“Daddy?” he asks in confusion but I barely have time to reply as his eyes roll back in his head and he’s out cold.
Maybe it’s from shock or pain... I have no idea.
“Daddy?” Diana calls shaking his arm frowning as she doesn’t get a response.
She continues to shake him while I just stand there frozen looking down at him. His colour is healthy, he has a faint stubble on his chin and there are dark circles under his eyes. My mind keeps replaying the confusion and utmost shock that played on his face at hearing Diana call him Daddy.
Is it that he doesn’t want kids? We’d never really had that discussion before. So, I can’t help wondering, will he want her?
“Momma, what’s wrong with Daddy?” Diana asks and her trembling voice knocks me out of my thoughts.
Her hand clutches her father’s tightly as stares at his unconscious form. Her brown contacts covered eyes are getting glossy and I know she’s on the verge of tears.
“Momma... He’s n-not walking u-up,” she stutters, her lip trembling and in a flash, I’m at her side taking her into my arms.
“It’s okay, baby,” I coo rubbing her back. “Daddy’s going to be fine okay. He’s just sleeping... but I’m going to need you to do something so we can... um, ensure he’s well-rested. Can you do it for me?”
She nods her head wiping away tears and I stoop down to kiss her chubby little cheeks. This is too much for her I need to get her out of the room...
“Baby. Can you go to mama for me please?” I ask gently taking her hand from Dylan’s own. The pain in my chest intensifying. What if he doesn’t want anything to do with her?
“Tell her to call the doctor and send him here... a-and I need you to stay with momma for a while, you know how worried she gets right?” she nods. “Just hug her and say everything will be okay... because it will. Please do this for mommy, baby... Daddy is going to be okay. He just needs his rest.”
I say this in the calmest voice I can muster while on the inside there is a typhoon of emotions tearing me apart. She looks over at him, longingly and I feel the pain flare within me.
If I don’t get her out now I’m going to break down right in front of her...
“Okay, sweetie?” I ask cup her face drawing her worried eyes from her father and putting on my best reassuring smile.
“Okay, momma...” Diana whispers kissing my cheek before doing the same to her daddy and rushing out the room.
…and I break down in tears.
“The skin around the bite has almost healed,” the doctor says as he checks the area between his shoulder blades.
He’s short with salt and pepper hair and he’s in casual, t-shirt and jeans attire.
Having to rush over here for a house call, he didn’t bother to dress professionally. After all, it’s now 7 pm in the night, plus today was his day off from the 24-hour clinic mom and dad financed in the main Bahamian island. It took him approximately half an hour to actually make it here and Dylan hasn’t stirred since.
“So he’s out of the woods?” I ask wringing my fingers as I hover over him like a shadow.
“His vitals are good,” he says before taking out his stethoscope and listening to his heartbeat.
He then proceeded to check his blood pressure with the portable machine and I watch intently as he goes about checking Dylan. By the time he’s done, it’s quarter of an hour and I look at him expectantly.
“Well?” I ask impatiently.
“He’s fine. His body is just recuperating from the pain its been in,” he says and I release the breath I’ve been holding.
“Thank God!” I say happily giving him a brief hug before pulling away. “Thank you so much, Doctor Cunningham!”
He smiles at me before patting my arm, saying ‘Glad I could help Ms. Blake’ and takes his leave after that. It’s not even five minutes later, Diana comes running into the room into my arms and I hug her telling her the good news.
“See baby, I told you it’ll be fine,” I say kissing her forehead.
She nods before pulling away with a smile and I pat the messy mane upon her head. Looking behind her I see my parents at the door, mom is in front of dad and his arms are wrapped around her. They are staring at us with pleased smiles.
“The doctor gave us the prognosis,” my mother says as they step into the room. “I’m elated...”
I nod my head, watching Diana as she moves towards Dylan holding his hand and I move towards my parents.
“When he woke up... he heard Diana calling him daddy...” I murmur to them. “Now I’m worried that when he wakes he’ll blow a fuse and not want anything to do with us...”
“Stop worrying,” my mother says pulling me towards her cupping my face. She’s about three inches shorter than me so it’s a bit comical to look at. “Dylan is a good guy... He has made mistakes in the past but I’m sure he won’t abandon you guys again. After all, you said he was blackmailed the first time... I doubt he’ll willingly choose to do it now. Have a little faith in him.”
