Heart's Choice

Chapter 11


Lois Kay

Kyra stared at her clasped hands and swallowed hard, trying to get rid of the nauseous feeling that had settled in the pit of her stomach and just refused to go away. The nurses might have assured her that everything would be all right, but until she could actually see Emma, touch her and look into her eyes, nothing could convince her that her lover would be fine. She needed the reassurance of Emma's voice to chase away the fear and doubts that wreaked havoc on her vivid imagination.

The long hallway at the ER was remarkably quiet and nervously Kyra's eyes darted from the entrance towards the pale yellow door that was hiding her lover from view.

Anne was in the next room and Kyra had seen her parents, Emma's sister Irene and her husband John Ariens come running in, their faces drawn and pale. Irene's worried gray eyes had briefly met Kyra's, before Anne's mother had stepped inside the room where they could hear the silent crying of their little girl.


Looking towards the entrance at the end of the long hallway, Kyra saw Hester, Imke and Neville rushing in, followed by Emma's parents. Simon was holding Ann Altena's hand, but when he noticed his mother, he pulled himself free and started running towards her.

Opening her arms wide she caught her son and pulled him into her lap, feeling his arms slip around her neck, while he pressed his trembling body closer.

"I'm scared, Mommy" Simon whispered sobbing.

Feeling her own tears roll down her cheeks, Kyra hid her face in Simon's curly hair, breathing in deeply and desperately trying to regain her composure. Her son needed her now. So did Emma, as soon as she was allowed to go see her lover. She couldn't afford to fall into pieces. Maybe later. Not now.

"I'm scared too, honey," she answered in a hoarse voice. "But the doctor said that Emma and Anne both will be all right. Right now they are trying to make them feel better and as soon as they do, we can go in and see them. Okay?"

Simon nodded and let out a shuddering breath. He had been so afraid when Emma had ran out of the kitchen and his mother had followed her a few seconds later, after telling him to stay where he was. He had crawled onto a kitchen chair and with wide, terrified eyes he had seen his friends return from the shed, all in a near state of panic. His new grandmother had tried to comfort all of them, but Simon had seen the tears and worry in her eyes and he knew she was just as afraid as he was.

The fire truck and ambulances had made him tremble and afraid to look out of the window. The ambulances had only been there a few minutes and when they had taken off again Simon just knew that somebody must have been hurt.

Then a lot of people had arrived, the first ones Neville, whom he liked a lot because the Aruban reminded him of his grandfather Albert and Willem, Emma's younger brother.

And then David Jansen had arrived and Simon had involuntarily cringed when he had seen the pain and anger in Peter's father's face. He knew his friend was in big trouble for playing with fire, but Peter had been crying a lot and Simon had even seen him throw up. He felt sorry for him. He just hoped that Peter would still be his friend, since he had been the one to tell on him.

Neville had picked him up and securely strapped him in the backseat of his car and then they drove to the hospital, together with Emma's family. And everybody had been either real quiet, or they were crying, which had scared Simon even more.

"Kyra," Hester's voice sounded and when both Simon and his mother looked up, it was in the pain filled eyes of Emma's eldest sister, who had taken a seat next to them.

"They'll be all right, Hester," Kyra whispered. "Irene and John are with Anne right now. They came in just after we did."

"Good," Hester sighed, rubbing her stinging eyes. "I called them. Oh, God, I hated doing that. I scared the living daylights out of Irene. But they'll be okay, right?"

Kyra nodded and sent a tired smile to Ann Altena, who had taken a seat on her other side.

"The doctor said they were a little banged up, but they should be fine."

Emma's mother nodded and slid an arm around Kyra's shoulders to give her a loving squeeze, using her other hand to rub Simon's back.

"This little boy saved Anne's life," she quietly remarked. "He and Emma did. You taught him well, Kyra. I'm so grateful for that. Thank you."

Kyra's eyes widened and for the first time she realized that if Simon had not warned them about his friend playing with matches, precious minutes would have been lost before the fire would have been detected and six year old Anne Ariens would have surely lost her life.

