Heart’s Choice

Chapter 13


Lois Kay

Emma stared into the darkness outside, not really noticing the beautiful night sky with the clear stars that looked like a huge hand had lovingly scattered a handful of little diamonds on black velvet. While she slowly sipped her hot tea, her thoughts were with the woman in the bedroom, who had been talking to her brother for more than half an hour now.

Emma had left Kyra alone, carefully closing the door behind her to give her lover some privacy. She had made some fresh tea, waiting for Kyra to come out and join her. It was the middle of the night, but somehow Emma knew that they probably wouldn’t get much sleep anyway. Too many things had happened in such a short period of time.

“And here I was hoping I could offer Kyra a nice, relaxed little vacation,” she softly snorted. “What was I thinking?”

The look on Kyra’s face, when she had listened to her brother’s message about their father being stabbed in the chest during a robbery, sliced through Emma’s heart, making her wince in emotional pain. Her lover had looked so lost and hurt. Her fear had almost been palpable. But what had upset Emma the most, had been the wounded look in a pair of frightened green eyes. And, briefly, she had to wonder if she could be strong enough to withstand the intensity of Kyra’s feelings and be there for her lover without falling apart herself.

She had been able to keep her fingers from trembling when she had taken the phone from Kyra to listen to the last voice mail message, but her heart had been pounding in her chest and her stomach had been tied in knots. Thank goodness, Norbert Hartman would recover from his ordeal. She knew her lover would probably want to go see her father first thing in the morning and she understood that. She’d want the same if it had been her father. Having seen the look in Kyra’s eyes, she also knew her lover needed to be physically with her father to assure herself he would be all right.

Emma knew it had been an emotional evening for her lover, but they had both been able to keep things together and be there for each other. Emma knew another thread had been woven to bond their hearts together. She smiled when she felt a warm feeling settle around her heart, knowing it was their mutual love that ignited this steadily burning flame. Meeting Kyra and Simon had been the best thing that ever happened to her. It had made her happy and complete.

But then, of course, there was Vivian LeJeune. Emma exhaled slowly and rolled her eyes. Being with her family had put the comfortable distance of an almost three hour drive between themselves and Kyra’s mother. But that would change. Kyra would have to go back home soon and Emma realized that, as soon as Vivian LeJeune found out about their relationship, there would be a major clash.

Wincing, Emma remembered that one Saturday morning when Kyra’s mother had unexpectedly dropped by. It had been unsettling for her to see the cold way Kyra’s mother treated her daughter. It had hurt her to be confronted with the fact that it was impossible for Kyra to turn to her mother for support or advice. There had been no love, no warmth, just a demeanor of cold judgment that almost made Emma shiver when she remembered. Kyra had handled the situation with a steely determination, but through the anger and frustration, Emma had seen the pain in her eyes. Letting out a deep sigh, she wondered how Kyra would handle a frontal assault by her mother.

What if that happens some time next week and I’m not around to support her?

“Maybe we need to discuss that possibility before she leaves,” Emma mumbled, hoping that one day Kyra’s mother would come to accept her daughter for whom and what she was. “Although I do have my doubts about that relationship.”Kyra, who had ended her conversation with a very relieved Jasper, had quietly entered the living room. After hearing Emma’s soft remark, she stopped dead in her tracks; her heart did a double take. A lifetime of insecurities came crashing down on her and a sudden wave of nausea made her feel sick to her stomach, an invisible cold hand painfully clenched around her heart.

Is she having second thoughts?

Alarmed by a soft gasp behind her, Emma whirled around on the couch and when she noticed Kyra almost doubling over, with her hands pressed against her stomach, she quickly put her empty tea cup on the table and jumped up to gather her lover in her arms.

“Kyra? Honey? What’s wrong?” Emma urged in a very worried voice. “Your dad, is he…?”

Kyra just shook her head and was grateful for the warm, strong arms that held her close to the one person who could devastatingly easily shatter her in a million pieces.

Emma, who could feel Kyra’s body shake, swallowed hard and wracked her brain for the possible reason for her lover’s distressed appearance.

“Come, sit down,” she gently suggested, pulling Kyra with her towards the couch, still holding her close. She took a seat and pulled her lover in her lap, somehow knowing Kyra needed the closeness and warmth. Confirmation of that assessment came when Kyra put her head against her shoulder and let out a long, shuddering breath.

