Three months later…
Tammy had returned home after her short stint in the hospital just in time to see her son’s first birthday. Cyrus had thrown him a little party and his whole family got to bond with the baby.
Cyrus and Mia did all they could do to make Tammy comfortable. They were there every moment they could, while still keeping up with live shows and major work events. Mia was a huge hit on the show and easily took on her new stage role.
Mia had gotten close to Elias as well over the past months, as well as Tammy. The transition made the mother more at ease, knowing her son was in safe hands.
Cyrus and Tammy had even managed to become friends again. His trust level would always be broken, but his most important trait was forgiveness to those who showed the effort to change. Even Holly softened her heart to the woman and was helping out when she could.
Every free chance they had, Cyrus took the time to spend with Mia and Elias. The more time he spent with them, the more real it had become to both of them that this was what they wanted. A family together. Mia’s career was taking off and the new Doom faction was a hit with fans, but the family was becoming more important to them than anything the stage could provide.
Cyrus was working from home while Mia was away doing a photoshoot for IWX. It was the late evening after dinner and Elias was bouncing on Cyrus’ lap. Tammy was sitting in a lounge chair, watching her son as Cyrus played with him, trying to get him to say, daddy. Tammy smiled at the two and she struggled to breathe.
“Come on Eli. Say Da Da. Daa Daa.” Cyrus cooed at the boy.
“I’m glad the judge approved the adoption early. I love him so much, Tammy. Thank you for letting me do this.”
“Me too. Mia’s to thank for that. She’s a wonderful woman. You better marry that girl because she loves you more than life itself.”
“I plan to. I really love her, Tammy. I’ve never been this happy, I hate to say that to you but it’s true.”
“You should feel that way. She’s a strong confident woman. Mia’s really made an impact on you. You’re so much more relaxed now. It’s refreshing to see you smile and let loose. Make her happy, Cy. She deserves it.”
Cyrus looked over at his frail ex-wife as she smiled watching her son. Her eyes veered to the sunset over the Smokey Mountains, taking a slow breath, and closing her eyes. She turned back to watch Cyrus with a weak smile.
Cyrus smiled back at her, turning his attention to the baby. “Da Da. Come on, Eli. Say Da Da.”
“Tammy! Did you hear that? He said it! He said Da Da.” Cyrus chuckled as he looked to Tammy for approval.
Her eyes closed and let out a deep long breath with the most peaceful smile.
Cyrus felt a pain in his chest waiting for her next breath. Nothing came. Her head slumped as her body softly went limp and her hand fell beside her. He swallowed down the lump that formed in his chest as he looked back to his son who was smiling up at him.
Cyrus sat the baby on a blanket on the porch floor to play. He slowly made his way to his ex-wife as the nurse came out with a glass of water. Tears welling up in his eyes he looked to the nurse for answers.
Knowingly, the lady went to Tammy checking her pulse. Giving a soft sigh she shook her head no. “I’m sorry, Mr. Evans. She’s gone.”
Cyrus stepped to Tammy and laid a kiss on her forehead, saying a silent prayer for her in his head. He turned to pick up his child and went inside letting the nurse take care of things. Holding the baby close to his heart, the tears escaped him. As much as he hated Tammy all those years, for what she had done, she was still a big part of his life. She had been his friend, once his whole life, and now she was gone.
In the pain of it, he felt at peace holding his child, knowing it would all be okay.
A slow drizzle of rain fell as Cyrus sat under the tent by the gravesite with his son in his arms. No one but the Evans family and a few IWX stars had attended the funeral. Not one of her friends who pretended to care for her was there. Not even her parents took the effort to show up.
Mia took Cyrus’s hand in hers kissing his knuckles. It was clear he was exhausted and unsure of how to feel.
“It was a lovely funeral. You did a good job planning it all. What you said about her was lovely.”
“I can’t believe she’s gone. I’m sorry I’ve been so out of it the last few days. None of this is fair to you. I’m just so… numb.”
Mia took a breath as she watched the coffin being lowered into the ground. “You know, I don’t regret it. I can’t imagine a life where people really never cared for me. We were all she had in the end and I think it gave us all some closure.”
“You know what she told me? It was while you were gone on the media blitz. She said you were the only friend she ever had and wished things were different. She knew none of those other women were truly her friends. Mia? How can you be so understanding?”
Mia sat looking at the baby, thinking about what he had asked.
“When I was a kid, I was being bullied by another girl about my weight. Every day this little girl would pull my pigtails and call me awful names. I had all I could take one day and I hit her. I hit her so hard that I broke her nose. When I got home my mom was sitting at the kitchen table and I knew she had gotten a call from the school. My parents always said to never hit someone unless defending myself. That day I just went up to the girl and punched her straight in the face. She hadn’t even been teasing me that day. I sat at the table and mom just watched me and shook her head. She was so disappointed in me.”
“What happened?” Cyrus stood from his seat next to the coffin and walked her away from the tent as the rain stopped.
“She asked me why I was sorry and I didn’t know. I just knew I didn’t want to be in trouble for fighting.”
“Sounds like something I would have done as a kid. My mom used to get so mad at Wraith and me for fighting on the playground. We always had some lame excuse.”
“Well, my mom explained to me that the girl had a really rough life. Mama said that if I would have just told her about the bullying, she could have helped me work it out. The girl was acting out because she was jealous I had a good life. The next day, my mom took me to a women’s shelter she volunteered at. The girl and her mother were there. I saw all these women and kids who had almost nothing but each other. It broke my heart. When we approached the girl and her mom, she ran from me trying to hide.”
“She was scared after all that bullying?”
“Yep. I had scared her so badly that she was traumatized. I learned later her father abused her and her mom. That was why she was there. My mom explained that people act out sometimes because there is something in their lives that they can’t handle. Sometimes they know nothing else to do but cause conflict.”
