Finding Home

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Chapter Eighteen

“Go ahead, mommy. I’ll be fine.” Kelia kissed my wet cheek.

My parents, Kelia, Allen, and Roxy took the liberty of driving with Matty, Garrett, and I in the new Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Van that Justin and Hailey had recommended for us if we happened to be traveling big.

“Go on, honey. You don’t want to miss your flight.” Dad hugged me tightly with Kelia in my arms.

“Screw that, I’m taking my private jet. I-I-I just, are you sure you don’t want to come?” I just couldn’t think straight. I’m leaving my six year old daughter for three months. She won’t even get to see her father on his twenty third birthday, I don’t know how he’s handling it so well.

“Mommy I’m fine,” she rolled her eyes at me.

She’s so young, so she doesn’t understand the heartbreak of not seeing each other for three months or even longer. To her, it’ll go by in a flash. But I already know this is going to drag for Matty and I.

“What’s the rules, Kelia?” Matty asked her as he took Kelia from my arms and I hugged both of my parents while listening.

“Call you every morning when I wake up, and every night when I go to bed. If I want to come to you guys, call you immediately. If there is an emergency, I need to call you right away. Don’t leave school unless it’s with grandma and grandpa or Titi Hailey and Titi Zen, don’t get in the car with anyone who offers you candy or anything for that matter.” she sighed in annoyance.

“That’s right. We did buy you that new iPad and phone so you could call us whenever you need. And no matter what,” he glared at her so she knew how serious he was.

“Don’t talk to strangers.” they said in sync with each other.

“You think you’re so smart, huh princesa?” he chuckled as he lightly tickled her stomach.

“I love you, daddy.” she kissed him on the cheek lightly before wrapping her ever so small arms around Matty’s neck.

“Te amo muchísimo. Volveré antes de que te des cuenta, princesa.” he kissed her on the forehead for a good ten or twenty seconds before handing her off to me. “Be good for grandma and grandpa.”

“No matter what — you call me, okay? I’ll always answer, no matter what I’m doing.” I ordered Kelia while I hugged her tightly to my chest and she wrapped her arms around my neck.

“I’ll be okay, mommy. I promise.” she placed her small soft hand on my cheek before kissing my forehead, “I always feel better when daddy kisses me on the head so I can give you the one he gave me.”

My heart broke even more at her cuteness overload.

“I love you, so much. I’ll call you when we land.”

“I love you, too, mommy.” her voice cracked and she pushed to be let down. She went for my fathers arms and hid her head into his shoulder after he picked her up.

“Go ahead, before she starts realizing what’s going on.” Mom whispered to me while hugging Matty and I once more.

“Thank you, again. And if she gets too much to handle just call me and we can set something up.”

“I know, dearie. I love you, we love you both.” Mom kissed the tip of her fingers on both hands and placed one on my cheek and the other on Matty’s.

“I love you, too.” I still shock myself with these tears when it comes to my parents after what they did to me.

“Love you guys, too.” he smirked at me and then at them before bringing my mother in for a quick hug before we separated.

That’s still a shocker to me, too. That, and he calls my parents ma and pa.

I felt the tears storming in, and I was fighting to fold them back with all my might. I couldn’t wait to get this trip done and over with. Not that I don’t want to help, because I love helping those in need, but I already want to turn around and just force Kelia to come with me and just buy her clothes there.

I already want to see my baby again.

Matty wrapped his arm around my shoulder while pulling our carry-on’s on top of Duma’s large kennel cage, “That was a lot harder than what I imagined it to be.”

“Let’s just hurry up and get on the jet before I change my mind and go home.” I huffed in defeat and because the anxiety was kicking in.

All I need is a nice nap on my jet and alone time with Matty on this twenty five hour flight. I mean, sure Garrett is flying with us but he’d be sleeping in the front lounge area while Matty and I will be sleeping in the small bedroom.

“She’ll be fine, baby.” he lightly kissed the side of my head while we continued to walk down the very busy aisle of flashing lights from the paps following us.

I guess I should’ve had Garrett meet us at the front rather than on the jet pad, the paps are getting real bold when they don’t see Garrett nor Ricky around. I couldn’t wait to see what they had coming at me in the headlines.

Why isn’t Kiera Johnson bringing her daughter to Africa?

Is she abandoning her?

Does soon-to-be Mrs. Santiago regret her marriage acceptance?

