Chapter Two: Stranger
“Is he dead?” Issac asks while he helps me place the stranger on top of Issac bed.
“Why yes he is, that is why I’m putting him in your dorm so you guys won’t be so lonely,” I said sarcastically, causing Issac to give me a dirty look. I giggled and nudged him.
“Not funny mom,” he grumbles, I sigh and shook my head.
“Sorry, I’m very nervous. I’m baffled how this man came all this way in the middle of nowhere.” I admit while Issac removed the stranger’s boots off.
“He must have hitched a ride or something, but look,” Issac said. I turned my head to look at the man feet. They were covered with mud.
“So he was barefooted before?” I questioned him. Issac shrugs, as I stood up.
“Looks like,” Issac said.
‘Wonder what happen to him?’
“Go bring me a bowl of warm water and towels. Tonight will be a long night.” I mentioned. Issac nods at me and rushes out the dorm. I look down at the man. He looks very young, strong features, a strong jaw line. Thick eyebrows. He has ear length black hair. Dirt all over his face.
“Sorry for this,” I suddenly blushed, and start to unbutton his torn gray shirt. After I removed it, my face turns very warm, to see how fit this man looks. Broad chest and a fit stomach. I sigh and shook my head.
“Hmm, what are you doing? You should call the officers, not do this.” I wrap my arm behind his neck and force him to sit up, only to flop back down. I fall forward, almost hitting my forehead against his cheek.
“Darn it,” I huff out. He’s too heavy and the wet clothes are not helping. My face becomes very close to his and he suddenly opens his eyes. He stares at me, as my heart starts to race from fear.
“Sorry. I was only taking off your shirt. You are going to get ill if I don’t.” I rushed my words, but he moves his right arm and cups my cheek. My eyes widen.
“Finally I found you.” he simply said in that dry tone.
“Found me? Do I know you?” I asked, trying to collect my memories of ever meeting this man. Nothing comes to mind. He slowly starts to close his eyes, his hand that cups my cheek slowly lowers down, and falls on top of his stomach.
‘Ah, his lover. He might think I am his lover, wife or something.’
“Poor thing.” I murmur, hearing the doors open.
“Mama,” I heard my children call out behind me. I turned around to see them rushing towards me. I smiled at them tenderly.
“My little ones, everything is okay. This err gentleman just passed out, so he’ll be sleeping here tonight.” I said while Lilly came up to me, holding my youngest daughter Sophy. A small two-year-old. She has the darkest black hair with the lightest hazel eyes. Sophy turns her body towards me, and stretch her body towards me.
“Mama!” she calls out. I stood up and wrap my arms around her.
“There, there. Lilly is Sophy okay?” I asked her, now getting worried. Lilly nods, and pat Sophy back.
“She’s doing fine, she kept asking for you,” she replies. I nodded, kissing my daughter’s small head.
“Good. You know how weak she is.” I whispered to Lilly. Lilly nods, while Issac came back with a bowl and towels under. I smiled, handing over Sophy back to Lilly. Isabella held my third daughter, Evelyn, by hand. Evelyn brings laughter to everyone here. She always tries to cheer everyone. She as tall as Isabella. (Since she's five.) Short, dark, thick hair. Her eyes are a gentle blue. Her skin is a beautiful dark. She smiles at me.
“Mama is fine, don’t worry,” I told them. Armando and Daniel went up to me and wrap their small arms around me. I bend down and open my arms.
“Do you all want a hug?” I asked the little ones. They all nodded, noticing the fear in their small eyes. My heart tugged at the sight.
“Then hug me out.” I simply said. They rushed into my embrace and I wrap my arms around, them. Oscar started to cry. I giggled.
“Don’t cry the monster wasn’t a monster, but a man that was sick,” I told them. They all nodded, as I kiss each one.
“Now, Lilly and Issac will place you all back to sleep. I’ll drop by later on to check.” I told them. Issac and Lilly nods, while the little ones nodded their heads. Oscar wipes his face, and took Armando hand, while Issac picked up Evelyn and Daniel.
“Come on, mama wants us to sleep. I’ll watch over her, don’t worry.” their big brother said to them. I felt my heart swell at the scene. Issac loves those children. After all, we are a family, a family that those children never had before. I frowned, looking down at my hand.
‘At least is the only thing I can give them,’ shaking my head, I turned to face the stranger.
“Now, what am I suppose to do with you?”
“Pee pee,” Armando said, as we sat around the stranger, a day later. I have Sophy in my lap, feeding her milk, while Lilly plays with Isabella and Evelyn. Daniel, Oscar, and Armando play with some toy cars on the side, while Issac watches the stranger in alert just in case.
“Pee pee?” I asked Armando. Armando stood up and rushed to my side.
“Do you have to use the potty?” I asked him. Armando shook his head.
“Pee pee man,” he said, pointing at the man. I arched a brow, then it dawns on me.
“Oh...” Armando has speaking problems, the doctor said it must have been from what he went through last year that traumatizes him. A heaviness of guilt and sadness filled me.
“You are right my little one, that man has to pee pee sooner or later. You see he hasn’t woken up.” I sigh, while Armando looks confused. Issac walks up to him and bends down.
