“Look, I am a Santa.” Liam laughs as he makes a beard with bubbles.
“You are the cutest Santa I have ever seen.” I cover my face with my hand when he splashes water at me.
“Stop.” Grinning I stand up from the edge of the bathtub, as I hear the knock on our hotel room door, “I am not the part of this biggest bubble bath.” Taking a face towel I wipe my face and walk outside the bathroom.
“Come outside in five minutes if you want to have ice-cream,” I say over my shoulder as I open the door.
I frown in confusion when I find Alec standing outside.
“I got your room number from Jake,” he says as he stuffs his hand in his pockets when he sees my puzzled look.
“Okay.” I slowly nod, trying to understand the reason behind his visit.
“I wanted to meet Liam.” He shifts his weight from one foot to another, “I just wanted to make sure he is fine.” He shrugs.
“Please, do not get me wrong.” He meets my eyes, “I was really worried about him, I didn’t like seeing him cry.” He sighs as his shoulders slump.
“He is fine.” I hold his gaze and nod, trying to figure out what are his true intentions with my son.
“Can I meet him?” He swallows, “Please.”
I wanted to say no, but there is something in me that stopped me from doing so.
After thinking for a moment, I nod my head while opening the door wider for him to come inside.
“Thank you,” he says as he walks inside, closing the door I motion him to sit on the couch.
“Don’t eat ice-cream without me.” Liam comes running outside the bathroom, in just in his Paw Patrol underwear, making me slap my forehead. I hear Alec lightly chuckling from the side.
“Alec!” He squeals when he sees Alec and runs to him. Alec immediately catches him and places him on his lap without bothered by the water dripping from Liam's body.
“Moving around in your birth suit, I see.” Alec chuckles.
“I was born butt naked,” Liam says matter-of-factly and looks at him as if he has said something really stupid.
“Why aren’t you dressed, Liam?” I clear my throat to get his attention and arch my eyebrow at him.
“You said to come outside in five minutes.” He gets down from Alec’s lap and stands in front of me, “In five minutes, I could only wear this.” He innocently points at his bottom.
My adorable baby boy.
“I am sorry, now go and get dressed.” My lips stretch into a tender smile at the innocence of my child.
“Careful, don’t hurt yourself,” I call after him, as he runs inside the bedroom, giving me a mini heart attack when he slightly slips.
Suddenly, after Liam goes, the room engulfs in awkward silence.
“Not scared of dogs anymore?” Alec says breaking the silence between us.
“Not scared of anything anymore,” I reply, sitting on the far end corner of the couch.
I used to be so scared of dogs, but now all of my earlier fears seem so silly. My biggest and only fear is something happening to my Liam.
Again silence surrounds us, I don’t know what to talk to him neither I want to talk to him.
“I will eat two ice-creams.” Liam comes out now fully dressed, trying to dry his head with a towel that looks too big for him to handle.
He will turn five in a few days but he wants to do everything on his own.
After watching him struggle with the towel for a few minutes, I motion him to come to me.
“Buy me a small towel, so I can dry my hair easily.” He pouts and gives me the towel.
“Okay, we will buy a small towel for you.” I start to towel dry his hair and in two minutes his hair is almost dry.
I run my fingers in his hair to settle them down.
“We are going to a mall,” Liam excitedly tells Alec, “Mommy promised, I can eat whatever I want, and buy many cars.” He turns to look at me momentarily for assurance. I smile and nod my head in affirmation making him smile widely.
“You also come with us, we are going to have so much fun.” He grins adorably, showing his faint dimples.
“I...um,” Alec says, contemplating what to say. He looks at me then back at Liam.
“Can he also come with us?” Liam asks me hopefully.
“If he wants,” I say feeling defeated in front of the hopefulness in Liam’s eyes.
“Will you come with us?” He asks him again.
“I would love to.” Alec smiles at him, making Liam giddily jump on his spot as he is too innocent to know the truth behind this smile, while internally making me scoff.
“Mommy, how many cars can I buy?” Liam licks ice cream cone, which I got him from a small ice cream bar at the corner.
“How many do you want to buy?” I look at him through the rearview mirror.
“Four,” he thinks for a moment, then replies.
“Can I buy something else, too?” He cutely bites his bottom lip.
“What do you want to buy, baby?” I ask him while pulling the car into the shopping mall’s parking lot.
