Eva smiled as she watched Matt shower. Today was Alistair’s seventh birthday and Matt was taking him to a soccer game. She should’ve been getting ready herself, but she couldn’t pass up an opportunity like this.
She thought back to a year ago. She’d walked in on him taking a shower and had been embarrassed. She’d apologized and turned to walk out but Matt had laughed and jumped out of the shower, skin still glistening with soap. She’d been confused until he’d grabbed her by the waist and started to carry her into the water.
“Don’t you dare!” She made an awful racket, threatening him with all kinds of retribution but couldn’t help laugh too.
“But Eva, you looked so lonely out there…” He pressed a soft kiss to her lips and she forgot that she was supposed to be upset. They stood there, grinning at each other and while the water was still running over them, Matt whispered, “I love you.”
He hadn’t waited for a response from her, instead, he’d turned the water off, pulled her out of the shower and grabbed a few towels to dry her off and then himself. Another quick kiss and he was out of the bathroom and getting ready for his day. She’d wondered if he’d even realized what he’d said.
It took her another two months to say it back. In the middle of a silly argument about pasta sauce, she’d blurted out, “I love you.”
Matt had beamed and she’d known then that the countless “I love yous” he’d said to her since that first one had been real. He just knew not to push her for a reply before she was ready. It made her love him that much more.
She was pulled back to the present by the sound of the water cutting off. “Hand me that towel please.”
Eva looked up at Matt and smiled wickedly. Instead of doing as he asked, she grabbed the towel and turned to run. She made it three steps before she felt his magic reach out to her. Stay with me. He flooded her senses with suggestions of all the things they could do if she just stayed put.
Oh, he was good. But she was better! She smacked his suggestion down and sent him one. His groan behind her made her smile. She’d learned from the best growing up and although her magic had been slow in returning, at the end of the day she was stronger than him.
She was in the middle of her bedroom and turned around to find Matt standing right in front of her dresser. Naked. He looked simply delicious.
There was no way she was giving him the towel.
“Yes baby?” She crooned.
“See what you do to me Eva?”
Her eyes darted down his body and back to his face. She would not cave! “Was that a question Matias?”
He walked slowly towards her and she narrowed her eyes suspiciously. He was plotting – she could feel it. He was trying for subtlety now rather than overwhelming her senses. She liked these games; they were the main reason she got her magic under control so soon. Matt played with his magic constantly and he was always directing it at her and even Al. His type of magic only worked on other people, so this was a natural thing for him to do.
She’d been worried about him doing anything magic related to Alistair at first but it was small things, little suggestions that made Al laugh once he realized what was happening. It also was helping her son detect magic. Something she hadn’t even thought to teach him.
She snapped back to the present to realize that not only was Matt standing right in front of her but she’d also dropped the towel. The sneaky little…he’d distracted her with memories of him and her son!
“I win Eva.”
She smiled and lifted her now empty hands to his chest. She could admit defeat. “Yes Matias.”
He leaned down and kissed her, pulling her into his body and reminding her just how naked he was. “We have maybe twenty minutes.”
Eva gave him her best dramatic sigh. “It will have to do, I guess.”
She was getting dressed when she heard Alistair moving around out in the hall. Matt walked up behind her and softly kissed her neck. “I’ll go make breakfast.”
She smiled up at him and nodded. He was such a good man. She watched as he headed towards the doorway. “Matt?”
“Yeah?” He turned to look at her with a smile.
She grinned back. “I love you.”
And there it was, that megawatt smile. No matter how many times she said the words, he still looked like it was the first time he was hearing them. “I love you too Eva.”
“What is it?” Alistair stared at the covered oblong shape at his feet.
“Don’t just stare at it, open it!” Riley Sawyer said to him and Eva couldn’t stop herself from laughing. Her son wasn’t big on surprises.
They watched as he tore the wrapping apart. “It’s a skateboard, but without any wheels. Uh, thanks Uncle Tony…”
“It’s a hoverboard. You don’t need any wheels.”
Al looked up and frowned. “Like from that movie about the kid who goes back in time to save his parents?”
Eva smiled and ruffled his hair. Her son loved old movies. “Yes, Al. Just like that, only better because this one actually works.”
