2.19

03-14-15_9-41 PM

“Mum? Can we get monkey bars?”

“Monkey bars? Can’t you use the ones at the park or at school?”

“Yeah, I can, but they’re not here…” Sophia reasoned as she looked up at me pleadingly.

I smiled, remembering a very similar request I had made of my Mum when I had been her age. “Monkey bars, huh? Why not.”

“Really? You mean it?” Sophia hugged me, beaming happily at my decision. She hardly ever asked for anything, and Monkey Bars were a good way to stay active for kids, so I had no problem agreeing. A lot of girls in her class wanted to be fairies or own ponies, so her wanting Monkey Bars really wasn’t an issue.

03-14-15_9-38 PM

Not that she needed more motivation for staying active. Sophia had inherited more of her looks from him than I would have liked, but her personality was all me! Or at least I hoped it wasn’t all me. She still had several years left before she’d officially be a teenager, but I was dreading what other aspects of my personality might have found their way into the mix. I was very seriously considering a ‘no dates before you’re eighteen’ rule but knew that it would never work. I had found ways to fool my Mum and knew that Sophia would find ways to fool me. I just had to spoil the idea for her before she was old enough.

Sophia loved our pool. If she wasn’t in the living room dancing she was outside swimming laps. Some mornings I had found her outside before it was time for school, swimming when she should have been getting ready. I was happy to see that she was taking such an interest in being athletic, but hoped that it wouldn’t make her forget other important things. Like school. Or eating.

03-14-15_9-49 PM

Her other passion was dancing. Mum joked that she was just like me when I had been her age but I sincerely hoped that she was kidding! The dancing and swimming I could cope with, but the idea of my daughter dating as soon as she was out of Primary School was too much for me. The things I had been happy to do…. I had never been ‘easy’ like some of the other girls and had always thought that I at least had some standards, but I had still been willing to do some things which the other girl wouldn’t have done. Mum saying that Sophia was just like me…

No. Definitely no dating before she turned eighteen.

03-14-15_9-54 PM

Since Sophia burnt so much energy I had to make sure that she ate enough. Unfortunately for us both my plans of being a better cook for her sake had only gone so far. Cooking simply wasn’t my strong point, but I hoped that my failures were inspiring Sophia to become better than me. Much, much better.

Although, much to Mum’s amusement, Sophia had no great interest in cooking, either. We were both quite happy to eat leftovers for as long as we could or until Gemma complained that we weren’t eating well enough, at which point Gemma usually made us something. She was a far better cook than I was and Sophia and I were grateful for her interventions.

03-26-15_3-41 PM-2

She was a a very neat child. I had no idea who she had gotten it from but when Sophia saw a dirty plate or mug anywhere in the house she’d bring it into the kitchen and wash it. Thanks to her there were no messes to be found in our house, and I was saving up for those Monkey Bars as a reward. Since I regularly gave money to three different charities we no longer had the soft safety cushion that I used to have before Sophia was born, but knowing that I was actually doing something good for people was worth it. We had enough saved up in case of an emergency, but things like Monkey Bars had to wait.

03-26-15_3-44 PM

Since I had the mornings to myself with Sophia in school and my job not starting until two in the afternoon, I had a lot of time to stay in shape. My boss was expecting a lot from me and I wanted to make sure that I could teach Sophia how to defend herself properly, so everyone won!

03-26-15_3-52 PM

Not all of my mornings were spent in my small home gym, though. I did make sure to spend a lot of time with Gemma, who was getting increasingly stressed from her own career. Running your own business was no easy feat, and with the expectations of your father riding on you as well- Well, I was only too glad to take her mind of things every now and again. She wasn’t willing to be away from her office too often, and remembering Milan’s words I didn’t push her, but at least once a week we’d meet up around town for a date.

I loved taking her to the park since that was where we had run into each other again after school, and Gemma said that being surrounded by nature like that was good for her, too. Now that Sophia was slowly getting older we would have to consider Gemma moving in with us again, but I wasn’t willing to press the issue. I was grateful for everything Milan had done for me and didn’t want to tempt fate too much. Mum would never forgive me if I accidentally destroyed the universe.

Things were going well. Sophia was working hard at school, Gemma was working hard in her business, and I wasn’t far off another promotion either. Our lives were pretty quiet and calm for the most part – not something I had thought I would ever want to have! I felt very fulfilled, and a small part of me was grateful that Blaine had raped me. If he hadn’t, I wouldn’t have had Sophia, and I loved Sophia more than anything. We never spoke about her father, but I knew that her friends at school would talk about their parents. She was a clever girl and would notice that their families were different to ours.

So one evening, when Sophia asked the question I had been dreading, I wasn’t surprised to hear it. She sat down next to me, cuddling into my side like she always did when something was bugging her but she wasn’t sure how to tell me what was on her mind.

03-26-15_4-02 PM

“Mummy, do I have a daddy?” She didn’t sound upset that she had never met him, only curious and mildly worried for asking the question. Like I’d be more upset by it than her.

“You do, sweetheart.” I was shaking but hoped that Sophia wouldn’t notice. Having asked at all couldn’t have been easy for her, and I didn’t want to give her the impression that she shouldn’t have done it.

“How come he’s not living here with us?” I bit myself to calm down, thinking that if he had gotten his way we would be living somewhere else entirely.

“He’s-” I paused, wondering what to tell her exactly. I had always hoped that she’d be older by the time she asked me, so that I could tell her the truth, but she was too young for all that right now.

“Did he not want me?” My heart broke at hearing the rejection in her voice.

“That’s not it at all, sweetheart. I think he wanted you a lot, but he’s…. not a good man, Sophia. He’s not living with us because he’s not a good man.”

“Oh. Like Julie’s daddy?”

“I don’t know. Why isn’t Julie’s daddy a good man?”

“She says he’s in prison because he grew bad things in his secret attic garden.” I made a mental note to have a talk with Julie’s Mum.

“Not quite like that. But your daddy is in the same place as hers.”