“Can you tell me what is wrong, Kyra?” Emma softly asked, glad to notice her lover had stopped shaking.

“It’s stupid, really,” Kyra mumbled, feeling embarrassed by her reaction to the words she had overheard. “You’ll probably think I’m silly.”

“Try me,” Emma’s warm voice sounded close to her ear and Kyra could feel a pair of soft lips brush her cheek. “I’ll never think anything but good things about you, sweetheart.”

Encouraged by Emma’s words, Kyra lifted her head and looked into a pair of gentle blue eyes that didn’t hold back anything and radiated so much love it was humbling.

“You love me,” Kyra whispered, lifting a hand and carefully tracing a finger around Emma’s damaged eyebrow. Those words intensified the blue even more and Emma nodded.

“Yes, I do.”

Patiently waiting for a response, Emma’s eyes took in the woman who was a mixture of strength and steely resolve, but who could also be so painfully insecure it was almost heartbreaking.

“When I came into the room, I heard you talking to yourself and…for a moment I thought that maybe you were having second thoughts…about us,” Kyra finally answered in a whisper and Emma could see the flash of pain in those dark green pools.

“I know that’s not true,” Kyra quickly continued. “I know you love me. It’s those…those awful…sometimes I can be really insecure,” she sighed. “I’m sorry.”

“I am too,” Emma answered. “But I’m sorry because you sometimes feel that way. And when you do, it hurts you. And when you hurt, I hurt,” she gently said, tightening her hold on Kyra’s body and nuzzling her neck.

And I could really slap your mother for all those years she only contributed to your self-doubt.

“I was thinking about your relationship with your mother,” she gently explained. “I’ll worry about you, when you go home and I’ll be here. I know your mother will give you a hard time.”

“I can handle my mother,” Kyra sighed, rubbing her cheek against Emma’s. “But it would be nice to have you around for moral support.” Pressing a soft kiss against Emma’s lips, Kyra smiled. “It’s a wonderfully strange sensation to know I’m not alone anymore,” she confessed. “After all those years of just me and Simon…”

“I’ll always be there for you,” Emma promised. “I could…come back with you, I…”

“No,” Kyra softly interrupted, pressing her finger against Emma’s lips. “It’s so sweet of you to make an offer like that, but you need your family, honey. I’ve seen how much you’ve missed them and how much they have missed you. Don’t cut your time short because my mother might go off the deep end. It’s not worth it.”

“But you are worth everything to me,” Emma whispered.

“Like you are to me,” Kyra smiled, placing tiny kisses all over Emma’s face. “And no matter how much I’d want you there with me, this is a war I’ll have to fight myself.”


“No, buts,” Kyra whispered, covering Emma’s lips with her own and rapidly losing herself in a passionate kiss that was answered with equal enthusiasm.

It was silent, while the two women leisurely kissed, exploring and tasting each other’s lips, reveling in the connection they shared. They took their time and both realized their kiss had nothing to do with quenching a physical longing, but more with confirming the feelings they shared.

Finally, after a long while, Kyra pulled back a little and let out a shuddering breath, while her fingers traced the outline of Emma’s warm, moist lips.

“Your kisses are fabulous,” she smiled with a husky voice, making Emma chuckle.

“I’m glad you feel that way,” she responded, playfully nibbling Kyra’s collarbone. “But tell me about your dad, sweetie. What happened?”

Kyra leaned closer to her lover’s body and felt a pair of warm, strong arms encircle her and pull her closer. Being that close to Emma provided her with all the warmth and security she needed, and she sighed contentedly.

“Albert and dad had been visiting friends, who live pretty close to their apartment, so, they walked. On their way home, they were mugged by three…guys. My dad’s a pretty big man and he tried to fight them off, but then Albert got hit in the head with an empty beer bottle, and when my dad turned to him, he was stabbed with a knife. In the chest,” Kyra softly related, feeling a shiver run down her spine. “They missed his heart and lung, thank heavens, but it’s a deep stab wound, and he lost a lot of blood. The doctor said he will be all right. It will just take some time.”

Kyra felt Emma pull her even closer and she tucked her head under her lover’s skin, grateful for the warm hand that rubbed soothing circles on her back.

