Chapter Fifteen: Scars
“Who exactly is this James character?” I asked, watching Zara trying to get Oscar and Daniel to sit still, while Evanly rolled on her bed.
“He’s coming, Mama, do you think he’ll bring me a gift?” Evanly squirms under the blankets. Zara sighs, wiping her forehead.
“I don’t know, dear, I just know he’s coming, is all,” she tries to wrap her arms around Daniel, but he manages to avoid her. The boys ran around, all happy. I pushed myself up from the wall.
“I think you should all calm down. Your mom trying to get you all ready.” I tried to calm them, but nothing. Zara gave me a long thankful look, then she sighs in frustration.
“Daniel Oliver Hart, Oscar Hart, and Evanly Hart, if you don’t calm down right this moment, I am forced to give you all the penalty.” she put her foot down, her voice echoing the whole room. That made everyone go quiet and turn to face their mother. I actually felt a bit intimidated by that voice. All three of them rushes to her and sat on top of the bed, looking down in shame. Zara simply smiled at them.
“See, much better.” she tenderly smiles at them, while she bent on her knees in front of them. Oscar wrap his arms around his mother.
“Mama, we just so happy to see Pop’s again,” he finally said.
‘Oh, so that’s the old man name. Makes sense why they are so excited.’ I chuckled silently, while Evanly turns her head towards me.
“Are you going to meet Pop’s as well Ciel? You are family now,” she said. I went still, not sure what to tell her, but Zara clears her throat.
“Actually, not yet, remember, Mrs. Morris doesn’t know him either. If she does, she’ll kick him out. You know the rule of no men in the home.” she tells her. Evanly frowns and hops down from the bed and rush towards me.
“Then, why don’t you marry mama. You can be our new dad,” she said out of the blue. I went still at her words.
‘Marry her mother?’
“For two people to marry, they have to love each other,” I told her. Evanly looks at me then at Zara.
“Then you don’t love mama? I thought you did, Lilly said that you look at mom weirdly. Um, what she said, ah, that you’re crazy for her, whatever that mean. She said that mama does the same, but you two are shy. I really don’t mind having you as a new dad. You don’t out, um, don’t reject us.” she said.
‘Crazy for Zara?’ I lifted my gaze to see Zara, she looks at her son, instead of me.
“I care about you all, is all.” I simply told her. Evanly frowns even more at me.
“Oh.. I wanted you to be mama’s husband. We love you, Ciel, don’t you know that? Plus, I have never seen mama so happy.” she tells me. I wrap my arms around the kid and picked her up.
“Don’t think too much. Your mom and I are good friends, nothing else.” I simply told her. Not noticing the hurt face that Zara gave.
“So, who’s this Paul?” I watch from the corner, hiding from the old man, behind a thick door of the living room. I asked Issac to leave it half open for me.
An older man with lots of wrinkles, white thin hair. A big man with rosy cheeks at that, wearing a fancy black suit while holding a brown cane. The children ran around, while Issac and Lilly sat together, in the living room. Sophy slept on Lilly lap. I cross my arms and kept hearing.
“Ah, I sold him my father ring and mother bracelet, is all. He took it and paid the government. I knew that your daughter won’t do it and you know that these kids don’t have nowhere else to go.” Zara said.
James which sat on the large chair held his cane firmly and nods.
“You did good child. You know, how is my daughter. She won’t stop selling this place. Just cause I’m old, doesn’t mean I lost my marbles. I’m still healthy as a cow. I must thank this Pual character soon.” he said, looking at Zara with a soft smile. His eyes are a simple brown color, that spark for some odd reason. Clean shave as well.
“Thank you, pop. How you been?” she bends on her knees, as the old man extended his hand, and caress Zara back head.
“Doing fine. Sorry, I couldn’t come last time, these old legs don’t let me go as much as I love to. Next time, bring the kids over. The house is lonely you know,” he tells her. Zara grabs his hand and presses it to her cheek.
“I will. Thank you for the gift you brought to the children,” she said, looking up. James gave a hardy laugh at that.