“So he’s in prison, too?”

I nodded, praying that he’d never get out of it, either. If he laid one finger on my little girl I swear I’d-

“Is he dangerous? Can he hurt you?”

03-26-15_4-03 PM

“No, baby. He can’t hurt anyone where he is now.”

“That’s good. I don’t want him to hurt you, Mummy.”

“I don’t want him to hurt you either, baby.”

“Mummy?”

“Yes, sweetheart?”

“Danny says that you need a mummy and a daddy, otherwise you’re not loved enough.” I scratched out my previous mental note and made a new one to beat up this Danny if I ever met him. Maybe I’d have a chat with his parents and their teacher, too.

“Baby, that’s not true. I love you very much, and so does Gemma and Grandma and Uncle Milan.”

“Do you know your daddy?”

I shook my head, hoping that it would prove to her that it wasn’t as important as this Danny kid made it out to be. “No, it was just me, Grandma and Uncle Milan.”

“So if Milan was like your daddy, is Gemma like my other mummy?”

I smiled, wondering when my baby had grown up so much. “Yes. Gemma and I are your mummies.”

03-26-15_4-02 PM-2

“I like having two mummies. Gemma cooks yummy things and you’re good at sports!” I laughed, pulling her back into my arms while she was still young enough.

She’d be too old to hug her mum before I knew what hit me. For now, I was going to enjoy her being too young to be emberrassed by me.

———————————————————————————–

Notes:

Lilliana is one date away from completing her aspiration, and one more day at work should get her to lvl7 of her career so she doesn’t have too much more to go on that. Sophia’s gen will start officially when Lilli has finished her aspiration and career 🙂 (update: Lilli finished her aspiration in the meantime so it’s just her career (currently lvl8) left to go 🙂 )

2.18

03-14-15_8-59 PM-3

“Your mother is a stubborn woman, Lilli. Convincing her wasn’t easy.” Milan had come over three days after I had called him with a tired smile on his face. He looked exhausted, but talking to my Mum seemed to do that to people. Me and Milan, specifically.

“But you did convince her?” I asked, finding it hard to believe. I knew he would try his best, but he had said it himself – Mum was stubborn. We both knew that better than anyone!

“Eventually. I spoke to the spirit inhabiting me, and a few others.” When Milan had first told me that a spirit shared his body I had found it almost as hard to believe as when he had told me just now that he had convinced Mum. Now I was glad that he had this arrangement, weird as I thought it was. “At this moment they don’t see a disturbance in the universe, but they are… worried, that Gemma will quit her job to be with you.”

03-14-15_8-59 PM

“She’d never do that, she loves what she does.”

“As much as she loves you?”

I paused, not sure how to answer that. I wanted to believe that I meant more to her than her career, but at the same time knew that saying it wasn’t the best answer I could give in that moment. “I don’t know. She is very dedicated to it.”

“The spirits told me that she has plans of leaving her business and being with you all the time. When she suggests that…”

“But I can stay with her? If she doesn’t leave her job?” My heart was racing at the news! If this was the only thing standing between us then it didn’t sound too difficult! We could be together as long as she continued working!

“In theory, yes. She would have pursued the same path if you hadn’t been born, so it is imperative that she continues to follow it until retirement. She cannot quit her job early, neither can you become her new priority. As long as you follow these rules everything should stay in order.”

03-14-15_9-00 PM

I felt my heart beat heavily. This was exactly what Gemma and I had decided on doing anyway. Her leaving the business to move in early was news to me, but if and when she brought it up I’d be able to change her mind. I did want to raise Sophia by myself after all, and knew that she would see reason in the end.

“Thank you. You have no idea how much I appreciate your help.”

He smiled warmly, and nodded. “That’s what uncle’s are there for.”

03-14-15_9-09 PM

Two weeks later Gemma asked to move in. Work was leaving her exhausted most days and she loved coming here afterwards to take care of me and Sophia. Telling her no was harder than I had expected, but she agreed eventually. She understood me wanting to raise her by myself which helped a lot.

Tired as she was, she still made time for us both. Sophia was quickly becoming her daughter as much as she was mine, and a small part of me wanted to tell her that I had changed my mind, that she could move in anytime, but I reminded myself that we couldn’t. I had tempted fate enough as it was and didn’t want to push things any further. I was grateful that I could be with her and knew when to stop asking.

Time flew by quickly after that. Before I knew it my big birthday was just around the corner, and I was beginning to feel old.

03-14-15_9-16 PM

I decided on throwing a small party. There were loads of people I could have invited but didn’t think that any of them would be too thrilled to hear about me and Gemma. I hadn’t been in touch with any of them for a while and hoped that they would have figured that we weren’t together any more by now, but my experience with Blaine had taught me that people weren’t often as simple as that. None of the guys or women I had used to sleep with had contacted me in ages, but I hadn’t heard from Blaine for years before he had suddenly turned up, either.

Still, this was my big birthday and it wasn’t going to be ruined by anything! If there was one thing I knew how to do it was how to throw a great party – even if I had to tune things down a little for Sophia’s sake.

After my birthday we fell into a really nice routine. Gemma was working mornings and early afternoons, and I’d work late afternoons and evenings. There was usually always someone home to look after Sophia, and I was grateful that she didn’t have to go into daycare while I was out. Our work schedules complimented each other perfectly – even if it meant less time for us together.

03-14-15_9-18 PM

Absorbed in my career and raising Sophia I didn’t realise that suddenly her own birthday was only a week away. Mum and I were getting along better after Milan’s approval, and even took a picture together during Sophia’s birthday party. To commemorate the big day. Things were still a little strained between us and I could tell that she was worried, but she was trying and I appreciated it.

Again only the family had been invited. Mum, Milan and Gemma all spoiled her with gifts, and even the cake I had made for her had turned out all right.