“Albert has a slight concussion and they’ll keep him overnight for observation. Jazz said they are both taken care off and asleep, so there is no reason to go to Amsterdam right now. I’ll go there tomorrow,” Kyra added, feeling the tears sting her eyes.

She wanted to see her two fathers and make sure they were all right. Jasper had told her they had asked for her several times, and she knew they had worried about her when her brother couldn’t get hold of her. But she also needed Emma, and knowing she would have to leave the Altena family and farm the next day left her feeling uncharacteristically unsettled.

“I’ll come with you,” Emma calmly decided, glancing at Kyra’s moist eyes. “That is…if you want me to,” she softly added.

“I…I...didn’t we just discuss that…?”

“This situation is nothing like what’s going on between your mother and you,” Emma objected. “Unless…you don’t want me to…”

“Are you crazy?” Kyra said forcefully, pulling back so she could look her lover in the eyes. “I do want you there with me. I do need you. I’ll always need you. I just don’t want to…take you away from your family and…”

“You and Simon are my family as well,” Emma gently interrupted. “And no matter how much I love my family, you and Simon come first.”

Blue and green eyes met, and for a breathless moment Emma and Kyra looked at each other with an intensity that seemed to stop the world from spinning. It was so quiet they could hear each other’s soft breaths that slowly became deeper, until Kyra let out a shuddering breath, breaking the spell by kissing the tip of Emma’s nose and resting her forehead against her lover’s.

“I guess I’m in the process of getting used to that,” she admitted with a gentle smile. “And it’s wonderful.”

Emma just smiled and gave the woman, who was comfortably snuggled on her lap, a quick kiss.

“Amen to that,” she answered. “So why don’t you drink your tea, before it gets cold again? And when you’re done, we might be able to sleep for a few hours, since I have the feeling you’ll want us to leave for Amsterdam early in the morning.”

With an impatient gesture, the tall, dark-haired man raked his fingers through his short, but thick hair. His hazel eyes held a mixture of impatience and frustration when he cast a look at the two elderly women, who were seated on the couch. Involuntarily, he recalled he had seen them sitting like that many times before, and he wasn’t fond of most of those memories.

Margaret Peters and Vivian LeJeune probably had no idea how much they resembled each other, with their perfectly styled hair, expensive clothes that were always the latest fashion. and the cool, dissatisfied look that seemed to be a permanent aspect of their facial expressions.

Empty, he thought. Never satisfied and without any form of depth or warmth that would have made them more attractive.

His eyes traveled to the petite blond who was standing close to the window, her slender figure backlit by the early morning sun, and his expression softened. He wanted to take away the shadows of pain that had been almost permanently present in the pale blue eyes he knew so well. But he knew deep down inside, that nothing he would do, could ever be completely successful.

His past weighed heavy on his shoulders and again, when looking at her, he was filled with profound sadness and shame. But the small smile she sent him gave him courage and filled him with warmth. He knew what he had to do. He would do the right thing.

“I told you before, Mother, I don’t think this is a good idea,” his deep voice broke the lengthy silence.

“Of course it is, dear,” Margaret Peters calmly answered. “I know you and Bridget are very disappointed right now, but in time you both will learn to adapt. The main issue here is to stay focused on the goal.”

“And, what exactly would that goal be, Mother?” Roderick Peters asked in a tired voice.

Margaret Peters shot her son a surprised look, and her eyes traveled to Vivian LeJeune who was seated next to her. Both women exchanged a knowing glance, before Margaret turned her attention back to her tall son.

“Well, honey, for you to get your son back, of course,” she said, almost sounding cheerfully.

Roderick exhaled slowly and shot his wife an exasperated look. Bridget looked at him with a pained expression, and he knew she trusted him to handle the situation in a calm, mature way. She gave him an almost imperceptible nod, which helped him to get a grip on his growing frustration. He needed to stay calm and focused, before the situation got completely out of hand.

“Mother, I have no son,” he finally answered in a voice that was laced with pain and regret. “I gave up that right. I never wanted that, don’t you remember? It was you who cheered me on at the time. And I gladly complied,” he added in a bitter voice.

“I remember, dear. But we can correct things,” Margaret Peters urged, not even noticing the emotions in her son’s voice. “The only thing we need to do is convince Kyra to give permission. I’m sure the court will draw up the custody papers in no time, since both you and your father are well respected lawyers.”