“Plus, if he even tries it I won’t hesitate to knock him on his ass,” my dad adds placing his hand on mom’s shoulder. “Nobody messes with my daughter...”
“Our daughter...” my mom adds looking back at him and he smiles.
“Our daughter...” he replies before placing a chaste kiss on her lips.
“Ah come on guys... I’m right here!” I feign disgust pulling away from them.
I look at my laughing parents, loving the affection that lies between them.
Mom is in one of dad’s t-shirts and his underpants while Dad is in sweats and a tank. Both of them have that messy, ‘just fucked’ hair and mom has bright red hickeys on her neck. There’s no need to guess what they’ve been up to.
Even after twenty-four years of marriage, they both still have the hots for each other and love each other.
I want something like that.
“Oh hush up,” my mother teases me. “How do you think you came into this world?”
“Maybe she’ll like to be reminded of where we made her,” my dad muses knowing I hate that story.
My nosy self at 17 years had decided to ask my very open mother where they created my brother and I, the biggest mistake of my life. You know how some parents would say something vague and sweet like ’On our wedding night... You were the product of our love’, my mother gave me a play by play. Given she didn’t go into specific details but since then I can never look at that waterfall the same again.
She scarred me... I didn’t want to have that image in my head.
“No, no, no!” I say stepping back and they laugh at my horrified look.
After a while, they stop laughing and I glare at them playfully. They both move close to me dropping a kiss on my cheek and does the same to their granddaughter before taking their leave to do lord knows what.
“Oh before I forget,” my mom’s head pops through the door a few seconds later. “Christian, Joanna and Edward Jr. are on their way here. They should be here in five days just a heads up.”
“Okay...” I reply and she blows me a kiss before saying good night.
Coughing is what woke me from my nap.
I was in a dreamless state when it happened, causing my heart to beat a mile a minute. The dim lamplight illuminates the room and I look towards the bed to see Dylan in a coughing fit. As if on instinct, I jump from the chair and grab a water bottle before placing it in his field of vision. He doesn’t look up at me, only grabs the bottle from my hand and starts chugging.
He pulls it away from his lips when the bottle is almost halved and I take it from him, corking it. He’s silent as I place it on the nightstand before sitting beside him on the bed.
He has yet to look at me.
“How are you feeling?” I ask minutes later when he has yet to make a sound.
“Are you hungry?” I ask as he lifts himself into a sitting position, not looking at me.
He still doesn’t reply and I sigh wringing my fingers.
“How old...?” he asks barely above a whisper interrupting me.
“How old is she?” he asks more firmly and by the way, his jaw is clenched I know he is running the numbers in his head.
I guess we are doing this now.
“Eight. Diana is eight years old,” I reply softly and I see him stiffen.
The silence is deafening. He grips the sheet in his hands, his breathing harsh and I reach out to touch his hand, only to pull it back.
“When did you find out?” he questions again, rolling his shoulders and I don’t have to ask what he means this time.
“I found out three months after you left...” I inform watching as his body tenses, then relaxes as he processes my reply, and work his sore muscles.
“That’s why you were trying to contact me...” he murmurs lowly but I hear it.
I decide not to comment on it but rather let him sort out his thoughts. I’m not here to plead my case, I’m here to explain what he needs clarification on. I’m here to tell him about his daughter.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” he asks clenching his fist and I notice he’s managed to place his legs to the side of the bed.
He’s in the black boxers I’d placed on him a few hours ago after wiping him down and I shake my head as my mind wanders off to the feel of his body beneath my fingers.
Now is not the time.
Clearing my mind, I focus on the question he just asked me. “I tried to but they weren’t putting through my cal–”
“You know that’s not what I meant!” Dylan hissed his glaring blue-green snapping towards my face. “You’ve had weeks to tell me about my child Indiana! Weeks!”
He called me Indiana...
I flinch back at the aggressiveness of his tone. His eyes hold mine with a look of disbelief, anger, distrust and disappointment. He looks at me as if I’m a stranger to him, someone he’s lost all trust in.
Dylan stares at me distastefully and it skins me alive. I could feel my heart bleeding in my chest and he hasn’t even started to vent yet.
“I-I...” I fumble over my words the hurt in his eyes making the pain within my chest intensify.
“Speak up Indiana!” he states, that dominating side of him peeking out.
