On the eve of her twenty-seventh birthday, Kitty found herself in bed with Gavin at her apartment. Although they had been a couple for two years he preferred to keep their loungings separated, despite him staying with her almost nightly. She had never grown to be attracted to Gavin, although his gangly looks had become normal to her as time with him carried on. When her alarm went off she got up for work with extra glee in her step. She had been freshly promoted to the alternate senior concierge the week before. Kitty loved her work, even though she had not moved up to the four-star hotel that she had planned on her own career goal timeline. She was respected at the hotel at least. Her paychecks were steady, and her days both challenged and excited her, without becoming burdensome. When Gavin spoke of his work, Kitty found that he was there not out of the need to feel a purpose, but because he used it as an excuse to look down on others. Gavin liked the idea of himself as a man of higher standing, which might explain why he lived such an isolated life. Gavin lived by pomp and circumstance, which Kitty reasoned was why he was with her since her entire profession revolved around those things. He neither excelled nor had the drive to push himself as Kitty did. Gavin instead coasted by on what he was born into. To Kitty, Gavin was living in a bubble that made up his career. He seemed to be content with being in the same place now as he would be when he retired.
As for the here and now of Kitty's life, today was to be a big day for her relationship with Gavin. Kitty was to meet Gavin's mother, Opal after work at their favorite restaurant, the very place where Gavin first met Kitty. Kitty knew that this was a tremendous step for their relationship. Gavin had described his mother as a polished woman, whom he became very close to after his parents divorced when he was a child. Gavin did not have any contact at all with his father, whom Kitty pieced together as either a scoundrel or a fool from what little was said about him. That night Kitty walked to the restaurant after her shift. Gavin waved to her as she entered the building. His mother was by his side at the table already having ordered without her. She was a woman in what looked like her early sixties. As Kitty approached she could see that Opal's hair was a brassy blonde. Opal's personal aesthetic was far from classy or polished. She had on bright pink nail polish and neon lipstick that was heavily overlining her lips. At the table, Kitty was uncomfortable because Opal's dress was too low cut causing her breasts to nearly spill into her entrée. During their meal, Gavin leaned toward his mother and whispered in her ear after each time Kitty spoke, Opal giggled at whatever Gavin's comment was. They were truly impolite, yet, all Kitty could do was put on her fake smile knowing she would need it to get through the night.
When the meal was finally done, Kitty walked to her apartment and concluded that she probably never did like Gavin very much. In the meanwhile, Gavin took Opal back to his apartment on the nicer side of the city. In many aspects, Gavin was a part of Kitty's life and not at the same time, all the time. Kitty noticed a pattern of whenever she would seek comfort and companionship from Gavin he would meet her needs with aggravation from his inability to be caring toward her emotional needs. Gavin was happiest with Kitty when she was doing well for herself, not that he helped her in any way to be better. It was as if he felt her accomplishments were his if he was in the vicinity, but he distanced himself from her struggles. Gavin hadn't the tenacity to handle the rough road to her achievements. He blocked Kitty out whenever she felt stressed or overwhelmed, which added greatly to her disdain of him. Kitty wished he could be a different man, but he was all she had. Kitty regretted the way that dinner had gone. She could not deny that both Gavin and Opal had been atrocious. This further pushed Gavin down in her mind as the kind of person she could respect, mainly because she had other plans for the evening. She had planned to tell both of them that she was eight weeks pregnant over dinner. Kitty had found out that she was pregnant at five weeks, and although Gavin was a placeholder for her until she met someone better, there hadn't been anyone else in the years that she had known him. Kitty felt like it was now or never to have a child and Gavin was the unfortunate candidate she had been handed by circumstance. Kitty had rationalized that Gavin at least had a job and was not a totally poor genetic contributor to the gene pool, as far as she knew.
In her apartment that night, Gavin stopped by. He chided her for not being "friendly enough" with Opal at dinner. Trying to damage control the situation with the father of her unborn child, Kitty took the moment to reveal her surprise pregnancy. Gavin was in shock at the news. Immediately he cried and called his mother, then left to see Opal at his apartment without congratulating Kitty or so much as saying goodbye. Kitty alone again regretted not telling him sooner so she would have known to consider having an abortion, because now it was too late. She tried to soothe herself by thinking about Gavin's potential as a parent. Kitty expected he would be a good provider since he was well compensated for his work. Then she caught herself in that thought and was astonished at it as it gave her flashes of Stafford's "take all you can get" attitude toward society. Stafford was the type to constantly think of nothing but the monetary value of the people in his life. Kitty regretted Gavin's financial worth having ever crossed her mind. She had enough in her savings from never going on a vacation or buying a car to keep her afloat after she had her baby, which was all she needed, for the time being, she assumed.