“Kyra will never give permission,” Roderick sighed. And why should she? After the way I treated her_

“I’ll handle Kyra,” Vivian LeJeune suddenly announced in a cool, confident voice.

Roderick’s eyes took in her almost indifferent demeanor and he slowly shook his head. He experienced an uncomfortable rush of nausea, and if it hadn’t been for the promise he made his wife, he would have turned around and left. But he had told Bridget he would handle it, so he clenched his fists and tried not to grit his teeth. He silently wondered how a woman who was so cold and deliberate could have a daughter who was as wonderful as Kyra Hartman.

Vivian LeJeune interpreted the shaking of Roderick’s head as a sign of doubt and she coolly continued to lay out her plan.

“My daughter seems to be…attached… to this new…friend… she has, this teacher,” she continued, wrinkling her nose in disgust. “It has come to my attention that this person, Emma, is a lesbian. No doubt she already poisoned Kyra’s way of thinking. But I am positive that if we put some pressure on their so- called, friendship, Kyra will eventually relent and give in. I’m sure my daughter is not interested in a scandal of any kind. As soon as she is back from her little vacation, I will talk to her and make her see reason. I simply can not allow my grandson, your son, to be influenced by such perverted ways.”

To Roderick, it sounded like Vivian LeJeune was casually telling them what she would have for dinner that evening and something inside the tall lawyer snapped. His wife could see it in the way he squared his shoulders and the bunching muscles in his jaw. But before she could step up to him to put a soothing hand on his back, he already started speaking.

“Perverted ways?” he asked, letting the anger seep through in his voice. “There’s nothing perverted about two people who love each other, no matter what gender they are. Do I need to remind you that those ‘perverted ways’, as you like to call it, are only the bigoted brain-waves of prejudiced people?”

Margaret Peters brought a hand to her chest and gasped loudly after hearing her son’s venomous words. For the first time, she showed something that resembled emotion.

“Roderick _ How can you speak like that?” she scolded him. “It’s unnatural.”

“Unnatural?” he hissed, his hazel eyes bright with furious sparks. “I’ll tell you about unnatural. How natural is it to try and claim an innocent five year old child, who has never seen his father, because that man was too much of a coward to take full responsibility for his actions?”

“But you proposed to her _” Margaret Peters exclaimed, almost whining.

“I proposed to Kyra, because that was what the two of you wanted me to do. That was what the two of you had planned all along. You and Vivian had been planning to get me and Kyra together ever since we were teenagers and you tried every trick in the book,” Roderick almost shouted. “The pregnancy was all part of that, because Kyra never even looked at me twice,” he added bitterly.

“How can you say that?” Margaret Peters asked with a raised voice, while her cheeks went slightly red. “You and Kyra…slept together.”

Roderick cast a look at his petite wife, he swallowed away a lump in his throat when he saw the pain in her eyes, and the way she courageously tried to keep the tears from falling. He had told her. She knew everything, but he knew it was still very hard on her to be confronted with that part of his past. He slept with Kyra once, which had resulted in a pregnancy, while Bridget had only learned a few days ago that she would never be able to have a child of her own.

In spite of the hurt, she quickly walked over to him to wrap her arms around his waist in a gesture of trust and comfort. Biting his lower lip to keep it from trembling, he draped a long arm around her shoulders and pulled her closer. He needed her close presence to help him through the next difficult moments.

“I slept with Kyra,” Roderick stated in a hoarse voice. “She didn’t sleep with me.”

Vivian LeJeune’s face went still and cold gray eyes cast the lawyer a look that radiated anger and at the same time held a hint of warning.

“What do you mean?” Margaret Peters echoed confused. “She was there with you, wasn’t she?”

There was a long silence in which only the soft, rhythmic ticking of the clock could be heard. A pair of cool gray eyes fought a soundless duel with a pair of turbulent hazel ones, while Bridget Peters cast her mother-in-law a sad and worried look. She knew what was going to happen. But that wouldn’t make the situation any easier. It would still hurt to hear the words aloud, no matter how much she loved her husband.

“I took advantage of Kyra,” Roderick finally confessed in a voice that was full of guilt and shame. “It wasn’t consensual.”

