Standing outside their house for the last time Amanda sighed. “What’s the matter?” Lee asked in her ear.
“Nothing,” she muttered automatically then added “I’m a little sad to be leaving. I loved this house. It was the first place I ever felt safe.”
“We can still change our minds,” he wrapped her tight inside his arms.
“No we can’t,” she turned from the house with determination “we can’t stay here. It’s not a safe place for you. I know it’s been hard the past several weeks. I can see it in your eyes whenever we pass the casino or a slot machine.”
“But I haven’t gambled,” he hung his head in shame.
She took his hand and gently lifted his face to hers “don’t be ashamed. I love the fact your trying so hard but you shouldn’t have to struggle so much.”
“Neither do you,” he told her “I’ve seen you reacting to things. You try to hide it but I can see your getting your abilities back.”
It was her turn to lower her gaze before responding “yes. I’m starting to pick up on things. Mainly strong emotions. It’s bearable though. I won’t go back to being a recluse. I can cope better now.”
“I’d rather we stay here if it meant you’d be safe and at peace.” Lee told her pulling her close.
“No we can’t stay. We can’t continue to cater everything we do around me. I was selfish before for letting you.”
“What are you talking about?” he asked as she pulled away from him. “I didn’t do anything I didn’t want to do.”
“I know but a marriage is a two way street. All I was doing was taking. It’ll be different this time around. Sunset Valley will be different for both of us. A new start.” She smiled up at him eyes glistening with tears.
“Alright you win,” he pulled her close “but why do we need a three bedroom house?”
“Do you remember that night in the kitchen?” she asked giving him a mischievous grin.
“Yeah,” he said hesitantly looking at her not understanding why she was acting so giddy. “What about it?”
“Well we weren’t as careful as we should have been and I’m pregnant,” she blurted out grinning from ear to ear.
“You’re what?” he shouted as if he hadn’t heard “you’re pregnant.” He picked her up and swung her around “why didn’t you tell me?”
“I wanted it be a surprise…”
“Oh it is, it is,” he put her down to pick up Michelle “did you hear that? You’re going to be a big sister?”
The little girl nodded “I have lil sister.”
“Or a little brother,” he laughed at her look of disgust she gave him. He turned to Amanda “if your pregnant why is your ability coming back?”
“I don’t know” a frown creased her forehead “every pregnancy is different…”
“You don’t think the baby has it do you and that’s why it’s back do you?”
“I hope not,” she put a hand to her still flat stomach “I doubt it. I never showed signs until after my parents were killed.”
“So it could be stress related” his voice tinged with guilt “if I hadn’t lost all our money…”
“It’s not your fault,” Amanda asserted “it could just be coincidental.” Walking over to him she took his arm and wrapped her hands around it. “I love you and we’ll get through this together.”
Nodding he let her drag him away from the house and into the waiting moving van. Every chapter had an ending and every chapter had a new beginning. “Sunset Valley will be our new beginning,” he said aloud.
Three months later he came home to find Michelle screaming. Heart racing he ran p the stairs to find Amanda on the floor.
“Daddy” Michelle cried reaching her arms out to him. Ignoring her he knelt beside Amanda’s prone inert body. Heart pounding in his ears he reached a hand out to check for a pulse. He could see his hand visibly shake in the air as he touched her neck. It took him a moment to find it but it was there. He moved to check for broken bones thinking she may have fallen from the step ladder that was standing nearby. “Amanda, honey can you hear me?” he tapped her cheeks noting the bruise on her forehead.
“Daddy” Michelle tugged on his arm.
“What is it?” he said distracted with inspecting Amanda for injuries and the thin trickle of blood.
Pointing round eyed “bad man.”
“Bad man” he frowned starting to turn in the direction she was pointing. Something hard crashed into his head. He felt himself falling, slumping over Amanda’s body. He could hear Michelle’s frantic screams masking the steps of the intruder as he left.
Amanda stirred a little beneath him. Moaning she tried to move but found an uncomfortable weight lying across her legs pinning her down. “Mommy” came a plaintive cry. “Sweetie it’s alright,” she tried to calm her daughter’s fears.
“Daddy’s hurt,” she cried between hiccups.
Opening her eyes Amanda found the weight on her legs was Lee’s unconscious body. At least she hoped he was unconscious anything else was unthinkable. Reaching a hand out she stroked Michelle’s hair “it’s ok baby.”