The press lives off of this stuff, and so does the communities all around the world. I have seventy almost eighty million followers on Instagram and when I’m unable to sleep at night I actually take the time to read the comments people leave under my posts. Of course there are the haters and then there are the lovers, but I still take the time to read most of what I can of the millions of comments. Moral of the story? I have followers from all around the world and people who are watching what I’m doing and my every move.

“I know she’ll be fine, we left Ricky with them for a reason. I just hate that our dog is coming with us while our daughter isn’t. I don’t understand the concept, in all reality.” I covered my face from the press as their cameras flashed at me.

“She’s growing up, at least we have Duma and Garrett to keep us company.” he tried lifting my saddened spirits but it was no use. I’m not sure how he doesn’t care about all of the flashes in his eyes and the clicking in his ears, I get annoyed just knowing the paps are waiting for me before I even see them.

Anything he said would just fly over my head and the fact that I’m leaving my six year old daughter for months would stay right put. There’s nothing he can say to make me feel any different.

“You want to stop at Starbucks? Or do you want Bubble Tea?” Matty lightly kissed my cheek while I still covered my face.

Maybe there is something he can say to make my feel better — coffee.

“You think we have time?”

“As I recall an ol’ wise one once said, Screw that. I’m taking my private jet.” he teased me playfully.

“Touché. Let’s go.” I dragged him off into the Starbucks store that we were approaching and the paparazzi waited outside for us while taking pictures through the crystal window storefront.

When we exited the store with our drinks and cake pop bags in our hands we were immediately stormed with fans.

Like I said, the paps live for this stuff.

Girls were screaming while boys were trying to shove their phones in my face for whatever reason they had in mind, cameras were flashing and the clicking grew louder and louder in my ears.

“Alright!” I shouted loud enough to draw the attention from everyone in the open environment and they grew silent while taking a step back from Matty and I.

Shit. What did I just do? I just yelled at my fans like how I yell at my daughter when she throws a fit about brushing her teeth.

I grabbed ahold of Matty’s free hand and I smiled at everyone, “Stay golden, Pony Boy.”

I scrambled into a crack of freedom and dragged Matty and Duma along with me and we started walking to our private terminal with a crowd of fans following behind us.


“Good morning, soon to be Mr. and Mrs. Santiago. It is now 8:07am and we should be arriving in Cape Town, Africa at 6:48am. We will be stopping in New York at 1:13pm to refuel before the seventeen hour flight. We would love to thank you for choosing us as your flight attendants and we would be happy to help you out with anything. Please help yourself to the complementary fruit and veggie trays and don’t be afraid to grab a drink from the mini fridge or the top shelf bar. If you have any questions, please reach for your nearest call button and we will assist you the best we can.” a younger female said over the intercom.

“Please, fasten you’re seatbelts and we will be ready for takeoff momentarily.” a males voice came over the intercom instead of the females voice.

“How are you guys holding up?” Garrett asked Matty and I as I snuggled into his chest on the soft seat while we buckled ourselves in.

“It’s not a great feeling.” Matty answered for the both of us while I snuggled into his chest even tighter.

“Believe me, it was hard leaving my favorite girl back home while we are over an entire days worth of time away from her.” he grinned at us, “You couldn’t of just forced her to come?”

“Told you.” I butted in, finally.

“See, she has the right idea.” Garrett chuckled.

“Yeah, she does. But what kind of parents would we be if she didn’t let her stay to bond with her new horse?” Matty sighed at the thought.

Garrett dramatically scarfed at Matty, “I know. I hate that he’s right, too.”

“Please remain seated as we will begin takeoff now.” the male voice over the intercom interrupted us.

“Finally.” I rolled my eyes, “I need to take a nap.”

Matty and Garrett chuckled with each other and Matty instantly kissed the top of my head.

“So, have you guys chosen a date, or not yet?”

“Not yet.” Matty answered for us.

“That’s unfortunate, I can’t tell you how excited I am to be there. Have you thought out any details?”

“Not ye-,”

“I was thinking we’d fly out our close family and friends to Greece.” I interrupted Matty. I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t been thinking about different wedding scenarios in my head to pass time when I’m home and not doing anything. I might need to altar my previous wedding plans.

“Well, that’s news to me.”

“I’m sorry — if you don’t like it we can do it somewhere else or do it locally, I just thought it’d be nice.” I guess I should’ve talked to him about it before I said anything to anyone.

“Don’t be sorry, babe.” he hugged me tightly, “I think that’s a great idea. Have you thought anything else over?”

“Well, I’m going to have three bridesmaids which means you have to find three groomsmen.” I looked up to stare at his beautiful crystal clear eyes.

