I couldn’t stay in this house any more. When I had bought it I had dreamed of a family, kids, a white picket fence – none of those things had happened since then. Instead, only bad things had happened inside this house and I couldn’t wait to see the back of it. First Blaine had threatened me, then Mum told me that Momma had passed away, Blaine attacked me and fatally injured Emery – I needed to get out and start over. Maybe a family and children were still somewhere in my future, but they weren’t here.
Together with Mum I looked over some listings and after four viewings I chose the perfect house for my new future.
I still had no family or children, but I had the white fence. It wasn’t much but it was a start, and I knew this was the right one when we visited it. It was too big for me, but I saw the fence as a good luck charm and couldn’t resist. It was a sign, or a good omen or whatever people called it, and that was just what I needed after everything that had happened.
The previous owners were still in the process of moving, so I had a month to pack everything up and prepare for the move myself. I wasn’t looking forward to living in this reminder for another day, but would do what I always did to cope with a bad situation. I would throw myself into work. Chief Chau insisted I take some time off to adjust and to allow myself time to mourn, but I didn’t want to be alone and there was a lot of work to get done. Blaine had left a minefield in his wake, and while I wasn’t allowed to interrogate him myself I could still research everything else he had had a hand in for the past several years. His accomplices within the station soon sang and gave us all the information we needed, worrying as it all was. They had not been the only corrupt agents working for him. He had people everywhere, from the smallest shops working as spies to important politicians. It seemed there was no end to his corruptions, and I couldn’t wait to get stuck in. Without realising it he had done me a favour. He had robbed me of my partner and man I loved, but he had also given me something to focus on. Something important.
Mum, Grandma and Grandpa Milan came over a week later for Emery’s funeral. I had had too much time to think in this empty house, and had begun to question some things I should just be leaving alone. There was nothing I could do to answer them now but I wanted to ask Grandma and Grandpa Milan when I had a quiet moment alone with them.
For now I was just grateful that I wasn’t alone. Mum stayed with me for two weeks after the funeral, and only went back briefly for Momma’s funeral and wake. I was dreading another ceremony but was glad to be out of the house, too.
Being amongst all those people was overwhelming. There were so many I had never even met before, people who had worked with Momma, her business partners, and old employees who still held her in high regard. It was great seeing all these people coming together and tell stories about my Momma, but at the same time it was too much. The house soon felt crowded, and I felt faint. I needed some fresh air, and headed upstairs to the balcony.
The warm breeze was just what I had needed. It was familiar and comforting, and made me feel about as good as I could feel.
It was strange to be back. So much had changed that I could see from my little spot, but it was still exactly the same place as I had grown up in, too. The rocks and palm trees were the same, the sand and the air were the same, and even the small convenience store off in the distance was the same. So much had changed since I had moved, but my home town was still my home town. It was comforting to see it like this.
My childhood seemed like a lifetime ago. My eighteenth birthday felt like it had happened centuries ago, when in reality only a few years had passed. I could still smell Momma’s cooking, feeling the sweat on my skin from working out all morning with Mum, and I could still here Marvin’s laughter in the garden. I wondered where he was now. If he was still in Riverview, or if he had moved up in the world. Whether he had gotten married by now, and what she’d be like.
I sighed. Marvin was still alive and kicking but he seemed as far away as Emery in that moment.
Behind me the door opened, and two sets of footsteps entered the balcony behind me. I didn’t need to turn around to know who it was. I still recognised the sound.
“Hey, sweety” Grandpa Milan said.
“We thought you looked like you needed to talk.”
I nodded, finally turning around as the chance I’d been waiting for presented itself.
“I do. Are you sure now is a good moment?” As much as I needed to get this question of my chest I didn’t want Mum to be alone today.
“Of course. Don’t worry about Lilli, Gemma’s friends are keeping her company.”
I awkwardly fiddled with my hands as they sat down on the bench, not really knowing what to do with myself. Now that I finally had the chance to ask my question I wasn’t sure that I still wanted to know the answer.
“How are you holding up?” Grandma asked, motioning for me to sit between them like we did when I was young, but I shook my head. I needed to feel the touch of air on my arms for this.
