Heart’s Choice

Chapter 12


Lois Kay

Morning found the three of them snuggled up together, with Simon’s little arm still tightly wrapped around Emma’s waist, while Kyra’s head was resting on the teacher’s shoulder and her left hand was resting against her son’s back, with Emma’s hand covering her smaller one.

The first one to wake was Emma. Blinking against the bright morning light, she briefly wondered why her arms were feeling so heavy, like something was pinning them down. Then she remembered how her lover had fallen asleep, practically sprawled across her body and how Simon later had joined the group hug, after the little boy had a bad dream.

Closing her eyes again, Emma smiled and let out a happy sigh. What an endearing way to wake up. It was amazing how much her life had changed over the course of a few days.

Kyra stirred and Emma could feel a little puff of warm breath against her throat, followed by a tiny lick and nibble.

“I see I have competition,” a sleepy voice sounded close to her ear.

“I guess the word’s out that I am an excellent pillow,” Emma whispered back, feeling Kyra chuckle.

“Well, you are soft in all the right places,” was the smiled reply.

Kyra lifted her head a little so she would have a better view of Emma’s face and immediately felt her lover’s hand slide to the back of her head to pull her in closer for a kiss. For a very brief moment, they both allowed themselves to give in to their passion and desire, but before the kiss could get any more intense, Kyra pulled away with a soft moan.

“Oh, my goodness,” she breathed, resting her cheek against Emma’s chest and hearing a thundering heartbeat underneath her ear. “What you do to me.”

“Is what you do to me,” Emma quipped, exhaling slowly and rubbing her hand in soothing circles across her lover’s back. “I love you,” she added in a whisper, gently kissing the top of Kyra’s head and blinking away tears of happiness when her admission was softy echoed.

They lay like that for a few precious minutes. Enjoying each other’s closeness and warmth, reveling in the sensation of truly belonging somewhere for the first time in their lives. It was a feeling of utter contentment and peace that wrapped itself around their hearts, creating a perfect memory.

The serene picture was shattered when suddenly the air was filled with the sound of a rooster crowing, just outside the window. Kyra almost jumped, feeling Emma’s arm tighten around her body while her lover softly chuckled.

“Good grief! What a noise,” she muttered with a sigh, putting her head back on Emma’s shoulder.

“I can’t believe that nasty bird is still alive,” Emma chuckled. “He’s such a pompous piece of work. I call him Windbag.”

Emma could feel Kyra shake with laughter and involuntarily she smiled.

“He must be around ten years old now,” Emma continued. “I don’t think Dad ever had a rooster that has lived to that ripe old age.”

“The others ended up in the soup?” Kyra chuckled.

“One did, after he attacked my mom without any reason. Dad said he had to be crazy and wrung his little neck. I can’t say he tasted good,” Emma grinned. “But maybe that was because I knew him.”

“So, what’s the story with Windbag?” Kyra smiled, gently rubbing Emma’s chest, not even aware she was doing so.

“Well, the two of us don’t really see eye to eye after he craftily stole my peanut butter sandwich one day. It was on a Saturday morning, in the middle of summer. I got up, had some coffee and made myself a sandwich. Because the weather was gorgeous I decided to sit outside for a while. The moment I stepped outside, this mad bird came…propelling past me, snatched away my sandwich and made a run for it.” Emma grinned, feeling Kyra press her face against her shoulder to silence her laughter. “Of course I went after him, until I realized that really made me look like a fool, so I gave up. I swear, baby, that bird had been waiting for me. Little thief.” Emma felt the weight on her right arm shift and she cast down a look at Simon, seeing a pair of sleepy, gray eyes blink back at her.

“Good morning, buddy,” she smiled warmly, watching Simon rub his eyes.

The little boy nodded and his eyes traveled to his mother, who opened her arms in invitation. With a small smile he pushed himself up and crawled over Emma’s body to wrap his arms around his mother’s neck and disappear into her arms.

“Morning, Mom,” his husky voice mumbled against the skin of her neck.

“Morning, honey,” Kyra smiled. “Did you have a good sleep?”

“I had a bad dream,” Simon sighed. “It made me sad, but I can’t remember it anymore.”

Emma and Kyra exchanged a look and they both knew that the events of the previous day probably had something to do with Simon’s nightmare.

“I’m sorry, sweetie,” Kyra whispered, rocking her son in her arms and kissing his soft cheek.

“I wasn’t sad anymore when I came into your bed,” he explained. “You were asleep, but Emma gives good hugs too.”

“She does, doesn’t she?” Kyra smiled, locking eyes with her lover and swallowing hard when she saw the love that was sent her way. “And don’t you think she makes a great pillow?” she added.

