Chapter 7

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Warnings: Close to 5K words, and over 30 pictures. Nothing else too harsh, though!

He saw the child notice him out of the corner of his eye. She approached him slowly, her gaze questioning and captivated. She stopped when she was only a few feet from him, and she tugged on a lock of her hair. “Why do you draw on your face?”

The direct disapproval in her small voice surprised him, and he looked up from his newspaper. She held one hand on her hip in a purely innocent imitation he assumed was from her mother. His lip quirked again as he lowered his paper.

——————-

Hector and his family left two days later after their shouting match, leaving most of their belongings behind. Carlos was sure it was a sign left unsaid from his brother that things were never closed between them. He didn’t mind. He was only thankful for his solitude, which he had so desperately needed.

The shock of Mark’s death had long since worn off, but the guilt remained. The never-ending circle of thoughts, of memories, of how he could have done things so much better…smarter.

Determinedly, he shuttered out thoughts of his former partner. For the next three weeks, he threw himself into his physical therapy sessions, focused on getting the use of his arm back to full potential. Somewhere in the back of his mind he knew that if he couldn’t regain the full use of his upper body, the minor hearing loss and the blindness would be enough to kick him off the force for good.

If that hadn’t already happened in his absence. The thought of losing his job on top of everything he’d endured was just unbearable. He needed to work. He needed it to put order back into his life. He needed it to help him forget about how badly he’d messed up the life of his friend, and how he had risked the lives of his cadets. He had to make it right.

The weather was warm for March here. He wasn’t used to it. It made his apartment stuffy, since he’d refused to have the air conditioner hooked up when he’d moved in. He’d insisted that since it was winter, he wouldn’t need it. Hector had warned him that there may come a day that he’d want it. Even now, three months later, he hated to admit that his brother was right.

Leaving his warm apartment, he sighed at the small breeze he could feel in the open air. Rounding the corner, he walked the familiar skinny path between his building and the hedge that bordered the playground, tucking his newspaper under his arm as he went. He wound his way into the labyrinth of trees and hedges until he found the small fountain that had been set in the center between two wooden benches.

Settling down onto one of the benches, he pulled out his newspaper, preparing to immerse himself into the local news and possibly a cryptogram if they had it.

1

The sun crawled toward the horizon as the day began to close. Carlos had nearly finished the last article – something about a local mall cop getting recognized for his valor during a break in, so of course, Carlos was interested – and so engrossed was he, that he almost didn’t hear the rustle of the bushes near the lattice fence that separated the garden from the playground. He heard one of the twigs snap to his left, and he turned his head in that direction, overly cautious when he couldn’t see or hear as well as he used to on that side.

He saw that it was a small girl – perhaps the age of four or five – that had squeezed her way out from behind the hedge. She had long sable hair pulled back on either side by barrettes, but a few wisps were already escaping due to her struggle with the bush. Her eyes were bright with victory as she stood to survey her surroundings, and a small smile lifted the corner of his lips; he could remember being just as proud of himself at her age for having wrestled his way through a break in a chain link fence that he thought no one had ever conquered. Relaxing, he turned back to his paper, shaking it out.

2

He saw the child notice him out of the corner of his eye. She approached him slowly, her gaze questioning and captivated. She stopped when she was only a few feet from him, and she tugged on a lock of her hair. “Why do you draw on your face?”

3

The direct disapproval in her small voice surprised him, and he looked up from his newspaper. She held one hand on her hip in a purely innocent imitation he assumed was from her mother. His lip quirked again as he lowered his paper.

“I don’t draw on my face, little one… these are scars. They are part of my skin.”

4

The little girl tipped her head to consider him. “You talk funny.”

He nearly laughed. She was incredibly charming for being so direct. “That’s because I have an accent,” he said, then tried to think of a way he could explain that word to her if she asked him what it meant. She surprised him, however, when her eyes widened with acknowledgement.

6

“My Uncle Colton has a accent, too!” She beamed up at him toothily, swinging her arms. Carlos was surprised to find himself smiling – actually smiling! – back at her. Her character was infectious, just like Lydia’s. It made him miss his nieces fiercely, which caught him by surprise. It had only been a month since he’d seen them. Had he really acclimated to them living with him so quickly?

Suddenly, the little girl whipped her head around at a woman’s voice. “Lilah? What are you doing?”

“I made a new friend, Mommy!” Lilah crowed proudly.