03-14-15_9-30 PM-2

She was beautiful. Her wispy blonde strands had grown into lovely thick hair, and I could tell immediately that I had a clever girl on my hands. Soon she’d be a grown teenager and I’d be able to start training her in self defence, but today was all about her.

03-14-15_9-33 PM

“Happy birthday, sweetheart.” I bent down to hug her, tying to hide the few tears that had welled up. It bugged me that there was so much of him in her, but there was a lot of me there, too, and I didn’t want to influence the kind of person she was becoming too much. I doubted she’d be anything like him, but I’d teach her how to defend herself against people like him.

I cut the cake as Mum, Milan and Gemma hugged her in turn, and for the rest of the day I simply enjoyed Sophia’s birthday, marvelling at the beautiful girl she had become.

—————————————————————————–

Notes:

Sophia’s birthday really drove home to me how much TS4 needs a toddler stage :/ I like the babies in this, I think they’ve done well, but her birthday came around far too quickly. Growing from a newborn looking baby into a grown child just seems too quick to me. So apologies if this seemed fast to anyone else – such is the way of TS4 :/

2.17

02-26-15_4-57 PM

“You have to stop seeing Gemma. You do know that, don’t you?” I had been prepared for this, but actually hearing it stung more than I had expected nonetheless. Mum had made no secret out of her dislike for our relationship, and while I understood why she had to be harsh I couldn’t just leave Gemma because she said so! Mum seemed convinced that if I stayed with Gemma, the universe would collapse around us, like our relationship alone would be enough to destroy humanity. How could I believe something like that? We knew nothing about the universe or how any of it really worked. She was here, wasn’t she? As were I and Sophia! According to her and Milan, none of us were supposed to be alive.

I got that I had to be careful but leaving Gemma wasn’t something I was happy to do just on her word alone! For all we knew that spirit they had told me about had been lying to Milan. After all, we didn’t really know anything about them either. What if they were all liars?

Being careful and not risking the end of life as we knew it was fine with me, but I didn’t see how loving Gemma would endanger anything.

02-26-15_4-56 PM

“No. I don’t.” If Mum was going to jump right in, then so was I. No things hidden, all cards on the table.

Her expression confirmed what I had expected. “Yes, you do! Lilli, haven’t you listened to a word I’ve told you? A word we’ve told you?”

“Of course I have! But dating Gemma isn’t going to ruin the course of this universe, Mum, I just don’t see how-”

02-26-15_4-57 PM-2

“I know you love her, Lilli, and trust me, I know what I’m asking you to do isn’t fair, but this is how it has to be! If I could see you both happy, getting married and adopting a few more children then I would love every moment of it, but is it really worth the risk to you?”

Mum sounded genuinely sorry. I knew she didn’t really want to split us up, but for someone who apparently wanted to see us happy she was too persistent.

I thought about Gemma, everything that she was to me. I had never considered settling down until I had met her, and even then it had taken me a while to accept that I loved her. Really loved her. I had played with men and women since my first boyfriend, but Gemma had changed all that. I actually wanted to settle down with her and get married, like Mum had said. Maybe adopt a baby. She did so beautifully with Sophia that I knew she was capable! Sophia adored her, she made a good mother even though she wasn’t here all of the time.

“Yes, it is.”

“Now listen here, Lilli-” Mum sounded fed up with me and my persistence, but I felt the same way about her. We weren’t getting anywhere, but if she kept insisting on having these talks then I would continue to defend what Gemma and I had.

02-26-15_4-58 PM

“No, Mum, you listen to me! This is my house, and this is my life! I love Gemma, whether you like it or not, and I’m not going to break up with her just because of some theories you and Milan have about the world ending! Gemma and Sophia are the two good things that have happened to me, and I won’t throw it away because you’re asking me to!”

“Lilli…”

“When the universe starts crumbling I’ll rethink my options, but right now nothing is going to change. Gemma is going to move in with me once Sophia is old enough, and we’ll be a proper family. With or without you.”

I immediately regretted my harsh words when I saw the look on her face. At least I had made myself clear. Gemma was staying, and Mum had better get used to it. I didn’t want to upset her but I wasn’t going to be intimidated by her, either.

“Lilli, please just consider-” Sophia interrupted us when she started crying in her room.

“My daughter needs me. You should go, Mum, I’m sure you’re busy.” I hated kicking her out. I hated the look on her face. But I was old enough to chose who I was with and I needed her to accept it. After all the people I had been with and her open dislike for that I had thought that she’d approve of me settling for one woman, but it looked like I had been wrong.

She looked like a kicked dog when she left, and I had a feeling that our conversation wasn’t over yet. For now, at least, it was.

02-26-15_5-00 PM

Once Sophia had been fed and I had calmed down a little I decided to call Milan. He was the one who could talk to spirits, after all. If anyone had a realistic idea of what kind of consequences my dating Gemma could possibly have it was him.

He didn’t sound happy to hear about my argument with Mum, but he agreed to talk to her and consult the spirits. I wasn’t sure what exactly could come out of it but if anyone could make Mum see reason it was him.

02-26-15_5-05 PM

Between me trying to get Milan to play peace keeper and me working hard for my next promotion, I still found all the time I could to look after my baby. Sophia was my world, even though I had never expected anything like it. If anyone had told me that I’d be a mother and loving every moment of it two years ago I wouldn’t have bought it. Hell, if anyone had told me that I’d be raped- I had never imagined that one day I might hate the idea of woohooing someone, but a lot of things had changed since Blaine had come here for a ‘visit’. As much as I had hated him at the time, I couldn’t hate my baby. Sophia was beautiful, and she was perfect. She had inherited his eye colour and the first faint strands of wispy blonde hair were showing on her cute little head, but she was mine and he’d never even see her from a distance if I could help it.

02-26-15_5-11 PM-2

And of course Gemma was perfect throughout it all. She was working hard herself, pushing her father’s business to improve every day. I didn’t get to see her as often as I would have liked, but when she was here it was bliss.

