Five days of living under the same roof. Four nights of not getting any sleep. Five days of seeing a softer, gentler Eden. Four nights of his body betraying him.
He didn’t know if it was a good idea or not, but after making sure she was still sound asleep after the nightmare she had the night before, he slipped out of the house and made his way to the office.
“Okay, Baby,” Michelle said as she walked into the house. “Let’s find your jacket and go to the park.”
Michelle walked to the sliding closet doors within the laundry room. “Hey Noah,” she said into the cell phone she balanced on her shoulder as she slid hangers to find Morgan’s jacket. “You do know it isn’t safe to leave your front door unlocked right?”
“I don’t use the front door, Michelle, but I’ll take that under advisement.”
“Okay, well I just wanted to let you know.”
Noah had turned his pickup truck onto his street. Panic flowed through him as he saw Michelle’s tan car parked in the drive.
“Michelle, where are you?”
She laughed, snagging a jacket from a hanger. “In the laundry room,” she answered. “Say, you’d better hope this jacket fits your kid.”
He barely shifted the truck in park and stopped the engine when his boots hit the ground, running for the front door.
Breathlessly, he called to her, “Michelle, where’s Morgan?”
“He’s…” Michelle dropped the phone and it crashed to the floor. Coming in the French doors, Eden hadn’t seen her yet.
Michelle took her first step toward Morgan as Noah burst into the house.
“Mommy!” Morgan screamed, his little legs racing toward the deck.
Eden’s head shot up. Her heart caught at the sight of a small child running toward her. His arms held out to her. She felt her world was moving in slow motion. Her eyes met with Noah’s, fear in their depths. A woman stood just before him.
“Mommy!” he screamed again, now close enough to jump at her.
Reflexes were all she had. She quickly squat down and caught the boy as he flew into her arms. The force of his landing caused her to fall back and land on her bottom. His little legs wrapped around her waist as his arms hugged her neck tightly.
The scent of his baby shampoo filled her senses. “Morgan,” she sighed, holding him close. Tears she didn’t even consider holding back flowed like lava down her cheeks. Morgan burrowed his head into the hallow of her neck as she reached up with her good hand and stroked the softness of his downy hair.
Noah cautiously approached and squat down before the sobbing mess he had on his dining room floor. His hands gently reached Morgan’s sides to pull him free.
“No!” Morgan screamed. He wiggled violently against Noah.
Eden’s teary eyes opened and looked into his. “It’s okay,” she cried, her hold on the boy just as strongly holding him to her.
Michelle now approached Noah and placed her hand on his shoulder. “I’m sorry Noah, I didn’t know she was here.”
Noah didn’t know how he’d react to seeing mother and son reunited. The scene before him was euphoric and painful at the same time. He held back the tears forming behind his own eyes and stood.
“It’s alright,” his voice hoarse.
He watched them another moment, before calling to her softly, “Eden?”
She opened her eyes and looked at him. The love he saw shining back at him was so intense, it took his breath away. And he knew every ounce of that love was for a little boy she held to her.
Not knowing what to say, he extended his hand to her. A gesture to suggest she get up off the floor. Her body was still recovering from surgery as well, and the last thing he needed was for her to experience a set back.
She nodded. She loosened her grip on Morgan and pulled him back. Fresh tears fell down her cheeks as the chubby face looked at her. She used her fingertips to outline his face. His smile relayed the joy he was experiencing at seeing her. His eyes, the ones she thought looked like Noah’s, were nothing compared to seeing them live. They were identical to Noah’s, when Noah let his guard down and let his emotions show.
Morgan started to jump on her lap. “Mommy, Mommy, Mommy…”
Noah again tried to grasp Morgan’s waist.
“No!” Morgan protested again.
“It’s okay Honey. Daddy needs to help me up,” Eden told him.
Morgan scrunched up his eyebrows before finally relenting and allowing Noah to pick him up.
Noah handed him to Michelle before turning to Eden, helping her to stand.
“You okay?” Noah asked her.
She didn’t have a voice, so she could only nod.
Once Morgan saw she was standing, he began to aggressively wiggle against Michelle. “Down!” he insisted. “Mommy!”
Eden approached Michelle, Morgan’s arms outstretched as far as his little body allowed to her.
Noah lifted him from Michelle instead. “Morgan, Mommy has an owie,” Noah held Morgan with one arm while his other hand reached for her casted hand, bringing it into Morgan’s view.
“Down Daddy! Down!”
Noah’s heart was ripping in two. His son wanted nothing to do with him. He nodded for Eden to go to the living room. Once she was seated on the sofa, he set Morgan down beside her.