Simon lifted his head from his mother’s shoulder and glanced at Emma, who was lying with her arms behind her head, looking at them while her blue eyes shone with amusement and affection. She winked at him and Simon chuckled.

“Is it Easter today?” he suddenly asked, scrunching up his face in thought.

“Yes, sir, it sure is,” Emma smiled. “It’s egg-hunting day.”

“Real ones?” Simon asked.

“Yes, real ones, but also chocolate ones,” Emma explained, seeing the little boy’s eyes light up.

“Can I keep the ones I find?”

“You may,” Emma grinned, knowing there would be more than enough eggs to go around. “But don’t try to eat them all at once, because you’ll be sick.” She warned him, playfully tapping his nose with the tip of her finger. Her eyes traveled to Kyra and she sent her lover a mock, stern look. “The same applies to you.”

“Yes, mom,” Kyra grinned, sticking out her tongue and making Simon laugh.


“Sorry, honey, I just couldn’t resist,” Kyra replied. “We need to keep an eye on Emma today. Chocolate is really bad for people with stitched-up eyebrows.”

“That’s okay,” Emma calmly answered with a twinkle in her eye. “I don’t like chocolate anyway.”

Kyra’s green eyes widened in surprise and she brought her face closer to peer into the sparkling indigo gaze.

“You don’t?”

“Nope. I don’t. Maybe that’s why I never understood the fuss about it.”

“Well, you must be the first woman I met who doesn’t like chocolate,” Kyra answered, still looking at Emma to see if her lover was pulling her leg. “Every woman likes chocolate,” she teasingly added.

“So, does that mean I’m not a woman?” Emma drawled in a low purr, biting back a grin when she noticed the effect the sound had on her lover.

Kyra swallowed hard and pushed back her hair, letting out a frustrated breath.

“No,” she croaked, quickly clearing her throat and feeling a warmth spread deep down in her belly when she saw the darkening of Emma’s eyes. “No, you’re absolutely a woman. No question about it.”

To avoid further embarrassment, she turned to Simon and ruffled his curly hair.

“Let’s get Emma a cup of tea and something to nibble on, all right?” she suggested, hearing her lover’s amused chuckle and blushing when she realized what she had said. Rolling her eyes, she gave Emma a playful swat across the stomach and quickly jumped off the bed, followed by her son.

“Your head must not be bothering you much,” she remarked, casting a look over her shoulder, willing herself to walk towards the door and not give in to the desire to rush back to the bed and pounce on her lover.

Emma grinned and experimentally wiggled her eyebrows, looking pleased when all she felt was the slight pulling of the stitches.

“My head feels great,” she sighed, happily, allowing her eyes to roam across Kyra’s body that was covered by a cotton shirt that barely reached her knees. “And I have remarkable vision,” she nearly hummed in pleasure, laughing when her lover sent her a puzzled look.

“You’re standing in the doorway,” she explained.

A pair of eyebrows rose into a curly hairline and dark green eyes looked at her with confusion.

“The light that comes in through those big windows in the living room? It sort of makes your nightie a see-through. It’s real pretty. I like it,” she ended with a purr.

A slow smile spread across Kyra’s face and she deliberately moved to stand in the middle of the doorway, catching as much light as she could. Putting one hand on her hip, she brought the other up to push back her long hair and cast Emma a look that was so intense, it made her lover gasp.

“Hold that thought,” Kyra smirked, blowing Emma a kiss and quickly turned around to head for the kitchen.

“I sure will,” Emma whispered, closing her eyes and taking in a few deep breaths, trying to calm her racing heart.

Easter Day had its own Altena family traditions, much to Kyra’s amusement, who had decided to relax and enjoy the day and not to worry about the fact she would have to leave again soon.

The whole family would gather together for the Altena egg hunt, which had its own hilarious rules, Emma had already warned her about that during breakfast, explaining that her parents were considered the ‘Top eggs’, which had almost caused Kyra to snort out her milk. The Top eggs were responsible for hiding all the eggs and the whole family knew that neither Dirk Altena, nor his wife, Ann, would ever give away the location of as much as one single egg. Asking and prodding for information was against the rules. The punishment for breaking any rule was eating a handful of dry toast and whistling, which was practically impossible. Only after producing a whistle, the convict was allowed to continue his or her egg hunt. Usually, that took a few minutes.

Emma’s story had Kyra laughing so hard she had to wipe away the tears from her eyes and she was already looking forward to the antics of the Altena family.

“What if a person breaks the rules more than once?” she had asked and the twinkle in Emma’s eyes had given her all the information she needed. “Oh, let me guess: a dump in the creek, right?”

“You’re such a fast learner,” Emma had grinned, leaning closer and giving her lover a quick kiss.

