Pregnant by my Brother's FriendBy: Leona Lee and Lia Lee
When I was ten years old, my mother and I moved to Chicago with nothing but the clothes on our backs and a fistful of bills that one of her friends in Indiana had stuffed in her hand before we left. We’d left in the middle of night because we were late on rent. I wasn’t supposed to know why we left, but I did. It wasn’t the first time it had happened, but as luck would have it, it was the last.
Mom had to work three jobs to make sure that it never happened again, but she never once complained.
On my first day at my new school, some of the kids picked on me for my ratty sweater and holey jeans. I’d been about to put my fist into one of their faces when an almighty scream rang out behind me. I spun around to see a little girl with the bluest eyes I’d ever seen, wailing and pointing at the guy who’d been making fun of me.
Another boy came running, and his fist collided into the bully’s cheekbone with a loud crack. After a brief tussle, a teacher had broken up the fight and sent us all off with a warning. The boy who’d punched the guy in my defense looked over at me, his dark hair pointing in every direction and a trickle of blood running from his nose. He grunted, “We’re gonna miss lunch if we don’t hurry. Come on.”
Nineteen years later, that same boy was sitting beside me in the booth of an upscale bar on Logan Square, celebrating my latest deal.
Mark Love. My best goddamned friend in the world. He smacked me on the back with a thump of his fist. I couldn’t hear it over the music that was blaring from large speakers lining the walls, and he grinned like the madman he was.
“Congratulations, brother,” he said. “I’m really fucking proud of you.” He hailed a passing waitress. “Three shots of Patron and three beers, please.”
“Sure thing, coming right up.” The waitress winked and flashed him a smile, but Mark’s eyes were already out on the dance floor.
“Actually, better make that four of everything,” he told her, sighing as he slumped back in his seat. “Sophia’s gonna be parched when she comes off the floor.”
Shawn, another one of our friends, followed Mark’s eyes, and he let out a low whistle. “She’s looking pretty damn good tonight, isn’t she?”
Mark and I both turned to glower at him. Mark because he was super overprotective of his little sister, and me because I generally just didn’t like the idea of Shawn staring at Sophia. He threw his hands up in mock surrender, his lips twitching into a cocky smile.
“Stand down, Not-her-dad One and Not-her-dad Two. Just stating the facts, is all. She looks good. Can either of you deny it?”
“Yes,” Mark snapped. “Keep your eyes off my sister, asshole.”
Shawn’s bright green eyes darted to mine. “Come on, back me up here, Brett. Sophia’s legit hot. I know she’s like a little sister to you, too, but you know she’s not actually related to you, right? That means you can back me up without it being creepy.”
“I know she’s not related to me.” I glanced at Mark, who was waiting for me to continue with a scowl and a challenge in his dark blue eyes. “But she might as well have been. So nope. Not hot.”
It was a total lie, of course.
But it was one I would keep telling until my dying fucking day.
As it turned out, the blue-eyed girl whose shriek had summoned Mark on that fateful day was his sister, Sophia Love. Three years younger than us, Sophia had had some trouble with same bullies over the summer, but she hadn’t known who they were.
Ever the protector, Mark had told her to scream if she saw them at school so that he could, in his in juvenile words, teach them a lesson.
And scream she did.
Every once in a while, Mark and I joked that it was the scream that could be heard around the world. That scream had changed my life when it catapulted the man who would become like a brother to me into it.
Only Sophia wasn’t a seven-year-old girl anymore, and it was getting harder and harder not to notice that fact, despite what I’d just told Shawn. She’d always been pretty. Even as a kid, I remembered that I used to think that she looked like one of the porcelain dolls my mom collected.
In high school, as her body filled out and morphed into that of a woman, she was beautiful. Not that I’d ever actually noticed it back then, not in any other way than agreeing with the whispers in the locker room. Okay, and once when I’d been fall-down drunk, and I’d thought that she looked like a dark, fallen angel when her face had loomed over my semi-passed out self. The next morning, I pretended that I couldn’t remember that I’d told her I thought she was “the most beautiful girl in the world.”
Somewhere around college, though, I had to admit that she was hot, even if it was only to myself. Now at twenty-six, Sophia wasn’t just hot anymore. She was fucking devastating.
And I knew it, along with any other man and probably half the women in the club. But I would never, ever admit it out loud.
Mark smirked beside me, raising his fist for me to bump. “Good man. You see, Shawn? That’s what real friends do. They don’t check out each other’s sisters.”