Her father hugged her tight. “There, there, Baby, Mom and I’ll work through this with you.”
April sniffled, and leaned into his hug. She gripped his strong arms so she wouldn’t fall. Her whole skeleton felt like bungee cords. She whimpered, remembering how she’d helped Ronnie memorize the names of all her bones. She’d learned them with him, but now she couldn’t say the name of any of them. She looked around at their apartment. His medical books were splayed on the desk. She’d take them to him when she visited so he wouldn’t lose his place in his classes. But the paper said the medical school had suspended him. Did that mean they thought he was guilty, too?
April’s mother entered the room with a rainbow armload of lingerie she’d pulled from the clothes dryer. “April, your laundry’s done; I’ll finish packing and then we can go home.”
“Home? I’m already there. This is Ronnie’s and my home.” April looked around her, bewildered. Why are they telling me I should leave our apartment? We called it our Robin’s Nest. Ronnie will be back soon. He’ll need me here to hug him and wash his clothes – cook him his favorite chocolate bread pudding.
“Baby, they…they think they have a lot of evidence against Ronnie. Even if he’s innocent, it will take him a long time to prove it to the authorities.” Her father moved her to the sofa and gently pushed her down. He lifted her legs and turned her so she could stretch out its full length.
April bounced up. “Even if. What do you mean even if?” She squinted her eyes and glared at her father. “You think he’s guilty, don’t you?” She turned to her mom, catching a guilty look before her mother could turn her head. “You both think he’s guilty. Don’t you?”
“Now, Baby, don’t get upset. We don’t know Ronnie very well. We believe you think he’s not guilty and I for one am willing to consider that.” The worried mother glanced sideways at her husband, craving his concurrence.
“Of course, I’m willing to consider Ronnie is innocent. If for no other reason but that you love him and are planning to marry him.”
“You’ll both consider it, is that all? Dad, you’re a lawyer, can’t you help him, get him out of jail?”
“Baby, I write trusts and wills, I don’t know anything about criminal law.”
“Ronnie is not a criminal!” April snatched the laundry from her mother and headed to the bedroom, the one she shared with Ronnie. She turned to face her parents, “And stop calling me Baby. I’m an adult, engaged to be married, wanting a baby of my own.” She pressed a hand to her abdomen. Her mother reached out to envelop April in a hug. April pulled away. “Just go. I’m staying here, in our apartment.”
Her parents gone, April doubled over on the queen sized bed they’d made love in that morning. She’d planned to tell him she thought she was pregnant, but hadn’t, still unsure how he’d take the news. She’d use the baby to cheer him up when he called from jail. She wrapped her arms under her sore breasts. If she were preggie, she’d be showing by the wedding. She’d better tell her dress designer, chosen only last week. As dark settled over the room, April drifted into a troubled sleep. Tomorrow, she’d work out how to help Ronnie.
A noise jolted April from her troubled sleep. She sat up, pulling the quilt around her chin. “Ronnie, is that you?” As the cat jumped on the bed, she pushed it. “Shadow, you get down. You know Ronnie doesn’t like you on the bed. He says you’re dirty.” The cat snuggled next to her, putting a tentative paw on her hand. She sank back on the pillow, sobbing and snuggling the warm purring body. “Ronnie’s not coming back for a while. I guess you can stay tonight.”
Her sobs exhausted, April turned on the light and picked up the note pad on the night stand. As long as she couldn’t sleep, she might as well work on the wedding plans. Should they move the ceremony up so her pregnancy would show less? She sighed deeply. That would depend on how long it would take for Ronnie to prove his innocence.
Many times she had waited in the dark room for him to come to bed. When he was cramming in the living room, or meeting his study team for a group discussion late into the dark hours. He came home exhausted, smelling as if he’d been to the gym when he’d studied with that bunch. They must really study hard, push each other. He’d jump into the shower and she’d hear the water running for such a long time. When he came to bed, she’d offer him a massage, but he’d angrily turn her away.
She’d met Ronnie at the spa where she worked as a massage therapist. He liked her deep muscle treatment best. A couple of times she’d thought he was going to hit her, she hurt him so bad, but then he’d say he liked it.