“The bad man hit daddy,” the little girl cried.
Adrenaline spiked through Amanda’s pinned body. Did the man think Lee would know where they could find that awful woman who masqueraded as wife and mother? No wonder her abilities were trying to assert themselves. Trying to warn her of danger. She had felt something bad was going to happen. Why after sixteen years had someone wanted to find her mother? She could rot in prison for all she cared. That woman deserved that and more. Sixteen years she had lived without parents and it still felt like yesterday. A severe pain shot through her side leaving her breathless “Lee,” she screamed as the pain intensified. Please, please don’t let me lose the baby she begged as the cramps increased.
Lee stirred groaning as he fought his way to consciousness. Something was wrong his brain screamed at him. Blinking past the film that covered his face and matted his hair. Swiping at it with his hand he was surprised when it came away covered in blood. Ignoring it he turned “Manda” he forced his mouth to form her name.
“Lee” she panted “something’s wrong with the baby.”
The pain and fear in her voice hand him jerking upright. He shook his head as the room tilted crazily around him. His vision closed to pin pricks of light and darkness. Taking a deep breath he forced his eyes to focus. Something was wrong with the baby he had to get Amanda help. Everything seemed to take longer then it should as he moved in slow motion. He got his phone out slicked with blood from his hands. He tried to remember the numbers he needed to call. Three numbers that was all and his mind was a complete empty slate.
“9…1…1…” Amanda panted after watching him stare blankly at his phone. Smiling weakly when he punched in the numbers as she recited them.
Two days later Lee limped into her room “Amanda” he said as he sat down.
Opening her eye she smiled up at him “how’s the head?” she asked motioning towards the bandages.
“Concussion, stitches, you name it my head feels it,” he gave her a lopsided grin. He saw the fear in her eyes as his hand moved to caress her stomach. She reached out and grabbed his hand stilling it’s progress.
“The baby?” she asked biting her lips.
“The baby…” he took a deep breath “the baby is where it should be right here inside you, all warm and cozy. They were able to stop the premature labor…”
“That’s wonderful isn’t?” she said gripping his hand “that’s good.”
“It is but you need to remain calm,” he told her reaching out to stroke her face “you need to stay in the hospital until the baby comes…”
“We can’t afford that….” she protested “why can’t I just go home?”
“Because you need to be on strict bed rest and with Michelle that’s not going to be possible.” He turned his head to stare out the window “you’ll be safe in here.”
“That man won’t be coming back,” she asserted anger making her voice harsher than normal.
“You don’t know that,” he protested.
“Yes how do you know that Mrs Grayer?” a man’s deep voice asked causing both of them to jump. “I’m detective Rojas.” They both visibly relaxed “did you know the assailant?” the officer asked.
“No,” Lee said firmly “I don’t think I got a good look at him either. He knocked me out from behind.”
Amanda turned a troubled look towards her husband before replying “I don’t know him but he seemed to know me. At least about me.”
“What do you mean?” the officer probed.
“He kept asking me where my mother was. I haven’t seen her for over sixteen years.”
“Did you tell him where to find her?”
Shrugging ” I didn’t see why not. It’s not like I care what happens to her. She deserves what she gets.” The coldness in her voice both surprised and shocked Lee.He had never seen this side of her before. “My mother is in Sim State Prison for dangerous criminals.”
Detective Rojas looked up giving Amanda a penetrating look “why is she there?” His tone and manner both showed he already knew the answer but was testing her.
“She killed my dad and step mom. I watched her do it.” Tears like a flood overwhelmed her “I was fourteen years old when that bitch destroyed my life. I hope she rots in prison.”
The detective stayed for another half hour asking questions before leaving. Lee followed him from the room “Detective Rojas who do you think the intruder was?”
He tapped his pen on his notebook before answering “If I was a betting man I’d say it was someone related to the drug cartel.” Lee stared blankly at him. “Your wife’s mother was married to the infamous drug cartel’s son, Ricky. This could mean serious problems for you and your family.”
Stunned Lee nodded “Amanda never mentioned her mother’s connections to the cartel.”
“She may not know it. It happened after her mother left.” He stared at the young man “if I were you I’d hire body guards.”
“You think he’ll come back don’t you?”
“He might especially if he thinks he can get more information from you” the officer moved to walk away.
Lee stared after him not sure what to do. What to think. He was sinking further and further into the abyss.