Memory Lane Challenge

Thanks so much to blamsart for nominating me to do this! This seems really fun! (btw, sorry it took so long to get this done T_T )

Rules:

Congratulations! You’ve been nominated for a totally legit award.
1. Get a gold star and stick it on your forehead like a boss.

2. Share FIVE of your favourite moments from your legacy/challenge/story so far.
3. Nominate 3-5 blogs to do the same.

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BTW.. IF YOU’RE STILL CATCHING UP, THIS UPDATE HAS SPOILERS!!!!

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Memory One: Generation 1, Chapter 13

When Marrick kills Archer.

Marrick killing Archer was a huge thing showing that Marrick was losing his mind. The first HUGE implication, at least, despite the writing subtly hinting at it. The fact that he was able to kill his one, true companion, before he met Sadie, meant that it was a huge hint that he was starting to lose his mind, and couldn’t separate the truth from his own thoughts in his head.

Memory Two: Generation 2, Chapter 15

Faline’s POV.

I felt like this chapter meant a LOT to the readers. Faline was innocent, for the most part, and this is the first time I showed her being vulnerable to Jason, and the readers seeing Jason and how he acts from an outside point of view. I think this chapter is important, also, because it lets the readers see something else in Jason. Every chapter I do, I do from the heirs POV, so, when there’s been nothing but Jason chapters, there’s sympathy, but from Faline’s POV, there’s empathy. It’s a very important chapter. Not the most memorable, but, in my mind, it does mean a lot to Jason’s story, still. Faline played a huge part in Jason’s “turning”.

Memory Three: Generation 3, Chapter 16

When Gareth made his “official” move on Hannah.

The second that Gareth thought that he had been abandoned, like both him and Gibson felt when Jason went AWOL, Gibson went a different direction with it, while Gareth took it more personally. He was jealous that Gibson was able to move on, so he felt the need to remind Gibson every day of his life, since they were kids, that their lives were never meant to be normal. The time when Gibson showed signs of that, found of potential wife and (later) had kids, Gareth tried to ruin it from the very start. After Oliver was born, Gareth felt him slipping away even futher from (his) reality, Gibson still ignoring Gareth, and that’s when he made his final move to take everything away from his brother like their father had did for them. Remind him, in a way, that they can never have the “normal” life they always wanted. He made every conscious effort to show him that, even if it came to betraying him.

Memory Four: Generation 4, Chapter 13

When Isaiah got Ambushed

Oliver has been lying to Isaiah for so, SO long, that even by this chapter, he still had never told him the truth. Isaiah has been in the dark with Oliver from the very start. Gibson, showing up to defend the man that he found worthy of loving his son, was a HUGE chapter that I’m sure everyone can remember. Most thought it was Gareth, at first, and with good reason, since Gareth is the “natural” one to come for those who need.. “Exterminating”.. But, however, Gibson showed up, and he protected his son, by protecting what his son loved most. Gibson had been watching Oliver for a while, keeping an eye on him, just in case Oliver would ever get into trouble that Oliver couldn’t handle, which proved to be so, since Oliver would never be capable of killing another human being (which we later on learn is not true). We have this thought of him being a perfect, innocent soul, and so many people helping him “try” to achieve a normal life, but Gibson coming into the picture did help.

Memory Five: Generation 4, Chapter 20, Finale Part 1 of 2

Oliver Gets an Unsuspected Surprise

When Oliver gets stabbed in the first part of a two part Finale, everyone went crazy! LOL It was unexpected and that’s what I love about story telling. I honestly think that Oliver’s generation was the most impacting of a generation that I’ve ever written yet, and I’m so proud of it. Maybe that’s why I feel like I can’t do better than this, so that’s why Generation Five is so, so hard for me to write, but.. I honestly believe that this was, by far, my best end to a generation I’ve done so far and I’m so, so happy and proud of it. Everyone didn’t expect Jody’s Father to come back eventually, so that’s awesome, but.. Maybe this is just my subconscious talking or not, but.. I think I ended that generation perfectly. 

Again, which is why I find it so hard to continue Gen 5.. It’s taken me this long to update chapters on a “regular” basis like I used to, so, maybe me taking this long to update it again is why I feel this way, too. I don’t know where to go. I’m almost convinced that Generation 4 was my, by far, greatest accomplishment. 

Maybe that’s why I don’t feel like updating Generation Five as much as I used to update my other generations.. I feel like I’ve met my match. I feel like I’ve met my “writing capacity” match when it comes to this legacy, but.. There’s still part of me that wants to continue it so, so badly, but, yet, it’s still a very SMALL part of me.. 

All of you that are continuing to read and don’t un-subscribe from the email updates of my legacy, thank you, so, so, so, so much.. I love each and every one of you. However, honestly, I’m struggling to get pics and continue even writing this story for Luca. (life and what-not aint what it used to be when I was posting sooooo much).

I don’t want to give up on this story, or myself, either, so, please, if you’re subscribed to this, please stay subscribed, but, I honestly don’t know when there will be another update.. I just wanted to add that.

I love you all, truly. The lurkers, the readers, the commenters, my friends, my everything.. You know who you are. I might be taking a break, until I can find my love for this story again. Believe me, the next chapter, as well as the next, is completely written.. The next chapter? Half done with pics! So, there’s still hope. Don’t unfollow. It’s still a thing, I just.. Don’t know when I’ll be able to complete the chapter. Or the next, for that matter. I’m just at a hard time in my life right now where I can’t update as often, aka life stuff, so.. Anyways.. Life stuff.. But please, have faith in me to continue this story like I do for myself, eventually. I haven’t given up yet on this, and I hope my readers haven’t either. I hope to get my inspiration back for this story, which I will, but I don’t know when. That’s all. 

I love you all to death <33

Generation 4, Chapter 20, Finale Pt 2 of 2

Isaiah’s POV

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As I drove home, I was as high as I could possibly be. I had just made up with, as well as made love to, my one and only and I was completely floored by the fact that he was mine again. All mine. I was so damn lucky and even just the sight of his car driving a couple hundred feet in front of me caused my lips to curl into different variations of smirks and smiles as I replayed what had happened between Oliver and I in my office at the bar. James was right, I was being completely stupid and leaving Oliver wouldn’t do anyone any good, not me or our boys or the rest of our family, and making up with Oliver made me the happiest I had ever been.. He even wanted more children and he was the first one to bring it up.. How much luckier could I get when the one that was always so concerned about the choices we made was the first one to bring up the subject of having more children? I was almost excited enough to call Cybal right now at ten thirty at night to tell her the good news, but of course, I knew it wasn’t the right time to do such a thing and I held that thought on the back burner of my mind as I drove behind Oliver.

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A street light we came up on turned yellow right after Oliver had drove through it and I caught the red, slowly coming to a stop and I watched as his car pulled off into the distance until I couldn’t see his break lights any longer. I sat there for a good minute, waiting for the car that had triggered the light to make their move and they ended up turning right, something that slightly annoyed me since the light technically didn’t have to change for a bullshit turn like that and I could still be right behind Oliver, but I sat at the red light anyhow as I waited for no one else this late at night. With my window open, the only sounds of the night that I could hear were the chirping of crickets and the waves splashing against the shore in the patch of water to my right and it was all so soothing, something that only enhanced how relaxed I felt after such a perfect night. When the light finally turned green, I gently pressed on the gas and kept going towards our house, excited to get home and I didn’t doubt that I might even catch Oliver getting out of his car and going inside as I pulled into our driveway so I could catch him and kiss him at the front door as we made our way inside the house together.. I couldn’t wait to be in his arms again.

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As I pulled up to our driveway, I noticed Oliver’s car already parked, but I saw a figure that had blonde hair instead of the brunette that I adored.. I grew worried, pulling slowly into the driveway and when I saw a strange man about ten years older than me standing in shock from my headlights, raising his hand to block the blinding lights from his eyes, I then noticed a shine coming from his hand.. It was a knife and it was soaked in blood.. But, wait, what? What’s going on?! My eyes then caught sight of Oliver on the ground just outside of our front door, blood on the ground and all over his white button-up and I swear I could feel my heart stop and my entire world suddenly went silent.

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Before I could even think about what to do, my foot was already on the gas peddle all the way to the floor and my car skid at first, trying hard to get traction and when it did, the man ran, but he was no match against a speeding car. He got about twenty feet down the driveway before my Mercedes slammed into him, the back of his head and his spine hitting the hood of my car first with a loud crash and he tumbled over my windshield as well as the roof and I could hear his body hit the ground before my car then slammed into the garage.  

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I was dazed for only about ten seconds from my airbag deploying, but I quickly pushed it out of my way and popped it to get it out of my line of sight and my eyes opened wide when I saw blood smeared all over the cracked windshield, but it didn’t phase me in the slightest as I had more important things to worry about.

“Ol-Oliver,” I said with strain as I pushed my door open hard and crawled out, my knees hurting momentarily when I had landed on them, but I quickly stumbled to my feet and ran around my car to go to where he was, jumping over the man that I assumed I had killed.. At least I hoped the fucker was dead.

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I almost fell when I saw him, stumbling more as I ran as quick as I could and tears had already formed in my eyes before I reached him, my hands shaking as I touched his face. 

“Oh my God.. Oliver? ..B-Baby?” My voice trembled as I looked at him and the tears in my eyes made it almost impossible to see. A few seconds went by where I had no idea what the hell to even do, but when I took a deep breath and let it out slowly, I calmed myself for him even despite seeing his white shirt thickening in blood with every second that I wasted.

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I knew an ambulance wouldn’t get here in time, but thank goodness he was still breathing and I turned him over carefully so I could I scoop him up in my arms, my one arm under his back and the other under the bend of his knees and with all the strength I could muster, I picked him up and brought him to his Nissan. I put him into the passengers seat and I shut the door, running as fast as I could to the drivers side and I backed out of the driveway faster than my tears could fall from my eyes.

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As I drove to the hospital at about eighty miles per hour on a street that you aren’t supposed to exceed roughly forty, I didn’t give a flying fuck as I could barely even keep my eyes on the road since I was looking over at Oliver almost every second that I drove. I still made sure to get there as safely as I possibly could to avoid any other grievances along the way, and I knew driving this fast wouldn’t help in avoiding any of that, but I couldn’t risk losing him and if driving this fast to get him help meant he’d be okay, then by all that is holy, I’d drive even faster if I knew absolutely nothing was in my way.

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A large gasp suddenly came from Oliver and it scared the hell out of me, looking over at him and I watched as he clenched his abdomen while letting out a pain-filled groan. He then suddenly started waving his unoccupied hand in front of him and I thought that maybe he still thought the man that had stabbed him was in front of him and I reached over to get him to stop.

Hey! Hey! Oliver! It’s okay, it’s okay!” I tried to calm him and he looked over, surprised to see me.

“Wha- I-Isaiah?” He questioned through his pain and his panting and I couldn’t help but smile as tears still filled my eyes.

“Yeah, baby, it’s me, it’s me! I’m right here,” I comforted.

“Wh-what.. What happe-? Ahhh, f-fuck!” He struggled to ask through his pain as he clenched his abdomen more and just as he was about to look down, I reached to catch his chin and I hold his head up.

“No no no, don’t look, just- Just stay awake, okay? You’re going to be fine, you hear me?”

“Wh-where.. Who..” I assumed he wanted to know about his assailant and I continued to look frantically between him and the road.

“Shut up, Oliver. Don’t talk, okay? Just.. Just don’t talk,” I instructed, but when I felt the weight of his head increase in my hand, I knew he was slipping out of consciousness again.

“Hey, Oliver! Stay awake, dammit!” I yelled, but he had slipped into it, anyways, “Fuck!” I yelled angrily, letting go of his chin as I continued to drive as fast as I could.

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To make matters worse, or possibly better, I wasn’t sure, I pulled out my phone. I called nine-one-one and told them my situation before I got to the hospital and even through the panic that was coursing through me, I somehow managed to tell them everything that happened.. How I had pulled into the driveway and saw Oliver bleeding on the ground, how I had run over the one who had stabbed him, and now, how I was driving him to the hospital. Luckily, by the time I ended the call, a few minutes later I was pulling up to the hospital and a gurney was being wheeled out, putting my hand sternly to Oliver’s chest to hold him against his seat as I slammed on the breaks.

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“Where you the one that called about the stabbing?” A nurse quickly asked me as I got out of the car and made my way to the passengers side.

Yes! Yes, I am!” I replied, opening the door and I picked up Oliver myself, not wanting the small nurses to even bother trying to do it themselves and they cared for his head and his limbs as I placed him on the gurney. I shut the passengers door as they wheeled him into the hospital and I followed close behind them.

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“What’s his name?” One of them asked as I followed close behind.

“Oliver! His name’s Oliver!” 

“Oliver? Can you hear me?” The nurse asked, but his eyelids remained shut and I could see the color leaving his normally rosy cheeks, “Prep O.R. four quickly and page Dr. Avery,” the nurse told another nurse that we approached and they ran ahead of us to do as she had said.

“You’ll be okay, Oliver!” I said in a panic as I continued to follow them, but once they reached a certain set of doors, one of the nurses continued wheeling him on while the other stopped me.

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“Please, sir! I know this is hard, but you can’t go any further,” she explained and I instantly grew enraged.

“That’s my fucking husband! Let me go with him right now!” I yelled, but she pressed harder against my chest to stop me and I watched as Oliver was wheeled off down a random hallway and then take a quick turn into a room.

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“Sir! Sir! Please.. I know you’re immediate family, but you have to stay here! He’s in good hands now, trust me,” she expressed and I stood on the tips of my toes to see him one last time before he disappeared into the room the nurse took him to.

“You people better take care of him!” I almost threatened and she nodded strongly.

“We will! But you need to stay here!” She continued and although I wanted to argue to no world’s end, my heart sank and I gave up, letting her do her damned job.

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I pulled myself away from her and she ran to where Oliver had been brought through the doors that I wasn’t allowed, seeing a bench next to where I was and I sat down heavily onto it. I brought my hands in front of my face, trying to hold my hands steady as my legs bounced restlessly from my adrenaline refusing to go away. Why.. Why the hell did something like this have to happen? It’s as if every time we were close to being perfect or even currently perfect in general, something had to go wrong and I don’t know how much more of this I could take. When would this end? When could we finally live out our lives without something like this happening? 

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“Doctor Avery to O.R. Four. Doctor Avery, O.R. Four.” I heard announced over the intercom.

A minute later, I heard running down a hallway and looked towards the doors that I wasn’t allowed to pass, a doctor then coming around a corner and he ran to where they had brought Oliver. I assumed it was Dr. Avery, the one nurse had paged, and I felt the slightest bit of hope calm my heart. He better be a damn good doctor.

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Roughly ten agonizingly quiet minutes later as my hands continued to shake and my legs couldn’t stop bouncing, I looked left to see another gurney being wheeled in by a paramedic accompanied by two police officers and when I looked to the person lying down it in, I recognized the mans clothes instantly.

“You gotta be fucking kidding me,” I said softly, rage lifting me from my seat and I ran at the gurney, unsure of what I was going to do exactly to the man that stabbed Oliver, but by God was I going to do as much as I fucking could.

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Sadly, right before I reached him, the two officers noticed and stopped me and held me back using all of their strength.

“Hey! Calm down!” One of the officers demanded, but I didn’t give a shit about what he wanted.

“You son of a bitch!” I yelled as he was wheeled passed me, “Doesn’t feel good to get impaled by things, now does it!? My husband doesn’t like it, either, you piece of shit! I hope you fucking suffer!” I continued to yell, unsure if he could even hear me, but I didn’t care as I watched as the man was wheeled into a different room through the doors I couldn’t go passed.

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“Get the fuck off me!” I jerked violently and the officers seemed surprised by the strength I had put behind getting out of their grip.

“Please, try to calm down.. Are you Isaiah? The one that called nine-one-one for the stabbed victim?” He asked and I was in awe by how stupid he was.

“Wow, what gave it away?” I asked sarcastically and the officer didn’t seem to like my tone, “And stop fucking saying that! His name’s Oliver, you fucking prick. I don’t need to be reminded every goddamn minute that he’s been stabbed, all right?!”

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“If you don’t calm down, sir, I’m going to have to restrain you,” he warned and I laughed.

“Calm down? You can’t be serious.. The man that just attacked my husband for whatever-the-fuck reason was just wheeled passed me to an emergency room.. An emergency room adjacent to the one Oliver’s in in the hope’s of saving his pathetic ass! Why didn’t you just let the fucker die in my fucking driveway!?” I yelled.

“Sir, if it means that I have to take you down to the station in order for you to calm down, then I will,” he threatened, but his threat hit deep when I quickly realized that if I don’t try to settle myself, and fast, I won’t be here for Oliver when he needs me the most.

I let out a heavy sigh, “Fine. I’m calm, see?” I demonstrated sarcastically and he scowled at me, though luckily he didn’t act on his threat.

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The officers stood with me for a moment as I took a seat in a chair that was close, my leg bouncing uncontrollably again, my hands still shaking, my heart dancing wildly, and then like a train hitting me, tears suddenly engulfed my eyes and I broke. I removed my glasses and tucked them away as I sat there hunched over and sobbing quietly into my lap, consumed with worrying about Oliver and I was completely overwhelmed by everything that had just transpired and I couldn’t hold back how helpless I felt.. All I could think about was the night we just had together and how beautiful it had been.. How no more than twenty minutes ago, I was having a drink with him like old times, how he was telling me how much he wanted another child, how he was in my arms giving me everything he is, and it was just.. Too perfect.. Even without him here now, I could still feel the warmth from his fingertips on my cheek, I could still smell the cologne he dabs on his wrists and his neck, I could even still taste him on my lips. It was all still so fresh in my mind that it was still hard to believe I was even here.. No more than twenty minutes ago, I was the furthest away from the risk of losing him that I could possibly be.. It’s just as amazing as it is terrifying how quickly things can change.

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I wasn’t sure how long I had been sitting here, I wasn’t sure when exactly the two officers had walked away from me, I hadn’t even cared enough to notice when my tears had stopped, either.. All that I knew was that I was numb and cold and I felt so alone and helpless as I sat there staring down at my knees that were soaked in tears. I reached up to wipe my cheeks and my eyes dry from crying and when I put my glasses back on, I then caught sight of my vest and jacket.. I touched the fabric then looked to the tips of my fingers, seeing Oliver’s blood stained on both of them and I was mortified at how I hadn’t noticed it sooner. I quickly stood to my feet, desperate to find a bathroom and when I found one, I stepped in, locked the door behind me and went straight to a sink.

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I scrubbed my vest and my jacket as hard as I could, watching the dried blood being re-hydrated as it mixed with the water and swirled down the drain, the color slowly going from a deep red to a light pink, then finally to clear. When I had done my best to get it off, there was still a slight hue of a dark pink that stained the fabrics and I turned the faucet off, sighing heavily to myself when I realized the effort I put into getting the blood out proved to be pointless.. All that it really did was give me something to let my frustration out on and I had even scrubbed to hard that I was causing the fabric to fray.. I decided then that tossing them out in the trash was my best option at this point, not wanting anything in my possession that had Oliver’s blood on it, anyhow.. After washing my hands clean of any remaining blood, I leaned against the counter as I continued to try and calm myself down, but it was so difficult to do alone..

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Will the owner of a red Nissan please move your car from the emergency zone? Owner of a red Nissan, please move your car out of the emergency zone immediately. Thank you.”

I heard over the intercom and I knew that they were talking about Oliver’s car. After taking a long, long moment to try and compose myself, I looked back into the mirror and I gave myself a final once-over to make sure I was rid of everything the color crimson before going out into the hallway. I sighed heavily, drying my eyes as best as I could before leaving the bathroom and I unlocked the door and stepped out, making my way to the emergency entrance so I could move the car as requested.

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The automatic doors opened and I stepped out into the night, a gentle breeze kissing my skin as I approached Oliver’s car and I slowly came to a stop when I caught site of the small droplets of blood on the ground.. However, before I let more tears fill my eyes, I quickly went around to the drivers side to get in and I refused to look at the seat next to me that I knew was soaked in blood as I pulled his car into a parking spot not too far off from the entrance. There was so much blood that stained the seat that I could even smell it and it made me sick all over again, quickly getting out of the car and slamming the door behind me in frustration. I wished as hard as I could that I’d soon be able to find the strength to pull myself together and be strong for Oliver, but honestly, the only thing in the entire world that could truly break me was if anything bad happened to him, and since something had, it was so, so hard to find that strength I so desperately needed.

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When I made my way back into the hospital, I checked the clock on the wall and it read a little after midnight, knowing now it had been over an hour since I had brought Oliver here and there was still no word from a nurse or a doctor or anyone at all. I continued down a long hallway and eventually, I came across a large window to a room that had tiny beds spread throughout it and I stopped to take a look. A few of the beds were occupied by newborns and I focused on one that was closest to the window, a baby girl that was sleeping peacefully and I felt the edge of my lips curling into a faint smirk at the sight of her. I loved our boys, but I’ve always adored the thought of having a little girl with Oliver and I could already see us spoiling the hell out of her. Oliver seemed like the type to enjoy gender-neutral colors given the nursery he had painted and furnished for me at our old condo, but I adored the thought of giving her a pink or purple room filled with stuffed animals and a doll house and wall art that reminded her of being a princess every time she were to wake up in the mornings. She didn’t even exist yet and I already wanted to give her the world.

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“Cute, huh?” I heard a feminine voice and I looked over, seeing a young blonde woman standing a few feet away from me looking at the newborns like I was.

“Yeah,” I agreed, looking back to the little girl in front of me.

“Do you have any?” She asked.

“Yeah.. Three boys,” I replied.

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“How exciting. What are their ages?” She asked next and I looked over to her again, seeing her do the same with a smile on her lips and our eyes met.

“Six, three, and almost two,” I answered and she made a face as if she were already smitten.

“Aww, they’re all so young. Must be a handful, right?” She joked and I smirked.

“Sometimes, yeah, but they’re all pretty good for the most part, especially my youngest. He’s an angel,” I replied and I actually enjoyed making small talk with the stranger.. It got my mind off of stressing about Oliver.

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“I’m Anastasia, but everyone calls me Ana,” she introduced herself and I looked back over to her.

“I’m Isaiah.. It’s nice meeting you,” I replied and she agreed with a nod, “Do you have any children?” I asked in return.

“No, not yet. My sister was pregnant, but she left before I ever got to meet my niece or nephew,” she answered.

“You don’t talk to her or see her?”

“Nah.. Haven’t for over six years.”

My expression grew remorseful as well as my tone, “Oh, I’m sorry to hear that,” I replied.