Margaret Peters, who had been perched on the edge of the couch went completely still and looked at her tall son as if he had sprouted a second head. Her mouth opened and closed again and her eyes blinked rapidly while she let the words slowly sink in.

“She was…drunk?” she rasped with a hint of hope in her voice.

“No, she wasn’t drunk,” Roderick answered. “She only had one or two glasses of wine.”

“But then…Roderick _” Margaret Peters moaned, pressing two hands against her chest, feeling her body grow cold.

“I put a drug in her wine. GHB, Gamma Hydroxy Butyrate. It’s also called the rape drug.”

Roderick could feel the sobs rack through his wife’s body and he pulled her close, feeling a heavy pain in his chest that made it difficult to breathe. He thought he wouldn’t have any tears left, not after he had told his wife the whole story and had accepted her forgiveness and comfort. He didn’t deserve her goodness and love, but still shamelessly reveled in it. Because he needed it. He needed her.

“Oh, God. Oh, no,” Margaret Peters softly sobbed. “But...why...how…where did you..?

She noticed the pain-filled look her son shot Vivian LeJeune, and slowly understanding dawned. She knew her friend used to work at a pharmaceutical company. If anyone had a lot of knowledge about drugs, it was Vivian LeJeune.

“You gave it to him,” she said. It wasn’t a question, but a statement.

“It was only a little bit,” Kyra’s mother immediately started her defense. “My goodness, it was just enough for her to loosen up a little and be more…approachable. And I didn’t anticipate her getting pregnant. Kyra was always so…buried in her books. She needed to get out and meet people. I’m sure she does remember the event, even though she claims the contrary. I just…”

“She passed out,” Roderick softly interrupted. “She didn’t know.” He took a deep breath and tightened the hold he had on his wife, clearly remembering the promise he made. “But she will now.”

“What ?_” Vivian LeJeune almost barked, feeling the blood drain from her face.

“Kyra will know,” Roderick repeated. “Because I will tell her everything.”

“But…I…you can’t…it’s…”

“That’s right, I can’t,” he answered in a tired voice. “I can’t look in the mirror and be content with what I see. I can’t think back and be proud of what I’ve done. I can’t look at Bridget and hope that what we have is honest and pure. I can’t do all of that. Not until I tell Kyra the truth.”

The drive to Amsterdam had been uneventful. Emma had decided to leave early, having noticed her lover was uncharacteristically tense. She understood Kyra’s anxiety. If it had been her father who had been assaulted and ended up in a hospital after being stabbed in the chest, she would have felt the same.

They had taken the fastest route available, driving across the famous Dutch ‘Afsluitdijk’ that separated the North Sea from the hinterland, providing a defense against the sea and making it possible to pump away the waters and claim the land.

Simon had been bouncing in his seat when they were crossing the 30 kilometer long, 90 meters wide dike that connected Friesland to the province of North Holland. For a while the little boy had been able to forget his worries about his grandfathers, and he had practically bombarded Emma and Kyra with questions.

It had been a welcome distraction, and, with a small smile, Kyra had listened to Emma explaining to Simon how and why the dike was built. She thoroughly enjoyed the teacher in her lover and admired the way Emma was able to relate some intricate details in such a way, that the five year old boy understood completely.

After driving for almost two hours they had reached Amsterdam’s Academic Medical Center and, as soon as Emma killed the engine, she could hear Kyra let out a deep, shuddering breath.

“Are you all right?” she immediately asked, casting her lover a look full of concern.

“I think so,” Kyra answered, not real convincingly. Her eyes had taken on a deeper shade of green when they locked with Emma’s blue ones. “I don’t like hospitals,” she finally admitted with a wry chuckle. “Especially not when I’m about to visit somebody I love.” She took in a deep breath and smiled, reaching out and grabbing Emma’s hand, giving it a loving squeeze. “But I’ll be all right.”

“Mom, we need to buy Grandpa Norbert and Albert a present,” Simon stated from the backseat. “You always buy me a present when I’m sick.”

“Of course, sweetie,” Kyra smiled, reluctantly letting go of Emma’s hand and unbuckling her seatbelt. “They have a gift shop here and you can pick out something that will make them feel better. All right?”

