“Momma...” a voice calls, drawing out the word, with an annoyed tone.
My brain clears and I’m pulled from my aimless gazing by my beautiful daughter. Her arms are folded against her chest as she kneels in the tub inches away from me. Those blue-green eyes focus on me and my heart clenches as think about someone with a similar pair.
“You’re doing it again!” she pouts, a sad look in her eyes and I can’t help but feel bad.
It was two in the afternoon when my mother tried ushering me from outside of Dylan’s room door. She’d suggested that I get something to eat but I couldn’t.
I’d spent most of the time crying my eyes out and trying to enter Dylan’s room wanting to see for myself that he wasn’t dead. I was afraid that the doctor would come out of the room shaking his head, indicating Dylan wouldn’t make it. Each time I tried to break into the room, my mother was there to hold me back.
‘Let the doctor work... He’ll be fine. You need to get some rest...’ she’d repeated to me but I couldn’t find it in myself to leave not when he was hurt and he could die.
The only way my mother could get me to leave that hall was to allow me in the room. I’d stayed there by his side from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. watching over him. I was a mess when I saw him. He was pale, sweaty and his eyes were sunken... He still spasms but I isn’t as bad as before.
Seeing him there, shirtless and bandaged, shaking and squirming... it broke me and I found myself asking him to wake up, to talk to me, to meet his daughter, to do something... anything. I was desperate.
His breathing, which was the only reaction aside from his shaking that I got...
My parents, Diana and the doctor came into the room over the 8 hours trying to get me to eat or drink something but my appetite was lost. I’d taken Diana in my arms speaking to Dylan about her, encouraging her to speak to him... His reaction didn’t change... and I wasn’t going to move until it did.
I just wanted him to wake up!
I was so bent on staying but my breaking point came when Diana to talk to Dylan about me.
‘Daddy, can you please tell Momma to eat something? She doesn’t believe that you’re alright... She won’t eat and I don’t want her to sick as well...’ she’d said. ’Tell her that you’ll be okay and that she shouldn’t worry... I don’t like seeing Momma like this... Please, Daddy.”
His reaction was a groan.
At that moment I knew what I was doing wasn’t helping anyone. It only made them worry... I needed to be strong for my baby, for Dylan not sitting around fading away.
So I left the room, had small bits to eat to everyone’s delight and now I’m having a bath with one of the most precious persons in my life.
“I’m sorry Ki-Ki,” I say apologetically as I hold out my arms inviting her to cuddle and the water splashes around my body.
“Okay momma,” she smiles making her way towards me, water splashing about a few drops tumbling from the tub onto the tiled mosaic floors.
She turns around so her back is against my chest and I hug her to my soapy body. Her hair is up in a messy bun and the straying strands tickle my face. I kiss her cheek, closing my eyes as try not to think about Dylan’s condition.
“So how has my Ki-Ki been?” I ask urging her to speak, to take my mind off everything going wrong right now.
She talks animatedly about her days at the compound. She tells me about my mom dancing with her in our studio and that my dad has been assisting her with the work her teachers had sent for her. She has been exploring the forest with Regina, helping her to gather fruits. Diana tells me about Trevor, George’s son, who came over to visit Regina and they hang out at the pool.
By the time she’s finished talking it’s fifteen minutes later but I listen to her, chipping in here and there to show her I’m listening and I care.
“How about you momma?” she asks turning around to face me. “What have you been up to?”
I tell her of my time at Aunt Shanice and Uncle Dimi’s cabin minus the sexual parts of course. I also tell her about her daddy taking me to his favourite place up the mountain. Her response was an ‘awe’ and ‘That’s so romantic momma!’. Now she gushes about seeing it too and asking her daddy to take her when he’s better.
When he’s better... He will get better...
Diana takes a few wet strands lying on my shoulder between her thumb and index finger, smiling at it. “Pretty momma...”
“Aunt Shan did it,” I tell her. “She used Kool-Aid to do it, so it’ll wash out soon.”
“Kool-Aid?” she asks surprised and I nod. “It’s so beautiful... Can get it done too?! We’ll be like twins!”
“Sure sweetheart...” I nod and she squeals happily kissing my cheek.
“Tomorrow? Please,” she says dragging out the please and I agree.
She smiles at me and I notice her missing right molar. Pinching her chin, I tilt her head looking into her mouth. “You’ve lost a tooth!”
“Yeah, it came out when I ate one of Miss Regina’s dumplings...” she tells me using her tongue to touch the space. “It didn’t hurt! Plus I put it under my pillow and got a hundred bucks!”
