I put Gabriella back in her crib. She was the last one fighting sleep, but luckily she didn’t wake her siblings. I look around the newly decorated nursery courtesy of Bynni, CeCe, and Nina. They all got together to redo the place as a surprise to me and Amari. Amari. I felt my anger surge at the thought of her still with him. It had been nearly 2 months since he took her. To make matters worse I had no idea where she was. The only communication made had been through Aric.
I left the nursery and headed to the empty master bedroom. Two months I’ve slept in that bed alone, worried, wondering. She hasn’t called or even written. She’s with him and I know exactly why she hasn’t called to talk to me. The thoughts that haunt me at night again start racing through my mind. She’s with him…she’s been with him. The longer she stayed gone, the more I doubted she’ll ever return. That man has always wanted her, and now he has her.
I remembered my change very well, the insatiable appetite…for all things. I tried to tell myself she was being held against her will, that he was holding her somewhere and keeping her from contacting her family, but that was becoming harder and harder to believe. Whatever they had together, it clouded her judgment and now she would be even more open to his influence. I needed out, I needed air; the thought of losing her to that bastard was suffocating me.
I was nervous as I stood looking out at the water. I hadn’t called to let anyone know I was coming. I was scared. Mulo brought me to the small beach not far from the house. I knew I couldn’t have him drive me home and this place was always good for a little escape. I could steady my nerves before heading home.
“Are you ready for this, Love?” he asked taking my hand.
I smiled and nodded. Taking a deep breath, I pulled away, preparing myself for what was to come. He’d protested me going home alone, but it was best he not be with me. Facing Marcus was going to be hard, but I needed to do it alone, it would hopefully be better that way.
With each step I took, my heart got heavier with the knowledge my marriage could end today. The door was locked, I had to ring the bell.
“Mom!” Finley cried as she threw her arms around me.
I hesitated a moment before hugging her back. I could hear the pulsing of her blood through her veins. The smell of it made my fangs lengthen involuntarily. I pressed my lips together tightly as I put my arms around her, hugging her in return tightly. I’d missed her.
“I didn’t know you were coming, Dad will be so happy to see you. Everyone will be…oh I have to make calls to let them know,” she said talking a mile a minute.
Being back home felt surreal. Finley pulled me upstairs continuing to chatter away.
“Dad, look!” she said when we got to the nursery.
Marcus held a small bundle in his arms. A lump caught in my throat as I saw one of the babies for the first time. My baby, our baby. I started to walk towards him, but stopped when he shot me a look.
“Did you know she was coming? Why didn’t you tell me I would have set up a welcome home party,” Finley continued, missing the tension that was filling the room.
“I didn’t know, your mother didn’t bother to contact anyone,” Marcus replied, keeping his eyes on me only briefly.
One of the other babies started to cry; I walked over and picked him up. My son. He was so small, but he was here, they all were.
“What is his name?” I asked turning towards where Finley was only to find her gone. Marcus finished his task of changing the baby’s diaper then started out of the room.
“Graham,” he said pausing in the doorway.
I was left alone holding my tiny baby. For the first time I looked around the room noticing it was different. I liked the new look. After getting Graham taken care of, I took a look at the other babies. I laughed seeing that we had three girls. Three girls and a boy…
“There’s four of them,” I said to the air. Mulo had told me about them, but seeing them now in person made it real.
“Yep, and man are they a handful. But you’ll be happy to know we’ve all pitched in to help Dad out since they came home,” Finley said, appearing out of nowhere. “Everyone will be here in about an hour; they were so excited to know you were home.”
I gave her a warm smile, it felt good to have someone excited to have me back. We went to her room to talk about everything I’d missed while gone. Things at school were going well. The principle had been reassigned and the guys that had attacked her and Zana were suspended. She said Marcus wanted to file assault charges, but she talked him out of it because she just wanted the whole thing to be behind her.
She also filled me in on the nursery redo, I couldn’t wait to see the girls to thank them for what they had done. I stayed in the room with Finley letting her talk and grill me on how I felt. We stayed there until I heard the doorbell ring.
I knew I’d have to face Marcus when I went down there and that thought terrified me. I tried to act like everything was okay. I smiled, I laughed, I hugged, and I noticed that my husband chose not to remain in the same room with me for long periods of time; in fact he spent most of his time upstairs in the nursery. I wasn’t the only one to notice, but no one said anything. Aric reminded me he was just a phone call away before he left. Cece convinced Finley to come home with her, so it was just me, Marcus and the babies.
I walked into the nursery as he was putting Gabby down. I picked up Gwen, changed her diaper and made sure she was fed while Marcus took care of Gracie. When he was done, he left the room while I tended to Graham. I stayed in the nursery for a while just watching them, and stalling. They were sleeping peacefully and I told them all how much I loved them and had missed them.
I entered the room expecting to find Marcus, only it was empty. I checked the boys’ old room, also empty. Did he leave? I heard faint grunts coming from downstairs, I followed the sound until I found him. He was in the gym, punching the bag with such force I was sure it was going to break.
His eyes glanced up and saw me, he swung again, the seam ripped, I turned to shield my eyes from the flying sand. A weight settled in my stomach. I knew this would be hard, I knew he would be angry, but I was unprepared for the level of hostility rolling off of him. Marcus moved past me without so much of a glance in my direction.
“Marcus, talk to me,” I pleaded.