“What is it that you want now?” I asked as soon I picked up the call. It has only been an hour since Xavier had dropped me off at the office and he already called me thrice during that duration.
“It’s about Ace. He and another kid is fighting and their teachers are not able to pull them apart and called me instead. I’m on my way to there.” He said hurriedly and I was instantly filled with worry.
“What?! I’m on my way.” I said running out of my cabin and ended the call. When I reached his school I saw a crowd of teachers and few children and rushed to there. In the middle of the crowd Xavier was standing holding Ace who was thrashing around and trying to get down.
“Ace.” I called out and went towards him. As soon as he saw me he thankfully calmed down a bit and jumped into my arms. He hid his face in my neck and clung onto me.
“I know my son wouldn’t fight over nothing. So tell your kid not to mess with mine. As his parents you would suffer the consequences.” Xavier warned the other kid’s parents. That kid looked much older than Ace and it worried me that he could have managed to hurt Ace.
“Let’s go.” I said to Xavier and walked out of the school not bothering to speak with Ace’s teacher about taking him out before the school hour ends. Xavier led me to his car and I got inside with Ace still clinging onto me.
“Ace, baby..?” I called trying to get him to look at me. But a small whimper was all I got in reply. I checked his small body and found many scratch marks and bites.
“I’ll call the doctor.” Said Xavier sounding both angry and worried.
“You are going to be okay, little one.” I cooed to Ace. “We’ll be home soon, okay?” I said but received no reply.
Ace continued to cling onto my body till we reached home. Knowing I won’t be able to sit through the process of Doctor cleaning Ace’s painful wounds, Xavier tried to take him from me while I planned to make him something to eat.
“No! Mamma, no. Please don’t leave me. Mamma, please. I will be a good boy, I promise. Please, Mamma.” Ace cried hysterically and tried to jump back into my arms.
“She is not going anywhere, Son. She is not leaving you. I promise. Calm down, now. Mamma won’t leave.” Xavier cooed to Ace while rocking him back and forth.
“No. She will leave. She leave me, Daddy. Mamma will leave me. Tell her not to. Tommy said she will leave me. Please, Daddy, please tell her to not to leave me. I don’t need anything else. I don’t need toys or any games. I promise I will behave and be a good boy. Please stay, Mamma.” He begged and I couldn’t stop the tears from flowing down my cheeks. The amount of love he has for me was overwhelming and it hurt me to see that it was the fear of losing me that was causing him so much pain.
“Come here, Mamma’s boy.” I said extending my arms and he jumped into my arms and wrapped his legs around my waist tightly. The word Mamma slipped out of my mouth with no hesitation and it surprised me.
“Doctor is here, Mr Whilson.” The help Xavier had recently appointed informed us.
“Let’s get all your wounds cleaned up, alright?” Xavier asked and led us to where the doctor was waiting for us.
“Ace, I love you. Never forget that.” I whispered in his ear and he snuggled more into me.
We greeted the Doctor who was waiting for us in the living room and got seated on the sofa with Ace on my lap facing the doctor and Xavier next to me.
“I’m going to check your wounds now, okay? I promise it would be over soon.” The doctor said to Ace who without saying anything turned his head to the left to snuggle to my chest.
“It doesn’t hurt, Mamma. Please don’t cry.” Ace said wiping my tears while the doctor was cleaning a large scratch on his arm. It was only then I realised that I was indeed crying.
“But it hurts me, Ace. Whenever you get hurt I feel hurt too. Do you want to see me in pain, Ace?”
“No, Mamma. Never.”
“So will you do anything that intentionally cause you harm?”
“No, Mamma. I won’t. Now please stop crying.” He said while wincing in pain.
“He will be fine, Angel. He is our strong boy.” Xavier consoled while he himself sounded concerned.
“I don’t know why I’m even crying..” I said sniffling. Xavier smile at this and made my head rest on his shoulder before placing a warm kiss on my forehead.
“All done. I’m sure this won’t get infected. So don’t worry. But good thing you called me. Some of the wounds were needed to be assessed by a doctor. That kid sure has some sharp teeth and nails.” The doctor said and then soon left while Xavier was muttering on how to teach the kid’s parents a lesson.
“Little One, can you sit with Daddy for a minute? I will cook you something to eat. Maybe your favourite snack? You know how your Daddy can’t cook to save his life, don’t you?”
“No, Mamma. I don’t need anything. I just want you to hold me. Please?”
“Of course, Baby.” I replied and kissed his head and let him calm down before asking him about the fight he had.
“Tommy said you will leave me when you have a baby. That Daddy just puts up with me because he has to but you won’t stay like him and that you would leave me as soon as I misbehave. I told him that it won’t be like that and that you love me the most. But he wouldn’t believe and then began to talk badly about you. So I fought with him. No one can ever talk badly about my Mamma. I won’t let them.” He said and then gave me possessive hug.