7

Lilah’s mother came into view from around the hedges that lined the playground. She was of average height and build, with short cropped hair the color of rich, bold chestnut. Her eyes passed over him quickly, dismissing him almost as instantly, and she knelt down to her daughter’s height, turning her away from him. Carlos suddenly felt as if he were the one intruding, and the feeling disarmed him. He was great with kids! She had nothing to worry about…

8

“Come on, honey, you don’t need to be bothering this man,” she said, her voice soft. Her gaze switched to his briefly, not quite meeting his eyes before hers shied away, and she smiled apologetically. “I’m sorry if she disrupted you.”

Bitter resentment tore through him as he realized she was skittish of him because of his scars. A year ago he had never had to deal with disapproving glances and shy women… he’d have had his choice of them.

Not that he would have chosen this one in particular, anyway. Sure, she was knock-out material, but mothers were always much too critical and always trying to get a stronger commitment out of him than he was ever willing to extend. Plus, they were always looking for a Daddy-figure, and even if he was great with kids, it didn’t mean he wanted to have one. In fact, he’d sworn off the idea of children when he still a child himself. He wasn’t father material.

Carlos shook his head, folding his newspaper, affecting a laid back appearance to put the mother at ease. “She didn’t disrupt me. She’s quite charming, actually.”

9

He saw the way she paused slightly at his voice, the way she looked up at him more sharply and clearly that she had before, but her eyes passed over the angry scars along his cheek and her gaze shied away again. He felt his cheeks flame slightly at the dismissal.

“Thank you,” she murmured. She stood up with her daughter’s hand clasped in hers. “Papa’s here. Are you ready to go?”

Lilah bounced excitedly. “Papa’s here! Papa’s here! Bye, Mr. Man!” she said, waving her hand at Carlos dismissively. She tugged on her mother’s arm; the effort she threw into it was almost comical. “Come on, Mommy!”

Her mother laughed and threw him another half-shrug, and he couldn’t help but laugh at his new nickname. He twisted around to wave at the little girl. “Goodbye, Querida, have a good time with your Papa.”

He turned away, chuckling to himself as he finished refolding his newspaper. He didn’t see the way the woman had frozen in her tracks, her skin losing all color as if she’d seen a ghost. When he rose and turned towards the small hedge-lined path, she had appeared to have left. He remembered thinking it was a pity, really, because he’d have liked to watch her walk away.

Turning the corner, he tucked the newspaper below his elbow.

“Wait…!”

He turned sharply at the sound, finding the mother running back around the corner, childless. He stopped and allowed her to approach him, seeing her eyes search his features restlessly, as if searching for some type of recognition. It startled him.

“What did you call her?” she asked. No, whispered. If his left ear had been turned toward her he might not have caught it. His mind raced backwards, trying to distinguish if he’d sounded threatening at all. Perhaps she was afraid if he had called her daughter some other racial slur…?

Querida. It’s Spanish. It means ‘dear one’ or ‘sweetheart’,” he explained slowly, frowning slightly as she continued to search his face as if she weren’t even listening. As if she already knew the answer to her question. When she didn’t answer right away, he held up his hand. “I didn’t mean to offend you.”

She drew breath as if it were hard for her to breathe. She shook her head and murmured, “You didn’t offend me.”

Carlos waited for her to go on, to say something else, perhaps the reason she’d called for him to wait. She took another step forward toward him, and everything inside of him wanted to shadow her step backward, to keep the distance between them, but suddenly he felt rooted to the spot. Her eyes were wide, and glittering, and…and something else. Something familiar. But it couldn’t be…the odds were preposterous, weren’t they?

Before he could analyze that any further, she was asking him what his name was. He answered her as if in a trance. “Carlos,” he answered slowly. “My name is Carlos.”

“Carlos.” The name left her lips on a rapid rush of air, and she seemed to wobble as if her legs were constructed from jell-o.

“Whoa, hey…hey!” He exclaimed, his hands reaching out to grasp her arms and steady her. She blinked slowly as if trying desperately to see through a clouded room. When her vision seemed to clear, she repeated his name, looking back up at his features as he straightened her.

“It’s you,” she said absently, looking up at him. And suddenly, that ‘something familiar’ he’d felt when he’d looked into her eyes, came colliding back to him. His hands stilled on her upper arms, and he paused as he stared at her, the features connecting with the vision of a memory he’d held in his mind for years, clicking into place like a puzzle. Same nose. Click. Same lips. Click. Same chin. Click.