“Well, they are my grandchildren after all. What kind of grandfather won’t bring gifts? Too bad, I didn’t bring a man for you, Zara. You know, there’s this young man. Mid-thirties, he became a widow about two years ago. He has a two-year-old boy. He loves children and I told him about you. He want’s to meet you.” he said. Zara body went rigid.
“I told you before, I don’t need a man. Thank you, but I have to decline,” she told him. Pops frowns.
“What a pity, such a beautiful woman you are, you will make a great wife, you know that? If I was a year older than you. I would grab you as my wife, without thinking twice,” he chuckles. Zara smiled gently at him.
“I would be honored,” she said. I tighten my hands, not liking this conversation. My heart became uncomfortable once again, just like last week with the man that wanted to eat with her.
‘I shouldn’t be feeling like this,’
The visit was a week ago, and nothing much happened. Armando nightmares have gotten worse, though. So he’s been sleeping in the afternoons, only for an hour or so. This phantom thing is really taking a number on him. I felt horrible since I can’t do anything.
I sat on James bed, looking down at the drawing the children gave me.
‘I need to leave soon, is almost been two months, since I got here,’ I run my finger on the drawing of Zara. With that, I place it on top of the night table. I heard a soft knock at the door. I stood up from the bed, and walk up towards the door. Opening the door, I leaned my forearm against the wall, and look down at Lilly.
“Is midnight kid, why are you up?” I asked confused. She looks up at me and frowns.
“My mom. I’m worried about her,” she admits, rubbing her hands together. I tilted my head.
“She looks fine to me,” I told her. I wave my hand, for her to take a step back. She does, and I step outside and close the door. Now in the hallway, Lilly frowns and look down at the floor.
“Lately Armando has nightmares, non-stop and it’s affecting Zara a lot. I will tell you something, not even Issac knows about.” she started. I slowly nodded at her.
“About my real mother. You see, her name was Vanessa Hart. She was Zara older sister.” she said. I arched a brow, surprised by this.
“So you three are blood relatives?” I rub the back of my head, leaning back on the wall.
“Yes. Zara is our aunt,” she admits. I was mind blown by this.
“Secrets run deep in this family,” I said. Lilly shrugs.
“Well, yes, you see, there was this fire, when I just turned one years old,”
“Yes, Issac told me some of the details,” I admit. Lilly wraps her arms around herself.
“From what Zara told me, my mom and I were trapped inside the building. The fire was too much to handle, but she went on regardless if she lost her life. Well, if she never went inside, I think I would have been dead along with my mother. Not only did I lose my mother that day, but my leg, and last year, last year I discovered something about Zara. She.”
“Lilly, why are you up at this hour? It’s midnight.” we heard Zara, as she closes the door of the girl’s dorm. Lilly went still.
‘What did you discover? Is it what Issac said, about her going to vacation for a few months? Honestly, that makes no sense to me.’ Curiosity eating me now.
“I was going to get something to drink, and saw Ciel in the hallway,” she lies. Zara arched a brow, but nods.
“You should have asked me. You know I don’t like anyone walking down the hallway at midnight. I’ll go and bring you some, so please sleep next to Armando, until I return. I”m going to take a bath.” She tells her. Lilly frowns at her.
“Okay, um, in one condition,” she smiled.
“Yes?” Zara asks.
“Can we make pies next? Evanly and Isabella was bloating about being the best baker, so I told them that we should do pie’s next. You make the best in this world.” She wiggles her brows at her. Zara giggled and nodded.
“Tomorrow, actually, after class, I want to cook something special,” she said. Lilly frowns at her.
“Why?” she asks. Zara pouts on her.
“Is your sister birthday, did you forget Sophy is turning three tomorrow,” she told her. Lilly’s eyes widen.
‘Oh? Is the baby’s birthday? What should I get her?’
“Oh, right. Okay. Good night Ciel.” she said to me. I wave at Lilly
“Night kid,” I simply said, as Zara suddenly blushed. I push myself out of the way and headed for the girl’s dorm.
“Where are you going?” she asked, looking back at me. I pointed with my thumb at the girl’s dorm.
