Chapter 29

     After returning home from France, Symphony moved in with Michael, and the two began planning their future with one another. Never did Michael imagine he would be getting married again, but he knew he was making the right decision. Symphony was the woman of his dreams, and he couldn't wait for her to be his wife.

     One late afternoon as they were resting in each other's arms, Michael suggested they have a summer wedding. Initially, he thought about asking Symphony to elope with him but quickly changed his mind. He had eloped with Cassandra and planned to elope with Mercedes — neither relationship lasted. He thought it would be best to do things a bit differently this time. But besides that, he wanted to give Symphony a proper wedding. He wanted to lift her bridal veil, peer into her eyes, and exchange personal wedding vows with her.

      "Baby, I think it's time we meet each other's parents. I've told my mom and dad about you, and they can't wait to meet you — especially my dad," Symphony spoke ecstatically.

      "Oh shit! You're right. So much has been happening that it completely skipped my mind. But um, do they know I'm your professor?"

         Looking upwards at him, Symphony cupped his chin and said, "No. I haven't told them yet. But does it matter?"

         "Not really, I guess. But maybe you should tell them. I'm much older than you, and I'm not sure how they'll take you marrying a man nearly twenty years your senior."

        Giving his arm a small squeeze, Symphony chuckled and said, "They're not like that, Michael. They only want me to be happy. It'll be fine."

         His voice full of uncertainty, he grimaced and said, "OK, Symphony. I hope you're right."

        "Stop worrying, baby. "Everything will be fine. I'll try and schedule dinner with them by the end of the month. They run their own business and go out of town a lot."

       Emitting a deep sigh, Michael placed a gentle kiss on her cheek and said, "Sounds good. Just let me know, ok? And I'd love for you to meet my mom as well. She'll be visiting me in a couple of months — you can meet her then."

       "And what about your dad? Will he be accompanying her?"

       "Who? Joseph?" Michael spoke wryly, "You'll meet him at the wedding. I love my father but can only take him in small doses."

       Being aware of Michael's not so great relationship with his father, Symphony hugged him tightly and said, "I understand, baby. We all have people in our lives we can only take so much of. Sadly, that goes for family members, including parents."

       "Tell me about it," Michael muttered.

"But at the end of the day, he's still my father, you know? I'll always respect him. Thankfully, our relationship has gotten better as he's gotten older. And not to change subjects, but how do you feel about everything? Do you think we're moving too fast?"

       "No! Not at all," Symphony exclaimed. "I feel like we're finally moving ahead. We'll be married soon and can finally start our family."

       Sitting upright, Michael sighed. "God, I can't believe it's 4:00 pm already. I hate to leave you, Beautiful, but I have a meeting to attend at Peabody. I'll be back in a couple of hours, and we'll continue this conversation later."

       Symphony pouted. "Can you skip it? You just got home."

      After placing a soft kiss on her cheek, Michael spoke hastily as he headed for the door, "I wish I could, Beautiful, but the meeting is mandatory. I'll be back as soon as I can."

      Locking the door behind him, Symphony shrugged her shoulders and said, "well, guess I'll get dinner started."

       Since moving in with Michael, Symphony started cooking for him regularly. It made her extremely happy that he loved her cooking — sweets were one of his favorites.

      As Symphony was preparing one of Michael's favorite dishes, the doorbell rang. "I wonder who that could be?" she spoke aloud, scurrying to the door.

       When she looked through the doors peep-hole, she was shocked to see Raven standing there. "This bitch must done lost her mind," she spoke in disbelief.

      At first, she thought about not opening the door, but she was sick and tired of Raven — it was time for her to put her in her place once and for all.

        Snatching the door open, Symphony spoke in an irritated tone. "You have some nerve coming here. What the hell do you want?"

        Raven rolled her eyes and hissed. "Look, little miss thing, I need to speak with, Michael — it's urgent."

        "Hold up! First of all, don't call me out of my name, and secondly, what you need to do is leave Michael and me the fuck alone! He wants nothing to do with you — why can't you get that through your thick skull."

       Raven scoffed. "No need to curse at me! You done got a little taste of his dick and think you're all that. Again, where is he? I need to speak to him. It's important."

      "Wow! You're crazy!" Symphony stared at Raven, her mouth agape. She was at a loss for words.

       "Aww. Did I hurt your little feelings?" Raven spoke in a sarcastic tone.

      Symphony snickered. "No, Raven. You didn't. I've just never seen someone so pressed over a man... And by the way, I've had more than a taste."

      Folding her arms across her chest, an evil grin spread across Raven's face. "Well, since you're not going to tell me where Michael is, would you be so kind as to relay the following message to him?"

      "Sure! Whatever you have to say to him, you can say to me... We're engaged." Symphony smirked, as she waved her twenty-five-carat diamond engagement ring in Raven's face.

