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Chapter 3


His children were 5 years old now. This was their second year in kindergarten. They have grown so much compared to the past few years.

Brayden still loves playing soccer outside with his dad but Jaylen's interests changed. He loved getting his hands dirty by playing with mud, playing with play dough and exploring colours by painting childlike paintings and his dad noticed that Jaylen loved painting.

Zyair knew that he had to work harder in order to fulfill his children's dreams.

Maybe their interests would change in the future so he had to be prepared. Working hard had started to pay off because he was able to save and also buy the day to day things needed around the house.

He was able to buy new matching
backpacks for his twins and other school equipments they asked for. The twins loved the matching backpacks. They couldn't stop gushing over them, which was so adorable.

The next day Zyair walked them to school and kissed them goodbye. They ran towards the other kids until they disappeared in the crowd. He walked to his new job that entails him to be both a butler and a chauffeur. When he arrived at this huge, breathtaking building his boss approached him. He politely explained his duties and gave him a schedule, then handed him his uniform. Zyair changed into his new uniform and started immediately.

The first day went with ease, he was driving the owner of this building which was nerve wrecking. He succeeded though. The day went smoothly without any hiccups.

After work he stopped by a thrift shop to buy his twins their first matching caps, with the huge tip he received at work today. He walked in the thrift shop and looked around for caps that his children might like.

He saw the perfect ones and he took them then went to pay at the front desk. While he was in a reasonably average queue, the lady at the front started to cause a commotion and she was slowing down the line. Everyone was getting fed up with the chaos she caused in the shop. Her attitude just annoyed everyone, especially the woman behind her.

She was in a thrift shop but she still wanted to negotiate a very low price. The cashier told her that she cannot do that because it's against company rules but she kept insisting until she blew a gasket causing a scene.

The woman behind her got fed up and intervened. "Look here lady. Do you know why I come to thrift shops?" The woman asked in a polite manner standing next to her.

"Why do I care?" The rude lady replied with her stinking attitude.

"You will care after I kick your ass and kick you out of here but today I'm choosing to be graceful for that shit." The polite lady said and everyone in line gasped and laughed discreetly. "I'm going to give you my reason anyway. I come to thrift shops for peace because rich people stores are full of arrogant tyrants like you." She added.

"You need to back off and leave me the hell alone because this has nothing to do with you." She shouted. She was really dramatic.

"Those words remind me of a short story that I'm going to share with you. My dad used to abuse my mom and when I advised her to report him to the police she used to say those exact words to me, to back off. I was still in my teenage years at the time and my blood was boiling. You know how hot blooded teenagers are, right? You know what I did to my father to avenge my mom? I cooked him his favourite meal then spiked the food with sleeping tablets then I patiently waited for him to go to sleep while my mom was on her night shift and I took this very same knife..." She explained taking it out of her pocket and ran it against her fingers then opened the knife. "I tied him to the bed while he was sleeping then slit his chest open and literally saw his beating heart. I wanted to rip it out of his chest so bad but that would've made me a monster right?" She sent the rude lady a sly scary smile. The rude woman looked terrified. Her eyes wide and her cheeks flustered with fear.

"You're sick." She replied in terror and left every clothing she wanted to buy on the counter and fled the scene.

"And you're so out of here..." she responded with a chuckle, taking off her sunglasses then moved up the line.
Zyair was so amused. He has never met anyone who was so bold and funny in a very long time.

"I can't believe you just lied to that woman so easily." Zyair commented subconsciously. He somehow could tell that the story was made up just to scare the old nagging hag. He immediately regretted opening his mouth at that moment. He wasn't one to get into other people's conversations but this funny scene just made him say something.
The polite lady fully turned to him and something that happened over a year ago happened again. His breath hitched up a notch and he blinked once when he saw the gorgeous woman in front of him... This time his heart skipped a beat.

"Would you rather have shopped in her presence?" She asked him and Zyair's mouth went dry when the woman spoke. She was without her glasses now so he could see her perfect face. She seemed awfully familiar though. If only he knew her name. "Thought as much." She replied when he went quiet. She turned back around and paid for her clothing then left the store.