“Yes, Mom,” Simon answered cheerfully. He knew his grandfathers had been hurt and he felt really bad for them. But, on the other hand he was excited to see them again.

“Let’s go then,” Emma decided with more confidence than she felt. She was feeling nervous about the upcoming meeting with Kyra’s family. She did want to meet Kyra’s father and brother, but the circumstances were not exactly ideal and she would have preferred a less dramatic and clinical setting.Fifteen minutes later, they entered a brightly lit, long hallway and as soon as the double doors closed behind them, Emma noticed a man jumping up from a low bench and hurrying towards them. He was tall, with dark curly hair and even if Simon wouldn’t have happily exclaimed: ‘Uncle Jazz’, she would have recognized the man as Kyra’s brother.

Her lover was engulfed by a pair of long arms that almost lifted her off the floor, and in spite of the situation Emma chuckled. Simon was embracing a long leg, with a happy look on his expressive face. Jasper let go of his sister and scooped his nephew up in his arms, playfully throwing him in the air and catching him again.

Kyra just smiled and stepped a little closer to Emma, purposefully grabbing her hand and holding it tight.

Jasper shifted Simon to his left arm and turned to face his sister. As soon as he looked at Emma, the teacher noticed with a lot of satisfaction that Jasper’s eyes were the same color as Simon’s. Not the cool gray she had seen in Vivian LeJeune, but a darker shade with a touch of green.

“Jazz, this is Emma,” Kyra introduced her lover, and her brother chuckled softly when he saw the faint blush on her face. The previous evening they had spent more than half an hour on the phone, and his sister had already told him bits and pieces about her relationship with Emma. He had been absolutely thrilled to hear Kyra had found somebody to share her life with and he couldn’t be happier for her.

“Hello, Emma, it’s really nice to meet you,” Jasper smiled, reaching out his hand and grabbing Emma’s extended one.

“Emma’s Mom’s girlfriend,” Simon helpfully provided. “And she’s my teacher.”

Emma grinned and shot her lover an amused look, giving the warm hand that was comfortably nestled in her own a loving squeeze.

“That sums it up nicely, I guess,” she wryly chuckled, knowing that Simon’s last comment reminded her of the implications of her relationship with the mother of one of her pupils.

“Come, I’ll introduce you to Elvira,” Kyra’s voice interrupted her thoughts, tugging on her hand and leading her toward a little bench against the wall. The woman, who had been sitting on the uncomfortable looking seat, stood up when the couple walked up to her and graced them with a beautiful smile.

“Hey, Kyra,” her low voice welcomed and Emma felt her lover let go of her hand to give the dark skinned woman a heartfelt hug. She knew Kyra liked Jasper’s girlfriend, and from the first moment they met, they had rapidly become friends.

“Elvira, this is Emma,” Kyra introduced her, turning to Emma and sending her an affectionate smile.

“Hello, Emma,” Elvira said with a broad smile. “It’s nice to meet you. I just wish the location would have been different.”

“That’s exactly how I feel as well,” Emma answered, looking into a pair of soulful brown eyes and feeling all her nervousness disappear. If Jasper and Elvira were any indication, Emma expected to like Norbert Hartman and Albert Mendez as well.

“Is Albert with dad?” Kyra asked Jasper who had walked closer, Simon still firmly wrapped around his tall frame.

Jasper nodded and with his head he gestured toward a door on the left.

“They’re both in there. The staff didn’t want to separate them, so they put up Albert in here as well.”

“Can we see them?” Kyra asked, her hand reached for Emma’s again, needing the contact. Somehow the feel of Emma’s fingers curled around her own gave her a sense of safety... helped her to focus and stay calm. She knew her father had been lucky, in a way, and that he would make a full recovery, but she also realized that as soon as she walked into that hospital room and saw her father, the tears would come.

“Go ahead,” Jasper encouraged. “The nurses said it’s all right. I’ll see if I can get us something to drink. Would coffee be good enough?”

“That would be great, Jazz,” Kyra sighed. “We had an early breakfast this morning and I really could use some caffeine. I didn’t get much sleep last night.”

Jasper cast a look at his sister and she noticed the mischievous twinkle in his eyes.

“Is that why you didn’t have the phone on?” he asked with feigned innocence.

Predictably, Kyra blushed, Emma softly chuckled and Elvira gave the tall man a playful swat on his behind.