Same eyes. Yes, the sunglasses he wore obscured their correct color, but he could see now that he was close enough to her: they were the exact sea-green mixed with gray that he remembered.  He realized belatedly his hands had tightened on her arms as he held her, but he didn’t remove them. He couldn’t. It was like an electric current held him in place, frozen. He spoke from barely parted lips.

“Christiana?”

She let go of a puff of air. “You remember me,” she said.

…Click!

Suddenly it was all he could do to keep them both standing upright. Years of fantasizing about this moment had not prepared him. He’d found her. He’d found her. And he hadn’t even been trying.

Breathing hard, he spoke fervently. Intensely. “Of course I remember you.” He was amazed the words came out in English. He felt wholly unlike himself, and usually when that happened he spoke in his native language. She swallowed and her eyes flickered over his cheek again quickly.

And then, of course, he remembered the reason he hadn’t wanted to find her.

Relaxing his grip from her arms by slow degrees, he stepped back from her, allowing her to steady herself before removing his hands entirely. Her entire body was trembling and she hugged her arms around herself, unwilling – or unable – to stop from staring at him with that wide gaze she had. His hands burned from touching her. He flexed them, trying to rid them of the feel of her.

“You’re shaking,” he pointed out softly. “Are you all right?”

She laughed breathlessly. Nervously. “Yes.” A short pause, and then she shook her head. “No,” she said, laughing again. “I’m…I’m in shock, I think. I need to sit down.”

Concerned, he ushered her back to the bench he’d been sitting on and stood by awkwardly, unsure of what to do. After a moment, he spoke, his voice sounding strange and foreign in his ears. “Would you like some water or tea?” He indicated the building. “My apartment is right here.”

She nodded numbly, and he wasn’t sure what he’d wanted her to say – if he wanted her to agree or to refuse the offer…or maybe it was a little of both. His thoughts were muddling together, mixing with his memory, his fantasy, and this reality. It was not at all as he’d expected. This was far more nerve wracking than he’d ever anticipated.

The adrenaline had caught up to Christiana, making her limbs heavy and her stomach rolled and pitched with nerves as she followed him around to the front of the building. She walked with her arms crossed tightly against her chest, forcing her wooden legs forward.

The entrance to his apartment was much like the rest of the buildings; a small vestibule, a tight-winding spiral staircase that led to the upper floors. The front hall was neat and tidy, sparse in decoration. But as she slowly climbed the staircase and encountered the main living space, her heart sank rapidly.

Furniture was angled precisely towards each other, centered around the fireplace. A pair of over-stuffed chairs sat on an expensive looking woven rug, with matching pillows wedged into the back of the seats. Window treatments hung from the rods high above the tops of the windows.

This was no bachelor’s apartment. This was decorated with a woman’s touch.

Why that should surprise her, she didn’t know. She had no right to feel disappointed that he was with someone.

Clamping her teeth together to keep them from chattering with nerves, she let him lead her into a small room off of the living room. It sported a highly complicated looking television with shelves bolted into the walls alongside it. Several plants and picture frames were arranged precisely on them, taunting her.

He gestured to the couch, asking her what she’d like to drink. “Water would be fine,” she said, forcing a smile on her lips as she perched on the edge of the couch. It smelled like him in this room. A spiced, woodsy scent that even now seemed to send her memories from long ago. She hadn’t even known he’d been wearing cologne that night.

Carlos had left her briefly and she could hear water running in the kitchen. It all seemed so strange to her. So normal. The sounds of him moving in the kitchen were so anticlimactic. She bit her lip as she considered that.

What had she really expected? The thousand times she’d played this out in her mind…had she truly ever dreamed he’d throw himself at her, and they’d reprise the one night they spent together, just like that? She didn’t even know him. She was in a stranger’s house. The things that were making her feel a vague familiarity with the man should be things that set her on edge.

Carlos returned with a glass of water and handed it gently to her. She took great pains to avoid physical contact when her fingers touched the glass, but part of his fingertip grazed her knuckle, and she could feel the warmth of his skin zing all down her arm. She took a sip of the water, too self-conscious to do or say anything else, and he sat on the opposite end of the couch, surveying her.

Setting her glass down on the coffee table in front of them, she looked around the room, focusing on anything other than him. Suddenly she felt incredibly shy. The man knew what she looked like naked, but she didn’t even know what to say to him. Her foot bobbed nervously against the floor boards.