“Are there any more rules I need to be aware of?” she had asked with a smile.

“Nah, you’ll find out in the process,” Emma had shrugged, but her blue eyes had been dancing with mischief.

“Sounds like I’m fair game,” Kyra had mumbled.

Now, it was a few hours later and the whole Altena clan was outside in the yard. The adults were enjoying the early spring sun, while the children were running around, each of them carrying a little box that could hold up to six eggs. The first one who was able to find six eggs, was the Annual Easter Egghead and would bring home a trophy that consisted of a pair of green bunny ears.

Kyra was leaning her back against the wall, thoroughly enjoying the sight of all those happy children and the almost continuous sound of laughter. Occasionally, Simon came flying past, only stopping to update his mother on the latest count and then he was off again.

“How many does he have already?” an amused voice sounded and, when Kyra looked up, it was to the friendly brown eyes of Sharon Altena, who was married to Emma’s youngest brother, Willem.

“Four,” Kyra smirked, looking at the little bundle Sharon was holding. “Is that your daughter?” she asked with a smile. Sharon nodded and knelt down to allow Kyra to have a look at the three month old infant, who was making happy gurgling noises and waving her little fists around.

“Do you want to hold Evelyn for a while?” Sharon offered, seeing the look of adoration in Kyra’s eyes.

“Oh, yes,” Kyra replied so eagerly, it made Sharon chuckle.

As soon as Sharon put the little baby in her arms, Kyra let out a soft sigh, enjoying the feel of the tiny human in her arms, remembering what it was like when Simon was that small. A pair of dark eyes looked up at her and when Kyra’s finger touched a little fist, the miniature fingers immediately closed around it with amazing strength.

“She’s beautiful, Sharon,” Kyra admired the baby girl.

“Thank you,” the young mother smiled, taking a seat next to Kyra and stretching out her legs in front of her, almost tripping Hester who had chosen that moment to walk by. With a yelp she jumped up, managing to avoid a fall, while Sharon quickly pulled back her legs, sending her sister-in-law an amused look.

“Sorry about that,” she grinned. “I didn’t see you.”

“This place is a madhouse,” Hester grumbled, taking a seat on the grass as well. “I don’t know how mom and dad do it.”

“You say that every year, sis,” Robert Altena remarked from his comfortable spot on the bench. His eyes sparkled when he looked at his sister and he laughed when she scowled at him. “It’s all about organizing.”

“You sound just like Emma,” she chuckled, turning her attention to Kyra who was totally absorbed by the little girl she was holding. “Talking about Emma: a baby looks good on you, Kyra,” she smiled.

Kyra’s dark green eyes traveled to Hester’s face, feigning innocence.

“Thank you. But what does Emma have to do with that?” she seriously asked, casting down her eyes before Hester could catch the twinkle. She bit back a grin when she heard Sharon chuckle.

“You’re a fast learner, aren’t you?” Hester laughed with appreciation.

“That’s what Emma said,” Kyra blurted out, immediately feeling a blush creep up her cheeks when she realized how that remark could be interpreted. Hester’s full-out laugh taught her enough and she softly groaned.

A familiar presence suddenly appeared and without looking up, Kyra knew it was her lover who was taking a seat next to her. A comforting arm was wrapped around her shoulder and Emma’s lips gently brushed her cheek.

“Ignore my sister, she’s insane,” she smiled, leaning over to kiss her little niece’s head tenderly. “Hello, Evelyn, you look very comfy sitting with Aunt Kyra,” she cooed, not aware of the wistful smile on her lover’s face.

“Yeah, you should know,” Hester mumbled, winking at Sharon who just shook her head with a grin and leaned back against the wall, closing her eyes and soaking up the sun.

Hester took in the picture in front of her and couldn’t help the soft smile that crept up her face. Emma had one arm wrapped around Kyra, while the curly-haired woman leaned into her shoulder and both their faces shone with tenderness while they were looking at the baby in Kyra’s arms. It was something that Hester wished for her sister as well: a family of her own. Of course Kyra already had Simon and the way the little boy and his mother’s lover interacted showed their mutual affection and it was clear to see how much they had bonded. But Hester had wondered if Kyra would share Emma’s dream of a big family. Looking at the way her sister’s lover was holding the baby and the wistful smile that covered her beautiful face, made Hester smile. But she decided to keep quiet and just enjoye the quiet happiness the couple radiated.

