“Hey, that was a good punch.” I take a spot beside Liam on the floor while he plays with his cars.
“We Andersons land mean punches.” He grins proudly making me chuckle, “But I don’t punch people, it is bad, but he made me angry.” He angrily pouts.
Of course, he inherited Avery’s temper.
“Yeah, it is not a good thing to beat people without any reason.” I nod, “You are a really good boy.” I smile at his cuteness while he gets back to play with his cars.
Suddenly, a thought comes in my mind that maybe I can get some information about his father from him. Because I am sure Avery will not tell me anything and it is useless to waste time by asking her as she is hell stubborn. Even if I don't get much information from Liam, then I will ask my men to find out.
“Do you know, even I and your Uncle J used to do boxing?” I ask him trying to get his attention, “We were also very young when we started to learn, but not as young as you. And definitely, we could not punch like you.” I smile a proud smile remembering the way he punched Matt.
“Yes, mommy told me about Uncle J.” He keeps his cars on the side, giving me his full attention, “But she never told me about you?” His small brows pulled together in puzzlement, “Are you also mommy’s friend?”
I don’t know the answer to his innocent question.
What am I to his mother? Or what his mother is to me?
All these years she was only my Avery to me, but now she is someone’s mother.
“You love cars?” I try to divert the topic pointing towards his cars, “How many cars do you have?”
“I love cars.” He picks up his cars and gives it to me. Forgetting about his earlier question, he starts to talk about his huge collection of cars.
The way he excitedly talks about his car, he reminds me so much of Avery. Whenever she used to talk about something she loved, you could practically feel the enthusiasm radiating off from her whole body.
There is something strange about this kid, I feel like there some kind of connection between us. He is Avery’s, this thing alone is enough for me to care about him.
“Mommy told me she will buy me another remote-controlled car next month.” He pouts as he drags his car back and releases it making it move forward.
“Your mommy bought you all these cars?” I ask him as he crawls to pick his bag.
“Yes.” He nods and takes out the water bottle from his bag.
He drinks water and some drops drip from his mouth. Before they can reach down below his chin, I gently wipe them with my thumb, as he puts the cap back on the bottle.
“What about your daddy?” I casually ask him, being very careful of my words as I don’t want to hurt his feelings.
“I don’t have a daddy.” He uncaringly shrugs. His tone says this is not the first time someone has asked him such a question.
My heart constricts hearing his words.
“He doesn’t live with you?” I swallow, trying to ignore the pain.
“No.” He shakes his head, “I don’t know where he lives.” He sucks in his bottom lip and plays with his fingers.
With each word, I feel like my heart sinking.
“He left us,” he says in a quiet voice.
“He doesn’t deserve you or Avery.” I clench my jaws, as anger surges through me. I am raging not because someone had hurt Avery, but also because he had hurt this innocent kid.
“I don’t hate him.” He shakes his head and shrugs, making me frown in confusion, “Mommy says he’s a good man and I should not hate him, because he is my father. So I don’t hate him, but I also don’t love him.”
I could never understand her, why does she want her son not to hate him? Even when he left her and his son.
Earlier, somewhere the reason behind finding this person was only to know who was in Avery’s life. However, now I want to find out this person and make him pay for hurting this kid, for whom my heart is feeling protective.
I don’t know when this sense of protectiveness overtook me. But one look at his adorable face and in my heart I know I would do anything to keep him away from any kind of harm.
I pick him up and hug him, trying to comfort him or myself, I don’t know.
I feel something clicked inside me when he wraps his small arms around my neck and hugs me back. I can’t put this feeling into words, it is like a feeling of peace among the chaos.
The love and warmth emitting from this small body bring calmness inside me, which was missing for years.
“You feel better now?” He leans back to see my face.
“I have never felt this good in years.” I smile and push back his hair from his forehead making him sit in my lap.
“I like you, so you can hug me whenever you need a hug.” He smiles, melting the ice which has encased my heart, and leans against my chest, “Mommy says I give best hugs and she loves to get hugs from me.”
“You like me?” I look at him, as he opens my palm and places his hand on it.
“Yes, I like you.” He lightly nods, “You are nice and you are good to me.”
A feeling of elation spreads over my heart hearing these words. Kids are pure soul, they always say what is in their hearts. His words are like a small ray of light that tears away the darkness... the darkness which was inside me until now. The darkness which filled my heart because I don't have my Firefly with me.
I chuckle when I watch him, trying to cover my hand as much as possible with his small one.
“Do you want to eat anything?” I suddenly remember it is been a long time since we are here so he might be hungry.
“No.” He mumbles and shakes his head, “I already had a snack.” He nestles into me.
“Are you tired?” I wrap my arms around him and pick him up as I stand.
“No.” he mumbles with half-closed eyes, making me lightly chuckle.
Bending down I pick up his bag with my other free hand and walk outside on the patio. As the game is coming to an end the voices are getting louder. Outside here voices can still be heard, but still, they are not as loud as inside.
Putting the bag beside the cane sofa set, I carefully sit on the sofa as Liam has already fallen asleep. I wrap my arms around him, so he does not feel cold, as breeze outside is slightly cold.
I don’t know how much time has passed as he peacefully sleeps in my arms. I silently watch this little guy, who I have met hardly forty-eight hours ago, thinking how effortlessly he has made a place in my heart.
My lips curl into a small smile, as I watch him mumble something in his sleep.
The sound of footsteps, makes me tear my gaze away from his face. As I see Avery approaching me with a slightly puzzled expression as she notices Liam in my arms.
“He is sleeping,” before she can say something I inform her as I stand, cradling Liam against my chest.
She looks at his sleeping figure and nods but does not say anything.
Without saying a word she comes closer and extends her hands. I slightly loosen my grip on him so that she can take him from me. But still kept him close to me, afraid that I might drop him.
Taking a step closer she gently pulls Liam from my arms and holds him against her. Her arm lightly brushes against mine, this small touch is enough to send sparks throughout my body. This is the first time, we have any kind of physical contact in six years.
“Shhh... go back to sleep, baby boy.” She gently coos while lightly patting Liam’s back as he stirs in his sleep.
“Mommy?” He sleepily asks, his eyes are still closed.
“Yeah.” She softly kisses the side of his head, “Sleep, now.”
“My mommy.” Liam nuzzles into the crook of her neck and mumbles, then he falls back to sleep.
She looks around like she is searching for something. Then she shifts her hold on Liam and she slightly bends to pick up his bag from the floor.
“I will take this.” I quickly pick up the bag from the floor.
“No, thanks,” she says impassively, “I can manage.” She takes the bag from my hand and starts to walk back inside.
“Firefly.” I breathe out, not able to stand her coldness anymore.
“It’s Avery.” She turns around and corrects me.
“I am sorry, I have hurt you.” I close my eyes and swallow, “But I didn’t have any option at that time.”
“Can we please talk? Please let me explain everything.” I look at her with begging eyes, while her face is devoid of any emotions.
“There is nothing to talk.” She looks straight into my pleading eyes, “And you don’t have to apologize for anything, because it does not matter neither it was your fault. You are long... forgotten,” she says in a detached tone.
Each of her words feels like a hard slap on my face, but her one word shakes me to the core.
Forgotten? How can she forget what we had? How can she forget me?
“Avery-” I shake my head as I walk closer to her.
“Thanks for taking care of Liam.” She cuts me off and heads back inside without even listening to me.