What I had told Mum about her moving in with us was true. We had made plans for her to move in once Sophia was a little older, and had started school. Maybe later than that, it partly depended on how her business was going as well as how well my baby grew up. If she wasn’t ready for Gemma to live with us than that was fine. If I didn’t think that she’d be fine with it than that would be fine as well. For now I wanted to raise her by myself. The only reason she had been born was because I had messed up royally as a teenager. Raising her by myself was the least I could do. A poor attempt at fixing past mistakes, but it was something, and I felt like I owed her as much. Gemma was around a lot and Sophia worshipped her, but I wanted the main duties that came with being a mother to be mine.

We’d be a proper family soon enough. Whether Mum gave us her blessing or not.

2.16

02-17-15_11-33 PM-2

Being pregnant wasn’t as bad as everyone had made it out to be. Even Mum had told me in the end that it wasn’t all joy and happiness, but that it actually wore you down and played on your patience a lot. My doctor told me that being as healthy and physically fit as I was helped, but that sooner or later the pain of it all would catch up with me. My body did hurt already, but it was nothing compared to the muscle aches I had put myself through, and it was definitely nothing I couldn’t handle.

I thought I should try and improve my cooking skills a little for his or her sake. I didn’t mind my badly cooked food every now and again but had never put any real effort into my meals and figured that my baby wouldn’t want to live off sandwiches, eggs on toast and salads forever. I was still a long way off the quality my Mum’s food had, but it was slowly becoming edible. If nothing else I got to eat freshly pepared food rather than leftovers more often, and was beginning to enjoy what I was making as I got better. Who knew you had to turn the temperature down again when pouring in the pancaker batter! The more I learned through trial and a lot of error the less surprised I was at how often my meals had burnt.

02-17-15_11-43 PM

A few weeks after the attack I bought a punching bag. I knew that it shouldn’t have been a priority buy, but I felt a little safer having it. I was fast, and I could kick a football into the goal from relatively far away, but as I had found out the hard way I knew nothing about self-defence. No one was going to let me start classes now half way through my pregnancy, but at the very least I could start practising my punches myself. Once my child was old enough I’d be able to teach him or her a few things and sign them up for self-defence classes. What had happened to me would not happen again, and it definitely was not going to happen to my baby!

As the months went by it got more difficult to run on my treadmill for long, too, but throwing a few punches here and there was still bearable and better than no exercise at all.

02-17-15_11-47 PM

Against my Doctor’s advice I continued to go to work. It didn’t take long until I couldn’t take part in matches any more, but my boss allowed me to join the training for as long as I could. When that became too tiring and painful, I watched from the sidelines and cheered my team on. I was effectively back at the bottom of my career for the rest of my pregnancy, but no one made me wear that costume again and my boss was grateful that I was happy to offer moral support.

When I was only three months away from my due date Gemma, Mum and I went to the baby store a couple of towns over. It was a forty minute drive, but Oasis Springs only had a small store at the moment and my baby was due before the new store was meant to open, so we thought we might as well go a little further. The place we went to had beautiful furniture, and Mum and Gemma were gushing over small paintings and stuffed toys before we had spent ten minutes inside. It was a little more expensive, but everything was of very good quality and I had the money spare to be able to afford it.

02-17-15_11-51 PM

I had decided against adding a whole new room to the house. I had spoken with a few different contractors, and each of them had assured me that the shape of my roof would make it difficult to add on to what I had already. All of them gave me higher estimated fees than the last one, so in the end I decided to turn my small dining room into the nursery. Since it would just be me, the baby and one day hopefully Gemma I didn’t need a room just for my table and chairs, and moved them into the living room once we had moved things around a little. Or rather, once Mum, Milan and Gemma had moved things around a little – I was forbidden from moving anything even an inch, no matter how much I assured them that I was fine.

Of course, I didn’t stay ‘fine’ for much longer after that.

02-17-15_11-54 PM

I was huge, and my back was in constant pain. Mum seemed a little smug whenever she thought I wasn’t looking, but neither of us said anything. The pain and aches had finally caught up with me, and I was too hot most of the time. I woke up one day panicking because none of my outfits really suited me being a mother, so Mum and I went into town the next day and I bought a few new things. She told me it was normal to have small, random panic attacks and cravings during pregnancy, but I could see her chuckle at my sudden need to buy new clothes. I felt much more comfortable in my new things, and even tied my hair back. Since I was feeling too hot so often I was also sweating a lot, and having my hair tied back in a pony tail helped a little.

02-17-15_11-54 PM-2

Neither Gemma nor Mum let me go through this pregnancy without discussing baby names with me. We eventually decided on Sophia for a girl, and Leo if I was having a boy. My doctor had offered to tell me the gender but I still wanted it to be a surprise, so we prepared for each case.

Once I entered my eighth month either Mum or Gemma were over every day, all day. They took turns staying over in case my water broke early, and jumped at every small ache I had. We had a bag packed ready to go, and for the last three weeks I wasn’t sure who was more on edge.

02-17-15_11-56 PM

Both of them loved listening and talking to my huge belly, and made all sorts of promises I hoped they’d keep once it was time. Mum kept promising that she’d babysit as often as I wanted, and that she was looking forward to all the girl’s nights in they were going to have. My reminders that we didn’t know that I was having a girl fell on deaf ears.

Gemma was just as excited, and promised my baby all the chocolate they could eat as well as some other things.

“You know, if you end up moving in with me I can’t let you feed him or her nothing but sweets. There’ll be house rules, you know.”

“Sure, but I’m not a biological parent! I can act more like their aunty, which makes it my job to spoil them!” My reminders that this was Mum’s job and not hers also fell on deaf ears.

As nice as it had been at first, the closer I got to my due date the more annoyed I got with them being over all the time. Mum told me it was just my hormones going wild, but Gemma looked a little hurt whenever I told her that I really needed a minute alone. I wasn’t used to living with someone all the time and it was all starting to get to me. The constant attention, the jumping at every sharp intake of breath, the pain everywhere, my Mum calling me every day she wasn’t with me and Gemma calling on all other days – I was desperately ready for this baby to be born.