"I guess he did," she whispered, feeling a shiver run down her spine when she thought of all the things that could have happened if there had been no warning at all. Or if she hadn't taught her son about the danger there was in playing with fire.

Kyra raised her head when she heard one of the doors being opened and when she noticed the doctor who had been treating Emma walk up to them, the anxiety suddenly constricted her throat.

"Are you all family of Emma Altena?" he inquired in a friendly voice, while his light brown eyes took in the worried faces that were all turned his way.

"We are. How's she doing, doctor?" Hester asked in a voice that was rough with emotion.

"She's fine," the doctor answered with a smile. "Emma does suffer from some mild smoke inhalation, but there are no signs of heat damage. We put her on pure oxygen, because her carbon monoxide levels were a little too high, but her oxygen level is rapidly rising now, so that is an excellent sign. We had to suture that gash in her eyebrow, but other than a headache and a small scar, she'll recover from that as well. I understand she's been quite the hero."

Imke, who had been holding Neville's hand in a painfully tight grip exhaled slowly and ran trembling fingers through her short, disheveled hair.

"She ran into a burning shed to get our niece out," she explained with a shaky voice. "Can you tell us how Anne is doing? Please?"

The doctor nodded and sent her a warm smile.

"I'll have a look. I'll be right back"

"Doctor," Kyra's voice stopped him and he turned around to cast a look at the visibly upset young woman. "CanÉMay we go and see Emma?"

"Sure," he smiled. "The nurse is trying to find a bed for her, because we want to keep her a little while, just precaution," he quickly added when he saw the green eyes widen. "It will probably take a little while, so, go right ahead. I'm sure she'll be pleased to see you."

"Thank you," Kyra breathed.

As soon as the friendly emergency physician had stepped into the room next to Emma's, Kyra looked at Emma's parents and sent them a tired smile.

"Why don't you go in first to see her? I'll wait here," she suggested. "If we all come barging in, it might be a little too much."

But Ann Altena shook her head and grabbed her husband's hand, feeling his other arm settle around her shoulders.

"No, honey. You go ahead, we'll wait. Go. I'm sure our daughter needs you more than she does us right now. Besides, we need to know how little Anne is doing."

"Let me know as soon as you find out," Kyra softly spoke. "I'm sure Emma will be very anxious."

"We will. Give Emma our love and tell her we're here, all right?"

"I will," Kyra smiled, standing up, still holding her son and quickly walking towards the door where she knew her lover was being treated. Opening the door she was immediately aware of the bright light and the typical scent of antiseptics.

Her eyes flew towards the bed in the middle of the room and the supine form of her lover, who was propped up on a couple of pillows, with an oxygen mask still firmly covering her nose and mouth. Her eyes were closed and Kyra could see she was breathing regularly. Emma's hands were resting on the blanket. A pulse oxymeter was taped to one of the fingers on her left hand, while her right hand was nervously twitching, indicating that in spite of her relaxed posture, she was wide awake.

Walking closer to the bed, Kyra shifted Simon in her arms and rested him on her left hip, so they could both look down at her lover. Reaching out a hand Kyra's fingertips cautiously touched Emma's cheek and immediately the dark eyelashes fluttered open.

"Hey," Kyra greeted, pouring all she felt for the auburn haired woman in a loving smile. "How are you doing, baby?"

"Ugh," Emma managed a weak smile and waggled her free hand. "I have definitely felt better," she answered in a tired, raspy voice. Her eyes shifted to Simon and the corners wrinkled in another smile. "Hey buddy."

"Hi, Emma," Simon shyly answered, clearly impressed with the clinical environment and the stark white bandage that covered the right side of Emma's face.

"Does it hurt a lot?" he inquired in a whisper.

"A little," was the muffled response.

With an annoyed frown Emma brought her hand up to remove the oxygen mask, but it was caught in a warm grip and when she glanced up Kyra sent her a stern look.

"Leave it where it is, Emma. You need it."

"Hard to talk this way," Emma's objected with a scowl.

