Heart’s Choice

Chapter 19


Lois Kay


It was quiet. The only sound penetrating the hospital room were muffled voices coming from the hallway. That was the only indication Kyra and Norbert Hartman were surrounded by many people.

After Norbert had given Kyra an answer to her question, there had been a long silence, in which both father and daughter had been lost in their own deep thoughts. Kyra had needed the time to process the new information and wrap her mind around it. While Norbert needed a few moments to compose himself and fight the feelings of sadness, anger and shame that had assaulted him when he relived memories of which he was not proud... Kyra had shown a compassion that astounded him and he silently said a prayer of thanks, grateful for being a part of her life.

Kyra’s hand crept into Norbert’s larger one and gently she squeezed it, seeing the inner turmoil in her father’s eyes.

"Thanks for telling me, dad. I know that can’t have been easy for you," she softly spoke.

Norbert Hartman cleared his throat and nodded in agreement.

"It was hard," he admitted. "But I’m glad I told you. I think I need to tell your brother as well, he has a right to know. I should have told you this years ago."

"Why didn’t you?"

"I was afraid to come between your mother and you children."

"Was that all?" Kyra gently asked.

Norbert let out a soft chuckle and shot his daughter a look of appreciation.

"There’s not much that escapes you, is there?"

"You taught me how to read people, dad," Kyra smiled. "Of course I should have read mother a little better, but I guess I was afraid of the truth. Anyway, that’s not the issue at the moment."

"For years I’ve felt guilty for breaking up our family. I blame myself for divorcing your mother and I felt responsible for all the pain and sorrow I caused."

"And that’s why you let her blackmail you?"

"Basically," Norbert truthfully answered.

Kyra sighed and rested her head against her father’s shoulder, staring outside the window with eyes that were dark with sadness.

"I think she blatantly abused and exploited your feelings of guilt, daddy. If she had really loved you, she wouldn’t have done all those things to you. Tell me, if she would have just asked you for more money, would you have given her that?"

"Yes, I guess I would have."

"And she knew that too," Kyra muttered. "She just loved the fact that she had something to hold over your head. She’s a control freak, dad. She loves power."

Norbert Hartman turned his head to look at his daughter and there was a deep frown in his forehead.

"Honey, I...I never heard you talk about your mother like that. I must say it’s a little...disconcerting."

"Believe me, daddy, I have my reasons," Kyra answered with a trace of bitterness in her voice. "I’ve something to tell you as well."



"Look, Emma, if I put this block on top of this red one, it looks like the tower of Pisa," Simon exclaimed with a bright smile.

"It sure does," Emma nodded with a smile, thoroughly enjoying Simon’s bubbling companionship. It helped her not to worry too much about her lover. The five-year old boy was a delightful distraction. They were both in the hospital’s indoor playground and Simon had discovered a corner where he could play with Lego blocks, which he did with unbridled enthusiasm. So far, he already had built a bridge, a huge crane with two arms, and now he was making sure the building was the tallest building the world had ever seen.

"Why did mommy have to talk to granddad alone?" Simon suddenly asked, without interrupting his constructing activities.

Emma’s hands, that had been playing with a little Lego car, suddenly stilled and her blue eyes widened in alarm when she looked at the little boy.

"They needed to talk about some business," she softly replied, hoping that Simon would be satisfied with the answer and leave the subject alone. Of course, she should have known better...

"They never talk business alone," he insisted. "Mommy says she doesn’t have to. She says she only talks about business when she’s at the office."

"What do you mean?" Emma asked with a puzzled look.

Simon looked up from his colorful blocks and his gray eyes showed his surprise about Emma’s ignorance.

"Because mommy is the boss. Granddad is only the boss of the shops in Aruba. He and Albert are re...re...retried...or something."

"Retired," Emma corrected automatically.

"Yeah, retired," Simon nodded. "Uncle Jazz says that granddad is only the boss on paper, but mom and uncle Jazz are the real bosses."

"Really?" Emma asked absentmindedly.

For the first time since she had met Kyra, she realized they had never really talked about Kyra’s work. Emma knew her lover worked in the family business, but she had never given much thought about Kyra’s position.