02-18-15_12-04 AM-2

And then, one night, my water broke. I had been feeling peckish at all random times of the day, and was just on my way back into bed from the kitchen when the worst, most intense pain I had ever felt shot through me. Taken by surprise by it I screamed, waking up Gemma who rushed to my side immediately. She had been napping on top of the covers in her clothes rather than under the covers in her pj’s for about a week so she’d be ready to go whenever it happened. I hadn’t thought it was necessary but now that it was time I was very grateful that she had disagreed with me.

Gemma helped me downstairs, grabbed the bag along the way and led me into the car from where I called Mum while Gemma rushed me to the hospital. All I did was scream into the phone but Mum understood what was happening and arrived at the hospital ten minutes after we did. Milan arrived shortly after, and twelve agonising hours later so did my beautiful baby daughter.

02-18-15_12-05 AM

We were kept at the hospital for a couple of days so that all important tests could be run, and once both of us had received a clean bill of health we were allowed to go home.

Now I just had to hope that I’d be a good Mum for Sophia, and everything would be alright.

2.15

02-17-15_9-16 PM

“Mum? Are you home?”

“I am, sweetheart. You know I’m always home at this time. Did something happen?”

I hesitated for a second, not wanting to say it out loud. “I need to talk to you. Can I come over? Please?”

“Of course you can, sweetheart! Milan is here as well, but I can ask him to leave if-”

“N-no, that’s fine, he can stay.”

“Can you at least tell me what’s wrong? I’m worrie-” I hang up before she could finish that sentence. Before I could tell her I had to admit it to myself first, and that wasn’t so easy.

It had been a busy month. Gemma had moved out again, and I had to give my statement of what had happened to the police who had assured me that Blaine was locked away for now, and would be locked away for a while once the official hearing was over. I really didn’t want to have to attend that in a few months time, and was hoping that my statement alone would be enough. After that I had gone back to work, and threw myself into getting a promotion to help me forget about what had happened. It worked pretty well, especially when my boss told me that I was being considered for the next promotion – until I realised that my period was two weeks late. I had never been late, and Doctor Nikolaidis had assured me that a shock such as what I had experienced could confuse things for a little while, but I had a nagging feeling that a shock to my system wasn’t what was causing this. So I went back for another appointment, and had the test done.

I was- I was- pregnant. I was having a baby. His baby.

I spent the rest of that day in a daze, going home and throwing up violently once I had made it inside. I couldn’t be a mother. I wasn’t fit to be a mother! I couldn’t cook, there was no spare room in my house, and what if the child would be like him? Look like him, speak like him, deranged like him? What would I do if somehow my baby was as insane as Blaine? What would I do if it looked exactly like him? A constant reminder of what he had done to me? Could I love something like that? I had thrown up again at this thought, sick of myself for thinking that I might not be able to love my own baby. I didn’t even want a baby, much less his!

After the day I had found out that I was preg- The day after I had found out I stayed inside alone. I called in sick, and did a lot of thinking. Not inviting men and women around all the time wouldn’t be a problem now that I had Gemma and was committed to her, but I had hardly lived a life that my child could be proud of! I had briefly considered getting rid of it, but the thought alone made me throw up again, and I immediately decided against it. I hated Blaine, more than anyone in this world, but this baby didn’t chose to be born and I wouldn’t punish it for something that wasn’t its fault. His fault. Or her fault. Maybe I could raise the child to make better decisions than I had done. Maybe I could teach him or her some self defence, make sure the same wouldn’t happen to my baby. I wanted to somehow make-up for the life I had led until now, but had no idea how. I just knew that I had a lot of making up to do if I wanted this baby to be proud of me.

I quickly made my way over to Mum’s house, getting nervous when I saw that she was waiting outside.

02-17-15_9-19 PM

“What’s the matter, sweetheart?” I threw myself into her arms right away, worried that I might not be able to keep the tears away. For a moment I had hated myself for not having listened to her. All these times she had told me to be careful, that I couldn’t know who might fall in love with me, what I might set in motion or prevent from happening… But I reminded myself that her warnings had come to late. Blaine’s obsession with me had started years ago, when we had been teenagers, and even if she had warned me then I wouldn’t have listened to her. It was my fault, but only to a small extent. I had allowed him to fall in love with me, but I wasn’t responsible for his delusion.

While I still could, I told her. Mum remained silent while I whispered the words, and simply held me for a few moments before inviting me inside.

“Sit down in the living room, sweetheart, I’ll get you some water.” Grateful that she wasn’t scolding me, I did as she said and sat down in the living room. I didn’t see Milan anywhere but no doubt he was still here.

02-17-15_9-20 PM

“The baby is his, then?” Mum asked, sitting down next to me. All I could do was nod. I really didn’t want to think of him or her as Blaine’s. I didn’t even want to think his name. “And you are keeping it?” I wasn’t sure whether she sounded happy or upset with that, but got my answer when I nodded. “Good, I’m glad you’re keeping it. I’m so proud of you, Lilli.” I wasn’t sure if she would still be proud of me once I told her that Gemma and I were together, but didn’t want to sour the mood right now.

“I feel like I need to atone for my life so far, Mum. I feel like all I’ve done is mess around but nothing worthwhile.” The words left a heavy sinking feeling somewhere between my stomach and my throat, and made my throat clench up a little.

“Oh I don’t know about that. You’re a professional football player, are you not?”

“Yeah, and we’re not exactly role models! I mean, yes, we are seen as role models, but all I’ve done is feed the stereotype! I’m only in the minor league, anyway. I’m hardly playing at the next world cup.”

“Maybe not, but that doesn’t prevent you from earning a good amount of money, does it?” Not knowing what she was getting at, I shrugged.

