Florida is such a beautiful place.
We have been here for over a week and each day made me fall in love with it more. We did many sightseeing and fun activities the whole week and now that it was almost time to leave I couldn’t help but be sad about it.
“What are you thinking, Love?”
“About how much I love this place.”
“We can come back for next vacation if you want. I’m sure Ace would love to.” Xavier said hugging me from behind.
“So, what’s the plan for today?”
“Well, since we leave the day after tomorrow I thought it would be better to do some shopping and buy some things for ourselves as souvenir.”
“That’s actually a good idea. We could buy something for Dad and Claire and for our friends too.”
“Yeah. I will wake Ace up.” Xavier said and went to our room. It makes me really happy seeing how much closer they both have become in the past months.
“Good morning, Mamma.”
“Good morning, Ace.” I replied kissing his cheek.
“Daddy said we are doing shopping today.”
“Yes, we are, Baby. You can buy things for your granddad and friends if you want to.”
“Okay, Mamma. But right now Ace is hungry.” He said pouting.
“Well then let’s go out and have breakfast.” I said and held his hand.
We had our breakfast from a very cosy restaurant. The waitress was a bubbly old lady who found Ace very cute and cooed at him whenever she passed our table.
“That was delicious.” I said once we got into the car after breakfast.
“It was, Mamma. But to me your cooked meal is the best.” He said and leaned up to kiss my cheek.
“Don’t try to flatter me, Ace.” I said smiling.
“It’s the truth. Ace won’t lie to Mamma.” He said sounding hurt, thinking I didn’t find his words truthful.
“Of course you won’t lie. You are my little baby. And I’m glad you love my cooking.”
“I will also be good at cooking when I grow up. I will then always cook food for you, Mamma.” He said with determination.
“And you can also cook for your wife and babies after you get married.” I said lightly pinching his nose. He shrugged his shoulder nonchalantly at my comment.
“What? You won’t cook for your family?”
“My family is you and Daddy. And I would never leave you both.”
And I would never leave you both.
Wish you would say the same when you are all grown up.
I hugged him close while feeling Xavier’s gaze on us.
“Let him breathe a bit, Angel.” Xavier said softly and I immediately loosen my grip on Ace and let him free.
“I was actually fine, Daddy. You were just jealous.” Ace said glaring at Xavier and I chuckled while Xavier just shook his head sighing.
When we reached the mall Ace stubbornly said he would like to go to the toy shop opposite to the mall as if there were none inside the mall and he also refused to let us go there with him.
“Ace, you cannot walk around here alone, Baby. You’ll get lost. It’s not safe.”
“I will be fine, Mamma. Peter can along with me if you are worried. You and Daddy can go buy things together.”
“Ace, don’t be stubborn. We’ll go there and buy whatever you need and come back here together.”
“Let him do what he wish, Eva. He’ll be fine with Peter.” Xavier assured.
“But what’s wrong with us going with him? It’s not that far anyways.”
“Exactly. It’s not that far. If he want to do things for himself alone, then let him.”
I guess I’m being the overbearing ‘Mom!’
“Okay, fine. But be careful. Don’t wander around alone and always stay close to Peter, okay?”
“Yes, Mamma. Love you.”
“Love you too, Baby.”
“Peter, you know what to do. Don’t leave him alone.” Xavier said sharply.
“Yes, Sir.” Peter and walked away with Ace.
“Come on, Love.” Xavier said and began pulling me into various shops.
One and half hours later we were done with the mall and yet Ace has not yet returned. I don’t get why I’m fussing about it so much but I couldn’t help but worry.
“Did you call Peter?” I asked Xavier but before he could reply Peter came running towards us gasping out of breath.
“He what Peter? Where is my son?” I asked feeling dread fill in me.
“Where is he?” Xavier asked coldly.
“He is missing.”
All I could do was gasp and stand frozen thinking over what I just heard and hoping it was wrong.
