On the Run

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Sunken Ship

“So what’s your family like?” Mark asked later that night after Elia had gone to bed.

He had just come back after settling his mom into the apartment, but had insisted they saved the introductions until the morning. He wasn’t going to tell Isabel, but his hope was his mom would be sober by then.

Isabel barely even flinched at his unexpected appearance behind her. Instead she continued rinsing off dishes only altering to hand them to him to put in the dishwasher as he offered.

“They were great. I was an only child to a pastor and elementary school teacher.” Isabel responded calmly.

“Your dad is a pastor?” Mark asked,suddenly floored. “But I thought you said your parents kicked you out?”

“What?” She smirked at him playfully. “Pastors can’t do that?”

He paused before shaking his head with a sigh. “They shouldn’t, but they are human. We all make mistakes I guess, that’s just…”

As he trailed off Isabel realized he was trying not to be angry.

“It wasn’t completely their fault.” She put in trying to defend her parents. “They were amazing parents. Really. When I got pregnant though the whole church turned against me, and soon turned on my parents for raising such a hallion. Eventually dad was worried he would lose his job, so they asked me to find somewhere else to stay.”

“So basically, when you needed them most the church and your family turned their backs on you leaving you with nobody but an abusive psychopath.” Mark said harshly as he started the dishwasher.

Isabel leaned back against the counter and frowned. She couldn’t argue with what Mark said, but she still didn’t like the sound of it. That was her family and she felt the need to defend them.

“I screwed up, okay? I got myself into this situation. Yeah maybe they didn’t try to help pull me out, but it was ultimately my choices that landed me here.” Isabel said methodically.

Mark met Isabel’s gaze for a moment before nodding slowly. He was surprised though. It would have been all too easy to point fingers and blame everyone else for her problem. Isable though seemed to not only take the blame for what she did but also for what others had done to her. She was selfless to a fault, such a rare thing to find.

“Anyway,” Isabel started after a long pause, “I’m going to go snuggle up with Elia on the couch. Are you going to join us?”

Mark wanted nothing more than to agree, but knew he couldn’t. He had to call Zane and Susan, and check on his mother before bed.

“Not right now, maybe I’ll join you later” He replied, uncertainly.

Mark liked the way she smiled hopefully at him, and he wanted nothing more than to cross the distance between them in a single step and kiss her again. However, he was sure that wasn’t a smart move and he didn’t want to push his luck today.

Isabel nodded, smiling softly, before walking passed him and into the living room with her daughter. Looking through the arch Mark could just see her settle in, pulling her legs up beside her, next to Elia. The child swiftly repositioned so she could lay down on her mothers lap.

It reminded him of that first night at the but stop huddled together for warmth and protection. He smiled with the realization that now, instead of feared, he would be accepted into their space helpily.

That thought alone made him wish he could go sit with them. He would wrap his arm around the back of the couch behind Isabel. Maybe she would even lean into him.

He took a step forward, but sighed as his phone dinged. He had other things he had to take care of.

When he came back in later that night though he found both Elia and Iasbel fast asleep on the couch. Careful not to wake them up he draped a blanket around them before heading to bed.

* * *

The next day early afternoon, Isabel woke up on the couch. The first thing she noticed was that she had actually slept extremely well for the first time in weeks. The second was Elia was gone. Trying to fight the building panic she stood and walked towards the kitchen.

“Elia? Mark?” Her voice echoed around the empty room.

She rushed to the spare bedroom she and Elia were supposed to be sharing. She fought tears of panic as she glanced around the empty room.

“Can I show mommy her surprise?” Elia’s voice sounded from the front of the house.

Isabel ran down the hall back to the kitchen where Mark and Elia now stood happily. Isabel rushed to her daughter and crouched in front of her.

“Hey are you okay?” Mark asked, as Isabel frantically looked over Elia before pulling her into a tight hug.

“Baby get your jacket, we are leaving.” Isabel’s voice trembled as she kissed her daughter’s forehead and ran her hand over the child’s hair.

“Mommy, what about my shoes?” Elia asked, looking confused at Mark.

“Yes Elia and your shoes. Now! Now!” She called frantically running her fingers through her hair.

“Elia hunny, you stay here. Mommy and Uncle Mark need to talk for a second.” Mark said gently, laying his on Isabel’s back.

“Don’t touch me.” Isabel snapped her voice breaking.

“Come talk to me, please.” Mark asked quietly

Isable reluctantly stood and allowed him to lead her to the dining room side of the room. She was grateful he didn’t try to take her somewhere she couldn’t see Elia. Now that the panic was slowly subsiding she noticed the confusion on the child’s face. As well as the bakery togo bag she gripped in her small fist.

“What’s wrong Izzy?” Mark asked slowly.

He knew the problem. He had assumed she trusted him enough for it to be okay that he took Elia to breakfast to let her sleep in. Clearly he had misjudged that.

“I won’t ever let you or anyone hurt my daughter again!” Isabel stated harshly as tears rimmed her green eyes,

“Do you really think I would hurt Elia, or you?” Mark asked calmly.

“I-I don’t...” She started with confusion etched deep into her brow. “I don’t know.”

“I love you both. I will protect you with my life. I would never hurt your daughter, or you. Ever.” Mark admitted reaching up to wipe a tear off her cheek. “If you don’t trust that by now, both our boats are sunk.

Isabel bit her lip, she couldn’t let her boat sink Elia was in it with her. She wanted so badly to believe him, and part of her did, but she couldn’t help the voice in the back of her mind the repeated over and over; “Why would he love you.” and “What is he really after?”

“I’m sorry.” She relented quietly.

Mark waited for her to pull away but was surprised when instead she stepped forward into his embrace as she cried.

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