It’s been days. Rage and Vince are missing too and I know they are on a mission together. The rest of the Valkyries have pushed for answers but got stone-walled. I try not to make dark thoughts and decide that Kyle was destined for me anyway. If he wasn’t a Rider, he would be a SEAL. I would still be seating here waiting for him to come back from some dangerous mission, not knowing if he was alive or dead. It’s the price I pay for being with him. And I pay it gladly.
“They will be back soon,” Iris says.
It’s another day off and we are sunbathing on the garden by the pool. All the Valkyries are here and we are having fun.
The most fun though is watching little Ariadne run around and enjoy herself. She looks exactly like her mother and that is probably the main reason Bjorn spoils her as Ava complained.
“Ari,” Ava asks her to eat her fruit.
“There are other fruits besides bananas, Ariadne. Apples for example.”
Ava rolls her eyes and we all laugh at her. She can turn hardened criminals into shaking leaves but she can’t get her daughter to eat a slice of apple.
“Yeah, Chiara, I wouldn’t laugh so hard. You are up next,” Ava says. “And don’t think that because your man is a big mother- man,” Ava quickly corrects looking at her daughter, “that he will have any control. The bigger they are, the harder they fall.”
We laugh harder and most of all Chiara that for sure has pictured her giant of a man negotiating over fruit.
Instinctively I turn to Lysa. She looks at Ariadne with love and longing. She and Vik are still trying to have a family and I am rooting for her. At least she has a chance, difficult as it may seem.
I drown the tears that threaten to ruin this day. I haven’t dared visit the doctor. I dread that he will tell me that I won’t be able to be a mother. Ever. At the thought, I smile. Not so long before, I wasn’t sure I was to survive the day, never thought I would ever see the light of day, never hold my baby sister into my arms. And yet here I am.
I have more than I ever dreamed of. And most of all Kyle. I have his love and it multiplies every day, making me happier, fuller. Still a child... He would make such a great father I know.
“Wood is calling,” Iris wakes me up from my deep thoughts.
I grab the phone with anticipation. His photo is on the screen. I took that photo the day I got the phone. He has that genuine smile on his face and rubs the back of his neck so sweetly.
I giggle like an idiot at hearing him say my nickname.
“Where are you?” I ask filled with agony.
“I’ll be back tonight, kitten. Listen, is Ava there? She is not answering her phone.”
I frown. Is it business for the Valkyrie Bonds that took him away from me?
“She is fighting with Ariadne over an apple.”
“Tell her to call me,” he sounds really panicked.
“Is everything OK?” I get up to talk to him in private.
“Sure, Tamie. Just tell Ava to call me ASAP.”
“Don’t worry, kitten, I am... Shit! I have to go!”
I am left looking at the phone. What was that? Is he in trouble? Where are Rage and Vince? In what dangerous situation has he thrown himself into?
“Ava! Call Wood right away,” I say.
“I will in a moment,” Ava still looks at her daughter.
“Now!” I am panicking myself. “It’s an emergency.”
Ava huffs and gets up to look for her phone.
“Those boys can’t help but fu- mess things. Apple duty,” she hands me the plate.
I take it from her and sit with Ariadne that looks determined to stay hungry than relent. I smile at the adorable girl.
“You know, there was a golden apple once,” I tell her in a soothing voice. “Only the prettiest girl could have it. I guess I will eat this apple myself.”
“No,” the clever girl gets it. “I am pretty!”
That’s all she says and grabs the slice of apple from my hands and eats it with gusto. I turn to rub it in Ava’s face but she is talking on the phone and seems to be in a turmoil. Kyle!
I am still looking at her when she ends the phone call.
“Like I said,” Ava shakes her head. “A mess.”
That’s all she says and doesn’t even notice that her daughter has devoured a whole apple.
It’s almost dark when I go back. While Kyle was away, I stayed with Iris but I want to be there when he gets back. I reach Valhalla and I go through the bar. It’s still early and only Stig is on his usual place, deep into his laptop.
I go up to him to greet him and he shuts the laptop as if he wants to hide from me what he is working on.
“Oh, hi there.”
“Are you OK?”
“Sure. Lots of work to do so sorry...”
I watch as he gathers his things and disappears into the hallway. I shrug. Stig is definitely weird. He looks like a man and when the occasion calls, he acts like one but generally speaking, he reminds me of some of the boys at school.