“How the heck did he go missing? What were you doing instead of watching him?!” Xavier yelled gripping Peter by his collar. I ran out of the mall towards the toy shop hurriedly crossing the road and almost getting hit by a car.
“Ace? Ace, Baby. Come out.” I called out from inside the shop catching other people’s unwanted attention.
“Ace, you are worrying me, Baby. Please come to me.” I pleaded while running through the aisles waiting for his small body to jump on me.
“He is not here, Eva. Let’s check in the nearby shops.” Xavier said appearing beside me.
“Xavier, what if he is hurt? Or..or what if someone..oh no..what if someone took..′
“Shh. Nothing like that would happen. He is fine and somewhere around here. We’ll find him soon.” He gently assured and gave me a short hug.
We went in different ways to look for Ace while hoping one of us would soon find him. By now Xavier had more of his security team look out for our baby and the cops was also involved. But half an hour passed and still there was no trace of my four year old child. Till now I had contained myself from letting a sob break out from my lips. The tears however had a mind of its own and continued to trail down my cheeks. Now that so much time has passed without Ace I couldn’t control myself anymore. Different emotions filled inside me and I let it control me. The emotion that dominated me was fear.
Fear of losing him.
And just like that I broke down in the middle of the streets, sitting on my knees crying my heart out. I knew I should be searching for him instead of wailing but I couldn’t stop the cries once I let one out. There were people walking by who stopped to watch me break down, few members of the security team and cops were staring at me in pity and saying words of assurance, trying their best to console me. But nothing mattered to me then. All I wanted was to feel his warmth in my arms. For him to come running to me and call me ‘Mamma’.
“Someone must have taken him.” A voice whispered which was unfortunately too loud for me to hear.
What if it’s true?
Kane? He couldn’t have, could he? No. No. He is rotting his life in jail.
“The cops are investigating about it. The child’s guard is being questioned for details. And apparently they are also trying to track him using his watch.”
“Let’s hope they find him before it’s late. Who knows it already might be. The child could be dead by now.”
No. No. He is not. Why are these people talking like this?
Ace is alive. He is. He has to be.
My eyes immediately looked around searching for the source of that voice and another sob broke out of me seeing my child standing a few meters away holding his father’s hand. As soon as Xavier loosened his grip on Ace’s left hand, he came barrelling towards me and I wrapped my arms around him when he was close enough.
“My baby..” I whimpered holding him close to my chest.
“Are you hurt anywhere, baby?” I asked while frisking his body for any wounds or bruises.
“No, Mamma. I’m alright. Please stop crying.”
I engulfed him again and peppered him with kisses.
“You are not getting out of my sight ever again.” I said while clutching onto him like lifeline.
“Angel, it’s all alright. Everything is fine.” Xavier said softly and wrapped his arm around me and helped me stand on my feet. By then he had dismissed all the security and cops and the people watching us were also shooed away angrily by him.
“Let’s get back now.” He murmured to me and led us to the car with me carrying Ace in my arms.
“You okay, Angel?” Xavier asked once we reached home.
“I’m just..I’m just not still out of the scare that I felt upon knowing he was nowhere to be found.” I murmured and was surprised by the glare that Xavier sent towards Ace.
“It’s all fine now, Baby. Forget it. And Ace go to your room and start packing. We will be leaving day after tomorrow.” He said sternly.
“No, please. I want him with me now. There is still plenty of time for packing. He can do it later.” I said not letting Ace leave my arms. I know I’m being pathetic right now but I just didn’t care.
“He isn’t going to disappear, Angel.” He assured.
“I know, but just let me be with him for a while, please!” I said raising my voice at him without meaning to making him take a step back in shock.
“I understand what you are feeling now, Angel. And I’m sorry you had to go through so much today. I’ll let you be like this for now. In the meantime I’ll have the chef make some snacks for us.” He said softly and turned to leave after placing a kiss on my forehead.