“It’s all right. We were never really close or even got along, but it still would’ve been nice to know the child,” she pointed out and I felt sorry for her, but in an attempt to change the subject, I brought up something else.

“Tonight, my husband and I talked about having another one soon,” I said and she looked back over to me, another smile running across her lips.

“That’s so sweet. Do you want a girl this time, since you already have three boys?” She asked and I nodded.

“Yeah.. Our boys are amazing and I wouldn’t mind having another, but, a girl would be a nice change,” I replied and she nodded with her sweet smile.

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“Where is your husband? Is he here with you?” She asked and my lips dropped the smirk I held, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to-”

“It’s all right.. He’s in surgery,” I answered, looking back to the newborn and away from the stranger.

“Oh.. May I ask what happened..?” She wondered and it took me a moment to answer her.

“He, uh.. He was stabbed.. Right outside our front door,” I answered and I head her gasp softly.

“Oh my God.. Where was he, uhm.. Where was the puncture?” She asked next while carefully choosing her words, genuinely interested and I looked at my own abdomen.

“Around here,” I pointed and she observed where I had gestured.

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“Well, from what I’ve learned and have seen, it could’ve punctured his stomach or his intestines, which actually can be an easy fix if the organs were only grazed.. But, there’s also a chance that no organs were hit, either,” she advised and I looked over to her, “Probably not very reassuring, but that spot on the lower abdomen is actually a popular spot for something like a knife to penetrate from a mugger or whoever it was that did that.. I’ve witnessed a lot of people living from being hit there, though,” she continued, knowing she was trying her best to cheer me up and a slight hope filled my heart.

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“Really?” I asked and she nodded, “Do you work here?” I asked.

“Oh, uh, no. I’m attending college about twenty minutes from here. I’m trying to become a nurse, though,” she replied.

Thank you for telling me that.. You’ve been more informative in the past minute than anyone else has been in the past hour I’ve been here,” I replied and she smiled sweetly, knowing she was happy that she could help in any way.

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“So,” I began, “What brings you here so late? Do you attend a nursing program here or something?” I wondered and she lost her smile.

“No, uh.. I got a call about an hour ago.. My dad was hit by a car,” she answered and I found it rather oddly coincidental.

“Wow, I’m.. I’m sorry to hear that,” I replied, but she shook her head with an amused smirk.

“Don’t be.. I hope he doesn’t make it through,” she said bluntly and I was surprised to hear that come from her mouth. She seemed so sweet at first, but hearing her say something so cruel caught me off guard.

She noticed my reaction, “I.. I’m sorry.. That probably sounded awful..”

“A little, yeah..” I agreed, “If I ever heard one of my sons say that about me or my husband, I’d be heart broken,” I continued and she looked away from me.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to come off like that.. You have someone in here dear to you that you want to live and here I am hoping that my father dies from his injuries,” she said with slight shame in herself, “Well, he’s not exactly father-of-the-year, he never was, so.. I could care less, honestly.. I know it’s harsh, but.. So was he,” she continued and her words still surprised me, but I decided to not delve any deeper into her reasoning unless she were to continue it, herself.

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But, to my surprise, she did, “I feel like I need to explain myself so you don’t think I’m some heartless witch,” she added and I shrugged.

“Well, it is none of my business, but I can understand where you’re coming from, I suppose. I mean, I don’t wish mine dead, but.. I haven’t spoken to my parents in a very long time and it’s because they don’t want to know me, so I don’t want to know them. They’re workaholics and don’t have time to even remember me. I don’t even think they know I’m married and have three children,” I tried to make her feel less guilty by explaining my own situation with my parents and she seemed rather bothered by my words.

“I’m sorry, that’s just awful.. I guess our situations are kind of similar, though, what with having crappy parents,” she said with a light chuckle, “My mom died about ten years ago and I was the closest with her out of everyone in my family. When she was gone, my dad went a little crazy.. All he cared about was our schooling and he pushed us all really hard to get good grades so we could have good lives and all that, but I don’t think it ever worked.. It was all for nothing, anyways..”

“What do you mean? You seem like you’re doing pretty good for yourself,” I added.

“Well, my dad favored my brother and my sister way more than me.. He wasn’t impressed with my career choice like he was with my brother that wanted to be a lawyer and my sister who didn’t even care to pick anything. I don’t even know why she went to college.. My sister could shit on a pedestal and my dad would think it’s gold,” she exaggerated and I cracked a slight smile at her joke, “My brother was an asshole and him and my sister always picked on me. My brother was convinced that everyone was beneath him and that everyone he met had to kiss his feet or he hated them,” she said with a slight annoyance to her tone.

Was..? What happened to him?”

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“I think his bullying caught back up to him because he wound up dead.. Got two of his stupid friends killed, too.. They still don’t know who was responsible, but I’d probably want to shake their hand if I ever met them,” she answered and it seemed that she was sweet to strangers, but when it came to talking about her family, there was an obvious hatred there that was hard to ignore. Oddly enough, too, that sounded rather similar to what had happened to Thomas, the boy who hated Oliver and attempted to beat me to death.. Remembering that time gave me slight chills.

“What about your sister?” I asked, almost needing to know so I could put this suspicion to rest.

“Well, as you know, she left, but she was worse than my brother.. Disgustingly manipulative and completely obsessive.. I felt sorry for anyone that got involved with her.”

“It’s a was for her, too? ..Did she just leave, or did she pass on?”

“Who knows.. She got knocked up and probably ran away with the guy that did it, or she could be dead, too, for all I know.. It was around the same time my brother died. My dad completely lost it after she left and he was even convinced that some guy killed her.. Wouldn’t surprise me, either, with the type of person she was.. I guess my siblings got my father’s unhealthy obsessive behavior and look what happened to them.. Thank God I take after my mom,” she added and I could feel my hands beginning to shake again. This couldn’t be happening.. What were the chances?

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I grew a little nervous as I looked at her, “Do you mind if I ask their names?” I wondered and she looked to me.

“Thomas and Jody,” she answered and my eyes widened, “Why? Did you know them?” She asked, though she soon took notice of the look in my eyes, “What’s wrong..?”

“Why is it so hard for our families to stay out of each other’s lives?” I asked rhetorically and she grew confused.

“I.. I don’t understand,” she said innocently.

“Your brother and his friends tried to kill me. Your sister tried to ruin my husband’s life, and tonight, your father tried to kill him. I was the one that ran your father over with a car trying to save my husband,” I admitted and her eyes widened from shock.

“Wh.. What-”

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“Miss Zepeda?” A man’s voice caught our attention and we both looked to see a detective standing with the same doctor I had seen running to the emergency room earlier, but that detective.. I remembered her instantly.

May we speak with you for a moment?” The detective added towards the young blonde and we looked at one another with both of us still holding shock in our expressions and her eyes remained locked on mine, no doubt still wanting to talk to me about what I had just said, but she walked over towards them, instead.

I then looked to the detective, “What are you doing here?” I asked with a sense of frustration, knowing she was told to stay away from Oliver and our family, yet here she was.

“I’ll speak with you in a moment, Mr. Yamato,” she expressed in a parental tone and I held my tongue.

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The doctor began, “Your father has experienced a lot of damage to his head and his spine. His skull was cracked and his brain hemorrhaged, and by the time we got in to take a look, I’m afraid there’s nothing we could do for him,” the doctor said, “I’m sorry, but, we lost him,” he continued with remorse and I watched the side of the young woman’s face, searching for any sign as to how she felt about the news, but she didn’t show any inkling of grief in the slightest.. She was telling the truth.. She really didn’t care what happened to him..

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“What about Oliver? Is he all right?” I asked the doctor and he looked to me.

“He’s still in surgery, which I need to get back to. We’ll know more soon, I just wanted to come to Miss Zepeda and let her know about her father personally,” he replied and I nodded as my gaze then met the floor, disappointed that there was no word about Oliver yet, “I’m sorry for your loss, Miss Zepeda, but.. If you’ll please excuse me,” he continued politely, stepping away from the group of us to quickly go back to Oliver.

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After the young blonde didn’t say anything in return, standing there rather lifeless, she looked over and her eyes met mine again, but before either of us could say anything to one another, the detective caught my attention.

“Mr. Yamato, I’m going to need you to come with me,” she requested and I nodded, knowing she was going to ask that and I briefly looked at the ground before looking back up to the blonde woman again. As I began to follow the detective into a common area, the blonde woman stopped me by grabbing my arm gently and I waited for the detective to continue walking so she wouldn’t hear her words.

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Ana looked up at me with a smirk on her lips, “Looks like I got what I wished for, and I have you to thank for that.. I hope your husband pulls through,” she expressed quietly and I still didn’t know how to respond to her.. She was so sweet, but her words held such coldness that I didn’t understand.. Is this what Jody was like? Was she manipulating, yet sweet? Did she look like her? Was she even anything like Jody..? She then let my hand go and I ignored her words, continuing on to follow the detective as I still tried my hardest to fathom the encounter I had just had.. I hit that young woman’s father with my car and killed him for what he had done to Oliver and she was grateful..

She was grateful.

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I sat in an empty lounge with the detective I had met with six years ago, the silence heavy in the air around us and I could honestly say that I had never thought I’d see her again, but when it came to something with Oliver and that dreaded family we just couldn’t seem to get away from, I don’t know why I was surprised in the end.

“I bet you didn’t expect to see me for a while, huh?” She wondered with a small smirk.

“You can bet that I didn’t expect to see you ever again, actually,” I replied and she didn’t contest my words.

“Fair enough.. However, I need to hear your side of the story, so.. What happened?” She asked.

“How did you even know Oliver was here?” I asked in return and she smirked again.

“I’ve been following anything that involves the Dubois name for quite a while now, even before we first met years ago, so it was only a matter of time before I found out. But, please, feel free to answer my question whenever you’re ready,” she replied and I decided to tell her what I had witnessed and done for myself so I could get this over with..

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“I had just spoke to Oliver at my bar and we drove home separately, but together, in a way.. He drove ahead of me and I caught a red light, causing me to be behind him about a minute or so.. When I finally caught up and pulled into our driveway, I saw a blonde man about ten years older than myself holding a bloody knife and when I looked around the driveway more, I noticed Oliver lying on the ground and-” I stopped for a moment, but continued shortly after composing myself, “He was lying in the driveway covered in blood and I put two and two together.. Instead of getting out of my car to check on my husband and potentially getting attacked, myself, I floored it and hit the man that was holding the knife with my car.. After that, I got out of my car and went straight to Oliver.. I knew an ambulance wouldn’t get there in the time I could get him here myself, so I picked him up, put him into his car and I drove as fast as I possibly could to get him here.. I called nine-one-one on the way and told them everything that had happened,” I hesitated yet again for a entirely too long of a moment, but I couldn’t help it, “It was honestly the single most terrifying moment of my life, but.. I didn’t want him to hurt me and I didn’t want him to hurt Oliver anymore than he already had, so.. I hit him,” I explained and the detective nodded.

“I see.. Sounds like self defense to me,” she added and I nodded.

“Yes, exactly.”

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“It makes me wonder, though, why this man even came after Oliver in the first place. What were the reasons behind it?” She asked herself.

“It’s because he was crazy,” the voice of the young blonde came back out of nowhere and I looked to my right, seeing her approaching us, “Can I say something? ..Please?”

“Mr. Yamato?” She detective then asked me and I nodded.

“It’s okay,” I told the detective, seeing her nod and she waved Ana to come over to us.

“All right.. What do you have to say?” She asked the young woman and she stepped closer to our table, taking an empty seat and joining us.

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“As I was telling Isaiah when we were talking by the nursery, when my mother died ten years ago, I noticed a change in my father and my siblings.. Everything unraveled after her death.. My dad became obsessed with our educations and making sure we went to good colleges, my brother developed this god-complex, and my sister grew manipulative and cruel.. When my brother died six years ago, my dad was at a complete loss, and then when my sister disappeared after our brother’s death, my dad got worse and there wasn’t any shred of the father I knew in him anymore.. My father went nuts after they were all gone and he became obsessed with the thought that this one man was responsible for it all.. As crazy as it sounds, he even eventually convinced himself that that man was responsible for my mother’s death, too, but it’s impossible because she had cancer.. He got worse and worse as the years went on, but he never did anything that worried me too much, until now.. He just.. He wasn’t right in the head, neither were my brother or sister, and sadly, I just learned that Isaiah’s husband has dealt with them, too.. I don’t even want to begin to imagine what they all have put him through.. None of them were good people, but, I’m glad that none of them are around anymore to where they can cause more harm to him or anyone else,” she added.

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She then looked to me, “I never knew the name of the one he was constantly mumbling about, but now I know.. Honestly, I thought they were all empty words with no backbone. Had I ever known that he would’ve acted out on his stupid ramblings, I would’ve done something about it.. Had I ever known that he would take his anger out on someone who was innocent, I would’ve reported him as soon as I could.. I truly would have,” she said with a serious tone and expression and I wanted to believe her, but with this families reputation, even after already talking to her for a while, I still didn’t trust her completely.. With what this family has done to Oliver and I, it was almost impossible for me to get passed.

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“So.. Now what? Is that all you needed, my side of the story?” I asked, my gaze now towards the detective.

“Well, it was obviously self defense, and with this young woman’s testimony, you’re free to go. I still need to talk to Oliver whenever he gets out of surgery and is awake enough to tell me what happened, but for now, there’s nothing more I need,” she continued, “I wish you the best, Mr. Yamato, and my condolences, Miss Zepeda. I wish we didn’t have to meet under such circumstances and hopefully we’ll never have to do it again.. Get some rest, you two, it’s been a long night,” she added and we watched her stand from her seat, leaving the lounge area and leaving Ana and I alone together.

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“I’m truly sorry for what my father did.. Since he’s not here to apologize, I-”

“Don’t,” I added, stopping her from talking, “He would never have been apologetic for this, so you taking the responsibility of something that was never intended in the first place is just.. Pointless..” I added, though her expression still remained serious as well as apologetic.

“Either way, no matter how you feel, I do hope your husband pulls through and I truly am sorry for everything my family has done.. I wish you and your family the best of luck,” she added, my eyes looking over to her and I watched as she stood from her seat and walked off down a hallway that led towards the entrance.

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I didn’t feel right saying ‘thank you’ or ‘I accept your apology’, I didn’t feel right saying anything to her at all other than ‘go away’ and I’m glad she had done it without me telling her to do so. She seemed genuine, she seemed nice and a really lovely girl, but I still could never get passed the thought of how Oliver had described Jody to me.. Even by how Anastasia acted, I still refused to ever believe her words. I followed Oliver’s warnings completely as well as all of his opinions of that ‘Zepeda’ name and I wasn’t about to let myself fall under any manipulative words she could’ve potentially spoken. In my mind, no matter how many times Anastasia could say she was sorry for her family’s actions or felt bad for what had happened to us due to her many relatives mental instabilities, I wasn’t going to give her even a slight taste of my gratitude. None of them deserved it.. Not a single damn member of that family.

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I sat there by myself for a long while, staring at the table top and when I looked up and read the clock on the wall, it read a little after two in the morning. My body was growing tired, but my mind was still intensely active and I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep even if I tried.. Maybe some coffee would wake me up a little.. I looked around the common area, finding a coffee machine and I stood from the chair sluggishly, making my way over to it and I made a cup for myself with plenty of sugar-packets already opened and ready to be poured into my finished cup. As it brewed, I starred at the steamy stream of coffee going into the cup, spacing out and losing myself in thought and I couldn’t help but wonder if I should contact anyone.. I was Oliver’s spouse, it was my responsibility to tell our family what had happened to him and I knew I should call Katalina and James as well as call Cybal, too, but I wasn’t sure if I should call them before he got out of surgery or if I should call them afterward so I could begin each call with ‘he’s doing okay, but he’s in the hospital’.. I didn’t know what to do.

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When my coffee was done, I added in the many sugar packets I had on the ready and stirred it lazily before stepping away and bringing my cup with me. I tried to take a sip too early and wound up burning the very tip of my tongue, so I set it down on a table to let it cool off and I took out my phone, going through my contacts and when I came to James’ name first, I called him. I came to the conclusion that even if I didn’t want to tell anyone yet about what happened to Oliver, I still needed someone to talk to about it.. I couldn’t stand being the only one knowing anymore and I needed help in getting through this.

James answered after roughly four rings, “Hey, I didn’t expect to get a call from you this late. What’s up? Everything okay?” He asked, always enjoying his welcoming and loving attitude. Hearing a familiar voice helped bring my spirits up a lot, too.

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“You don’t sound tired at all and it’s after two in the morning,” I pointed out.

“Ah, well.. I work about three to four days at a time. I’m in an on-call room, just got up from a nap,” he answered and it made sense now, “So, what’s going on? Did you end up working late, too? I thought you usually close the bar at nine on the weekdays?” He guessed and he wasn’t wrong, though of course, that wasn’t the case.

“Yeah, I usually do, but, uh..” I tried to tell him, but it was difficult to even think about let alone tell him the whole story. It was completely different talking to the detective about what happened, but telling Oliver’s best friend was ten times harder.

“Isaiah? What’s wrong? Is one of the boys sick or something, keeping you up? Making them drink flat soda, like ginger ale, helps calm the stomach a lot and keeps them from throwing up too much.. Saltine crackers help a lot, too,” he continued, giving advice that wasn’t needed, though I couldn’t blame him for already rambling.. Him being a pediatrician helped a lot and I called him quite often whenever one of the boys was sick.

“No, the boys are fine, they’re sleeping over at Cybal’s.. Oliver and I talked tonight,” I replied.

“Oh, that’s great! How’d it go? You two finally back to normal or do I have to come over again?” He joked and I wanted to laugh, but it was difficult to find humor at the moment.

“No, no, uh.. Things went well, really well, actually, but.. That’s not exactly why I’m calling you,” I continued and I could tell that very instant that James knew it was something bad by the silence that lingered between us.

“..Is it Oliver? Where is he? What happened?” He asked and I could tell that there was a slight panic to his voice, knowing now that something far worse had happened..

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After trying my hardest to fight back tears while telling James everything that had happened, I finally got it all out without too much of a struggle and I could tell James was completely blindsided.

“Jesus, Isaiah.. You haven’t heard anything yet, too? What the hell is taking them so damn long to give you a update?” He asked with annoyance in his tone.

“I-I don’t know.. A little over an hour ago, the doctor came out to tell the girl about her dad dying and when I asked about Oliver, all he said was that he was still in surgery, then he went back to it and that’s the last thing I’ve heard.. I don’t know what to do. I’m starting to get more worried the longer it takes.. Shouldn’t he be in recovery by now?” I asked.

“Well, without knowing the extent of his injuries, I can’t answer that.. But, you should go up to someone and demand answers, it’s the only way to get any information out of these people. They’re updating their charts constantly, they just don’t update the family until there is a stable enough answer to give them. They know exactly what’s going on, you just have to keep asking to find out. Be completely annoying if you have to,” he replied.

“All right, I will-”

“And I’m coming down there,” he added.

“No, James, you don’t have to.. You’re at work and-”

“With all due respect, man, save it. Can’t talk me out of this. I’m leaving now and I should be there within the hour. I’ll start calling the hospital and see if I can get any information out of them, but you should do the same so you know what the hell’s going on. I’ll call you if I’m able to get any answers before you, too.”

“All right.. Are you going to tell Katalina?” I asked and he sighed.

“No, I don’t think so, not yet. The baby is so close to it’s due date that she doesn’t need any stress like this, it would only cause harm to her or the baby and worrying about Oliver is plenty enough on my plate already.. She’s gunna hate the hell out of us for keeping it from her, but, I’ll handle it, okay? You just worry about Oliver and getting answers,” he encouraged.

“Okay.. I’ll see you soon,” I replied and we said our goodbye’s. 

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The first thing I did was go to the reception desk by the entrance, completely forgetting my coffee that was probably cool enough to drink by now, but the adrenaline that had returned and coursed through my veins again was enough to keep my body awake for at least a few more hours. I stood there at the desk arguing with the receptionist for at least half an hour, seeing now what James was talking about by how she was trying her hardest to avoid the subject and she told me over and over again that there was no news about Oliver yet and that I should have a seat and wait, but I was done with waiting.. I had been waiting for close to three hours now and I was sick of it. During our arguing, the phone rang a few different times and I could tell it was James calling like he said he would, but even as I stood there, she was telling him the exact same things she was telling me. No matter how hard I pressed, there was no getting through to these people and I was right back where I started.. Not knowing a goddamn thing.

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I sat in the lobby alone, the time getting close to three in the morning and when the doors came flying open, I looked to see James rushing in. I stood to greet him and the moment he saw me, he rushed to my side and gave me a warm hug, something that I didn’t even know I needed until I had wrapped my arms around him, as well, and didn’t let go for a long moment.

“It’s okay, Isaiah. I’m not leaving until we hear about Oliver, I promise,” he said as we hugged and we then let go of one another, sitting back down and he sat next to me.

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“So, they’re still not telling you anything?” He asked and I nodded, “Damn.. Have you told Cybal yet?”

“No, I was going to call her tomorrow sometime.. I don’t want to tell her now because if I did, I feel like she’d rush to down here to be with me and she’d bring the boys with and I don’t want them to be here.. Not yet,” I replied and he nodded in understanding. 

“Well, I agree that right now isn’t the best time to call, but you really do need to call her first thing in the morning. Your boys should know their dad’s in the hospital. I know you don’t want them here, hospitals can be pretty scary for kids, but having the boys here might even help his recovery.. And yours.”

“You’re right, I’ll do it in the morning, but I don’t even want to think about it right now.. They are going to be scared and I honestly don’t think I have it in me to calm them down when I can’t even do that for myself,” I answered and I felt his hand on my shoulder, attempting to give comfort.

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“I know it’s hard, man, but Oliver is a strong guy when he needs to be. After everything you two have been through and especially after finally making up and getting things back to normal, I doubt he’d let himself give up. The kids could be that extra push he needs, too, and so are you. I’m not saying Oliver doesn’t have a chance, but you’d be amazed at how many times I’ve seen people who are in bad shape come back during their recovery because their loved ones talk to them while they’re unconscious or whatever the case. It’s kind of like a miracle, in a way. Nothing medicine can even come close to,” he added and I looked over to him, seeing a smirk on his lips.

“Thank you for coming, James. I don’t know how much longer I could’ve gone without anyone with me..”

“It’s okay. This is a pretty huge deal to keep to yourself, I’m surprised you lasted as long as you did, but I’m glad you called. Sometimes it’s hard to carry the weight of something like this all by yourself and it’s a lot easier to keep yourself from going crazy if that weight is distributed,” he answered and I nodded in agreement. 