A hundred dollars! She’s getting more from one tooth than I got for a week’s allowance.
“That’s awesome baby girl,” I smile and she hugs me close to her.
Her head’s nestled in my breasts as I embrace my baby, loving her closeness. She’s my pride, joy and I love her so much..., and to think I almost lost all this because of my fears.
“I love you momma,” Diana whispers and a tears slips from my eye.
“I love you too Ki-Ki,” I reply, sniffling and she rubs my back soothingly.
“Don’t cry momma. Daddy will be okay and we’ll be a family...” she states confidently and close my eyes allowing her words to soothe me.
True to Dylan’s words my period did start, 3 a.m. the next day. I was wide-awake so it didn’t catch me by surprise. I, however, had to deal with the cramps and nausea that accompanied it.
I took two pills before lying beside my daughter, trying to sleep. I dozed off at 5 a.m. when the pain lulled me to bed. When I awoke, it was midday and my body felt better, even though I still felt faint cramps now and again. I took a shower and pulled on a tank top and comfortable boy shorts.
Walking down the hall, I make my way to the kitchen to be greeted by Diana and my dad around the island as he goes through some work with her and Regina and my mom cooking.
“Hey,” I say walking further into the room and they all look up at me with smiles.
“Hey Angel,” Dad says patting the stool on his other side and move towards it.
“Hey Daddy, Ki-Ki,” I say kissing my baby’s forehead as she greets me sweetly saying ‘Hi momma’.
I sit on the stool and dad pulls me to him kissing my forehead, holding me in his arms.
“Hey Mom, Regina,” I smile up at the motherly figures in front of me.
“Morning sweetie,” Mom answers before a beep goes off and she moves towards the oven.
“Morning Indiana,” Regina says kindly. “How are you feeling?”
Regina is a short, petite woman with the kindest light brown eyes, with salt and pepper hair and slightly wrinkly ebony skin. She’s a 70 years old widow with 5 children, her eldest 46 years and youngest 25.
Despite her age, she’s as fit as a fiddle and doesn’t look a day over 55 years. After all, black don’t crack.
“I’m feeling better,” I reply honestly and I notice my mother and father both release a sigh. They were worried about me.
“Good, cause I’ve made your favourite pizza,” mom says rising from the oven with homemade meat, cheese, pepperoni and vegetable pizza.
My stomach grumbles as I look at the delicious pizza before me, the aroma making my mouth water.
“Pizza! Pizza!” Diana squeals excitedly and everyone smiles at her eagerness.
She’s so adorable.
The pizza is cut into 12 slices and soon mom pushes a plate towards me with four of those slices.
“Enjoy,” she states before kissing my hair.
I thank her and dig in watching as Diana giggles and munches on hers. She’s looking adorable in a purple, sleeveless, dress with her silky hair in a high ponytail.
She’s feeding my dad some of her pizza and he declines saying it’s hers but she doesn’t give up until he takes a bite. She then kisses his cheek saying ‘good papa’ and turns back to her plate munching away.
“Good, you’re finished...” my Mom praises as she takes away my now empty plate.
“Gina, can you carry D to the game room for us please?” Mom asks nicely, brushing her hands on her jeans romper.
Regina eyes us knowingly before walking over to Diana. “Come on little miss, you heard your grandma.”
Diana nods jumping from the stool but not before turning around and eying us.
“I know you’re gonna talk about stuff you don’t want me to hear. I know it’s about Momma and Daddy...” she says matter-of-factly eying my parents before looking over at me. “Don’t take long momma, I wanna go visit daddy with you!”
With that, she grabs Regina’s hand and pulls her out the kitchen saying. “Let’s go Miss Regina.”
My mother laughs before sitting on the stool on my right, so she and dad sandwich me.
“My grandbaby is something else,” she muses and Dad nods with a smile of his own.
“She is...” I murmur with a small smile, quietly dreading the questions that come next.
“So,” my mother says and I look over at her. “You want to explain to us what’s going on?”
“First you go missing,” my dad adds touching my shoulder affectionately. “... then you’re calling to tell us it’s not safe and we should go to Bellator. Angel we need answers.”
“How is he?” I ask wanting to know how Dylan’s faring and hoping to avoid this questioning for a little longer.
“He’s stable,” my Mom replies, looking at me sympathetically. “The doctor says it’s too soon to tell but he’s well. He gave him a shot of antivenin yesterday to flush the poison out his system. He also injected some pain killers this morning to ease his discomfort.”
“That’s good,” I say, thankful that he has not taken a change for the worse. I release a sigh urging myself not to break down.