I go to our room and I am already making a menu for Kyle to find when he arrives. I think I have some time left. Maybe I can clean up the place a bit so he will find it to his standards. And most of all, pick a restraint so we can play tonight.
That’s what I am thinking when I open the door. And I freeze on the spot.
“About time that happened to you,” Kyle chuckles.
But it’s not that sound that has my jaw drop to the floor. Is the light cooing of a baby. A baby Kyle holds in his arms. I take that image in along with the state of the room. For the first time ever, I see this place a mess. There is a diaper on the floor, spilled food on the couch, baby clothes on the armchair, colorful toys on the bed.
“I hoped I had time to clean this up so you would find it perfect but...”
He says nothing. He just comes up to me with that baby thrown on his shoulder and I am still shocked by the sight. I am still holding the doorknob when he stops before me and brings that baby down so that I can see it.
“That’s Tamie. The one I was telling you about,” Kyle says to the baby that looks at him and smiles.
I focus on that pretty little face. It has big, grey-blue eyes and lips that look like a perfect bow tie.
“Is it a...?” I don’t think I can talk right now.
“It’s a boy. Definitely a boy and quite able to pee on people with accuracy. Pee sniper I call him.”
“I found him, Tamie,” Kyle’s voice darkens. “I found the last of the brothers, the ones that hurt you.”
I tighten my jaw.
“He is no more. Last time I saw him, he was under Rage’s care.”
I know the man is painfully dead when he says that. I feel a relief I never knew I needed. In the back of my mind I guess I always thought that while they were still out there, I was in danger. I can breathe now. They can’t hurt me, they can’t force me.
“And him? Why was he...?” I point at the baby.
His look darkens even more.
“No, no, no! Not that baby!”
Without thinking, I extend my arms and take the baby in my arms. The baby looks up to me and his perfect lips form a wide smile. He throws his arms up and I embrace him tighter.
All the dread I felt is gone, all the agony, the pain. His little body is the one supporting me not the other way around. His even breath caresses my skin and his arms get around my neck. I close my eyes and take in his smell, that unmistakable baby scent of pure innocence.He can’t be hurt, not this sweet baby.
“Kyle?” I panic going back to the implications.
“He is fine. We got there before that motherfucker...”
I let out a sigh and turn to kiss his chubby cheek.
Kyle shakes his head. I let out a whimper and the baby responds to my discomfort by whimpering also. I swallow it down and shush the baby, shaking him gently.
“And now what?”
Kyle smiles and takes my hand.
“I have to break another promise, Tamie. I promised that when I ask you to marry me, it would be romantic. Well, I asked you to be my Valkyrie in a filthy kitchen. And now,” he kneels before me and I gasp. “Now, I am asking you to be my wife amongst the mess our son made.”
I widen my eyes as if that would help me hear better. That was... What was that? What did he...? Son! Our son!
“Tamie, my kitten,” he takes the one free hand I have. “Will you be my wife? Help me raise this child as our own?”
I look into his eyes and then at the baby in my arms that smiles at me. Tears come up in my eyes. I thought I loved Iris with all my heart and then I met Kyle. And I thought I couldn’t love more than that, that my heart would burst. But those don’t even compare to what I am feeling for a baby I just met.
“Tamie?” Kyle asks and squeezes my hand.
“Our...? He is ours?”
“He has no family, Tamie. And frankly, I fell in love with him in an instant,” Kyle chuckles. “Had my doubts on the first change of diapers but then he smiled and starting babbling to me enthusiastically so I guess I am fine with poop now.”
More tears come. I am laughing and crying at the same time and I can hardly believe this is happening.
“Are you sure? I mean this baby might have people looking for him.”
“I have Stig look him up. But I am afraid that asshole made sure no one was looking for him.”
“Sorry, Mom,” he smiles the widest smile I have ever seen on him.
Mom! I look at the baby and he is still smiling. I would exchange all the sunsets in the world just to see him smile at me like that. Before Kyle came for me I had nothing. Now I have it all. A family, a real true family, a man I adore and a baby. Just when I thought I couldn’t have it all.
“Kitten?” Kyle is still on his knees.
I smile down at him and squeeze the baby to my chest.
“Yes,” I simply say.
Kyle gets up and wraps us both in his strong embrace. He caresses my face while he is struggling to find something to say. After a while he gives up, tightens his arms around us and kisses my lips before he rests his forehead on the top of our baby’s head.
“Now, we need to find him a name,” Kyle smiles his brightest smile.