“And Ace, do not forget what I said to you before. You are not getting out of this so easily.” Xavier stopped to warn and then left the room which was good for him for I was about to lash out at him for threatening Ace like that only sometime after he was found, though I didn’t understand the reason behind his anger.
Ace was silent all this time and let me fuss around him like a mother hen and as time passed I calmed down a bit and my brain finally grasped the fact that he is with me now and is safe.
“Mamma, I’m sorry.”
“Shh, Baby. It’s not your fault. Peter should have watched you properly.” I justified. He chose not to say anything and just snuggled closer to me making me smile.
Ace fell asleep after having the mini burgers made the chef and I chose to lay down with him for a while and watched him sleep.
Sometime later I was completely back to normal and was okay with letting him out of my arms. So I decided to look for Xavier and apologise for yelling at him. He was there in our room working on his laptop which he put to the side upon seeing me and pat down the bed beside him. I sat beside him and put my head on his shoulders while interlinking our fingers.
“I’m sorry for yelling at you.”
“You don’t have to apologise for that, Angel. I understand what you felt back then. It was I who provoked you.”
“But I’m still sorry so just accept it.”
“Apology accepted, happy?” He mocked.
We were silent for few minutes and then I decided to ask the question which I so far haven’t as I was busy fussing around Ace.
“Where did you find him? Was anybody there with him? Was he scared?”
“I was waiting for you to calm down a bit to say all of that in details.”
“I’m calm now.”
“Peter wasn’t entirely to be blamed. If anyone should be blamed for worrying us and making us go crazy then that should be Ace. He had lied to Peter about wanting to go to bathroom and sneaked out of the shop to wander around by himself. I found him four streets away from where we were. The troublemaker did not think about us even once before going on his jolly trip down the street. He wasn’t worried or lost. He was very casual and only freaked out when I found him and came to know we have been looking for him for hours thinking he was taken by someone.” Xavier said sounding really pissed out. And I was too when I finally grasped in the information.
“Eva, this time what he did cannot be let gone that easily. If we do so he will think its fine to wander off whenever he desires and we cannot have that. I know you are incapable of being harsh to him and that’s fine. But please don’t stop me from straightening him out. He has to understand what he did was wrong and that mistake shouldn’t be repeated ever again.”
“I get it. I too don’t want him to think it okay to do something like this without telling us. But I will correct him, please. I know you are capable of doing that but this time let me do it. Please?”
“I know you mean good, Angel. But let’s be real you can never be harsh with his punishments. You’ll go soft by seeing his face. And that’s not what we need now. I promise I will deal with this without being too harsh.” He said and kissed my knuckles.
“No, Xavier. I won’t go soft. I’ll be stern because I know that’s needed in this situation. Your relation with him has just developed to be better and I don’t want things to be like before or for him to dislike you. I’ll take care of this, please.”
“My relation with him won’t worsen, Angel. You taught me to be a better Dad and I wouldn’t do anything to make things go like before.” He said and I gave in the end.
I then busied myself with setting up dinner and was almost done when I heard Ace’s footsteps approaching.
“Is Mamma still upset, Daddy?” I heard him ask to Xavier.
“She is. She is very upset about the little trip you took.” Xavier replied.
“You told her?!”
“Why wouldn’t I? She deserves to know, don’t you think?” Xavier replied and I stood by the dining hall door to listen to them.
“But I said sorry! I told you not to tell her. It could have been all fine but then why did you tell her? I apologised to Mamma and to you. I already feel bad then why did you have to do this too?” Ace yelled at Xavier and began hitting wherever his fist could reach.
“Lower your voice and stop behaving like this. What has gotten into you?” Xavier asked gripping Ace’s hands in his to stop them from sending hits.
Exactly! Why is he behaving like this all of a sudden?
“Then stop acting like a brat.”
“You stop making issues between Mamma and me. She won’t like me anymore.”