For the next hour, Michelle and Noah watched mother and son reunite. They stood at the entrance to the kitchen to give them space.
“I am so sorry, Noah,” Michelle apologized for the hundredth time. “When I didn’t see your truck, I thought she’d be with you.”
“Michelle, stop beating yourself up over this.”
“But, after yesterday…”
“I can’t keep her in a bubble, Michelle.” He took a sip of his coffee before retreating into the kitchen. He laughed, “Hell, the way this is going I should just tell her everything.”
Michelle grabbed his arm and spun him around. “Noah Carrington! You can’t!”
“I said I should. I didn’t say I was going to.”
Dr. Miller arrived a short time later. As he stepped into the room, Eden stopped reading to Morgan.
“I hear I missed one heck of a party.”
Morgan snuggled at her side, her good hand rose and cupped his head. She placed a kiss on his head as she looked at the doctor.
“How are you Eden?” Dr. Miller asked, taking a seat.
“Morgan, Honey,” Michelle called as she and Noah entered. “Are you ready to go to the park?”
“No. I want Mommy.”
When Michelle went to approach, Dr. Miller shook his head. “We’ll be fine.” He then looked to Noah and gestured for him to enter and be part of the session.
“Eden,” Dr. Miller began again, “How are you?”
“I’m not sure.”
“No,” she answered then met his gaze, “But I feel a connection. Is that weird?”
“Not at all,” he told her. “A bond between a mother and child is an even bigger mystery than that of the brain itself.” She only looked at him. “Just as there is between some couples.”
“I can’t explain it Dr. Miller,” she started. “I thought maybe I’d feel a force of my memories return when I saw him. Instead, I felt this instant force of love flow through me.”
“Understandable. Many new mothers feel that when they see their child for the first time.
“You have to remember, Eden, your old memories may return when you aren’t trying. For now, your mind is experiencing new memories. So far, you’re trusting a hidden trust in your own judgment. That says to me you have a solid base for such trust.”
“Like, when I knew Noah wouldn’t hurt me on the patio at the hospital?”
“Exactly,” he confirmed. “At the time, he was a complete stranger to you. Something anyone would be cautious of. Your mind, void of conscious memory, told you you could trust him. You didn’t fight it and allowed yourself to trust him.”
“Will I ever regain my memory?”
Morgan tugged on her hand, “Look Mommy,” he whispered, pointing to a picture in the book on her lap.
She smiled at him, “I see the puppy, Morgan.”
When her attention was back to the adults, Dr. Miller answered, “I was telling Noah last night after your nightmare…”
“You know about my nightmare?”
“Of course. Noah keeps me abreast of all your progress.”
“My nightmare was progress?”
“Possibly. It sounds to me like your mind is protecting you from unpleasant memories.”
“I’ve had patients who suppress memories of abuse and other horrible events their minds aren’t capable of handling.”
“But, Noah’s never abused me,” her voice incredulous at the thought.
“Eden, think about what you just said,” he told her as Noah watched.
“I’m not following,” she answered.
“You just gave me a statement, ‘Noah’s never abused me,’” he said. “I have no doubt in my mind it’s an accurate statement. It is also something you know to be true, though you don’t have specific memories to back it up.”
“Eden, you know things to be true and can’t explain why. You trust Noah. You love this little boy. All things that were there before you lost your memory.”
“But, if Noah isn’t the cause of my suppressing memories, why can’t I remember him?”
“The only way to have the answer to that is after your memories return. Only you hold that answer.”
“This is so frustrating,” she sighed.
“Memories will come when they’re meant to. Perhaps now you can stop pushing yourself to remember.” When she looked at him, he continued, “I think a certain little boy is going to take your attention. As memories return, accept them. Some will be bits and pieces. Others may be more extensive.”
“What could possibly be so unpleasant that I’m blocking it?” she asked.
“I said it’s possible it’s unpleasant memories. You’re trying to analyze and control this Eden. You need to let nature, and what your brain wants to do in their own time.”
“It’s so hard,” she sighed, caressing Morgan’s hair.
Dr. Miller stood and walked over to her. “I know. But, forcing it isn’t going to help.”
Noah spoke with Dr. Miller in the den a short time before the doctor left.
“Noah, I get the feeling there is something about Eden’s memory you are keeping from me.”
“Like what?” Noah asked defensively.
“Noah, I can only help if I have all the facts. Does your partner have anything to do with unpleasant memories?”
“Lawrence is an unpleasant nuisance in my life.”