“I’m going to watch the children, until you return,” I simply said. She walks up to me.
“Oh.. I didn’t even ask you. Thank you.” she looks grateful. I shrug, as I turned, heading in.
I couldn’t sleep, not sure why. I look at the door, waiting for Zara to come back. It has been half an hour already. The children are sleeping, luckily Armando as well since Lilly is sleeping next to him. I got up from my bed and sneak out of the girl’s dorm. Upon reaching the hallway, a cold breeze brush against my skin. I shivered, then my eyes narrow, to see the shadow thing in front of my room door. I move rapidly, but stop as it turns its head towards me.
“Who are you? We want to help you.” I told it. The thing opens its eyes to show me its blank white eyes.
“If you want to help me, then remember me, Ciel. Just simply remember me and give me justice, or do you want this poor woman hurt?” it threatens, as it disappears from sight. My heart leaps painfully.
“Damn,” I rushed my steps and open my door. I rushed my steps towards the bathroom.
“Zara!” I called out, scared to see if the ghost thing harmed her. I slam the door open and entered the bathroom. I stop in my tracks, to see Zara standing up, bare naked, showing me her back at me.
“Ciel?” she asks, confused, as she reached out for the towel, that is hanging at the base of the pole near the bathtub. I stood there, not moving. In two seconds, everything flew out of my head. From the lights of the candles, and the moonlight rays, I a get a good view of her back, down to her behind. Yet, what caught me wasn’t that.
Her back, I couldn’t believe what I’m seeing. Her back is covered with an ugly old burnt scar, that covers almost all her back. On top of that, is a large gash right in the middle. It was scarred on top of scars. I don’t know why, but slowly I walk towards her.
“Ciel, what’s wrong? Are the children okay?” she asks worriedly, forgetting that she’s naked. I didn’t think much, but stretched my arm, and place my fingers on her back, tracing her scars.
‘What happen to her?’ I move my fingers, up to her shoulder. My eyes turn sad, as my heart started to ache at this scene.
‘Who did this to her? Why?’ An overwhelming feeling fills my heart.
She shivered at my touch, but turns around taking a hold of my hand. In doing so, her towel drops to the empty tub. Now bare naked in front of me, I lock eyes with her, trying to not look down. Her eyes are filled with fear. I move my hand and brush her wet hair away from her damp face.
‘I’m not moving, I’m not scared, nor do I care,’ I wanted to tell her.
‘Is this why she supposedly went to vacation? Is this is what Lilly wanted to tell me?’ something in me exploded. She moves her trembling hand, softly touching my cheek, noticing a tear running down her eye.
‘Don’t hate me!’ her eyes told me. I lower my head even more, fluttering my eyes close.
‘How can I hate you? You didn’t do anything wrong,’
Without a word, I softly press my lips on hers. She went still for a second, but then flutters her eyes close and kiss me back, feeling how soft she really is. She nervously kisses me, not knowing what to do, and I didn’t care. Her trembling hands wrap around my arm as I cup her cheeks making the kiss go deeper. Trying to be respectful as possible. A simple deep first kiss making my body and my own soul yearn for, my heart beat like never before, every nerve of me jumped oddly from her innocent shy kiss. I never felt like this before, this is strange for me.
I open my eyes as she did the same when we separated. I held her head as I felt her hand dig into my arm. We stare at each other eyes. Then it hits me, that my eyes narrow at the realization.
Breathing hard, Zara touches her lips, looking at me with confusion, but with something else in her look. I move to grab her towel and wrap it around her. She buries her head in my chest feeling shy and embarrassed, as she started to cry. I look down at her and frowned, wrapping my arms around her, as she kept on sobbing, taking a hold of my shirt.
"Zara, is this the reason you're afraid of feeling safe?" she nods at my question. For the first time, I felt like a bastard, that should rot in hell. The overwhelming feeling to protect her and her children, filled me above all things.
'Well, damn it all. I have fallen in love with this woman and the sad part, I don't deserve her, nor does she feels the same. I simply took advantage of her innocence.'