“Aww, baby. Don’t believe what he or anyone says against us, alright? Mamma will always love you no matter what. And I’m never ever going to leave you. Daddy and I will always be there for you. If at all anyone talks bad about us tell them about how you see us. Give them your opinion of us. Don’t use your fist. Use your brain and heart. I don’t want to see you getting hurt, Ace. It upsets me a lot.”
“I love you too, Mamma. And you too, Daddy. Always and forever.” He and laid his head on my chest.
“You know what will brighten up the mood?” Xavier asked looking excited.
“Me cooking lunch for us.”
“No, it’s okay. I’ll cook for us.”
“But Ace needs you now.”
“Me and Mamma will cook for us, Daddy. You just relax.” Ace said with an innocent smile.
“No, nothing you both say will change my mind. I’m sure I can make noodles for us without putting the house on fire.” Xavier said with determination.
“I’m not so sure about this. Maybe we should start looking for a new home.” Ace mumbled to me. I laughed at this and was relieved in the change of his mood.
“I heard that.” Xavier said with a playful glare.
“Oopsie.” Ace giggled.
“Xavier, no! That’s not how you do it. No. No.” I said shaking my hands at him.
“One more chance, please?” He asked seeing that he had spoiled the food.
“Last chance.” I said and fortunately with my and little chef Ace’s guidance this time the noodles was edible. Since Ace still refused to get out of my lap, Xavier fed him and began feeding me too in between. Soon after that Ace fell asleep. I received a call then from office asking me to return. I had ran away from the office half an hour before an important meeting without informing any one and so I was already in deep trouble. Luckily Anne had convinced the client to reschedule the meeting and I had to be there for that even though I found it hard to leave Xavier alone to care for Ace.
“Why didn’t they reschedule the meeting to tomorrow? It’s way past office hours now.” Xavier asked and I told him there isn’t anything we can do as the client was only available then.
“Call me if you need me, okay?” I told him and he nodded.
“Peter will take you.” He said and asked Peter to bring the car.
“Take care, Love.”
“I will. You take care too and like I said call me if needed.” I told him.
“Yes, Mam.” He teased. I pulled him into a hug and stayed in his arms for a minute before getting into the car.
The meeting was both a success and disaster. It ended successfully but I was not my usual self as I was too distracted with the thoughts of Whilsons. I kept worrying about them and was more focused on my phone for updates from Xavier than on what was being said during the meeting.
“You okay, Eva?” Asked Anne as we were about to leave for home.
“Just got a lot in mind but I’ll be okay.” I assured her and she reluctantly left the subject. Peter was waiting outside and drove me home. When Mike called me on the phone that night I was sure Anne had talked to him. Anne believed Mike to be the expert on problem solving and had probably thought that he would be of a better help than her in whatever issue she thought I’m having.
“It’s nothing serious, Mike. I told you already. There was some issue in Ace’s school and I was a bit worried about that. Nothing else.” I assured him.
“I see.” He hummed.
“I shouldn’t have left them alone today.” I said sighing.
“They are not alone. They have each other. I’m sure they will be okay.” He said nonchalantly and I knew he was saying so to see my reaction.
“Mike, Ace almost had a panic attack at the thought of losing me.” I blurted out. “He had a hard day today and I shouldn’t have left him. I should have been there to help Xavier but I couldn’t because of the stupid meeting which I almost messed up.” I said and groaned in frustration.
“You are concerned about them as a friend or..” He paused waiting me to fill in.
“What do you mean?” I mumbled.
“Okay, I won’t beat around the bush anymore. Tell me what they actually mean to you.” He asked and I was silent because I didn’t have a proper answer for that.
“They mean a lot. They are very close to me.”
“Would you care to elaborate?”
“Mike, why are you doing this?”
“Because I’m your friend and I want you to be true to yourself and understand your feelings instead of trying to supress them.” He said and again I was unsure of how to respond to that.
“Eva, do you like Xavier?” He then asked bluntly.
“I..care for him.”
“Caring is different from liking someone romantically.” He pointed out.
“Mike, I don’t want to do this right now.”
“And why not? How long are you planning run away from your feelings?” He asked.
“Put your fears of how things could go wrong aside and answer me truthfully. Do you like Xavier or do you not?” He asked and my mind went to the little moments Xavier and I shared the past couple of months.
“I…I think I do, Mike. Well, I know I do. He makes me feel things that I have never felt before. He makes me feel safe and cherished. Don’t get me wrong, he is a pain in the butt but the thing is I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
“And what about Ace? Do you mind that he has a child already?”
“Of course not! How can you even ask that? I love Ace and I cannot imagine my life without him now.” I told him and mentioned how in several instances I have instinctively called myself his mother.
“And there was this one time when Ace called me by my name or at least I thought he did and it felt wrong coming from his mouth. I was disturbed by hearing him call me Eva and not Mamma. So disturbed that I almost chopped my finger off along the veggies I was cutting.” I said and chuckled remembering how the Whilsons fussed about the cut then.
“Well, you like Xavier very much and treats his kid as if he is your own so then what’s stopping you from pursuing him? I mean there is no doubt the guy is into you.”