      Seething with anger, Raven stepped closer to Symphony and said, "I'm pregnant."

       "Ok, and? What does Michael have to do with you being pregnant? Symphony replied as she clenched her fist.

       "Everything! I'm three months pregnant, to be exact!" Raven yelled. "The last time Michael and I had sex was ta-da! Three months ago. It means he might be the father of my child. I've scheduled a Prenatal DNA test for Tuesday, and his presence is required."

       Unballing her fist, Symphony took a step backward. She wanted nothing more but to punch Raven in her throat, but she also didn't want to assault a pregnant woman that was possibly carrying Michael's child. Though she couldn't stand Raven, her unborn baby was innocent.

       "What's the address and time of appointment," Symphony asked as calmly as she could.

       Passing Symphony a piece of paper, Raven rolled her eyes and said, "here! This has all the information he'll need in preparation for the test. The address of the hospital and time of appointment are listed."

      After Symphony glanced over the paper, she looked back at Raven and said, "we'll see you on Tuesday at 9 am sharp."


***

      "Hey, Beautiful! Are you home?" Michael called out.

     The house was completely dark, but he could smell the aroma of Mexican food wafting from the kitchen. When he turned on the lights, he found Symphony in a chair in the corner. Her face was tucked in the crook of her arm, and her legs were folded close to her body. As Michael neared closer to her, she could smell the scent of his Black Orchid perfume. "Dinner is waiting for you on the stove," she spoke quietly, as her voice began to crack.

       Knowing something was wrong, Michael caressed her shoulder and said, "baby, is everything alright? Why are you sitting in the dark?"

       With her face still tucked inside the crook of her arm, she replied, "Raven's pregnant."

       "Ok. And?"

       "It's possible you're the baby's father."

       Michael fumed. "Bullshit! Who told you that?"

       Lifting her head, Symphony turned to face him and said, "Raven came past here a couple of hours ago asking to see you."

       "Hmm, I was wondering why she wasn't at today's music faculty meeting. But regardless, how is the baby possibly mine? I haven't slept with her in thre--" his voice trailed off. "How many months pregnant is she?"

       Symphony sighed. "She's three months pregnant, Michael."

       "Shit!" He hissed, feeling as if his world were crumbling before his eyes, and in essence, it was. Symphony's eyes were bloodshot, and she looked as if she were in physical pain. How could he be so careless, he thought. He was never the one to have unprotected sex with a woman he wasn't in a cemented relationship with, but in a moment of weakness, he wasn't thinking with the correct member of his body.

       "Michael, did you fuck her when we first started dating? Did you cheat on me?" Symphony spoke softly on the verge of tears.

       "No baby, I didn't. After our first meet-up, Raven came to my classroom the next day, and we exchanged heated words with one another... Before I knew it, she came onto me, and I gave in," he spoke regretfully as tears streamed down his face.

       "Is that the truth, Michael? Please don't lie to me."

         Getting down on his knees, he lowered his head and said, "Yes, Beautiful. It's the truth. After committing myself to you, I never had sex with her again. I'm sorry for being so stupid."

       "Thanks for being honest with me." Symphony sniffled, holding back her tears. She knew if she started crying, she wouldn't be able to finish their conversation. She still loved Michael and wanted to hear his side of things.

         "So, I guess you're going to leave me? I don't blame you. I fucked up big time!" He spoke emotionally as he pounded his fist on the floor.

        "Michael, sweetie. I'm not going to leave you, but I am upset. I wanted to be the one to have your babies." Symphony cried.

       Wrapping his arms around her, he didn't utter a word. His heart was breaking into a million pieces, and he was at a loss for words. He had hurt the woman he loved dearly. He had hurt the woman that wanted to give him the family he had always dreamed of.

        "So, where do we go from here?" He sighed.

        "Well first, we need to be sure the baby belongs to you," Symphony's head snapped up, gazing into Michael's hopeful eyes.

         "Ok, I'll get on that immediately. I'll call Raven and see if I can convince her to participate in a paternity test before the baby is born. The sooner we know who the father is, the better."

       Easing out of his arms, Symphony reached inside her pocket and passed him the form Raven had given her earlier. "No need to," Symphony spoke wryly. "Amazingly, Raven has already done that. The appointment is scheduled for Tuesday morning."

       As Michael read over the form, he let out a sigh of relief. Though he wasn't in the clear by any means, it still gave him some hope. He knew Raven was also sleeping with Todrick regularly at the time, so there was a strong possibility the baby wasn't his.

       Standing up from the couch, Symphony paced in a circle and said, "I hope you don't mind, but I'll be tagging along for the paternity test."

        "Of course not. I need you there with me," he sputtered as he got up from the floor and walked towards her. "I can't do this alone."

         As Michael stood before her, she brushed her nose across his and said, "and you don't have to... I love you."

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