“Three? I already have them in mind.” he smirked at me.

“Can I know?”

“Sammy, Justin, and Cody. You?”

“Roxy, Hailey, and Zen. And Kelia can be the flower girl.” I added on.

“And Sebastian can be the Ring bearer. Who will be your maid of honor?” we grew in excitement together as we kept adding onto each others statements. I wasn’t quite sure why, but now that I’m finally talking about the wedding aloud, I’m getting a bunch of butterflies.

“I promised it to Maria since we were little kids.”

“Gah, this is going to be a long flight.” Garrett moaned in annoyance as he threw his head back.

Matty and I couldn’t help but laugh in sync with each other. But could he really blame us? We hadn’t talked about the wedding yet, not a single detail, and we just left our six year old daughter back home while we are an entire days worth of time away from her.

An entire different continent.

The day I gave birth to Kelia I found out what true love feels like. The moment I set my eyes on her, I fell deeply in love with her. And no, not that pedophile kind of love. I’m talking — family love.

I didn’t know what it felt like to be loved unconditionally by a child no matter what you do or say, not until I had Kelia.

I found out how important family is, and no matter what, under no circumstances, do you not give up on family.

Whether it’s blood relative family, or a close friend you consider family — they are what’s important.


“Hello everyone, and thank you for choosing Private Jet airlines. You are now welcome to unbuckle and help yourself to the lavishing catered table of food or our old fashioned bar we have beside it. We will be landing in the heart of New York so we can refuel and then we will be off to Africa with only seventeen hours to go from there. If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to call for an attendant.”

Matty and I unbuckled in sync with each other and made our way throughout the perfectly lit and well arranged jet and we made our way to the bedroom.

We had stupidly decided to spend the previous night up all night to make sure we had everything packed and so we could spend time with Kelia as a family before we left, so to say we were tired was an understatement.

Not that it mattered, we loved spending every last moment with her last night.

We climbed onto the full size water bed and I laid into his arms and wrapped my arms around his torso, “You okay, babe?”

“For right now, yeah.” I rested my eyes while I listened to his heart slowly beat.

“I love you.” he kissed the top of my head.

“I love you.” I moaned slightly as I felt myself falling asleep.

I had woken up to the pilot speaking on the intercom, “Good morning everyone. It is now one twelve, we have a clear night ahead of us and we are minutes away from stopping in the big city. Please remain seated and buckled until authorized to do otherwise. We will have a total of thirty minutes to roam around before take off, so please make sure you’re nearby. Thank you again for choosing Private Jet and we hope to have a smooth landing.”

“What time is it?” I moaned into the pillow as I covered my head with the blanket.

“I think he said one something.” Matty’s voice was tired and I knew he wanted to go back to bed without anymore interruptions.

“It’s only been five hours?” I rolled over from my stomach and pressed my forearm against my eye sockets to try and relieve the headache that was swarming through my skull.

“Gosh, I hate flying.” actually I didn’t, I just feel awful right now.

There’s no way home sickness has already kicked in. Right? It’d only been five hours, and since I’d left LA I’ve felt nauseated and my body is starting to hurt to the touch.

“You okay, baby?” I felt him sit himself up on the water bed.

“Yeah, I think it’s just jet lag or homesickness.”

“I can go grab some aspirin if you want, you don’t want to get worse.”

Suddenly I felt the need to vomit, and I wasn’t given much of a warning either when I felt it. Luckily, this bedroom is big enough to fit only the bed and the drawers were on the wall, and directly to its left was a bathroom you could step off into where the toilet was in the shower.

I barely made it, but I made it.

That would’ve been embarrassing.

Matty startled me as he patted the back of my head while slowly collecting my hair into a pony tail held together with one hand and he placed his other hand on my forehead.

“I think you’re getting the flu, I’m going to grab some ginger ale and aspirin.” he kissed the top of my head.

“Thanks, honey.” I moaned as I buried my head into the toilet as more vomit rushed up my throat.

Matty returned a few minutes later with a twenty ounce bottle of ginger ale in his hand with a small medicine bottle in the other hand.

“Of course I get sick as I’m on my way to South Africa with seven planes following me to help.” I leaned my side against the shower wall while Matty opened the pill bottle and handed me two red and blue capsules before he opened the bottle of ginger ale for me.

“Eh, it happens.” he chuckled, “You’ll be fine by the time we get there. You’re probably just tired and it’s taking a toll on your body.”

“Can you bring me my purse? I think I packed the nausea pills from when I was pregnant with Kelia.”