“I..don’t know. I think I’m scared that I would lose them if it didn’t work out.” I said and heard Mike sigh.
“Don’t let your past relationship be a reason for you not being happy. Don’t let it stop you from loving, Eva. You are happy with the Whilsons and so for once think about your happiness and overcome your fear of being heartbroken. Take the risk and maybe you will never regret it. And even if you and Xavier separates in the future you would know you gave it a chance rather than backing out and always wondering on how it would have been if you have given Xavier a chance.” He advised and I thought of the promises Xavier made. He said he would prove it to me that he would always cherish me and will always be my side and I could not think of one instance where he had gone against his words.
“You are right.” I said after a minute. I cannot let my fear stop me from living. I cannot let it control my relationship with Xavier. I have to give us a chance. I owe him and myself that much.
“I’m always right, woman. Now go get your man.” He said and I chuckled at this. After having few more small talks we bid goodbye and ended the call.
I decided to talk to Xavier about this tomorrow as it was already night now and after giving myself a prep talk I changed to my pajamas and went to bed. Around midnight I woke up to the sound of my phone ringing and picked the call quickly seeing it was Xavier who was calling me.
God, I hope everything is okay.
“Open the front door.” He said even before I could say hello and I ran downstairs and to the front door as I was sure the small whimpering sounds I heard through the phone was of Ace’s.
As soon as I opened the door I snatched Ace who was whimpering and repeatedly calling for me from Xavier and rocked him in my arms. Ace was breathing heavily trying to get air to his lungs and I rubbed his back and said comforting words to calm him down.
“He had a nightmare of you leaving him and woke up screaming for you. He wouldn’t calm down no matter what I did.” Xavier said desperation clear in his voice when he said he couldn’t get his son to stop crying.
I cooed sweet nothings into Ace’s ears and told a thousand time that I won’t leave him and finally after an hour or two he fell asleep in my arms. Xavier placed a gentle kiss on Ace’s forehead and cleaned his face of tears after I had placed him on my bed.
“I don’t know what to do if this happens again. I’m a failure. I couldn’t help my own son. All these years I didn’t know he missed the motherly figure so much. I thought we were fine the way we were. With just the two of us and that too barely talking and interacting. I didn’t even know how to start a conversation with him till you came to our life. He never asked me for anything. Never shared any of his problems with me. And it’s all my fault. I let him grow on his own. I should have been there for him helping and teaching him all he needs to know and learning about his needs and wants. But I wasn’t. Today I woke up to hear him scream for you. His nightmare had terrified him too much. I knew he wanted you. But he was crying so much that he wasn’t able to breathe properly. I knew I had to calm him down a bit to be able to breathe properly but being a failure father I couldn’t do it. I must be the worst fath-’
“Don’t you dare finish that sentence. Don’t you dare.” I said glaring at him and then lead him out of my room to the living room and made him on the couch while I sat on my knees on the floor and cupped his face in my hands.
“You had the responsibility of being a father when you were not exactly ready for it but still you accepted him without any hesitation and gave him everything you could. You didn’t know how to deal with a kid because you didn’t have anyone to guide you through. You wish to be good for him and to have a better relationship with him and I can see you trying hard for that. So don’t call yourself a bad father. Just don’t.” I said and he slowly nodded.
“You will help me with him, won’t you? Will you help me become the best father he deserves to have?”
“Of course, Silly. We will do this together.” I said and he suddenly picked me off the ground and placed me on his lap to hold me close.
“Xavier..?” I called after few minutes of silence. He hummed in reply and began to run his fingers through my hair.
“Can I ask you something?” I asked and he pulled away to look at my face.
“Of course, Angel. Is something wrong?” He asked frowning and I shook my head negatively.
“Why don’t we go on our second date soon?” I asked nervously and Xavier’s eyes almost popped out in shock.
“What?!” He asked as if he could not believe what he heard. I smiled at his reaction and put my arms around his neck.
“Let’s.” I said remembering how he asked me out.
“Huh?” He asked still in shock.
“Go.” I said leaning closer to him.
“Am I dreaming this?” He asked as I ran my thumb along his jawline. I shook my head and gently pinched his chin to prove him this was no dream.
“On our.” I said and brushed my nose against his. Xavier was very still as if afraid any movement from him would stop me.
“Second.” I murmured and lifted his chin up.
“Date.” I said against his lips. I first brushed my lips lightly against his and then let go of the control and gave in fully. This time there was no one and nothing to interrupt us though I doubt we would have stopped even if there was. And the kiss only made me regret waiting for so long.
“So..?” I asked breathlessly after our lips parted.
“Yes, God, yes.” He said pecking my lips.
“There is no turning back from this, okay?” He stated and I agreed without any hesitation.
“You owe me many kisses, Angel.” Xavier said cheekily.
“Is that so?” I asked and he gently rubbed his thumb along my swollen lips.
“Well, you know I don’t like owing people.” I said smiling and we both leaned in for another kiss.