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James and I sat there for roughly twenty minutes together, not saying much at all and I knew James wasn’t talking on purpose because it was a little obvious that I didn’t want to talk, but just his presence and knowing I wasn’t alone helped keep me the calmest I’ve been ever since the night took a cruel turn. Every time the emergency doors opened down the hallway, both of our heads jerked quickly towards them, but every time I didn’t see doctor Avery, I let out a heavy sigh and went back to staring at the floor. 

“Why is it taking so goddamn long? I feel like we’ve been sitting here for hours,” I said under my breath in annoyance and James looked over to me.

“It’s gunna be all right, Isaiah. Sometimes when they take a long time like this, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad thing. They’re probably making sure everything is okay before they close him up, or they could be all done, but waiting for him to wake up so they can see if he remembers who he is and how he got here.. You never know. Just because it’s taking a long time doesn’t necessarily mean anything bad,” he encouraged, taking a deep breath and letting it out slowly as I thought about his words and they made me feel better, but only a little.

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“Mr. Yamato?” I heard my name being called and I looked immediately to my right, seeing doctor Avery standing outside of the doors that I wasn’t allowed passed and he looked around a little before finally making eye contact with me down the hallway. I was frozen where I sat, completely stuck and even though this entire time I’ve been dying to know what’s happened to my love, now that it was time to find out, I wasn’t ready.. What if he isn’t doing well? ..What if he’s gone..? I never got a chance to speak to him again and now I never will..

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“Isaiah.. Isaiah?” James caught my lack of attention, seeing him standing in front of me with a worried yet comforting smirk on his lips, “Come on, you can do this.. Let’s go see if he’s all right,” he encouraged and I nodded, slowly standing to my feet and I could feel every inch of my insides rattling with nerves and fright and worry and everything in between.. James patted my shoulder, trying to loosen me up a little and to get me to not worry so much, but this was something that couldn’t be helped.. The way the doctor looked at me made things worse because he didn’t have a smile, nor did he have a frown, his expression was, well.. Expressionless.. It made everything that much more nerve-wrecking and terrifying. I wasn’t ready for this, I wasn’t ready for any of this and all I wanted was for Oliver to be okay and for this nightmare to be over with. 

____________________________________

Eight Months Later . . .

____________________________________

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“You guys excited for the beach?” I asked, Luca running and jumping around his room in excitement as I fastened Niko’s waterproof diaper. 

“Yeah! Yeah! Let’s goooo!” Luca exclaimed and I chuckled.

“All right, we’ll leave in just a minute. I still need to grab a few things and make coffee, little man,” I replied and he groaned.

“Hurrryyyyy,” he whined as I slipped on Niko’s swim suit onesie and fastened it.

“The ocean’s not going anywhere, Luca. Be patient, okay? Just a little longer,” I answered and he sat down on the ground next to his building block table with a impatient frown on his face.

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Once I was done dressing Niko, I held his hands so he wouldn’t lose his balance as he stood there. He knew how to walk now, but he was still trying to get the hang of it.

Why don’t you go pick out a toy to bring with?” I asked him and his eyes lit up with excitement, watching him race over to the toy box and he began picking something out. Nikolai started talking, finally, a few months ago and his first word was ‘boo’, though I think he means ‘blue’, because whenever he says it, he always points to the walls in his room or the color of some of his toys. It didn’t take long for him to start trying to say other colors and things, then he started saying ‘da’ and ‘pa’ for Oliver and I.. He now knows a pretty good mixture of words and although he’s still not as talkative as Luca and he still struggles with pronunciation, he’s getting better at it every day.

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When Nikolai found what he wanted, which where a few different things, he brought them over to me and made a pile in front of me and I couldn’t help but find it amusing as well as completely adorable. 

No, no, just pick one or twoYou don’t want to bring a lot and then lose any, right?” I asked and he stared at his choices for a while, trying to decide which were the best ones.

Niko never spent nearly as much time in the water as his brothers did, he more so enjoyed lying on the towels with me under the beach umbrella, so I always let him bring a toy or a stuffed animal that he adored in order to make sure he was happy. He wasn’t afraid of the water by any means, I think he just really enjoyed being outside and relaxing with his toys under the shade. Besides walking and talking, another thing we’ve been able to accomplish, like we had to do for August and Luca, was to get Nikolai to ease off of the pacifier.. He still refuses to sleep without it, but at least he doesn’t cry for it like he used to every second he was awake. 

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Once Niko had picked out his favorites, he handed them to me and I took them, “These two? Are you sure?” I asked and he nodded, “All right. Let’s go to the kitchen and pack snacks, then we can go to the beach,” I added, putting the toy and the stuffed animal into the beach bag.

“Yay! Let’s go, let’s go!” Luca replied and he stood immediately and was already running out of their bedroom and down the hallway.

“Luca, stop!” I called out sternly and I heard his footsteps come to a halt in the hallway, picking up Nikolai in my arms as well as the bag and leaving their bedroom.

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I came out of their room to see Luca standing in the hallway with an expression that showed guilt, “What have I always told you?”

“..No running around or on the stairs,” he replied.

“And?”

“Always hold the railing when walking down,” he continued and I nodded.

“Good. Stop running and go slowly,” I instructed and he walked instead of ran towards the stairs, doing as I said and taking each step carefully. Luca always had so much energy and we always had to be on alert with him more than we needed to be with Niko and August. It was a little stressful at times, especially when his energy put him in situations where he could get hurt.

That boy is going to give me a heart attack one day, I just know it..

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After coming downstairs and into the kitchen, August, Luca and Nikolai ate breakfast as I made coffee and packed the beach bag with snacks, water and beach towels, as well as a bottle for Nikolai and I looked over at August as I made coffee, too, before we left.

“Ready to go, big guy?” I asked and he nodded as he finished his cereal.

“Yup,” he replied, hopping off of his stool and going to the dishwasher with his empty bowl.

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“I’m all done, can we go now?” Luca expressed with more impatience and he bounced in his high chair to show his eagerness. 

“When Niko is done eating, we’ll go. Be patient, Luca, I’m not going to tell you again,” I disciplined and he frowned again, unhappy with how long this was taking, but I wasn’t about to rush everyone when Luca seemed to be the only one who wanted to get to the beach as if his life depended on it. 

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When Niko was done eating and the bag was all packed, the boys and I walked out the back door passed our pool and I watched as August and Luca went ahead of Niko and I. We owned our own little part of the beach down the hill behind the house and we all loved going down there on Sundays when no one had work or school.

“Be careful, you two. Help Luca down the hill, Augie, I don’t want either of you tumbling down and getting hurt,” I instructed towards August and he took Luca’s hand, guiding him down the hill and I held Nikolai close so I had a good grip on him.

“Are you excited to go in the water today?” I asked Niko, watching him smile and he shook his head.

“No!” He replied, though I knew he didn’t mean it.

No?! I don’t believe yooouuuu,” I dragged out, then quickly gave him raspberries on his cheek and neck and he laughed when I had called his bluff.

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When we got to the beach and before letting the boys play, I set down Niko and laid out the beach towels under the shade of the umbrella. After getting everything situated, I put plenty of sunscreen on all of the boy’s skin and once I was done with Luca, he ran off towards the ocean to play. August tended to himself as I then rubbed the sunscreen on Nikolai’s tiny arms and legs and there were some spots where he’d smile and wiggle while giggling from me tickling him on accident.. Which, in turn, made me unbelievably happy, so I then began to do it on purpose just to make him laugh more and how he laughed and kicked his legs made me smile from ear to ear.

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“You ready to play in the water, little bug? Let’s go play,” I tell Niko after he was fully sun-protected, taking him into my arms before standing up. I walked over to August, seeing him playing in the sand with his toys, shovel and pale and I couldn’t help but smile.

“What are you going to make, big guy?” I asked, stopping by him for a moment as I continued to hold Nikolai.

“I wanna build a sand castle.. Maybe even dig out a moat or something all the way to the water so alligators can swim in and protect it,” he replied as he continued playing and I chuckled softly, knowing there weren’t any alligators in the ocean, but I wasn’t about to ruin his fun.

“Elaborate, I like it. I want to see it, so be sure to show me when you’re all done, okay?” I asked and he nodded.

“All right,” he replied, still focused on his building and I continued on towards the shoreline to play with Niko.

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When we reached the shore, I held up Niko before lowering him down into the water, “You ready?” I asked with excitement and he was already kicking his feet in anticipation while starring down at the ocean. The moment I brought him down lower and the lukewarm water touched his toes, he started laughing as he continued to kick his legs and throw around his arms and it brought me pure happiness every second that he enjoyed himself.. I wished Oliver was here to see this, it melts his heart just as easily as it does mine whenever we hear the laughter of any of our boys.

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Whoooaaa! Papa, come look! Come see!” Luca suddenly exclaimed and I looked over to see him waving for me to come over to him as fast as I could.

“What’d you find, little man?” I asked, pulling up Niko from the water and I held him.

“Come looooook!” He continued and I made my way over to him with Nikolai.

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“Look, look!” He said with excitement when we reached him and I smiled as I looked down, seeing a big blue starfish under the shallow water.

“Oh, wow.. It’s really neat looking, isn’t it?” I asked and Luca smiled wide with an enthusiastic laugh.

“Can I touch it?” He wondered, already reaching for it, but I stopped him before he could.

“No, no, don’t touch it. Some are poisonous, that’s why you need to watch where you’re stepping in the water, too,” I replied and Luca seemed upset that he couldn’t touch it, but continued to enjoy watching it move at a snail-like pace, anyways.

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The moment that Nikolai caught sight of the starfish and began reaching for it, as well as humming soft sounds to signal that he wanted it, that’s when I stood back up and took him away from it because he wouldn’t give up unless I distracted him with something else. He was in the ‘I want everything’ phase and didn’t like hearing ‘no’, but I wasn’t about to let my youngest touch a potentially poisonous sea creature without knowing if it was safe or not.

“No, you can’t touch it either, cuddle bug. Sorry,” I expressed as I carried him away, yet he seemed adamant about having it and his soft ‘wanting’ hums turned more into gentle whining and I watched as his eyes teared up, “Aw, come on, don’t look at me like that. It breaks my heart,” I cooed sweetly, trying to cheer him up from this difficult phase he was in by kissing his forehead softly.

“Let’s go get your duck, okay? Will that make you happy?” I asked, walking back towards where we had laid out our blankets and I set him down, looking through the bag I had brought with us as his eyes still held tears.

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When I found it and pulled it out, his watery eyes lit up, “Ah! Here we are,” I said happily and he began reaching for it immediately, chuckling softly as I handed it to him and his mood seemed to change instantly the moment he hugged it. I then pulled out the other toy he had chosen to bring with and set it next to him, knowing that he was done with the water for now and I could relax with him under the shade. He then adjusted his stuffed animal duck so he could use it as a pillow and he laid down as he played with the toy I had given him, bouncing it up and down on the ground to make it ‘walk’ and he was finally content without the need to touch the starfish lingering on his mind. 

“Are you happy now, bug?” I asked and he smiled for his response as he played with his toy, “Good.”

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As I sat there with my youngest, I looked out towards the calm ocean behind August and the sound of the waves and the seagulls that occasionally flew overhead made me relaxed and tranquil, though I couldn’t keep my mind from going to dark places and dark memories that I knew I’d always have to carry with me. I was weak when anything at all threatened my love and my life and I was weak to the memories of that terrifying night eight months ago. I’ll never forget it, no matter how much I try.

I knew it was idiotic to admit, but I missed Oliver.. I missed him so much every second I was without him every since that night and I wished that he was here with us.. It just isn’t the same without him.. It never would’ve been, either, had we all lost him.

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Suddenly, my view went black as I felt hands cupping gently over my glasses and a warm, enticing breath touched my ear.

“Guess who,” the voice behind me whispered and I felt chills up my spine, a smile slowly spreading across my lips.

“The sexiest brunette in the world?” I wondered and I heard him chuckle behind me.

“Mmm, guess again,” he encouraged.

“Hmm.. The sexiest brunette in the world that I’m lucky enough to spend the rest of my life with?” I guessed again and I heard him sigh. 

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“That’s cheating,” he expressed, removing his hands from over my eyes and I chuckled as he draped himself over me.

“What? How is that cheating?” I asked with a grin as I reached up to run my fingers through his hair.

“Because, I wanted you to guess more and I couldn’t say no to that one,” he added.

“I’m glad it’s true, though,” I implied, turning my head towards him and he lifted his forehead from my shoulder to do the same.

“Me, too,” he answered and he leaned in to kiss me. Without him, I truly believed that I never would’ve been able to find such bliss like this ever again.

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Before I could get any time with him, our boys demanded his attention first and I could feel Niko crawling into my lap to get to Oliver as he kissed me.

“Dah! Dah-dah!” He expressed and Oliver and I couldn’t help but smile during our kiss and we pulled away from one another to acknowledge Nikolai.

“Hey, Niko,” Oliver said as he picked up Niko from my lap and held him up, “Are you having fun at the beach?” He asked, though Niko didn’t respond and instead, he pointed towards August.

“You wanna go by Augie?” Oliver asked and Niko nodded, “Okay, let’s go see what he’s up to,” he answered, but I caught his attention before he left my side.

“Come back to me,” I expressed and he smiled warmly.

“I will,” he replied, leaning in to kiss me once more before standing up and taking Nikolai with him. 

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As Oliver spent time with August and Niko, helping him build the sand castle that August had been working on since we had gotten here, I simply sat and watched the photographic scene I had before me. My husband, my children, my life, everything was perfect and just how I wanted it to turn out. If I had any more than I did now, I would truly be the most spoiled man in the world.. I might even already be.

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Luca then noticed that Oliver had made it down to the beach and he ran over to him, “Daddy, come here! Come here!” I heard him exclaim as he tapped on Oliver’s side and Luca then took his hand, pulling him away from the sand castle and towards the starfish that he had found that no doubt had barely moved from where Luca had spotted it. My lips curled into a smile as I watched Oliver be the center of attention, August and Niko watching as Luca dragged him off.

“Daaaad! Come back! I need help with the moat!” August called out.

“I’ll be right back, Augie! Luca wants to show me something,” he replied and I watched him and Luca investigate the blue sea star with a smile on my lips.. This family couldn’t function without Oliver, it’d never be the same without him, and if the world were truly against him like he tended to believe with what he’s been through in his past, he wouldn’t be here today, but.. Thank goodness he was wrong.

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After watching them for a while, Oliver bringing Luca back to the sand castle and all four of them helping in building it, I couldn’t imagine a better scene than the one I had in front of me. The night at the hospital eight months ago was the scariest moment of my life and I wasn’t prepared for the worst, but the second the doctor told me that he was in recovery, I felt my world coming back to life and I thanked whatever or whoever was giving him this second chance. I’ve been with him through everything, the thick and thin, the best and the absolute worst, but it was all for a reason and that reason was right there in front of me.

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Oliver’s recovery took a few months, but once he was back to normal, everything changed for the better and our days together after that were never taken for grated, nor did we ever spend more than an entire day without talking to one another after a stupid fight we might get into.. Then again, we hardly ever fought after that day, anyhow. We focused more on our family and each other and we still upheld to what he had talked about at my bar eight months ago. Cybal was five months pregnant with our fourth child and Oliver and I couldn’t be more excited to have another addition to our family. Oliver didn’t want to let such a potentially devastating bump in the road keep us from continuing our life together after his recovery and neither did I, so we did just that, and we continued to live out our lives.. So many people have tried to ruin such a good thing, but nothing could come between us, just like I always knew nothing could the moment I realized I was in love with him.

It was so hard to picture life without him, but, I was overwhelmingly joyous that I didn’t have to.

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End of Generation 4.

 


 

Thank you to everyone that lurks, reads, likes and comments on this story! You’re continued, unconditionally amazing support for this legacy makes me so happy and I really love you all. Thank you for sticking with me this far and I hope you’ll stick around for many more generations to come!

Generation 4, Chapter 20, Finale Pt 1 of 2

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Carefully and slowly, I swayed back and forth, rubbing Nikolai’s back as I held him in my arms and waiting for him to drift off to sleep for his afternoon nap. I stood in Cybal’s living room, taking steps at the pace of a snail as I swayed Niko and although I seemed to be calm and relaxed holding my littlest, my mind was restless. After breakfast this morning when August had just left for school and Luca and Niko played in their bedroom, Isaiah told me he wanted to talk.. He didn’t say much else, he seemed nervous and uncomfortable and so did I by the way he worded everything.. He told me that this had gone on long enough, but instead of asking what he meant exactly, I just stood there like an idiot and nodded without even questioning it.. I guess I was in a slight shock that he finally wanted to talk, so I blindly agreed, and now, as I replay his words over and over in my head, I can’t help but wonder if maybe his words had negative intentions instead of the positive ones I’ve been hoping for for over a month.. My mind always went straight to the possible worst case scenarios and I could never seem to get away from them.

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It’s been about two weeks since I had talked to James about what was happening between Isaiah and I, but I’ve been doing a lot better than I was.. I couldn’t believe I had let it get that bad to the point where my depression was effecting my appearance and it took me a while to realize how terrible I looked, but ever since I had, I’ve been doing laps in the pool, as well as taking the boys to the park more like I used to and running around with them constantly has been tiring as well as rewarding. I’ve been getting more sun, so I’ve looked less pale, I’ve been getting work outs in and I wasn’t nearly as weak anymore, and I’ve been eating better, too, so I’ve had a lot more energy for the boys.. I thought I’ve been doing pretty good and I thought that maybe Isaiah’s been noticing, but I still couldn’t figure out exactly what he meant by his words this morning.. Did he want to fix things, or break up?

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I had an appointment today with one of my patients and Isaiah was already at work, so on days where we needed help, Cybal was always there for us and more than happy to watch the boys while we were at our jobs. Once August got home from school, I took the boys to her place and August played outside with Cybal’s daughter, Juliana, Luca was already asleep in the playpen, and Nikolai had just drifted off to sleep in my arms.. I always loved bringing the boys to her place because they loved being here and it was also the one place I could take them where I never worried about them.. Well, I guess I don’t need to worry about them when they’re at Kat and Jimmy’s house, but Cybal has more experience when handling a lot of children at once and she keeps them calm, focused and happy, whereas James likes to play with them and amp them up to no end and Kat loves to spoil them with toys and sweets, which Isaiah and I don’t really prefer.. Plus, she lives a lot closer than they do.. Cybal isn’t their mother, but they still are her flesh and blood and I can tell she holds them at a much higher importance in her life.. She even treats August just the same as she treats Luca and Nikolai and I’m incredibly grateful for that, as well. She’s just overall the best choice for when we need to put our children in other peoples hands.

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I heard soft footsteps coming down the spiral staircase and I turned to see Cybal, smiling at me as she walked towards the kitchen and I smiled back, then slowly made my way over to the playpen and as carefully as I could, I pulled the fragile, sleeping Nikolai from my shoulder and set him down next to his brother. I was relieved when I noticed I had managed to not wake either of them and I stepped quietly out of the living room, going into the kitchen where I had seen Cybal retreat to.

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I noticed Cybal making something to eat and she looked over her shoulder briefly when she heard me come into the kitchen.

“Hola, guapo. The little ones finally asleep?” She wondered and I smirked.

“Yeah, finally.. Thanks for watching them today,” I replied.

“It’s never a bother, I love having them here,” she answered genuinely.

“Where’s Napoleon?” I wondered, asking about her son that was a few years older than Juliana and August.

“He’s over at a friends house, he’ll be home later.. Are you hungry? I was making something for Juliana, August and I, but you’re more than welcome to join us if you have time before your appointment,” she invited, but I had absolutely no appetite thanks to my nerves..

“No, thank you, though.. Not really in the mood to eat..”

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“Oh? Why’s that? Is something bothering you?” She wondered and although I didn’t want to talk about what Isaiah had said earlier, I felt as if I needed to talk about it with someone or else worrying about it without getting a second opinion would only excel my awful ability to overthink things.

“Well, I.. I don’t know, it’s-” I sighed softly, “It’s nothing, I guess..” I chickened out in the end.

Cybal stopped preparing food for her and the kids and looked to me, “It’s obviously something. Are you and Isaiah still not talking?” She wondered, knowing a little about what Isaiah and I are going through, though she didn’t know any details like James did.

“Yeah, we’re still not talking that much, but this morning he said something to me that I don’t know how to interpret and it’s all I can think about..”

“What did he say?”

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“He said that ‘this has gone on long enough’ and that he wanted to talk tonight, and at first I was happy and agreed to it, but.. It was weird the more I thought about it after, because he didn’t smile, but then again he didn’t show any sign of worry, either, he was just.. Serious.. I can’t tell if he wants to make up and go back to how things were before or if-” I trailed off, not even wanting to say the words as my gaze met the floor.

“Sweetie, I’m sure he doesn’t intend to leave you. He’d be muy estúpido if he did something like that,” she replied and I chuckled, “He probably wants to talk about what happened in hopes of fixing things with you. Whoever needs to say sorry needs to say it and then it will all be fine,” she continued with a smile and I smirked, though when she turned back around to continue what she was doing, the smirk fell from my lips.. I had already apologized to him as many times as he would let me and I didn’t think he had anything to be sorry for, so Cybal couldn’t be right..

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“Listen, cariño,” she began again, finishing her preparation and facing me, “Since he wants to talk tonight, let the boys sleep over here. You two need time alone and there’s no need for you have your hands full when you’re trying to do that. Besides, after you two make up, which is I’m sure what Isaiah wants to do, you’re going to really want that alone time, now won’t you?” She hinted with a grin and I felt my cheeks warm up.

“You really think we’ll be okay?” I asked and she nodded strongly.

“Oh yes, Ollie, definitivamente. I’d like if you guys made up, too, because then that means I get to make another rugrat for this beautiful family of yours,” she said with a smile and I smiled in return at the thought of more children with Isaiah.

“I’d really like that, too.. He told me after Nikolai was born that he wanted to keep going until we had a girl,” I replied and Cybal smiled more.

“See? That sounds wonderful! You think he’d give up something like that? You really think he, after a stupid fight, wants to stop after Niko? Isaiah never struck me as a quitter before, I don’t think he’d start today,” she pointed out and I nodded, knowing full well that she wasn’t wrong about that, at least.

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Thanks for everything, Cybal.. I should get to my appointment, so I’ll see you tomorrow,” I replied and she nodded.

“I’ll let the little ones know they’re sleeping over when they wake up from their nap. I’m sure they’ll be excited.”

“All right.. Tell them I love them, too.”