“Be careful Noah,” he told him realizing Noah wasn’t going to confide in him. “You saw how she was with her siblings when she felt they kept who you are from her.”
“Lawrence isn’t anything to Eden.”
Morgan spent three days following his mother everywhere. They played, read books, and were basically inseparable. Noah had anticipated this behavior. However, he didn’t anticipate Eden including him in their activities.
After an extensive session of racing cars in the living room, Eden talked him into allowing her and Daddy to do some big people stuff in the kitchen. Dirty dishes were piling up, and Noah could tell it was unsettling for her. Even though she wasn’t as determined with everything being spotless, the clutter was beginning to get to her.
A short time later, Morgan scampered into the kitchen. “Mommy, I want Broc-ee.”
Eden did a double take. “You want what Honey?” Surely he wasn’t asking for what she thought he was.
“Broc-ee. Broc-ee.” He pulled on the refrigerator door handle, desperately trying to open it.
Noah looked at her perplexed state. “Eden? You alright?”
“Did he just ask for broccoli?”
He chuckled, “Yeah.”
Though her memories hadn’t returned, she was doing quite well with mothering Morgan. And Morgan didn’t seem to notice when she was unfamiliar with something.
“He eats broccoli,” she stated more than asked.
“You’re broccoli,” he corrected.
“My broccoli? What’s that supposed to mean?” She was starting to panic. “Noah, I burn water remember?” she said softly, imploring him with her eyes to help her out.
Noah went to the fridge and took out the bag of cut up broccoli. “Get the steamer,” he told her.
“Where is it?”
“I’ll get it!” Morgan squealed, running over to a cabinet.
Morgan pulled out from a lower cabinet a three-piece plastic set and handed it up to her as though it were a prize. “Mommy Broc-ee.”
She took it from him and went over near Noah. He ran water into the bottom of the steamer, placing a strainer type layer filled with broccoli then covered it with the plastic lid. He placed it in the microwave and was stopped by Morgan’s shout.
“No! Mommy do!”
Noah lifted his hands in surrender and mouthed three minutes to Eden.
Noah told Morgan he needed to take the bowl out of the microwave because of Mommy’s owie to keep from another outburst.
Eden stood next to Noah as he scooped out the broccoli and put it in a larger bowl. “That’s it?”
“Not quite,” Noah said out of the corner of his mouth to her. “Get the Italian dressing.”
She took in a breath before turning and retrieving the bottle of salad dressing from the fridge and returning back. Noah softly nodded as she added it into the bowl with the broccoli.
“He’s gonna eat all this?” she asked Noah.
Noah nodded before she turned, carrying the bowl to the dining room, where Morgan anxiously stood waiting.
Noah set him in his high chair. Morgan sat looking at the bowl after she set it on his tray. His brown eyes lifting to look into hers.
“Go ahead Morgan,” she coaxed.
Noah leaned over and whispered in her ear. “He’s waiting for you to blow kisses in it.” He couldn’t prevent the smile and near laugh from escaping at the look on her face. “Your special ingredient.”
She bent at the waist. “How many?” she asked Morgan.
“Free is it,” she said before blowing three kisses into his bowl. The look on his face took her breath away. His cherub face totally alight and full of love.
She swallowed the lump in her throat before standing and walking to stand over by Noah. Watching their toddler eat a bowl of broccoli with complete abandon.
“He likes broccoli,” she said.
Noah turned and said over his shoulder as he returned to the kitchen. “It’s all your fault!”
“My fault?” she asked as she followed.
Noah laughed lightly, “The kid’s addicted to broccoli because you ate it every day while you were pregnant. And, every day after while you nursed him.” He was back at the task of rinsing and loading dishes in the dishwater. “Your breast milk was even green!”
The light mood left him when he turned and saw the sad expression cover her.
He went to stand before her. “Eden?”
When she looked up into his eyes, the ones that matched Morgan’s, a single tear slid down her cheek. “I nursed him?”
Damn! He messed up. They’d joked about this before. He wasn’t thinking.
“What kind of mother am I?” she whispered. “I can’t even remember…” her voice broke off into sobs.
He pulled her into him, her head at his chest as his arms enveloped her. “I’m sorry, Eden.”
“It’s not your fault I can’t remember,” she cried.
That took him off guard. He was the reason for everything that went wrong. Hell, probably the reason for global warming.
“Eden, I wish I could give you your memories. I do.”
“I know. I have to remember things on my own. But, what if I never do?”
“Dr. Miller thinks they’ll come back.”