Luckily she didn’t have to break the ice: he did it for her. “I’m sorry for the mess.” He indicated the boxes that were piled in the corner of the room – the only scene of disarray she’d spied since entering his apartment – which also happened to be what her roving gaze had stopped on when she’d been looking around the room, although she hadn’t even really seen it until now. The boxes were stacked together with a short lamp sitting precariously on top; the rest of it acted as a very tall and unstable bookcase.

“Oh, believe me, this is nothing,” she said, a little too breathlessly. Her eyes passed over the bedraggled teddy bear that was leaning against one of the boxes. Her heart squeezed tightly in her chest before she moved her eyes away. He must have a child. She hadn’t even thought of the possibility until now.

“How long have you lived here?” she asked, finally bringing her gaze to meet his. Strange how he still wore his sunglasses inside, even though the light from the evening sun was on the other side of the building now. The room was dim, with a wide view of the ferry docks out of the window, the water reflecting the pink and russet hues of sunset, making the waves purple.

“About four months.”

Bringing the water to her lips again she forced herself to keep making conversation. Keep distracting herself from the tumultuous thoughts that were warring with each other in her head. “What made you decide to move here?”

His manner seemed gruff and bitter all of sudden. “I am here temporarily. For rehab.”

Christiana nearly choked on her water. She coughed slightly once she had swallowed. “Oh,” she said, unsure of what else to say. Her mind was already conjuring scenarios she had imagined before, when she had been sure the ‘scarred man’ was a drug dealer. Could it be true, then? She had never even considered this angle before when she’d envisioned finding him someday. She didn’t know what to say. What do you say to someone who might have just admitted to being in rehab?

Her thoughts were whirling out of control as she fought for something supportive to say to him, when all of a sudden Carlos’ dark chuckle was what brought her back to the present.

“Not drug rehab,” he explained, shaking his head, reading the thoughts clear off her expression.

She blushed sheepishly, nodding in acknowledgement. Determined not to appear flustered in front of him, she took another sip of water. “Alcohol?”

The corner of his mouth lifted in amusement. “No. Occupational rehabilitation. Physical therapy. For my arm.” He showed her by rolling his left shoulder and flexing his arm out sideways. She could see some of the same scars that decorated his face and neck extended down his arm under his rolled sleeve, too. “I am here to regain the use of it.”

“Oh,” she nodded weakly. “What hap…I mean,” she floundered, feeling guilty for having brought up his altered appearance so quickly.

His mouth thinned into a grim line, but he finished her question for her. “What happened?” She nodded, her wide gaze on his.

His tone became gruff and distant, as if he were reading from a text book instead of holding conversation. “I was in an accident at work. An explosion. I was too close to the blast, and this whole side got the majority of it.” He swept his right hand down the length of his arm. “I was…very lucky to come out of it alive,” he said, hesitating, then a bitter twist of his mouth turned up in a grimace as he turned away to look out the window for a moment.

Christiana realized she’d been holding her breath, waiting for more to the story, but he seemed shut off. She didn’t want to press him, so she asked a different question. “What sort of work do you do?”

It seemed to reach him, wherever his thoughts had taken him, and he turned back to her. “I’m a police officer.”

“Oh wow,” she said, smiling. “That must keep you on your toes.”

He chuckled softly. “Yes. And what about you, Christiana? What keeps you on your toes?”

His voice had this strange way of caressing her name as if it were something fragile being wrapped in silk. The ‘r’ rolled briefly, lending an exotic air to her name, and he made sure there was always four syllables when most people tried to fit it into three by rushing through it. He took his time pronouncing it.

With a start, she realized he was charming her all over again. She shook herself loose from it.

“Lilah,” she said automatically, in response to his question. She was sure he was asking after what she did as a job…but her daughter’s name was the first thing to pop into her head when he mentioned running around.

Their daughter. She’d never once been scared of that thought until now.

He laughed at her abrupt answer. “That I can see.” There was no heat in his voice, only fondness. “How old is she?”

Christiana’s lips were stiff as she answered, scared that he would catch on any moment. “Five.”

He didn’t seem to notice her sudden anxiety. He only smiled, nodding. “That’s what I had guessed her to be. She reminds me of my niece when she was her age.”

Now you should tell him. Right now. Get it over with. Like ripping off a Band-Aid.

But she couldn’t. The words stuck in her throat; glued to her tongue; fixed to her teeth.

So she thought of something else to say, to keep him talking. “How old is she now?”

“She’s seven.”

