So. First, let me apologize for the delay. My entire game became corrupted and I had to delete and re-install everything. That means everything needed to be recreated…. EVERYTHING. Which made me not happy. So, if the intro to this sounds abrupt, please take it for what it is – I needed to redo everything so I took some artistic license. Hope you enjoy!!
When we returned home, everything was gone. police tape roped everything off and the ground was a mess of discolored grass patches and the charred remains of what had been my house, my barn…
My mother was there seconds after we arrived, carrying Brayden. “Honey, we tried reaching you,” she called, rushing over to me. I took Brayden in my arms, holding him close and breathing in the scent of him. He was cooing gently in his baby way, tugging at my hair aimlessly.
My mother kept talking, saying something about arson, something about my brother possibly being at fault. The horses were gone – they had either burned in the barn fire, or they ran and somehow swam to the mainland.
“I don’t care,” I whimpered. All I needed was my son. All I cared about was him and, luckily, he was safe.
She kept talking, though. She said something about the insurance company and restoration and builders. I waved her off and took my son under one of the old oak trees, its trunk now blackened from the fire. Sergio came and sat with us silently, his hand on my knee. Shortly thereafter, my mother joined us. We sat there by the pond quietly, listening to the wind and watching the scorched earth.
I had my family. Everything else was secondary.
Days turned into weeks and weeks into months and then years. Three to be exact. We rebuilt on the scorched land – luckily my grandmother’s insurance policy was enough to ensure a design we wanted. It also helped put in a play area for Brayden and a larger garden for myself. I was too unsettled to build another barn and find new horses – the way that Bonnie and Clyde died was… unsettling.
My mother and Jeremie moved in with us to help take care of Brayden while I took care of the land. They had evidently become an item somewhere along the way and shared a bedroom – something that creeped me out a little, what with my mom being dead and all. But, different strokes for different folks.
Sergio and I were still happily married and Brayden was growing like a weed. Oh, and…
Turns out I was pregnant – again.
This pregnancy was already rough – much more so than my first. I was sick all the time, constantly running to the bathroom or having to nap due to a migraine. My mother began working in the garden for me so I could stay in and rest as much as possible. With a toddler, though… rest is a little hard to come by.
As my pregnancy went on, I noticed a change in Sergio. He seemed less attentive with Brayden. I had worried this might happen – that he might disregard his non-biological child now that he would be having one of his own. I tried to hint to him that he was being aloof with our first child – and I did consider Brayden ours, not just mine.
But, like a man, he didn’t get it.
We sat outside on our bedroom deck and watched the stars. I finally said it. “You love Brayden, right?”
“Of course,” he exclaimed, looking startled. “Why?”
I swallowed. “You’ve been less interested in helping with him. You seem… distant.”
He nodded, looking sad. “You’re right. I’m sorry. I’m just worried about… well, about everything. With Brayden, it’s been so simple. But with another child… what if the next one is like your brother? Could you…” he trailed off. “Could you… end it. End the child before it became like him?”
My eyes widened. I hadn’t even thought of that. Could the curse still be out there? Still be hunting for a descendant? “Sergio-“
“Because I couldn’t,” he admitted. “I couldn’t harm our child. I couldn’t let you do it. I just…” he put a hand on my belly. “I’m just scared what this might do.”
I forced a smile and shook my head. “It won’t happen, Sergio. It won’t.”
We forced ourselves to be cheerful the rest of the night, but I could tell neither of us was comforted.
The days flew by. My mother and I were slowly decorating the upper rooms of the house in between training Brayden, the little monkey, how to be a functioning young boy. He was quick and smart, but he lacked patience and motivation – a lot like his bio dad.
Sergio, however… he was definitely motivated. And Jasper was a bit of a voyeur.
The day before Brayden’s birthday, the labor pains started up. This time around, we were completely prepared with the overnight bag. We set out for the hospital, more than a little nervous about what faced us.
And what faced us was a beautiful, albeit large, daughter. She weighed thirteen pounds and seven ounces and was twenty-five inches in length. She had her dad’s eyes and a dusting of dark hair on her delicate head.
She was gorgeous. I cried when I held her and Sergio… he bawled like a baby.
Luckily I was able to get back home in time for Brayden’s birthday party. He was more interested in the cake than his new little sister.
I think I was still a little loopy from the painkillers – but I was pretty happy for both of my perfect children.
And cake. I was very happy for cake.
We named our daughter Ella and Ella was already the princess. Everything was pink or covered in lollipops or gumdrops. It was disgusting how cute everything was.
That night, Sergio and Brayden sat out on the playground and talked for hours. I wasn’t sure what it was they were talking about, but it warmed my heart to see them together. To see them bonding.
I sat under the awning off of the back porch, a gorgous touch thanks to my mom’s decorator’s eye. After a bit, Sergio came over to join me.
“What were you boys discussing?” I asked softly. Brayden streaked by, calling goodnight to us both as he ran into the house.
“Oh, the usual. Cars, girls, and booze,” he teased with a wink, settling back into one of the chairs.
“Oh lord, not so soon!” I exclaimed with a soft laugh.
He grinned. “I just wanted him to know I love him. That even though we’ll be busy with Ella, we’re here for him, too.”
I smiled softly, reaching out and taking his hand. “Thank you.”
He raised an eyebrow. “For?”
“For convincing me to marry you,” I laughed.