Warning: Some language.
He called almost every day. She thought about blocking his phone calls but she liked to listen to the messages at night before she went to bed. Even as angry and as hurt as she was, she couldn’t deny herself the comfort of his voice. She’d lived with this man for over a year, had shared her life with him, loved him – was carrying his child. Those feelings didn’t go away overnight. She just wasn’t ready to talk to him.
Her mother had told her what Matt had done, how he’d given Brian the information he’d needed to find Michelle. She’d confessed to trying to kill Connor for revenge. It all made sense. No wonder Matt had never wanted to talk about his family. They were mercenaries, ruining people’s lives for money. A part of her wanted to lump him in with his father and sister, but she couldn’t. That wasn’t the man she knew. It wasn’t the man she was getting to know with every voicemail.
She looked at her phone and listened to the latest message.
When I was very young, maybe three or four, we lived in Polu Makani Moku, which is a set of islands, similar to Isla Paradiso. My sister and I would dress up and play all day while our parents did whatever they did during the day. Children don’t ever really pay attention to things like that. It is the last really happy memory that I have. That was also the first time I saw my mother cry. My father had been away and when he came back, he was sick for a very long time. That was the first time he tried to break-up your parents, Eva. And for that, I am sorry.
Until next time, fıstığım.
The voicemail ended there. She played it one more time before saving it with the others. He called and left messages telling her about his childhood. He was sharing with her now, all the things he’d been keeping from her for the last two years. It made her angry and sad but it also made her feel closer to him. He also ended each message with, Until next time and a different term of endearment. This one meant ‘my pistachio.’
Deciding not to think about it anymore, she got ready for bed. Rubbing her belly, she spoke to the child growing in her womb. “I can’t promise we’ll be together, but your daddy is a good man.”
She was finally starting to show. Glancing at her attire, she smiled a little. She’d had to dig through piles of boxes to find this coat. Alistair was born in January so she’d just missed the mummifying experience of being pregnant in the winter. The coat and a few sweaters were the only maternity clothes she owned for the cold season and so she was going shopping.
As she headed to the door, her phone started to ring. With her heart beating faster, she picked up. “Hello?”
“Hello Eva. Is now a good time to talk?”
Frowning and cursing herself for not checking who it was before picking up, she said, “Hi Glasgow. How are you?”
She and her ex made a conscious effort to stay cordial for Al’s sake. However, she couldn’t ignore the hateful vibes she got off the man when she saw him. She blamed her lack of practice for not detecting it while they were together because that kind of anger and negativity didn’t bloom overnight. Something like that took years to fester and become as malevolent as Glasgow’s emotions were. If she thought for a second that those feelings were aimed towards anyone but herself, there would be no force on earth that would allow him access to her son. But so far, Glasgow seemed to just hate her.
“I’m well. Thank you for asking. I was hoping we could have dinner tomorrow night. I made reservations at that local restaurant you like.”
Eva was surprised at the invite, but she wasn’t surprised that he’d taken her acceptance as a given before even asking. “That’s nice of you Glasgow but tomorrow won’t work for me. Is this something we can take about over the phone?”
“I’m sure we could Eva, however it’s about Alistair and I rather not.” She could hear the fake smile on his face through the phone. The snake.
“It’s about Al?” What about Al? “I guess I can move some appointments around.”
In truth, she had nothing pressing for tomorrow night; she just didn’t want to spend time with him unless she absolutely had to.
“Good. I’ll see you tomorrow at 6.” Then he hung up.
She sat across from Glasgow, fuming. How dare he question her about her relationship with Matias! “I don’t see how any of this is any of your business anymore.”
Dinner had started out well enough. He’d asked about her pregnancy – Al had told him; he’d talked about his concern for Alistair and his “odd behavior.” She’d ducked that question. He still didn’t know she was a witch and she had told Alistair not to tell his father. It was their little secret. Then he’d started about the real reason he’d brought her here, his bid for governor. And he’d gone directly in for the kill.
“Well, you’re not married and according to Alistair, Matias isn’t living with you anymore and it’s affecting our son emotionally. So yes, it is my business.” He crossed his arms and glared at her.
“Whether or not I’m with Matt is my concern. You shouldn’t ask Alistair questions about me and Matt, he’s only 8!”
“I need to make sure that your, lifestyle, doesn’t rub off on him.”
“My lifestyle? What the hell does that mean?”
“Keep your voice down!” He looked around to make sure no one was paying attention to their very loud argument. “You sleep around with men and get pregnant. I don’t want Alistair to grow up thinking that it’s okay to be a slut like his mother.”
Eva narrowed her eyes at him. “Glasgow, I am warning you. I am this close to smacking the shit out of you.”