“At first, I didn’t trust you!” I blurt out, clenching my fists. “When you came to dinner I tried to tell you but you upset me. I was going to tell you in Burbank but all then shit happened... After that, I didn’t tell you because I was scared–”
“That’s no excuse! You had plenty of opportunities to tell me at the cabin!” he bites back, shaking his head. “You had no problem opening your legs for me but you couldn’t open your mouth and tell me about my daughter!”
His words are like a slap to the face. I-I... The tears start to well up in my eyes but I fight them back. I knew something like this would happen now I need to face it.
“I tried to tell you...” I say trying to steady my voice. “... but every time I brought it up you didn’t let me finish... You said you didn’t want to dwell on the past–”
“Our daughter is not the past! She’s here now, she’s been here for eight fucking years without her father and you took your damn time to tell me?!”
His eye twitches uncontrollably and I know he is pissed off now and it’s all because of me.
“I tried to but then I decided it’s better if you two meet. That’s why I pushed so much to come here,” I explain trying not to tear up in front of him. “She wanted to meet you so bad and I wanted her to know her fath–”
“What if I didn’t survive that bite, Indiana?! What if I never met her?!” he shouts effectively shutting me up. “I would have died hearing your half-ass confession about Diana in that forest. I would’ve died never meeting my daughter...”
My words elude me. I didn’t want to think about him dying.
“When I met her at that dinner you introduced her as your sister to me... your fucking sister Indiana! How could you subject your child to that?! What kind of mother does that?!”
I’m silent having no excuse for my actions. It was wrong, I know it and I won’t pretend like my reasons were justified. He’s calling me out for my shit and I’m going to be a big girl and face them.
After all, I’m used to being a disappointment...
A tear falls onto my lap and I wipe it away. No, crying Indie. I compose myself before looking up from my lap only to see Dylan lost in his thoughts. Suddenly something clicks in his head judging by the look of shock that crossed his face. I go to say something but he shocks me by rising from the bed, eyes pinned on me.
I get up instantly, stepping back as the hostile look on his face scares me. He shakes his head looking at me, his eyes looking at me pleading with my hazel ones.
He walks me causing me to back up and his knees jerk but that doesn’t faze him. He’s bent on getting his answers. My back hits the wall and I suck in a breath as those wild, angry eyes pin me.
He places his hands against the door on either side of me, trapping me and I gulp not knowing what’s next.
He won’t hit me, I know this but he’s so angry... I–
“You told me back at the cabin that after I left, you started drinking, got addicted to drugs... Indiana, our baby...” he breathes out the pain in his voice shattering my heart. “Please tell me that the timeline is off. Please tell me you didn’t...”
My silence is answer enough and Dylan’s hands on either side of my head.
“I didn’t know,” I whisper a few seconds later, tears streaming down my face. “I didn’t know I was pregnant... I abused drugs in my first trimester and I’ve had to live with what that caused. I–”
“Indiana!” he grunts out angrily having enough of my rumbling and I close my eyes sobs leaving my lips. “What happened to my daughter?!”
I take too long to reply and he knocks his fist against the door.
“What happened to my daughter?!” he shouts and I whimper.
“Diana was born near-sighted and with an atrial septal defect. There was a hole in her heart. She’s gone through the surgery and she’s better now... Contacts help her near-sightedness and the hole’s small enough not to cause–”
Dylan hisses loudly before hitting the door hard and taking steps away from me, turning his back.
“Dylan–” I call out to him but he grips his hair ignoring me.
“Get out of here, Indiana...” he grunts out, not even looking at me.
“Dylan I’m so sorry–”
I scream when he grabs the digital clock, chucking it across the room and the breaks upon hitting the wall.
“I said get out!” he hisses, swinging around to look at me. “I can’t even stand to look at you right now! You fucking hid the fact that we had a daughter from me, Indiana! My flesh and blood... The product of our love!”
I start to sob uncaring of how pathetic I look in front of him. His words hurt me but they were true, every one of them.
“No, no, no,” he says shaking his head. “It wasn’t love... You couldn’t have loved me if you wouldn’t have looked me in the eyes as I poured my heart out to you in the last week and not even once tell me about my child. The same child you threw to your parents! The same one you disowned.”
He looks at me, disgust flaring within those beautiful blue-green eyes I used to love so much.
“Get out of my sight!”