Eva woke up and stared into the deepest pair of green eyes she’d ever seen. It was best way to wake up, in her opinion. She smiled and raised a hand to his cheek. “Hey.”
Matias continued to look at her, studying her for a bit before asking, “How do you feel?”
She felt tired, as if she hadn’t just been sleeping, but other than that, she was okay. Eva told him as much. They continued to stare at each other and she realized that something was wrong. Blinking, she mentally reevaluated herself. He was doing something, forcing a sense of calmness onto her mind.
“What are you doing?” The moment she noticed him rooting around in her brain, she shut him out – as best as she could, anyway. They were connected in a way that would always leave her vulnerable to him and his magic. “Stop that!”
“I wish I could. But if I do, you’ll be in pain and I can’t keep watching you hurt like that.” He kept staring at her and she wanted to look away, to break the hold he had on her mind, but she couldn’t.
Calming herself down – this was Matt, he’d never intentionally hurt her – she replayed his words. He was protecting her? From what? “What’s wrong?”
“You remembered some things. About that night.” He didn’t have to be any more specific. She knew exactly what he was talking about.
Eva decided that whatever he was doing must be for a good reason. She’d decided to trust him. Here was a chance to prove that she could. “Show me.”
Matt’s frown deepened but he nodded. “Slowly.”
He pulled away, breaking their eye contact and she felt his presence receding from her mind. In the absence of his magic, images slowly faded in. They’d been there the whole time but Matt had kept them at bay, on the edges of her subconscious. Now, one by one, she began to see.
“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?”
“Let go of me. That hurts.”
“That hurts? You think that hurts?” He slapped her across the face. “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.”
Glasgow hissed quietly, “You don’t deserve to be a mother. You couldn’t even keep your contamination to yourself; you had to pass it on to my son. You filthy, disgusting witch.”
Her eyes widened. He knew she was a witch!
“Another testament to your idiocy. I’ve known for awhile. Why do you think I left you in college? You lying bitch! You tricked me into falling for you and if I hadn’t caught you in the act, I would have been trapped.” He grabbed her hair and pulled her head back, forcing her to look at him. “All of you deserve to die and if these people weren’t here, I’d kill you myself. And to think, I let you touch me for all these years. You make my sick.”
He pulled his hand back to hit her again but two things happened at once, the guy model grabbed onto his arm, jerking him back and away from her and she instinctively tried to protect herself magically.
She shouldn’t have. In an effort to protect herself, she pulled too much power. She didn’t have defensive magic, and she couldn’t control what she’d unleashed. It leeched from her body and wherever it landed, fire erupted. She tried to stop it, tried to shut it off but she couldn’t, not until she felt it searching for more fuel. She cried out as her magic touched the tiny flame that was her son’s life.
Frantic, she tried to reign it in, stop whatever was about to happen. But she couldn’t. She’d tried to use her powers to hurt someone and it had turned against her, against her baby.
Eva gasped, the images finally stopping. She looked up at Matt and saw that he knew. He’d seen. “I killed our son.”
She jumped out of the bed and ran for the bathroom. She was going to be sick.
Matt watched as Eva ran into the bathroom and slammed the door shut. He sat down heavily on the couch and placed his head in his hands. She knew now. Damn Siobhan and her need to meddle. It had been decided that there were things that Eva could live without knowing. Her parents had begged him not to tell her, to try and keep those memories from her. But in one fell swoop, that damn fairy had come and ruined it all.
He stood and walked over to the bathroom. “Eva?”
Silence. No crying, nothing.
He tried to reach for her mentally but he met with a wall. She’s never done that before.
He tried again, knocking on the door. “Eva, let me in.”
“Go away Matt.” Her voice came out muffled but he didn’t hear anger in it.
“You know I’m not going to do that, sweetheart. Please, just open the door.”
When she didn’t respond yet again, he thought about banging on the door until she either opened up or the wood splintered. But it was late and Alistair would come to see what the noise was all about.
“Please?” He asked softly.
He was just about to give up when he heard a click and the door handle began to move. Taking a few steps back, Matt watched as Eva walked out the bathroom. She looked sad, but there were no tears. Thank the Goddess for small favors. He hated to see her cry, it undid him every time.
“Can I ask you something?” She asked softly.
Nodding, he said, “Of course.”
“If you knew all this already, why did you stay?”
Matt sighed. Why was it so difficult for her to see – to believe – that he loved her? From the moment he first laid eyes on her, he knew she belonged to him. “Some people were born for certain things, Eva; to do certain things. I was put here to love you. I couldn’t walk away from you if I wanted to. I wish you could see that.”
“Can I ask you a question?” Matt asked as he got down on one knee and grabbed her hand.
Eva’s eye became huge and she nodded silently.
“I’ve been trying to find the right moment to do this for the last two years.” He reach into his coat pocket and pulled out the ring he’d been holding onto since his talk with Alistair last summer.
“I realized last night that while I’ve been waiting for that perfect moment, time has been passing us by. But Eva, I love you. No matter what we go through, I will always love you. And damn it, I want to give you a huge, ridiculous wedding.”