“Of course,” she answered, coming up to me and giving me a hug goodbye, “Good luck tonight,” she added and I smiled as I let her go.

“Thanks.. I’ll let the kids know the food is ready, too,” I answered, stepping out of the kitchen and going out the back door to find August.

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After shutting the sliding door behind me, I saw August talking with Juliana as I made my way over to them.

“Your mom made a late lunch, Juliana, why don’t you go inside and eat?” I asked, wanting to have a second alone with August and she nodded with a smile.

“Okay!” She agreed, leaving August and I alone.

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Once I heard the sliding door shut behind her, I addressed August, “I’m heading out now to go to my appointment.. Papa and I need to talk, too, so you and your brothers are going to sleep over here tonight, okay?” I let him know and his seemingly happy face fell blank.

“Okay..” He replied and I could tell he was worried.

I bent down closer to his height, “Hey, listen.. Everything’s going to be fine, we’re just going to talk, okay? You gotta talk things out in order to fix things, right? Nothing bad is going to happen,” I said with a smile.

“You promise?” He asked with his big, blue, doey eyes and I wished he hadn’t asked that, or looked at me the way he did, not wanting to give him an empty promise, but..

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“..Yeah.. I promise, big guy,” I replied as I kept my soft smile, tousling his hair and I was happy to see a smile return to his lips, too, “We’ll see you tomorrow. I love you and take care of your brothers, okay? Keep Luca under control,” I continued and he nodded softly.

“I will. Love you, too,” he answered.

“All right.. Go inside and eat,” I instructed and he did as I said, watching him walk off towards the back door and he went inside as I then took my leave, too, and went to the car to go my appointment.

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Now, instead of having Isaiah on my mind, I thought of our boys.. I thought of August and the fact that he was nothing like either Jody or I, which I was grateful for.. He was his own unique person. He wasn’t conniving or demanding or possessive, nor was he shy or weak or unreliable, he was a good, strong kid with a good head on his shoulders, and although it was a little difficult to joke around with him and get him to loosen up sometimes, he was still full of compassion and always knew exactly what he wanted and what would make him happy. I smiled to myself as I then thought of Luca, our wild and crazy child that loved doing things he knew was wrong or inappropriate just to get us to chase after him around the house. He was a lot like Isaiah, outgoing, playful and cocky at times, but a little more rambunctious and he also thrived for attention and looked to impress.. Pretty much everything that Isaiah is, just multiplied by ten. And Niko, our sweet, genuine, cuddle bug, Niko.. Probably the most caring and giving person I’ve ever met and he’s only just under two years old. He’s the easiest to get to sleep, the easiest to discipline because he never does anything wrong, and the one that can melt your heart the quickest. If he’s playing with something and he notices you crying or not having a good time, he’ll give you the thing he loves that he’s playing with just to see you happy.. He also adores being held and shown affection and if you treat him well and with plenty of love, he’ll return the same thing tenfold..

I couldn’t even imagine stopping after him and just the thought of being forced to give up the potential of making more children that I couldn’t be prouder of to call my own made me feel dejected.. I just hope by the end of the night and by the time Isaiah and I finish talking, he wants the exact same thing I do.

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I didn’t have that far to drive, only taking me about twenty minutes to get to my appointment and when I pulled into the driveway, I saw my patient’s mother outside tending to her garden. She was a pretty attractive woman, I guess, though far from being my type.. She was a little too forward and she reminded me of a Stepford Wife.. Who the hell gardens in a dress and heels?

“Hey, Mrs. Green,” I announced when I got closer to her and she looked back at me.

“Oh, Oliver! It’s good to see you,” she replied, acting a little too excited to see me.

“How are you?”

I watched her stand and she faced me as I approached her, “I’m doing just lovely, sweetheart. And how many times have I told you to call me Brooke?” She teased and I chuckled.

“More than I can count on two hands, I believe,” I answered and she giggled. She seemed to like to get a little too familiar with me on occasion and I didn’t really enjoy it, so I preferred to address her formally to help remind her that she was married.. She knew full well that I was married to Isaiah, too, but nothing really seemed to stop her from flirting.. It’s as if she somehow knew I wasn’t only into men and she convinced herself that there was a chance between us.

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“How are those beautiful boys of yours doing?” She questioned and although I really loved bragging about how wonderful my children were, I didn’t like discussing them with her.. She always found a way to turn innocent chatting about my boys into obvious come-on’s towards me, and that in itself, made me so much more uncomfortable.

“They’re doing really well, Mrs. Green, thanks for asking..”

“One of these days I’m going to meet them instead of just be shown pictures. They’re just so cute and adorable and I have a pretty good guess as to who they get it from,” she hinted and I gave her a rather uneasy pity-laugh.

“Yeah, well.. They take after my husband, mostly, so I’ll agree with you on that note,” I replied and I could tell she didn’t much prefer that response, so she changed the subject.. Thank the heavens.

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“I missed seeing you around here and spending time with us. During your short leave, we had to find a temporary physical therapist, but no one gets through to Blair like you do, so it was difficult. She’s actually rather upset with you and told me to cancel the appointment, but I pushed her a little to go through with it anyways,” she added, feeling a bit displeased with myself for making Blair feel that way, as well as feeling uncomfortable from Mrs. Green’s words and how she probably wanted me here more than Blair, at the moment.

“Again, I apologize for not being here for her, there were just some personal matters that I had to deal with.. Maybe I can get her back to her normal self and hopefully she’ll understand that I didn’t want to leave her, I just needed to temporarily,” I replied and she smiled.

“Well, isn’t that nice. It’s always reassuring to hear that you want to be here and don’t feel obligated like all the rest of them have,” she complimented, touching my arm briefly and I squirmed a little.

“It’s my job, as well as what I enjoy, so of course I’d come back for her,” I paused briefly before trying to get away from the situation and trying my hardest to make her see I was here for my patient and not the patient’s horny mother that I wanted nothing to do with.

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I’m going to go see if I can get her out of bed,” I continued as I motioned with a hitchhikers hand behind me and Mrs. Green nodded when I began to step backwards slowly towards the house.

“Oh, of course, go, go! Listen to me rambling on and on,” she joked, “It’s good to have you back, Oliver, and if you need anything at all, anything, just holler,” she added and I almost gagged.

“Thanks, Mrs. Green,” I replied, finally able to get out of that situation and I stepped inside of the large house.

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Despite the downside of Mrs. Green, coming to this patient’s house was my favorite. Blair was a quiet and shy person, much like myself, but we got along really well.. The first time I met her, the only things spoken were my instructions during her stretching.. I never pushed her or forced her to have a conversation with me, which I’ve noticed a lot of other physical therapists like to do and I think that’s why she liked me the most, the fact that I wasn’t like the rest of them. The second time I saw Blair for an appointment, Mr. Green stopped me afterward and told me how positive she had been lately, and also how I was the first therapist she’s had that’s come back for a second time, or rather, has been allowed back.. I was happy to say that today was my twelfth appointment with her.

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After removing my shoes, I made my way upstairs to Blair’s room, knocking on the door softly and listening for a moment, but I didn’t hear anything.

“Blair?” I questioned, though silence still lingered, “Hey, it’s Oliver.. Can I come in, please?” I continued, but still nothing. This was the same way she acted when I had first met her.. Quiet, stubborn, trying to ignore me.. I could tell she hated being seen in her bed, I knew she hated the fact that she couldn’t go outside and play so easily as she used to be able to, and I knew she hated needing help, which is why it was sometimes difficult for her to let me into her room.. She had a very capable and strong mind and she hated being pitied.. She’s been without me for a little over a month when I normally see her twice a week, so I forced her to be with other therapists that I knew she hated and she had to deal with others that didn’t understand her like I did.. It probably felt like she was starting all over again with trying to find a good therapist and just when she was getting really used to me, I leave her.. I completely understood why she would be upset with me, and upset in general.

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I knocked again, “Come on, Blair..”

“..Fine, you can come in..” She eventually replied and I smirked, opening her door slowly and seeing her sitting on her bed, deliberately not looking in my direction and I shut the door behind myself. At first, I didn’t acknowledge her, knowing she wouldn’t want to talk to me, anyways, so I went over to her dresser and opened the bottom drawer, removing the rolled up mat I had given her on our first appointment and I opened the sliding door to go outside, letting the gentle breeze into her room and I unrolled the mat in an open area for her to sit on.

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I then came back inside and I stood there in the silence of her room, looking at her and waiting for her to look at me, but I knew she wouldn’t.. I stepped up to her bed, putting out my hand for her to take and I watched as her eyes looked at it for a long moment, knowing she was hesitating because she was upset with me, but when I motioned with my fingers with more implication that I wanted her hand, she sighed softly and finally put hers into mine.

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I helped her sit up, Blair then facing me and I then took both of her hands, waiting for her to stand from the bed at her own pace. Her eyes held worry as she looked up to me, but once I gave her an encouraging smile, her view went back down to her legs and slowly, she scooted off of the bed and her feet met the ground. I held her hands tightly, feeling her using me as a support so she didn’t lose her balance and I stepped backward towards the open sliding door that led out onto the deck as she slowly followed, going one hundred percent at her pace as I helped her walk outside. Blair had been hit by a car while riding her bicycle and it shattered one of her knees while the other was only slightly fractured, and although getting her to walk again, let alone back onto a bike, would take a lot of time, she had a strong will and she was moving at a much quicker recovery pace than any other patient I’ve worked with that had bad knees.

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When we got to the mat I had rolled out for her, I knew bending down was still a little much, so I picked her up within my arms and bent myself down to help her sit on the mat comfortably and to not strain her knees too much. I then sat down next to her, looking at her with the same smile on my lips and she still tried to act as if I wasn’t here.

“..Going to ignore me the whole time that I’m here?” I asked and she still didn’t talk to me, but I figured it would be like this for a little while.

“Have it your way..” I continued, deciding to let her be for now, “Why don’t you start by stretching first for a few minutes before we start your exercises,” I suggested, watching as Blair then still didn’t answer me, but at least I knew she was listening to me when I saw her beginning to do her stretches.

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As Blair stretched, I wondered what I could say to her that would get her to talk to me again and I didn’t like the fact that today, I had to deal with Blair who was angry with me, and then later, I’d have to deal with Isaiah.. I didn’t like being surrounded by people that were upset with me and I hated that all that I’ve been saying lately, it seemed, is “I’m sorry”. I really need to work on not fucking up all the time.

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“Let’s do your leg raises now,” I proposed first when I thought she had stretched long enough, watching her lie back and prop herself up on her elbows and I held out my hand above her foot to give her a lift requirement. 

“Do ten lifts up to here,” I began and she started lifting her leg until her toes touched the palm of my hand, but she was still quiet.. 

I sighed softly, “Blair, look.. I’m sorry I wasn’t here.. I know it took a long time for you to find someone you’re comfortable with and I’m sorry for forcing you to get used to other people I’m sure you didn’t like, but.. I had something I had to deal with at home and I just couldn’t do my job. It’s nothing against you, I didn’t see any of my patients, I just needed that time off to fix something I broke, okay?” I tried to console her and she finally looked at me without a scowl on her face that only aimed to make me feel guilty.

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“..What happened?” She asked and I chuckled.

“You wouldn’t understand if I told you. Let’s just say I made some poor choices and my husband didn’t like them,” I replied.

“What did you do?” She asked next and I sighed with a smile on my lips.

“Let’s get back to your exercising, shall we?” I suggested.

“I guess it’s okay,” she brought up as she continued to do her leg lifts.

“What is?”

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“It’s okay that you weren’t here, I understand.. It was just lame because all my mom did was complain and tell me how difficult I was being. She said you’d be back soon and everything, but she doesn’t understand how all of the rest of them make me feel. They push me too hard and they’re always yelling in my face with these stupid dumb smiles like smiling makes it easier and they make me feel like I’m not doing good enough, even if I try my hardest,” she expressed and I felt even more guilty.

“I’m sorry, Blair.. Now keep your leg elevated like this for ten seconds,” I instructed and her face was uncomfortable as the seconds passed, but if she was in pain, she would’ve told me.

When the ten seconds was up, she let her leg drop, “Good job, now the other one,” I advised and she repeated what we had just done with her other leg, “And I know how you feel, Blair, but I don’t plan on taking another leave of absence anytime soon, so you don’t have to worry about putting up with anymore lame-o’s for a long time,” I joked and she giggled softly.

“Good..”

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I had Blair do a few more exercises, including hamstring curls, calf raises, and even hip abductions, for about thirty more minutes before moving on to something else, something that I knew she would both love and hate. Blair wasn’t a fan of walking by herself yet, even though she’s already done it a couple times with me, but with the right persuasive enticements, I knew she could do this. 

“All right, Blair, ready to walk by yourself?” I asked as I stood up, looking down at her and noticing her worried brows.

“Already?”

“Yup, you’re all warmed up now. I know you can and I know you can get further today than you have been.. Come on,” I invited, holding out my hand for her to take and she uneasily placed her hand within mine.

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I pulled her up to her feet and while being her support again, I walked her over to where the decks ledge was, as well as a balancing bar and she placed her hands on those instead of my hands when we reached it. I stepped back slowly, letting her get her balance while remaining on high alert for her just in case her knees were to give out, but I’d be there quick enough to catch her. 

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“How far do I have to walk today?” She asked and I thought for a moment.

“How about all the way ’til the end?” I suggested and she looked at me as if I were crazy.

“What!? That’s so far!” Blair complained.

“You’ve gotten more than half way the last two times we did this and you have both railings to help you, as well as myself, if you need it.. I think you can go the whole way, though, and you know I won’t let you fall,” I encouraged and although she still didn’t seem too thrilled, I had a feeling I knew what I could do to get her to do it.

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“I’ll tell you what.. If you make it all the way to the end without my help, I’ll put in a good word with August for you.. It’ll be your reward for doing good, as well as an apology from me for not being here for you,” I offered and she fell silent as she looked at me with a grin on my lips. I talk to her about my kids a lot and she enjoys hearing stories about them, but she liked hearing about August the most. They were in the same grade, went to the same school, they even had a few classes together. By about our third appointment, she found out I was August’s Dad and ever since then, I could tell she had a crush on my son, though I wasn’t even sure if she knew what a crush was at her young age..

“What makes you think I care? Boys are gross,” she replied and I chuckled.

“All right, fine, if you don’t want me to, then-“

“N-No! Wait! ..I do..” She admitted, seeing a slight blush to her cheeks as she looked away from me in embarrassment and I kept my smile.

“Well, all right then. Start whenever you’re ready, Blair. I’m right here, too, so don’t worry,” I encouraged and I watched her nod with slight concern in her eyes, though the more I watched her, I could tell she was talking herself up in her head and her expression began to turn rather determined.

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It took a moment for her to gather her confidence and her will to do this on her own, as well as needing to make it all the way to the end and I knew she was worried that she wouldn’t make it without my help, but her and I both knew she could do it. I simply kept silent as she began walking, watching the expression on her face intently and the moment she would make a face as if she were in pain, I’d be there to catch her.. But, until I saw her do that, I’d stand here waiting and continuing to let her do this by herself.

“Good job, Blair.. You’re half way.. Don’t rush yourself, take your time,” I advised and she nodded with determination still in her eyes. Blair continued on, her hands just above the bar and the decks ledge for support, but her walking was rather impressive, to say the least.. She had come so far and she recovered so well, I didn’t doubt that she’d be running in less that a few months if she kept up with her stretching and exercises with me.

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Step by step, she kept getting closer to me and when she was about two feet away, I held out my hands to catch her just in case, but when I noticed a smile on her lips, I could tell she didn’t need my help.

“Excellent job, Blair. I knew you could do it,” I said with joy, seeing her then take her final step and she reached out for me where I then caught her and she smiled bigger than I had ever seen her smile before.

“I made it!” She said happily.

“You sure did,” I confirmed, “I think that’s enough for today, don’t you think?” I wondered and she nodded.

“Yeah, for sure.. My knees are throbbing,” she said with a weak giggle and I kept my smile.

“Okay, well, let’s go back over to the mat so you can stretch one last time, then I’ll take you back to your room,” I suggested and she nodded happily before I assisted her back over to the mat and helped her sit down. Every different stretch, whether it was her left leg, her right, or both, I made her hold it there for ten seconds each time and I knew it burned for her to do that, but burning meant progress, and I knew she’d thank me later for making her stretch this much.

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After she stretched for a long time, it was time for me to leave and get back home so I could be ready to talk to Isaiah, so I picked her up and took her back inside. I put her back into her bed before going back outside, rolling up her mat and returning it to the bottom drawer in her dresser, then shut the sliding door behind me.

“Will I see you Friday?” She asked and I could see the hope in her eyes.

“Yup. We’re back to every Tuesday and Friday, just like it used to be,” I confirmed and she smiled.

“Okay, good.. If I had to go through one more therapist yelling at my face ‘You can do it! Do it! Do iiittt!’, I was going to freak out,” she mocked them and I chuckled.

“Well, lucky for you, I won’t ever put you through that again, I promise,” I replied and she seemed genuinely happy that I was back.

“Thanks, Oliver,” she added.

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“You don’t ever have to thank me, Blair, just keep that positive attitude and do your stretches every day. Maybe when you feel comfortable enough to go to the park with me, I’ll bring along August and you two can go on a little play date,” I added and her eyes went wide.

“Hey, shut up!” She called out with a red face and a smile on her lips, causing me to laugh.

“All right, Blair, I’ll see you Friday,” I made my leave and she waved.

“Yeah, see ya!” She replied and I stepped out of her room, shutting the door behind me and going downstairs.

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When I came downstairs, I heard someone in the kitchen and I peaked around the staircase, seeing Mr. and Mrs. Green preparing for dinner.. It wasn’t often that I saw them in the same room together, and it was even rarer to see Mr. Green at home.. He usually always worked late, or was stuck in his office doing work from home.

“All done for the day, see you Friday!” I called out and they both looked towards me.

“Ah, Oliver! Glad to have you back,” Mr. Green called out, seeing him escape from his wife to come over and talk to me. I didn’t blame him one bit for wanting to get away from her..

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He stuck out his hand and I accepted it, shaking his with my own and he seemed genuinely pleased to see me.

“How’s my little girl doing?” He asked and I smiled.

“She’s doing wonderful, really, but I want to apologize again for not being here for her.. I know it’s really hard for her to open up to people and I’m the only one she seems to like, but I wasn’t here for her and I made her go through, from what I hear, some pretty annoying substitutes.. It won’t happen again and today is the first of many more days to come that I’ll be here to get her up out of bed and onto her feet.. I’m sure if she sticks to her stretching and exercises, as well as our appointments, she’ll be running around in no time at all,” I answered and he smiled, though it seemed as if he was trying to hold back tears..?

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“That’s great, that really makes me so happy to hear. Thank you so much for, well, just existing, because I don’t think we would’ve found anyone as good for her as you are. You really get through to her like no one else can,” he answered and I nodded in appreciation.. I’m sure she liked me because of how I was with her, but having August as my son was proving to be rather beneficial, too, since she had an innocent crush on him.. At times, she seemed to be fueled by the thought of August liking her in any way.

“Well, thank you.. I’m glad I can be here for her and help her heal, it’s what I love to do,” I replied and he stuck out his hand again for me to shake and I took it without hesitation.

“Thanks again, Oliver,” he added and I nodded once again before taking my leave, putting my shoes back on and walking out to the car.

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As I drove home, I realized that all I had to do now was wait for Isaiah to get home from work so we could talk.. It was a little after six in the evening and I knew I had at least three and a half hours to prepare myself for whatever was going to happen, but if he doesn’t want to stay together, how the hell do I prepare myself for a break up? I guess there really is no preparing for that.. It’s going to hurt like nothing else I’ve ever felt before, it’s going to completely destroy me and there really is no telling how I’ll fully react if it happens, but I just hoped with every fiber of my being that I was just worrying for nothing.. Hoping that it wouldn’t happen and that everything would be okay, but.. I had to be honest, I didn’t have the slightest clue as to what might happen tonight..

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When I got home and came into the house, I didn’t like how quiet it was.. Without the boys to entertain and with Isaiah still at work, I had no idea what to do with myself. As I stepped over to the kitchen, I looked around at all the stuff scattered about on the counter and I had forgotten to clean up this morning after breakfast, but I was easily distracted away from it when Isaiah proposed that we talk later tonight.. The silence of the entire house made me uneasy and uncomfortable, and as if mimicking a statue, I stood there motionless, not hungry or thirsty or really even looking to be in here at the moment, but I was at a loss of what to do in the house alone.. I didn’t like the thought of this possibly being the last night I get to stand in my own kitchen and see it so messy from breakfast with our energetic boys, but taking a mental picture was better than nothing, I guess..

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As I stepped more into the kitchen, I began cleaning it up a little.. I collected all of the sippy-cups and kiddy plates, as well as Isaiah and I’s coffee mugs and bowls from cereal and I put everything into the sink. I put uneaten fruit into the fridge, put the cereal box away and wiped down the counter tops, then stepped over to the sink to wash all of the dishes I had collected. As I cleaned up, I couldn’t help but wonder if I’d get a chance to have more mornings like the one I did earlier with all of us in the same room.. What would happen exactly if we did break up? Would either of us keep the house, or would we sell it? Who would get the kids on weekdays and who’d get them on the weekends? ..Who would they choose to be with? Hell, knowing what I’ve done to people, to ones I both hate and love alike, it would be more logical, and safer, for them to be with Isaiah. Without him by my side, I think I’d make a terrible father.. I’d be lost without him.

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When I was done in the kitchen, I was pacing blindly throughout the house, nothing to do, no one to talk to, nothing to clean up or even straighten out.. Everything seemed to be, coincidentally, already in its place, or maybe I just never noticed how everything usually was since I was always distracted by the boys..? Either way, there seemed to be nothing for me to do or occupy myself with while I waited for Isaiah to get home and I knew I’d get anxious and antsy if I just sat around for the remaining hours I had left before he got here.. I succumbed to taking a shower just to waste time, spending roughly forty-five minutes cleaning myself as well as just standing there and spacing out at times.. I wondered if Isaiah was as nervous as me and just wanted to get this all over with like I did..

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When there was still two hours left before Isaiah would be home and I was clean, clothed, dabbed with cologne and everything about me lying just right, I ended up sitting on our bed and watching television, unable to think of anything else to do. I guess I should be thinking about what to expect with Isaiah, planning out what to say if things go good or bad, but at the same time, I kind of wanted to just play it by ear and see what happens before I go trying to figure out how I might act.. I wanted things to be natural, I wanted things to pan out how they should and either way, if he was doing what was best for himself and for our children, it didn’t matter to me what the decision was..