She didn’t spend as much time with Ronnie as she’d like, but then he was busy in med school learning how to do surgery, save people’s lives. How could the police think he could have murdered anyone? Doctors take the oath that they will do no harm.
The phone woke April the next morning. “Good morning, Ba…Darling. It’s Mom. How are you doing? Did you get any sleep?”
“Yes, Mother, I slept.” April pushed her hair from her eyes. “Why wouldn’t I?”
“I thought you might lie awake worrying, that’s all.”
“Mom, there’s nothing to worry about, I told you. Ronnie couldn’t knife someone to death. He’s studying to be a doctor.” April shivered as her brain flashed a picture of an irate Ronnie stabbing a loaf of bread last week, when he read the tuition bill from the university. He had learned to use scalpels last semester. Explained to her what each could do, and where to cut for each operation.
“I admire you dear, for taking this so calmly. But then, you probably know him better than anyone.” The mother coughed. “I never heard him talk about this Craig’s List, did you? I doubt he knew it even existed.”
“Oh, Mother! Of course he knew it existed. We used it to furnish our apartment – even got the china cabinet you admire so much from there.” April pushed the power button on her computer. Ronnie had used it with her for their furniture search. His computer was used just for school. Or was it? While her mother talked, she went into the living room and stared at the blank spot on his desk. Of course, the police had taken his laptop. He’ll be furious if they lose any of his study materials.
“Dear, I know you’re madly in love with Ronnie, but you have to admit that you don’t have a long history with him. There may be things about his background you haven’t heard about.”
“He’s a private person, Mom. He thinks you’re nosy, if you want to know. Makes him share even less about himself.”
“Well, I have to say, you have a hard few months ahead of you, April. At least you’re not pregnant. We can be thankful for that in these troubled times.”
“Mom, I …”
“Just imagine all those violent genes a child could inherit, if he is guilty.” April quietly cradled the phone.
Sitting in the small gloomy apartment they could afford on her salary, April brooded about her future. Her bank account contained two month’s rent at most. She’d have to quit work when she got so big she couldn’t get close enough to her patrons to properly massage them. Then what would she do?
Ronnie insisted they go to the casino when funds were low. Much of time he won, but she never wanted to try even the slot machines. Why would the police think he robbed women he met on Craig’s List when all he had to do was play Black Jack? And the erotic massages. Why would he answer ads for them on Craig’s List like the police said he did? He got them free at home whenever he wanted one, which wasn’t very often.
To keep herself busy, April polished the windows, chased the dust bunnies from under the bed, and headed towards Ronnie’s desk to straighten it. He always kept it so organized. Normally she was not allowed to touch it; she knew nothing about medicine and could throw a critical paper away thinking it was trash. At least that’s what he said. She’d pack up some of the books for when she’d be allowed to see him at the jail. Her hand moved to pick up a book, then stopped. What if he was released and came home to find she’d messed with his domain? Well, if he did, she’d just have to explain to him why. She attacked her project with gusto. Opening a bottom drawer to file a study folder, April gasped and ran toward the bathroom, a hand covering her mouth. Why was the chef’s knife she’d been missing wrapped in a brown stained towel in Ronnie’s desk drawer? Had he cut himself with it?
I have to be pregnant. Otherwise a little old knife out of place wouldn’t bother me. I’ve heard a woman’s whole perspective changes when she conceives. That must be it. She finished her task and jumped into the shower. The water soothed her tense body, its swish calmed her thrashing thoughts. She dressed in her rose gown and peignoir, Ronnie’s favorite. She settled down to watch a movie, - forget for a moment.
A loud knock interrupted April’s peace. “Police.”
Trembling, April opened the door. “Yes?” A firm push on the door sent her staggering backward. She grabbed the hall tree to catch her balance.
Holding up a thick paper, the officer said, “We have a warrant to search your home.”
“Can you tell me what it’s all about? You won’t make a mess will you? I just cleaned the apartment.”
The officer grimaced. “We were trying to get here before you did that.” He turned to his partner. You start at his desk; I’ll take the bedroom. The desk. Thank heavens she’d cleaned that knife and put it away. The dirty cloth was picked up with the trash that afternoon. She sat and watched the police search every drawer and cupboard. They wouldn’t find anything to incriminate Ronnie. They were wrong! Wrong! Wrong!