Zyair was next in line. He finally snapped out of it after internally scolding himself for letting another woman leave without at least thanking her for getting him out of an uncomfortable position... He paid for his children's caps then left the store.
The young woman who was just in the store was wrapping up her call when she collided with Zyair outside. "You again?" She stated out when she realised it was the man from the store. He finally built up the courage to say something, anything...

"I'm sorry for earlier, I didn't mean to get into your conversation." He finally said something rather than swallowing his words in nervousness.

"Ohh I'm glad you did. No one has ever called me out on my untruthful stories. It was quite refreshing." She said smiling. Zyair didn't expect that at all.

"My name is Zyair." He smiled back introducing himself.

"Zyair? What a sexy name. I've never been turned on by a name before..." she commented gently biting her lower lip, then continued. "Take it easy cowboy, see ya!" She said and got inside the SUV that came to pick her up. Her handkerchief fell but the SUV drove off before he could stop it, to give it back to her after picking it up.

He smiled at her remark though. No one has ever found his name sexy, not even his late wife. The young lady he just met was just a breath of fresh air. He looked at the handkerchief and saw initials "HD" at the far bottom left. He placed it in his pocket and realised that he didn't get her name but what was the point because they're never crossing paths again.

Zyair walked to his children school to fetch them. This was their favourite part of the day because they tell daddy all the fun things they did during the day. He waited for them at the school parking space. When they saw him, they both went running towards him as he kneeled and they hung onto him like little koala bears and he hugged them tightly.

"My two champions, how are you?" He asked them embracing them both with kisses on their cheeks.

"We're fine daddy, we had lots of fun today. Do you want to see my new sticker?" Brayden asked with excitement.

"Please, show me." Zyair smiled brushing his son's hair. Brayden took out his book from his backpack clumsily, showing his father the new smiley face sticker that his teacher gave to him for doing good in class.

"Nice job man. Give me a high five?" He raised his hand and Brayden high fived him. "What did you get my warrior?" He asked, slightly turning to Jaylen who has already got his book out of his backpack in anticipation to show his dad what he got.

"I received a star daddy, look." He happily said pointing at it.

"Give me a high five as well, you've done a great job." Zyair complemented him too. They also high fived each other. "Now that you two have done such a good job at school, I have a gift for you two." He said to them taking out the matching caps he bought for them earlier on.

"Yaaaaay." They both celebrated when they saw the cool caps. He put it on them and they couldn't stop gushing over them.

"Do you guys like them?" He asked.

"We love them daddy." Jaylen answered happily.

"Thank you daddy." They both said at the same time, embracing him in tiny, warm little hugs that would make your heart melt.

"For being such good boys, I'm treating you guys to some ice cream. What do you say?" He asked them and they chuckled happily, plus they both love ice cream.

Most children do.

He walked with them near the park to buy them what he promised. They crossed the road as he held their hands tightly and successfully entered an ice cream shop. He told them to choose whatever flavors they wanted and they did. He paid for the ice creams and their ice cream cups were served to them. He bought cups because he knows how messy they can get. So cones were out of the question.

They ate their ice creams wholeheartedly while he looked at them in awe. It started to rain softly outside while they were in the shop.

"I'm quickly going to the restroom you two. Dont move until I come back okay?" He said and they nodded. "Can you please keep an eye on them, I'm quickly going to the restroom, okay?" He asked the lady who was at the counter and she nodded in agreement. As pressed as he was he hurried to the restroom, but there was a bit of a queue since there were only two toilets. When his turn came he quickly did his business. Once he was finished he zipped up his pants and he walked to the basin and washed his hands.

On the other side of the shop his sons were sitting obediently until a couple with a 4 year old walked inside the store. They didn't notice that her teddy bear had fallen but it caught little Jaylen's eye since they were sitting at the window where they could see everything. He got off his chair and walked out of the shop to retrieve the teddy bear for the 4 year old that was trying to tell her parents that she dropped it but they were conversating so strongly that they didn't pay attention. The lady at the counter noticed only after Jaylen was outside that he was out of his seat. She panicked. But before she could rush out, Zyair came back and immediately noticed that Jaylen wasn't in his seat.