By the end of the day, the youngest members of the Altena family were exhausted from their egg hunting and playing. The steaks, salads and freshly baked rolls had filled their stomachs and the smallest members of the clan had trouble keeping their eyes open; most of them had sought out their parents and rested in the loving embrace of their mom or dad. Or, uncles and aunts, even little Anne had snuggled up in Emma’s arms. The six year old girl suffered no visible side effects from her ordeal in the burning shed, but Irene had told Emma and Kyra she had been up most of the night, trying to comfort her daughter, who had been plagued by nightmares.

Emma looked down at the little girl who had her arms wrapped around her waist and she smiled lovingly. She was aware of the hovering presence of little Anne’s twelve year old brother Frank, who could not seem to bring himself to let his sister out of his sight.

“Are you comfy, sweetie?” Emma asked with a smile, kissing the dark hair against her shoulder.

Anne just nodded and snuggled a little closer, not planning on letting her favorite aunt go any time soon.

“Were you scared?” a little voice suddenly asked and Emma shot her niece a startled look. “I was,” Anne confessed, not waiting for her aunt to answer. “Daddy says you’re a hero, but Mommy just cried.”

Emma didn’t respond to her niece’s quiet admission, she just pulled her a little closer and, for a brief moment, she closed her eyes against the fierce memory of intense fear and panic. Slowly exhaling, she felt herself calm down again and she realized it would probably take some time before she could deal with the emotional aftermath of that horrible fire. Their ordeal had only lasted a few minutes, but the impact had been enormous.

Emma’s thoughts traveled back to that moment when her sister, Irene, and her husband, John, had entered the little hospital room at the emergency unit. Emma had been allowed to sit on the edge of the bed and dangle her legs to see if she would encounter any problems standing up.

Irene had not said anything. Her blue eyes had been red and puffy from crying and when her eyes had fallen on Emma’s face, the tears had flowed again. John’s face had been pale, the remnants of stress still clearly visible, but his hazel eyes had looked at her with so much gratitude, words had not been needed.

Emma had just opened her arms and Irene had practically fallen into them, hugging her younger sister closely. Through her tears, the only words she had been able to utter were a sobbed, constantly repeated: “Thank you.”

Emma smiled and buried her face in Anne’s dark hair, playfully tickling the little girl ribs, which made her giggle and squirm. Her eyes caught Frank’s and she winked at him, motioning him with her head to come closer. The twelve year old put up an air of indifference when he slowly walked towards her, his hands stuffed in the pockets of his jeans, but Emma knew her eldest nephew well and realized he was still struggling with his sister’s near brush with death.

“Hey, Frank,” she greeted him when he let his lanky body fall down on the chair next to hers. “What’s up?”

“Nothing,” the teenager answered, shrugging his shoulders and looking at the worn sneakers on his feet.

“Did you have fun today?”

Again, her nephew just shrugged his shoulders and when Emma cast him an inquisitive look, she noticed his attention was elsewhere. She followed his gaze and wasn’t surprised when it landed on eight year old Peter, Hester’s youngest son. She knew David, his father had a very long, serious talk with his son the previous day and Hester had told her that a lot of the boy’s privileges had been taken away. Deep down in her heart, she felt sorry for the boy, but she also realized his reckless behavior could have been disastrous and he needed to be disciplined.

“Still want to beat the crap out of him?” Emma casually asked, but her eyes scanned Frank’s expressive face intently. He softly chuckled at her choice of words and shot her an appreciative look. Emma just grinned back at him and wrinkled her nose.

“I might be old, but I do know how you young ones talk,” she explained with exaggerated arrogance, making Frank laugh. “After all, I am a schoolteacher,” she winked.

Frank’s posture had become more relaxed and Emma decided to try again.

“Are you still angry with Peter?”

“Yeah,” Frank nodded, staring at his fidgeting fingers. “I don’t really want to hit him anymore, I think Uncle David has punished him enough. But what he did was so stupid, Emma”

“I know it was, honey, but believe me, he learned his lesson.”

Frank silently nodded and Emma was just beginning to wonder if there was more on the boy’s mind when his husky voice interrupted her thoughts.

“So, you really like Kyra, huh?” he asked, sounding a lot more mature than his twelve years and Emma just nodded, curious to see in which direction her nephew was headed. “And the kid, Simon, you like him too.”

“I do,” Emma simply answered.

Frank used his tennis shoes to draw patterns in the dirt and Emma knew the teenager well enough to know he was struggling with something that was hard for him to express.

“Do you like them better than us?” Frank asked so softly Emma had almost missed the whispered words. “Do you like them so much you’ll stay down there and not move back again?”


Emma nibbled her lower lip for a moment, trying to come up with the right words to explain to her troubled, sensitive nephew that having Kyra and Simon in her life was not a matter of choosing between them and her family. It was an addition. For everyone.