He stared at the gift for a while longer and then smiled up at the adults. “Cool.”
Eva watched as he ran into the backyard, yelling, “I’m going to play with it now!”
“Helmet!” She yelled back. Turning towards her brother and Riley, she beamed. “Thanks for coming you two. He clearly loves his gift.”
“We’re just glad we could make it,” Riley said. He nudged Tony, who seemed to be deep in thought.
“Yes, me too. But he should really read the manual -” They heard a loud crash and Tony sighed. “I’ll go check on him.”
When he was gone, she turned to Riley. “So you and my brother…work together now?”
“Yes.” Riley smiled at her, full-blown dimple action. He really was a cutie.
“How’d that happen?” Last she’d seen Riley he was working in the art world.
“I went to school for mechanical engineering and infrastructure. I like to build things. It just felt right to work with Tony. Like we did as kids.”
“Doesn’t hurt that you like him.”
“He’s my best friend. Of course I like him.” Riley stared at her blankly.
She let that one slide. It wasn’t any of her business. “So what are you working on now?”
“Oh you know, this and that.” Riley said, looking towards the door Tony had just walked through.
“Have you spoken to Dre?” She changed the subject. He wasn’t going to talk about his relationship with her brother or his work. It felt like a recurring theme in her life these days.
“Yeah. He’s on his way. Flying in from Appaloosa Plains.”
She watched Riley watch Tony. “Really? I didn’t know that. Why?”
“Cinder died a couple of weeks ago. Suicide. He went to the memorial.”
Eva wasn’t surprised. Cinder was a sweet girl but after what happened to her a couple of years ago and her family being the way they were… “I’m sorry to hear that, poor Dre.”
“I know. I just hope he copes well with it. You know how he can get.” Riley patted Eva on the shoulder and excused himself to go check on Tony.
Eva looked around for Matt and found him in the kitchen, Ichabod in his hands. “What are you doing to my cat?”
Matt smiled at her. “He was begging, so I gave him a treat.”
“Hmmm, I want a treat.”
Matt leaned down and kissed her. “There. I hope you both are satisfied now.”
“Never!” She laughed and took the cat from him. Ichabod had latched on to Matt from day one. And her cat hated everyone. “Alright Icky, give mommy some love.”
The cat just stared at her. Figured.
Eva watched as Alistair took the shot. She clapped when the basketball went through the hoops, smiling as Matt and her son fist bumped. Al was going to try out for the school basketball team next term. He was way too young in her opinion, but he wanted to learn and Matt had offered to teach him. They’d been at this for a couple of hours and she was getting tired. Rolling the kinks out of her neck, she stood up. “Okay boys, time for bed!”
Both Al and Matt pouted, making her laugh but they obediently trudged back inside the house. Boys!
She got ready for bed herself and looked in on Alistair. He was reading a sports magazine and she sighed. Her son, the sports fanatic. She took the magazine from him and placed it on the bedside table. “Lights out, my love.”
“Are you going to marry him?”
Eva blinked at her son. “What?”
“You know, with the baby and all. My sister…” Al’s eyes started to droop and before Eva could ask him what he meant, he was fast asleep.
She sat on his bed, gazing at her son’s face for a long time before finally getting up and heading back to her bedroom. His sister?
She stared as Matt got ready for bed. Were they pregnant? It was definitely a possibility. It’s not like they were actively trying but they hadn’t done anything to prevent it from happening either. She pressed her hands to her stomach and waited. Finally, she felt it. A little furious heartbeat. She couldn’t be more than four weeks if it was that faint, how had Alistair known?
Matt noticed her in the doorway and asked, “Are you okay?”
Eva frowned but said nothing. Dear Goddess, I’m going to have his baby. She was just starting to panic when she felt a rush of calm course through her. She shook her head, “Stop that. Let me just…give me a minute without you…”
Matias immediately recalled his magic. Something was definitely wrong. He watched as Eva walked towards the bathroom and shut the door. He heard the water turn on but heard no other sounds. No crying, thank God. What he felt however, was a different story. She was panicking; fear, wonder, worry and excitement all were swirling around in her. He was not a very patient man but she’d asked him for some space and he could do that. Sitting on the linen chest by the wall, he waited for her to sort through whatever was going on in her head. When she was ready, she would tell him.