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Pah! Who am I kidding? I cared more than anything about what his decision would be.. I said sorry so many times, he knew exactly how guilty I felt about everything and he knew that I was beating myself up for over a month for doing things to him he specifically told me not to, but after all this progress, how could he even think to leave me? To leave this family we worked so, so hard at creating and what took us so long to achieve together despite all of the speed bumps along the way? How could he do something like that? I’d do everything in my power to make this family work and if he wasn’t willing to do the same, then maybe things just really weren’t meant to be.. But, wait.. Why the hell am I getting so angry? I’m not even making any sense.. I’m acting as if he had made this decision already to leave me and I was actually getting sad as well as enraged at just the thought of it.. I took a deep breath, letting it out slowly and convincing myself to calm down and stay collected. I’d truly hate myself if I went into this conversation already angry.

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After watching television for as long as I could possibly stand, looking over to the clock and seeing it was nearly nine at night, I honestly couldn’t wait until nine-thirty when Isaiah normally walked through the door.. I figured that if I got there before he closed the bar, I could as least convince him to give me a stiff drink to handle whatever he had to tell me.. With a great exuberance of random energy, I stood from the bed with a sense of rare determination and I marched through the house towards the front door and went out to the car, getting into his Mercedes and pulling out of the driveway without even checking the road and I quickly put it into drive so I could race to his work. I was sick of waiting to hear what he had to say, I was sick of letting my mind take me to places that I hated and I was sick of not being around him in general.. I was ready, and I wanted to get this the hell over with.

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When I pulled into the parking lot, I saw my car and how most of the lights were still on, knowing he was still here and I quickly pulled into an empty spot and parked. I checked my phone before getting out and it was a little after nine, assuming all the customers were gone by now and I made my way towards the front door, but I stopped on the deck when I noticed Isaiah through the window, standing at the bar and wiping glasses clean, one after another.. It seemed innocent enough, as if he was doing his job without even a sliver of me on his mind, though when I noticed him lose grip of the glass he cleaned and he desperately tried his best to catch it, it fell to the ground and I heard it break from outside.. I wanted to run in and help him clean it up, though when I saw him stand there and not begin cleaning it up himself, I wondered if he was actually nervous.. I wondered if he was shaking like I was, heart trembling like mine had been, feet immobile like mine were.. God, I loved him so much..

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Eventually, I remembered how to walk again and after getting passed the feeling of having cold feet, I stepped up to the door, testing the handle and I noticed he hadn’t locked the doors yet, so I slowly opened it and stepped in as he had just finished picking up the pieces of the broken glass and threw them away.

“..Sorry, we’re closed for the night. Last call was half an hour ago,” he said with a rather distant tone as he then began wiping down the counter tops and his words instantly reminded me of the first time we met.. He said something almost identical to it that very lonely night on Thanksgiving six years ago when I wanted company with anyone else but my family, and a seemingly simple bartender past closing time was what I had settled with.. The same bartender I realized later that wasn’t so simple, but completely amazing and the love of my life.

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“Can you make an exception for a face like mine?” I questioned, quoting him from that first time and instantly, his head looked up from the counter top and just from the look in his eyes from my words, I could tell he knew exactly where and when I was quoting him from. 

His expression was just as soft as the smirk that formed on his lips, “Sure.. You look like you could use a drink,” he replied and I couldn’t help but take that as a good sign.

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“What do you want to drink?” He asked as I approached the bar slowly with my hands in my front pant pockets, my heart racing much quicker now than when we had first met and I felt as if he could tell, “Whiskey on the rocks?” He offered and I chuckled quietly, watching him then gesture with his hand towards a stool as an invitation for me to sit down.

“You remembered,” I replied as I finally grabbed a seat.

“How could I forget?” He asked rhetorically, watching him grab a glass and throw in a few ice cubes before filling it generously with liquor, “You know, this is pretty expensive stuff.. You sure you can pay for it?” He asked next, quoting another part of our conversation from long ago, and if I dared to believed it, I’d say he was flirting with me.

I could already feel my cheeks getting warm, “I know the owner.. He won’t mind if I put it on his tab,” I said playfully in return and I watched him grin, though I noticed he tried to hide it by looking back down at the counter top and continue to clean it.. This was already going well, right?

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“You look really good tonight,” he expressed under his breath softly and I felt my cheeks blush even more, liking that he had noticed the trouble I went through to look my best for him.. I had only been talking to him for thirty seconds and already I felt as if I was on fire, but it’s how I always felt around him and I missed hearing sweet words from him so, so much.

“Thanks.. Might as well try to look good for either the best or worst news of my life,” I replied under my own breath, but I wasn’t sure if he heard me, “I-I, uhm..” I started as I grabbed the glass and slid it in front of myself, feeling as if we should possibly drop the casual talk, or flirting, whatever it was, and get right down to it, “Sorry, but I couldn’t wait any more.. I got back from my appointment and had close to four hours to wait for you to get home, but I was going crazy just sitting there doing nothing, so.. I hope you don’t mind that I came here.. I needed a stiff drink, anyways,” I admitted, looking up to him with slight worry in my brow as well as my tone.

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“It’s okay. Where are the boys?” He asked casually and I somewhat despised how he could hold himself together so well that I could never tell if his heart was racing as fast as mine. I was irritated as well as envious of his poker face.

“They’re at Cybal’s.. I, uhm.. I told her we were talking tonight, so she volunteered to have them sleep over.. They’re there for the whole night, sooo.. Yeah,” I replied with a nervous quake in my words, seeing one of his brows jump up curiously and I couldn’t help but think he was happy to hear it since it gave us the entire night to ourselves, but then again, at a tense moment like this when there was still so much to talk about, I had no idea what any of his expressions truly meant.

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“Today’s Tuesday, so you saw Blair?” He guessed right and I nodded, “Did her mom hit on you again?” He then questioned and I chuckled softly, taking a quick sip of my drink before answering.. Was he avoiding the blindingly obvious subject that we needed to talk about?

“Yeah, she did.. She even touched my arm all sensual-like after trying to imply that our boys’ good looks came from me.. But, I said they got it from you and she actually seemed kind of pissed that I said that instead of flirting back with her,” I replied and he seemed genuinely pleased by this. 

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“That old bat,” he commented and I grinned.

“She’s forty.. Only a year older than you,” I pointed out and he acted as if my words weren’t true, or rather, preposterous. 

“That’s besides the point,” he added with a soft laugh, “She just never gives up, huh?” He asked rhetorically again and I kept my grin, “I guess I wouldn’t either if it was you in front of me,” he implied and I thought I was going to burst if he kept up with this flirting.. It kept coming up out of nowhere and I was never prepared for it. I planted my eyes on my drink in an attempt to hide how turned on I was, knowing this wasn’t the time nor the setting to fulfill that type of urge and I didn’t want to look up to see whatever expression he was making. Instead, I watched the ice cubes swirl around in my drink and clink against the edges of the glass, trying my best to think of things more appropriate for the moment..

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“Are you going to drink with me, or am I doing this alone? ..I gotta say, I’m insanely nervous and I kind of need it.. Ever since you said you wanted to talk, I’ve been.. Well.. I’ve been on edge all day,” I added, looking up to him finally and I could tell he was listening to me intently, “So.. Will you drink with me, like you did at the old place when we first met?” I asked, watching as a smirk slowly formed on his lips and he nodded softly.

“Yeah, sure.. Let me finish up down here and I’ll share a drink with you upstairs. It’s a little more relaxing and private up there in my office, anyhow.. I’ll be there in a few minutes,” he suggested and I nodded in agreement, taking my glass with me and standing from the stool to go upstairs to his office and to let him finish closing up.

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I went upstairs and through the door to where the lounge was, being hit by a thin wall of smoke and breathing in the lingering scent of cigars and expensive colognes brought back even more memories with Isaiah.. The night he first kissed me.. I barely knew him at the time, all that I knew was that he was new in town, owned a bar, was really nice, and had a thing for me. I was so surprised with myself that night looking back on it now.. I’m not very social with people I don’t know, but he made me feel comfortable and it actually felt good talking to him, as if I had known him for years already. I was nervous when he first invited me up to the VIP area at the old bar, feeling a little trapped at first, but he made me feel comfortable with that, too.. And when he kissed me? It was the most intense feeling that had ever come over me, but I freaked out like a wimp and ran away.. I guess it’s a good and bad memory at the same time.

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This bar was a little more laid back than the one up in Oregon, though still pretty high-end for a more ‘mature’ crowd, and this lounge was a lot smaller than the other, but at least he had an office at this location so he didn’t have to do his paperwork and ordering behind the bar when there were customers. I grew bored of the lounge quickly and made my way to the door to his office and stepped in, shutting it behind me and it was a little hard to see at first through the dark, though I didn’t rush to turn on the lights when I looked to the view he had.. The ocean glowing under the moon that reflected into the room was enough light for me and I could probably stand here for hours looking out these windows and never get bored of it. 

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My eye caught movement to my right and I noticed the monitors mounted on the wall behind his desk, one for the front door, one for the bar, one for the dining area and one for the lounge just outside of this room. I set down my glass on his desk and stepped over to them, watching Isaiah behind the bar downstairs and I squinted just slightly in an attempt to figure out what he was doing.. Was he talking to himself? Was he nervous and practicing what to say to me? I was both a little excited as well as worried for what he might be practicing for, but when I noticed him then straightening out his clothes and his hair, I couldn’t help but crack a smile in hopes that he was trying to look good for me.. He didn’t have to do much to look good, but I loved whenever he put forth the effort, especially for a situation such as this one.. It showed that he cared, so it was a good sign, wasn’t it?

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I noticed Isaiah then step out from behind the bar and he was making his way to the stairs, so I quickly crept away from the monitors to make it seem as if I hadn’t been watching him prepare himself to face me, grabbing my drink from his desk and bringing it over to the coffee table, instead. I sat down and waited for him, starring out the big windows and the beat of my heart began to pick up its pace as I waited for him to walk through the door, and when he did, I looked over to see his expression a little confused.

“Why is it so dark in here?” He questioned as he shut the door behind him and I had completely forgot to turn the lights on since I had gotten used to the darkness.

“Oh, s-sorry.. I saw the view out back and turning the lights on slipped my mind,” I replied, hearing him then flip a switch for the lights and he stepped over towards the monitors to turn each of them off one by one. I thought the lights would sting my eyes, but I had forgotten about the ambiance of his office.. He only ever turned on the ones with colored bulbs when he wanted to accomplish a certain mood, a mood he enjoyed being in whenever I used to stop by his work to have a rare drink with him when we didn’t have to watch the boys.. I think he had succeeded at creating the mood he wanted when I felt myself getting more nervous, as well as even the slightest bit excited by what this kind of setting usually meant during past occasions.. This was yet another good sign, it had to be..

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I kept my view towards the coffee table, staring at my drink and watching the ice slowly melt as I listened to Isaiah at his personal bar pouring himself a drink like he had said he would downstairs, and when he was finished, he came over to the area I was in and sat across from me on the gray couch. Before either of us spoke, we both took a quick sip of our drinks and it seemed as if both of us had our tongues tied, but eventually, after a minute or two of silence, Isaiah finally spoke first.

“Oliver, I.. I actually don’t know where to start. If you haven’t noticed, I’ve been trying to think of how to start by avoiding the subject,” Isaiah began with a quick chuckle, swirling his own glass of iced whiskey and then taking another quick sip of it before continuing, “Well, before you say anything, I want to apologize to you,” he finally began, but I was already blown away by his words.

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“Isaiah, you have nothing to be sorry for, believe me, it was all me, and-“

“No, no, please, Oliver.. Let me say what I want to say,” he pushed and I stopped, letting him have all the time he needed as I took another sip of my drink to help continue to calm my nerves.

Isaiah went on, “First, I’m sorry that it took me so long to talk to you. After you told me the truth about you kissing Jody, I just completely lost it and I was so angry and inconsolable that I just couldn’t focus on anything else and I thought I’d never forgive you.. After you told me that, I didn’t have an open mind anymore and everything you said after that was just another lie to me, even if it wasn’t, and I’m sorry for that, too.. It wasn’t fair to you,” he stated, hesitating a short moment before continuing, but already I felt as if tears were going to form in my eyes. He, in my mind, had nothing, absolutely nothing to apologize for, but here he was doing it.. 

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“I’ve never told you about my past relationships because I was embarrassed, because I thought there was something wrong with me and I could never figure out what it was, but I.. I suppose there’s no easy way for me to say this, so I’ll just come out and say it.. I was cheated on and lied to.. Numerous times, actually.. I’ve been in a decent amount of relationships and about ninety percent of them have ended because they cheated on me or lied to me about something inexcusable.. I made poor choices in guys, I guess, or maybe they made the right choice by being with a young, stupid, gullible me, but.. After being with you for this long and being lied to about something like that, even if it was just a kiss, hearing that it had happened again and with the one person I thought would never do such a thing, it just.. It killed me. I didn’t hate you for it, though, like I had hated everyone else. I was more so completely furious with myself for being so in love with you to the point where leaving you was never even an option.. I never thought about it once, even after everything you did.. I might be crazy for not doing it, or maybe I’m crazy for not even considering it given my past experiences an’all, I don’t know, but.. I just can’t do it,” he expressed, but before I could say anything, there was still more on his mind.

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“I want you to know that I forgive you, and I understand now that you doing that was out of necessity and not because you didn’t care about hurting me, but because you loved me.. I believe I should’ve been thanking you instead of punishing you for trying your best to keep her out of our lives, so.. Thank you,” he expressed and I thought that that was a little much, but I didn’t cut him off, “I’m not trying to make you feel worse by telling you about my past, either, I just wanted you to see why I had gotten so upset by you kissing her and why I had completely lost it and ignored you for so long. I just didn’t know how to handle it, but I know you’re sorry, and.. I’m sorry, too,” he explained and I knew he didn’t mean to make me feel bad, but I couldn’t help it.. I felt bad that I put him through that pain again and I felt bad that he had been treated so poorly, but at the same time, I was so beyond ecstatic to hear that he wasn’t going to leave me and never even let it cross his mind.

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“Oliver..?” Isaiah questioned, most likely noticing that I’ve been trying to avoid letting him see the tears in my eyes. I tried so hard to hold them back, but I couldn’t, feeling my tears fall down my face and I reached up to quickly wipe them off my cheeks.

“Are you crying?” Isaiah asked with concern and I chuckled.

“I’m sorry, you just told me such shitty things that happened to you and I want to be sad for you, I am sad for you, I’m just.. I’m so goddamn happy to hear you’re not going to leave me.. Every day got worse for me and every day I had to convince myself that it wasn’t going to happen.. I just never knew for sure.. But, waiting to hear it all along and finally hearing it now, I.. I’m just so happy,” I replied, finally managing to wipe every tear away and keep anymore from falling.

I looked up to Isaiah, seeing a soft smile on his lips, “Well, I’m sorry it took me so long to say it. And no more crying, I hate when you cry, even if they’re happy tears,” he replied and I chuckled softly again, “I have more to say, too, so just hang in there a little longer, okay?” He added and I nodded.

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“Secondly, I want to apologize for comparing you to Jody during our fight. I’ll never know the full extent of Jody’s obsession with you, but I do believe it was an incredibly unhealthy obsession and I do believe that you wanted nothing to do with her. I’m sorry you ever had to put up with her, too. I know now that everything you did was for the good of us and you never once preferred her over me, which I’m sorry it took me so long to realize that and I’m sorry that I ever questioned it.. I should’ve believed you from the very beginning,” he acknowledged next and I let out a relieved sigh.. It was such a great solace to hear that from him.

“Thank you,” I replied and he gave a soft nod.

“And she better not ever come looking for you or August, or I might just do something that I’m not even very comfortable talking about and you’d probably think I was crazy or something, so just don’t even ask. I won’t let her come between us again,” he said with a serious tone and I smiled nervously.. If only he knew that I had already taken care of that problem.. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the meaning behind his words.

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Isaiah then continued, “And lastly, Oliver.. You’re not a bad person, not even in the slightest, and I’m sorry that I ever thought that and ever said that to you. You’re the most caring, sweet, wonderful man that I’ve ever been lucky enough to meet and start a family with. Without you, without our boys, I don’t even want to know what kind of life that would be.. I love you so much, Oliver, so damn much that I don’t think you’ll ever fully understand just how much that truly is,” he finished and I was so beyond happy, my tongue was caught in my throat and I thought I was going to start crying again if I managed to find any words. I hadn’t heard him tell me that he loved me in a month and a half and each day I went without hearing it was harder and harder to get through, but after hearing it now, I couldn’t describe how much joy I felt.

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I heard Isaiah then chuckle nervously, “Oliver, don’t let me see tears in those eyes again.. Say something,” he requested and I smiled.

“S-Sorry, I’m just so happy.. And I can understand what you mean, ’cause it’s the exact same way I feel about you, too.. I love you more than you could ever know,” I answered and he smiled radiantly.

“Good.. So, no more avoiding eye contact, no more avoiding one another in general,” he started putting down a few ground rules, some much needed, back-to-normal ground rules.

“We have to say we love one another at least once a day,” I added and he nodded strongly.

“Agreed. I can’t even tell you how much I’ve missed that.”

“Me, too.. And you have to stop wasting my cologne.. It’s expensive,” I pointed out and he averted his eyes from mine momentarily out of embarrassment.

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“I won’t have to waste it if you start sleeping with me again,” he suggested, his eyes coming back up to meet mine with a hopeful gaze and I knew my cheeks were a brilliant red at the thought of being in bed with him, but thank goodness it was still a little dim in his office.

“..I’ll start bringing my stuff back in the house first thing in the morning,” I replied and he seemed just as pleased and eager as I was to have things go back to how they used to be.

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I then watched as a grin slowly crept over Isaiah’s lips, seeing him raise his hand and with a simple gesture towards me with his index finger to come over to him, my heart skipped a beat and without hesitating a single moment, I set down my drink and stood from my seat quickly, eager to go over to him. His right hand then raised with the left and they slid slowly over my hips, pulling me close and he looked up to me with a serious expression, his eyes holding a slight concern.

“Honestly, Oliver, I don’t care anymore and I don’t ever want to think about or talk about this again. It’s all in the past now and I just want things to go back to how they were,” he took the words right out of my mouth and I reached to touch the side of his face, able to feel the warmth behind his words through the soft skin of his cheek.

“I couldn’t agree more,” I replied and I then felt as he pulled my hips gently to invite me in, a smirk glued to my lips as I gladly came in to where I was being tugged and I took a comfortable seat in his lap. 

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“So, the kids are at Cybal’s all night, huh? ..That means I can give you your second present now since I never got a chance to on your birthday,” he implied with a rather hungry tone, watching his eyes travel over me and feeling his hands doing the same.. It was as if he was reminding himself of every curve that my body had with how much his hands explored.

“If the present is you, then I’m all for it,” I replied, putting my hand to the side of his face and he looked up to me, seeing his gaze bounce between my eyes and my lips and I knew he wanted to kiss me just as much as I wanted to kiss him.

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I leaned in quickly, wanting to put an end to this long, long period of not being able to kiss him again and it was everything I knew it to be.. Warm, loving, inviting, addictive, everything that I adored about him and he hummed almost silent, gentle moans with each second that our kiss grew more sensual.. His lips felt simply amazing and I felt as if I could barely breathe, though that didn’t stop me from making it better by going a little rougher, more ardent, and I knew Isaiah approved of such a intense kiss when I felt him grip my hip and my bottom to show his yearning. He pried my lips open with his tongue and I felt him pull me down into his lap harder, feeling the firm excitement he had for me being rubbed against where I sat and already I could barely wait any longer until he’d do the same thing to me though without any clothes in our way.

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As we kissed, I felt him hold me securely and with a gentle push, he laid me down onto the sofa, positioning himself over me and I could feel him beginning to slowly undo the buttons of my shirt. He made me feel whole again.. He made me strong and weak at the same time, he made me laugh to myself for ever doubting that he still wanted to be with me, and he was the only one who could put me back together. Both butterflies and fire danced inside of me as our kiss took no time at all to become more frenzied and fervid and it was so obvious how much the both of us wanted this.. Feeling his lips against mine after such a grueling wait made my core crumble and I completely adored the fact that we were back to normal. I felt nostalgic and even something as simple as a kiss became so powerful between us that it made it seem like we were both on Cloud Nine and with each soft brush of his tongue against mine, it made my heart tremble with delight and my entire body that much weaker.

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My shirt quickly got removed and I had no idea where I had tossed it, I just knew that the fabric made me itch like crazy out of nowhere and I had to get it off of me as fast as I could. Isaiah removed his jacket and his vest, tossing them aimlessly just the same as I had done and my skin begged to be touched as anxious goosebumps covered my arms and spread over my body like a wave.. The terrible, all-too-familiar feeling of going unneeded and unwanted had grown on me over the time we were apart, but the moment I felt his warm breath and his soft lips kiss my neck down to my chest, those feelings completely disappeared and were replaced by a serious greed that I couldn’t contain.. I reached up, gripping what hair I could on the back of Isaiah’s head and I pulled a little harder, feeling the combination of his tongue-swipes and kisses getting rougher and even his teeth came into play to give one of my nipples a soft tug that made me hiss an excited inhale between my teeth. He obviously knew I wanted things to get a little bit more unruly.. He knew everything that made me melt and he didn’t waste any time going around that fact, touching every inch of my skin perfectly and the tips of his fingers raked down my side towards my pants. He followed the rim with his fingers in between the denim and the cotton, undoing the button and zipper with ease when he found them and I hastily kicked off my shoes to make the removal of them both that much easier.

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Suddenly, as if I had completely missed the very short moment that it took for the rest of our clothes to come off, Isaiah was as bare as I was and positioned between my legs, both of us panting heavily already with anticipation and he looked down at me with immeasurable lust. I knew there was still an entire step to cover before we made love, but I just couldn’t wait any longer and I knew I was ready, at least ready enough.

“Just do it,” I nearly begged and I could tell that he knew exactly what I meant, his eyes holding a sense of shock as well as enthusiasm from my demand.

“You sure? It’s been a while,” he pointed out the obvious, reaching forward to caress my cheek and I reached up to hold and savor the feeling of his hand on my face, completely unable to get enough of him and I nodded.

“I can’t wait any longer,” I replied softly and the moment I gave the ‘go-head’, he got himself slick and ready for me. For a few long moments, it was uncomfortable at first, feeling as if it were our first time again, though the pleasure came quicker now than it had before and the second Isaiah knew I was used to him, he increased everything tenfold.

