She woke up feeling groggy, as if she hadn’t slept at all. Suddenly, her heart rate spiked and sweat broke out on her forhead. Oh goddess, the images of her dream came back to her in a rush, and she started to hyperventilate. Just as she felt like her head would explode, strong arms wrapped around her.
“It’s just a bad dream sweetheart. Shhh, it’s only a bad dream.”
Eva sat up and rubbed at her eyes, trying to erase the images burned into her brain.
“What was it this time?” Matt sat up with her and stroked her back.
“I remember a fire. There was fire and blood everywhere but I don’t think any of it was mine, I think it was the baby’s blood. There was – there was a baby. I was holding him and everything was on fire. I couldn’t save him, Matt. I couldn’t and he was crying…”
“Okay, shhh. It was just a dream, Eva. Calm down,” he said. Eva looked up at him and was glad he’d decided to stay the night. She wasn’t sleeping well, not since they’d started therapy. Not since they’d started to talk about Steven. “Okay now?”
Afraid to speak in case she started to panic again, she shook her head and held on tighter.
“Alistair, you can’t take things so personally. You have to learn to control your emotions.”
“I can’t. I hate these powers.”
Matt looked at Eva. What could he say? He didn’t like what this was doing to the kid either. Alistair was coming home almost every day in tears or pissed off. When Eva asked him why, he would always say he didn’t know. Matt had done some research and learned that the kid was an empath, which was weird, since Eva was not. Her abilities focused solely on her own body, at least, most of the time. It was difficult to categorize her since she was a first gen witch. There was no family history to look up and the jinn that gave Rae Rose her powers was nowhere to be found.
Eva was an unknown and that made Matt ill prepared to deal with her prepubescent son. Yet here he was, dealing, because the boy had made a beeline for him the moment he walked through the front door. He’d been suspended for fighting in school and wouldn’t say a word to his teacher or the principal.
“Okay, how about you tell me what happened today?”
“Eden came to school today, super angry. He wouldn’t tell me what was wrong, so I-” Alistair looked up at his mother and stopped talking.
Sighing, Matt looked back at her too. “Could you give us a minute?” She arched an eyebrow and he felt just how unhappy she was with that request. “Please?”
“Fine,” she said, but then turned to the kid. “We will talk about this, you and I.”
Alistair looked back down and nodded. “Yes, ma’am.”
Half an hour later, Matt waked into Eva’s bedroom to find her sitting on the floor, sketching. She was still pissed. “Eva,” he began.
“I love you Matt.”
Err, that was not what he’d been expecting. A part of him was thrilled at hearing her say those words. She was slowly thawing out emotionally. And he knew it was thanks to the therapist they were seeing. But another part of him, the part that knew her, was suspicious.
“I know it’s been a while since I’ve said those words and I have no excuse for that.”
“But,” he said because he knew it was coming.
She stood up, putting her sketchbook away. “But, what just happened with Al can’t happen again. He can’t pick and choose what he tells me. He’s my son!” She stopped short.
There was a brief silence where Matt just looked at her in shock. “Got it,” was all he said. The kid was hers, not his, not theirs, hers.
Eva sat down and placed her head in her hands. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean that the way it came out.”
Yes, she had. She’d said just the right thing to make him feel like shit. It was a re-occurring theme with her lately. And there was only so much more he could take.
“Don’t worry about it.” He walked back towards the door. Every time he thought they’d made progress, she’d take three steps back. It was almost as if she wanted them to fail. “Did you still want to go see Dr. Jones tomorrow?”
She looked up, “Yes, of course.”
Matt nodded. “I’ll pick you up at one.”
“You’re leaving? I thought you were staying for dinner.” She stood up and started to fidget with her hands.
“Under the circumstances, I think it would be best for me to leave. Maybe you can talk to your son about what you just told me. If you don’t want him to keep secrets from you, you should tell him so, yourself.”
“Matt, don’t be like that.” She reached out to touch him.