02-17-15_9-21 PM

“Have you thought about charity, sweetheart?” Charity? Did I have enough money to spare for that? She was right, I did earn quite a lot, but was it enough for me to give some away? The house needed small renovations, I needed to figure out how to fit a nursery, maybe even add a room-

“Once I know how much I’ll need to spend on the baby I could… But which one? Aren’t there millions of different ones?”

Mum smiled. “Not that many, but why don’t you have a look? I’m sure you’ll find something you could support. And you would be making a wonderful contribution to our future, sweetheart.” I wasn’t sure I wanted to think about it in those terms – I wasn’t going to support a charity because I owed some spirit something or anything like that – but she was right. If I could find the right charity, maybe something for abused women and something towards curing cancer or something similar, then that could potentially make a huge difference!

Just as I was getting excited, Milan stepped into the room. “What’s this I’m hearing about a baby?” Somehow, from him, it didn’t bother me. I even felt a smile spread on my face, and against my will it kept growing.

“I’m having a baby.”

02-17-15_11-20 PM

“I wish the circumstances were better, but congratulations. Let us know if you need anything.” I nodded, getting up to give him a hug.

“Thank you” I said, and I meant it. I knew next to nothing about raising a child or pregnancy. If they were offering me help then I was in no position to turn it down! Were there books I could read? Could I continue to go to work and for how long? Didn’t I have to attend classes or something like that?

“Of course. Just give us a call if you need anything or when it’s time, one of us can drive you to the hospital.” I nodded, grateful for all the help they were offering.

02-17-15_11-21 PM-2

“Maybe I should stay with you when you’re closer to your due date. I’m sure you’d feel better if someone was already with you and you could save yourself the phone call.” Like in a daze, I nodded again. I didn’t even know exactly when my due date was! I had left my last appointment in a small panic and hadn’t thought to ask.

I stayed for another hour after that, talking to Mum about how her pregnancy had gone so that I knew what to expect. I felt so under-prepared at the moment that I figured that any small information could only help, even if it was putting me off the whole thing a little. Women in movies always made it look so fun and so rewarding, like it was the best experience of their lives, but if Mum’s first-hand experience was anything to go on it was anything but.

Once I got home I gave Gemma a quick call, who promised to be over as soon as she was done in the office.

Three hours later she knocked on my door, and I steeled myself for her reaction.

02-17-15_11-26 PM-2

Instead of answering right away, she studied my face carefully as if she was trying to see whether I was lying or not. “And that is a good thing?” She spoke very slowly, and I couldn’t tell whether she was uncomfortable or just trying to gauge my own feelings towards the situation similar to how Mum had done. I nodded, watching her just as carefully as her face lit up. “Oh Lilli, that is wonderful news! A baby? I’m so happy for you!” She hesitated and blushed, looking every bit like I had caught her with her hands in my cookie jar ten minutes before dinner. “I mean, don’t get me wrong, I hate him for what he did to you. No prison sentence could ever be long enough if you ask me, but I’m so glad that you’ve decided to keep it. Do you know if it’s a boy or a girl yet?”

“No, it’s too early for that. I don’t think I want to find out.”

“A surprise? Have you thought about names? I could help you decorate the room if you- Oh, that’s right! Where are you going to have the nursery? Will you have to add on to your house?” Her enthusiasm was infectious, and before I knew it I was excited myself. If Gemma was willing to help as well and stay with me and maybe raise the baby with me, then maybe I would do all right!

2.14

Everything hurt. From somewhere near me I heard a strange beeping sound, a fan closeby cooled the air to a temperature which felt almost too cold but still comfortable for the moment. Slowly I opened my eyes, staring at the unfamiliar white wall in front of me.

02-08-15_3-19 PM

I had no idea where I was. The room was plain, neutral but not completely unfriendly, and the air around me smelled sterile. Like a hospital. Did that mean that Blaine hadn’t kidnapped me? Or had he taken me to his home, but had taken me into a hospital after whatever it was that he had done to me? Or maybe this was simply his style? I had pictured his tastes to be darker, but he had proven that I didn’t know him any more. I certainly didn’t know him well enough any more to know how he might decorate his home.

Carefully, I moved an arm. Pain shot through me, and I quickly stopped. I turned my eyes down towards the rest of my body, and saw that I was in a white gown. I was also bruised in several spots. Maybe I was in a hospital after all, then?

Very carefully, I turned my head a little to have a closer look at my new surroundings.

02-08-15_3-20 PM

A clock told me that it was just gone 5pm, but I had no idea which day it was. How long had I slept? Was it the next day or had I lost more than that? The blinds on the window were shut so I couldn’t tell whether it was early morning or afternoon, but a little bit of light managed to find its way in so I guessed that it was early evening.

A few flowers were arranged on a table close to a door. They all had cards on them but I couldn’t see any of them clearly enough from where I was to figure out who had left them here. But that meant… A massive wave of relief washed over me, and I felt my eyes sting with hot tears. Would Blaine have allowed my family to leave flowers for me? Unlikely. He had been too set on snatching me up and taking me away. Plus, neither Mum nor Milan would have allowed him to just carry me off if they knew where I was. If he had taken me. The fact that someone had left flowers told me that he hadn’t. Unless he had left some himself and had instructed his employees to show their respect? He had seemed power hungry and completely deranged, so wasn’t that possible?

The strain of turning my head was beginning to hurt too much, so I turned myself back around. Outside my door I could hear movements and voices, but none that I recognised. Wherever I was, whoever had gotten me here, no one was with me now.

02-08-15_3-20 PM-2

Sudden regret coursed through me. Would Dev be here if he knew that I was injured? Would Todd have come if someone had told him where I was? Were any of the flowers from him? If Mum was in hospital, Milan wouldn’t leave her side easily, and according to her they weren’t even a couple! Evidently, I didn’t have anyone who was willing to stay with me until I woke up. Unless Blaine kept me isolated from everyone I knew.

More tears were beginning to form when I heard my door open. I squeezed my eyes shut while trying to strain my ears. If this was his voice, then… I didn’t know. I could hardly move my arm, never mind run away. If it was him then I was trapped. If it was someone else, I had some lifestyle choices to reconsider.