Christiana nodded, refocusing back on the conversation. Her emotions and thoughts were everywhere. She didn’t want to seem rude. Her gaze flitted around the room again, landing on the teddy bear lying on his side against one of the boxes. The question came out of her before she could even consciously form it. “And how old is your child?”

“My what?” He looked alarmed. She nodded her chin towards the teddy, and his gaze swung in that direction.

“Oh,” he said, his frown clearing from his expression. “No, that’s Lydia’s. She left it here when they left. ‘They’ being my brother, his wife, my other niece Isobel, and Lydia,” he explained. He leaned over and grabbed the teddy by the head, pulling him up from his slow slide down between the boxes. “She said Howard here would help heal me faster so I could come home.”

She smiled, seeing how much warmth had seemed to radiate out from him when he spoke of his nieces. “That’s so sweet,” she murmured. Her fingers began to pull at each other nervously in her lap. Her breath caught in her chest, and she found that she could barely meet his gaze. “So you don’t have any children of your own?”

“No,” he said softly. He watched her as she continued to fiddle with her hands in her lap. “Do you have other children?” he asked after a moment. She thought he might have said it only to be polite, but his expression was guarded, as if preparing himself for bad news.

And it was then that she decided she’d have to tell him.

She felt the color drain from her face at the prospect. “No, it’s just Lilah and I,” she said softly. She didn’t see the flash of relief that shone across his face briefly. She was too busy gathering up her courage.

“Carlos…there’s something I have to…” she began, just as her cell phone blasted from inside her purse, making her jump. Somehow the ringer must have been turned all the way up.

Carlos laughed slightly, having been startled by the sound as well. The ringtone continued to gain both volume and momentum and she dug through her purse trying to locate it. Finally her fingers wrapped around it at the bottom dregs of her purse, and she pulled it out just in time to see the name flashing across the screen before the ringer went silent: Richard Stone.

And then she gasped. Richard! She had completely forgotten all about their date! And she was now close to thirty minutes late. She jumped up from her perch on Carlos’ sofa. “Oh my God, I have to go,” she said quickly.

Carlos had stood already, looking a mixture of relieved and disappointed, but he nodded in understanding. “Of course,” he said quietly. She didn’t know what else to say, so she allowed him to walk behind her to his front door. Before turning the knob, she turned back to face him.

“Carlos, I…” She faltered. Tried again. “I’d like to…talk with you, again. Sometime. Soon…if that’s okay.”

His expression remained stoic, but he nodded his head once slowly. “Okay,” he agreed.

“Okay,” she echoed. She stood rooted to the spot, caught in the fractured tension that seemed to knit its way around them, before pulling herself apart from it and walking out into the hazy sunset. She kept moving, determined not to look back, even after she heard the soft click of the door as it was closed behind her.

This was better, she thought. She’d be able to prepare what to say. She’d be able to rehearse it, too, if she left herself enough time to practice. Better to be practiced than to be going into it blind and caught off guard.

She’d just have to make sure she did it sooner rather than later.

“Like ripping off a Band-Aid,” she whispered.

*****

Carlos watched her walk down the sidewalk briefly before shutting the door quietly. He made his way back to the living room, to where she’d sat. It had barely been twenty minutes that she’d been here, and he could still smell the slight waft of her perfume curling under his nostrils, pulling him back under her spell. She was even more beautiful than he remembered…

Scowling, he picked up the glass of water, walking into the kitchen with it, and poured the contents down the sink, setting it to the side to be washed later. All of his movements were slow and mechanical, as his focus was elsewhere.

She’d said she wanted to talk to him later. Soon…if that’s okay, she’d said. And he’d agreed. Without even having consciously thought of the answer, he’d agreed. Just like that.

What the hell happened to not wanting her to see him like this? What the hell happened to his very cleverly thought out plan to make a clean break and get whatever closure he needed with her?

Nothing. That’s what’d happened.

He couldn’t stay here. Not now that he knew she was so close. Not now that he’d met her daughter.

He should have prepared himself for that blow long ago, but envisioning her with whomever Lilah’s father was…

He shook his head, bitter resentment clouding his thoughts. The memory of Christiana…of that night…was all he had left of his former self. If he lost it, like he could feel it slipping now, being replaced with this new, awkward encounter with Christiana…he didn’t know if that would break him. If it would just be too much loss in too little time.

Before he could change his mind, he grabbed up the phone and dialed the number to the clinic where he attended physical therapy treatments.

“Yes, this is Carlos Vasquez, I am a patient of Dr. Morrison. I’d like to know how long it would take to get my files transferred back to Miami to resume treatment there. Something’s come up.”