“Be like what, Eva?” He took a step back from her outstretched hand. “You’re 100% right. The kid is not my son. I have no right to interfere with your parenting and I shouldn’t presume that it’s okay to keep things from you about him. He has two parents, he doesn’t need a third.”
Eva shook her head, tears now flowing from her eyes. “That’s not – I don’t want you to think that. Of course you -”
“Just stop, Eva. I told you, it’s not a big deal. Let’s not make this a big deal. Okay?” She was beautiful, eyes luminescent from the tears, her full eyelashes spiky. He brushed the wetness from her cheeks. What he was really asking was for her to drop it. He knew she could feel how much her words had hurt him; he couldn’t hide anything from her anymore.
In that moment it hit him – he would never have the opportunity to be a father. Not now, not ever. Matt wavered on his feet, the realization such a crushing blow that he’d lost his breath. Matias stumbled to the couch against the wall and sat down hard. “Fuck, Eva.”
She wrapped an arm around herself and tried, unsuccessfully, to stop her tears. “I know. I’m so sorry. I am so, so sorry.”
She walked over to him and crawled onto his lap, placing her head into the crook of his shoulder. His arms immediately went around her, holding her securely. He made slow circle patterns on her back and tried to soothe her. “How much longer before you let me in, Eva? Because we can’t keep living like this.”
She didn’t respond, just held on to him tighter.
“My brother asked me to donate some of my eggs so he and Riley can have a child. I’m thinking of saying yes.”
Matt turned wide, shocked eyes to her. “What?”
She turned to look at him and shrugged, “What?”
“When were you going to tell me?”
She frowned, “I just did.”
“That’s bullshit, Eva and you know it.”
“Ahem.” Dr. Jones cleared his throat to get their attention. “Can I ask a question?”
Matt was fuming. How could she do something like that without even asking his opinion?
“Sure doc,” he heard her say.
“Eva, why did you feel that now was a good time to share this news? Why not sooner, when you and Matt were somewhere private?”
She shrugged. “I don’t see how that matters.”
Matt exploded again, unable to keep the simmering anger aside. “Are you fucking kidding me? You don’t think talking to me before making a decision like this is important?”
She turned to him again, staring him down. “Why? What am I using them for? I can’t have children anymore, Matt.”
She said this calmly but he felt the hurt and anger. “Eva, I am trying! I just need more time…”
“Eva,” the doctor interjected, “do you feel that there is something Matias could be doing to help your situation?”
Matt kept looking at her. They were talking about one thing, while their human doctor was talking about something completely different. He was supposed to be the best but there were things they couldn’t talk to him about. It made Matt feel like they were just running around in circles.
Finally, she looked away and back to the doctor. “I – no. I don’t.”
Although she spoke to Dr. Jones, he knew that was meant for him. She’d given up on him, didn’t believe he could fix her.
“How does that make you feel, Matias?” The psychiatrist asked.
“Undeserving,” Matt responded, still looking at Eva.
Dr. Jones glanced at Eva. “I noticed you just flinched, Eva. Does it bother you to hear Matias say that?”
“Of course it bothers me! I don’t want him to hurt.” She folded her arms over her breasts, subconsciously blocking herself off from him.
“Has something happened since we last spoke?”
“My son,” she quickly glanced back at him, “I’m sorry, I meant Al. He got in trouble at school for fighting. When he came home, he went straight to Matt and wouldn’t tell me what happened. I became…upset.”
“And?” The doctor prodded.
“And I told Matt that Al was my son and I didn’t want to be kept out of the loop like that.”
Dr. Jones looked at Matt. “How did that make you feel? Hearing her claim Alistair like that?”
“I was surprised. A little hurt.”
“Matt, I am so sorry. I didn’t mean it the way it came out.” She reached out to hold his hand and squeezed. “I was just feeling left out. I am so grateful for everything you’ve done. You’ve been there for him, even though he isn’t yours. And I -”
She stopped speaking and frowned when he pulled his hand away. “You don’t get it, do you?”