Meanwhile he thought of the conversation he’d had with his mother. She wanted to meet Eva but he wasn’t ready for that to happen yet. He still hadn’t told her the truth about his family, in fact, he’d dodged every question that even remotely had anything to do with his family. He sighed. He’d have to tell her and soon.
He waited an hour before the water shut off and Eva came out the bathroom in a billow of steam. She looked calmer, resolved but still, he felt a frisson of anxiety in her.
“Matias, remember our first date, when we talked about…” She stopped.
Matt sat and waited. He would let her struggle with her words. She needed to do this – whatever this was – on her own.
“Matt, I’m pregnant.”
He was stunned but not really surprised. It’s not like they’d tried not to have one.
“Say something,” Eva said quietly.
“I just, I need a minute.”
She looked disappointed but nodded. Grabbing his hand, she sat down beside him and waited. She was pregnant. They were going to have a baby. He said those words repeatedly in his head. Were they ready? Did it matter? Would she want to get married now? He had to tell her about his family now.
Was he ready?
She squeezed his hand as if she could hear his thoughts and wanted to reassure him.
“We’re having a baby.” He looked over at her and smiled. She needed him to be strong now and he could do that. Although he knew she could feel everything he was feeling.
“Yes. Is that okay?”
He frowned. Of course it was. “Yes Eva. It’s great news, I just need some time to process it that’s all.”
“I know. I just -”
“Just wish I was more excited?”
She shrugged. “Yeah.”
“I’m sorry Eva.”
“No, don’t apologize. It’s a lot to take in.”
He drew her on to his lap, needing to hold her close. “I love you.”
“I love you too.”
She was draped on top of the bed, watching as Matt got ready for bed. She’d gone to see Dr. Cade to confirm her pregnancy. It was a very déjà vu moment and it brought back memories of Alistair and that pregnancy. She’d left the doctor’s office feeling very melancholic. She was with a man she loved and who loved her back but she couldn’t shake the feeling that she was repeating past mistakes. Glasgow hadn’t been very excited about her pregnancy and she’d ended up going through that alone.
She would never admit it to Matt but his reaction had hurt her, deeply. They’d been together for almost two years now and here she was pregnant but no closer to getting married. What if he decided he wanted to get married now? It would be for all the wrong reasons. Would she say yes? Would they end up like her parents? He wouldn’t even open up about his own family.
“A penny for your thoughts.” Matias sat down next to her in bed.
She traced her finger along his right thigh, half-lost in thought. “I was thinking about my parents.”
“Yeah, what about them?”
“I don’t want to become like them, ever.”
Matt stood and climbed into bed. He dragged her with him and wrapped his arms around her. “Talk to me, love. You’ve been sad all day. What got you thinking about your parents?”
“I’m just worried, you know? I see the way we are, the path we’re on and I don’t know what I want my future to be. What if we have this baby and we realize we don’t want to be together anymore? Or maybe we get married but become bitter because this baby forced us into it? Will we end up fighting all the time or not speaking to each other completely?”
“But your parents are still together, aren’t they? I thought you told me that your dad was still devoted to your mom?”
She sighed. It was such a complicated story; she didn’t know where to start. “My mother and father never fight. In fact, I’ve only ever seen my mother truly angry once – when Anthony said that he was a ghost; and even then my dad immediately went to calm her down. I didn’t understand why couldn’t she get upset. Why did she always have to be in control? It began to feel like any overt show of emotion was bad. We didn’t fight, yell, nothing. At least not when she was around. When she wasn’t? Those were the best times; we were like wild animals let loose from our cages. Even daddy was different. When mom was there it was all about her; what she wanted to do, how she was feeling. He paid much more attention to us with her gone.
“I know it’s horrible to say, but we were happier when she was away. Except daddy. He hid it well, but late at night when he thought we were all asleep, he would sometimes sit in front of the fireplace and just brood. I think seeing him like that was my first real understanding that we were not normal. That our family dynamic was wrong. And I grew to hate her. Not for my sake, I was happy she wasn’t there; but for my dad. How could she leave knowing it made him miserable?”