“Can we buy you a ring?” He asks making me frown as I park the car in a free spot and turn off the engine. Alec’s car also stops beside mine.
“Ring? Why?” Unbuckling my seat belt, I twist in my seat to face Liam, “I already have many rings.”
“No.” He shakes his head, "Special ring... Aunt Kris wears a special ring and also other mommies wear it.” He plays with the strap of his car seat, “But you don’t have a special ring.” He pouts.
Running my hand through my hair I close my eyes, as I don’t know how to make him understand why I don’t have a ring on my finger.
Sometimes he asks me such questions which are difficult for me to answer. I will not hide anything from him when he grows up enough to understand things but until then I can’t answer his questions.
“Liam, they wear because they want to.” I try to make him understand in simple words, “Mommy doesn’t like to wear a special ring, that’s why she does not have one, okay?” I open the door and step outside the car.
Taking a deep breath, I rub my head trying to get a hold of my emotions as sometimes keeping things from him is not easy.
A light tap on the window makes me turn my head towards the car. I find Liam struggling with the straps of his car seat and frowning at me.
“I am sorry.” Opening the door, I unbuckle him from his seat.
“You forgot me.” He angrily pouts.
“I can never forget you, baby boy.” I kiss his soft cheek and help him down the car and lock it.
From the corner of the eye, I notice Alec leaning against the car waiting for us.
Pushing himself off the car he comes to me, as he looks at me with a calculating gaze.
“Are you okay?” He asks in a low tone so that Liam can’t hear him.
Simply nodding my head I walk forward, but he quickly catches my stride.
The only reason he is here with us, is Liam. He wanted Alec to come with us. I don’t know, how in such a short time he befriended with him.
“Let’s go there.” Liam pulls my hand towards the toy store as soon as we walk inside the mall.
He practically drags me to the store, making me wonder how much strength he has. But I should not be surprised by his strength as he eats almost twice his age.
Powerful little kickboxer.
“Liam is a strong kid,” Alec says mildly amused as Liam continues to drag me, but when I don’t reply to him again his face falls a little.
He can go to hell, for all I care!
As soon as we enter the toy store Liam leaves my hand and runs off in toy cars direction. I stroll around different aisles picking up some other toys for Liam. When I turn around the corner I spot Liam quietly standing and watching something while holding a car under his arm. Taking a few steps forward, I glance in the direction of his sight.
My heart squeezes feeling the pain of my boy’s little heart when I notice a father helping his son to buy toys. Tears well up in my eyes because my son will never be able to feel the love that only a father can give his child. He will never experience the father-son bonding. He might have accepted his father’s absence from his life, but still, his heart longs for father’s love.
Unfortunately, he has a fate just like his mother.
I can understand his pain, as I have also never witnessed what a mother’s love is while my father hated me. Pops loved me immensely, but there were times when I just needed a comforting hug of a mother.
Looking upwards, I blink rapidly to dry the tears which have gathered in my eyes.
Sometimes I feel it is my fault Liam can’t have a normal childhood like other children. He can't have the love of both parents.
“Hey, buddy, show me what did you find?”
I glance back to see Alec sitting on one knee in front of Liam.
Liam looks at him, then at the car tucked under his arm. Silently, he hands him the car. Alec takes the car from his hand, but his eyes fix on Liam’s sad face.
“What happened?” Alec gently asks him. While with his other hand he holds Liam’s arm and pulls him towards himself. Liam just shakes his head in response.
It is really difficult to make Liam share his feelings.
“You don’t like this car?” Alec asks as he lightly rubs his back.
“I love it.” Liam looks at the car.
“Then what happened?” Alec asks again, his voice laced with concern, “Has someone said something to you?” His eyes immediately harden as he looks around, but his tone still remains gentle.
“No, its nothing,” Liam says getting slightly annoyed with his questions.
Suddenly, Alec’s eyes find mine. I shake my head at him signaling him to stop asking Liam anything, he nods his head in understanding.
“What else we are looking for?” Alec picks up Liam, “Shall we buy some superheroes?” He points towards some action figurines.
“Hulk?” He picks up a hulk figurine and shows it to Liam.
“I love Hulk.” Liam takes the figure from Alec’s hands, “He is so strong.” He smiles forgetting whatever was bothering him earlier.
Seeing him smile, relief spread over me. But surprisingly I am not the only one, as Alec is also having the same feeling of relief on his face.
But why is he so concerned about Liam? This question bothers me.