The next day was Kitty's day off. Gavin in an attempt to make amends with Kitty without saying sorry for the night before took her to the Navy Pier, a place he knew she enjoyed. There Kitty felt a little more appreciative of Gavin. While on their walk he doted over her, buying her ice cream and speaking in loving terms toward her. She smiled at him as they went hand in hand until they passed by a group of teenagers standing on the sidewalk. Gavin stared down the young people as he scooted by, telling Kitty to guard her purse quietly in her ear, but still speaking loudly enough to be overheard. Kitty looked at the faces of the teens after Gavin had said that. They were hurt by his statement. They were just rough kids minding their own business. Gavin had completely put them down for no reason. She pulled her hand away from his and wanted to take the train home, but relented because she didn't want to be dramatic or have Gavin make a scene chasing after her. To Kitty, Gavin had an arrogance about him that showed brightly when he was confronted with the existence of the poor. Having been upper-middle class his whole life, Gavin thought that poverty was a choice that people wanted for themselves. Kitty was frustrated that Gavin was the father of her child. In a way, she had hoped he would not have wanted anything to do with her and the baby, but to her unease, she came to dread that he wanted to micromanage everything about her pregnancy and her life.
Her birthday had not been the uniting event between herself and Gavin that she had planned, but one solid thing came of it and it was that Gavin asked Kitty to move into his home so that he could help her as her pregnancy progressed. Kitty who was still paying off her student loans jumped at the offer to live rent-free. She agreed to give up her own home without much consideration on the spot. This arrangement almost immediately became a regret. Apparently, Gavin had much more money than Kitty had realized, which made Kitty annoyed that he hid it from her in the first place. She also soon learned that Gavin was against Kitty having a job at all, although he did not provide any financial support to her other than the living situation. His seeming kindnesses were later found to be insults as everything he bought for Kitty was out of the urge to change her to what he considered respectable. Everything on her person was updated to his liking, which made Kitty feel owned by the man. He had services handle each detail of Kitty's life; laundry, maids, meal delivery. Kitty had no say in any of it. It was as if Gavin expected her to be invalid. At first, Kitty had wanted Gavin to propose so that they could wed before her belly was showing. That wish faded as she became turned off by him the more that she knew of him as a person. Gavin no longer talked 'to' Kitty but 'at' her, it was as if he only saw her as a birthing vessel for his child. They had lost all romance from what they had, which wasn't much, to begin with.
By the time she was thirteen weeks along, Kitty found herself looking for reasons to step out of the condo when Gavin was around. On a particularly grueling weekend of Gavin pestering her to quit her job, go on an organic-only diet, and agree to a "natural birthing" plan, Kitty gave up on trying to be much of anything to him other than a roommate. Looking for options in her plan to leave Gavin, she looked up Marnie on Facebook. Marnie was still living in Ohio or so her private account listed her location as. Kitty sent her a message saying she would be in town to visit and asked if she wanted to chat. Marnie responded to Kitty by the next day telling her she would be glad to see her again. Without telling Gavin the details of where she was going that day Kitty packed her things for her trip. When she was done she thought about taking a bus there, but decided on taking Gavin's older paid-off Mercedes that he had handed her the keys to when she first moved in saying that the train was full of "thugs." Kitty was glad the gaudy vehicle could be of use to her to see Marnie. To keep Gavin from butting in Kitty sent him a message straight to his voicemail explaining her friend was having a "family emergency" and that she'd be back to take go with him to her next obstetric exam later that week. She knew that Gavin probably had some means to track her like the GPS in his car, but it was a risk Kitty was willing to take to get out of his grip for any amount of time.
Driving into Cincinnati was so different for Kitty. She had left with a few belongings in a backpack on a bus. Now she was in a Mercedes and checking into one of her company's hotels for the week. If only she hadn't been pregnant she would have felt like an accomplished person, instead of a knocked-up mother fleeing her controlling lover. She decided to keep her pregnancy under wraps in front of her old friend. She didn't want Marnie's pity to overshadow their meeting. Kitty reasoned that she was only a few months along, with a baggy shift dress she could pass as being a little chubby as opposed to being a baby momma. They planned to meet at the hotel's lobby. Kitty fidgeted with her dress and kept on her coat as she waited for Marnie to arrive. Kitty recognized Marnie as soon as she walked in, but was horrified that Marnie looked like she had aged decades before her time. Over a bottle of wine at the hotel's bar that Marnie soaked up like a sponge before Kitty even had a chance to turn it down, Kitty learned that Marnie had married Stafford three years ago. Hurt that Marnie didn't ask Kitty to attend, Kitty took in the news. Marnie sensing Kitty's lack of enthusiasm told her that she was not excluded because she was not welcome, but because Stafford only wanted the event to improve his status at work as an industrial buyer for a manufacturing conglomerate.