“So it made you have more compassion for those who sometimes don’t really deserve it.”
“Don’t you do the same thing? Everything you have been through, you see everyone as someone you can help. To protect them and be a comfort. Even Tammy became a project for you to fix. I guess I sort of do the same thing. I try to see who the person is behind the veil. Just like your sister. I might have kicked her ass, but down deep, I knew she was just looking out for her big brother. That’s a pretty admirable quality. Even Tammy had some good qualities when you really sat down and talked to her.”
“She loves her son for one. She was just looking for a place to fit in. Maybe she just never found it.”
“That’s true. She never really knew what she wanted in her life.”
“My mother taught me one thing that day at the shelter. Forgiveness. She showed me everyone is redeemable and she was right. That little girl ended up being my friend and to this day, still is.”
“And you think Tammy was redeemable?”
“That’s not for me to decide. She didn’t hurt me. Was she redeemable to you?”
“I guess so. She really changed a lot in the last few months. Maybe even before that, after Grayson left her. Maybe it was a waking up point for her.”
“Do you forgive her?”
“I do. It was hard, but I do.” Cyrus nodded as Mia took the sleeping baby from his arms.
“Good. Because forgiveness isn’t about the person who hurt you. It’s about letting go of pain for your own peace of mind. If you hold on to the hurt, they win. ”
Cyrus pulled Mia to his side and kissed her temple. Letting out a breath he looked down at his son and realized what she was saying was true. It was time for him to let go of all his pain and start over.
Cyrus reached to touch his scar and looked upon the hill where a double gravestone stood under a willow tree. His parents’ final resting place was lit from the sun rays peeking through the clouds almost seeming angelic in nature.
“I love you. You are an amazing woman and your right. It’s time I do some forgiving of my own. Come with me. I want you to meet my parents.”
As they made their way to the grave, Holly, Isis, and Wraith followed behind, leaving the rest of the family behind to talk. Wraith placed his hand on his brother’s shoulder with a light squeeze, as Holly leaned into Wraith wrapping her arms around his bicep. Mia could hear Holly weeping as she looked at her parent’s grave and Isis hugged her from behind.
Cyrus tried to fight back tears as he spoke to his parent’s grave. “Momma. Dad. This is my girl Mia and this little one is my son, Elias. He’s named after you dad. I wanted to introduce you to her. She’s the love of my life and I plan on making her mine one day. I wanted you to know, I’m okay now. I have held onto all this anger for so long. I hated the world and tried to protect Holly, Isis, and Wraith from it. I know now, I can’t. I can only love them as best as I can. I was so filled with anger. I couldn’t really give Tammy the man she needed, so she cheated to find someone who could. She only found more pain and I blamed myself because I know what kind of monster Grayson is. I led her right in his arms to hurt her. I know now I have to stop trying to fix everyone.”
Wraith wrapped his arm over his brother’s shoulder and leaned his head on his. For the first time, Wraith was crying too. He hadn’t cried in years and here he was finally letting go of his parent’s death.
“I have to fix myself. It’s not fair to any of my family or friends to keep trying to control everything. Mia said something I never considered. I always thought forgiving someone meant letting them off the hook. She made me understand it’s not about that. It’s about letting go of anger for your own mental being.”
Wraith nodded. "Well said, brother."
Cyrus turned to her. “Mia, I’m sorry I wasn’t strong enough to deal with this alone. I leaned on you to fix my broken parts. I don’t need that anymore. I just need you to love me. I need to fix myself for you and for our son.”
Cyrus wiped a tear from her cheek. “If you’ll have us when the time comes. I hope you don’t leave me. After I asked you to do all this, and rip you away from your life, I wouldn’t blame you. I was selfish.”
“Cyrus, it’s okay. I understand.”
“No. It’s not, okay. I asked you to take on all this responsibility because I didn’t want to deal with it alone. You stood right by me without even a second thought. You were the one protecting me. That’s never happened to me before. I’m the one who has to be the protector. Here you are holding my broken heart in your hands with little pieces missing. That’s not fair to you. You deserve the best of me. Not the leftover broken parts. I want to give you all of me. So from here on, no matter what happens, I want to give you that. I may not be perfect but I’m yours.”
Mia leaned up kissing his cheek. “And I’m yours. I love you, Cyrus Evans. All the broken pieces to the very best parts.”
Wraith’s cell phone vibrated in his pocket and he looked to see Kevin’s number appear. “I have to take this.”
Cyrus watched his brother walk away and Holly went to snuggle up to Cyrus. “I miss them.”
“I do too, Holly. I know mom and dad are watching over us.”
“I’m sorry I’m so angry all the time. I didn’t know you were too.”
“We could see that therapist together, sis. Start over together.”
“I’d like that. I love ya, big brother.”
“I love you too, Holly.”
As they turned to head back to the cars where the family was waiting, Wraith stopped them. “Cy. Holly. We need to go. Kevin has news that could help the case, but someone tipped off Grayson. Miles says he thinks it’s someone in his department and they are worried he will be coming for us.”
“Shit. Okay. What do we do?”
“Isis, take the baby back to my house with your kids to play. Mia, can you take Cy’s truck and meet us back at my place? Mia, get some bags packed from the cabin. I want you guys to stay at my house tonight. It’s not safe at the cabin if that old fool is onto us. My place is more secure.”
“Okay. Cyrus, please be safe.”
“I will, flower. We will be there as soon as we find out what’s going on. I love you.”
“I love you too. Wait. I had something for you. A letter from Tammy. It’s in the truck.”
“I’ll read it when I get back. Get going and watch the roads. Another storm is coming up.”
“All right. Be safe. I’ll see you at Wraith’s.”