“You can go home if you want. Doctor Nikolaidis said that you’ve been here since you arrived last night, I’m sure you’re tired.” Mum! I took a sharp, raspy breath in at the familiar voice. Nothing had ever sounded so good until-

“No, it’s fine. I want to be here. I’ll sleep when she’s up and I know that she’s alright.” The tears that had filld my eyes before were now feeling dangerously close to spilling out. Gemma was here. And what was that? She had been here this whole time? I had been wrong. Someone had wanted to stay with me to make sure that I was alright. I choked at the lump in my throat, making my two visitors spin around.

“Sweetheart?” Mum’s voice sounded urgent, rushed, like any sound at all from me had been the only thing she had wanted to hear. I heard feet shuffle, and moments later I felt a soft, warm hand on my cheeks.

“She’s awake! Oh God, Lilli, we were so scared!”

“I want to sit up…” Now that I knew that I wasn’t alone after all, my heart was racing and I didn’t think that I could bear lying down any longer.

“You should rest, sweetheart, Doctor Nikolaidis said-”

“Here, come on, let me help you up.” Ignoring my Mum entirely, Gemma moved her hand to my back and her other to my shoulder, helping me as I slowly sat up. The cold air on my feet and bruises felt so good that it brought more tears to my eyes.

02-08-15_3-27 PM-2

“How are you feeling, sweetheart?”

“Shaky. Everything hurts, Mum.” The lump in my throat choked off whatever else I could have said, but Mum just squeezed my hand and I felt better. For the first time in a while I didn’t mind that she was making me feel like a little kid again. I really hoped that whatever Blaine had done to me could be fixed as easily as a scraped knee needing nothing but a kiss.

“I’m not surprised. That bastard didn’t go easy on you.” My expression must have changed, because Mum added “Don’t worry, he’s locked up for a long time. He won’t be coming anywhere near you again, sweetheart.” Locked up? So someone had found him while he was still with me?

“What happened?”

02-08-15_3-28 PM

“Gemma here can answer that” Mum said, smiling towards her. “She was the one who found you, alerted the police and called an ambulance.”

Within seconds Gemma was next to me, hugging me tight. It hurt, but I didn’t mind. It felt good more than anything. “Oh Lilli, I’m so glad to see you’re alright! When I arrived at your place last night I heard screaming. I had been held up a little because I went to buy- I was held up, so it took me longer to get to yours. When I did I heard screaming. I wasn’t sure what to make of it, but they didn’t sound like your usual screams so-” She stopped dead mid-sentence when she realised what she had just said. Blushing, she threw an apologetic glance at Mum, who acted like she hadn’t heard. “I thought something was wrong. I peeked around the corner through the window, and saw some guy leaning over you. You looked pretty out of it. He hit you, Lilli. You were naked, and he was obviously hurting you. That’s when I called the police and the ambulance.” I sent a silent thank you to whichever God wanted to take credit for me deciding that day that I needed to ask Gemma to be my girlfriend.

“Thank you.” I didn’t know what else to say. What else could I say?

“Gemma didn’t leave your side once since you got here.”

“Well, not unless I needed the bathroom. Your Doctor and the nurses kept insisting that I should eat something if I was going to stay, so I had to buy snacks every now and again, too. I did that just now, actually. I ran into your Mum on the way back from the vending machine. If I had known that you were about to wake up I would have bought you some chocolate! The Doctor said that you’d need something sweet in case you felt sick or dizzy.”

“I’m okay, Gemma. Thank you.” Eating was the last thing I wanted to do right now.

“The flowers are from your Mum and Milan, someone called Devante, and someone called Todd. I would have bought you some but I was in here, with you.” I’d never be able to tell her just how grateful I really was.

“I’ll go tell the nurse that you’re awake. Maybe we can get you back home by tonight, or the morning.” I nodded, and Mum left.

*

I was discharged the next morning. Doctor Nikolaidis ran some more tests to make sure I was definitely fine and hadn’t sustained any more injuries, but had advised that I’d stay the night in case I felt worse for any reason. Since I was fine by 11am the following morning, I was allowed to leave and Mum and Milan came by to drive me back home.

For a whole week after that, Gemma moved in with me. It wasn’t easy for her, working from here rather than from her home, but she insisted and I was relieved that I didn’t have to be alone. I knew that Blaine was locked up tight, but for the first few days at least I jumped at every unexpected sound. Todd and Dev kept calling me, saying they wanted to come over, but I kept refusing. If this incident had done one thing for me it was that I was sure that I loved Gemma. Just, I had no idea how to tell her what I had wanted to tell her that night now. I had been prepared then, now I was anything but. We were sharing my bed, and while I loved having her this close to me it didn’t help matters.

Until almost one week after I had been discharged from hospital, she took matters into her own hands.

02-08-15_3-36 PM-2

“Say, Lilli…”

“Hm?”

“What was it you wanted to talk to me about? I’m glad that you asked me to come over when you did, but you had asked me here for a reason and well, we didn’t exactly get a chance to talk about it since then.” I could see that she was uncomfortable, but I wondered if it was anywhere near what I felt. She wanted to do this now? Damn it, I should have practiced a speech in my head!

02-08-15_3-37 PM

“You remembered that, huh.” Dodging didn’t help things, but I wasn’t sure any more how to say it.

“Yeah, I’ve been thinking about it a lot, actually. I hope I’m not intruding by being here, I just didn’t want you to be alone after getting back home. I can’t stay a lot longer, the business needs me, but if you’re uncomfortable with me being here…”

“Why do you think I’m uncomfortable?” Maker, I hadn’t done anything to make her feel like I didn’t want her here, had I?

“It’s just…” Gemma sighed, looking at her feet. “Sometimes, when you look at me, I can’t quite read you. It’s like you want to say something but don’t know how. I was wondering if, maybe, well, if you wanted me to stop coming over.” Even without her looking right at me I could see the pain on her face, and I felt it mirrored in me. Why hadn’t I noticed how I made her feel?