“Um, yes sir, please hold.”

He drummed his fingers on the table as he listened to the bland soft-rock on their hold system. There was a slight pause in the music as the receptionist reconnected.

“Mr. Vasquez, I show Dr. Juniper does not have an available appointment until the first week of May.”

Dr. Juniper had been the specialist Carlos had seen while in Miami, whose office worked in affiliation with Dr. Morrison’s. Carlos swore under his breath, calculating the pros and cons to waiting another six weeks.

Finally, he spoke back into the receiver. “I’ll take it.” He wrote down the information that the receptionist rattled off to him, and then went about dialing airlines and a moving company.

Before the last stretches of sunlight disappeared from the horizon – before he’d even had time to go back on his decision – Carlos had successfully arranged for his return to Miami in six week’s time.

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37 Comments

Filed under Chapter 7

37 responses to “Chapter 7

  1. Nyxie

    Stupid, stupid, stupid! Both of them.

    That didn’t seem like 5k words…

    =-p

    • LOL yes, I would agree… they are both kind of bumbling at the moment. And okayyyyy it was 4,857 words. 😛 SOOoOoOOoo I exaggerated a smidge. I said “close to 5K”… haha ;)) Thanks Nyxie!

  2. kelseypinkshoe

    SGHGHGHAGLKJDFJSDFKADJSFKLADFJLK;

    I DON’T KNOW WHAT MY EMOTIONS ARE DOING. HOLY JESUS.
    THIS IS TOO GOOD!

    I’m actually shaking; I obviously need to, like, be lying down whenever you update. Gah!

    Um, I mean, I loved it? 😀

  3. Qui

    OH MY WHAT THE HELL!!!!

    NO NO NO NO NO! Go back! Just say “Lilah is yours!” Go back!!!! 😦
    It is amazing how we can feel both of their emotions; being put off by the changes and assumptions. My brain is yelling at them both and if it weren’t damn near 3 in the morning I’d scream at the screen. He can’t leave! HE CAN’T!! Six weeks is enough time to have everything laid out but damn if I don’t see him avoiding her!

    Come on Carlos! Those eyes! Lilah’s eyes!! Her age!! *cries*
    He can’t leave! 😦

    • LOL aww Qui, I know how much you love Carlos and I know you really GET him, so I’m so glad you’re rooting for him to see the similarities. I think if we give him a chance to really look, he just might. But the key word in there is “look”. His blind eye is not all that’s causing him blindness right now.

      On another note, though, at least this update didn’t disrupt the all-important Wii session :PP

      I love that you said we can feel both of their emotions, and being put off by the changes and assumptions. Absolutely. This little awkward by-chance meeting really threw them both for a loop. And having listened to their thoughts for dang near six years, and listening to them place each other up on a pedestal, and remember all this wonderful, great, perfect night….to be let down by how the reunion was NOT perfect….yeah. That’s realistic, imo. I don’t think IRL, we see a man after five years, no matter how sexy (and he is damn. sexy.), but to see him so changed in appearance, and attitude as well (since our memory of him was clouded by a LOT of drink)…we’re going to just run to him and say OMG I’M IN LOVE WITH YOU, btw, this is your child! <3333333 LOL can we all agree that (damn sexy) man would be already ten feet flying in the opposite direction?? She's got to take her time, feel him out, make sure he'll at lease receive the information without laughing in her face and telling her to go try her jokes on someone else.

      Oh wow, did I ever go off on a tangent. Sorry 😡 My point is, you worded that perfectly, and I'm so glad you "got" it 🙂

  4. Ummmmmm, Carlos – Really?
    Coward, Carlos, coward, coward, coward, need I elaborate any further?

    Father-daughter moment: LOVE IT!

    • LOL I knoww, his decision was a little hasty, but he’s seriously freaked right now, if you’d believe it. It seems like a lot farther away, but it was only four months ago for him that he lost his best friend, lost his vision, lost his looks (not that he was overly vain before, but if you’re used to being considered hot to look at one day, and wake up massively injured and scarred for life the next, well… it’s a massive set back in his way of thinking), on some level he lost his brother (even though we know he didn’t) with the anger he’s been displaying to his family…he lost his independence… a lot of things have happened to him in those four months. So to now be faced with losing his memory of Christiana? The ONE thing that he feels remained intact and unstained by the accident? Yeah. He freaked out about that. So is he a coward? Absolutely. But, given the circumstances, I think I would be, too.