“Badly” I said truthfully. “I miss him, Grandma.” I didn’t care if she made a remark about how she had warned me not to fall in love. Right now I just needed to talk to someone.
“I’m sorry, sweety. Is there anything we can do?” I shook my head no. Unless they had a way of bringing Emery back I wasn’t interested, and that was out of the question. Nothing else would do.
Without wanting to waste more time, I asked my question.
“Is it my fault he’s gone, Grandpa?” Their eyes went wide, and Grandma reached out for my hands.
“Of course it isn’t. You couldn’t know that lunatic would be there or what he would do. Why would you think this was your fault?”
“Because you told me not to fall in love, and I did it anyway. You told me our family can’t live happily ever after like I wanted to, but I tried to do it anyway. Am I being punished?” My nose stung and my eyes burnt, but I didn’t care. I was far beyond the age where I couldn’t let anyone see me cry.
Their faces had turned ashen, and I knew I was right. This was my fault. Emery was gone because of me.
“Sweety, that’s not true. The spirits would never punish us like this.” I wanted to believe him but I couldn’t.
“How do you know? Have you asked them?”
He looked uncomfortable in his seat when he replied. “No, but if you really want me to I can.”
I nodded. “Please?”
“I don’t know when I’ll be able to, but I’ll give you a call once I know if you like.”
Next to him Grandma shook her head.
“Now, listen here, sweetheart. You’re not being punished, his death had nothing to do with you. I know this is hard to hear, but people die and you are in a dangerous job. You both knew the risks when you signed up, or am I wrong?”
I sniffled, feeling like a little girl. “No. You’re right. But I can’t help but feel that he’d still be alive if I hadn’t interfered. I wanted to keep our relationship professional, Grandma, I really did.”
They both got up, hugging me from both sides at once. Holding on to my grandparents I cried into their clothes, the familiar smells not doing anything to comfort me.
“It’ll be all right, sweetheart. You’ll see.” I wanted to believe her more than anything, but the reality of our fate began to really sink in. I had told myself I could have a family and love, but maybe there was nothing I could do to get either. I had the very beginnings of love with Emery, and he had been taken away from me. Mum had managed to cheat it, but only because she made Gemma work her butt off. They hadn’t spent as much time together as they should have done, just to be allowed to be together at all.
“How do you cope?”
Milan stepped away as Grandma held me close. “Your mother was very lucky with Gemma, but you saw how little time they got to spend together. When they did they were tired from their careers. And I barely left my office, Soph.” The reminder of Emery stung like nothing had ever stung before. I could almost hear my nickname in his voice, pretend my Grandma’s arms were his. “I used Lilli’s father, and never saw him again. He never even knew I was pregnant, and Lilli never knew him.”
I didn’t know if her words helped or not. “So you focused on your career?”
Grandma pulled away just enough to be able to look into my eyes and cup my face with her hands. “I did. It helped.” There was the hint of something else behind her eyes. Did Grandma regret not being able to fall in love? Mum and I had given her a hard time for always reminding us that we couldn’t fall in love, but it had never occurred to me that Grandma wanted her happily ever after just as much as I did.
“What do you say we go back inside? I’ll get you a drink.”
“In a minute, you go ahead.” I needed to be alone, and think. Or not think.
This wasn’t fair. I wasn’t sure I could do what Grandma had done, and have someone’s baby without any love involved. I couldn’t use someone like that. How could anyone? How had Grandma? Knowing that I’d force my child into the same fate I now suffered through made it even worse. How could I be so cruel?
I wondered what the universe would do if I just never had children. Milan had said that my family was important, vital to the world’s future. Did I really have to chose between passing on our fate and saving the world? Between my child and everybody else? How could anyone make such a decision?
I didn’t have to wait long to realise that the decision was no longer mine to make.
I found out a week before moving into my new house. Our new house.
I was pregnant.
Tour of the house:
I tried to make it small but cosy, and am really pleased with how it turned out :3 Although the garden needs work 😛
You’ll see the nursery in the next update, along with gen 4 😉