"We'll talk later," Kyra promised, bending down to kiss her lover's forehead. "You just do what they tell you to do, all right? I need you to be well." She cast a look at Simon's serious face and smiled. "We need you to be well."

Emma reached out her right arm and touched one of Simon's legs. When the little boy looked down at her she smiled at him and sent him a wink.

"Put him on the bed, honey," she suggested.

Kyra looked at a nurse who was jotting down notes and raised her eyebrows in question. The blond haired nurse smiled warmly and gave her a nod.

"All right," Kyra relented, putting Simon on the bed next to Emma. He immediately scooted closer to his mother's lover and Emma's arms pulled him in for a hug. Resting his head on her shoulder and wrapping his arm around her waist he let out a tiny sigh, feeling a lot better already.

"Here, sit down," the nurses voice suddenly sounded behind her and when Kyra turned around she saw that a chair had been pulled up next to bed. "We're trying to find a bed for Emma and it might take a while. I bet she doesn't mind the company," she winked.

"Thank you," Kyra smiled, slowly sinking down on the chair, which brought her to eye level with her lover. She reached out and grabbed Emma's hand, bringing it up and softly kissing the warm skin.

"Your parents, Hester, Imke and Neville are waiting outside. They send their love. Irene and John are with Anne, she's in the room next door." Kyra exhaled slowly. "They are waiting for an update." Emma's eyes widened in fear and Kyra quickly continued. "The ambulance nurse said she'd be all right, honey. Just like you she hasn't been unconscious and she was breathing on her own. Those are good signs."

"Thank God," Emma whispered, feeling her eyes sting with tears.

"And you," Kyra softly added. "You saved Anne's life today, Emma. And you scared me to death," she let out with a shuddering breath.

"Sorry," was the mumbled reply and Emma's red rimmed blue eyes glanced up at her with a pain filled look. "I knew I was taking a riskÉ," her husky voice murmured. "But IÉ," a deep breath, "I just had to tryÉ"

"Ssh," Kyra smiled, pressing Emma's hand against her cheek. "Nothing bad happened. You did it and I'm so grateful about that. Just the thought ofÉofÉlosing youÉIÉ"

"I'm here and I am okay, so don't even go there, all right?" Emma sighed, cupping Kyra's cheek and tenderly stroking the soft skin with her thumb.

The curly haired woman mustered up a tiny smile and nodded, turning her head so she could kiss the palm of the hand that was still resting against her cheek.

Their eyes locked and for a moment they gave free reign to the turmoil of emotions the last twenty four hours had brought them.

"I love you," Emma's words were barely audible, but to Kyra they were as loud as if she would have yelled them from the top of her lungs. Her green eyes deepened in color and radiated so much warmth and affection it almost took Emma's breath away.

"As I love you," was the quiet response.

"I love you too," Simon chimed in, tightening his hold on the teacher and both women had to swallow away a lump in their throats, before they softly started chuckling.

"And we love you, buddy," Emma smiled, smoothing down the unruly curls against her shoulder.

With a rebellious glint in her eyes, Emma lifted the oxygen mask and gave Simon a quick kiss on his cheek, before slipping the device back in place again.

"Hey, no fair," Kyra gently teased, watching the mask being pushed aside again and feeling Emma pull her closer.

"Emma!" she softly scolded.

"Just one," Emma smiled, before fleetingly brushing her lips against her lover's.

"Make that two," Kyra whispered, ducking her head to claim Emma's lips in a gentle kiss.

"Well, well, would you look at that?" Hester's voice suddenly filled the room. "I guess the oxygen they are administering you isn't enough, huh, sis? Resuscitation taken to a higher level."

In spite of the blush coloring her cheeks, Kyra chuckled and slowly pulled back, helping Emma to put the mask back in place, before sitting back down on her chair.

Hester smiled and even though her dark blue eyes still showed the shadows of fear and horror, for a moment their usual sparkle had returned as she looked at the supine figure of her younger sister.

"Anne will be fine," she announced, feeling Emma's eyes bore into her own. "The doctors are amazed she's doing so well. It seems she hardly breathed in the smoke."