      Father-daughter moment: ::squeee:: I loved it, too 🙂

  5. *head smack* really? really? ugh!

  6. I’m so glad to see this pop up on my friends page today, I needed something good after yesterday’s family emergency.

    That said… CARLOS WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! -.- I have a feeling he wont be able to bring himself to, though. (this is uys btw =P)

    • UYS of course I know who you are!! (and I also know your real name is not UYS, but I always call you UYS, and it does always have to be capital, because that’s how I say it in my head. YOUEEESSS!!!! hahah. *ahem*)

      I have to confess that you always have an excellent read on my characters. The Carlos before the accident, for instance, would not be able to bring himself to leave if he knew what he was leaving. You’re right. But then again, he’s altered not only in appearance, but in character as well. And he doesn’t know what he’s leaving, not yet anyway.

      Family emergency!! 😦 I’m so sorry. I hope everything is all right. I’m glad this could cheer you up. 🙂

      • Oh of course, but I’m sure he wont be able to avoid her for six weeks and she’s sure to tell him before he leaves. Well, at least I think she would. I hope. PLEASE? =P

        And yes, thank you, everything is alright now 🙂

  7. Koraliene

    Ahhhhh Carlos is so lost lately D: Hopefully, Christiana telling him Delilah’s his child will make him stay (or just Christiana herself). xD; Though I laughed when Carlos had the thought about how he’d never wanted children.

    • KORALIENE! 😀

      Carlos is lost, that’s a very good assessment. And if he can give Christiana the chance, then I think you’re right. Carlos decided long ago that he didn’t ever want children because he feels he won’t make a good father, based on the way he was brought up. His mother was a horrible parental figure. He is scared that it is ingrained in his nature to be an abusive parent because that’s what he endured as a child. It’s mainly the reason he went into the academy, to try and combat that “gene” as much as he could. He doesn’t seem to equate watching his nieces w/ examples of his parenting skills, though. 😉

  8. deagh

    And it seems that Carlos can’t do math. Or won’t. Couple of doofi, there. But not really surprising.

    • Won’t, more like, but he really only saw her for less than five minutes TOTAL, and then she was whisked out of the picture. Given a few moments alone and in closer proximity, then I’m sure his being blind in one eye won’t even be a liable excuse.

      And not surprising…how? ::is nervous:: You mean predictable? As in, the writing? I’m confused.

  9. Carlos needs to grow some balls and Christiana needs to grow some ovaries! So much time wasted all ready and they want to continue this little song and dance………It’s not only their lives that are affected by their silliness, Lilah is missing out on knowing her dad……so those two need to get it together! They both are in a position to help the other face their demons, all it takes is one step in the right directions…….I’ve been ready both this and the Mctavishams forever and just never commented……they provoked me 🙂

    • LOL I’m sorry I provoked you 🙂

      Yes, a lot of time has gone by. And yes, there are more lives than just theirs caught in the cross-fire here, but at the same time, they JUST re-found each other. And for only twenty minutes. Realistically, if you’d barely known the man, and all of a sudden you see him after five years…the first thing out of your mouth would not be OHAI! YOU HAS A DAUGHTER! because that would quite literally scare the living bajeezus out of any sane man. So she has to tread carefully, especially if she wants to keep ANY chance of him staying to meet his daughter. She knows he’s there temporarily…and it could come off very desperate at the same time.

      I agree whole-heartedly that they’re both in the position to help the other face their demons. That’s a wonderful way to put it. And they are…they just have to get there, socially. It takes time. And only one step in the right direction, like you said 😉

      Thank you for the comment! I love getting people’s responses 😀

  10. What? Carlos get your head on straight man and think. I can’t wait until the next chapter that was really really good! I hope they both figure out how to make this right.

    • Thank you!!! I think you’ve picked up on that Carlos’ head is in the crazy right now? 🙂 Yes, yes it is. haha. I’m glad you’re eager for the next chapter! I am, too, to share it!! ^_^

  11. NicoleK95

    I loved this chapter! I can’t wait to read what happens next! I’ve been waiting to see if Christiana and Carlos would ever meet again. I can’t believe he’s leaving now!!!

    • Thank you! I’m glad you liked it. Carlos’ decision to leave is based purely on the fact that he is scared he’ll lose that ONE thing that’s kept him somewhat happy over the last few months. We’ll have to see if he remembers that later. 😉

  12. GET IT TOGETHER! Both of you! Especially you, Carlos! What is this back to Miami business!?!

    Ahem…seriously, I loved this! LOL, but I’m getting flashbacks to how much I wanted to shake Claire and Colton when they were dancing around in a similar way (for different reasons) all those years ago!