“I remember the day you were born,” she calmly started, smiling when she recalled that cold winter’s day twelve years ago. “You were my very first nephew and I was so excited when Irene told me she was having a baby. I’ll tell you, Frank, I was counting the days until I could meet you.”

Frank looked up into a pair of warm blue eyes and he only found genuine affection there. He smiled back and scooted a little closer, which only deepened Emma’s smile. Holding the sleepy Anne with one arm, she wrapped her other arm around Frank’s shoulders and gave him a friendly squeeze.

“You were one of the cutest babies I’d ever seen,” she continued with a smile. “And then, almost six months later Christian was born and then Marianne and Cyndi and before I knew it, our family was getting bigger and bigger all the time.” Emma paused and cast a look at her nephew’s face which held a pensive expression. “And it’s still growing,” she quietly added.

They were quiet for a moment. Around them family members were talking and laughing, enjoying their time together. Emma could almost feel the intense gaze of her lover and when she looked up, she effortlessly caught a pair of dark green eyes from across the barn. One dark eyebrow was slightly raised in a silent question and Emma sent Kyra a reassuring smile. Her lover smiled back and even from the distance the warmth and love was clearly visible, warming Emma to her core. She tried to suppress a goofy grin and turned her attention back to the teenager, who was leaning heavily against her.

“I think I know what you mean,” Frank’s voice surprised her. “You’re trying to tell me that Kyra and Simon are an addition to the family.” He looked up and shot her a small grin. “They are your family now as well, right?”

“And yours too,” Emma added gently.

“I know,” Frank admitted with a touch of reluctance in his voice. “And it’s not that I don’t like them, I do. But…you live so far away. When you were here I could just take my bike and come over, I can’t do that anymore now. Sucks.”

“I know, Frank,” Emma sighed. “I miss you too, I really do. But maybe you and Cyndi can come for a visit soon, spend the weekend. I’m sure I can talk your mom and dad into that,” she chuckled, knowing Irene and John wouldn’t mind dropping off their two eldest, so they could have a relatively quiet weekend themselves.

“Can we?” Frank asked with shining eyes. “That would be cool. How far away is the Efteling from where you live?”

Emma grinned and playfully ruffled the teenager’s hair, glad to see the sparkle had returned to his eyes.

“Oh, I see how you are,” she laughed. “You only want to come and visit so you can go the amusement park! But, to answer your question: it’s not far, so I’ll give it some thought. I haven’t been there in ages. Maybe I can talk Kyra into coming as well, huh?”

“That would be cool,” Frank beamed. “Thanks, Emma.”

He reached up and gave his aunt a quick kiss on the cheek, before jumping up and heading towards his parents to tell them he would be going to the Efteling soon. Emma just grinned when she watched her nephew cross the barn, content to notice the boy seemed to be a lot happier now.It was close to midnight; all family members had pitched in to clean up the barn and after another relaxed hour of sipping coffee and quiet conversation, everybody had headed home. Most of Emma’s brothers and sisters carrying children in different stages of sleepiness.

Emma had put a sleeping Anne in the backseat of her father’s car and, in a hushed voice, she had said goodbye to her sister and her husband. They had been the last ones to leave and only when the red taillights had disappeared out of view, had she turned around to make her way back to the barn slowly. The place had been efficiently tidied up and the only thing left to do was switch off the lights and lock the door.

The night air was cool and Emma shivered when she quickly walked towards the cozy guesthouse. Kyra had left a little earlier to put a sleeping Simon to bed and Emma was looking forward to spending some time alone with her lover, even though it was already late and she was more tired than she would ever want to admit.

As soon as she stepped inside the tiny, dimly lit hallway and cast a look into the living room, she was greeted by the sight of Kyra, who had changed into a comfortable pair of sweats and was sipping fresh, hot tea. A second cup was placed on the table and Emma shot her lover a grateful smile.

“Oh, that’s just what I want,” she sighed, taking a seat next to Kyra and wrapping her arm around her lover’s shoulders, careful not to jostle the cup of hot tea.

“Really?” Kyra asked, glancing at Emma over the rim of her cup. “You’re easy to please then.”

Emma kissed a soft cheek and chuckled, having noticed the mischievous spark in Kyra’s eyes.

“Don’t worry, my love. I didn’t forget what happened this morning,” she whispered. “Or, rather, I didn’t forget what didn’t happen.”

“Mm…sounds like you are in a frisky mood,” Kyra smiled, stroking Emma’s cheek with her fingertips. Immediately, her hand was caught in a firm, but loving grip, while Emma used her other hand to take the cup out of Kyra’s fingers and place it on the coffee table.

“I don’t know if you’d call it frisky,” she said, turning back to her lover and sliding her free hand to the back of Kyra’s neck. “But I have this irresistible desire just to kiss you senseless.”