“I don’t want your gratitude. I love that kid like he is mine. The only time it feels like he isn’t is when you bring it up. So even though you say you’re sorry, it doesn’t feel like you are. It feels like you don’t want me to get close to your son, like you want to make sure I know that he doesn’t belong to me.”
Eva sat and stared at him.
“Eva?” Dr. Jones prodded again.
She looked away from Matt to stare at the doctor. Shaking her head, she said, “That’s not – I don’t – I didn’t know.”
Everyone was quiet for a minute, then Dr. Jones said, “That’s all our time for today.”
Sitting in the car, Eva asked, “Why didn’t you tell me that I made you feel like that?”
“You didn’t tell me you were going to donate your eggs to your brother.” Matt looked out the car window at the remaining snow on the ground, away from her prying eyes.
“Matt, that’s not fair.”
“Eva, life is rarely fair.”
“Don’t do that. Don’t be like that and say things like that.”
“How am I being, Eva?” He looked at her. He knew he was being a dick but he didn’t care.
“Cold. Mean. Distant. Talk to me, please.”
“Perhaps you were right. Maybe we moved too fast. You weren’t ready and I bullied you into a relationship anyway.” He pulled in front of the house and cut the engine off. “Maybe if we took a step back, we could reevaluate and see if this -”
She didn’t let him finish but opened her door and walked up to her front door.
Matt watched her go, steeling himself against the pain. It was for the best. She didn’t really want to be with him, was subconsciously keeping their lives separate. What she said during their session was a lie. She’d known how much her words affected him but she’d said them anyway. It was impossible for them to hide their feelings from each other. She’d lied to his face.
He sat in the car for a few more minutes and was startled when he saw Eva walk back out of the house. She came and jerked on the car handle. “Get out.”
“No. Get out of the car, now!” She practically screamed.
Not wanting to cause a scene, Matt got out of the vehicle and said, “What? What do you want?”
She leaned up and kissed him. He was stunned for a minute and wasn’t fast enough to stop her. The kiss was over just as suddenly as it had begun. “You do not get to leave. Understand? You do not get to decide what you want or don’t want to deal with. You’re either all in, the good and the bad, or you’re out. Right now, I’m all screwed up and I desperately need you to be in my corner. I need you to be there for my son and me. I want Alistair to be our son. And I want it done properly. I want a proposal, I want a ring, and I want a huge, ridiculous wedding.” The yelling died down and she finished softly, “I want forever, Matias. I want to be fucking happy. I want you to make me ridiculously, fucking happy. I want you.”
She was breathing hard by the end of that speech and Matt was stunned. What did one say to something like that? Yes.
“Okay.” Matias gave her a light kiss on the cheek then got back in the car. He sped off, his mind whirling; he had so much to do.
Eva watched as Matt got back in his car and drove off. What the hell did “okay,” mean?
She felt her body deflate. Maybe she’d been too late. Maybe she should have said all those things earlier. She’d assumed he knew but when he’d started talking about taking a step back, about reevaluating their relationship…she’d realized that as tough as he looked, he need reassurances just as much as she did.
Shaking herself into action, Eva began to walk back up to her front door. She’d been in such a hurry to get back to him, she’d left her front door wide open. As she took the stairs up to house, a hand on her shoulder stopped her. Turning around, she saw Siobhan standing behind her. Frowning, she automatically stepped in to give the older woman a hug. Older being a relative term. For as long as she’d known the fairy, Siobhan hadn’t aged a day. She still looked exactly the same as she did twenty years ago when they’d first met. Eva peered closer at her, no that wasn’t quite true. Siobhan looked pale. Was she okay?
“Hello Eva Louise.”
“Siobhan,” Eva stepped away from the woman and smiled, “it’s been a very long time.”
“Yes, it has. I’m sorry I couldn’t get here sooner.”