"Where's your brother?" He asked in panic. Brayden pointed exactly where he was. "Stay right there. Don't move." He warned Brayden not to move and then he rushed outside.

Jaylen successfully retrieved the teddy bear but a crowd was coming his way because the red light was on and the pedestrians had the chance to cross the road. Everyone hurried to cross the road because of the rain. He was sandwiched between them and he started to cry when everyone passed him by, going about their way. He was right in the middle of the road. His dad lost him in the crowd and the fact that it was raining heavily now, made things way worse but he kept calling out his name hoping he'll respond, while walking towards everyone to look for his son. Then finally everyone had crossed the road at this point. Zyair saw his son in tears but a woman noticed the crying child too since the green light was coming on soon, so she quickly picked him up in her arms since she was near him but the green light came on and all they could hear was car hooters all around them. One car came right at Jaylen and the woman carrying him but Zyair's instincts kicked in, that's when rushed towards them and shielded them from the car, but luckily the driver hit the breaks in time without hitting anyone because that would've been a tragedy.

The woman looked up at him and their eyes met, everything suddenly felt like it was going in slow motion. It was the woman from earlier at the thrift shop.

He was still hugging them both while little Jaylen was sandwiched between them. Seeing her again made his heart churn and his tummy felt so many knots at once. They stared at each other for a few seconds which felt like a lifetime. Before either of them could say anything, Jaylen cried out to his father.

"Daddy. I'm sorry." He said remorsefully.

"It's okay little man. Come here." He said to his son, taking him from her and kissed his forehead consoling him.

Zyair subconsciously took the womans hand while carrying his son with the other and walked out of the road and hurried towards the ice cream shop. This gesture took the woman by surprise but she followed behind Zyair's long strides until they arrived. They were soaking wet.

Zyair was still holding her hand. She had never felt so vulnerable like she was at this moment. Such a small gesture made her feel whole again.

The lady in the shop was looking after Brayden and Zyair thanked her. He finally left the womans hand and a part of her heart feeling empty. He sat Jaylen down on his seat and turned to the woman who saved his sons life.

"How can I ever repay you for saving my son's life?" He asked her.

"It's not a debt. Please don't fill the need to repay me for this. Just take care of your son." She sweetly said to him.

"I will. Thank you. I'm very grateful." Zyair said to her and he remembered her handkerchief. He took it out of his pocket.

"I did not think I'd bump into you again, but I believe this belongs to you. You dropped it earlier on." He said.

"Ohh, I just have so many of these that I always lose them somewhere. Thank you Zyair. The man with the sexy name." She smiled.

He was surprised that she actually remembered him. He coughed in embarrassment when he remembered that they were in his sons presence. He looked at his sons to see if they heard any of that but they were just looking out the window, wishing they could play in the rain.

"We're probably going to be here for a while." He changed the topic at hand and the woman was amused by this man's reaction.

"Do you live close by?" She asked.

"Yes, just four blocks away from here but we can't walk in the rain. We're going to have to wait for it to settle down." He answered looking out the window.

"I can drive you home. It doesn't seem like it's going to settle down anytime soon. My car is parked just down the road." She volunteered.

"We don't want to trouble you." He said to her.

"It's no trouble at all." She said.

"Alright." He replied. He kneeled in front of his boys. "Hey guys, the kind lady standing over here is going to give us a ride home. So we're leaving now okay? I need you two to stay close together." He said and they gave him a nod.

He stood up and faced the woman. "Don't you think we shouldn't let them walk on their own?" She asked him but before he could reply she picked Brayden up in her arms. "I need you to hold on tight because we're going to make a run for it, okay?" She said to the little boy and he nodded.