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“Gah, dammit.. You feel s-so good.. Are you okay?” He could barely form that short sentence, needing to know that I was all right and I told him with a strong nod as I bit my bottom lip. I pushed my hips back into his whenever he reached his deepest and I could hear him talking under his heavy breath.. He was always way more vocal than I was, at least when it came to talking and not just moaning during, and he only ever cursed when he was wildly angry or wildly in pleasure.. I guess that’s how I always knew he was enjoying himself.

“F-fuck, Oliver.. You’re so fucking beautiful,” I heard him say as his thumb caressed over my bottom lip roughly and I gripped his hand more and more the harder he went. After a short while, Isaiah then lifted my right leg, getting more leverage and deeper into me that caused me to cry out more in complete ecstasy and at this rate, I didn’t know how much longer I could enjoy this without reaching my limit.

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As if knowing I couldn’t hold back any longer and wanting this to last a little more, he slowed things down momentarily to grab my hips and hoist me up into his lap, a hidden strength of his he usually only showed during passionate moments like this that always surprised and excited me by how easily he could throw me around. The powerful need for one another grew stronger and the moment I wrapped my legs around him, his lips crashed into mine and we passionately stayed lip-locked until the very end. It was short and quick and I’m fairly sure we both knew it would be after going from an almost-every-day thing to nothing at all, but that didn’t make it any less meaningful or rewarding or pleasureful. I needed him to heal me, he needed me just the same, and being together again was when we were at our best.

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After we enjoyed one another until almost ten thirty, we both grew exhausted and completely spent by what little we did and we laid together on the gray sofa just holding each other for the longest time.. I believed both of us knew how much we had needed that spark and that connection again and I’d never felt closer to him until now, growing relaxed and tired the longer I lie in his arms, his fingertips caressing lightly up and down my spine that only made me that much more at ease.

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Suddenly, I opened my eyes and realize I had drifted off to sleep and I felt bad for being in his way just in case he had wanted to get up.

I pulled myself from his chest and looked to him, “Sorry, I think I fell asleep.. I was just comfortable,” I said apologetically, though Isaiah looked at me as if he didn’t hear a single word I said, or he just didn’t care in the slightest that I had slept on him.

“You’re incredible, you know that?” He pointed out and I scoffed softly.

“Yeah, right..” It was hard to believe him.

“I’m serious, you really are,” he continued, feeling his grip around me get tighter and I leaned in for a brief moment to kiss him before pulling away.

“Let’s go home.. You have no idea how much I’ve missed that bed,” I said with a smirk and he chuckled softly.

“You tired?” He implied, feeling his fingertips dipping lower down my spine than they were dipping before and I knew he still wanted me.

“Not if you aren’t,” I replied and I could see the excitement come back into his eyes.

“Good, ’cause I’m not even close to being done with you yet,” he said with a grin before finally letting me get up so we could both get dressed and head home.

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As we got dressed, I kept glancing over towards him sitting on the couch as he put on his clothes, thinking back on the conversation Cybal and I had and I smiled at the thought of how she had said one of us needed to apologize and it would all be okay.. At the time, I thought that she was wrong because I had already apologized plenty and nothing seemed to become of it, but it never occurred to me that perhaps Isaiah needed to be the one to say sorry, as well.. I guess she was right after all.

“Do you want more kids?” I asked, seeing him buttoning his vest and he looked up to me with a warm smile.

“Of course, Oliver, especially if you do,” he replied.

“You don’t think we already have our hands full enough as it is?”  I asked, seeing him then stand and secure his pants.

“Do you think we do?” He answered me with a question and I finished buttoning up my shirt before replying. 

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“I think even if I said yes to that question, I’d still want another..” I said with a smirk, looking up from my buttons and Isaiah kept the same smile on his lips. He stepped over towards me, his hands slowly sliding over my hips and around to my back, pulling me close and kissing me for a long, sweet moment before pulling away.

“You seriously make me so happy, Oliver. We’ll talk to Cybal about it soon, all right?” He suggested and I nodded happily, Isaiah pulling me into another quick kiss, “Let’s head home,” he added and I agreed, waiting for him to shut off the lights in his office and I then accompanied him downstairs where he shut everything else off, as well as locked the doors behind us and we drove home separately.

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As I drove home, I couldn’t keep the smile off my lips, nor could I keep myself from glancing continuously in the rear view mirror to see Isaiah driving along calmly a few car lengths back. I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to find someone so perfect for me, so understanding and completely infatuated with me, but luckily this time, it was an infatuation that went both ways. Finally, the past was in the past and there was nothing to do now but look forward and continue to plan out this life I’ve worked so hard to preserve.. It was time to actually start living without a shred of doubt or shame or secrets, and it felt damn good to have reached the calm after the wild storm that’s been my life up until now. 

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I drove through a yellow and Isaiah caught the red, forcing him to stop and he wasn’t following so close any longer, but he’d only be a little under a minute behind me. A few blocks later, I was coming up to our house and I pulled into the driveway, shutting my lights off and parking the car. I sat there for a moment, trying to think of a way I could surprise him in the little time that I had before he got here, but I couldn’t commit to anything so quickly.. Should I go in and leave a trail of my clothes leading to the bedroom? Should I grab the strawberries from the fridge so our evening could end sweeter than anticipated? I couldn’t decide, but either way, I’ll just pick something at random when I got inside, knowing Isaiah would like anything that I’d try to surprise him with, anyhow..

I got out of my car and shut the door, locking it by pressing a button on my keys and it beeped to let me know it was locked,  then stepping up to the front door as I fumbled with the keys in my hand to unlock it..

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“Excuse me?” A deep voice came up from behind me and I dropped my keys from being startled, turning around quickly and it was a little difficult to make out who was talking to me through the dark.

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“Uhm.. Ca-can I help you?” I asked with worry, slowly bending down to pick up my keys and standing back up.

“Are you Oliver Dubois?” The man asked, his voice sounding broken, weak, even a little angry, if I dared to say so..

“Sorry, I-I don’t know who you’re talking about,” I replied with an uneasy smirk, already hating that the stranger knew my name, but when I stepped backwards closer to my front door, our motion sensor porch light turned on and the one who was talking to me was shown in the bright light.

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My eyes widened slowly when I looked at the man, feeling as if I knew him from somewhere and that I had seen him before, but I couldn’t pin point from where.. Have I even seen him before? His eyes.. Those piercing blue eyes.. He reminded me someone..

The man stepped closer, “You are Oliver Dubois,” he confirmed to himself and my heart started to race, “For the past six years, I’ve been trying to think of what I would do when I would finally meet you.. I didn’t think I’d go through with it as I waited for you to get home, but.. The moment I saw you, it all became clear to me and I knew I needed to do this for my children.. My son and my daughter, ” he added and before I could even understand what he was saying, I saw him lunge towards me and I sharp pain pierced my abdomen, gasping immediately from what I felt.

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I froze where I stood as my mouth hung open, my jaw trembling as I panted in fright at first, but then I felt nothing but a coursing pain as I looked into his eyes.. I then looked down briefly, seeing a knife plunged into the center of my lower torso and red began to slowly stain my white button-up shirt.

“You’re the reason my son is dead, and I know you’re the reason my daughter is missing, I just know you are!” He said angrily through clenched teeth, “And now.. You get the same fate of being taken before your time,” he added and as I stared into his eyes, I suddenly knew them.. They were the same eyes that Thomas had.. That Jody had.. Even August’s eyes had changed from when he was little from looking like mine to looking like his mothers.. Why can’t I ever escape those eyes that haunted me?

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“Y-You’re..” I couldn’t complete my sentence, let alone say another word, feeling the knife slowly withdraw from being plunged into me and I let out a pain-filled whimper as I then dropped to my knees.. So this is what being stabbed felt like..

“You took my children away from me, so I’m going to take you away from yours,” he added as he still stood before me, seeing my own blood dripping off of the knife he used and when I looked down, the entire bottom of my shirt was soaked in a deep, wet red..

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I then fell to my left, unable to hold myself up and I grew light-headed as a blinding white light made it so I could barely see a thing, but black is what soon consumed my vision. I heard the shuffle of his feet, no doubt running away from what he had done and I laid there in awe as I panted heavily. My head was spinning, consciousness slowly drifting, and I felt myself quickly growing cold as my body went limp and the side of my face met the cool ground.. I guess I really just can’t get away from those damn eyes..

Generation 4, Chapter 19

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“Okay! Okay, I- I lied about what happened with Jody and August.. And my uncle.. I lied about all of it,” I admitted, my heart racing as I looked at him and I could tell just by looking in his eyes how quickly his anger was rising.

“So, this is why you’ve been so tired.. It’s exhausting work keeping track of so many lies, isn’t it? ..You just can’t stop, can you?” He asked after a long silence.

“W-What..?”

“You’re just a chronic liar, aren’t you? You can’t go a single day without lying,” he pointed out.

“No, I’m not! I just-”

“Just, what?! It’s the truth and you know it! You lied about everything and you’ve been going behind my back for years!”

“I-I just.. I kept the truth from you,” I tried to broaden my reasoning to something just, but he wasn’t having any of it.

“And that makes it better? You can’t be fucking serious,” he asked, somewhat baffled.

“N-No, you’re right, it doesn’t.. I’m sorry.. ”

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“So, what really happened?” He asked and I froze, knowing he was going to ask eventually and I had no idea why I had convinced myself that he wouldn’t.

“What..?”

“I know you can hear me, so stop playing dumb, Oliver! It’s not fucking cute and I’m sick and tired of waiting to hear the truth, which apparently I’ve been waiting, what? Six years to hear it?! Everything that I’m going to ask, I want a truthful answer, and if you lie to me even once, I am going straight upstairs and we’re gone, you hear me?” He threatened again to take the kids and leave and I only felt more tears falling from my eyes, but I nodded in agreement.

“I’ll tell you the truth! I’m sorry.. I promise I will, just please don’t do that,” I replied with a weak voice, acting like a dog with its tail between its legs, but if fully submitting to him kept him and the kids here with me, I didn’t care how weak I looked. Isaiah stared at me with disappointment and anger in his eyes, though I noticed he was trying to calm himself down before speaking with me, something I appreciated him taking the time to do so he could talk to me with as open of a mind as he could.

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“Were you really going to your Uncle Gareth’s house?”

“Yes..”

“Did he really bust his knee and need your help?” He asked and I hesitated a moment.

“..No..” I answered and he shook his head gently in disbelief before continuing.

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“I knew it,” he voiced under his breath, “Was it just you and your uncle there?”

“No.. My uncle was never really there, he just let me borrow his place..”

“And who else was with you? Was Jody there?” He asked next and my bottom lip trembled more, knowing that if he didn’t hate me yet, he probably would after this answer.

“Yes..” I replied and I watched as his expression fluctuated completely, turning away from me before I could read exactly what it meant and I stood from the bed to step closer towards him in a slight panic.

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I wiped my face clean of tears, “I’m sorry, Isaiah, I-”

“You told me you weren’t seeing her behind my back. At the hospital, when I asked, you told me you weren’t,” he spoke as if I had already broken his heart and I turned him around, making him look at me.

“And I wasn’t! You asked if I was seeing her romantically and I said no! That was the truth! I would never cheat on you and I could never look at her like that, not after what she did to me,” I answered.

“Then what did you do with her up there at your uncle’s? You never touched her? You never thought about it?”

“No, I never thought about it.. Not once.. She- She did make me touch her one time, but I didn’t want anything to do with it!” I made known and his eyebrows furrowed.

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“..Was she wearing clothes?” He asked next and I didn’t know what to tell him, Isaiah seeing the answer in my eyes and he reached up to remove my hands from him and he pushed me away.

“Don’t even touch me.. I don’t want you anywhere near me right now,” he continued and I watched him sit down, turning his attention away from me, but I could still see how upset he was.

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I quickly bent down in front of him, persistent in making him see that I didn’t do it on my own free will, “Isaiah, she took my hand and placed it on her all by herself.. When she noticed that it didn’t do anything for me, she made a terrible attempt to kiss me to get me to like it and I didn’t want anything to do with that, either..”

“So now you touched her and kissed her? What’s next? Did she make you have sex with her again?” He assumed angrily and I couldn’t help but wonder if he was calling me a liar for saying she had forced me before..

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My own brow furrowed in slight anger, “Look.. I know you’re angry with me, Isaiah, and you have every right to be, but are you seriously implying that I lied about her forcing me the first time? You really think I’d lie about something like that?” I asked and his eyes seemed to have as much guilt in them as mine did.

“No.. I’m sorry, I take it back, I’m just-”

“Good,” I cut him off, then continued explaining myself, “And no, I didn’t have sex with her and you’re completely missing the point, anyways.. You told me to tell you the truth and that’s exactly what I’m doing. I’m not making up excuses just so you’re not mad at me, I’m telling you that I pulled away from her instantly and wanted nothing to do with it.. After that, I made sure to not ever be close enough to her to where she could pull something like that again,” I continued to explain and he sighed heavily.. He seemed relieved and so was I, however, his expression went angered again and it seemed as if he found something else to be mad at me for.

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“You still played me for a fool,” he added and my eyes questioned his words, waiting for him to explain, “Back then when you told me you loved me for the first time, that was after you told me you had to go help out your uncle, which was a lie.. You just- You took something as important as that phrase, knowing how important it was for me to hear it from you, and you used it to help me believe your lie that much more.. I knew you were lying to me, too, I knew it all along, yet- You told me you loved me just so I’d get distracted from you lying to me,” he stood to his feet and I did, as well, taking a few steps back and away from him, “That’s it, isn’t it?” He assumed angrily and I shook my head.

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“No, I meant it when I said it-”

“But, even if you did mean it, you still used it! How can I even believe what you’re telling me right now?” He asked.

“Because I told you I’d tell you the truth to anything you asked and I am! I truly did mean it, but you’re right, I’m so sorry for choosing that time in particular to say it because I said it after lies, so it makes it look like a lie, too, but.. It wasn’t, it wasn’t in the slightest, so please believe that,” I nearly begged, though he still held worry in his eyes.

“So, you did love me? You do love me?” He needed confirmation and I nodded indefinitely.

“Yes! Yes, I do.. More than anything..” I replied and he seemed relieved again, though I could tell he was still furious with me.

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“Isaiah-” I tried to reason more, taking a leap of faith and I reached out, caressing his hand with my own, but he quickly ripped it away from me.

Stop trying to touch me at a time like this! Don’t use yourself to an advantage because you know how I feel about you.. It just feels like you’re trying to distract me all over again,” he warned and I hung my head in shame, knowing that it was a bad idea, though I couldn’t help but try, anyways.

“I’m sorry..” I said in a whisper.

“Explain to me what the hell all of this was for, then.. Why did you even bring her up there? Why did your uncle get involved? Why did you do everything behind my back and what was the whole purpose of lying about it? I have so many questions, Oliver, and I don’t even know where to start,” he spoke at a loss and I felt terrible again. He seemed so helpless and confused and still so hurt by what I had done and I was utterly disappointed in myself.

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I felt as if I could barely stand anymore and I stepped backwards, heavily sitting down on the mattress and taking that time to try to calm myself down, “Will you sit down with me..?” I asked, looking back up to him.

No,” he answered sternly, disappointed in his answer, but I took whatever I could get at this point, happy that he was still at least in the same room with me.

“Okay.. Uhm.. I guess it kind of all started back at the condo..”

Mine? Or ours?”

“Ours.. The night you were at work and came home to the condo empty, I was at my uncle’s after luring Jody there. After James and Kat left, I went out to the balcony to get some air and I noticed a blonde woman that had been sitting at the same table in the courtyard ever since I had went out to the balcony in the early morning.. It was Jody, but I didn’t realize that until later that night.. She saw you, she knew I lived with you, she knew your name and-”

“I’m sorry.. Luring? That sounds really awful, Oliver, and a little weird,” he pointed out and I shook my head.. Shit, I didn’t meant say that..

“N-No, that’s not the right word.. I don’t know why I said that, I just- I was trying to get her away from our condo and away from you, that’s all..”

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“Okay, so.. Why did she leave you alone for so long and then randomly show up at our place? What stopped her from harassing you? You told me and the detective that you hadn’t seen her or talked to her in months..”

“She made a deal with me to leave me alone for a while, to stop calling me and texting me and coming up to me at school, and-”

“And this deal you made with her, what did you give her in return?” He asked and my eyes darted to the floor, “Oliver.. When did you two make that deal?” He continued to question and my entire body was shaking.

“Uhm..” My voice cracked, “When I had called you when I was upset, when you came and picked me up from school,” I replied and I heard him chuckle.

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“So, there’s another lie.. It did go all the way back to my condo, not ours.. Wow.. Our entire relationship has been one big lie, hasn’t it?” He asked rhetorically, “And what did you give her in return? You never answered that one and I have to say that I’m very, very curious,” he made known.

“I-I just..” I bit my bottom lip to try to keep it from quivering, “She wanted me to kiss her, so.. I kissed her,” I spoke quietly, but even for how soft I had spoken it, I knew he had heard me. My eyes looked up slowly, seeing a smile on his lips as his brows still dipped low, but I knew he wasn’t happy.. He was covering his rage with anything but sadness and a fake smile for how laughable our relationship was was spread over his lips.

Another lie.. You said you’d never cheat on me, yet you did..”

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I told you to stop fucking lying Oliver and you’re seriously incapable,” he added, no more smile on his lips and my stomach was turning more and more each second this fight went on.. The guilt I felt was almost too much to bare.

“I’m so sorry..”

Isaiah then continued after a long silence, Just a kiss, like a peck? Or more?”

“..Does it really matter?”

“I guess it doesn’t, since you still kissed someone that wasn’t me,” he rubbed in.

“I-I’m so, so sorry, Isaiah.. If it helps in any way, I did that for us.. So she would leave us alo-”

“Save it,” he spat and I stopped talking immediately, “So, let me get this straight.. The night I told you I loved you, you willingly kissed the girl that took advantage of you and didn’t tell me about it when you had the chance to the same day. Then, you let me pour my heart out to you and still don’t have the decency to tell me that you kissed her, even though you were already in the process of apologizing for something else you kept from me that pissed me off in the first place?” He asked with another laugh, “Wow.. Fucking wow, Oliver.. Please, continue- You were about to tell me more about what happened the night she showed up outside of our condo, like the fucking stalker that she is, which you lied about, or, I’m sorry, according to you, it isn’t lying, it’s just ‘keeping the truth from me’.. But, please.. Continue,” he added and I feared that more tears would soon fall from my eyes.

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“It sounds so much worse when you say it out loud like that-”

“Because it is, Oliver! What in the fuck compelled you to think that any of that shit that you did was just? That it was to protect me, or us?! How can you fucking live with yourself after just those few lies, let alone the possible other hundreds that I still don’t know about!?” He continued with a raised voice, worrying that he might wake the boys upstairs.

“Please, Isaiah.. You’re going to wake them up and-”

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“Honestly, I couldn’t give two shits, Oliver. What, are you scared they’ll overhear how much of a fucking liar you are? How you’ve been betraying their father, your fucking husband, for this long? Are you worried they’ll overhear this and think less of you? ..I barely even know who the hell you are anymore, and from what you’ve told me so far, how can they even be sure who the hell you are? How can any of us believe a single thing you say?” He asked and my eyes started to water as he continued.

“I know we agreed to never tell August about Jody because you wanted to spare him ever knowing how horrible his mother was, but from how I see things now, you’re no fucking different than her.. You’re just a bad person for different reasons, but with a more lovable face that you used to your advantage against the one person that loves you the most,” he replied and my eyes widened in disbelief.. I stood from the bed again, the match of anger striking and the irate flame running through my veins at what he had just said to me.

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“Don’t call me that! Do not call me a bad person because everything, every lie that I have ever told you was to help you! To help us! It’s the truth, the complete and absolute truth and if you don’t believe me, then so be it, but it is the truth! I lied to you to protect you from her! You saw first hand what she was capable of, what her brother was capable of and yeah, that was my fault, too, because I had told her that I stopped seeing you to be with her just so that she would leave you alone and she found out that I was lying to her, too! I was trying my absolute hardest to keep you safe from her because even I didn’t know what the hell she could do to you and I didn’t know of any other way to protect you than to keep her as far away from you as possible! She was fucking obsessed with me, Isaiah! She would do anything, and did do everything to make sure that I remained hers, but I was never hers to begin with! I was yours, I am only yours and don’t you ever doubt that!” I fought back.

“And don’t ever compare me to someone so heartless again! I’m nowhere near being that conniving and manipulative and downright disgusting and I would die for our boys and I’d especially die for you.. I’d do anything, Isaiah,” I finished and his eyes were glossy, but he refused to ever let a tear drop down his cheeks.

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“I don’t even think you can fathom how much trust you lost from me,” he answered and I broke, sitting back down on the mattress and I buried my face into my hands, “Six years, Oliver.. Six years of lies and secrets and deceit.. Un-fucking-believable..”

“I-I am so, so, so sorry, Isaiah.. I will literally do anything in the entire world for you to forgive me.. Anything and everything,” I replied and there was a long, painful silence that hung in the air.

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“You can give me time.. A lot of it.. Please, get out,” he requested and I looked up to him quickly, unsure if he wanted me to leave the bedroom or the house.

“W-Where.. Where do you want me t-”

“I don’t care, I don’t want to look at you right now. Just find somewhere else to sleep besides in bed with me,” he answered and I let out a deep, wobbly breath from between my lips.

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I slowly stood from our bed and stepped towards the door, sniffing hard to keep my nose from running as fresh tears still fell from my eyes. Isaiah followed me to the door and I opened it, Isaiah then holding it open for me and before I let him close it behind me, I turned around and made one last attempt at apologizing.

“Isaiah.. I love you so much and I can’t even express how sorry I am..”

“..Happy Birthday, Oliver,” is all he replied with as he began to shut the door.

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He didn’t say it with resentment or anger or to rub it in my face that I had ruined my own birthday, but more so with disappointment that the evening had gone the way it did. I desperately reached out to touch him one last time before he did shut the door all the way, but my hand met wood instead of the warm flesh I wanted and it fully closed in my face before I could say another word.

_____________________________________

..One Month Later..

_____________________________________

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Isaiah hasn’t spoken more than a couple words to me in the past month, ever since we had our fight. When we’re alone, he barely says a word, though around the kids, he’ll act like nothing is wrong, or try to.. I know he’s only doing it to avoid telling them that we’re going through a rough patch in our marriage, knowing they wouldn’t fully understand even if we did try to tell them, but faking all of this happiness was grueling and tiresome work.. Then again, I guess that’s why I’ve been so worn out and tired, which Isaiah gladly pointed out to me during our fight.. Apparently to him, I’ve been faking being happy for a long, long time since I had the weight of lies on my shoulders, and although I wanted to challenge those words, the more I thought about it over this painful month, the more it made sense.. It’s been so hard to keep all of these lies behind the bars in my mind, but I just couldn’t take it anymore.. I couldn’t stand being such a fuck up when Isaiah has done nothing but treat me like someone that needed to be worshiped.. I couldn’t let him do that anymore without telling him the truth. It ended up eating me alive in the end and my guilt completely consumed me.