"She was under the workbench, in the corner," Emma explained, briefly closing her eyes against the horrific memories. She swallowed hard before continuing. "There's a hole in the wall there, so I guess she had some fresh air."

A silence fell and Emma stared at Simon, who was dozing in her arms, feeling her sister's eyes on her, but not having the courage to look up, because she knew what she would find there.

Kyra's eyes darted between her lover and Hester and she almost winced when she saw the pain that was etched on the older woman's face. The sparkle had disappeared again, leaving her eyes dark and filled with profound sadness.

"Listen, Emmie, IÉ"

"It's not your fault," Emma softly interrupted, finally glancing up to see the tears pool in Hester's eyes.

"I taught them about all the risks and dangers, over and over again. He's my son. He's my responsibility, Emma."

"He's an eight year old boy who made a terrible mistake," Emma replied in a tired voice. "He was showing off in front of his friends."

"And he could have killed his cousin and you."

"It didn't happen, Hester. I'm notÉdownplaying his role, but he made a mistake and I'm sure he feels terrible about it."

"If he doesn't yet, he will later," Hester promised with a sigh. "David wasÉfurious. And Willem had to keep Frank from pouncing on him."

"Frank's upset, Anne is his little sister," Emma answered. "Of course he's angry. But he'll be fine, Hester. We all will be."

Hester pushed back her long, auburn hair and perched herself on the edge of the bed.

"What a mess."

"Nothing we can't fix," Emma assured, looking at the quiet nurse who was checking the pulse oxymeter and receiving a sympathetic look. "I really want to go home," she softly spoke, her blue eyes pleading.

"Well, I'll have to say you are doing remarkably well," was the surprising answer. "Let me talk to the doctor about it, all right?"

"Thanks," Emma smiled, having seen Kyra's eye lit up after the nurse's admission.

"All right, Miss Emma, here's is the deal," the doctor sighed, leaning his hip against the side of the bed and giving her a stern look. "You'll stay here for another hour, on oxygen. Then another hour without oxygen. If your oxygen levels remain the same, I'll let you go home. But, you'll be back here immediately if" he raised his hand and started to tick off his fingers. "You start wheezing, you cough up discolored mucus, you develop a fever, you feel tight chested, you have dizzy spells or you start vomiting. Or show any signs of confusion. Is that clear?"

"Yes, sir," Emma meekly answered, feeling like a schoolgirl again.

"Don't worry, doctor," Kyra reassured the physician. "I'll keep an eye on her."

"I know," the doctor smiled and patted her shoulder in a friendly gesture. "If you have any questions, don't hesitate to give us a call, all right? I'll be back to check up on you before you leave."

"Oh, it feels good to get rid of this mask," Emma sighed in relief, looking at the nurse who was disconnecting the flow of oxygen.

"It could have been worse. We could have stuck a tube up your nose," the nurse joked, making Emma chuckle.

"Okay, you made your point," she smiled. "Can you take this thing off as well?" she asked, pointing at the high tech device that was still taped to her finger.

"Nope, Miss Impatient. We'll be monitoring your oxygen levels for another hour, so I'll leave it right where it is."

"Guess I'm stuck to the bed then, huh?" Emma sighed, looking at Kyra with a little pout.

"Don't give me that look, Emma!" Kyra calmly said. "You're lucky as it is they'll let you out. The original plan was a little different, remember?"

"Everyone's a critic," Emma mumbled, obediently leaning back into the pillows. "I just want to see Anne, that's all."

"You can see her soon, honey. You know she's doing fine."

"I know, but I'd like to see that for myself," Emma sighed, trying to push away the images that were etched into her mind. The smoke, the flames, the feeling of sheer panic and desperation. The memory of the fear and horror in Kyra's eyes just before she dashed into the burning shed. The feeling of relief that was so profound she almost passed out when she pulled her niece out from under the workbench, knowing the little girl was still very much alive.

"How long was I in there?" her soft voice asked.

