joey didn't lose the black look on her face as they drove to the marina, much to Pacey's amusement.
* * *
Joey cradled a mug of steaming black coffee in her gloved hands as she stood beside Pacey, not even noticing the view of the harbor or the deep blue sea. She was trying too hard to keep warm, and silently cursing Pacey for bringing her out here. After a while he cut the engine and let the boat drift to a stop.
"I'm just going to drop anchor," he said, stepping away from the wheel and climbing down the ladder to the stern of the boat. Joey barely acknowledged his departure, relieved they had finally stopped so the wind wasn't quite so bad. She had put three layers of jumpers on but she still felt the wind cut through the fabric like a knife, chilling her bare skin underneath.
Pacey was busying himself at the back of the boat so after a while Joey climbed down too. The sky was getting lighter now and she could see without the aid of the boat's floodlights. Pacey grinned up at her as she climbed stiffly down the ladder, wondering if he should make a crack about her face looking wind-chapped. In the end he decided against it when she turned around and he saw she was still less than amused at being dragged out of bed so early.
"I don't know how you do it, Pacey. Do you actually keep these hours regularly?" she asked through chattering teeth.
"Of course, or else I'd miss the best part of the day. Come here," he ordered, sitting her down by the boat's edge. "You were wondering how I could come back to Capeside, so I want to show you."
Joey stared out over the water, but there was nothing but the blue expanse that reached as far as the horizon.
"What am I supposed to be looking at?" she snapped impatiently.
"Just be quiet and watch."
Joey sighed and crossed her arms to try and keep herself a little warmer. She sat looking at nothing for what felt like a long time. Just when her eyes started to feel heavy again and she felt herself drifting off to sleep, Joey saw it.
A pink glow began peeping over the horizon, warming the dark gray-blue sky as it spread further upwards. The pink light turned more orange as the sun rose slowly, and gradient colors from yellow to red shaded the heavens. Joey breathed in as the colors changed and deepened with every passing second, as the sun ascended slowly. Its rippled reflection played off the water so the horizon became indeterminate in the orange light. Her eyes watered as the light from the fiery sun strengthened in intensity, warming her face and body. Beside her, Pacey watched in admiration as the yellow light brightened her visage, and he could see the appreciative look in her eyes. He knew Joey would understand the simple beauty of a sunrise out at sea.
Pacey waited until the sun was well clear of the horizon before he moved beside her, breaking Joey's trance-like state.
Joey turned her shining eyes on him, smiling. She didn't feel the cold anymore. "It's incredible."
She looked out to see once more. "I'm trying to capture the sight and feel of it so I can paint it later."
"You going to include it in one of your books?" he asked, pleased.
"Maybe. I don't know if I could do it justice though," Joey replied dreamily. "Thank you for bringing me out here, Pace. I'll never forget it."
"See, all that complaining was for nothing."
"I still would have liked a little warning," she said sternly, mock anger in her eyes.
Pacey laughed. "Okay next time I promise I'll call first."
"Not at 5.30 in the morning you won't," Joey retorted, thumping him on the arm.
"Geez, some people are hard to please. All right then, to make amends I'll take you out to breakfast when we get back. Deal?"
"Okay, let's get going. I'm starving."
* * *
As soon as they started back, the winds picked up again and the sea became choppy. Pacey stood behind the wheel of the ship unaffected by the movement of the boat, but when he glanced over at Joey he noticed she was slowly turning a distinct shade of green.
"You all right?" he yelled over the sound of the engine and the whistling wind. Joey nodded back weakly but he could tell she wasn't. Pacey rustled around in an alcove and thrust a sick bag at her just in time. Joey snatched it from him and retched repeatedly into the bag. When she had finished he glanced quickly at her to make sure she was okay, then a broad grin escaped his lips.
"Joey, Joey, Joey… you've been away too long. An experienced sailor such as yourself shouldn't be affected by some slightly choppy seas."
"Shut up you," Joey muttered, reaching for another bag.
Pacey was trying not to laugh at her. "Just keep watching the horizon, we'll be back in the sheltered bay waters in a few minutes."
Joey sat miserably in her chair as they headed back to the marina, her stomach churning. She was embarrassed more than anything and could've killed Pacey for making fun of her. Even when he powered down the motor and they slid through the relatively calm waters of the main docking bay, Joey still felt ill. After the boat had stopped and was moored back in its position, she felt no better. They walked along the dock, dry land under her feet, but Joey still felt the relentless rocking of the boat and she had to stop to empty her stomach over the side of the boardwalk.
"Jesus, Joey, next time we have to remember to give you Dramamine," Pacey said quietly, as Joey's face burned with embarrassment. There were early morning fishermen and other people around now, and she knew she looked like some drunken party-goer coming home after an all-nighter. Pacey waved at a few familiar faces and smiled calmly as if nothing was wrong.
"Just take me home," she begged.
