“Hi Daddy.” Connor smiled at his daughter. For a second he’d thought she’d been sleeping.
He wheeled up to Eva’s bed and took her hand. His baby girl was suffering and he didn’t know how to fix it. He wanted to promise her that everything would be alright, like he used to when she was younger but he couldn’t. They both knew it wouldn’t be alright. This hurt would take a long time to heal and she would never forget.
His little princess took things to heart. Even as a child, she would hold on to her anger or fear for longer than was healthy. She was a lot like her mother that way.
He smiled at her. “Hey sweetie. How are you feeling?”
“I’m in a little pain but nothing too bad. How are you?”
“I’m doing okay. PT is going well.”
Eva squeezed his hand, “Daddy, can I ask you a question?”
“You and mom; is everything really okay? Are you happy?”
“It’s rough sometimes. Your mother is just like you, she holds on to things too tightly. But I think we’re in a good place.”
“Dad, I know what happened to you was because of Michelle but I need to know. Were you never tempted? Mom is so cold sometimes. Now before you argue with me, I’m not saying she doesn’t love you, I’m just saying she’s not very good at showing her feelings.”
Connor sighed, he’d known this was coming and was surprised it had taken her this long to confront him. “Your mother and I had a rough start after we got married. There were some misunderstandings, which we now know were because of Michelle’s father; and also some disagreements about what was best for you children. We were very young. No matter how prepared you think you are or how long you’re with someone before, once you’re married, it’s a completely different ballgame. When she was pregnant with you, we were separated for a little while. I didn’t know otherwise I would have never let it happen. It was the worst mistake I’ve ever made. I left her alone after I promised to be there, to love and protect her. I broke her trust in a vital, irreparable way.”
Just thinking about that time in his marriage was hard and that was almost thirty years ago. He’d been such a fool back then. He took a deep breath, remembering.
“I made a promise to her, to her father, and to myself. I said I would never hurt her like that again. I’d done it once and I swore I would never let it happen again. But I did. Even if it wasn’t all my fault, I still have to own that. I don’t deserve your mother, Eva. She is the best thing that’s ever happened to me. When I was in that coma, you know what I kept thinking? I can’t leave her again. I can’t hurt her again. I will not break my promise again.” Connor closed his eyes and took a deep breath, “I love your mother Eva; I am in love with your mother, my wife, my mate. It’s that simple. Everything else is just filler.”
He looked into his daughter’s eyes and saw understanding. She knew what he meant because she loved someone like that too.
“Hey.” Matt walked into the hospital room and pulled a chair over to Eva’s bed.
“Hi. Did my parents get home okay? Is Alistair settled in?”
He brushed a strand of hair away from her face. “Yeah. Everyone is safe and sound. Anthony and Riley are still in the waiting room. Do you need anything?”
She shook her head before closing her eyes. She wasn’t asleep though and he wanted to crawl into that bed with her and just hold her. The last two days had been the worst in his life. She’d had a long, painful delivery even with pain killers. And all they got for their trouble was a stillborn baby. He’d held his son for the first and last time early that morning. Eva had named him Steven Thomas. He’d been touched that she’d given the child his grandfather’s name. Once the nurses took him away, her family had come in to see her.
It wasn’t until he was pushed out of the room as they sewed her up that the emotions flooded him. He felt such rage and sadness. He should have been there for her. It should have been his face she saw first thing when she woke up in that hospital bed. He should have been there to receive the news with her. Not her mother, him!
This was the first chance Matt had to be with her without someone else around. He didn’t know what to say.
“How long are you planning on staying here?”
He looked down at Eva to find her staring up at him. “Until they release you. I want – I need to make sure you’re okay.”
“I’m fine Matias; you don’t need to be here anymore, although I appreciate you staying through the labor. I know that couldn’t have been easy for you.” Eva fiddled with the blanket, looking away from him.
Easy for him? It was a cakewalk compared to what she must be going through. He was starting to worry actually. She hadn’t cried, not even when they gave her the baby to hold. “Eva…”
“No, honestly. Thank you, I know you’re probably in enough trouble as it is. I don’t want to be the cause of any tension between you and your…” She shrugged.
Matias shook his head, confused. “You’re not causing anything. There’s nowhere else I’d rather be.”