“Eva, I forgave you for sleeping with that man while you were pregnant with my son, I forgave you that silly tattoo. I am a very patient man but I will not let my son grow up thinking it’s okay to sleep around. You deciding to break up our engagement was one thing but to get yourself knocked up again and still not be married? That’s unacceptable. How does it look that my ex can’t seem to keep her legs closed?”
She started to shake and rose from her seat. “Fuck you, Glasgow.”
“Sit down Eva. You’re making a scene. And keep it together, your hair is changing.”
“A scene? You want to see a scene? She reached over the table and slapped him. “There’s your damn scene.”
As she walked out of the restaurant, she could feel the anger start to consume her. She just couldn’t believe the nerve of that asshole. Hailing a cab, she got in and closed her eyes. Why did she have such terrible taste in men? As the tears began to slide down her face, it felt like her heart was breaking. She reached for her phone, needing desperately to hear Matias’s voice. She checked her missed calls, hoping to have one from him.
Nothing. He hadn’t called her today at all.
“We should go visit Uncle Tony.”
Eva glanced at her son before turning her attention back to the road. “What sweetie? Uncle Tony is still in the Falls.”
“We should have stayed in The Falls.”
“Al, you know you have to go to school, you’ve missed too much already. We can go see him in the summer.”
Alistair didn’t respond and when Eva glanced at him again, he was looking out the window. Her son had been despondent since they got back. But he wouldn’t talk about it.
The rest of the trip passed quietly, Alistair’s mood remaining pensive. They were a block away from Glasgow’s house when Al asked, “when does Matt get back?”
Eva sighed. This was the moment she’d been dreading. Having to tell her son that yet again, a man he depended on had left them. “I don’t know sweetie. I don’t know.”
Eva flipped channels randomly, looking for something good to watch on the television. She was feeling depressed and Glasgow had Alistair for the weekend. She and her son had a good long conversation about what daddy could and could not ask him. He wasn’t to lie but he should feel okay telling Glasgow if he didn’t want to talk about certain things.
Alistair had seemed relieved after their talk and it made Eva feel terrible that he’d been walking around with that kind of tension. Promising to make him some angel food cake when he came home, she’d dropped him off and returned home. Matias hadn’t called her for four days and she was feeling incredibly lonely. She’d listened to his last voicemail a dozen times already, just to hear his voice. Pistachio was quickly becoming her favorite word.
As she turned to a gossip network, a familiar face caught her attention. It was Matt. She took the TV off mute and listened as the announcer talked about uGenex’s annual fundraiser and about Matias King and his lovely date, Jill Thomas. No wonder he hasn’t called, she thought to herself. She looked down at the phone she took everywhere with her.
She opened her voicemail and proceeded to delete the twenty saved messages from him. Glasgow had made a very good point. She had done this to herself and she had no one else to blame. At least she knew she didn’t need Matt’s support with this pregnancy. She could do it herself, just like before. She watched as Matt and the woman smiled and greeted people. She forced herself to watch as he moved on with his life.
Eva stood in front of her canvas and sketched the nude models in front of her. When a Mr. Gerard had called asking if she’d changed her mind about doing erotic work, she’d agreed. It really wasn’t her style of work but she hadn’t felt inspired to do anything remotely artistic and hoped this would jump-start her creative juices, so to speak.
She was so engrossed in what she was doing, she didn’t realize someone else was in the room until she was grabbed by her arm and whipped around. “What the hell!” she yelled.
“This is what you do all day? Paint pictures of naked men and woman? And you have the audacity to get offended when I call you a slut?”
She was staring into the furious face of Glasgow. As he raged on, she dimly wondered how he’d managed to get into the building. It was a Sunday evening and no one else was supposed to be around. She was sure she’d locked all the doors. “Let go of me. That hurts.”
Glasgow laughed and shook her violently. “That hurts? You think that hurts?” He let go of her but instead of moving away he lifted his arm and slapped her across the face so hard that she fell on the floor. “I’ll make sure to tell child protective services that Alistair’s mother is a whore who likes to get smacked around. I’m sure they’ll love that.”
Between the ringing in her ears and her blurred vision, she didn’t know exactly what happened next, she just knew that one minute there was shouting, a sharp searing pain on the side of her face and next thing there was a loud explosion, and the room was plunged into darkness. At the same time she felt a great rush of energy exit her body and she was doubling over in unbearable pain.
Through teary eyes, she noticed a couch catch fire. It rapidly spread, consuming the wall behind it, the rug and everything near it. It was like it had a mind of its own. She gasped in pain. Something was wrong. She looked down her body and saw she was lying in a pool of blood. It was spreading as fast as the fire was. The young man she’d been sketching was suddenly in her face, saying something but she couldn’t hear him. She couldn’t hear anything at all.