The two of them walked the last remaining steps into Eva’s home. It had been a long time since she’d last seen Siobhan but Eva didn’t mind. No matter how long it was, whenever she was in Siobhan’s presence, she felt safe, loved. It was an oddity, since Siobhan herself claimed she was incapable of loving someone. Eva didn’t think that was true at all. Her formative years were spent in the fairy’s care. Siobhan was more of a mother to her than Rae had been.
Sitting on the sofa off to the right of the door, Eva asked, “So what brings you all the way out to Beach City?”
“I came to see you. I have some news.”
At that, Eva’s heart rate picked up. Was she here to heal her? Eva knew that Siobhan had powerful magic, knowledge about more things than anyone else she knew. Perhaps she had found some archaic spell or potion…
“I’m sorry Eva, I can’t heal you. I bring people back from the dead. That’s my thing. I’m not a healer.” The fairy had an uncanny way of knowing what other people were thinking.
The disappointment was immense. Still hoping for a miracle, Eva said, “Then bring my son back.”
Siobhan looked at her and Eva knew what she would say before the words ever left her lips.
“I can’t. He never lived. He has nothing tethering him to this world. I truly am sorry.” And as cruel as it was to hear, Eva knew it was the truth. “I do have some news for you though, something that might bring joy back into your life.”
Eva doubted anything could make her happy ever again. Her son wouldn’t confide in her, she’d pushed Matt too far and she couldn’t give him a child of his own. “What?”
“Although I cannot bring back what you’ve lost, I can give you one more soul.”
“I don’t understand,” Eva frowned. “What soul?”
Siobhan stood up and started to pace. “When your mother became human, she gained the ability to see and communicate with the dead. She also gained the ability to transport souls. She didn’t realize this and then she became pregnant – with you.”
Eva couldn’t speak to the dead. She’d never even seen her mother do it.
“You’ve passed it along.”
“But that isn’t the point. The point is that the ability to carry souls was given to all her children. That is why each of you are so different. Usually, a child will have only one soul. Your brother, Andrei was born with two. Although his situation is unique, in part because of the curse that was placed on your family. You had three, Eva.”
“And Tony? What about Alistair? Is he – will he be okay?” She still didn’t really understand what was happening but she needed to make sure her son would be okay.
“Tony is complicated. And Kieran is fine.” Siobhan brushed away Eva’s concern with a flick of her wrist. “Luckily, his father was human. When you gave birth, you gave him one of yours. It is where his abilities come from.”
“So what does this have to do with anything?” She was getting a headache and all she wanted to do was crawl into bed and call Matt. Maybe apologize one more time. Maybe she would just go to sleep.
“You still have an extra soul, an extra gift. I can take that and create one viable egg. One more life.”
All thoughts of sleep vanished. “What did you just say?”
“I can help you have another child.” Siobhan gave her a hesitant smile. One that Eva was scared to return. She must be dreaming, but…
“Are you serious?”
“Yes. In fact, I’ve already done so. If you are so inclined, you may have another.” Siobhan grinned at her, clearly proud of herself.
“I don’t know what to say. Thank you so much!” Eva jumped up and hugged her surrogate mother. The thought came to her then, why hadn’t she asked for Siobhan’s help in the first place? Instead, she’d spent all these months worrying and hurting. “Thank you!” She repeated.
“You’re very welcome. Now, remember you only get one chance. Please be more careful with this one. Maybe avoid situations that get you so riled up, okay?”
Eva frowned, “I don’t understand.”
Siobhan pulled back and looked at her for a long moment. Eva watched as the fairy went from looking confused, to surprised, to downright angry. “You don’t know, do you?”
“What is the last thing you remember about the night you lost your child?”
“I don’t – I can’t remember. Fire?” She’d never seen Siobhan so angry.
Siobhan touched her lightly on the forehead, “I am sorry to do this but you must remember.”
It felt like her head was being cracked open and she started to scream. She didn’t think anything could hurt this much. But then the images came.