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In Stunning Heaps

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Pacey found her sitting on the floor in the Strand in the Young Adult section, reading intently. Joey looked up and saw him sinking down next to her. She was utterly aware she was some sort of cliche sad sack twentysomething girl in publishing who was not cut out for the big city and especially not the Big Apple. She was living down to the cliche, silently crying in a bookstore. She sighed and swiped at her nose.

Pacey said, "Hey, Jo. I heard you resigned in a blaze of glory." She sniffled at him. "You were forced to resign with a bountiful severance package." She sniffled twice and gulped noisily. "Your severance is pitiful." He took the book from her, glancing at the cover. "And here you are, five hours later."

"I've only been here about an hour," Joey said. "Before that I wandered the streets and no one asked if I was okay, which is actually something I love about New York City. It's the anti-Capeside. No one called Bessie --"

"I called Bessie," Pacey said. "Because you didn't meet me for lunch. And I figured your bosses were as stupid as I thought they were. They should be thanking you. You spared them having to pulp that whole run when her lies came out. They should have promoted you."

Joey glared at him until he shut up. She said, "They were never going to promote me. I kinda hoped I would keep my job, but seriously, Pacey. I was never going to go any further there."

"So, really, good news," Pacey said. "You're better off without their fiction passed off as memoir books dragging you down."

"Now I don't have a job," Joey said. "I know I'm ridiculous. You should leave me here."

"That's not happening," Pacey said. He stood up and pulled her up with him. "Where's your cardboard box of stuff? I always got one when I was forced to resign."

"You got fired," Joey said. "They never let you resign."

"Good thing I don't have to worry about that anymore, then," he said.

"Thanks to the one time in the history of ever the foibles of modern fashion went in a practical way, my tote bag slash purse fits everything. Except this," she said, bending down to get her tiny cactus with its one lone flower.

"Yay, fashion," Pacey muttered, now pulling her towards the exit. "We're going to buy this book," he said.

"No, we can't afford it," Joey said. "They're only paying for my health insurance for one more month." She had a pre-existing condition now, she thought. She tried to take the book from him.

"We can afford this $20 or whatever," Pacey said. He looked down at the book again. "Besides you were clearly moved by this, by Jellicoe Road. You deserve a forced to resign treat."

"It's a great book," Joey said, sniffling again. "I wish I got to edit things like that when I was an editor."

Pacey paid for the book and put it in Joey's huge bag. Then he took the bag from her. "This is really heavy. How many office supplies did you steal?"

"None, thanks for the assumption," Joey said.

"You deserve your own free stapler," Pacey said.

"We have to move, you know," Joey said.

"Really? Did your company fire me, too?"

She was almost positive he was laughing at her a little. She knew she was incredibly overwrought, but she had a really hard day. She said, "With my salary we covered rent but without it, what are we going to do? Keep trying to live in that overpriced place and just, I don't know, cut back on food? And after next month we have to pay for my health insurance, that's so expensive, Pacey."

"Fine, we'll give our 30 days and find some place cheaper so you can eat and go to the doctor which you are suddenly obsessed with, Joey, and it's freaking me out a little bit," Pacey said. "We move to Boston."

She looked at him, her eyes watering. He said, "Hey, let's go to that Tavern, where O Henry wrote the Gift of the Magi. You love telling me that."

She nodded. She didn't say anything until they were at their table. She took her hair out of its messy bun, finger combed it, and then put it back up in a bun. "I did steal something from work, but it wasn't a stapler." She reached into her bag and pulled out the advance copy Lorrie Moore's A Gate At The Stairs. "She's such an extraordinary writer, Pacey. Listen to this." She read a paragraph about songbirds in the winter, her voice choking.

"Joey," Pacey said, reaching across the table. "Tell me what's wrong right now. You are way more upset than just getting fired upset."

"Forced to resign," she said.

"Forced to resign," he said. "Is something wrong with us?"

She exhaled. "I'm pregnant."

"Oh," he said quietly.

She nodded. "The rabbit died. The stick turned blue. Or pink. I don't know. I bought one of those tests and did it in the bathroom. That was such a nice bathroom, I think I'll miss it most of all."

He was smiling and then not smiling and then trying very hard not to smile. "Okay, I know this isn't planned, but are we happy? Are we not happy? Your new obsession with health care, is that because you're thinking 8, 9 months ahead or are we not thinking that?"

"I don't know what you're thinking," she said and felt guilty. She knew exactly what he was asking and if she said she wasn't ready and wanted to terminate the pregnancy, he would be fine with it. She knew that in her heart, he would not make her do anything. She said, "8, or 9 months ahead. I think I'm probably 6 or 7 weeks already."