"Yes," Simon continued, proud to be able to tell Emma something she didn’t know yet. "Sometimes, grandma is angry with mommy, because she doesn’t want to move. But I like where we live. All my friends live there and we have the best soccer field. Even Jarek and Mark told me so and they live somewhere else."

"Really?" Emma said again, fighting the temptation to ask Simon a few more questions to find out more about the things she and Kyra never discussed before. She didn’t have to ask, because Simon was a willing source of information, voluntarily sharing a lot of information.

"Grandma wanted mommy and me to move to where she lives, because it’s richer, grandma says. But mommy doesn’t want to move. She told grandma she wanted me to have friends and then she said something about a silver spoon. What did she mean about that, Emma?"

Oh, boy! What did she mean? Did she mean what I think she did? Simon was born with a silver spoon? How well off is my lover anyway? She never did strike me as being very rich. Maybe I should try and find out a bit more about this ‘ Heart’s Choice’ business.

"Um...it’s an expression, honey," she slowly answered, carefully choosing her words. "It means that a person is...lucky to be born in a certain family."

Simon looked up and Emma could almost see the wheels churn inside his head. He nibbled on his bottom lip and his gray eyes were pensive.

"I’m lucky with my mom," he concluded, making Emma smile. "But, I don’t have a dad, like some of my friends do. Does that still count then? That spoon thing, I mean?"

"Yes, it does, Simon," Emma smiled. "I know for a fact that your mom feels very lucky to have you."

"I know," Simon replied casually. "Mark has no dad either. Mark said he left after he and his mom had a fight. He never sees him," Simon paused for a moment and shot Emma a sad glance. "He says he doesn’t care, but when David was teasing him about it, he hit him."

Aha, that’s what that fight at the playground a few weeks ago was about. I have been wondering about that.

"Mark was crying," Simon softly added. "I think he was sad."

Simon looked at Emma through his thick, long lashes and slowly scooted closer, until he was seated next to her on the ground, with his back against the wall and his legs stretched out in front of him, mimicking Emma’s pose.

"Emma?" he started, sounding a little shy.

"Yes, honey?" the teacher replied in a gentle voice. The look on the little boy’s face made her think there was something he wanted to talk to her about.

"I don’t have a dad," he repeated, sounding very matter-of-factly.

"I know," Emma answered, deciding to let Simon talk and not distract him with any technicalities about the birds and the bees. Besides, Emma didn’t know how well- educated the five- year old boy actually was, when it came to the facts about reproducing. His next remark however, provided her with little more insight.

"Well, of course I have a dad," Simon continued in a serious voice. "But he and my mom didn’t get married. Why didn’t he love her, Emma?"

Because he was a fool? Wow, Simon, you do ask hard questions, buddy.

"I don’t think I have an answer to that question, honey," she gently replied. "Sometimes it’s hard to explain why people do love each other, or don’t love each other. It all has to do with emotions and those are hard to put into words."

For a brief moment Simon pondered over Emma’s explanation, or lack thereof, and he looked up at her with big, trusting eyes.

"You love my mom." It was a statement, not a question.

"Yes, I do. I love your mom. I love her very much."

He nodded his curly head and sent Emma a small smile. But the teacher noticed there was still a pensive expression in his eyes.

"What if you’ll stop loving her? What will happen then?"

Like Mark’s dad stopped loving his mom? And disappeared out of his life? Simon, honey, you are such a smart little worry-wart sometimes.

Emma took a deep breath and reached out her arm, to wrap it around Simon’s slender shoulders and pull him against her, in a one-armed hug. When she pressed her lips against his unruly hair, she felt his arms slip around her waist and she hugged him closer.

"You know, Simon, nobody knows what will happen in the future, but I do love your mother with my whole heart and I can’t imagine that I’ll ever stop loving her. The two of you are my family now and I promise you, I’ ll do anything to make you and your mom happy. Because the two of you make me happy. Very happy," Emma added softly. "And I want us to be a family always."

"With brothers and sisters?" came the mumbled question, that somehow did not surprise Emma.