“I’m not trying to create issues. Don’t you dare blame this on me, Ace. Be bold enough to take blames for what you did and correct them rather than putting it on someone else.” Xavier said now completely pissed off.
This is going all wrong now. They aren’t supposed to argue, especially not over me.
“You could have chosen to not tell her and not make a big deal out of it. You don’t even know the reason behind it all.” Ace yelled back.
Times like this I forget Ace is four years old because of the way he speaks.
“Did I or did I not tell you to be with Peter and not to wander alone?” I asked making my presence known and effectively putting an end to their argument which could go out of hand.
“Answer to my question Ace.” I said sternly and he bowed his head down.
“You did, Mamma.”
“And what did you do? Did you listen to what I said?” I asked and he shook his head looking ashamed.
“What did you do Ace?”
“I lied to Peter and left the shop alone.”
“Is that your fault or your father’s?”
“And why did you want to hide it from me?”
“Because..because you would be mad at me and I didn’t want you to be. You would be upset with me. I don’t want you to not like me. I always want to be your little one, your baby.” He whispered sounding sad and all my anger vanished into thin air.
“You will always be my baby, Ace. Always. But you can’t keep doing this. This is not the first time you have run off on your own.” I said remembering my first meet with him where he almost got run over by a truck.
“Do you think I would have liked if your father kept it a secret from me?” I asked him.
“No..but it wouldn’t have upset you if you didn’t know.”
“So you mean to say it wouldn’t have upset me if I didn’t know you tricked Peter and went around the streets all by yourself? That it was all fine to blame Peter when it was never his fault? And what about what I felt when we couldn’t find you anywhere, Ace? I was upset then too. What about that? I thought I lost you forever and was going crazy. What about that Ace?”
“I’m sorry, Mamma.” He whispered looking at me with tearful eyes.
“Is something wrong, Ace? Is there anything you would like to tell us? I don’t understand why you are behaving like this all of a sudden. Are you hiding something?” I asked trying to figure out what’s going on in his mind but he shook his head negatively, not meeting my eyes.
“Is someone or something troubling you?”
“No, Mamma.” He said and I let out a sigh. “I’m sorry.” He repeated.
“It’s your father you have to apologise to, Ace. You were extremely rude to him before.” I pointed out and he looked at Xavier with shame.
“Let’s have dinner. I’m hungry.” Xavier said sounding a little more calm and put an end to the discussion for now when Ace didn’t speak up. I nodded in agreement and sat down beside him. Ace glanced at both of us once more silently before sitting down on the chair beside me.
That day the dinner was uncomfortably silent. Not a word was spoken and the only sound was of the knives and forks. Xavier stood up after everyone was done with the dinner and began taking the dishes to the kitchen.
“You may go and sleep. I will do the cleaning today. No buts please.” He said stopping beside me and placed a kiss on my forehead. Nodding in agreement I stood up to leave but couldn’t stop myself from turning back to look at the sad boy silently watching me.
“Are you still sleepy after your nap or do you want to stay up for a bit?” I asked Ace and he immediately got up and followed me. By the time I changed to pyjamas and got ready for bed, Ace was already on the bed.
“Mamma.” He whimpered out holding his arms out for me and I immediately brought him into my arms.
“I’m so so sorry, Mamma.” He cried out.
“I know, baby. I know. You just promise me that you would never do anything like this again.” I said kissing his head. I knew he could not bear if I get angry at him. I have never spoken to him harshly before and he is already insecure about me so if I remained mad at him, it would break him.
“I promise, Mamma. I promise. I did not mean to scare you today. And I would never never do anything like that again.” He said pulling back from the hug. I wiped his face to remove the tears and pressed a kiss on his forehead.
“Alright, then. We’ll put this behind us. But you still have to apologise to your father and he would probably ground you too so you have face that, okay?” I said and he nodded his head.
“Okay then enough with all these tears now.” I said and again wiped his face clean. “We’ll sleep now, alright?”
