Chapter 16 - Danica
Like my last several train rides, I am staring out the window, watching the world go by. And I’m smiling like a fool. After my conversation with Aldrich ended last night, I quickly looked up what he had said. Apparently, ‘moj slatki’ means ‘my sweet’ in Serbian. I still don’t know if Aldrich is using a translator, or if he actually speaks the language. But that doesn’t make any sense, because that would mean that Aldrich is Serbian? I shake my head to clear the thought. If Aldrich were from Serbia, I almost feel as if he would have said something . . . Right? Or maybe not. He could just be shy.
“Excuse me, miss?” I look up and see a young woman standing in the door to my train booth. She is carrying a small child, probably around five months or so.
“Oh, would you like a seat?” I ask quickly, jumping up to move my luggage from the opposite bench.
“Thank you,” she says softly, but she only looks at the place I’ve cleared for her.
“Is something wrong?”
The woman looks at me, her hazel eyes matching those of the little boy’s.
“If anyone asks . . .” she starts to say, stepping into the booth and closing the door. “Just until we reach the end of the line . . . Pretend he is your son, and I your nanny, please? Or your sister, something?”
She starts to hand me the little boy, which I hold close to my chest without question. She’s running from someone. I nod and motion to the bench.
“What’s his name?” I ask, taking my seat, adjusting the cute boy in my lap.
“Danny,” the woman replies, her tone holds genuine love as she looks at him.
I smile, “My brother’s best friend is named Danny. He’s planning to ask his girlfriend to marry him.”
That brings a brighter smile to her face. We talk softly together while Danny falls for a nap in my arms. He’s so cute! Dark brown curls cover his head. Big, cherub-cheeks and just chub everywhere! I eventually learn that his mother, Monica, is my age. Her boyfriend had left before she realized she was pregnant, and when her parents found out, they kicked her to the streets. Her boyfriend’s parents, though he is currently MIA, are paying to help support Danny. She is going to live with them, and is passing through Serbia.
“Oh!” Monica gasps after a while of us talking. “No wonder you look familiar. Danica, as in Danica Kensington?”
“Yes,” I reply, nodding.
“My best friend loves ‘Soul Bond’. She would freak out if she knew I was sitting near you.”
I smile, adjusting little Danny so his head is resting on my shoulder and chest.
“If you want, we can take a picture for you to send her.”
Monica smiles, nodding. She pulls out her phone. I flash a smile, resting my chin gently on the top of Danny’s head. Monica snaps several pictures, some with smiles, some with funny faces. Danny starts to stir and his face scrunches as he begins to fuss. Monica produces a pacifier from her pocket, pulling off the cover before sticking it into Danny’s mouth.
“You’re going to have quite the heartbreaker on your hands,” I say, laughing softly as I watch Danny start to snooze again. “Total lady-killer.”
“Just like his daddy,” Monica agrees, nodding. “He was coming back . . . I just don’t know where he is, or if something happened. It’s like aliens came for him or something.”
I hesitate before saying, “I hope you find him, for yours and Danny’s sake.”
Monica nods, biting her lips as she looks away, but not before I catch the glisten in her eye. I frown, but I won’t let push further. Monica’s wounds are still raw. I kiss the top of Danny’s head, letting my mind wander to what it will be like when I have kids of my own. The thought of being a mom and raising kids has always been a dream. Every girl has the dream at one point or another. I could imagine my kids looking a little like me, but they would look more like their dad. Whoever he might be.
My fantasy image of Aldrich enters my mind, as it has been over the last week. If he were to have kids, they would be beautiful! Of course, this is just fantasy-Aldrich, so they would be fantasy-children. I guess I must be smiling, because when Monica looks over at me, she starts to smile as well.
“Who is he?” she asks, scooting down the bench to sit directly in front of me. “Are you going to see him?”
I blush, “I don’t know,” I reply, laughing softly as I shake my head. “He is . . . someone who wrote me about one of my books and then . . . it became something more, but I don’t know which one of us will admit it first.”
“I bet he’s handsome.”
“My fantasy of his face is quite handsome . . . I don’t know what he looks like.”
Monica gapes, “You don’t know what he looks like? How come?”
“He hasn’t sent me any pictures of his face. Just his hands, work uniform, or his feet.”
“But at least he has nice hands and feet, right?” Monica taps my shin with the toe of her shoe, wiggling her eyebrows.
I throw my head back and laugh, probably a bit too loudly. Little Danny starts to stir again, this time moving his whole body, throwing out his arms, and kicking with his little legs. Monica start cooing as she takes him from my arms.
“Are you waking up, little love? Do you need to smell Mummy?”
I smile as I pull out my phone to check the time and see if I have any messages. This train should be arriving in Serbia in about half an hour now. And Aldrich messaged me.
dAldrich91: Danica, be safe on your journey. If something were to happen to you, I would feel rather sad. Take care, moj slatki.
I bite my lip as I start a reply. He’s not online; he must’ve had to go really quick.
Danica93: Thank you for checking in on me. I should be at my destination within the hour. Be safe, Aldrich.
I sigh softly as I return my phone to my purse. If Aldrich calls me ‘my sweet’ again, the next time he messages me, I am totally pressing him into letting me have a picture of him.