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Cindy Has Shocking News For Danny

Meanwhile, Danny and Cindy were back to their original problem: finding a place to live. Cindy couldn’t, or wouldn’t, go back home to her parents. Nor was there room for her to move in with Danny into Nick’s Perkins Street flat; the one night they spent there proved that. They still had their tent, but nothing to put into it—and Danny wasn’t sure he cared to buy everything again, only to risk having it restolen.

Danny meditated on this. He was reminded of the old saying: “Water water everywhere, and not a drop to drink.” There were thousands of new apartments going up within a mile of Adams Point, yet he and Cindy together couldn’t afford anything, even if they pooled their money. Or, more precisely, they could probably have afforded something, but then they’d have barely enough left over to pay their other bills, much less do discretionary things: movies, restaurants, bars, clothes, vacations, Fox Theater shows.

He decided there was only one solution, the same one that thousands of other Oaklanders have taken: leave the city for cheaper parts. He wouldn’t enjoy commuting on the packed freeways, but it wasn’t the worst thing in the world, and Creava was good with flexible schedules. Danny might be able to start work at, say, 10, allowing him to avoid the worst of both the morning and evening rush hours. Then, too, the company was experimenting with telecommuting. Danny could just as easily do his job from anyplace that had wifi; he didn’t necessarily have to physically be at Creava.

Without telling Cindy, he began investigating the possibilities. Oakland’s average rent, of nearly $3,000 a month, fell considerably with distance south and east. In Livermore, for instance, the average was $2,600. In Milpitas, it was even lower: $2,500. Castro Valley caught his eye: only fifteen minutes from downtown Oakland, depending on traffic. There were plenty of listings for one-bedrooms at $2,200 or so. Danny made an appointment to see one, and drove down on a Saturday afternoon, while Cindy was driving for Lyft.

It was a cute little bungalow, at 850 square feet on the small side, but easily big enough for two. There was a garden of rose bushes and night-blooming jasmine in front, and, in the back yard, a vegetable garden, or space for one anyway, with raised beds and low fencing to keep out the critters. The kitchen and bathroom had been remodeled. There was an old adobe fireplace, limned with colorful Spanish tiles; the 1930s-era cottage oozed charm, and the oven—gas-fired instead of electric—would be fun for Cindy to practice her cooking skills. It was only a five-minute drive to the Nimitz. Cindy could just as easily do her Lyft gig from Castro Valley as from Oakland.

He made a tentative offer to the landlady, and resolved to tell Cindy that night; they’d already made plans for a late supper.

They met up at Luka’s for a drink, then walked across Broadway to Umami Burger. Neither had tried the plant-based meat alternative, although there were plenty of other entrées on the menu. Cindy ordered an Original; Danny opted for the Manly; they laughed over their choices. Cindy had a glass of Zinfandel, Danny his usual vodka gimlet. They were halfway through the meal when Danny casually mentioned he’d been looking at a place in Castro Valley.

Cindy didn’t exactly do a spit take, but that’s how she felt. “Castro Valley? Why?”

“It’s so much cheaper, Cin. And you’d love this place. It’s cute, old, cozy, lots of sun, the works. You could plant veggies in the backyard. We could have a place of our own.”

It wasn’t that Cindy was dead-set against moving out of Oakland. She was annoyed that Danny had taken things this far without involving her. They talked about it. “I wish you’d shared your thinking with me instead of taking it all on yourself and launching this—this breaking news on me at dinner.”

Danny was chagrined. “I’m sorry, Cin, I really am. You’re right; I should have.” He reached across the table and took her hand in his.

Cindy began to cry.

“Don’t cry, Cin. Please don’t.” But her tears flowed freely. Can I really have hurt her that badly by not telling her, Danny wondered. He was shocked, alarmed, confused. “Cindy, sweetheart, what is it? We don’t have to move. I promise. We’ll make it work in Oakland. How, I don’t know, but please, baby, don’t cry.”

She said nothing, only looked down at his hand holding hers, at the wine glass, the napkin, the plates and knives and forks, blurry through wet eyes; and she heard, distantly, the jazz over the speakers. The place was crowded and noisy. From behind them came raucous laughter. A server stopped to ask if everything was all right. Danny rubbed Cindy’s fingers with urgency. “Talk to me, Cin. Don’t freeze me out.”

Cindy looked up at him, at his kind, handsome face, she face she had kissed so often, and wanted to kiss again. He waited. Then she said, simply, her eyes flooding again: “I’m pregnant.”

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