She looked at him, defiant now. “Your girlfriend won’t be upset that you’ve been with me for two whole days? Yeah I’m in the hospital, but still!”
“Eva, I don’t have a girlfriend. How could you think I’d be able to move on after being with you? What woman would be okay with me calling you every day and leaving messages that end in ‘I love you’?” He chuckled a bit. “Why would you even think that?”
“I saw a show with you on the red carpet with a very beautiful woman. I just assumed you were dating her.”
He frowned again. “I don’t know what show you’re talking about, but no, I’m not dating anyone. No one but you anyway.”
“Matt, stop. You and I both know that whatever we had is done. I can’t be with you. Not now, not after your sister and now the baby. He was the one thing we had linking us and now he – ” She cleared her throat and looked away again.
Deciding to hell with hospital rules, Matt walked to the other side of the bed and crawled in. Eva started to protest but he hushed her. “I just want to hold you. I’ve wanted to do that since I walked into the room. I promise I won’t jostle you, just…let me hold you for a bit.”
He drew her closer to him and wrapped his arms around her body. He knew she was only allowing this because she was feeling vulnerable. The moment she felt okay, he was sure she’d start to push him away again.
“Eva, I am so sorry. I really wanted to have this baby with you.” He didn’t know why he said that but he meant every word. He didn’t realize it until he felt her trembling but Eva had started to cry. Finally.
Matt walked into the house and knew instantly that something was wrong. Ichabod came up to greet him and after scratching the cat between the ears he asked, “Where is your mommy, where’s Eva?”
The cat made a beeline for the back door and Matt followed. Icky jumped on the ledge of the window and looked out, swishing his tail back and forth. When Matias looked, he saw nothing at first but then a figure moved and he saw her, crumpled to the ground. “Shit.”
Patting the cat again in gratitude, Matt opened the door and made his way straight to Eva. As if she sensed his presence, she raised a tear-stained face in his direction.
“Hey,” he said softly. It had been two months since the baby died and Connor was right, Eva wasn’t taking it well. She cried all the time, wouldn’t get out of bed most mornings and only ate if Matt forced the issue. He’d taken charge of feeding the cat, paying the bills and keeping her up-to-date about her son. Alistair was staying with his father for the time being. If Eva wasn’t well by the time school let out, he was going to The Falls to stay with his grandparents for the summer. And by the look of things, that’s where they were headed.
“I’m sorry, I wanted some fresh air but when I got here I just – I don’t know. I thought I heard him crying and I looked but I couldn’t find him.” She turned frantic eyes to him. “I can’t find our baby, Matt. I’m so sorry. I must have lost him and I – ”
“Shhh. It’s okay, Eva.” He pulled her into his body and wrapped his arms around her. “It will be okay. Shhh.”
“He warned me.” She muttered.
“Who warned you?”
“Alistair. He tried to get me to stay in The Falls, but I didn’t listen. I thought he just didn’t want to go back to school. He even wanted me to go visit Tony. I told him we’d go in the summer. He tried to warn me…”
“Eva, there was nothing you could do. Do you hear me? Sometimes, these things just happen.” He pulled away a bit so he could see her face. “You have to stop blaming yourself. It was not your fault.”
She looked away. “Wasn’t it, though? All I had to do was carry to term.”
She pulled away, picked up a piece of paper off the ground, and handed it to him. “My test results came back.”
Matt didn’t like the way she was acting or the emotions coming from her. That piece of paper was going to change their lives; he could feel. “What does it say?”
“Read it.” She thrust the paper at him again and he finally took it from her.
He scanned the writing quickly, reading the results. Her blood levels were good, she was healthy. This was a good thing. “I don’t understand. These are good.” He glanced up at her.
Matt read the last paragraph and then read it again. He felt like he’d been punched in the gut. “Eva.”
“Don’t.” She walked away, back into the house without another word.
Folding the paper and tucking it into his jeans, Matt followed her back inside. “Eva.”
“I said don’t. I don’t want to hear it.”
“We need to talk about this. It can mean anything.”
“It means there’s something wrong with my womb. I can feel it. I thought at first it was just because he died inside my body but it’s more than that. Something in me is broken. I – I’m broken.”
“You are not. There is nothing wrong with you. Whatever this is, we’ll fix it.”