    Ha and I’m glad to hear you say that Carlos “won’t” rather than “can’t” put two and two together here! I gather it’s subconscious on some level that he hasn’t realised who Lilah is but on another level, he must know!

    Great chapter!

    • ahaha I’m hoping this won’t be as prolonged or as painful as the mess I put Claire and Colton through 😉
      “Can’t” vs. “Won’t”…well, again, he’s only just seen her for barely five minutes. And at the time, she was just some strange woman’s daughter. By the time he realized who the strange woman was, Lilah’s features wouldn’t be as prominent in his mind, you know? But then again, he’s in a mindset of “won’t” vs. “can’t” for a while now. His attitude needs to change around, most definitely. 🙂

      Thanks so much Carla!! (okay, i’m exhausted, but I just typed your name as Carlos three times. I *can’t* be that tired. Carla Carla Carla. There. No typos. 😀 )

  13. I don’t know what else I can say except to echo all the other comments here!!! Christiana needs to tell Carlos soon and Carlos needs to pretty much NOT go away in 6 weeks. And of course she’s going to have to deal with Richard. I just know Carlos is going to love his daughter. You could see the bond between them right then and there!

    Such a wonderful update! My heart was seriously beating fast when Christiana confronted Carlos!

    • aww thanks Mela!! I know this chapter seemed to frustrate everyone, but I’m glad it’s mostly out of anticipation for what’s to come 🙂 I’m really glad you could see the bond that Carlos and Lilah already share, without either of them even knowing it’s there. I had to be careful with that, but I wanted it in there, if even just a little. ❤

  14. Me

    I LOVE ITTTTTTTTTTTTTTT!!!!!!!!!! That was so excellent, and painful!! You know how I like me some torture!! It was excellent, and the pictures are beautiful and I can’t wait to read more. Great job, dear!!!!!
    -meeeeeeee
    PS…Sorry I missed your call yesterday, I was feeling a little yucky 😦

    • Yayyyy thank you sweetie!! And that’s okay, I didn’t really have a whole lot of time to talk on my lunch, but I had told you I’d call, so I called. 😛 But we’ll talk this weekend, okie?? 😀 Love you!!!

  15. Tess

    Ah! I have read this ten times in the past 2 days, and I am, like, mad now! Ahh! So stressful… I just hope six weeks is enough time for all of this to play out! Dammit, Carlos, whyja haftado that?!

  16. You know this reminds me so much of Claire and Colton with all the starts and stops and misunderstandings. I really hope Christiana doesn’t let too much time pass before seeing him again, especially since he will probably avoid her at all costs. Typical man for running away like that – male pride.

    Your writing is so evocative and I absolutely adore Lilah. Beautiful job.

    • Gayl!! Hiya!! I’ve missed you.

      Starts, stops, misunderstandings…ahh, but without them, there would be no drama, and no realism! Who’s life ever just falls in place without complaint?

      Male pride. Yes yes yes. Absolutely. The pride factor is the antagonist in this, in my opinion, since I feel they are both protagonists to an extent.

      Thank you Gayl! I love Lilah, too. She’s so fun to write 🙂 I hope you’re doing okay! Are you still working nights?? I sure hope not 😦

      • That is so true about the drama. And the realism. I’ve missed being around, believe me. It’s just hard right now. I am working nights still. At least it is quiet although not for the last few days…

  17. SB

    This made me cry and want to shake the man. I mean, she did everything but draw him a picture! She said it was just her and Lilah; surely Carlos can count and Lilah looks like him! STUPID MEN!!!

    Your writing is so wistful and full of feeling, and you are so good at evoking a place. Wonderful, aggravating, perfect piece!

    • Thank you Beth!! I know, he’s frustrating… putting on the blinders to everything and everyone. But to us, we see the similarities between Lilah and Carlos so much because I think I’ve focused the writing to tell us to see it enough…but if Carlos can’t see properly (which he can’t), and wasn’t looking that hard (which he wasn’t), Lilah looks a lot like Christiana, except for the eyes, hair, and skin. Her mouth, cheekbones, nose…they are all her Mom. So, for the fractional time he saw her and wasn’t paying that close attention, he hasn’t seen (or won’t see) the resemblance…
      ….Yet.
      🙂 *hugs* thanks Beth! I always love your comments

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