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Isaiah didn’t move out, nor did he take the kids away from me, he just simply- well.. Stopped talking to me. He didn’t kick me out, either, I kicked myself out and I’ve been sleeping in the guest house to give him that much more space.. Before the kids would wake up, I’d sneak back into the house to make it seem like I wasn’t sleeping anywhere else but in Isaiah and I’s bedroom like I should be so the boys wouldn’t get suspicious. I knew he wanted to keep the kids in the dark about what happened between us and I thought we were doing a pretty good job of it, however, lately I’ve been noticing that August has been watching Isaiah and I a lot more, as if studying how we move and how we talk to one another.. It made me wonder if he overheard anything we had discussed loudly the night of my birthday disaster, or if he could just sense that something wasn’t right between Isaiah and I.. Plus, the fact that he knew Isaiah and I always talked and laughed and made physical contact with one another almost on a constant basis probably made him worry since Isaiah and I haven’t been doing those things really at all anymore..

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Every morning, I woke up more lonely than the day before and more lonely than I’ve been in my entire life.. I could get over being without my dad for as much as he worked, I could get over being without both my parents after the fallout, I could get over being without Kat and James after moving out of the townhouse to be with Isaiah, but getting over being alone after everything Isaiah and I have been through? Absolutely impossible. If I thought I was tired and exhausted before Isaiah and I’s fight, I truly had no fucking idea just how tired and exhausted and starved for love I could be, and was.. I missed him more than I could ever express and most mornings I already woke up with tears in my eyes, or I didn’t even sleep at all, sitting up in bed alone all night long and crying as I thought about what I had done to him.. My heart was literally in pain every single time I thought about it and even on some rare occasions, once a week or so, I’d get so upset thinking about it to the point where I’d need to rush to the bathroom to vomit.. I was at an all-time-low, that was for certain.

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Everything was so mundane, so pointless, so depressing without him. As I got dressed, I’d space out the entire time, removing my pajama pants slowly with barely any effort at all and if I dropped them from losing my grip, I wouldn’t waste my time bending down to pick them up.. I didn’t care, I didn’t care about anything.. All that I cared about was Isaiah. Before I’d get out of bed, I’d sometimes manage to be able to stop my crying, but as I changed and even before I could put a new shirt on after securing my jeans, my eyes would be filling with tears again and I’d completely soak the shirt I was going to wear that day from using it as a rag to wipe my face dry. Some days it might even take me a whole hour just to get dressed.

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It was another lonely Saturday by myself.. Waking up alone, getting ready alone, making the bed alone, though it was still all in the guest house inside of the main house where I wanted to be so badly, like it used to be.. I thought it was actually a little funny, as well as pathetic, to think back on when Isaiah and I were first looking at this house and deciding on if we wanted it or not, and how I had thought to myself- what was the point of having a guest house? What was the point to all of this extra space? ..Never did I ever think that I’d have this much use for it down the road.. 

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After washing my face and trying to look less dead than I’ve been looking lately, I left the guesthouse and walked passed the pool and came inside of the main house through the back door, glancing over towards Isaiah and I’s bedroom and I saw the door open, knowing he was either already in the kitchen with the boys or he was upstairs still in the process of getting them ready for breakfast. I stepped up to the doorway, looking into the dark, unlit room with the shades drawn almost shut to keep the sun out.. Was it normal, or was he trying to keep the world out, living in a dark and lonely state like I was in the guesthouse? For as selfish as it sounded, I hoped he was living like I was, missing me as much as I missed him.. I looked to the bed next and all I wanted to do was lie in it, to wrap myself in the blankets and bury my face into the pillows, but I held back, my gaze meeting the floor and I stepped away from our bedroom to go to the kitchen.

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I began making coffee, always making more than I could drink by myself in case Isaiah wanted any and by the time it was done, I could hear Isaiah and the boys coming downstairs. My lips couldn’t help but curl into a smile just from the sound of all of them and August walked in with Luca first with smiles on their faces, then Isaiah followed holding Niko in his arms with a smile on his face, too, though when he saw me in the kitchen, his smile seemed to slowly drop and I quickly looked away from him back towards the coffee I had made.. I didn’t want him to see the fresh tears that threatened to form in my eyes just by witnessing how much I hated how he looked at me with such disappointment.. It made me hate myself so much more every single time and I could never tell whether he enjoyed it, knew he was doing it and didn’t care, or if it hurt him to make me feel like this.. He wasn’t that vindictive, though, so I liked to assume he had no idea he was making me feel like complete shit whenever he looked at me like that.

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“Dad!” August got my attention and he came over to me, taking a quick, deep breath and shaking off how I felt so I could talk to him without him noticing how terrible I was feeling.

“Hey, big guy. Did you sleep well?” I asked, wrapping my arm around him and pulling him against me for a side hug and he hugged me back.

“Yeah. Did you?” He asked in return and a frog formed in my throat, but I cleared it with a swift cough and I nodded towards him.

“Uhm.. Yeah, bud.. You excited to spend the night at Aunt Kat and Uncle James’ place tonight?” I asked, changing the subject as quick as I could.

“Yup. Aunt Kat says we’re going to eat popcorn and watch movies and make Rice Crispy Treats,” he said with a smile.

“Whoa, I’m jealous.. You’ll have to bring some home for me tomorrow, huh?” I implied and he nodded again.

“I will,” he answered and I smirked, hugging him tighter against me, not really wanting to let go of him and he seemed to not want to let go of me, either, something I didn’t mind in the slightest.. It was nice to have this much-needed contact with someone I loved and who loved me back.. August, even without knowing what happened between Isaiah and I, seemed to notice how terrible I’ve looked lately and I’m sure without meaning to, I’ve seemed sad and lonely, and I think he’s caught on to that and has felt the need to put forth an effort to show me love and attention.

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“What are you eating for breakfast?” He asked.

“I was thinking cereal, what do you want?”

“I’ll have that, too.. Are you eating in the dining room again?” He asked next, wondering if he’s also been picking up on how I’ve been trying to give Isaiah some space and how we didn’t eat breakfast together as often as we used to..

I sighed softly, “Yeah, I am..” I replied reluctantly.

“I’ll eat with you, too, then,” he said with a smile and I tousled his hair with a smirk still on my lips.

“Sounds good, bud..”

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“So will we,” I heard Isaiah say to August and I and we both looked back at him.

“You will? Awesome!” August said with a smile and I looked at Isaiah for a long moment, seeing him look at me for a few long seconds, as well, then slowly look away and I was so happy that he wanted to have breakfast with me that I was brought to tears again, facing the coffee maker to hide my expression, though sadly, August noticed.

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“Dad, are you okay? Are you crying?” He wondered and I shook my head.

“No, no, I’m fine, there’s just, uhm.. Something in my eye,” I said with a smile, wiping underneath my eyes to hide any tears that threatened to fall, then looking down at August and a soft smile came over his lips, too.

“Papa and I will get breakfast, go sit down,” he told me and I didn’t bother to fight it, brushing my hand down his hair in appreciation for understanding me and I excused myself from the kitchen with my cup of hot coffee.

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When I got to the dining room, I quickly set down my cup of coffee, almost tipping it over for how desperately I needed to set it down and I put my hand to the table for support as the other came up and covered my mouth. Tears fell from my eyes and I tried my hardest to keep myself from letting out any sobs or whimpers. I hated how just three simple, plain words from Isaiah could make my entire core crumble to pieces after stacking it up so carefully this morning just to have the strength to face him, but I just couldn’t help it.. I was so glad. Happy tears are better than depressed ones, though.

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Thankfully, I had enough time to get out all the crying I needed to, wipe my face clean of tears, and regain some of my elusive composure before they all came into the dining room to eat with me.. Luca ran into the room straight for me and I picked him up instantly, bringing him into my arms and I kissed his cheek repetitively until he started getting ticklish from it, then setting him in my lap. August helped Isaiah bring in food for us, setting it on the table and he took the seat next to me as Isaiah then came in, holding Niko in one hand and food in the other and he set down the food first before placing Niko into a high chair between him and I and Isaiah took the seat across from mine. 

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I couldn’t help but glance at Isaiah constantly as he sat there eating, or feeding Niko, or talking to Luca and August.. There were multiple times where Isaiah would catch me looking at him, not bothering to focus at all on my breakfast, and although I noticed that he tried to ignore me, I knew he couldn’t, just as much as I couldn’t ignore him. I wanted to respect him and be aware of the wall that I knew was still very much there between us, but it was something that I just couldn’t help if my life depended on it.. I loved looking at him, I loved knowing he wanted to be in the dining room with me, and I loved knowing he was slowly, but surely, warming back up to me, and I even dared to believe that I saw forgiveness in my future from him.. What made me the happiest was he still wore his wedding ring every day after our fight.. Never once did I see him without it, never once did I ever take mine off, either, and I adored that he never even wanted to do something as hurtful as to not wear it just to prove something to me.. I knew he was still angry with me, that much was still obvious, but he didn’t do childish things like that just to rub it into my face more.. He was still considerate and so sweet to me, even when he was ignoring me.

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When we were all done eating together, Isaiah stood to clear the table and I picked up Luca from my lap to put him down onto the ground and to quickly detour Isaiah from doing all the work.

D-Don’t, uhm.. Don’t worry about it, I got it..” I expressed and he looked at me for a moment, not replying to me and he let me take care of cleaning up, Isaiah then picking up Niko from his high chair.

“Come on, Luca, let’s go play upstairs,” he spoke sweetly to him, glancing at me briefly one last time before looking to August, “You coming?” He asked.

August shook his head with a smile, “No, I’ll help dad clean up,” he replied and I appreciated that he wanted to stay with me.

“All right.. We’ll be upstairs,” he answered, then left the room holding Niko in one hand and holding Luca’s hand in the other.

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August helped me clear the table and he stacked the dishes next to the sink for me. The rain still poured hard outside as I washed the dishes and August and I didn’t really say anything to one another, just enjoying one another’s company.. Whenever I glanced over towards him, I noticed him smile and it caused me to smile, too, but I was still trying to decipher whether or not he just wanted to spend time with me, or if he thought I needed to spend time with someone.. I loved having him as company, and whatever he was trying to do, I appreciated it more than he knew, but what came out of his mouth as I turned the sink off after finishing the dishes threw me for a loop. 

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“Are you and Papa getting a divorce?” He asked and I froze where I stood.

I then slowly looked over towards August, looking up at me with the same blue puppy-dog-eyes that I had and I swallowed roughly, knowing right then and there how Isaiah felt whenever I gave him that same look, too.. How the hell could you ever ignore those eyes?

Where did you learn that word from?”

“My teacher. She’s getting one. I heard the other teachers talking about her and they said her husband is a bad person and all he does it make her cry, she even cries at school sometimes during recess. She doesn’t think anyone notices, but I saw her doing it a few times.. All that Papa does it make you cry, so are you getting a divorce?” He asked again and I knelt down to his level quickly.

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“Papa isn’t a bad person.. You don’t think that, do you?” I asked, somewhat alarmed at his words since he had compared his teachers husband to Isaiah and he shrugged.

“All he does is ignore you and make you sad and make you cry, so how is he not?” He asked in return and I sighed heavily. 

“Because.. When have you ever known him to be a bad person? You don’t know the details behind your teachers divorce, either.. The guy could call her nasty names, which Papa doesn’t do to me.. Or he could be hurting her, which Papa doesn’t do to me, ether.. Or she could be the one at true fault, but the reason behind tears lies way, way deeper within that person and you have no idea what’s really going on, so you should never assume such things. Papa isn’t the bad one, am,” I admitted and he grew confused.

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“But.. How? Papa doesn’t cry nearly as much as you do,” he pointed out and I grew surprised.

“..He does cry?” I asked and August nodded, noticing his demeanor was slowly getting sadder. 

“Sometimes.. When I come downstairs to get water late at night, I can hear him in your bedroom,” he hesitated a moment, “And I know you’re not in there.. You’re in the other house that’s littler,” he admitted and I sat there in silence for a short moment, unable to think of what to say back.. I never wanted any of the boys to find out about that, but I was worried about something more important.. Isaiah cries, too? Well, I guess it was a no-brainer, of course he would, look at what I did to him.. He’s just such a strong person that it surprised me, I guess.. 

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“So?” He asked.

“So, what?”

“What did you do? You said you were the bad one, so tell me why.”

“..You don’t need to trouble yourself with the details, big guy, just don’t be mad at Papa because he did absolutely nothing wrong, okay?”

“Then why do you cry so much?” He asked next and I reached up to rub the bridge of my nose briefly, trying to hold back more tears, but I was sad for other reasons besides Isaiah now.. I was sad that August concerned himself so much with grownup stuff and I was sad that he was struggling so hard to figure out what was happening between Isaiah and I.. I hated how he felt the need to ask if we were getting a divorce, too, but what scared me the most was not knowing the answer to that question, myself.

“Because I hurt him, I did something very bad and I cry because I regret what I did so, so much because it’s caused him so much pain.. That’s why I cry.. Now, promise me you won’t blame him for any of this, okay? I’m the only one to blame.. Understand?” I asked and he eventually nodded.

“Okay..”

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“August,” Isaiah’s voice called from the kitchen doorway and I quickly stood up, both August and I looking to him and I wondered how long he had been standing there.

“Go upstairs and get ready to go to your aunt and uncle’s place,” he instructed, August looking to me with concern in his eyes, but he did as Isaiah said and left the kitchen to go upstairs. 

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When August was gone, Isaiah looked at me for a long moment and I didn’t know how to read his stare, dropping my gaze away from his and I turned back towards the sink, pulling the plates and glasses from it and setting them out to dry. I could feel his eyes on the back of my head, but I didn’t know what he could possibly want from me.. Should I face him? Should I ask him if he wanted to talk to me about everything that happened between us? I wanted to be able to touch him again, to casually speak with him like we used to, I wanted to fix things so badly with him that it hurt, but not until he was ready to.

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“How are you?” I heard him ask and my bottom lip instantly quivered, chuckling softly as how stupid of a question that was.

“I-I’m, uh..” I started, but stopped, feeling my words catch in my throat and I knew if I talked more, my voice would break, so.. I didn’t continue, and he noticed.. I was just honestly surprised that he finally cared enough today to finally ask how I was doing, and as much as I had rehearsed so many things to tell him whenever he would finally talk to me, I didn’t know what to say to him now.

“..Oliver?” I heard him say my name and tears filled my eyes, but I didn’t let them fall.. It felt amazing hearing him say my name after a month long wait.

“Yeah?” My voice broke and there was a long silence between us, but he didn’t continue with something I knew he wanted to acknowledge, diverting himself from what he originally wanted to say to me..

“..I’m.. I’m just gunna get the boys ready to go..” He replied, giving up on a conversation between the two of us.

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But, I wanted to keep him talking to me, I wanted to keep him close to me and without even thinking about what I was doing, I picked up a knife I had just washed in the sink and slid it quickly across my palm.

“Ahh! Fuck..” I let out, dropping the knife back into the sink and hearing Isaiah stopping himself from walking out of the kitchen.

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“..You okay?” He asked and I took a deep breath, letting it out slowly and already I felt myself getting lightheaded knowing I was about to look at my hand bleeding.

“Y-Yeah, I’m fine.. I just..” I looked down and my vision grew blurry, “I c-cu.. Cut..” I tried to continue, but I was losing my balance and my limbs felt weightless.

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“Oliver!” I heard Isaiah call out in worry and I could faintly hear his quick footsteps coming up behind me. I tried to fight for consciousness, but the battle was harder than I thought, feeling Isaiah catching me and slowly lowering me down to the ground and my back rest against the wall.. I guess what I did worked.

“My God, Oliver.. Your hand. What did you do?” Isaiah continued, still unable to see for a few long seconds since everything was still white and my head was spinning, but feeling him touching me and knowing he was there by my side regardless of our situation made me happier than I’ve been in a while.. Happier than I was at breakfast this morning.

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“Just stay right there and don’t look at your hand, I’ll be right back,” he instructed and before I could attempt to nod in acknowledgement, Isaiah was already gone and rushing to get something, most likely some sort of bandage. I felt a little bad for forcing him to interact with me like this, but anything else I could’ve tried just wouldn’t have worked.. Cutting myself was the only way I could get him closer to me before he was ready to.

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Before I could count to ten, Isaiah was already coming back into the kitchen and kneeling down next to me, feeling him grabbing my injured hand and he applied pressure to the cut to get it to stop bleeding. My vision started to return slowly and although I was surprised I hadn’t fainted completely, I was glad I didn’t so I could spend this time so close to Isaiah, which was really my plan from the beginning..

“How did this happen, anyways?” He asked.

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“I.. I don’t know.. I was holding the sponge and I guess I wiped the knife blade-to-palm instead of the other way around,” I lied, though if Isaiah knew I had done it on purpose, he wouldn’t have helped me and he’d only be more angry with me.. Maybe even disappointed at such a pathetic attempt to get his attention.

“Still so clumsy,” he answered and I could’ve sworn I saw the edge of his lips smirk, though my mind could’ve been playing tricks on me.

“I-I just.. I should’ve been paying more attention and shouldn’t have been washing dishes as I talked to you.. I’m sorry..”

“Don’t be sorry, just be more careful,” he replied and I was warmed by his caring words.

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“..How long had you been standing there when August was talking to me?” I wondered and I felt him releasing the pressure on my hand, checking if it was still bleeding and even without looking at it myself, I could feel that it was and he applied pressure again.

“Since he asked why you’ve been crying so much,” he answered, thinking that I was glad he had heard me tell August not to be mad at him for something that I, myself, was responsible for, but I still wished he didn’t hear any of it.. It was a little embarrassing, him knowing that even our son had noticed how much I had been crying lately.

“Oh..”

“Thank you for saying that.. I noticed he hasn’t been the same around me since we fought,” he answered.

“It was the truth..” I replied.

“..Right.. I know it was..” An awkward silence fell around us, knowing he believed what I had told August since I really was the catalyst in all of this, “Well, you gotta start somewhere,” he continued and I knew he wasn’t rubbing it in, though I appreciated he knew I was telling the truth with it and he acknowledged it as such.. At least he saw that I was trying my best to speak nothing but the truth lately instead of all the lies I had built up over the years.. Well, except for the lie I had just told about ‘accidentally’ cutting my hand.

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After a short silence, Isaiah took away some of the pressure from my hand and I could see in his face that it was ready to be wrapped, watching him then grabbing the rolled gauze he had brought with him and he began wrapping my hand. The silence between us wasn’t awkward for me, simply because I loved looking at him and my mind was racing with so many things that I wanted to do to him or talk to him about, while Isaiah sat there rather uncomfortably, fidgeting and trying to avoid eye contact with me since I was sure he was fully aware of how much I was staring at him. I wanted – no – needed to touch him while I had the chance to..

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With my right hand, I reached up and the moment my fingertips touched his jawline, he hesitated in continuing to wrap my hand. 

“What are you doing?” He asked, feeling him then continue to wrap my hand after his brief pause, though more slowly than before, and my fingertips continued to touch his face until my hand cupped his jaw and my thumb caressed his cheek.

“Touching my husband whom I love,” I replied and he sighed softly, “Sorry.. Can’t help myself when you’re this close,” I answered quietly and I could feel the tiniest of goosebumps forming on his skin under my palm.

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“..Please, stop-”

“Why?” I challenged, able to tell by his eyes and his expression that he loved the feeling of me touching him, but he was trying so hard to make it seem like he didn’t.

“Oliver-”

“I miss you,” I continued to cut him off, my voice beginning to shake a little. I never wanted to hear him tell me to stop touching him and I watched as he shut his eyes to my words, as if it both comforted as well as hurt him to hear them.

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I felt him finish wrapping my hand, “Are you all right now?” He wondered, ignoring my words, so I ignored his, “I need to check on the boys,” he continued, reaching up to remove my hand from his face and he stood up and stepped away from me.

“Isaiah,” I tried to stop him, but he continued to leave the kitchen and he was then out of my sight.

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My bottom lip quivered and I felt my eyes watering again, bringing my knees into my chest and I sat there asking myself why the hell I thought any of that would work.. Like he would suddenly just bounce back to his normal, flirty, kind self and completely forget why he was angry with me.. I couldn’t tell if he hated me, I couldn’t tell if he wanted to make things better, I couldn’t tell if he even wanted to have a future with me and all I wanted to do was talk to him about all of this. I wanted to get passed this already, but how much more time did he need? How much longer am I going to have to wait to have a decent conversation with him? How much longer am I going to have to wait to touch my own husband? ..Am I ever going to get to again, or was just now the last time I’d ever be able to?

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I knew Isaiah was with the boys all morning and afternoon and after our conversation earlier, I tried to steer clear of him again.. I wanted to be with my sons, but I couldn’t be in the same room with him, I’d just cry more and I didn’t want any of them to see me like that. I sat alone in the foyer pretty much all day, listening to the heavy rain outside come to a stop as the morning passed and the afternoon began, the sun coming in through the windows and warming the back of my neck. I spaced out thinking of Isaiah all day, like I tended to do lately, until there was a knock on the door and I got up to answer it, letting in Kat and James.

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“Hey, Ollie! How’ve you been?” Kat wondered and my face remained the same, depressed and uncaring.

“Fine..” I answered, going back over to the couch I was sitting on and dropping myself back down on it.

“Ollie, we know your depressed, but you need to work passed it,” she advised and I ignored her, “You don’t act like this around the boys, do you?” Kat continued.

“I stay away from them so they don’t see me like this,” I answered simply.

“What the hell?! You just ignore your sons because you’re a mopey little fuck? Suck it up and be a damn father!” She yelled, “Parker is at home with my mom and I’m grabbing the boys and leaving so I can get back quick, so you better at least say goodbye to them with a fucking smile on your face!” She instructed angrily and James and I watched her leave to go upstairs. James and Kat knew what was going on with Isaiah and I, they just didn’t know all the details.

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“Sorry man, she’s, uh.. Well, the baby’s coming soon, so she’s been a little on edge..”

“She’s right, though..” I answered James, “I haven’t been a father really for a whole month.. I’ve just been depressed and sad and no fun and trying so hard to avoid Isaiah to give him space, but it’s cost me to lose my connection with my children, as well, and it’s not them that I’m sad about or feel like I need to avoid, but.. I’m just.. I’m a bad husband and an even worse father,” I continued and James sighed.