"I'm not sure, honey," Kyra swallowed. "To me it seemed so incredibly long, but I suppose it couldn't have been more than a few minutes. Less than five, I think."

A lifetimeÉ

Emma cast down her eyes and looked at the peacefully sleeping Simon, who was curled up at her side. The little boy had to be completely worn out by the day's events.

"Look at him," she almost whispered, afraid to wake him up. "He's such a sweet, little boy, Kyra. I'm so incredibly grateful that he came to warn us. If he hadn't done that, IÉ," her voice trembled.

All right, that does it! She's falling to pieces.

Kyra got up from her chair and walked towards the other side of the bed, perching herself on the edge and wrapping both arms around Emma to pull her into a warm hug.

"Now, stop being so darn brave and just let out those tears, sweetie," she softly encouraged. "It will make you feel better." A gentle smile and kiss. "God knows it helped me."

Burying her face against Kyra's chest, Emma surrendered to the overload of emotions and gave her tears free reign. It was the first time ever Kyra had witnessed her lover cry and even though the soft sobs painfully ripped through her heart, she welcomed each and every tear, knowing it would make her lover feel so much better in the end.

Gently stroking Emma's hair she pressed her lips against her lover's forehead, rocking her slowly and whispering words of comfort. When she heard a soft sound behind her, she looked up into the worried eyes of Ann Altena and sent the older woman a sad smile.

Emma's mother didn't know whether to smile or cry when she saw the intimate scene after she entered the room. Her daughter was crying in the arms of the woman who, Ann Altena knew, was the love of Emma's life. Simon who she already considered to be their son was curled up at her daughter's side, his arm protectively wrapped around Emma's waist. It was something she had dreamed about for a long time, for her daughter to have a family of her own and she knew that in Kyra and Simon Emma had found that dream.

Knowing her daughter and granddaughter had survived their ordeal was something she was immensely grateful for. It was a gift so many people did not receive, when their loved ones were torn away from them by disaster. And even though Emma and Kyra had faced the terror of losing a love they had just found, she knew that together they would be able to fight and conquer the horrific memories, intensifying and strengthening the bond between them.

"I'll come back later," she mouthed to Kyra, who decisively shook her head and motioned her to come closer. Kyra knew Emma and her mother had a relationship that was very strong and she realized her lover could only benefit from Ann Altena's presence.

Emma's mother stepped closer, grateful for Kyra's gesture and wrapping one arm around the curly haired woman's shoulder, she used her other arm to tenderly stroke the side of her daughter's face.

"I'm so proud of you," she whispered, kissing Emma on the top of her head.

Emma lifted her head. Her eyes were red and puffy, but she managed a little smile and exhaled slowly.

"I was just glad to be there," she simply stated, wiping her tear stained face on Kyra's shoulder which made her lover chuckle.

"Now you're acting like a five year old," she gently teased.

"I feel like a ninety year old," Emma confessed, feeling her eyes burn. In spite of the drops they had given her, they were still a little painful and crying had only made that worse.

"Then lie down and go to sleep for a while," Kyra encouraged, gently pushing her lover back into the pillows. She brushed away an auburn tress from her forehead and bent down to kiss a tear stained cheek. "I won't be going anywhere. Take a nap, honey."

Vivian LeJeune stood in front of the window and stared outside, without seeing much of the beautiful park her luxurious apartment over looked. As usual her clothes were a perfect combination of colors and fabric and her hair was impeccable. In spite of her age, she would have been a beautiful woman, if it had not been for the cold, dissatisfied expression on her face.

The conversation she had with her daughter that morning had left her feeling unsettled. Kyra had always been a quiet child. Subdued and obedient. Except for that brief period of time when that dreadful teenage friend had tried to corrupt her. Vivian never regretted interfering when she had found Kyra and Kimberley in such a compromising situation. The fact that her daughter's friend panicked and impulsively ended her own life was not something Vivian felt guilty about. In fact, she had been the one who tried to make the girl stay, so her father could pick her up and bring her home.