02-08-15_3-39 PM

I didn’t want her to feel like this for another second. “I love you.”

“What?” Gemma blushed, slightly lifting her head so she could look at me to see if I was kidding.

“I- I love you. It took me a while to figure it out, but I love you. That night I asked you to come over because I wanted to ask you to be my girlfriend.” Maker, was I relieved this had come out right! I wasn’t sure who was blushing more, me or her. It definitely looked better on her.

“Y-you mean it?” All I could do was nod. She looked so hopeful, so happy. I had done that. I had made her happy. For the first time in my life I felt like maybe, making her happy was all I wanted to do. “I love you, too. But you already knew that. And… yes.”

“Yes?”

“I want to be your girlfriend.”

02-08-15_3-39 PM-2

Lost for words, I pulled her close and kissed her, completely preoccupied with her scent and with how she felt against me.

2.13

Anxious and more than a little nervous, I paced around the house. I couldn’t remember the last time I had felt this nervous! The more I waited, mentally preparing the words I was going to say to her, the more I was beginning to believe that I actually had feelings for Gemma. I couldn’t say for sure if I loved her unconditionally, like the kind of love you saw in the movies, but I did know that me feeling this nervous about someone visiting me wasn’t normal. And to think I had liked her since school…  Had I been in love with her this long, too? Was I definitely in love with her now? I had never meant it when I had entered a relationship before. This time, I thought I could try to be a girlfriend, as long as it was with her.

When I heard the familiar knock on my door my heart took a giant leap into my throat. My legs shaking (maybe I was simply still drunk?), I went to open the door – but it wasn’t Gemma.

“Blaine?” I hadn’t seen him since the night I had broken up with him. He had left town and last I heard he had studied business somewhere at some rich-kid university, but after that all news had gone quiet. Seeing him in his suit now told me that he had been successful with whatever he had set out to do.

“Lilliana! May I come in?” He walked straight past me, not even waiting for an answer.

“Erm… Yeah, sure. Please, make yourself at home.” I followed him into my living room, and felt myself become irritated when he picked up picture frames and small items. Like this was his home, not mine, and he had a claim to everything in it.

02-17-15_9-02 PM

“So what brings you back to Oasis Springs?” I asked, trying my hardest not to let my irritation show.

Mock confusion written plainly on his face, he studied me. A little too carefully, but I didn’t object. I had invited Gemma over, and didn’t have time to entertain him. Was this what he had come for? Woohoo? Well, I didn’t have time. With surprise I realised that I didn’t even want him.

“Whatever do you mean, my dear? I came back for you, of course!”

“I don’t mean to be rude, Blaine, but you’ve picked a bad evening to come back. I don’t have time tonight, we’ll have to catch up another day. Is Saturday good for you?” There was something different about him other than the suit and the hair. Something about him made me feel uncomfortable, but I couldn’t put my finger on it.

“Ah, yes. I heard about the people you have invited into your house. Our house, I should say. Don’t worry about it, my dear, I am prepared to forgive you. Now that I am back you won’t need their companionship any more.”

“What the hell are you on about?” Had he somehow not understood what I had meant when I had broken up with him? Faintly, in the back of my mind, his words echoed, threatening me. Didn’t he say I’d regret breaking up with him? That couldn’t possibly be why he was here! Just what was he going to do? Leave fingerprints on all my pictures?

Before I could ask him to leave, he had pulled me into his arms and forced his lips hard against mine.

02-17-15_9-07 PM

For the first time ever, I found myself in a position where I didn’t want this to go on. I didn’t enjoy the kiss, and I definitely didn’t enjoy what he was trying to do with his tongue. The way his hands began to wander down my back made me feel increasingly uncomfortable, and for the first time in my life I pushed him away.

Just, I couldn’t. He was stronger than me, and his arms wouldn’t budge until he was done.

“Get off of me!”

02-17-15_9-06 PM

“I will forgive that. I did leave very abruptly, after all. I should have called, let you know I was on my way. Of course you’re confused, why wouldn’t you be?” Slowly, he cupped my face in his hands. He was so close I could feel his breath on my skin.

“Let’s see, because I broke up with you? You seem to have misunderstood something, Blaine! I wasn’t kidding when I said that we were through, I left you! We’re not together any more!” He kissed me again, less forceful than last time, and sat down on my sofa. Like he had a right to it.

02-17-15_9-04 PM-2

“Ah, yes. That incident. But I told you I’d come back for you, didn’t I? I’m back, Lilliana. I must say, you have built a rather beautiful home for us. Of course, we can’t stay here. My business requires me to be on site a lot of the time, but don’t worry. I’ll make time for you, my dear. I’ll see to it that all your needs are taken care off.”

The smile he gave me was the final straw. How dare he come into my home like this, acting like all he had to do was say the word and I’d come with him? Who the hell did he think he was?

02-17-15_9-04 PM

“I’ll only ask you this once, Blaine. Leave my house, now.”

“I understand you need some time to adjust, my dear. Do watch your tongue. Is this any way to speak to your betrothed?”

“Betrothe- You’re insane. Get out, now.”

“That’s not going to happen, my dear Lilliana. You’re mine, you always have been mine, and I expect you to behave accordingly. Why don’t we move upstairs so we can catch up? It has been many years, it’s about time you remembered who you share your bed with.” I never thought I would ever think this, but woohoo with him was the last thing I wanted in that moment.

“I’ve warned you, Blaine. How dare you come into my home and speak to me this way? I’m calling the police. You can either leave on your own or you can wait for them to escort you, either way is fine with me.” I turned around, and regretted it almost instantly.

02-17-15_9-03 PM

“You will pay for this disrespect. Don’t worry, my dear. You have all night and the rest of our lives to make it up to me.” In an instant his arms were around me, a sharp needle piercing my neck.

His hand wandering down my back and onto my legs was the last thing I remembered before everything went black.