“No, you’re not, Oliver. Don’t talk like that. Anyone would grieve like this if the one they loved was angry and disappointed in them,” he tried to console me.

“I deserve all of this.. And don’t try to convince me that I don’t,” I answered and his expression was consumed with pity for me.

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James and I heard Isaiah, Kat and the boys coming downstairs and I put a fake smile on my lips for their sake, Kat bringing me Luca and Niko and I held Luca in my arms first, for a moment.

“I love you. Have fun, okay? I’ll miss you,” I said as I hugged him.

“Miss you, too, Daddy,” he replied as he hugged me back and my fake smile turned genuine from his response, giving him back to Kat and then taking Nikolai from her to hug and say goodbye to.

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“Love you, little bug. Can you say bye-bye to Daddy?” I asked as I held him up, though all that he did was reach for my face and I brought him closer to me so he could kiss my cheek, or at least try to, since he was oblivious he still had his pacifier in his mouth and I chuckled.

Aww, thank you, my sweet baby boy,” I continued, kissing his cheek in return and Isaiah took him from me so Kat didn’t have her hands full.

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August came down the stairs with his backpack ready and after saying his goodbyes to Isaiah, he came up to me and I picked him up within my arms, hugging him tightly before lecturing him.

“Help your aunt take care of your brothers and your little cousin, understand?” I asked and he nodded.

“I will,” he replied as he hugged me back.

Okay.. Be good, we’ll see you tomorrow.. Love you, big guy,” I continued and he nodded again.

“Love you, too,” he answered and I set him down, August then grabbing his backpack and going outside to wait in the car.

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“I’m putting them in the car now. See you, guys,” Kat said her goodbyes, then went to James and kissed his lips, “See you tomorrow.”

“Bye, baby,” he answered and I grew confused.

“You’re staying?” I asked.

“Uh, yeah.. If you don’t mind some company,” he replied, seeing him look to Isaiah with a smirk, then back to me.. Was Isaiah behind this?

“..No.. I don’t mind..” I replied as if I hadn’t noticed James and Isaiah’s true intent.

“I’m going to work, I’ll walk you out,” Isaiah said to Kat, walking with her and the boys outside.

“All right, see ya, man!” James said happily and I didn’t say anything, Isaiah shutting the front door behind him.

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James then faced me abruptly and grabbed my shoulders, shaking me a little, “Okay, now that I can say this.. Freakin’ snap out of it! You look terrible and you smell! When was the last time you showered, or shaved?” He asked and I was completely blindsided by his behavior.

“Uhm, I-I don’t know.. A few days ago?”

“Well, come on, go take a damn shower so I can actually stand being around you. Come on, come on!” He insisted, pushing me in front of him, then pushing at my back all the way down the hall to Isaiah and I’s bedroom. I knew James would always care for me, he was my best friend, after all, and although I knew he was trying to do the best he could for me, he was quite pushy lately.. Maybe having a kid made him more aware of disobedience and instability, especially with him being a doctor now, too.. He just cared a lot more.

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“Okay, I get it! I can get to the bathroom from here by myself!” I called out and he smiled.

“Good. I’d rather see anger from you than this mopey, depressing shit. Start acting like you still care about yourself and stop being gross.. You ever thought that maybe your hygiene is one of the reasons Isaiah doesn’t want to come near you?” He asked and I furrowed my brow.

“Isaiah likes the way I smell..” I tried to defend and he laughed.

“Well, I like the smell of pickles but you don’t see me wearing it as a cologne, now do you? Because the smell just isn’t for everyone!

“..Do smell like pickles..?”

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“No, just-!” He paused in frustration and I must’ve not understood his point, “Just get in the damn shower already! Start taking better care of yourself! You look terrible. You’re pale and you look skinny, you haven’t been eating, have you?” He asked and I sighed, choosing not to answer him, though he knew that I hadn’t been, “I’m going to the store to get some steaks and some beer, need to fatten you up again.. Doctor’s orders,” he continued.

“Isaiah took the Nissan..”

James threw his hands up, giving himself no choice, “Then I’m taking the Mercedes!”

“No! Don’t take that! He wants it in the garage and-”

“Oliver, I’m sure he won’t mind me borrowing it if he knew the reason for taking it was to get his husband some decent food and some freakin’ calories so you don’t look like a corpse! Get in the shower and stop arguing with me,” he continued, watching him leave and he shut the bedroom door quickly behind him so I couldn’t contest any longer.

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I stayed there for a moment, feeling a little awkward as I stood there in the silence of the room, feeling as if I didn’t belong in here and feeling as if I was invading Isaiah’s space.. Of course, I knew it was still my room, too, but I haven’t been in here for a month since I had grabbed some clothes of mine and brought them to the guesthouse.. It just felt like I had moved out of it and this space was all his now.. 

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After standing there for a few minutes, I finally felt comfortable enough to invade his space more, stepping over to the bathroom and walking in. I noticed it was still just the same as I knew it to be, all of his stuff as well as mine still sitting on the counter top by the two sinks and a smile spread across my lips.. Everything was the exact same and although I knew he wasn’t going to erase my existence from the house, I had to admit that it did cross my mind and it made me nervous to think that he would pack up my stuff just so he didn’t have to look at it and think about me.. But, I was glad that wasn’t the case as I stripped down and got into the shower, liking this shower so much better than the one in the guest house. Even if they were the exact same one, this shower still felt different.. Warmer, more comforting, more like home.

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When I finished my shower, I got out and wrapped a towel around my waist and I stepped up to the sink, removing the bandage on my hand and the cut I had given my palm was already healed since it wasn’t all that deep.. What a pathetic attempt at getting Isaiah’s attention, it wasn’t even worth making myself faint nor was it worth the paper-cut-like pain..

After doing my hair and shaving my chest and torso of the unkempt hair, I looked at my body. James was right, I really was skinny and it seemed as if I had withered away in such a short amount of time.. We only fought a month ago and I already looked so different, I barely even recognized myself.. I haven’t been eating at all really, I haven’t been swimming or going on jogs, I haven’t been running around at the park with the boys, I’ve just been lying in bed all day or sitting in the boys’ room as I watched them play by themselves.. I can’t believe how crappy of a father I’ve been just because Isaiah was angry with me.. I deserved to be ignored by Isaiah for what I did to him, but the boys did nothing to deserve me ignoring them.. I needed to do something about that and whenever they would get home tomorrow is when I would immediately start being there for them more.

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I stepped out of the bathroom and went over to the dresser, looking inside one of the drawers and I noticed he still kept my clothes neatly stacked to one side next to his, the clothes I had left behind and didn’t bring to the guesthouse with me. I still don’t know why I continued the thought of him erasing my existence from the house, but every little thing that proved otherwise helped me that much more and made me a lot happier than I had been in a long time. I tossed the towel in the hamper and put on some new clothes, unable to help my eyes were they wandered and I caught site of our bed, contemplating whether or not I should lie in it like I wanted to earlier..

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As if I knew people would be around, for whatever reason, I checked my surroundings subconsciously just to make sure and once the coast was clear, my stride brought me over to the bed and I crawled onto it. I lie on my side of the bed first, taking a large breath in and as I let it out slowly, I smelled something familiar.. My own cologne. Surely by now my scent wouldn’t be on the bed and I know Isaiah likes to wash the sheets often to keep them fresh, so why was I smelling myself? My heart fluttered and a smile spread across my lips when I then realized that Isaiah must’ve been spritzing a little of my cologne onto my pillows and the sheets, making it feel as if I was still sleeping in bed with him and I couldn’t express how happy that made me. I then scooted over to his side of the bed, burying my face into his pillow and for the first time in the past month, I was able to remind myself what he smelled like since I’ve been deprived of being able to get as close to him as I truly wanted.. I was so happy at this very moment.

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I thought I had shut my eyes for only a second, but when I opened them, I noticed James sitting on our bed, “Hey, you dozed off while I was out, so I let you sleep for a couple hours. When was the last time you got a decent nights sleep?” He asked and I scoffed softly.

“No idea, man..” I replied and I sat up, covering my mouth as I yawned.

“How did sleeping in here feel?” He wondered next and I smirked.

“Pretty good, actually, for only sleeping a couple hours..”

“I figured.. Didn’t feel like shaving?” James pointed out and I chuckled.

“Not really.. I kind of like it like this for the time being..”

“Now that I took a better look at it, you don’t look half bad with a thicker beard. Reminds me of how you wore it in college,” he replied and I smiled, “Well, come on, let’s go put the steaks on the grill and have some beers,” he said with a grin and I nodded, joining him in standing and we went to the kitchen to grab everything and to bring it outside.

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After eating a well seasoned and hardy meal, we sat on the edge of the pool with our beers and once we got talking, it became more serious as it went on and I ended up filling James in on everything that had happened between Isaiah and I, even telling him exactly what I told Isaiah that I had lied about. When I was done explaining it all, he took the information a lot less harshly than Isaiah had, but then again, James wasn’t my husband whom I had lied to for six straight years.. He was my best friend that only wanted to see Isaiah and I happy again and talking about it with someone, especially James, was helping me greatly.

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“Ahh, man.. I don’t really consider a kiss anything to get so hyped up about, especially since you only did it to get that crazy bitch away from you guys so you two could actually start a decent relationship. I mean, I can see why he’d be mad about it, ’cause you could’ve told him the day it happened, but I think he’s just missing the big picture of it all and why you did everything that you did.. He’s too caught up on the lies and stuff that he can’t see past them when he really should be trying to,” he brought up after I was finished explaining myself.

“You think so?”

“Yeah. And, I don’t know about you, but a month of this ignoring bullshit? That just seems mean to me, at this point..”

“Well, I don’t know.. I wouldn’t say it’s mean, he just needs his space to figure stuff out, you know? He still wears his ring, I still see love in his eyes when he looks at me, I even noticed before I fell asleep in our bed today that he puts my cologne on the sheets.. I know he misses me..” I said with a smirk and James smirked too, then he shrugged.

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“Yeah, I guess that’s something.. I understand him wanting space, but this space between you guys isn’t only effecting you two, but your boys, as well. You feel like you can’t be around them if he is and that’s not okay,” he continued.

“..August asked me today if we’re going to get a divorce..” I expressed and James looked to me with surprise in his eyes.

“No shit?” He questioned and I nodded, hearing James then sigh heavily, “Damn.. They’re too young to be wondering if anything’s up with you two, but what’s been going on right in front of them makes it so damn obvious that it makes sense that August knows something’s wrong, but he shouldn’t have to worry about stuff like that.. He should be worrying about school and stuff, not if his dad’s are going to get a divorce. I don’t think it’s healthy for them and I’m actually surprised that Luca hasn’t noticed it yet. But, if it keeps up, he definitely will,” he added and I sighed, not wanting two of the boys, let alone one, worrying about what’s going on with Isaiah and I, but James was right.. It was only a matter of time before they’d start noticing.

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“I don’t know what to do, Jimmy..” I expressed at a loss, my eyes tearing up, “I didn’t even know what answer to give August when he asked,” I continued and I shut my eyes, the tears falling down my cheeks and I reached up to wipe them off my face.

James put his hand on my shoulder, “Hey, hey.. It’s going to be all right, you hear me? You two aren’t going to get divorced, not after everything you two have been through. You guys have been to hell and back, you’ve been to hell and back and something like this isn’t going to make it all count for nothing. I can honestly say I have never in my life seen a couple that love one another as much as you two do. It’s nauseating, actually,” he joked and I couldn’t help but laugh through my tears.

“I like how nauseating we are..” I replied and he laughed in return.

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“You really think everything’s going to be okay?” I asked after drying my face, looking over at James and he smiled with a confident nod.

“Yeah, man, most definitely. You guys got kids together and it’s so obvious that you two are still crazy about one another, it’d be stupid not to stay together,” he advised and although he had no way of knowing the outcome in all of this, it still felt amazing being reassured. 

“Thank you so much, Jimmy.. You always help me out and I really should’ve talked to you sooner about all of this.. It’s making me feel a lot better..”

“No problem. We’re brothers, man, I’ll always help you out with anything,” he replied and I smiled with an accompanied, appreciative nod. 

“Same goes for you,” I replied.

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“Can I ask you something?” He wondered and I nodded again, “So, what happened after all that stuff? Did Jody really have August and then bail, like you said? Or was that a lie, too? And I don’t mean that in an asshole way, I’m just genuinely curious,” he tread lightly on the subject and although I was trying my best lately to get into the habit of telling the truth, this was something I had to keep lying about. I had no choice.

“She bailed.. I don’t know where she is.. I really do believe that her brother’s death hit her pretty hard.. Flipped some kind of switch in her head, I don’t know, because when I went to the hospital to pick up her and August, she wasn’t there and August was left in the nursery. Still haven’t heard from her, but I hope I don’t ever hear from her again,” I replied.

“Yeah, I hope you don’t, either.. It’s just so weird to me, though, because she seemed completely obsessed with you, enough so to try and trap you with her by having a baby, but then she just bails? I dunno, it’s just weird..”

“Yeah, well.. You never know what’s going on in the mind of a psychopath,” I answered and he chuckled.

“Yeah, guess not,” he agreed.

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“Oh, uhm.. I was meaning to ask, but I didn’t remember until now.. Did, uh.. Did Isaiah set this up?” I asked and James chuckled.

“Ahh, you caught us. Of course, not that I don’t like spending time with you, and I’d wish you call me more often-” He playfully punched my arm and I smiled, “But, yeah.. He did. When I told you that you looked terrible before, you really did, and still do. You needed that glow back, though, the healthy glow, and I think you just really needed someone to help you out, someone to be there for you during hard times.. Isaiah thought so, too. He worries about you and he doesn’t like seeing you not taking care of yourself. He understands that your upset and sad and depressed and what-not, but you shouldn’t be neglecting yourself like this and withering away to nothing,” he replied and I knew what he meant.

“You’re right.. I need to stop focusing so hard on being depressed and I should start focusing on the boys more, and working out or something..”

“And actually eating three meals a day,” he added and I rolled my eyes with a smile, feeling a little more like his patient today rather than his friend.

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“All right, I’ll start first thing in the morning.. I think I’m going to try and just get some much needed rest tonight, too. That nap helped earlier, but I think I need a good twelve hours or so,” I spoke and he seemed surprised.

“Already? It’s only eight. Back in college, you usually went to bed at, like, two in the morning every night,” he said with a chuckle.

“Yeah, well.. With how my terrible sleep schedule’s been, I should get as much as I can.. Plus, when you have three kids, a husband ignoring you and some time to actually get some rest, you jump on those opportunities.. Sleeping is being able to temporarily forget what’s happening, too, I guess,” I replied with a smirk and he nodded.

“Touche. Sleep well, man.”

“You, too.. Thanks again for everything, Jimmy, I’ll see you in the morning,” I said with a smile as I removed my feet from within the pool and stood up.

“Don’t mention it,” he added and I picked up my empty beer bottle, bringing it with me on my way towards the guesthouse to throw it out and to get some sleep.

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Isaiah’s POV

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Tonight, which isn’t all that uncommon for a Saturday, I closed the bar around one in the morning and as I wiped down the counter tops, I couldn’t stop thinking about Oliver and James and how things might’ve gone tonight. I wondered why James had stayed over, but I hoped he could help Oliver out of this funk he was in, as well as convince Oliver to start taking care of himself more because he looked unhealthy, malnourished, too skinny and pale, and I felt terrible for being the one to make him feel like that. Was he suffering from depression because of me?  I knew I had every right to be angry with him after what he had done, but over the past month, he’s just gotten worse and worse and I couldn’t help but feel responsible for him fading away like this. I didn’t want to be responsible for it any longer and I was glad that James stayed to talk to him because I wasn’t sure if I could talk to Oliver yet, myself.. Not particularly about our fight on his birthday, but I don’t think I could look at him in his condition and stand there confidently and waiting for an apology from him while knowing that I had caused him almost just as much pain by simply ignoring him as he had caused me by lying.. 

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When he had accidentally cut his hand in the morning and I had helped him clean his wound and wrap it, I couldn’t even look him in the eye.. I feared that if I did, a wave of guilt I knew I shouldn’t feel would’ve washed over me and I might’ve just forgiven him right then and there. I wanted to talk about what had happened between us before I would give him any sort of forgiveness, but I still believed I wasn’t ready to forgive him and I felt he was trying to speed up that process this morning.. So, I refused to look at him, I forced myself to pull away from him when he was touching my face and it was when he had told me he missed me that I knew I had to get away from him before I could let him convince me to stay behind and talk to him. I knew he loved me more than anything and he loved me enough to wait for me, but I feared that he loved me too much to the point where he was killing himself slowly without me.. And I was ashamed of myself for standing here and letting him. 

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I grew enraged with myself, hating that I was responsible for this and I clenched the sponge within my fist, then whipped it down onto the counter top angrily. I put my fingers to my temple to relax myself and I shut my eyes tightly, refusing to let myself cry, but for what I’m doing to him, I deserved to feel this weak and sad. Tears built up in my eyes, but before I let them fall down my cheeks, I wiped my eyes dry and took a deep breath.

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I exhaled slowly from between my lips and I tried to stop thinking about it, stepping out from behind the bar and to the dining deck. I looked towards the starry night and the water that reflected it, taking a few more slow breathes to lose the rest of the irritation and anger I felt. The past month I’ve been without Oliver has been tough, but the view outside the bar always helped in calming me down before facing him and the boys whenever I came home from work. I’ve been taking more care of them lately than Oliver has, but I didn’t hold it against him. I knew he was probably trying to stay away from them to avoid making them sad and to keep them from asking what’s wrong with us, but I missed seeing him play with our sons and I loved watching all of them in the same room. It was better than any movie or television show or any other form of entertainment because it was all mine to look at, so I cherished and loved every second of it. But, I now miss those ‘all-mine’ moments because they simply don’t happen anymore. I wanted them back, but I didn’t know how to do it.

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After I shut off the lights to the bar, I decided to go home before I could bring myself down further than I was. Oliver seemed to have not been using his Nissan lately, neither has he really been going to work and seeing his clients on account of his depression, so I’ve been borrowing his car instead of using mine. I guess I liked the smell of it better since mine still had that ‘new car’ scent and I didn’t much care for it. Then again, I could just be using that as an excuse to hide the fact that I’m still completely infatuated with the man. Hell, I’ve even been wasting his cologne on the bed sheets just to trick myself into thinking that he’s there sleeping next to me.. I suppose I’m really lovesick for him.

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When I got home, the whole house was dark except for the dimly lit foyer and into the kitchen, seeing James sitting at the island counter reading a book and I wondered why he was still awake. I stepped over to the kitchen and stood in the doorway, James then looking over and a smile spread across his lips.

“Hey. How was work?” He asked and I couldn’t help but think about what I had done after closing when I was alone.

“A little rough,” I replied and I could tell he knew what I meant by it given the circumstances, so he didn’t question it, only keeping his smile, “Why aren’t you in bed?” I asked as I stepped closer towards him.

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“Eh, can’t sleep. I’m usually at the hospital around this time of night, so it’s pretty much in-bedded into my brain to be up,” he replied.

“Is Oliver still awake..?”

“Nah, went to bed around eight or so,” he answered and I was surprised he had gone to bed so early.

What are you reading?”

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“Oh, this?” He asked, looking back down at the book in front of him, “Pregnancy book. Kat doesn’t think I read enough about it before Parker was born, so I’m trying to read more before we have our next little girl. Try to help her out as much as I can, ya’know?” He replied and I smirked, stepping over to the island and sitting down next to him.

“Have you two thought of a name for her yet?” I questioned and he shook his head.

“No. Kat’s been thinking of some but none of them have really stuck, or we can’t really come to an agreement on one,” he said with a light chuckle, “I like Adelise. Call her Addy for short, or something..”

“That’s a really pretty name,” I replied with a genuine tone.

“I know, right? Something about it doesn’t sit right with Kat, though, I dunno why,” he replied, shrugging hopelessly, “Maybe I can convince her on it, eventually..”

“Hmm.. I like the name Umiko for a girl,” I replied.

“Umiko..? Yeah, I like that, too. Maybe when you and Oliver have a girl, you can name her that,” he replied and I smiled, enjoying how he used the word ‘when’ instead of ‘if’.

“Yeah, maybe,” I agreed, leaning on the counter and I stared blankly at the book in front of him.

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James seemed to notice how quiet and deep in thought I had become, “So? When are you going to ask instead of make small talk?” James wondered, looking at me with a grin, “I know you wanna know what we talked about, so go ahead and ask already,” he continued and I gave a guilty smirk, James knowing exactly what I was curious about and have been ever since I had left for work.

“Well, just start from the beginning with what happened,” I suggested and he nodded.

“I made him take a shower ’cause he said he hadn’t in a few days. He took a nap in your guys’ bed for a few hours, too, which helped lift his spirits a lot,” he explained and I grew nervous.

“Oh, uh.. Did he, uhm-“

“Yeah, he noticed,” James said with the same grin on his lips, already knowing I was going to ask about his cologne I spray on the sheets on occasion.

“Well, that’s embarrassing,” I replied and James laughed softly.

“Nah, man. He seemed to really enjoy it, actually,” he assured me and I was a little surprised.

“Really?”

“Mm-hmm. He’s also noticed that you still look at him the same, like you still love him, and he’s noticed you still wear your ring. I can see why you do, since you’re still married an’all, but are you meaning to do that, to give him hope or something? Or do you just forget you’re wearing it?” He asked and I looked down at my finger with the silver ring still hugging it securely.

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“I guess I’ve just gotten so used to wearing it that it’s hard to get out of the habit, even if I did want to. Maybe I’m even trying to give myself hope by still wearing it, I don’t know,” I said with a sigh.

“Hope for what? Why do you say it like that?”

“Like what?”

“Like you’re not in control, like someone else is making these decisions for you guys to either be, or not to be, together? Sure, Oliver fucked up, but you’re the one that’s kept you two separated for this long, so why do you make it seem like there’s more than just the two of you involved in this? You’re acting as if you’re being kept apart and as if someone’s preventing you from marching right over to the guesthouse and taking what you want.. As if there’s consequences for wanting to be happy with the one you love,” he replied, having a good point, but I couldn’t do it so easily like that.

I shook my head, “It’s not that simple.”

“It is, actually,” he disagreed with me, “Unless you plan on continuing to punish him by keeping this up, which seems a bit malicious, to me,” he added and I grew a little defensive.

“He lied to me and kept secrets from me for six years and you don’t think he deserves to be punished?” I challenged.