Kyra smiled and was only able to whisper an encouraging: ‘By all means’, before she was silenced by a pair of very soft, very warm and very insistent lips. Letting out a soft moan, she willingly surrendered to the seductive probing mouth that was covering her own, kissing, nibbling and tasting until all coherent thought had fled her mind and the only thing she was aware of were Emma’s lips, the warm body that was pressing her close and the need inside her that was rapidly rising, sending hot surges through her veins that seemed to settle in her lower belly, begging for release.

Leaning back a little, Kyra reluctantly broke their kiss for some much needed oxygen, but she made sure to keep a firm hold on her lover. Her darkened eyes locked with Emma’s smoldering indigo gaze and what she read in that desire-filled look made her heart skip a beat.

Reaching out a hand, she softly stroked the teacher’s cheek and brought her face closer, until they were breathing in the same air and Kyra was sure Emma had to be able to hear the pounding of her heart. Without breaking their gaze, her lips brushed Emma’s and she could feel her lover tighten her hold.

“Emma, please take me to bed and make love with me,” she whispered hoarsely.

Without answering, Emma stood, taking Kyra with her and wordlessly they walked towards the bedroom, switching off the light as they passed the tall, elegant lamp in the corner.

One full and one half-full cup of tea stood lonely on the coffee table.

“I’m sure I won’t be able to walk again for a while,” Kyra contentedly sighed, snuggling closer to Emma’s naked body and pressing her face in the crook of her lover’s neck. She smiled when she felt the chuckle and tenderly kissed the skin that was underneath her lips.

“I don’t think I could even stand up right now,” Emma confessed. “My legs feel so heavy. I don’t think I’ve ever been so relaxed.”

A pair of dark green eyes peeked up from her shoulder and shot her a surprised look.


“Yes, really,” Emma smiled, pleased with the happy look in her lover’s eyes.

“I guess I did well then, huh?” Kyra replied with a touch of hesitance.

Emma didn’t immediately answer. She merely pulled Kyra up until they were almost nose to nose and quickly kissed her warm, soft lips.

“Honey, you are wonderful,” she said with so much honesty and genuine happiness that Kyra couldn’t do anything but believe her. “You will have to show me those internet sites you’ve been studying,” she added with a twinkle in her dark blue eyes.

Predictably, Kyra blushed and she let out a playful growl when she clamped her teeth around Emma’s bottom lip, making the other woman laugh.

“Are you making fun of me?” she asked, pleased with Emma’s compliments, but still a little insecure about her skills as a lover.

“I’d never do that, Kyra,” Emma answered in a serious voice. “I think it’s so…cute and endearing that you…did some research.”

Kyra nodded and used her index finger to trace imaginary patterns on Emma’s cheek. She replaced her finger with her lips when Emma smiled and let out a happy sigh.

“Whenever you smile, you have this little…dimple, right here,” she said, pressing her lips against the indicated spot. “It’s so sexy, I love it.”

“I don’t have a dimple,” Emma protested.

“Yes, you do,” Kyra stubbornly answered. “Well, it’s not a real dimple, it’s more like a tiny little…dent.”

“A dent?” Emma laughed. “All right, honey, if you say so.”

“I do,” Kyra nodded. “So, you’d better believe it.”

Emma chuckled and kissed Kyra’s forehead, before using her hand to press her lover’s face down to her shoulder again, hugging her close.

“I love you,” she sighed. “I love making love with you. It’s so intense and…fun at the same time. I love that playful side of yours. You make me so happy.”

Kyra smiled against Emma’s skin and closed her eyes. It was so hard to describe how Emma made her feel. Maybe if she had been a poet, she would have been able to come up with the explanation, but right now she was at loss for words. She could only feel. With an intensity that surpassed anything she had ever felt before, except the birth of her son and holding him for the very first time.

“I love you,” she softly whispered, knowing by the tightening of Emma’s arms around her that her lover had heard the quiet declaration. “So much,” she added, barely audible.

They were lying like that for a long time, exchanging touches and soft kisses, enjoying the feel of each other and the intimacy that had bound them closer with each breath, each heartbeat, with every smile and touch. They were both tired but unwilling to go to sleep yet. The moment was just too precious for them to close their eyes and drift off.

But no matter how close to perfection the moment was, reality slowly, mercilessly set in and Kyra let out a frustrated breath when she realized that soon she would have to go back home.

“What’s wrong?” Emma’s low voice burred close to her ear.

“It just dawned on me I’ll be leaving soon. Either tomorrow evening or Tuesday morning. Early,” she sighed. “Very early, because there’s a meeting at nine and I’m expected to make an appearance.”