When she came to, she was in a hospital room. Looking over, she saw her mother napping on a couch. “Mom?”
Rae shot up and looked around before her eyes settled on Eva. For a moment, they looked at each other, understanding in both their eyes. Eva knew her mother had spent too many days sleeping on uncomfortable couches while Connor was in his coma. Now here she was for yet another member of her family.
“Hey sweetie. How are you feeling?”
“I’m okay. How long have I been sleeping?”
“Four days. Eva, I don’t know how…”
The moment her mother started speaking, she’d felt it. Anger, pain, sadness. “What is it?”
Rae came over and sat on the bed beside Eva. “Oh my love. It’s the baby. You loss so much blood. He didn’t make it.”
“What? No. That’s not right, he’s still…” She pressed her hands against her stomach. Her mother was wrong, her baby was fine. She could still feel him. She waited to feel that second, fast heartbeat. Frowning, she pressed a little harder. Where is it?
She looked up at her mother and was pulled into a hug. “I am so, so sorry, Eva.”
Three hours later, Dr. Cade came into the room. “Hello Eva. Mrs. London.”
Eva turned blank eyes towards her doctor. Her baby was gone. Her son was gone. If her mother had left her alone at least once in the last few hours, Eva would have curled up and died. But Rae had stayed with her all day. Making casual conversation, holding her, keeping her grounded.
“Eva, I know this is a bad time but I don’t think there will ever be a good time to do this. The fetus needs to be removed from your womb. I want to schedule surgery right away. If that’s okay with you.”
“Wait, she has to have surgery for that?” Rae asked, a look of concern on her face.
“Unfortunately, yes. She’s too far along for a regular termination. It’s either surgery or she goes through labor.” Dr. Cade looked at Eva with sympathy in her eyes. “Surgery is quick and less painful than going through induced labor.”
“I want the induced labor,” Eva said.
Rae looked at Eva. “Eva, sweetie, think about this for a minute.”
“No. I want to delivery my baby. I don’t want quick and easy.”
Dr. Cade nodded and turned to leave but Rae stopped her. “I would feel more comfortable if this was done at uGenex’s medical wing.”
“Mrs. London, I assure you that our facilities are well equipped to handle a procedure like this.”
“That may be, but I would feel better if it was done at uGenex. If you need help with the paperwork, I can get my assistant on the phone and she can help you with whatever you need.”
Margaret Cade nodded once more and left the two women alone.
“You’ll get through this my love. I’ll be right here with you through all of it.” Rae kissed the top of Eva’s head, trying to comfort her.
Eva closed her eyes, unable to look at her mother. She knew what Rae was not saying. She would be there for Eva because no one else was.
Eva was flown in by helicopter to uGenex. The facility was more research and school than a hospital, but some of the world’s best doctors worked there. She could see why her mother would want any procedure done there. But it wasn’t until they landed that she realized where she was. Matt worked here. She was momentarily jarred from her stupor at this thought. “Mom?”
“Matt is here.”
“Right now?” Her mother made a show of looking around, but Eva wasn’t fooled.
A nurse handed her mother some paperwork. “Hmmm?”
“Don’t tell him.”
“Don’t tell who, what?”
Eva gave up. She didn’t have the energy to fight over this. She just wanted to have this baby so she could go home.
They wheeled her into a room and helped her get into bed. Another nurse came in and gave her a series of injections, explaining, “This will induce labor, this is to help you dilate and this is for the pain.”
Eva just nodded and watched as the clear liquids entered her arm. She just wanted this to be over. Would they let her hold him, even for a little while?
“You know,” her mother said, “if Matt is here, perhaps you should call him and let him know – ”
“No. Absolutely not.” Eva did not want Matt to see her like this. She wouldn’t be able to keep it together if he showed up now.
Matias debated whether he should call in sick. He just wasn’t in the mood to sit around and talk to people. He checked his phone for the 5th time. Yeah, definitely a sick day. He started to dial his assistant’s number when his phone rang. It was his mother. “Hey mom.”
“Hello Matias.” Uh oh.
“What did I do wrong?”
“You told them where your sister was? How could you betray her like that!”
Matt closed his eyes and sighed. He knew this was coming. “I didn’t have a choice. Brian Gates is a vampire. He would have known if I was lying and Michelle deserves to get caught. She tried to kill Eva’s father. You can’t possibly condone that?”
“She is my daughter and loving someone unconditionally means you look past the bad.”
“Mom, I love Eva. I couldn’t let her father die. What if the roles were reversed and it was dad in that coma? Wouldn’t you want someone to help save him?” His mother was silent on the other end of the line. “Mom, you still there?”