“Come here Angel,” Dad says before pulling me to his side, petting my hair. Dad always knew when I needed comfort; I used to call it his daddy senses. “It’s okay...”
My mother rubs my back soothingly and I find myself appreciating highly the love they have for me. Many people out there don’t have this affectionate relationship with their parents and here I am with two of the best parents in the world, at least to me. I love them so much.
“It happened in Burbank...” I start as I explain to my parents what has happened while I was away. I tell them about the attempted kidnapping, Dylan’s people rescuing me and that Roberto was behind it. I give them a vague explanation of what happened at the market and I decided against telling them Dylan’s in the mafia. I play it off as powerful men misusing their influence and my parents are livid after hearing that Roberto pulled a gun on me, injured Dylan and killed one of his men.
“My poor child,” my mother states appalled by what I told her.
“When I get my hand on that motherfucker!” my dad says between gritted teeth. “He dares to kidnap and put a gun to my daughter’s head. When I’m through with him–”
“When we’re through with him,” my mother corrects. “He’ll wish for a quick death. I told you he wasn’t good for you. That son of a bitch! He’s lucky that your dad confiscated all my guns after that accident with a bullet squarely missing Edward’s dick or I’d find him and fuck his ass up. No one fucks with my babies.”
A giggle escapes my throat at my parents’ threat. I can clearly remember that day Aunt Chev told mom about Uncle Edward’s infidelity. He’d come over trying to talk his way out of it with my aunt and mom came in gun blazing, Uncle Edward barely managed to save his family jewels.
“See Johnattan... I told you I didn’t trust him! Look what he nearly did to my baby. He could’ve killed her!” Mom hisses, her anger getting the best of her.
“Christina...” Dad says sternly and I look up to see them relaying a silent message through eye contact.
“Fine...” she caves minutes later before looking down at me and kissing my forehead. “My baby...”
“I love you guys,” I say hugging my dad and my mom embraces me from the side. Their concern warms me and I’m happy to have such caring parents.
“I love you too, baby...”
“I love you too Angel...”
They reply simultaneously and I stay there for a few minutes enjoying the support and affection they give.
“He’s unable to answer you right now,” I whisper as I look over at Dylan or Cristiano as they call him.
He has gained some colour and his spasms have become less frequent but he’s not out of the woods yet.
“What do you mean by he’s unable to answer?” Adonis’ voice penetrates my ear. “And who the fuck are you?!”
It’s been two days since Dylan has been out and his phone has been ringing off the hook. It seems to have a satellite feature because I’m sure his American number shouldn’t be able to pick up here.
Therefore, I decided to answer it and noticed Adonis’ name on it. I remembered him from our first meeting. He’s Dylan’s second in command and I’m sure he’s worried about his boss. That’s what drove me to answer his call.
“Indiana Blake... um, Dyl–I mean Cristiano’s friend,” I say fumbling a bit at the hostility in his voice.
Diana shifts in my lap doodling on her art pad and I praise her talent as I notice the colourful, beautiful flower.
“Indiana...” he says recognition in his voice. “Cristiano’s ex-lover... and that bitch Ferrez’s fiancé!”
His voice raises again and I flinch which causes Diana to look up at me with concern. I smile before gently easing her off my lap and walking towards the balcony.
“I’ll be right back Ki-Ki,” I say to her covering the phone with my hand and she nods as I close the door behind me.
“Listen here you little putana! If you don’t tell me what’s going on right now I’ll find you and –”
“Adonis. I’m not with Roberto anymore and I didn’t do anything to harm Cristiano. I’m with Cristiano and he’s bedridden right now that’s why he can’t answer.”
He starts to speak but I cut him off giving him a summary of everything that has gone down, omitting our location and surprisingly he listens to me.
“If you don’t believe me call Raphael. He’s the last person Cristiano contacted–”
“He already has Ms. Blake,” Raphael’s voice enters the conversation but it sounds as if it’s far away, in the background.
“Not to be rude, Indiana but I didn’t trust you for a minute,” Adonis interrupts. “I would’ve tried tracing the call but Cristiano has always made sure that phone was untraceable. So the next best thing I was to contact Raphael who was supposed to accompany Capo in the states. Luckily he was able to vouch for your story.”
“Oh,” I say pathetically.
“It’s okay Ms. Blake. Adonis doesn’t take Capo’s safety lightly and he’s stressed out. With Cristiano out of commission, he’s handling things in Italy.” Raphael informs me and I sigh, understand his stance.