“Behave,” she warned with a smile. “Let’s go and get some coffee. I’ll help.”

Jasper put Simon down on the ground and winked at his sister, before he leaned in and gave her a quick kiss on her glowing cheek.

“I want some juicy details later,” he whispered, teasingly, before Elvira took charge of the situation and dragged him along with her.

Kyra let out a deep breath and slowly shook her head when she watched her brother being led away by his girlfriend.

“I have one brother for sale,” she muttered, casting Emma an exasperated look. “Are you interested? I’ll give you a discount.”

“Don’t worry about it, honey,” Emma smiled, bringing their entwined fingers to her lips and softly kissing the back of Kyra’s hand. “Just remember you can always rely on paybacks. Besides,” she paused and her eyes caught Kyra’s. “You are beautiful when you blush.”

“I bet you say that to all the girls,” Kyra quipped, but there was a small grin tugging on the corner of her mouth. The friendly bantering had lightened the mood, and she realized the tight knot that had been present in her stomach, ever since she received her brother’s message, had slowly started to dissolve.

“Let’s go see my dads,” she softly said, turning around and walking towards the pale yellow door.Emma and Simon quietly followed Kyra when she soundlessly opened the heavy door and stepped into the reasonably large hospital room. There were two beds that would normally be separated by a curtain, but in this case they weren’t. The curtain was pushed back against the wall, so the occupants of the bed could have an unhindered view of each other.

Kyra slowly let go of Emma’s hand and stepped closer until she was standing between the two beds. Tears were streaming down her face when she looked from the still form of her father to the dark man in the next bed and back again. They were both asleep.

Emma could see the shaking of her shoulders and quickly stepped closer, wrapping her arm around Kyra, who immediately half turned and buried her face in the crook of Emma’s neck.

Emma’s eyes sought the small form of Simon, who was standing close to the door, looking at his grandfathers and mother with wide eyes, filled with apprehension. She sent him a reassuring smile and reached out a hand to him in silent invitation. He immediately stepped closer and grabbed the offered hand tightly, pressing his small form against Emma’s side.

“Mom? Granddad?” his husky voice tentatively filled the silence.

Simon’s voice instantly brought Kyra back to reality and helped her to get a grip on her emotions. Wiping her eyes with the back of her hand, she sent her son a watery smile and reached out to pull him in a hug.

“ Your granddads will be all right, honey,” she softly said, clearing her throat to get rid of the constricting feeling and hoarseness. “They’re just asleep and…”

“No, I’m not,” a low, deep voice suddenly sounded from one of the beds, startling both women. “Are my ears deceiving me or do I really hear my favorite grandson?”

“Grandpa _” Simon exclaimed, pulling away from his mother’s embrace and rushing towards the bed. “I’m your only grandson, grandpa,” Simon added with a happy laugh, knowing that, if his grandfather was using the old joke between them, he probably wasn’t as sick as Simon had thought. .

“Simon,” Kyra gently warned, stepping close to her son and putting her hand on his shoulder to keep him from climbing on the bed. “Careful, honey. Granddad is still hurting,” she said, eying the IV that was hooked up to her father’s arm and the drain that was attached to the side rail of the bed.

“Lift him up on the left side, honey,” Norbert Hartman smiled at his daughter. “So I can give him a hug.”

Kyra obediently lifted Simon up on the bed and the little boy cautiously snuggled up to his grandfather, carefully wrapping his arm around his neck and kissing his cheek.

“Hi, grandpa,” he whispered, his small hand lovingly patting Norbert Hartman’s cheek.

A pair of dark green eyes that were so much like Kyra’s it almost took Emma’s breath away, shone with unshed tears, when Norbert Hartman’s gaze settled on his daughter. Kyra suppressed a sob and leaned forward to carefully wrap her arms around both her son and father.

“Oh, daddy, I’m so sorry,” she whispered, feeling the tears escape her eyes. “I should have been here and…and…I wasn’t.”

“Aw, baby, don’t say that,” Norbert Hartman answered in a gentle voice, putting his hand on the back of Kyra’s head. “Besides, Jazz told me you were having a good time. It’s not your fault Albert and I wanted to surprise you with a visit. You had no way of knowing we flew in from Aruba.”