She sighed, “Yes. I get where you’re coming from Matt, I really do, but your sister needs your help. Will you come to Dragon Valley with your father and me?”
“No. I can’t get any more involved. I’m trying to get her back mom. Michelle is evil, twisted. I can’t put myself out there for her anymore.”
“Do you love this girl so much that you’re willing to turn your back on your family, Matias?”
His mother didn’t sound angry, simply curious. So he was honest with her and himself. “Yes mom. If I had to choose between her and Michelle, I’d choose her.”
“Not just Michelle but all of us. Would you choose her over me?”
His heart started to beat fast, was she asking him to choose? “Mom, please don’t ask me to make that decision. I don’t want to lose you.”
“I think you just gave me your answer, Matt. I don’t say this to be cruel, you must have known it was coming. If you turn your back on Michelle, you turn your back on your father. And I love him too much to ever leave.”
He heard his mother start to sniffle. “Sometimes we have to make tough decisions, my love. If it comes down to it, always go with your heart and know that I will love you until the day I die.”
She hung up and Matt was left speechless. He should have seen this coming, but he hadn’t wanted to admit it to himself. His father was not a forgiving man, as shown by his long hatred of the Londons. Jaime King would not understand Matt’s position. Even if he wanted to, Matt doubted his father was lucid enough to care.
Matt placed his thank you letter in the top drawer and stood from his assistant’s desk. Today was his last day at uGenex. After speaking to his mother a month ago, he’d found it hard to concentrate on work. He felt uncomfortable working for a vampire, especially one that had a hand in capturing his sister. So he’d quit. The annual fundraiser had been his last mandatory event. His friend Jill, there to accept a humanitarian award, had agreed to go with him.
He was just at work packing up a few of his things and then he would head to Beach City. Before thanksgiving, he’d put in an offer on a house and he had to sign some paperwork. Eva had disconnected her phone number and he hoped living in the same town, they might bump into each other. He knew how much she hated people just showing up at her place.
His turned to see Rae Rose London standing in the doorway. “I just though you should know that Eva is in the medical wing, if you’d like to see her.”
Matt looked at Eva’s mother in surprise. “Mrs. London, I…”
“Just thought you’d like to know.” She turned to walk out the door but Matt stopped her.
“Mrs. London, can I just say how incredibly sorry I am for what my family did to you? I know this doesn’t justify my sister’s actions, but she isn’t well, hasn’t been for a long time. I am deeply sorry -”
Rae cut him off, “Connor is doing better, what’s done is done and I don’t blame you, Matias. I can’t say the same about your sister or your father, but their bad decisions should not be placed on your shoulders. At least that’s what my husband says.” She smiled at him and walked out the door.
He sat and thought about Rae Rose’s words to him and felt a weight lift off his chest. What his family had done to hers was terrible and he was amazed that she could forgive him. Then her earlier words hit him. Eva was in the medical wing. Why?
Matt made his way down to the medical center as fast as he could and was told Eva was in labor. He froze for a second. No, that wasn’t right. It was way too early for that. He walked quickly to delivery and was met by her father.
He stopped up short, shocked to be face to face with Connor. But Connor just gave him a puzzled look and looked past him to the nurse’s station. Right. He had no idea who Matias was. He started to walk towards Connor, to introduce and explain himself when he heard his name.
He was soon tackled by Alistair and he bent down to hug the boy. “Hey big man. Are you okay?”
Alistair wrapped his small arms around Matt’s neck and shook his head. “No. Mom’s in a lot of pain.”
Matt stiffened. “Have you seen her?”
“No. I can feel her though. I don’t like hospitals, Matt.”
“I don’t either, kiddo. Maybe we can find someone to take you home.” He heard someone clear their throat and lifting Alistair up into his arms, he turned around to see sharp golden eyes staring up at him.
“Matias King, I presume?”
“Yes, sir.” Matt looked down at Connor in his wheelchair and felt a wave of guilt. His sister did this to this man. How would he fix this?
“I’m glad you’re here. She needs someone to help her.”
Matt didn’t have to ask who he was talking about, he knew. He was just surprised Connor was talking to him at all. “Have you seen her? Is she doing okay?”
Connor looked away and Matt knew – he just knew something bad had happened to the baby. “He didn’t make it. Died in the womb.”
Matt put Alistair down and walked over to a chair. Sitting down heavily, he placed his head in his hands. “Are you sure?”
“Then why -”
“She wanted to give birth. She was adamant about that. But she’s not strong enough to do this alone. I know my daughter and this…this is going to break her. She’ll need someone there to pick up the pieces and help her heal.”
Matt sighed. But would she let him?