She pulled away, walking over to watch Morgan eat the special meal she’d always made for him that she couldn’t remember. This perfect little boy who had no idea his mother was completely incompetent at the moment.
Noah watched as she turned back into the kitchen, retrieved a small cup from the shelf, poured it half full with milk and brought it to Morgan. Talking every step of the way. “It’s not fair. I don’t remember feeling him grow inside me, nursing him, making him special things.” She approached him looking at her in wonder as she said, “How am I supposed to know how to take care of him?”
“What did you just do?” Noah asked her.
“Eden, you just got him a glass of milk, in his favorite cup, without his asking and without second guessing yourself.”
“He gets milk with lunch,” she stated.
He smiled. “And, you knew that. Without thinking.”
Two days had passed. She learned she had potty trained Morgan in three days. He ate pretty much anything you put in front of him. Not a picky eater at all. Which was good because once Noah stopped doing all the cooking, she was in serious trouble.
Stepping into the living room carrying a freshly folded load of Morgan’s laundry, Eden stopped breathlessly taking in the sight before her. Lying on the sofa were father and son, all snuggled up for a casual weekend afternoon nap.
She set the laundry basket down and quietly approached them. Noah’s arm wrapped around Morgan, holding him safely on his chest. Morgan lie on his tummy, his round face so content in sleep. His cheeks pink in his slumber. His white blond hair standing out against the contrast of Noah’s navy tee. Morgan’s hand open and setting at Noah’s heart.
Eden knelt down and just watched them sleep. What was that feeling inside now? How can one person feel complete and empty at the same time? But, that’s just how she felt at that moment. Complete seeing the two most important people in her world asleep and peaceful. Empty at the reminder she couldn’t remember either of them before the accident.
As she knelt there, studying them, she took in their similarities. Now that Noah was completely relaxed, his handsome face pulled at her heart strings. His long eyelashes resting like crescent moons. Morgan’s resting just as beautifully above his cheek bones.
Noah’s lips caught her attention. She’d tasted those lips. Before she woke, she remembered. Then further remembering his smile. When he smiled completely, his whole face lit up. Oh, and when he’d laugh. His eyes danced.
She looked to Morgan. His little heart shaped mouth. Her hand lightly caressing his downy hair. “Will you look like your daddy when you get older?” she asked him, barely a whisper. “God help the little girls if you do.”
She watched Morgan’s little head rise and fall with Noah’s deep breaths. She closed her eyes, trying to call up a memory of her head there. It looked so inviting and full of strength. Surely she’d found the same contentment as Morgan had.
Her inspection back to Noah. His free arm bent and beneath his head, showing the strength of physical labor he did daily. His arms strong, yet so gentle as they held this child. He’d held her the same, she just knew it. She’d felt it a couple of times since the accident. His arms holding her gently as she’d worked through her frustration of not remembering.
Her eyes going back to his face. His handsome face. His soft brown eyebrows that matched his hair. Hair she knew would feel soft if her fingers sifted through it. Had sifted through it. Hair that was straight, parted a little off center, and fell just past his earlobes. His ears shaped just right for swirling her tongue around.
Where did that thought come from? An embarrassment flowed through her before she reminded herself they were married. She felt a warmth in her womb just looking at him. A desire for a man she couldn’t remember making love with, yet wanted to oh so desperately right now. A man who had given her such a beautiful little boy.
She stood and leaned over them. “Thank you Noah,” she whispered before kissing his lips as gently as she could. “He’s beautiful.”
Reigning in her emotions and desires, she stood, forcing herself back to the task of housework. At least she could feel human doing that.
Noah breathed in the scent of baby shampoo, Morgan sound asleep on his chest. His son had been so attached to his mother before. Never allowed into their secret sanctum. What would it take to be close with her again?
He heard her quietly moving about in the laundry room. Heard her footsteps as they approached. Her bare feet across the carpeting the only sound in the room besides Morgan’s breathing.
His concentration remained on Morgan’s breathing. He felt her beside them. Knew she was inspecting them. Heard her soft words to Morgan. “God help the little girls if you do.”
What the hell? She barely acknowledged he even fathered the child before the accident. Now, she was noticing he looked like him?
Before he could come to terms with that, her soft whispers directed at him. “Thank you Noah. He’s beautiful.” He had no idea how he didn’t jump straight out of his skin when her lips touched his. So, tender. So, caring? Oh man, what was she doing to him now?
He listened as she stepped away, leaving them to sleep. He didn’t swallow the lump in his throat until he heard her opening drawers in Morgan’s room. He kissed Morgan’s crown before saying a silent prayer that he’d survive this.