Matt sighed. “When you’re a kid, you see and hear things that sometimes you misinterpret. If your father loves your mom as much as you say he does, then it makes sense he wouldn’t be happy that she was gone all the time. My father -” Matt stopped.
“What? How come you never talk about your family Matt?” Eva rose up and looked down at him. “What about your father?”
“My father is a hard man to love, Eva. He’s done some horrible things to innocent people for money and yet, my mother loves him. She’s spent all of my life taking care of him. When I was a child, I thought she was crazy to cater to him the way she does. I would find her crying when she thought she was alone. I thought she regretted staying with him. I blamed myself for not being big enough to help her. But I know now that she was crying for everything my sister and I missed out on. She loved him and she would do anything for him, the sadness was for us. At not being able to share the man she remembered with us.”
Eva leaned over and kissed Matt. He’d never opened up to her like that before, and she felt some of her doubt and anxiety fade away. If he was willing to talk about his family, his past with her, then they would be okay.
“Al, stay here while I go find grandpa, okay?” Eva waited until Alistair had sat down and opened his tablet to read. She turned around and gave the receptionist a smile of thanks. She wanted to surprise her dad and Matt had agreed to come with her back home for Thanksgiving.
She was in her second trimester now and was excited to tell her dad about the pregnancy. This would also be his first time meeting Matt. She made her way down the hall to his classroom, Matias trailing behind her. Her father should be done with his last class now.
She opened the classroom door and froze at the sight in front of her. “Daddy?”
When neither her father nor the woman he was kissing acknowledged her presence, Eva felt an uncontrollable surge of rage start to build up inside her. What the hell was going on?
She just stood there, staring at her father and the woman. It wasn’t until Matt said, “Michelle?” that Eva snapped out of her stupor. At the sound of Matt’s voice, Michelle turned to them, smiled and returned to kissing Connor. Eva saw red. Before she could stop herself, she was slamming the woman against a desk…with her magic. She felt the other woman’s magic rear up in defense almost immediately. She was a witch!
“You bitch!” She called on her magic again and it came, ready and eager to cause as much havoc as possible.
“Eva, stop. She’s my sister.” Matt stepped in front of her, grabbing her arms. Eva paused, confused. She watched as Matt ran over to the woman and it just made her angrier. She wanted to tell him to step aside; she wanted to scream her fury. Just as she’d called on her magic, so had he; and he was using it now, directing it at her. She could feel it pushing up against her, trying to calm her down, to soothe her. But she was stronger than him, she was stronger than all of them and she would crush the bitch. “Eva, please. Just stop and let me take her away.”
She looked into his eyes and knew she would do as he asked. It would kill what they’d managed to build in their relationship, because not being able to do some damage to that toxic waste of space he called his sister would be too much. But she would do it.
“Fine,” she said through gritted teeth. She hadn’t moved from the doorway and she stood there, watching him decide the best exit that would keep her as far away from him and his sister as possible. They looked at each and she saw that he understood. There would be no coming back from this. They were choosing their families. She closed her eyes, broke the connection and waited until they’d left before reopening them. She looked over at her father and burst into tears.
After a few minutes, she finally felt calm enough to approach her father. He was standing in the same spot he’d been in when she walked in. “How could you, daddy!”
He didn’t respond. Just continued to stand there, slumped against the wall.
“Dad?” Eva walked over to him. The moment she touched him, she felt it. Magic. She looked into her father’s eyes and saw that they were glazed over. She stared at him, horrified. He was under some sort of spell. That just made the rage come back, full force. “I’m going to get you home, daddy.”
She didn’t know how she managed it, but she was finally home with her father and Al. She was getting worried though, he should have snapped out of whatever spell that witch had placed on him by now, but he seemed to be getting worse.
Standing in the foyer of the house, she frowned and stared at her semi-comatose father. He was a werewolf; magic shouldn’t affect him like this. “Daddy?”
As she reached out to touch his arm, Connor sighed and then crumpled to the floor. Eva stood there for a split second before she screamed and knelt at her father’s side.
“Mommy?” Alistair said softly, coming from the kitchen at the sound of his mother screams.
“Call an ambulance Al. Now.”
The boy ran to do as instructed and Eva turned back to her father and started to cry.