“Can’t you play hooky?” was Emma’s hopeful response.

“I’m afraid not, honey,” Kyra sighed. “Since I’m supposed to be presiding. Sometimes it just sucks being the VP, well, one of the two anyway,” she added, wondering if maybe, just maybe she could bribe her brother into taking her place. Another sigh. No, she couldn’t, her division was so different from his’, besides, he didn’t know everything about the new contracts and it was too late to bring him up to date. Other than that, it was way past midnight, she couldn’t call him now.

Kyra’s head jerked up and all traces of sleep had suddenly vanished. She shot a glance at Emma, who quirked a brow and looked genuinely puzzled.

“What’s wrong?” she asked for the second time during the last few minutes.

“I just…I was wondering…did I turn my cell phone back on after we left the hospital yesterday?”

“I don’t know, baby,” Emma answered. “I didn’t pay attention to that.”

“No, of course not, you had different things on your mind. And I did as well, otherwise I would know if I did or not.”

“Is it important?” Emma inquired, seeing the pensive look in her lover’s eyes.

“Before I left I promised Jazz to leave it on, in case he needed me. I…I didn’t…if something would happen he only has my cell phone number. I left the silly thing off for two solid days,” Kyra groaned, pushing herself upright and looking around the bedroom to locate the pair of jeans she had been wearing the previous day. “If Jazz called me for something, I’ll never live it down.”

“They’re on the chair,” Emma helpfully provided, feeling a cold chill when Kyra slid away from her comfortable spot and got out of bed quickly to pull the cell phone out of her pocket, immediately getting back in again and resuming her place in Emma’s arms.

“As soon as it starts beeping, I’m in trouble,” Kyra announced, switching the pone back on. It took a few seconds for the phone to adjust its settings, but then, as predicted and feared, a soft beeping noise alerted them to a message.

“I hope it was just mother,” Kyra mumbled, quickly pressing some buttons to pull up the call history and, more specifically missed calls.

“Oh, boy, six calls and they’re all from Jazz,” she whispered, hoping he had just called to razz her a little, knowing she was staying with Emma’s family. “I hope nothing happened.”

“When’s the last time he called”? Can you see that?”

“About an hour ago,” Kyra softly answered, aware of the feeling of dread that started to settle in the pit of her stomach.

“I guess I’d better listen to them in order,” she sighed, selecting the first message that had come in. Bringing the phone to her ear she rolled her eyes when an overly polite voice announced she had a voice mail message.

“Yeah, yeah, go on already,” she impatiently responded, wishing there was a way to skip that part. She knew she had a message, which was the reason she was calling. She never did understand why that always had to be repeated.

Emma saw Kyra’s face change when she intently listened to her brother’s voice and with relief she saw the green eyes light up and cast her a cheerful look.

“My dad and Albert came for a surprise visit,” she smiled happily. “They’ll be in the country for a few weeks. Wow, Simon will be over the moon,” she laughed, selecting the second message, all traces of anxiety gone.

“Sis, it’s me again. Elvira and I just arrived at dad’s apartment in Amsterdam. They’ll be staying there for a few weeks, at least, that’s what they say, but you know how they are,” Jasper laughed. ‘It would be great if you and Simon could join us. Bring your girl…bring your friend.”

Kyra snorted while she deleted the message and went to the next one.

“I know I didn’t make it, Jazzy, but next time tell me where you want to meet. It’s not like Amsterdam is a little one street village, you know.”

“Oops, I suppose you want to know where, huh? Dad’s favorite place, at the Dam, all right?”

Kyra just shook her head and chuckled., suddenly aware of a pair of amused, blue eyes.

“What?” she asked with a grin.

“I like it when you look happy,” Emma smiled. “It makes you even more beautiful than you already are.”

“Thank you,” she answered, reaching up and giving her lover a quick kiss. “This is so great, honey. Now you can meet my two dads. I can’t wait to introduce you, I just know they’ll love you,” she enthusiastically related, selecting the new message and pressing the phone to her ear.

“Message received, Sunday, April 12th, at 10.45 pm,” the mechanical voice related.

“Kyra, it’s me. I..um…” Kyra could hear the distress in her brother’s voice and immediately she shot up straight, knowing something had happened. “Listen, I know you’re somewhere in Friesland, at Emma’s place, but I don’t know where. You never told me and I forgot to ask, I guess that was really stupid. You haven’t had your phone on since yesterday and I’m starting to get worried about you. Um..listen…I…I hate to leave this message on your voice mail, but you have to call me, okay? Please.”

The feeling of dread came back full force and Kyra felt her whole body going cold. She just knew something had happened and she swallowed hard when she selected the second last message, grabbing Emma’s strong hand for support.