"Your mom and I would like that," she answered in all honesty. "But wanting something and actually getting it are two different things, Simon," she added gently. "It’s not like babies are bought at the grocery store, you know."

"I know," Simon giggled. "If two girls want a baby, they need to go to the hospital and they will have...they will have...arte...arte...well, something," he replied, deciding to avoid the difficult word that his friend Kim had taught him, after her mother’s partner had become pregnant.

" Artificial insemination," Emma grinned, playfully ruffling Simon’s hair. "So, Kim told you all about that, huh? Wise guy!"

Simon laughed and threw himself against Emma’s taller body, trying to wrestle her to the floor.

"I’m not a wise guy," he protested half-heartedly, squealing and wiggling when Emma tickled his ribs.

"Oh, yes, you are," Emma teased. "You are a smart cookie! A smart chocolate cookie."

"You don’t like chocolate," Simon immediately quipped.

"That’s right, I don’t," Emma laughed. "But I do like you. And since we’ re talking about cookies: I’m in the mood for a glass of milk and cookies. What about you?"

Simon immediately jumped to his feet, reached out to grab Emma’s hand and tried to pull her up.

"I like milk and cookies. Come on, Emma," he encouraged. "Can we buy some for mom, too? She likes the chocolate ones."

"Sure, buddy," Emma chuckled, brushing off her jeans, before grabbing Simon’s hand. "Let’s invade the restaurant and see what kind of goodies they have."


"Honey, are you trying to tell me that..." Norbert Hartman swallowed hard and looked at his daughter with wide, unbelieving eyes.

"Yes, dad. I was drugged, so was Rick by the way, but I passed out, while he was still capable of...well, you know, ‘ performing’," Kyra added, while pulling a face. "Which resulted in me having Simon."

"I take it you went to the police with this information?" Norbert continued, visibly upset with the story his daughter had just told him. "I’m not sure if he can still be prosecuted, but we should give it a try anyway. I mean, no matter from which angle you look at the circumstances, it is and always will be rape, honey. This was anything but a case of consensual intercourse."

"I know, dad," Kyra sighed. "And believe me, I’ve thought about it, but I won’t press any charges." Seeing her father was about to object, she raised her hand to stop him from speaking.

"Hear me out, dad. I do have my reasons."

Letting out a shuddering breath, Norbert Hartman slowly nodded and tried not to wince, when the sutures in the healing stab wound in his chest were slightly pulled by the sudden movement. He really wanted to jump up and shout in anger, maybe get into his car and pay Roderick Peters a visit, to tell the man exactly what he thought about him.

While Kyra gave him a few minutes to compose himself, he managed to get a grip on his anger. With clenched fists, he nodded at his daughter, encouraging her to continue her story. No matter how hard it was, he would let her finish, without flying off the handle.

"Yesterday, I talked to Rick," Kyra continued in a calm voice, seeing the surprise in her father’s eyes. "I called him and told him I needed to talk. He and his wife agreed to drive up to Friesland. It was...not as hard as I thought it would be," Kyra confessed with a small smile. "Dad, I think there will always be a part of me that will be angry with him, for what he did to me, for betraying me. But his actions resulted in me being Simon’s mother," she added calmly. "And yesterday, when we met, I could see how much all this has affected him over the years. He was torn apart by it. Imagine dad, having to tell your wife you have a child with another woman because you practically...took advantage of the situation and basically raped her. He and his wife recently discovered they can’t conceive a child of their own."

"I guess that serves him right," Norbert mumbled.

"Maybe it does," Kyra softly admitted. "I don’t know, daddy, but I feel sorry for Bridget, his wife. And I do feel sorry for him as well, I really do. You might, too, when you hear the whole story."

"You mean, there is more?" Norbert Hartman frowned.

"Yes, there is," Kyra sighed. "Mother was involved in all of this."

"What? Your mother? How?"

"It’s hard to...comprehend, but mother knew that Rick had been experimenting with drugs and she had threatened to tell his father and make his drug abuse public. Unless Rick took me to that party and helped me to...’ loosen up a little’," Kyra softly snorted in disgust. "And it gets better," she quickly added, noticing her father was about to speak. "It was mother who supplied Rick with the GHB."