Zyair's heart melted when he saw the woman talking to his son. He picked Jaylen up in his arms too and they both ran out of the shop with the boys in their arms. She unlocked her car and they placed the boys in the backseat, putting their seat belts on, on each of them and they finally got inside the car.

"Geez, it's freezing." She commented once they got inside the car and she switched on the heater.

"Yeah... the rain really caught us off guard today." He said rubbing his palms together.

"Well, where are we heading?" She asked for directions. He told her where exactly they were going and she drove straight there.

"Are you guys okay back there?" Zyair asked them.

"Yes daddy." They both replied.

"Your sons are adorable." She said glancing at him in the rear view mirror. "They're just as handsome as their dad." She added smiling. Zyair's cheeks flustered and he looked away from the woman.

"So how old are you guys?" She asked them.

"We're five years old." They said at the same time.

"Wait... a whole five? Wow you guys are so grown." She said to them and they just chuckled.

They finally arrived at Zyair's small portable house. She parked in the driveway. "We're here." She said looking out the window.

"Please come in, your clothes are all wet. I wouldn't want to send you back while you helped us like this." He said.

"You sure? I wouldn't want to intrude." She said to him.

"I'm sure. Please come in with us."He said. She liked the fact that he invited her over. For once in her life she let her guard down and enjoyed being in the presence of a kind man.

They all got out of the car and rushed inside the house. Everyone took off their wet shoes at the door.

"There's a drier in the next room. I'll quickly bring you something to wear and you can dry your clothes in there." He explained.

"Thanks." She shortly replied.

"You guys go into the bathroom and take off those wet clothes, okay?" He said to his sons and they ran towards the bathroom to take off their clothes.

Zyair quickly went to take a shirt and one of his boxer shorts in the closet. He came back to the living room and gave them to the woman he came with.

"You can go and change in my bedroom." He said pointing at it and she gave him a nod. She walked to his room and got changed, then she went and placed her clothes in the drier but she had no idea how to use it because she has never used one before.

In the meantime, Zyair had filled the tub with warm water to give his boys a bath before dinner. They got inside the bath and he started washing their faces then dried them but they splashed each other with water.

The woman entered the bathroom and stood at the door looking at Zyair giving his adorable boys a bath. They seemed to be having fun that's when he noticed her.

"Oh hey.." he said to her. "Did you manage?" He asked hinting at the drier.

"I kind off need your help." She said truthfully.

"Okay... you guys continue, I'll be right back." He said to his sons and he walked to the other room with her. He showed her how the drier works and she nodded, pretending to understand.

They walked to the living room side by side. "Thanks for letting me use your drier, your hospitality has been great so far." She said walking towards him.

"Uhm you're welcome. Please make yourself at home and I'll be right back." He quickly said then walked back to the bathroom.

He finished up bathing his sons and he wrapped towels around them, letting the water go and they walked to their bedroom while he washed the bath. The woman went to help the boys get dressed. She wasn't feeling alright just sitting and doing nothing.

"Are you our dads friend?" Jaylen asked her while she put lotion on their bodies.

"I'm hoping to be his friend because I don't have any friends myself." She answered.

"Our daddy doesn't have friends too. He's always spending time with us." Brayden said.

"Really? That means you guys are his bestfriends, if he only spends time with you two." She commented.

"We want you to be his bestfriend too because he smiles a lot when he sees you." They suddenly said.

"Okay, that's enough. For little five year olds you guys sure talk a lot. Are you even finished getting dressed?" Zyair interrupted making the woman laugh.

They finally got done and they went and watched cartoons while Zyair checked their backpacks. They were going to have to use the worn out ones because the new ones were soaking wet.

He went to prepare dinner for them and the woman came and sat with him in the kitchen. "You're an amazing dad and a great cook, you're like superman." She said to him.

"I really just take care of my family." He replied.

"You seem to be a single dad because I don't see any photos of a girlfriend or a wife anywhere in the house." She said after her observation.

"That's because there isn't any." He replied truthfully.

"Please don't tell me that she ran off with another man and left you with two kids because if she did then I'll hunt her down and kick her ass for you." She replied making him laugh.