Matt slipped the ring on her finger.
“I want to marry you, Eva. I want to make you ridiculously happy.” He stood and pulled a stunned-looking Eva into his arms. Where she belonged.
“No buts. Just say yes. You told me you wanted four things last night. A proposal, a ring, a huge wedding and for me to make you happy.” He pulled away slightly to look at her. “I can give you all those things, Eva. All you have to say is ‘yes.’”
“Don’t you want children?” Eva asked quietly.
“We already have a son. That’s enough for me.”
He felt her probing into his mind and he let her. He wanted her to know he was telling the truth. He’d come to terms with never having a child of his own and he was genuinely okay with that. Children had never been a priority for him. His own family had proven that not everyone was cut out to be a parent. But Eva, he couldn’t – and wouldn’t – live without her.
Seeming satisfied, she said. “Okay.”
“Okay as in yes?”
“Where is he?”
Eva had spent the last month looking for Glasgow. No one had seen him in over a year. She’d learned some interesting things though, like how he was married with a child! All that time he’d been pressuring her and berating her, he’d had another child with some other woman!
It didn’t make her feel any better though.
Matt sat quietly on the sofa with her, reading a newspaper. She snatched it from him in a fit of temper. “Are you even listening to me?”
He looked at her calmly, “I am but I told you, he was caught embezzling funds and next thing you know, he vanished.” He snapped his fingers. “Just like that.”
“People just don’t disappear Matt. He must be somewhere!”
Matt murmured something and Eva narrowed her eyes. “You know where he is! Tell me!”
“I do not know his current location, no. I know where I last saw him but I’m not going to talk about it Eva. That’s not a conversation we are ever going to have.”
He pointedly picked the newspaper back up and continued reading.
Eva studied him, trying to read the answer from him mentality, but he was blocking her. Growling in frustration, she asked, “Did you kill him?”
Matt tensed but didn’t put the paper down. “I never laid a finger on him.”
Matt had a way of saying things without saying anything at all.
“Is he dead?”
Eva waited for the horror to set in but it never came. Glasgow was a horrible person but he was the father of her child, she should feel something, right?
Matt put the paper away and turned to look at her. “No, you shouldn’t. He’s the reason my son is dead. He hurt you. My only regret is that I’m not the one that did it.”
That confession made Eva realize she’d been holding her breath, afraid to ask that very question. She didn’t feel bad for Glasgow but Matt was not a killer. Thank the Goddess!
His words fully sank in and she lowered her eyes to her lap. “Matt, there’s something else we need to discuss.”
“What?” He asked warily.
“Siobhan was here that night I remembered everything.”
“Yeah, I know. I came back that night and found both of you on the floor. You were screaming and she was holding you, trying to calm you down.”
Eva blinked. She hadn’t known that. “Where was Al?”
“He hadn’t come home yet, thankfully.” He grabbed her hands. “We talked.”
“About what?” Eva asked softly.
“About why she was there, about what she’d done for you, for us.”
She gasped. “So when I asked if you still wanted children -”
“I already knew. And I know you made a promise to your brother to help him.”
“Maybe we could have ours and give him the rest of the eggs.” She started hopefully.
“You know that’s not how these things work. If there is only one, then the rest are infertile.”
“We don’t have to -”
Matt shook his head and gave her a soft smile. “I meant what I said, Eva. I’m happy with the way our family is right now. I don’t need anything more than that.”
Eva frowned, staring at him, looking for reassurance. “Are you sure?”
“I love you. I’m sure. I’m happy.” He answered both her spoken and her unspoken questions.
Tears welled up in her eyes and she nodded. Okay then.
“Hey.” Matt walked into the nursery to find Eva standing in front of Alistair’s old crib. “You okay?”
She turned around and gave him a sad smile. “Yeah, just packing up a few of Al’s old toys. Clearing the space.”
“Eva, you didn’t have to do this, I could have done it.”
“I know. I just needed to do it. Closure, I guess.” She looked down at the boxes on the floor. “He doesn’t even remember any of these things. But it seems like yesterday Al was lying in this crib. Now he’s almost ten!”
“Eva.” Matt heard the wobble in her voice. She shouldn’t be doing this, it was too soon. “Come on, let’s take a break.”
“Do you remember when you came here, thinking he was yours?”
“I wish he was, Matt. Every damn day.”
“He is, Eva and in a couple of months, he’ll legally be mine too.”
She hugged him then, hard and he held on, hugging her back just as tightly. “Okay, I’m done.” She gave a watery laugh. “Let’s go eat or something.”
Matt took her hand and kissed it. “Okay.”
“You look nice by the way, where are you coming from?” She asked as they headed out the door.
“I went to the bank. I was approved for the loan.”
“Oh, that’s exciting!”
Matt smiled. Yes, it was. He was starting his own marketing firm. He’d liked his job at uGenex and now that Eva was doing better and they were about to get married, he’d decided it was time to go back to work.
As he walked out the room, he glanced back and saw Eva staring at the changing table. He kept walking, giving her some privacy as she said her final goodbyes to what could have been.