"GHB?" Norbert breathed, feeling the anger in his chest build up again. "She gave him that...that... poison?" he spat. "For heaven’s sake, Kyra! That could have killed you! She knows how sensitive you are to drugs! What in the name of...What the hell was she thinking?"

Norbert Hartman was really furious now, Kyra could tell by the darkening of his eyes and the flaring of his nostrils. It was a rare sight to see, since her father was one of the kindest, even-tempered people she knew and he hardly ever lost his temper.

If he had felt better, Norbert would have jumped off his chair to pace the room. It was a habit that usually helped him to organize his thoughts and clear his mind. But this time, the wound in his chest forced him to stay down, and, frustrated Norbert Hartman drummed his fingers on the arm of the chair.

"Take a deep breath, dad," Kyra worriedly replied. "You look a little too flushed. Maybe I shouldn’t..."

"Yes, you should have," Norbert interrupted his daughter with a determined glint in his eyes. "I’m glad I know, honey, I really am. It’s time for your mother and me to have a serious chat!"

Frowning, Kyra nibbled on her bottom lip. Her father was in no condition to confront her mother with her devious actions. Besides, even though her father was another victim of her mother’s actions, she wanted to proceed with her plan. No matter how tempting the idea was of having her father by her side when she confronted her mother, it was something she had to do alone.

"I can understand that, dad," Kyra sighed, patting her father on his hand. "But...I need to do this on my own. If I don’t, I know she’ll never take me seriously. Her recent...’actions’, were meant to cause problems between Emma and me. I want to put a stop to that. Once and for all."

Norbert Hartman let out a shuddering breath and cast a look of admiration at his daughter who stared at him with serious, dark greens. She looked a little pale, but very calm and determined. In spite of everything, he felt a stab of pain and regret when he realized what Kyra intended to do.

"It’s a very...definite step," he said in a hoarse voice. "Are you absolutely certain about it? I’m not asking this for...her sake, honey, but for yours."

"I know, dad," Kyra nodded. "And yes, I’m absolutely sure. This must end. Now."

"What can I do to help you?" Norbert simply asked, accepting his daughter’s decision without hesitance.

"Can you provide me with a written statement, preferably notarized, in which you declare how mother had a hold on you and how much you paid her through the years?"

"No problem," Norbert answered. "I’ll only have to give one of my old buddies here in Amsterdam a call and that will take care of everything. How soon do you need it? Today? Tomorrow?"

"Tomorrow will be fine," Kyra smiled. "Thanks, dad."

Kyra stood up from her chair to give her father a hug and when she buried her face against his neck, breathing in his familiar scent, she smiled.

"By the way, how much did you pay her over the years?"

Norbert Hartman let out a soft chuckle and playfully tugged at one of Kyra’s curls.

"Do you really want to know?"

"I’ ll find out anyway," Kyra grinned. "It will be in your statement."

"True," Norbert laughed. "Ah, well, do you want it in Dutch guilders or Euro’s?"

"Euro’s will be fine," Kyra winked, glad to see most of the anger had left her father’s face. It was amazing how they were always able to turn a serious matter into something a lot more lighthearted. But she didn’t mind. She welcomed it.

Norbert Hartman smiled and a little frown appeared in his forehead when he made a quick calculation in his mind.

"Wow, it seems to be so much more when you add it all up," he faintly joked, wishing he would have stood up against his ex-wife and given the money to charity instead.

"Close to a million," he finally answered, hearing Kyra’s gasp of surprise.

"You’re kidding!"

"Not really," Norbert sighed, pulling a face. "What was I thinking, huh?"

"Wow, dad, that’s a lot of money. I wonder what she did with it."

"Hired a hitman?" Norbert joked. "Knowing your mother, well, I wonder if I ever knew her at all... anyway, my guess is she invested most of it."

"Is that what she did with that lump sum you paid her when you divorced her? After you sold granddad’s hotel?"

"Yes, she invested most of that," Norbert nodded. "I remember I even advised her on that. Duh!"

Kyra smiled and sank back in her chair.

"If everything goes according to plan, she won’t harass you anymore, dad, I promise."

