Nik shook his head. He'd been watching the road for any signs of trouble. The gravel under his feet crunched with every step he took toward his wife, his breath visible in the crisp night air as he spoke. "We talked about this, Jess. Everything was put into place. We agreed."
Silent tears streamed down Jessica's cheeks. He was right. They had agreed. She remembered gathering the courage to tell Nik she was pregnant. She remembered being terrified and emotional as Jaxon and Nik informed her of the plan. Mostly, she remembered the night she and Nik promised to do whatever it took to keep their child safe–to give her a chance.
"We have to do this," Nik pushed, resting his forehead against his wife's. Jessica nodded before wiping at her cheeks with her free hand. "For her and for us."
At this, Nik unhinged and pulled open the large metal swinging gate. A loud whine sounded from it's rusty hinges as it swung. Nik stepped aside, allowing his wife through before following and closing the gate securely behind him.
He kept his head on a swivel, his eyes darting around the property. He didn't think they'd betray him, but he needed to keep busy. Anything to keep from letting the realization of the situation sink in. He couldn't fall apart. Not now.
Four months ago, he was elated–fighting back tears of joy as he brought his first child into the world. Now, a mixture of anger and sadness fills his chest as he and his wife willingly forfeit their parental experience.
As they come to a stop in front of the two story house, Nik places a hand at the small of his wife's back before raising the other to knock on the fire hydrant red door in front of them. It didn't take long before the door swung open. A sense of relief washed over Nik as his eyes settled on his older half brother.
"Jaxon," Nik spoke, earning a small nod from his brother. Nik's eyes shifted slightly to the left where Jessica's sister stood. Half of her jet black ringlets were held back with a hairclip, her arms folded across her chest to combat the frosty air. "Victoria."
"Come in," Victoria offered, stepping aside. "I can put tea on the stove and–"
Nik shook his head. "We can't. They're going to find out we set them on the wrong trail and the last thing we want is to lead them here."
As if on cue, the baby in Jessica's arms starts to fuss. Nik looked down at his daughter. He'd never get to know her–never get to see her grow up. But she'd be safe. She'd be able to make friends without having to look over her shoulder every second. She'll be able to be a normal kid, a luxury he hadn't had.
He watched in silence as Jessica stepped forward and ever so gently placed the baby in her sister's arms, causing the fussing to morph into crying. Victoria swayed back and forth, attempting to sooth the baby as Nik and Jessica watched.
"She's in your care now," Nik tore his gaze from his daughter before training a hard look on his brother. "Your plan's worked so far, Jax. Don't make me regret this."
"You'll still be her parents, Nik," Started Jaxson. "In a few years, they'll get tired of searching and you'll come back for her."
"You don't know that," Jessica spoke up. She set her gaze on her brother-in-law. "Your plan is working for now, but plans change and more people are getting caught everyday."
"Jess," Nik chided.
"No, Nik," Jessica snapped, chuckling bitterly. "There's only a few of us left and not everyone has siblings who would put their lives on the line to protect their nieces or nephews."
A blanket of silence fell over everyone at the declaration.
"Time's up. We've been here too long as it is." Nik states, glancing back at the road. Turning toward his brother, he stuck a hand out. "See you in a few years. Hopefully."
"You will," Jaxon states as he brings Nik in for a hug. "Until then, she'll be waiting for you."
"Stay safe," Victoria states before wrapping her free arm around her sister and brother-in-law.
With one last glance at their daughter, Nik and Jessica turned and started for the gate–both unsure if they'd ever see their daughter again.