"You really like kicking people's asses huh?" He asked continuing to laugh.

"It gives me unimaginable pleasure." She replied chuckling.

This sudden cheerfulness between them made them both enjoy each other's company.

"You really are weird." He smiled looking at her. "Anyway that's not at all what happened." He added.

"Okay if that's not what happened, how did you end up a single father?" She curiously asked.

"My wife died five years ago. That's how I ended up a single father." He shortly replied.

"Ohh I'm so sorry to hear that. What happened?" She asked curiously.

"Car accident. A drunk driver crashed into our car. She was in a coma for weeks then later she was declared brain dead but she was able to give birth to our twins while she was in a coma. She never got see them though." He explained.

The woman felt so bad for him that she got off her chair and went around the table and hugged him and he kind of froze for a minute. "I'm so sorry Zyair, that sounds really tragic." She said. For the first time in five years he actually received a hug that nobody actually gave to him after the tragic passing of his late wife. He slowly wrapped his arms around her. "I don't think anyone deserves to go through that." She added.

"Me too. I wouldn't wish it upon my worst enemy. It's a painful ordeal that no one deserves to go through." He said.

They slowly unhooked their arms from each other and stared at each other for a few seconds. "I should go and check on the chicken." He said to her.

"Yeah...yeah I'm sorry. The boys are probably very hungry right now." She said quickly going back to her seat.

He went to the stove and checked his chicken and it was getting grilled very nicely.

"How come you haven't asked for my name but yet I'm in your house? Aren't you afraid that I'm a serial killer?" She asked chuckling.

"A serial killer? You'd honestly be a very beautiful one." He said subconsciously then it hit him that he just said that but it was too late. He couldn't take it back.

"Ohh, so you think I'm beautiful?" She slyly asked.

"Uhm yeah.. you're... beautiful." He trailed off.

"What else do you think of me?" She asked.

"Ahh.. uhmm.. I think you're straightforward, honest, kind and caring." He said to her.

"You observed that much only from three encounters?" She asked.

"Three?" He asked because he only remembers two encounters. The thrift shop and the pedestrian crossing.

"You don't remember the third encounter, do you?" She asked and he shock his head.

"We meet a year ago in a bar. It only occured to me after we met earlier today, that the man I helped that day was you."

"Wait.. so you're the same woman that got me out of that awkward situation? I knew you were familiar, but I just couldn't remember where we met." He replied.

"That's me." She chuckled.

"Wow... well, you disappeared before I could properly thank you." He said.

"Like the twins said... we're friends right? Starting from today we help each other, okay?" She gave out her hand.

He shook her hand in agreement. "Okay."

Zyair finished cooking and dished up for everyone. While they ate he went to take a quick shower and wore warm clothes. He joined them afterwards. They all sat at the dining room table and ate their meal. When the boys finished their meal they went to get ready for bed.

"Goodnight Ms. Thank you for bringing us home." Brayden said to her.

"And Thank you for spending the evening with us." Jaylen added as they each gave her hugs.

"It was great spending the evening with you too. Goodnight hey. Sleep tight." She said to them.

"Okay, come on you two... it's bed time." They got on the bed and slid inside their blankets. He kissed and hugged them goodnight as well, then closed their door.

Zyair and the woman walked to the living room. "I think I should get going now, it's getting pretty late." She hinted.

"It's still pouring outside, you think it's a good idea for you to leave?" He asked listening to the rain outside.

"Are you inviting me to stay over Mr Zyair?" She asked purposely and he debated with himself whether to say yes or no. He didn't know in what sense was the question asked. "Because if you are, I'll gladly stay." She answered, taking him out of his misery.

"Yeah, I think you should stay over. The rain will likely have stopped in the morning."

"Alright, so where do I lay my head for the night?"

"You can take my bed and I'll take the couch. "He suggested.

"Alright, thank you for everything. Have yourself a goodnight. "

"You too. I'll see you in the morning." He said to her.
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