“Did I hear my name?” a sleepy voice sounded from the other bed, making Kyra chuckle through her tears, before she pulled back from her father and closed the distance to the other bed, wrapping the dark-skinned man in a hug.

“Albert,” she sighed happily, feeling his arms settle around her body.

“It’s so good to see you, little one,” Albert Mendez spoke, ignoring the persistent throbbing in his head and lovingly patting his step-daughter on her back.

“Are you all right? How’s your head? Jazz said that…”

“I’m fine Kyra, well, as good as anyone could be after running into an empty beer bottle,” he said with a wry grin, happy to see the smile on her face chase away the lines of worry around her eyes.

“If you two are done cuddling, maybe Kyra can introduce her friend,” Norbert’s voice suddenly sounded, while his eyes rested on the patiently waiting Emma. Their eyes met and Kyra’s father smiled, having recognized the way her eyes followed Kyra’s every move and inwardly he cheered, knowing love when he saw it.

“Dad, Albert,” Kyra obediently said, stepping closer to Emma and sliding an arm around her lover’s waist. “This is Emma.” The love and pride in her voice was clearly audible and Norbert exchanged a knowing glance with his partner.

“Emma is Mom’s girlfriend,” Simon helpfully contributed with a beaming smile towards Albert Mendez, making his mother blush. Emma just chuckled and wrapped her arm around Kyra’s shoulders to give her a gentle squeeze.

“Sounds like Simon fits right in with my family,” she grinned.

“Looks like he picked up some scary habits those last few days,” Kyra muttered in answer, before turning her attention back to her father, who was looking at her with an expression on his face she could only describe as ‘smug’.

Furrowing her brows, she cast him a puzzled look that only intensified when she heard Albert’s soft chuckle.

“What?” she asked, suddenly feeling very self conscious.

“Nothing, sweetie,” Norbert smiled. “I...it’s just that it’s wonderful to see you. You’re positively glowing. Love suits you.”

“Is it that obvious?” Kyra asked with a smile, feeling her cheeks grow warm again when both her father and his partner vigorously nodded. But she chuckled, turned to Emma and wrapped both arms around her lover.

“So, you approve?” she asked her father with a mischievous smile.

“Emma must be very special, for you to have fallen in love with her, little one,” Albert declared. “But then, you are very special as well.”

“She sure is,” Emma smiled.

“Come on, girls, sit down,” Albert motioned towards a couple of chairs that were lined up against the wall. “Grab those chairs and tell us all about it.”

Kyra rolled her eyes but obediently pulled two chairs closer and motioned Emma to take a seat.

“Have a seat, honey, I think they mean business,” she joked. “Unless you want to call your mother first.”

“I think I do,” Emma responded, remembering the promise she made when they had left the farm that morning. “I’ll hunt down a pay phone and give her a call.”

“No, use mine,” Kyra replied, pulling her cell phone from her purse and handing it to her lover. “I think they allow you to use it in that area near the elevator.”

“All right,” Emma complied with a smile. “I’ll be right back.”

After a loving glance, she turned around and left the room, quickly walking towards the double doors that led to a sitting area near the elevator. Looking around she noticed signs that indicated the use of cell phones was allowed, and she switched the little device back on. After a few seconds, the display showed her she could dial the requested number and just when she was about to punch in the first digit, the cell phone started ringing. She was so startled she almost dropped it, and with a frown she looked at the display, debating with herself whether to answer or not. She knew Kyra had left a note with her phone number on it on the kitchen table, and it was a real possibility that one of her family members was calling to check in with them. Deciding to take the risk she pressed the little green button, fervently hoping it would not be Vivian LeJeune trying to get in touch with her daughter.

“Hello?” she hesitantly spoke, pressing the device against her ear.

She was greeted by silence and was just about to repeat her greeting, when an unknown male voice sounded in her ear.


“Um…no, this is Kyra’s phone, though. My name is Emma Altena. Kyra is…busy at the moment. Can I take a message?”

“Kyra’s friend,” the voice stated and Emma frowned, wondering who was calling her lover.

“Yes,” she slowly answered. “Kyra’s friend.”

“Hello, Emma,” the voice sounded, not unfriendly. “My name is Roderick Peters.”

To be continued in chapter 14

Return to the Academy

Feedback is welcome at ripplesintime@hotmail.com