She had never understood Kyra's rage about Kimberley's death. Luckily that had only lasted for a few weeks. It had not taken Kyra long to settle down again and focus on her schoolwork. To Vivian that was a sign that she had done the right thing. It was obvious that Kyra's friend had only been a distraction.

Vivian LeJeune let out a small sigh and pinched the bridge of her nose. She could tell that there was trouble coming. And the one to blame would be that schoolteacher. She was sure of it. For some reason, she had been able to already influence Kyra in a very negative way.

Of course she had not expected her daughter to immediately agree with her plans concerning Simon's biological father. But still, she had hoped Kyra would have listened to reason. Especially since the whole issue was in Simon's best interest as well. Like his father, Roderick Peters was a successful lawyer. The Peters family was well known and respected and it would be important for Simon to have the chance to be a member of such a distinguished family. Why didn't Kyra see that?

"And now she drags my grandson to a farm to spend his vacation. A farm!" she softly snorted, turning around when suddenly the phone started ringing and walked towards her antique desk on the opposite site of the room to answer it.

Unexpectedly she was greeted by a deep masculine voice and her cool gray eyes lit up in a rare smile.

"Roderick! It's so nice to hear your voice. How are you and your lovely wife doing?"

"We're doing all right, Vivian, thank you. We have a few things to come to terms with at the moment, but I'm sure things will work out fine."

"Of course they will, honey, don't you worry about that. I have talked things through with your mother and we both feel there are some real good possibilities to help things along."

"That's what I wanted to discuss with you, Vivian. Bridget told me my mother had a talk with her andÉ"

"Oh, she did already?" Vivian LeJeune interrupted with delight. "I am so pleased to hear that."

"Vivian, IÉappreciate my mother's and your concerns about ourÉhappiness, but I'd have to say I do have some doubts about all this," Roderick Peter's voice sounded hesitantly. "Kyra is the only one who couldÉ"

"Leave Kyra to me," Vivian LeJeune interrupted again, this time her voice was filled with determination. "I'm working on that, Roderick, don't you worry. ListenÉ"

"You have no idea how great it is to be home," Emma groaned, leaning her head against the back of the couch and closing her eyes with a smile.

"Well, since it's already the fifth time you've told me that, I believe you," Kyra teased, putting down two cups of hot tea on the coffee table and taking a seat next to her lover.

One blue eye opened and regarded her with deep affection.

"Is Simon asleep?"

"Out like a light," Kyra nodded, folding her legs underneath her body. "The poor thing was absolutely drained."

"I think we all are," Emma sighed. "Come here."

She opened her arms in invitation and let out a happy chuckle when Kyra, who didn't need further encouragement, immediately crawled into them and put her head against her shoulder.

"How's the head?" she mumbled, closing her eyes and reveling in the feel of Emma's hands that were gently rubbing her back.

"Not too bad," Emma honestly answered. "But then, I've a hard head and it's just a scratch."

"A scratch that needed six stitches," Kyra softly snorted, slipping her hand underneath Emma's shirt and gently scratching the bare skin of her belly. "Tough chick."

"MmÉkeep that up and you'll find out exactly how tough I am," Emma muttered, feeling the sensual jolts travel up and down her spine in a very appealing way.


"Oh, yes," she sighed, tightening her hold on her lover.

"So, what about 'Not tonight, honey, I have a headache'?" Kyra joked, smiling when she heard Emma's soft laugh.

"I can't remember telling you that."

"Because you didn't," Kyra admitted. "But I'm not taking any risks with you, honey. I don't want to rush you back to the hospital."

"I guess you'll have to nurse me then and make sure I'll stay out of trouble."

"You might not have noticed, but I was working on that already," Kyra replied with an amused voice, thoroughly enjoying the light banter between them.

"You'd make a good nurse," Emma smiled.

"Oh, no, honey, I don't think so," Kyra grinned, not aware of the fact that her roaming hand was practically cupping Emma's breast, making the teacher's heart thump in her chest. "I've a problem with the way certainÉbodily fluids exit one's body and end up inÉsome unwanted places. IÉwhat's up, baby," Kyra raised her head and cast her lover a quizzical look. "Your heart is racing and IÉoh.."