“Kyra, honey, Elvira and I are back in Amsterdam. Dad and Albert had been visiting friends tonight and…and as they walked back to their apartment…I…they were…assaulted and robbed and dad…” she could hear her brother take a deep breath and Kyra closed her eyes, while her whole body started to tremble. “Dad was stabbed in the chest…we’re in the hospital...they might need to do surgery. Albert took a blow on the head, but seems to be okay. They’re bringing him to the OR now. I need to go back inside and my phone will be off, but as soon as I know more I’ll call you. I…what?” Kyra could hear Elvira’s voice in the background and she leaned heavily against Emma in search for support. “Oh, yeah, sure, good idea. Kyra? Here’s the phone number of the medical surgery unit, you could call them in case you get this message and I’m not back yet. The number is…” Jasper slowly read the whole number and let out a deep breath. “I’ll keep in touch, sis. I love you,” his voice broke and Kyra knew her brother had started crying.

Emma’s worry grew when she saw the display of emotions cross her lover’s face. Right now the deep, green eyes were dark when they looked at Emma with a mixture of naked fear, pain, confusion and horror.

“What happened, sweetie?” Emma softly asked, cupping Kyra’s cheeks and gently forcing the other woman to look at her. “You look so incredibly lost. Tell me, Kyra.”

“Dad…he and Albert were mugged tonight and…and…dad was stabbed in the chest. They might need to do surgery.”

“Was that the last message?” Emma asked, focusing on the woman in her arms who was about to fall apart. “Kyra,” she said with a little more force. “Honey, look at me.” A pair of incredibly sad eyes made her swallow hard and Emma took a deep breath, knowing that she needed to keep it together, for her lover’s sake.

“Kyra, was that the last message?”

“No,” Kyra finally answered, slowly shaking her head. Her eyes traveled to the phone she was still clutching in her hand. Reaching out she handed it to Emma and her eyes were pleading. “Please, I can’t. I’m so afraid that…can you please listen to it?”

“Sure,” Emma softly replied, feeling her heart starting to pound. She took the phone from Kyra and selected the message that was last received. Kyra’s eyes were glued to her face when she played the voice mail.

“Message received, Monday, April 13th, at 01.04 am.” Emma cast a look at the clock and noticed the call had come in less than thirty minutes ago.

“Kyra, it’s me again. Dad’s out of surgery and the doctor said everything went all right. Apparently things looked worse than they were and there was no damage to vital organs. Thank heaven! Dad will need some time to heal and all that, but he should make a complete recovery. Call me sis, I’m worried sick about you. Please.”

Emma let out a shaky breath and pulled Kyra into a warm hug.

“He’s going to be fine, honey,” she sighed, the relief evident in her voice. “Your dad is going to be all right. Jasper’s worried about you and he wants you to call him.”

“I will,” Kyra mumbled, needing Emma’s close presence and tightening her hold on her lover. “Is he really going to be all right?” she asked in a quivering voice.

“Yes, he will,” Emma smiled, holding Kyra close and slowly rocking her like she would do a distressed child, whispering words of love and comfort when she felt Kyra’s body rack with sobs.

“I feel so bad about this, Emma,” she sniffed. “I should have had my phone on. Why didn’t I? I always have the stupid thing on and now…I…”

“Kyra, honey, listen to me,” Emma interrupted in a calm voice, pushing her lover back a little so she could look her in the eye, but still holding her in the circle of her arms. “Don’t do this to yourself, all right? You didn’t do it on purpose. You forgot. It’s done and you can’t change it. Besides, it’s completely understandable why you forgot to switch your phone back on. We had a…long, tough day Saturday. No one will blame you. I’m sure Jasper will understand when you explain to him what happened. He’s worried about you. Why don’t you give him a call?”

Kyra just nodded and rubbed her eyes with the back of her hand, giving Emma a good idea of how she would have looked when she was a little girl. The auburn-haired woman smiled and pulled her lover closer again.

“Are you all right?” she softly asked, kissing Kyra’s temple.

“Yes, thanks, Emma. I love you.”

“I love you too,” Emma smiled. “Now, why don’t you call your brother, so he’ll know you are all right and I’ll make us a cup of tea, okay?”

“Okay,” Kyra sighed, managing a watery smile when she looked into a pair of compassionate blue eyes. She leaned forward and captured Emma’s lips in a soft kiss. “I’m so lucky to have found you,” she whispered.

“Funny, I feel the same way about you,” Emma replied with a smile.

To be continued in chapter 13

Return to the Academy

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For those who are interested; The Efteling does exist and they have a website in English as well: http://www.efteling.nl/docs.en/index.html, for those who are interested.