Marnie asked Kitty if she was married. Kitty shrugged off the question, saying she had a boyfriend who didn't want to get married after she had a pregnancy scare and that they parted ways since. It was how Kitty wished her situation had turned out for herself. As Kitty spoke, she self-consciously covered her stomach as she lied to Marnie. While they talked some more, Marnie ordered another bottle of wine. Kitty may not have been a big drinker, but she did know that anyone who drank an entire bottle of wine and went for another without missing a beat might have a problem. Kitty pretended to sip at her wine, but would discreetly pour her glass out whenever Marnie went to the lady's room. Not that Kitty was particularly protective of her unborn child, especially considering her own doctor had even said that a glass of wine was almost certainly harmless. The thing that Kitty actually feared was that Gavin would pop up out of nowhere and yell at her if she dared relax for a moment. Before they parted ways for the night, Kitty not sure how to ask danced around the question of if Marnie and Stafford had children. When she finally did, Marnie snorted at the thought, and replied: "Oh God! Nope, never." Making Kitty regret her choice to have a child with Gavin all the more.
The evening wore on and the bar was getting empty. Kitty offered to take Marnie home, but the intoxicated Marnie called Stafford instead. Kitty wasn't ready to see Stafford and tried to make an excuse to leave, but she also didn't want to abandon Marnie who had two bottles of wine and a shot of vodka dispersed into her bloodstream. When Stafford arrived it was odd to Kitty that he didn't acknowledge Marnie once when they were together. He instead sat in the booth with them and talked to Kitty while Marnie struggled to maintain consciousness, as all the liquor she had drunk was taking its full effect on her by this point. Stafford said that he didn't want to drive Marnie back to their home on account of him knowing she would vomit in his beloved car. Upon hearing this Kitty felt confirmation that he was still the man she hated. He was comprised of the same board shoulders and blonde hair, the same hands that pulled her hair at the market when she was a teen. To Kitty, he was still her enemy, but also her past, which made her regard for him have an amount of familiarity. Kitty asked if Marnie always drank as much as she did tonight, Stafford sighed and said that Marnie drinks that much if not more every day. He also mentioned that Marnie was probably drinking before she met Kitty too that evening. Kitty felt bad for Stafford as he spoke, something she had never expected to feel for him.
As they both sat cozily together, completely ignoring the unconscious Marnie in tandem, Stafford detailed that Marnie tried to make it as a singer, but found that every door was closed to her since she was mediocre at best. He pressured her to go into teaching, but she saw it as admitting failure. Stafford said that she wanted to go touring with a band as a musician, but he asked her to marry him knowing she would stay because he knew she'd fail into ruin on the road due to her alcoholism. He choked up when he told Kitty that now while he works Marnie is at home drinking. Kitty asked why he doesn't leave Marnie if he is unhappy, something she never thought she'd say about her friend to her least favorite person. Stafford rubbed his forehead while saying "we've been here for this long, I want her to do the deed of ending it with me if not I'll go along with it forever." Kitty couldn't tell if Stafford was a changed man or if she never gave him a chance before. When they had finished catching up, Stafford got up and checked into a room at the hotel saying that Marnie would have to sleep it off until he could drive her home. Kitty went to her room. At four AM there was a knock on her door. It was Stafford. Kitty let him in, and without words, they embraced one another as they never had before. This felt right, this was what Kitty wanted for so long. She didn't care that she was pregnant or Stafford's past transgressions toward her. It was everything she had ever hoped for with Stafford until he got dressed and back went back to his room to get his wife to bring home.
Kitty was horrified with herself for what she had done with Stafford the next day. She knew Stafford well enough to guess he would never tell his wife about their indiscretion. The guilt was consuming Kitty, who checked out early knowing she could not face Marnie again. She knew that it was over between herself and Gavin, but she never had thought of herself as an adulteress before, especially with Stafford. The trip back was long and Kitty used Gavin's hands-free calling feature on his car called Marnie. Kitty said that something came up at work and that she had to get back. Marnie was indifferent to Kitty and Kitty wondered if Marnie was drinking while they were talking. Kitty asked Marnie if she was happy with Stafford, lying she told Marnie that she and he hadn't spoken that much when he came to pick her up. Marnie said that they were comfortable together and that she was perfectly happy with him. Kitty could not bring herself to explain that she knew Stafford was cheating on her, so she told Marnie that she could stay with her if she ever needed. Back in Chicago, Kitty started to look for a new apartment away from Gavin's, who was furious that she left town without his permission. While searching her emails for any of her realtor's responses after Gavin had fallen asleep cradling her belly, Kitty found that Stafford had contacted her to see if she wanted to move closer to him. Kitty looked back to be sure that Gavin was still asleep before she hit "reply."