Quickly retracting her hand from its soft, warm spot Kyra's face was a mixture of embarrassment and amusement.

"Sorry," she mumbled.

"Don't be," Emma sighed, aware of her body's reaction to Kyra's innocent touch. "I really liked that, but even though you think I'm a tough chick, I don't think I feel up to more than snuggling tonight. But just to make sure I understood what you just said: are you talking about all bodily fluids?"

The expected blush crept up Kyra's cheeks and Emma grinned when her lover hid her face against her chest with a soft groan.

"You are bad," she accused in a muffled voice.

"I couldn't resist," Emma chuckled. "I'm sorry, sweetie."

"No, you're not," Kyra laughed. "But that's okay. It's just another pay back to jot down on my list of things to do." She untangled herself from Emma's arms and picked up a cup from the table, handing it to her lover. "Here, drink this while it's still hot."

Emma obediently took the cup and sipped from the sweet, fragrant tea, enjoying its warmth and richness.

"It's been quite a day," she reflected with a pensive expression in her eyes

"Yes, it has," Kyra agreed, staring at the cup in her hands and trying to come up with a way to broach the subject that had been on her mind for the better part of the day.

"What is it?" Emma softly asked.

Kyra's green eyes held a hint of surprise when she looked up at her lover and she smiled warmly.

"How do you know there is something?" she curiously asked.

"Because, my love, whenever you are pondering over something, you have this cute little frown, right here," Emma smiled, touching the skin just above the bridge of Kyra's nose. "So, tell me, what's on your mind?"

"Remember my mother's phone call this morning?" Kyra softly asked, seeing Emma nod. "It made me think about a few things. And thenÉ," she exhaled and took a deep breath. "The fire happened and while I was sitting in that awful hospital hallway I realized something."

Reaching out a hand Kyra intertwined her fingers with Emma's and lovingly squeezed them.

"If anything would ever happen toÉme," she saw Emma flinch and caressed the back of her lover's hand with her thumb. "I want Simon to be with people who really care about him and who can give him the love he needs. Who can give him a home." Kyra fell silent for a minute and looked up into a pair of empathic blue eyes. "Emma. If anything would ever happen to me, I don't want to run the risk of Simon being raised by my mother. I would want him to stay with you."

There was a long silence in which both women were looking at each other with grave intensity. Kyra's eyes had taken on a darker shade of green and were locked and grounded by Emma's deep blue ones. It was obvious that the teacher was pondering over Kyra's words and Simon's mother let her. She wanted her lover to take her time to let the words sink in. She wanted Emma to know she was very serious.

Finally, after both women had finished their tea and the two empty cups were placed back on the small table, side by side, Emma cleared her throat and sent Kyra a small smile.

"That's an amazing display of trust," she spoke in a gentle voice. "Thank you." She reached out a hand and touched Kyra's cheek. "But can I ask you a question?"

"Sure," Kyra nodded. "You can ask me anything you like."

"Your brother, Jasper is your blood relative. You and he have a good relationship. Why don't you want to make him guardian ifÉifÉ?"

"Right now he would be," Kyra honestly answered. "I love Jazz and I trust him completely. I know he'd be able to provide a home for Simon. But I want a life with you. You already are a big part of our life, Emma and I know Simon loves you. He's gotten used to you already and I know that will only intensify in the months and years to come. If something happens to me, he should be able to stay with you." Pushing back her hair Kyra let out a small sigh. "You don't have to give me an answer right away. Just take your time and think about it, all right?"

"I don't need to think about this, honey," Emma cupped Kyra's cheek and leaned in for a gentle kiss. "I'd be honored toÉ" she swallowed. "To look after Simon in case anything would happen to you. God forbid," she sighed.

"Thank you," Kyra smiled. "That means a lot to me, Emma. As soon as I'm home again, I'll contact my lawyer and have him change my will."

"Would that be sufficient?"