"Okay, go sit in the truck, I won't be a minute." Pacey thrust the keys at her and bounded off.
Joey felt too awful to protest, and she sat in the truck drained of all energy. She wasn't sure how long Pacey was or where he had gone, but suddenly he was climbing into the driver's seat.
"Poor thing," he said sympathetically, but she knew he was secretly laughing at her. Luckily Pacey knew her well enough not to bait her too much. He started the truck and drove her home without another word.
As soon as they reached the house, she disappeared upstairs to wash her face and brush her teeth. Joey splashed soothing warm water on her face but it was still drained of all color. She ran shaky fingers through her hair and tried to will the nausea away. After ten minutes or so she walked tentatively downstairs again, feeling somewhat better now she was away from Pacey's infernal boat.
Joey noticed that Pacey was busying himself in the kitchen but she didn't stop to inquire what he was doing. Instead she made her way over to the couch and slid gratefully onto it, resting her head against the padded back rest.
"Feeling better?" she heard him ask. Joey didn't bother opening her eyes. It would have taken too much energy. She nodded slightly, then regretted the movement.
"You just need a hearty breakfast to get you going," Pacey said cheerily.
Joey opened her eyes just as Pacey set down a plate of runny eggs and fried sausage in front of her with great aplomb. The sight and smell of the breakfast hit her and immediately set her stomach churning again. Joey took one look at the plate and then fled upstairs again, running desperately for the toilet.
She dry retched into the bowl for several minutes, having nothing left in her stomach to throw up. Joey rested her head in her hands, wondering if she was ever going to get over this. She heard a soft knock on the door, and realized Pacey was there.
"Joey? Are you okay?" His voice sounded worried for the first time.
"I'm fine," she replied, swallowing back another peristaltic convulsion.
"Are you sure? Maybe you should take something. I mean, it’s one thing to be seasick on a boat, but you've been on dry land for half an hour now."
Joey wiped her face again then opened the door. Pacey was standing right outside, concern written all over his face. Joey smiled wanly at him and shuffled into her bedroom. She sat down on her unmade bed and said nothing as Pacey did the same.
"It’s nothing to be worried about. I'm used to it by now… It’s been happening for a while," she explained.
"You've been sick?" he murmured, suddenly afraid.
Joey sighed and tucked her hair behind her ears. "Only in the mornings."
She glanced at Pacey to see if he understood, but he just continued to stare at her, dumbfounded.
"I'm pregnant, Pacey. It's just morning sickness."
"Pregnant?!" he blurted out, shocked almost speechless.
"Guess I forgot to mention that," Joey said flatly, though she had meant to say it jokingly.
"But how… who?…" Pacey spluttered, unable to correctly phrase the question.
"It was just someone I met on my travels… an accident. The father isn't in the picture anymore." Joey didn't want to tell him the long and complicated story just yet, and she was relieved to see he wasn't going to push the issue. "I came back to Capeside to write, but also because I knew I couldn't raise a baby with the kind of lifestyle I was leading. I needed to put down roots somewhere and this seemed like the best place to do it. Despite everything, I think I had a pretty happy childhood here."
"So… so you're going to keep it?" he asked carefully.
Joey smiled slightly. "Yes."
Pacey let out a quick breath and smiled back, pulling her into a hug. "Congratulations, Jo. This is a good… good thing."
"Are you sure you're all right? I mean, can I call a doctor or something? Put your feet up? Maybe get you some Mylanta?" Pacey jumped up, fidgeting, unsure what he was supposed to do with a pregnant woman.
Joey laughed at him. "Pacey, calm down, I'm not having the baby for another five and half months. I'm just fine. There's nothing wrong with me."
"I shouldn't have taken you out on the boat, it was stupid," he said mournfully, annoyed at himself.
"The boat trip didn't help, I admit it, but I could've said no," she replied. "The morning sickness was going to hit me no matter what I did, so don't feel guilty okay?"
"Can I get you anything? Anything at all?" Pacey was trying desperately to make it up to her.
"Pacey, I don't need anything. I'm perfectly capable of taking care of myself… I decided to keep the baby knowing that, okay? I don't want you feeling like you need to be my indentured servant now you know the truth." Joey sighed when she saw the disappointment in his eyes. He was just trying to make her feel better. "Okay, a cup of tea would be nice. There's some special decaffeinated tea bags in the kitchen."
Pacey smiled when she allowed him to do something for her. "You just rest, all right? I'll bring it up it in a minute."
Joey did as she was told and pulled herself under the covers once more. She admitted she felt considerably better doing so, but also realized part of that came from her relief at telling Pacey the secret she'd been hiding. She hadn't even told Bessie she was pregnant. In fact, after her boss, Pacey was the only person who knew. Joey smiled to herself as she heard him crash about in the kitchen looking for the kettle and a mug, and was glad she someone to share her feelings with. Joey didn't feel quite so alone anymore.
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