“Honey remember when I said we would have another baby when the house was either renovated or we moved?” Diana asked as she drew circles with her fingers on his chest.
“I remember,” Colt said yawning as he tried to find a comfortable spot on the pillow “what about it?”
“Well…we better decide what we’re going to do soon because I’m….”
“You’re pregnant” he cried interrupting her. Sitting up he grinned “that’s wonderful” he leaned over to kiss her “what made you change your mind?”
“I didn’t” she laughed at his confusion “we had a birth control malfunction.” Laughing so hard she could barely talk “the night of the wedding we took advantage of having the house to ourselves…”
“Oh” he grinned sheepishly “I guess we got a little carried away. Now what?”
“We need a bigger place,” she commented “Izzy is getting too old to share a room with her baby brother. Plus the room is hardly big enough for Kevin’s crib and her bed.”
“You’re right we need to move but where? Starlight Shore doesn’t offer a lot in our price range.”
“I’m sure my Uncle would loan us the money” Diana assured him.
His smile turned to a frown “I’d hate to ask him. He has an awful lot on his plate….”
Nodding she sat up “I won’t be getting a payment on my movie for at least another six months….”
“And I haven’t exactly been setting the charts on fire with my music either. Maybe my parents were right and I should give up on this pipe dream of making it big in music.”
“Don’t talk like that,” she put her arms around him “you have a beautiful voice but…”
Turning his head he looked at her nibbling her bottom lip “but what?”
“Well maybe you need to revamp your look,” she kissed his cheek “you know I love your checked red shirt and blue jean jacket right? They’re just not right for the music you play. You want the girls to swoon over you but that outfit screams old married man.”
“Are you telling me I’m not heartthrob material?” he tried to keep his voice lighthearted and joking. He didn’t disagre with her. It’s what his manager had been telling him for a while now.
“You’re my heartthrob,” she kissed him again before continuing “but you need to shake things up or switch music labels.”
Standing he ran a hand through his hair “I know. My manager already said the same thing. He pretty much told me I should be a country music…”
“But you don’t want to” laughing she followed him over to the window “There’s nothing wrong with changing how you do things.”
“I know I” sighing he continued “I just never wanted to be a country singer.”
“Then don’t be one,” she nudged him a little “a change of clothes, a new hairstyle and you’ll be making all the teeny boppers swooning.”
“Mom where’s the baby going to sleep when it comes?” Isabel asked as she put her hand on her mother’s belly trying to feel it kick.
“We’re still trying to figue that out” Diana told her as she grabbed Izzy’s hand holding it over the spot where the baby just kicked.
Eyes wide Izzy smiled “wow, does it hurt?”
“Sometimes” Diana admitted “there’s not much room in there for the baby to move around in.”
“I can sleep on the couch if the baby needs to sleep in my room,” Izzy offered changing the subject.
“That’s really sweet of you to offer,” Diana kissed her cheek.
“Is that why grandma wanted me to live with her?” Izzy asked a worried frown forrowing her brow.
“No honey all that happened before we knew about the baby. You don’t need to worry about anymore.”
“I know but…” she looked up “If you need the space I can live there if you want me to.”
Kneeling on the floor in front of her daughter “we don’t need the space that badly that we want you to live some place else. You belong here with your family.”
“They’re family too…”
“They are but they’re not your parents,” Diana stroked her dark hair “do you want to live with them?” She held her breath while Izzy thought over her answer.
“No not really,” she shook her head “I wanted to offer if it made things easier.”
Drawing her daughter into a hug “I appreciate the thought but the only place your going to live is here with us.”
“So it’s the couch then,” Izzy giggled “It’ll be like sleep overs at Uncle Gene’s.” Turning to her mom “can I have a sleep over?”
“After we move,” Diana told her “right now we don’t have the room.”
Nodding Izzy sighed “alright.” She went to the table and set up her coloring pencils. After several minutes of silence “mama are you still mad at grandma for trying to take me away?”
Concern flashed through Diana as she joined her daughter at the table. “Some. Why do you ask?”
Shrugging she continued to color “I liked being on the farm. It’d be nice to go and visit again.” Looking up “I don’t want to live there. I just want to visit.”
“Izzy you do know we’re not trying to keep you from seeing your grandparents, right?”
Nodding “I know what grandma did was wrong but I think she was scared.”
“Scared? Of what?”
Looking up Izzy said “she had a little girl once. She ran away.” She put her pencil down “I think I remind her of her little girl.” She picked up her pencil and resumed coloring “she’s really a nice old lady.”
Smiling at her softhearted little girl Diana said “I’ll talk to your dad and we’ll see what happens in the future. I don’t feel comfortable letting you by yourself though.”