“Yes, Mamma.” He said and I had him lay down and he immediately cuddled up to me. I told him a short bedtime story and told him I love him like usual.
“I love you too, Mamma. To pluto and back.” He whispered. And several minutes later, just when I was about to fall asleep he called me sleepily.
“What is it, bubba?”
“Can you let Daddy know that I’m very sorry? I will talk to him tomorrow but can you just tell him that today?” He mumbled out sleepily.
“Yes, baby. I will do that. Now you stop worrying and go to sleep alright?” I said and kissed him goodnight.
By the time Xavier came into the room Ace was fully asleep. He laid down on the other side of Ace and placed a kiss on Ace’s head and breathed in his scent. It was only then I realised how selfish I was. I was so engulfed in my own fear and anxiety upon not finding Ace that I failed to see Xavier was suffering the same pain. He consoled me and affirmed me about Ace’s safety while he himself was battling with the fear of losing his child.
“He is okay, Xavier.” I told him rubbing his shoulders.
“Anything could have happened to him in that one hour, Eva. Anything. We could have lost him.” He finally let out his worry.
“I just want him to realise how careless he was. I don’t want to argue with him or start a fight. I just want to make sure he understands that what he did was wrong and that he should never do it again.” He said clearly upset about the way Ace talked to him before.
“He promised me that he would never act like this again. He has understood that his actions has caused us so much worry and fear and I think it will stop him from repeating this mistake.”
“I hope so, Love. I hope so.” Xavier said running his hand through Ace’s hair.
“He wanted me to let you know he was sorry for the way he behaved with you. He is really upset about it.” I told him and Xavier nodded before kissing Ace’s temple.
“I know. He was angry and so was I.” Xavier said. “But he is still grounded.”
“He knows that.” I told him smiling.
“Hmm. Let’s get some sleep now. It’s been a long day.”
“Goodnight, Love.” He said and gave me a chaste kiss.
I fell asleep soon after that but woke up soon after feeling overly warm. I turned my body away from my two cuddling boys hoping to feel a bit better. But the stubborn two always found ways to cuddle me. The little arm on my stomach felt way too hot and I groaned out.
“Mamma..” Ace whimpered out effectively waking me up concerned.
“Ace, Baby. You okay?” I asked but found that he was still asleep. He continued to whimper and groan in his sleep and I thought he was probably having a bad dream.
“Ace, wake up.” I cooed and gently cupped his cheek only to realise that he was having a fever.
“Xavier, wake up.” I called out while carefully picking up Ace. Xavier groaned out in his sleep but did not wake up. I switched on the light and looked around for the little bag containing Ace’s medicine and health related things.
“Baby, what are you doing?” Xavier asked blinking his eyes from the sudden light.
“It’s Ace. He is sick. Help me find medicine’s for him. We’ll have to take him to the doctor first thing tomorrow.” I said hurriedly and he quickly got out of the bed and helped me find the medicines.
“Mamma’s here, Baby. Here have this pill. Open your mouth.” I cooed to him and made him drink the medicine.
“Ace is sorry.” He whimpered out slowly opening his eyes to look at me. I almost cried then and there.
“I know, Baby. Don’t worry about it now. Mamma forgave you, remember?”
“So Mamma still like Ace?”
“Mamma loves Ace. Always, Baby.” I promised.
“Go back to sleep now, Son. You need to take rest.” Xavier said kissing Ace’s head.
“Sorry for yelling, Daddy. Sorry for saying mean words. Ace did not meant to be a brat. Don’t want to be a bad boy.” Ace apologised while trying not to fall back to sleep.
“It’s okay, Son. You are not a brat. Daddy is sorry for saying that. And you are not a bad boy either. You did a mistake and promised not to do it again. And Mamma and Daddy both forgave you, okay? You are my champ. And I want my champ to get better fast. Can you do that for Daddy?” Xavier asked and Ace gave a sleepy nod and raised his arms to be picked up by his father.