“Come on in, I’m in the kitchen!” Eva wiped her hands on the dishtowel before using it to slide out the veggie casserole she was making. Tony wanted to talk to her about the logistics of her surgery. She was supposed to go to Oasis next month so they could extract her eggs. She would also meet Maybelle Sawyer, Riley’s sister-in-law then as well. She and Josh, Riley’s older brother, had agreed to her carrying the child. Eva had considered doing so herself, but after talking to Matt, had decided it would be too emotional for her.
She placed the casserole on the counter, along with a salad, some steamed veggies and homemade iced tea. She would never understand her need to feed her younger brothers when they stopped by – habit, she supposed.
When Tony didn’t appear right away, she frowned and walked toward the front room to greet him. She stopped abruptly when she realized that it wasn’t her brother standing there but a young woman with a child.
“Can I help you?” She asked, slightly alarmed.
The stranger started, causing the toddler in her arms to squirm in distress. Eva watched as the woman placed the little girl down on the floor. A sense of foreboding gripped her. The child had the same shock of blond hair as Al.
She tried again, her voice harsh with emotion. “Did you need something?”
The woman turned and studied her, immediately causing Eva to tense up. She was being judged, in her own home!
“I’m Evelyn Zenteri, Glasgow’s wife.”
Eva felt her heart start to race. Why was she here?
As if she’d heard the question, Evelyn said, “I need your help.”
“If you’re here to find Glasgow, I don’t –”
“What? No. That asshole is probably in Aurora by now, enjoying the life. No, I’m here to talk to you about Stephanie.”
They both looked down at the little girl. “Oh,” was all Eva could manage.
“Listen, Glasgow was the bread winner of the family. He preferred for me to stay home and rise the baby and that was fine but now I’m kind of stuck, you know?”
Eva nodded, even though she didn’t know. Yes, it sounded just like Glasgow to demand that his wife be the perfect 50’s woman, but what did Evelyn want with her?
“So basically I’m broke. The house, the car, everything has been repossessed to pay for Glasgow’s debts. And since you and he had a history…”
“You want money.” She stared at the woman for a long while, unable to believe what she was hearing.
Evelyn frowned and looked at her daughter. “Yes and no. I need to do what’s best for my daughter.” She glanced at Eva and said quickly, “Do you want her?”
Eva stood, stunned. She had not been expecting that. At all. “I’m sorry, what?”
“Do you want her? Stephanie? She’s your son’s sister and I can’t take care of her anymore and frankly, if I can’t find someone to take her she’s going to end up in foster care. I just thought you’d…”
Eva tuned the woman’s babbling out. She looked down at the little girl – she couldn’t be more than two or three – and then glance at the woman, taking in her hair, her makeup, her clothes and jewelry. The woman in front of her was not destitute. She clearly had money somewhere.
“…so if you don’t want her, just let me know and we’ll be on -”
“I’ll take her!” Eva said quickly. A daughter, a little girl. Glasgow’s child…but Alistair’s sister! “I’ll take her.”
Evelyn smirked. “Good, that’s good.” She picked up the toddler and without even a bit of hesitation, handed her over to Eva.
“Now you be a good girl and don’t cry, okay?” She said to the child.
Stephanie just stared, almost as if she knew exactly what was happening.
With a nod to Eva, Evelyn walked out. She hadn’t even left a diaper bag.
“What are you going to do?” Anthony asked.
“I already have her; I just need to figure out how to make it legal.”
“I meant with Matias. What are you going to tell him?”
“Really? That you took someone’s child. No, not just any child, but Glasgow’s child?”
Eva shrugged. “What else can I say? That’s the truth.”
“What’s the truth?” Matt asked from the front entryway.
“Matt, your home!”
“Yes, this is where I live.” He narrowed his eyes. “What did you do, Eva?”
“He knows you so well…” Tony teased. And Eva was grateful, she could see Matt’s shoulders loosening from their tense position. If her brother was joking about it, then it couldn’t be that bad. She could practically hear him thinking those words. She blinked and realized she was hearing him. This damn telepathy!
“Hi,” she said.
“Hey,” he replied, still in the same spot by the door.
“I didn’t do anything wrong.” She felt him digging around her head, which was only fair, since she’d just been doing the same thing. Although her invasion had been subconscious, and he was purposefully probing. It was almost second-nature now for the two of them to communicate telepathically; although at times like these, she wished she could keep some things to herself.
“Okay,” he finally said.
She’d tell him later.
Al came bounding in the front door, making a beeline for the stairs but Matt thrust a hand out to stop him. “Go say hello to your mother and uncle.”
Looking sheepish, her son came to her and gave her a kiss on the cheek. “Hey mom. Sorry.”
She smiled at him. “Hello Al.”
Now that he was almost a preteen, things like kissing his mother hello were low on his list of priorities. After greeting Tony with a quiet hello and short wave, he looked at Matt for approval. Matt nodded and Al smiled, turning to leave, but Icky came streaking into the room, eager to say hello to his favorite human. Her big boy became a child again, clapping and playing with the cat.
Matt walked towards them and Tony stood to say hello. As they did their man-hug thing, she sat and watched.
Things were going to get so much more complicated!