“Maybe you can come next time,” she suggested “you’ve never been on a farm before. Please mama.”
“I’ll think about it,” Diana got up kissed the top of her head before she went.
After the kids were asleep Diana joined Colt on the couch. “Are you super interested in that show?” she asked.
Taking his eyes from the screen “not really, why?”
“Izzy asked if she could go and visit your parents.”
“No absolutely not,” he almost shouted as he got up and started pacing the floor raking his fingers through his hair. “Not after what happened.”
“That’s what I thought” Diana got up and went to where Colt hand stopped to stare out of the window. Wrapping her arms around him “do you think your mom was in her right mind when she did that though?”
Grunting Colt turned from the window “what do you mean?”
Looking down Diana sighed realizing this was going to be harder then she thought. “Izzy thinks she may remind her of the daughter she lost.” She watched as Colt looked away. Putting a tentative hand on his shoulder she continued “I thought you were an only child.”
“I had an old sister,” he turned to her tears in his eyes “she used to read me bed times stories when I was little.” He smiled faintly “she always let me sleep with her whenever there was a storm. The thunder used to wake me up. I remember thinking the thunder was monster wanting to eat me. My parents would never let me sleep with them when I got scared but Belle never turned me away.”
Taking his hand she gently guided him to the couch where she held him “what happened to her?”
“She died when I was six” he said flatly “I don’t remember much or what happened. I just know one night she wasn’t there and she never came back. I was so mad at her for leaving me all alone.”
“Izzy thought she ran away….”
“No that can’t be right,” he jerked away from her “she’d never leave me like that. I know she didn’t like the rules but she’d never runaway.” He let Diana pull him close as he muttered “she just wouldn’t.”
The following week past and Colt become more silent and withdrawn. Turning over in bed Diana said “call your parents. Ask them what happened.”
“What if everything I was told were lies?” he sniffed.
“Somewhere deep down you already know it was,” Diana snuggled into him “they told you what they thought you could handle at the time. I don’t think they meant to hurt you.”
He let his hands rest on her protruding stomach “why do you love me?” he asked softly.
“I just do. I can’t imagine my life without you. You rescued me and my daughter. You never made me feel ashamed of who or what I am.” Placing her hands on top of his “you’re a wonderful father not only to your own children but to Izzy too.” She tilted her chin up to kiss his cheek “I love you.”
“I love you too,” he whispered back letting his eyes close content to hold her forever if she’d let him.
Waking early Colt slipped carefully from the bed so as not to disturb his sleeping wife. He pulled the blanket up so that she wouldn’t become chilled before he left. Walking outside he dialed the familiar number and held his breath until someone answered. “Dad….yeah it’s me. I love you too. Look Dad I need to ask you something and I need the truth.”
Sighing heavily into the phone his father grunted assent. “I can’t promise anything” he grumbled a moment later.”
“What happened to Belle dad?” he asked deciding to direct and not beat around the bush.
“You sound unsure about that,” Colt squeezed the phone tightly “Izzy was telling us she ran away…”
“You should talk to your mother.” There was some rustling around until finally his mother came on the line.
“Mom Izzy was telling us about a daughter that ran away. You told me Belle died in a car accident,” he couldn’t keep the accusation from creeping into his voice.
Silence greeted his statement that lengthened into several uncomfortable minutes. “I’m sorry,” she said when he was about to give up. “I handled the situation all wrong. I didn’t think you’d understand why she left. So I told you she was dead instead.”
Taking a deep breath he asked “why mom? Why did she run away?”
“She was pregnant.” Colt could hear the sobs his mother was fighting to hold in “I was so angry. I told her we wouldn’t help her. She’d have to do it on her own. All I could think about was the shame she was bringing to our family. I never thought she’d take me seriously and disappear from our lives. My dear sweet Isabella.”
At the name it all started to make sense to Colt “was that Belle’s full name?”
“Yes” she sniffed “having Izzy here reminded me of all the good times I had with Belle. I just wanted another chance, a redo to do things right. I didn’t mean….I’m so sorry. You must hate me for what I did. Ruining your wedding. Trying to take Izzy…..”
Colt felt helpless listening to his mother crying on the phone begging for forgiveness. “Son” his dad’s voice on the line “I’ve got to get your mom calmed down. I know it’s too soon to ask but will you reconsider letting Izzy come and visit? I promise things will be different.”
“I’ll think about it dad. I promise I’ll talk to Diana. We’ll see. Maybe this time we’ll come as a family.”
“I’d like that son,” his dad said before disconnecting.
Leaning against the porch railing Colt thought about his sister. What happened to her? Was she out there somewhere struggling to survive? Had she done what Diana had been forced to do to provide herself and her child? What happened to her? Were they even alive?