"Great," Pacey said, beaming at her. He kissed her, one of those sweeping romantic kisses that made her feel 16 again and smell the ocean. "Great, right?"

"I don't have a job anymore," she said. She picked at their food. Why was the food always so awful?

"Jo, honey, I need to let you in on a little secret. I make more money than you. I have two restaurants that make a profit, a little pot of savings and we're set to open in the Bronx in one month," he said.

"What if it fails? Restaurants fail, Pacey. And I have nearly no savings," Joey said. She knew it was cruel to say but she knew it was true.

"Well, then that happens. If everything goes south, we jump in the car, drive to LA, and camp out on Dawson's lawn," he said.

"Dawson would let us live in the house, Pacey," she said.

"The baby is really loud. Dawson has a ton of work to do and the baby is loud," Pacey said, smiling.

"Don't make fun of me," she said. "I know it's easy."

"It is a little easy because you are ridiculous. But you're ridiculous for a reason, honey, you're making a little person. Our little person," he said, his beautiful smile so bright on his face.

"Who you think is going to be so loud, Dawson makes us live in his backyard," Joey said.

"In the worst case scenario," he said. "When all three restaurants fail and all my savings are gone and all we have is our car. Which, I have to tell you, is pretty far off right now."

"You don't know," she said. "Sorry."

"Sorry I brought you here, this food is not good," he said. He paid the bill and tipped too much like he always did. It was endearing, he always endeared himself to her.

They were sitting next to each other on the subway, her head resting on his shoulder. She checked her bag for the fifth time to make sure the cactus was okay. He said, "You should write your memoir."

"Our lives have been done and done and done," she said. "We watch it every Wednesday."

"That's Dawson's view of our lives. Not yours. You always had more going on than he saw. Besides, Dawson always thinks of stories on screen, you're more of a writer. You have a lot to say," he said.

She said, "The memoir market is pretty dry."

"Yeah, but you're great," he said. "I'm biased, I know."

"You always think that," she said. She kissed his hand. "Thank you."

He made them get off one stop before home so he could buy decaf coffee and pre natal vitamins. He fell asleep as soon as they got in bed. She got out Jellicoe Road and read it to the end, crying quietly. It was such a wonderful book.

She fell asleep for a few hours and woke up again at 3 am. She looked at Pacey sleeping, her baby cactus in its new home on the window sill. She thought about the laughably bad way the fake memoir she'd exposed had described going to visit a parent in jail.

She would have to tell her Dad she was pregnant. Pregnant, unemployed, completely dependent on her boyfriend. She got up and opened her laptop. Before she even thought about it she'd written 5 pages about visiting her Dad. She hit save, closed the document and went back to sleep.

When she woke up again, Pacey was coming back into the bedroom with a steaming mug and a plate of food. He put both on her bedside table. "Decaf," he said. He put the vitamins next to the plate. "I checked with Gretchen about good things to eat when you're in your first trimester."

"You just told her? I haven't even told Bessie," Joey said.

"I told her the absolute truth which is that one of the hostesses at my place in Boston is pregnant and since I try to make her breakfast when she's in early, I wondered if she had any suggestions," he said, looking slightly irritated. It was no wonder, Joey had been impossible to put up with for days.

"I bet she saw through you," she said. "But thank you. But we shouldn't tell anyone for a few weeks. Do you know how many women mis--"

"I don't know, I don't need to know," Pacey said, putting his finger over her lips. He got up from the bed and wandered aimlessly from the closet to the desk where her laptop was and back again. "You should tell Bessie."

"Why?"

"If something happens, she'd be the first person you'd call and it'll be nice for you to have someone to talk to about all this. She has two kids, she loves you, she's perfect," he said.

"I love you," she said. "I'm sorry I'm so unpleasant."

He smiled. "You're not. You're having my baby."

"If you open my laptop, you can ... I wrote something," she said.

"Yeah? You want me to read it?"

"Sure," she said. "Don't tell me how much it sucks."

He sat down at the desk and read. He clearly took it seriously, which was humbling. It was humbling how much he loved her. He turned around and then laid on the bed next to her. He said, "It's great. You're a great writer. As good as that woman and her dead songbirds."

"I am not as good as Lorrie Moore," Joey said. "Thank you."

He handed her her phone. "So call Dawson and tell him everything. You know you want him to read it. You'll believe him when he says it's good."

"I believe you," she said. "I should warn him to get his lawn ready."

"He better buy us a damn good tent," Pacey said.