I can't believe my eyes. I must be dreaming, but it feels too real. My babies! They are here, with me. I can't let go of them. They are feel so skinny, but yet they have grown taller. So much is the same about them, yet they look so different. My thoughts are stopped when Dom whispers in my ear, "Ev, the agents need to speak with you for a minute, then we can all go home. Together."
I pull from the kids, and whip my face, smiling at them and them back at me. "I missed you boys so much. My heart was so broken, but now I'm whole again. I love you so much, and we never stopped looking for you." I say, kissing them on their cheeks before standing back to my feet. I notice a couple of agents and Bonner standing off to the side, smiling so proudly at the reunion. "Lets get this over with. I need to get my babies home." I say, gripping Brayden's and Logan's hands. I look over at Dom, and he isn't saying anything and he isn't really moving either. "Please come with me, Dom. I can't do this without you."
He give me a little relief-type grin, and follows me as I follow the agents and Bonner to a room with a table.
We all sit and the boys, stand behind me with their hands on my shoulders. "Ma'am, as you know we have been actively looking for your ex-husband and his mother. Well, late last night, I get an anonymous call..." one agent says as he cuts a look over to Bonner, who is smiling mischievously..."telling me that two missing boys were going to be on a flight from Germany, and would be arriving at the airport later today. To my surprise, when we got to the airport, these boys and their abductors were waiting at the baggage claim." he finishes.
Bonner still smiling, pulls out a piece of paper from his shirt pocket and slides it over to me. I open it up and it is an obituary article, with my picture and name on it. "What the hell is this?" I ask.
"I met those boys of yours after school one day. They were walking home, and I told them that I was your friend and I wanted to help get them back home to you, but they had to trust me. Over a few weeks, we met for a few minutes here and there and I told them that I planned to trick their dad and grandmother into thinking you had died so they would come back to the states with them. So, I printed this up and sent it to them under the guise of being an estate attorney and the boys had a large inheritance coming. Money always does it..." Bonner says.
"I don't understand. They just bought the story? Just like that?" I'm still so confused.
"Yep. Told them that the only way the boys could get their money was for them to come sign the paperwork after the funeral service. That grandmother, she was on the phone so fast. Asking how much they were getting and when could they get the checks. Sad really." he says, looking up at the boys over my shoulders. "I told you boys that it would all work out and I'd get you back to your momma."
The boys dipped down and hugged my over my shoulders, and all I could do was squeeze Dom's hand in mine.
The other agent, who had been sitting in silence the whole time, finally speaks up, "There is a therapist that the boys should talk to after they get setting in at home. They were told a lot of untrue things about you and Mr. Lombardi, and they will need time to process that out of their minds. In the mean time, you are all free to go." he says, standing up and extending his hand out to me.
As soon as we are outside, I notice the federal van and other cars are gone. Good! I don't want my kids seeing the newest inmates of the federal system. We make our way to the truck, the boys holding onto each of my hands, Dom hits the button to unlock the truck and the boys gasp. "Wow! Dom, this is your truck?" Brayden says excitedly. Those are the first words he has spoken since our reunion.
"Yeah, buddy. It is. And I saved my old clunker for you, so we can work on it and have it ready for you when the time comes." he says, putting a hand on Brayden's head and ruffling his hair a little.
We all get loaded up and buckled up. I let Brayden sit up front with Dom, and I stole a spot next to Logan in the backseat. Logan leans into my side, and says, "I missed how you smell, momma."
Dom cuts a look back at me and smiles. "Lets get home. We have someone to introduce you to." I say, smiling back at him. How will they take having a new sister? Will they think that I had her and forgot all about them? I will show them every single day that I missed them. I just hope they love Annalise.
We pull into the driveway and the boys look at us, confused. "We live here now. This is home, unless you don't want it to be. I'll buy another house, any house you boys want, so long as it makes you happy." Dom says, and I know he is trying to help transition them back to being with us.
"We love this house!" Logan shouted, almost angry. "This is our home. You better not make us move!"
Dom threw his hands up in the air, "You're the boss, Logan." and lets out a little chuckle, then we all start laughing. My sweet boys, and my adorable husband.
We get the boys inside the house, and they immediately ask, "Where is Mrs. Nina? I need to see her." Brayden says, running down the hallway to Nina's old room, which is now Annalise's nursery. "Who's stuff is this? Ewww, it's all girly stuff." he shrieks.
"Come sit for a minute, Brayden. Please?" I beg him. He comes and sits next to me on the couch.
"I want you both to know that we looked for you every single day." I opened up my laptop sitting on the coffee table, and pulled up the pages online. "Everyday, I posted for the past almost three years. Look for yourself, if you don't believe me. My heart ached for you both." I say, looking at them both. Hoping to lighten the mood in the room, I say, "So, would you like to hear about things around here?"
"Yes!" they both shout, excited. Dom shifted in his seat, resting his elbows on his knees. The only other time I have ever seen him this nervous was when we were in labor with Annalise.