“I love you, Daddy.” He said nuzzling to his father’s neck.
“To pluto and back?” Xavier teased.
“To Neptune and back, Daddy.” Ace teased back making Xavier chuckle and just like that things between them settled and they were back to normal.
“I love you too, baby.” Xavier said and kissed Ace’s cheek. Ace soon fell asleep his father’s arm. We went back to bed but no matter how much I tired I could not go back to sleep.
I constantly checked on Ace’s temperature and made sure he was comfortable throughout the night. And in the morning my face looked like a Halloween scary face. Thankfully his fever was all gone by noon and he was back to normal.
“Angel. Go to bed and sleep.”
“Huh. Why?” I asked after shaking my head to clear my messed up head. Xavier gave me pointed look and it was then I realised that I was sleeping against the refrigerator.
“Come here.” He said while lifting his arms to engulf me and I slumped against his body.
“You are comfy.” I said wrapping my arms around his waist.
“You really need to get some sleep, Angel.” He said pressing a kiss on my jaw.
“Where is Ace?”
“He is watching TV and yes he is all fine.” He said rubbing my back.
“And what about packing?”
“We’ll take of it. You can sleep without worry.” He assured and I mumbled out a fine. That was all he needed to pick me up bridal style. I felt a small pressure on my lips and that brought a smile on my face.
“Stop stealing kisses, you thief.”
“Can’t help it.” He said chuckling and carried me upstairs.
“What happened to Mamma? Is she fine?” I heard Ace ask from behind us.
“She is. She is tired and has to sleep for a while. And that means you will have to help me with the packing Okay?”
“Okay, Daddy. I will go start packing my things now. Sleep tight, Mamma.” He replied and I gave him a thumbs up still not bothering to open my tired eyes.
After I woke up I found my boys watching Toy story. Ace was laying down with his head on Xavier’s lap who was for some unknown reason shirtless and was patting Ace’s head. Deciding to let them have their time I left them alone and went to see how the packing was done. And as predicted there was messed up pile of clothes inside the suitcases and one of the suitcases even had a broken zip. Sighing I got to work and began properly folding the clothes and packing them.
“You redid it? It was not so horribly done. In fact I thought we nailed it.” Xavier coming into the room after an hour with Ace.
“We did a good job.”
“You have to appreciate our hardwork.”
“Okay. But tell me one thing, why are you both shirtless?” I asked noticing that Ace also have removed his tee shirt.
“I am because Daddy is shirtless.”
“So you wanted match?” I asked hiding my smile.
“And you, Mister. Why are you shirtless?”
“Because it was hot?”
“Really?” I asked and noticed Ace already bored had gone out of the room probably to continue watching TV.
“Yes. Is it making you nervous?” He asked coming towards me.
“No, I am just admiring.” I said boldly and put my arms around his neck.
“Is that so?” He asked smiling and nuzzled his nose against mine. I hummed in reply and brushed my lips against his.
“That is not a proper kiss.” He said when I pulled away.
“That is all you get for now.” I said and pulled back from his arms upon seeing Ace returning to the room.
“I will have you trapped soon, Love. We’ll see how you will escape then.” Xavier said not letting go of the hand I had on his bare chest.
“Why, Daddy? What did Mamma do?” Ace asked sounding confused.
“Nothing, Son. Your Mamma was being mean to me. And so I want a hug from her now.”
“Mamma, mean? You are lying, Daddy.” Ace said making me laugh while Xavier’s jaw literally dropped.
“Just forget I said anything.” He said rolling his eyes and I pulled him into a hug though not stopping to laugh. I gave him a sound kiss on his cheek before pulling back.
“Glad to know I entertain you, my love.”
“That kind of comes under the boyfriend duties.”
“Well then I’m sure I’m fulfilling my duty really well.”
“You are.” I said and was about to give him the kiss he wanted when Ace tugged on our pants.
“Can we have some ice cream?”