He leaped onto the bed to grab my purse from the corner and brought it back to me in the matter of ten seconds, “I’m going to freshen up before we take off so we can go back to sleep. Can you check on Duma? See how she’s doing?”

He kissed the top of my head, “Let the medicine kick in and you’ll feel a little better. I’ll be right back.”

“Love you.” I used all my strength to smile. But I was so tired and weak, I could barely move my lips let alone any other part of my body.

Of course the thought of pregnancy had crossed my mind. Matty and I have been humping like jackrabbits lately, being engaged makes the sex all the more fun and more craved than what I already had craved.

I took the liberty of packing fifteen pregnancy tests. Matty and I are going to be here for three plus months and I won’t know exactly what their resources are until I get there.

I’ve been planning this trip for an entire year. Staying up late, organizing how many doctors to bring with me, and who would be fit for the volunteer work for the time we are gone. There was a war on how much supplies to bring over, and how many planes I needed to carry the supplies over. And even where shelter would be, and who I would bring with me — because at the time, Matty wasn’t even thought to be alive let alone able to come volunteer with me.

It was all so hectic, but it’s finally happening.

I’m making such a huge difference in the world for the less fortunate and I know I’m setting the right example for my daughter and our future kids.

Six years ago I wouldn’t have said anything along the lines of being proud of myself.

But look at me now, here with my fiancé, the father of my daughter. I’m famous, rich, and instead of being like one of those stuck up selfish celebrities I’m putting my abilities towards the less fortunate.

I’d say job well done, for me.

I shut the shudder door and opened the box. I had to pee badly, so I threw everything on the ground without even making an effort to throw it in the small trash or back into my purse to hide it.

I set a timer for sixty seconds on my phone and I sat on the toilet as I let the rest of my urine out.

By the time my timer went off I had already wiped and flushed the toilet. I had everything shoved in my purse before I picked up the stick and my hopes slightly diminished.

Negative.

Every test I take that turns out negative chips away at me and I hate the feeling of it. It’s in the human nature to think irrationally when things don’t go your way, and that’s what my mind did.

It always wandered elsewhere, like what if I can’t get pregnant again? What if I’m being punished by God for having a child at sixteen years old? And my least favorite, what if Matty and I aren’t compatible anymore?

“I’m so over this.” I mumbled under my breath to myself as I shoved the stick back into the box before tossing it in my purse.

“Duma was laying on Garrett’s lap on the sofa bed out there, she seems fine to me. It’s not her first time flying, so I think she’ll be fine.” Matty crawled onto the bed and covered himself up with the white satin comforter while taking his shirt off.

“I figured, she just hasn’t flown this long before. You think we should walk her outside before we take off?”

“Yo, Garrett?” Matty called out.

“Yo!”

“Can you walk Duma outside quickly incase she has to pee? They should have the stairs pulled down!”

“Yeah, I think that’s a good idea!”

“Great!” Matty chuckled.

“Lazy.” I giggled as I crawled onto the bed and Matty held the inside of the comforter up for me to snuggle into his warm body.

“Me? Never that.” he wrapped both of his thick arms around my shivering body and rested his head on top of mine.

“Forever that.”

“Well as much as I’d love to argue with you, we still have a seventeen hour flight ahead of us and I think we should be arriving late at night so do you think we should take a nap or do something productive?”

“Nap.” we said in sync with each other. We shut our overhead lights off and shut the curtain before he got into big spoon position and I positioned myself in his torso and little spooned with him.

“I love you, goodnight.” he kissed my cheek before resting his head behind mine.

“I love you, too.” I looked back and kissed the top of his nose, “Goodnight, Matteo.”


“You are now able to unbuckle yourselves and turn your phones off from airplane mode. We hope to see you again, and please feel free to start grabbing your carry-on’s.”

“That was the worst twenty three hours of my life, if anyone cares.” I grabbed my phone and pushed it out of airplane mode to call Kelia.

“I felt that, it felt like it was days. I thought maybe we weren’t going the right way.” Matty chuckled.

“Hey mommy!” Kelia answered the call.

“Hey Princess!” I screeched into the phone. “How are you?”

“I’m good, I miss you guys. Have you got there yet?”

“We just landed and we are getting off the plane now. Do you want to come here instead of being there?”

Matty took the phone from my ear gently, “Princesa, are you okay?”

“Geez, I wasn’t in the middle of talking to her or anything.” I chuckled at his jealousy.