"Well, Dom and I got married. It was just me, him and a J.P., because I didn't want anything bigger without you two there. You have a three month old sister. She looks almost like you did, Brayden, when you were born. The only difference is the hair color. I know this is a lot to take in, and I hope you don't hate me, or Dom, or Annalise. I want all of us here, as a family, together." I pause, trying to judge their expressions.
With a deep sign, Logan speaks up, "Well, I ain't sharing a room with no girl." and we all start laughing.
"Why don't I show you boys to your rooms?" Dom says, standing up.
"We have rooms here?" Brayden asks.
"Yeah. We wanted to make sure that you had your own space for when you returned. We didn't know how long that would be, but we knew that we needed to be prepared." Dom said to the them.
I get my phone from my purse and call Lacey, asking her to bring Annalise home. She does, and I pay her and thank her. She is sound asleep, so I use the time to pull the keepsake box from its long-time holding place. I open it and pull out the two large bundles of letters. I walk down the hallway, and see that each boy has found their room, and Dom is telling them that tomorrow they will have a 'Man's Day' and go shop for video games and such. I clear my throat and get their attention.
"Brayden, this is for you. And Logan, this one is for you." I say, handing each boy their letters. "They are numbered, so start from #1, okay." They both run into my arms, and I can't believe that this is really happening, finally a reality for me.
The boys meet their sister, and are in love with her, but still swear that they will never like her girly things around the house. It's almost like they were never gone, that is how easily we adjusted. Dom talked to them about Nina, and told them that after dinner, he had something for them that she wanted them to have.
I was getting the kitchen cleaned up, when I heard Dom call the boys to the living room. I hurried with loading my new dishwasher, and rushed in to see what all Nina left for them. Dom and I have speculated over the years, but had really no idea.
Dom hands Brayden his pocket knife, and Bray carefully cuts the edge of the box from from the tape. Opening the box, there are two smaller boxes inside, one for each boy. They open the boxes, and Logan yelps..."Mrs. Nina put a snake in here...!" he says with a laugh. "We used to pass this back and forth, trying to scare each other with it. I thought that I lost it, you know, before we left."
Brayden looks at a notebook in his hands, thumbing through the pages. "What you have there, Bray?" I asked, not being able to see what he was looking at really.
"You remember how every night that we came to each dinner with her, I would whisper a secret in her ear?" he asked, looking at me. I nodded, frowning a little at his question. "Well, she wrote them all down. Every single one, and they all have a whisper back from her. She answered all of them." he says, and I see tears rolling down his cheeks.
"You keep that private, Bray, if you want to. No one will ever take anything away from you in this house. You hear me?" Dom says, knowing that the boy needed to hear that.
"There is one thing that I asked her, and she answered. Can I read it to you both?" he asked me and Dom. "We both nodded, and motioned for him to do as he felt comfortable. "I asked Mrs. Nina 'Will my momma ever find someone to love her and be nice to her?'. You want to know what she said?" and Dom and I both nodded, holding our breath. "She wrote, 'Yes, and as soon as my sweet son comes home, your momma will be happy, loved and safe for the rest of her days.'. I think she set you guys up." Brayden says, raising his eyebrows and smirking.
"Oh, we already knew that. She pretty much insisted that we get married." Dom said, letting a laugh escape his lips. "That mother of mine was a mess, wasn't she?"
The boys take them treasures into the rooms to finish going through them, and just as we settle on the couch for our evening cuddles, we hear Brayden scream "Holy crap!" Dom and I shoot to our feet and run down the hallway, fear taking over my mind. We open his door and see him standing straight, holding a piece of paper in his hands and looking as white a the paper itself.
"What is it, buddy? You okay?" Dom asks, out of breath.
"Look!" Brayden says, holding out the paper.
A check. Of course it is...how could we expect anything less out of Nina. "Holy shit!" I gasp out, looking at the $50,000 check in Dom's hand. He lets out a laugh and hands it back to Bray.
"There was a letter. Here, read it." Brayden says, holding out the letter.
I wished that I could have stuck around to see you grow into a man. You will always be my special boy, and I love you for all the little ways that you made my heart feel full. I hope you don't mind me sending Dominic into your life. He isn't your father, but he will be a good dad for you, Logan and hopefully more. Just remember, I knew the moment that I met your momma that she and Dominic would be a good match for each other. A momma always knows these things, so always listen to your momma. Now, onto business. Here is a check. When you get old enough to drive, I want you to spend every single cent on a shiny new ride. Give your brother rides when you can, until he is old enough to get his own car. Always be a gentleman with the ladies, and don't forget to fall in love. Be the good boy that I know you can be. Keep sending me your secrets, I will always provide an answer for you.
Love, Your Nina
Dom and I looked at each other, then looked at Brayden. He smiled so big. "I'm gonna get a big truck like you, Dom."
Logan is the next one to holler out. "I got a check too, Bray. I'm going to get a fast car. Fastest car around. Just you wait and see. Everybody will want to ride in it."
We leave the boys to their own dreams and wishes, and decide to call it a night. From bed, I update the website and social media pages to say that my boys were home and gave a small update on our reunion, then posted a photo of all of us together. My family is complete.