“His father has been demanding to know what’s taking him so long in the states,” Adonis interrupts grumpily. “So Indiana I need to know Capo’s state. He’s needed here ASAP.”
“Well, he’s as I said he’s bedridden...” I murmur. “On our way here, he got bitten by a black widow spider. He’s been treated for the poison but he’s still asleep.”
“Oh, that’s all. That’s good...” Adonis states sounding relieved and I’m taken by surprise.
“He’s been trained for this, Indiana. We’ve been pumped with worse poisons. That Black widow poison will be out his system in the next two days, maximum.” Adonis says nonchalantly and in the background, I hear someone call out to him. “Tell him to give me a call when he’s awake...”
“Ok–” I start to say but the call is cut.
I look down at the phone frowning and nearly jump when it rings again, this time displaying Raphael’s name.
“Ignore him Ms. Blake... He’s just stressed. If you ask me he needs some pussy...” Raphael states and I chuckle.
“So...” he says when my laughter dies down. “How are you holding up, Ms. Blake?”
“I’m surviving...” I state looking out at the setting sun and I sigh. “I’m trying to stay strong but I’m too afraid he’ll die.”
“He’ll be fine,” Raphael assures. “As Adonis said he’s been through worse. He’ll recover and then you can tell him how you feel, Ms. Blake.”
“How I feel?”
“I’m not blind, cara. I can see the way you two look at each other... Just don’t hurt him, he’s been through enough. Take care of him...” Raphael says and I can hear the compassion in his voice.
Closing my eyes, I nod my head before replying. “I will...”
“Good,” he says relieved. “Now have a good night Ms. Blake... Give me a call when he’s awake.”
“Indiana...” I say softly. “You can call me Indiana.”
“Okay Indiana,” he stays emphasizing my name. “Ciao.”
“Momma... Look I made art,” Diana says showing me her art pad, which houses colourful dots arranged to show landscape scenery.
There’s a tree made with green and brown dots resting upon a hill of brown dots with the sun beside it in yellow. A few green dots are falling from the tree onto the ground, which symbolizes the leaves falling.
“That’s beautiful, sweetheart...” I reply kissing her temple, her now cheery red hair ticking my cheek.
“I know right! I can’t wait for Daddy to see it,” Diana replies excitedly gushing over her artwork.
“Why don’t you go show him? I’m sure he’d love to hear your voice...” I suggest and Diana smiles brightly hopping off my lap and making her way to Dylan’s bedside.
We are now on day 4 and Dylan has yet to awaken. He looks like he’s getting healthier and the swollen skin around the bite has reduced in size but Dylan hasn’t moved aside from rare spasms nor voiced anything but groans.
“Look, Daddy... I made art!” Diana says to her sleeping father. “I drew a tree, the sun and a hill. I used green dots for the tree crown, brown dots for the trunk and ground and yellow dots for the sun!”
I watch her smiling at my sweet, innocent, little girl. She’s so precious and beautiful. She’s the most important person in my life and I can’t imagine life without her in it.
“I’m going to draw you and mommy next,” Diana beams, holding her daddy hand. “When you’re awake you’ll see it, okay Daddy?”
I smile at her before opening my arms. “Come on baby... Let’s make daddy rest.”
We’ve been in here for the last 4 hours and I’m sure she’s hungry again.
“Okay momma,” she says and goes to pull her hand away from his hand but he grips it making her pause.
“Daddy!” she says excitedly and I rush to her side. “Look momma he’s awake!”
My pulse hammers as I see his eyes slowly open and my heart hammers against my chest. I move closer to him as Diana calls to him, a bright smile on her face.
“Dylan?” I say as I cup his face, tears falling from my eyes. “Can you hear me, baby?”
Those beautiful eyes settle on me and he nods slowly before clearing his throat.
Water... He needs water.
I look towards the nightstand before moving to grasp the bottle of water I’d partially drunk before pulling it and putting at his lips. He drinks slowly and I feel myself bursting with joy that he’s finally awake.
I pull the water away from his lips when he pulls away and cork the bottle placing it back on the nightstand before leaning towards him, on the opposite side of Diana.
His eyes take me in as I gaze at him and I smile touching his face, tears falling onto his cheek. He’s awake!
“Ana?” he croaks and I start full-on cry.
I must look like a mess sobbing all over him but God I’ve missed him so much. I’m so emotional that I can’t even reply. Thank God, he’s awake!
“Momma!” Diana scolds me pulling at my top and I look up at her, noticing that Dylan did as well. “Stop crying! Daddy’s fine!”
My eyes widen at her words and I look down at him to notice those blue-green eyes are staring up at me questioningly.