Shawn felt like a child. Not just the youngest member of the Olympic/world team or the youngest ever competitor of Dancing With the Stars. But an actual child. Like “not-old-enough-to-drive-yourself-to-practice” child or “still-ordering-from-the-kid’s-menu” child. And as she sat across from Julianne Hough, she felt as if she was being scolded by her mother.
Julianne’s arms were crossed and she had a hard glare fixed on the tiny gymnast. “I suggest you tell me the truth now because if I have to assume, it won’t end well.”
Shawn took a deep breath. It was official. She had been caught because of one mistake. She underestimated how perceptive and protective Julianne was. So Julianne pretended their meeting was an accident, trailed her, cornered her, and assumed the worst of her. “How did you find out?’
The glare never left Julianne’s face. “You’re not in any position to ask questions.”
“Please tell me you don’t think I’m cheating on Derek.”
For the first time ever, Julianne raised her voice at Shawn. “And just what am I supposed to think? Don’t think I haven’t noticed you sneaking around, leaving the state for meetings and what not. Derek may be too busy to notice, but I sure as hell haven’t.”
Shawn rubbed her face in her hands. “Oh God” she whispered.
Julianne’s voice was once again calm. “So I’m going to give you one more chance. Tell me the truth. I need to know because I will not let you hurt my brother. Derek’s been through enough of that heartbreak.”
Shawn sat up straight and said in a determined voice to make Julianne see “I’m not cheating on him.” Julianne scoffed as if she didn’t believe her. “I love him.”
“Then explain to me all of these flights to New York, Nike meetings that don’t exist; I found a prescription for anti-anxiety medication in your trash. What the hell is going on?”
Shawn so badly wanted to tell her. But she promised Aly. But Jules was assuming the worst and that could cost her dearly in the long run. “I don’t know if I can tell you.”
The defeated look on Shawn’s face softened Julianne. Shawn was not one to be defeated. “Are you in some kind of trouble?”
Shawn looked at her curiously. “What?”
“If you’re in trouble, if you need money…”
“No! It’s nothing like that…” Shawn thought about it. Maybe it was time to share the burden. Julianne was a woman. She’d understand, right? Shawn looked at Julianne, whose face once held a glare but now held a look of worry. She sighed and prayed Aly would forgive her for this. “I do need your help though. But you can’t tell Derek and especially not Mark.”
Aly was bigger now. There was no denying it. She was almost out of her first trimester and her bump was big enough to be relatively noticeable and small enough to still be hidden under an oversized sweatshirt. Her cravings were also more prominent. Somehow she was always downing a lot of fruit juice. And gummy worms…a lot of gummy worms.
She was actually in the middle of drinking fruit juice straight from the carton when she heard a knock on the door. It’s probably just Shawn. It’s not like anyone else knew she was there. Aly opened the door and wasn’t surprised that it was Shawn. What surprised her was the look of worry and sadness that graced her face. “I am so sorry…” she whispered.
Aly’s eyes widened as she looked at the person standing behind Shawn. “Julianne.”
Aly Raisman had won gold medals. She traveled the world, pushed her body to its limits, and had done a lot of growing up. But at this moment she, like Shawn, had never felt more like a child.
She and Shawn were sitting on the couch as they watched Julianne pace back and forth. They had just told her everything. “So let me get this straight…you and Mark had a one night stand…”
The Olympians nodded.
“You got pregnant…”
They nodded again.
“You’ve decided not to tell Mark…”
Aly shook her head no.
“And you asked Shawn to keep this secret.”
Aly hung her head in shame. “Yeah…basically…”
Julianne ran her fingers through her hair. “Oh my God…”
Shawn stood up to stop Julianne from freaking out. “Please Jules, I’m sorry for the secrets and the deception, but please…don’t tell Mark or Derek.”
Julianne gave Shawn a hard look. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
“For the same reason I couldn’t tell Derek. I won’t make you or anyone else choose between your friendship with me or your friendship with Mark.”
Julianne nodded and understood. She suddenly felt bad for the rough time she gave Shawn earlier. “You’ve been harboring this secret since the beginning haven’t you?” Shawn nodded. “All of the flights here, you’ve been doing it to check up on her.”
Aly stepped up this time. “Please Julianne, if you’re going to rat me out, please leave Shawn out of this. She’s been nothing but an angel. She’s literally taken care of everything from this apartment to my doctor’s appointments and my grocery. Please don’t drag her down in this mess.”
Julianne felt sympathy for Aly. She was 19 now, still young, still a baby herself. And now she was about to have one of her own. And by the looks of things all she had at the moment was Shawn. Julianne sighed. “Why won’t you tell Mark? Don’t you think he’d be a good father?”
“Of course I do…but he’s got so much going for him. His music career is taking off now. I can’t stop him because of one mistake.”
“You can’t keep this to yourself either.”
Aly sighed. “Maybe one day. But for now…please…”
Julianne now understood why Shawn didn’t tell her. She was seriously conflicted. She had known Mark for most of her life. They were best friends. Could she betray him like that? Keep the information about his unborn child from him? But then she looked at Aly who had a look of pure fear on her face. She was alone and she was scared. Right now Aly was under the radar but if she told Mark, would the paparazzi be all over that? It could happen. Mark had a lot of stuff coming up. But then was that fair to Mark?
Julianne looked at the two Olympians again. One day…Julianne promised herself that one day was going to come. The day Mark knew the truth. If Aly wouldn’t tell him, she most certainly would. But for today… “I’ll help you. I’ll keep your secret.”
Today it’d stay a secret.