“He’s sleeping still. He’ll use the potty soon,” he assures his brother. Armando frowns, but nods his small head. I stood up, and Sophy places her head on my shoulder.
“Well, everyone, is almost time for dinner, and..”
“But I don’t want to eat.. You made broccoli,” Oscar complains, while Isabella nods her head again.
“Is yucky,” she scrunch her face. I blink at them.
“Yucky? We’ll see.” I was about to move, but a sudden groan stops me.
“Mama, he’s waking up,” Issac said, I wave my hand to tell the children to stay back.
“Here Lilly takes Sophy,” I said. Lilly walks up to me and takes her. I licked my lips, and grab the bat. Placing it behind my back, the stranger groans in protest and sat up.
“What the hell happen?” he asks, my eyes tightens, and pointed my bat straight at him, without thinking.
“Cursing is prohibited in this place. Please watch your language in front, my children.” I said the man lifted his gaze, his dark piercing eyes become cold. I tighten my grip on my bat. He arched a brow up.
“Then showing violence is allowed?” he throws the sheets away from his body and looks down at himself. He is wearing pops clothing, baggy black pants, and a dress up dark shirt. Since Pops is an elder, with a large body.
“I’m simply defending my children, you never mess with a mama bear,” I growled, the man turns his head to look at me.
“Mama bear? I won’t even ask.” he simply stated, standing up, but took a hold of his head.
“Mister? Mama said you aren’t a monster, so I won’t be scared of you,” he says a bit proudly. The man ruffled his long dark hair and gave Oscar a long look.
“Is good to hear your mother, after all, she’s the only one that will love you unconditionally,” he said noticing his tone turn a bit sharp. So he moves towards the door, only to notice he is limping from his right leg. I drop the bat.
‘Injured, he’s hurt.’ my motherly instincts kick in, and I rushed to block his way. He stops and looks at me with an arched brow.
“What are you doing?” he asks. I stretch out my arm.
“You’re not leaving, you’re injured,” I told him. His dark eyes darted from me to his leg.
“It’s an old injury. I’ll be limping for the rest of my life,” he said. I lower my hand and frowned.
“Oh? But you’re so young. Oh, I forgot to ask, what is your name?”
“Young? Sure, if you consider thirty young.” He murmurs, shaking his head, but then sighs.
“Just give me food, and I’ll be on my merry way. Sorry for causing trouble, and thank you for taking care of me,” he said, but Armando rushes to the stranger and takes a hold of his pants and pulls it. The stranger looks down at him.
“Yes?” he asks.
“Pee pee,” he said to him. The man arched a brow confused, as I went up to Armando and picked him up.
“He’ll use to potty when he has to.. But..” my words are cut off when I felt that his pants are wet. My eyes widen.
“Did you pee on yourself?” I asked Armando. Armando is faced flush red, and nods, as tears burst out.
“Pee pee,” he said, covering his face. My heart stops.
“Oh, don’t cry, mama is not mad, just surprised. Why didn’t you tell me sooner? Lilly, bring me new pants and underwear,” I ordered, while I open the door.
“You thirty-year-old man, stay, don’t you dare move,” I order as he blinks confused by this.
“Is an order, if you disobey, you will have to face the penalty,” I turn around, heading for the washer room.
“Children, watch him!”
After Armando fell asleep, I stood up, to look at the stranger sitting on his bed, looking anxious, as Lilly and Issac death glare at him. Oscar and Daniel sat on the floor with cross arms, while Sophy plays with Isabella.
I walk up to the stranger and stare at him, while he lifted his gaze at me.
“Can I leave now?” he asks. I shook my head.
“No, you may not. Now tell me, what is your name? Or do you want me to call you a stranger?” I asked him. He went quiet, as his body went rigid.
‘Well, he seems shy for some odd reason and distance. Maybe I should approach this in a different way.’
“Well, um... If you want, I can tell you my name.” I said. The man just blinks at me, while giving him my warmest smile. His eyes narrow.
“My name is Zara Hart, and this is my eight children, Lilly the eldest of the girls, Isabella, Evelyn, and my baby Sophy. My boys, Issac, the oldest of them all, Oscar, Armando, and Daniel, my two babies. We are the Hart family. Welcome to our humble adobe.” I said with pride and honor as I pointed at each of my children. They all wave at the stranger. The stranger stood up and looks around.
“Lady, you sure have been around,” he suddenly said, taking notice how deep his voice is. I arched a brow, confused by his words.
“Not really, I don’t leave our home that much. Unless I have to take the kids to see the doctors or shop for food.” I told him. The man stares at me, then tilts his head to the side, then once again the corner of his lips twirls up as though he wants to laugh.
“That’s not what I meant.” he murmurs. Something in his dark gaze seemed to make me feel unsettled.
“Then what did you mean?” I asked him, he shakes his head, his eyes turning cold once again.
I suddenly gulp heavily due to his stare, while he sighs, and folded his arms in front of his torso.
“My name is Ciel, and lady, I hope you don’t regret for not letting me leave when you had the chance.”