“Good, good. You haven’t talked to any strangers have you?” he held the phone to his ear with his shoulder and he lead Duma into her mobile cage with our carry-on’s on top again.

“Good, I love you.”

“Mommy and I are getting off the plane we will call you when we get to our room. We love you, princesa.”

He hung up the phone and handed it back to me as we walked to the ramp to get out of the jet.

“Well, what if I wanted to talk to her?”

“I was going to hand you the phone but she said she had to go walk with your dad.” he grinned at me.

I didn’t actually care, as long as I got to hear her voice and know she is okay and safe with my parents then I’m totally fine with the call being short. I’m sure there is going to be tons of short calls.

“I’m kidding.” I poked at his stomach, “This weather is unbelievable.” I said as we walked out of the jet and stopped at the edge of the ramp.

It was so hot, I felt sweat grow on every inch of my body. And the worst part is that my feet are sweating and I’m wearing socks.

I hate wet feet.

“Get used to it, we are going to be here for a while.” Matty teased as he slipped his sunglasses over his face.


We walked through the airport with our faces hidden and we grabbed our bags to make our way towards the exit until we saw Kiera Johnson printed nicely on a paper held by a guy in a dark green uniform with a matching beret hat.

The four of us approached him together, “Hi. I’m Kiera Johnson, and this is my fiancé Matty and my bodyguard Garrett.”

“Hello and nice to meet you, Kiera. My name is Amare and I’ll be happily escorting you and your friends to Cape Town where you’ll be staying.” he grabbed my hand softly and kissed the top of it.

His accent was deep and heavy, I was almost unable to understand the first few words that came out of his mouth and it’s definitely going to be a few days before I get used to it.

“Thank you, it’s nice to meet you Amare. We’re really excited to be here and to be helping you guys.”

“We’re just as excited to have your help, no other celebrity themselves have ever come and helped us build a whole community off of their own funds.” he turned to Matty, “My daughter is in love with you. She followed you on everything before we lost all electricity.”

“Wow, it’s weird hearing that I have fans.” he chuckled, “Hopefully I get the chance to meet her.”

“Oh, she’s been praying to God every night since we found out nine months ago that she’d get to meet you guys. And something about a Kelia, too.”

“Kelia, our daughter. Unfortunately last minute she wanted to stay with my parents while we were away to take care of her new pony.”

“I can take those for you, and please follow me.” he grabbed the bags and Duma’s empty cage handle from Matty’s hands, “I know the feeling of leaving a daughter behind. My sixteen year old left for college this last September to go to the United States on a full ride scholarship. It’s tough but we know it’s best for our kids.”

“Wow, sixteen she got accepted to a college?” Matty was astonished just like me. “Which college?”

“She got into Yale, full ride for medicine. What kind of medicine? I have no idea what she was talking about. But I know it has to do with really smart stuff.”

“That’s so cool. I hope she does many things for our country. I actually wanted to study law, but I joined the military instead and now I’m an FBI agent.”

My sweetest boy. I love hearing him speak about himself.

“Yeah, I know she will. She has a IQ number of 139 but she was only points away from being classified a genius.”

“Congratulations, I’m sure you’re very proud.” I smiled at the thought of Kelia being that smart and maybe becoming president one day or even traveling to mars.

But that’s a good thirty years away from now. I couldn’t imagine Kelia leaving the entire country to go to school, that’d hurt way too much.

I expected the airport to be packed full, but it wasn’t packed at all. In fact, there weren’t more than twenty people at a time in my environment.

“Was everything explained to you as to where you three will be sleeping?”

“Yes, two rooms were supposed to be reserved for us.”

“You are aware that you’re going to be sleeping in large tent shelters right?”

“I was not aware of that.” Matty said.

“Our village was completely wiped out, we only have very few supplies and shelter. So we built two-two person tents for right now. We are so excited to start building the houses.”

“Yeah, our crew should be arriving anytime now along with the rest of the supplies. I think we have seven or eight planes in total filled with supplies.”

“We couldn’t be more grateful, Ms. Johnson.” I saw the light shield of tears covering his eyes. He meant it from the bottom of his heart and with such candor. I can’t wait to help these people in need.

“I couldn’t be more happier to do so.” we loaded our luggage into a safari truck that I thought you only see on television these days.

This is going to be like a movie. Matty and I aren’t the stars. This village is the main cast and we will be background characters. I can’t wait for the world to see the view in these peoples eyes. How they wake up in the morning to going to bed at night. I want to spread awareness that we are all human in some way or another.

And that’s exactly what I’m going to do.

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