"It should be, since Roderick refused to acknowledge Simon, he legally has only one parent. I can appoint a guardian, in case anything happens to me. If Rick wants to have custody, he'll need my permission. And he'll never get it. I'm not worried about Rick though, I'm more concerned with my mother. She won't just give up, Emma. I know her. I bet she's got something up her sleeve right now and I'll have to warn you, honey, Vivian LeJeune plays dirty," she said in a bitter voice.

"C'mere," Emma replied, pulling the sad looking Kyra into her arms, who wrapped both her arms around Emma's waist and snuggled as close as she could get without squashing her lover, which made the teacher smile. "I can handle your mother, as long as you're on my side. So, don't worry about me. All right?"

"I can't promise I won't," Kyra mumbled with a healthy dose of self knowledge. "But I can promise I'll try."

"That's good enough for me," Emma smiled, burying her face against Kyra's neck and playfully nibbling the skin. "So, are you ready for bed?"

"Oh, yeah," Kyra sighed, feeling Emma chuckle and she softly pinched a conveniently close patch of skin. "I didn't mean it the way it sounded, you brat. I'm just really tired and I know you are too. Lying down, snuggled up with you is just very appealing right now. You still need to take it easy, soÉ"

"So, what?" Emma inquired with an innocent look.

"So, we'll just sleep," Kyra determinately replied, but there were sparkles in here eyes. "First, I'll need to check on Simon though."

"Go ahead, I'll go wash up a bit and brush my teeth," Emma smiled, watching her lover get up from the couch and walking towards the little backroom were Simon was sleeping. Her eyes took in her attractive form, with the curly hair bouncing across the knitted red shirt and the deceptively strong denim clad legs. Emma's body responded when suddenly a memory of those same legs flashed through her mind. They had been naked, soft but strong and had been put to good use when Kyra hadÉ.

"All right, that does it," Emma mumbled, pushing herself upright and groaning in frustration. "I definitely need some cold water and I need it now."

It was way past midnight. The moon was high in the sky and soft beams of silvery light tumbled through the two small, high placed windows, illuminating the bed and its occupants.

Kyra's curly head was tucked against Emma's shoulder and one arm was possessively draped around a slender waist. Her breathing was deep and regular and it was obvious she was fast asleep.

Enjoying the warmth and feel of the body that was pressed against her side, Emma's dark blue eyes, colorless in the light of the moon, stared at the ceiling where the shadows of the tree branches of the old oak outside, constantly shifted because of a light breeze.

Involuntarily her mind kept returning to the events of that morning. She was bone tired and desperately wanted to go to sleep, but every time she closed her eyes and dozed off, images of smoke and flames woke her up.

Emma tried to focus on more positive things and she smiled when Kyra mumbled something in her sleep and tightened her hold on her waist. She softly kissed the curly hair and let out a happy sight. There were worse things than not being able to sleep and reveling in the feel of her lover resting in her arms. She could have been alone.

Emma's eyes widened when a soft sound startled her and when she looked at the bedroom door, she noticed it was slowly being pushed open. In the light of the moon she saw Simon hesitantly approach the bed.

"Hey," she whispered, encouraging the boy to come closer. "What's up, buddy?"

Simon walked around the bed towards the sound of Emma's voice and he rubbed his sleepy eyes.

"I had a bad dream," the little boy answered in a slightly trembling, sleepy voice.

Turning down the comforter Emma motioned him to crawl into the bed, which he immediately did. Tucking the covers around his little body she wrapped her arm around him and smiled when Simon scooted closer to put his head against her shoulder.

"Is this better?" she quietly asked, chuckling when he nodded and slipped his arm around her waist, just above Kyra's.

Like mother, like son.

Within moments Simon was asleep and with an amused smile Emma looked at the two, almost identical curly heads that were pillowed on her chest. A happy feeling flooded through her senses, leaving comfortable warmth behind.

"My family," she whispered in the dark, before closing her eyes. This time the images that had been haunting her before stayed away and she drifted off into a deep, peaceful sleep.

To be continued in chapter 12

Return to the Academy

Feedback is always welcome at: ripplesintime@hotmail.com