“No. Not this. You can’t fix this. I wish you would just go away and leave me alone.” She narrowed her eyes and stalked up to him. “Why are you even here?”
“No, seriously. Don’t you have anything better to do? What’s today’s date? I haven’t seen you go to work since we came back.” She tilted her head at him, curious now. “Did Brian fire you?”
“No. I quit.”
“I’m sure.” She turned around and headed into the living room. “So you’re unemployed and you thought what? I’d let you freeload off me?”
Matt was feeling a bit irritated now. She could be so frustrating sometimes. “Eva, I’ve been taking care of you and your son for the last two months. You won’t eat, you barely get out of bed and you cry, all the time. How -”
He didn’t get to finish his sentence because his voice was gone. He cleared his throat and tried again but nothing would come out. For a split second, he panicked but one look at Eva and he knew she must have done this. He calmed himself down and just waited. She didn’t want him to speak, fine. He reached out, pulled her into his body, and kissed her instead.
She pushed against him but with her diet for the last two months consisting of scrambled eggs and milk, she wasn’t strong enough to stop him. He sent soothing thoughts and emotions to her and was astounded at how fragile her psyche was. She soon stopped struggling and wrapped her arms around his neck, moving in closer. Her magic latched on to his and pulled. It demanded to be fed and he obliged. She could take everything he had and still he would give to her.
He lifted her and headed for the stairs. By the time he placed her down on her bed, he was short of breath. She was still siphoning his energy. He took a step away from the bed, the loss of direct contact lessening the effect she was having on him. “Eva, you have to stop. Otherwise, I’ll be no good to you at all.”
She didn’t seem to hear him. Her eyes were glassy and she was breathing hard. When the pull of her magic didn’t stop, he staggered back to the bed and placed a hand on her shoulder. He would take a bit of the stolen energy back or he really would be useless.
The moment that connection was made, her emotions flooded his consciousness. She wanted him but she was also hurting, terribly. He leaned down and kissed her, trying to give her a bit of comfort. She latched on to his lips, sitting up and beginning to undress him. A part of him knew his magic was partly responsible for this sense of urgency in her. She was feeling his emotions, just as he was feeling hers.
They were stripped down in record time and when she pulled him down on top of her body, he went willingly. Her eyes were closed and she was writhing underneath him. His hands and lips touched every inch of her skin he could reach without breaking his connection to her.
All the while, energy flowed back and forth between them. It was like hundreds of different versions of himself were making love to hundreds of versions of her. Each touch of their lips, each moan, each inhale was magnified over and over and over again. It was erotic, it was breathtaking, it was humbling. Witches rarely let a connection like this happen. It left them too vulnerable to the other person, too open. You couldn’t hide a single emotion from each other. He was grateful for it now; he needed to feel that closeness with her, that bond. Matt wondered if she even realized what she was doing.
Soon, rising and falling chests were the only movements in the room. He eventually moved off her body and spooned behind her, pulling her into his arms. Looking down at her, he realized that for the first time in two months, she was sleeping soundly. He kissed her once and closed his eyes, soon falling into a deep sleep himself.
“What you did is equivalent to rape, Matias. That is not okay.”
The next morning, Matt had woken up with Eva in his arms, feeling better than he had in months. He’d been a little wary though, knowing she’d be angry, but accusing him of rape? He was horrified, he was not a rapist and he would never do something like that. “I did not force you to have sex with me. Don’t you dare accuse me of something like that.”
He rose out of bed and backed away from her. He didn’t want to but his natural reaction was to reject that accusation, verbally, emotionally and physically.
“I don’t know a thing about you,” she said softly, barely above a whisper. It was like she couldn’t even muster up the energy to get truly upset. She bent her right leg and crossed her arms over her naked breasts, covering herself from him. That little rejection made everything she said ten times worse.
He stiffened. “Clearly.”
“Your kind takes away a person’s ability to say no. You steal their will away. How can you think that’s okay in any circumstance? Evil is bad that thinks it’s good, Matt.” She turned away, refusing to look at him anymore.
Matt walked to the bathroom door. He stopped and without turning back to her, said, “I’ve seen evil, Eva and I’ve spent most of my adult life trying not to be like him.”
As he entered the bathroom and turned the shower on, he heard her start to cry. He felt every tear she shed and couldn’t help crying too.