"I know, sweetie, but I’m not worried about the money. It’s not like I needed it all, although I can think of a lot of destinations for it, that would have been better than your mother’s bank account. Maybe that’s why I never really fought her. It wasn’t like she was bleeding me dry."

"And she was aware of it, dad, that’s why she did it. Of course there’s a slight chance she’ ll go completely ...nuts and do exactly what she’s been threatening to do for years. Could you handle that?"

"Could you?"

"No problem," Kyra smiled. "I have faith in our company, our employees and in myself. I know most of our business contacts in the Middle East personally and I don’t think they’d care. If they have to choose between selling to a gay VP, who lives thousands of kilometers away, or not selling at all, I bet most of them will just sell."

"You might be right," Norbert sighed. "And I hope that’s the case. Looking back I think I could have done a lot of things differently, but..."

"But you were trying to protect me," Kyra interrupted. "And you did a good job, dad. But it’s time for me to show mother that two can play that game."


For the tenth time in five minutes, Vivian LeJeune glanced at her watch, wondering why the boy kept her waiting all this time. He was more than fifteen minutes late and, if there was something she really hated, it was tardiness.

With an angry frown. she stared at the entrance of the park, where a young couple entered. Their arms were wrapped around each other’s waists and they both sported a smile. They seemed totally absorbed in each other, radiating happiness and love.

Vivian LeJeune wrinkled her nose in disapproval. She had never understood the need for public affection. It was so...cheap, to flaunt feelings. She had always tried to instill that same attitude in her children. Jasper, of course, went his own way and had never brought home a girlfriend, anyway. Until recently.

Vivian LeJeune’s cool eyes went dark with annoyance when her thoughts returned to that fateful evening, when her son had called her to tell her he had a girlfriend. Her first reaction had been one of polite joy, until further probing on her part revealed the fact that Jasper’s object of affection was from Surinam. She could still not understand how her son could do that to her and she was determined to set his mind straight about his so-called, ‘ love of his life’, as he had called Elvira. But first, she had to deal with her other rebellious child. As soon as Kyra admitted that her friendship with that teacher was a mistake, she could concentrate on her son. Hopefully Goran had gathered up enough for her to work with. But, if he would fail, she’d still have her contacts in Friesland. Maybe they could provide her with some useful information.

Another glance at her watch made Vivian LeJeune sigh in frustration. Goran had still not showed up and she knew he must have run into some sort of trouble. That was the only, logical explanation anyway. He knew she could get him into a lot of trouble and she knew the boy was scared. She knew that, if he had been caught breaking in, he would not be able to drag her down with him. He didn’t know her name or where she lived. He didn’t even know her phone number. She would be able to keep her nose clean. It would be a pity, because it meant a set back, but Vivian LeJeune was convinced of her victory.

The growing friendship between Kyra and Emma had to be put to a stop and she, Vivian LeJeune was exactly the right person to do that.

Without a last glance at the entrance, she turned around and walked back to the opposite side of the park, where she had parked her car.

Pity Goran had not showed up, but she would call his house to find out what was going on. A few phone calls would put her back on track again.


"It’s really strange to be home again. I’ve only been away a few days, but it seems like it has been forever," Kyra sighed, gracefully dropping herself on the couch, next to Emma, who looked at her with an affectionate smile.

"I like your place. It’s cozy," she said, reaching out and pulling her willing lover into her arms.

"I like it too," Kyra answered, politely hiding a yawn behind her hand. "But I love that little house behind the farm. It holds a lot of special memories."

"Yes, it does," Emma admitted, bending her head to kiss Kyra’s cheek. "And I’m sure there are a lot more to come."

"Oh, yeah," Kyra smiled, turning her head, so she could peer up into her most favorite pair of blue eyes. "It’s a pity it’s too small to house six children, otherwise I’d consider moving in there," she said with sparkle in her eyes.

"We could ask mom and dad to move in there and we’ ll take the farmhouse," Emma grinned.

Kyra laughed and snuggled closer in the arms that were protectively wrapped around her. She enjoyed crawling away into her lover’s arms. It made her feel safe and loved. Somehow the combination of Emma’s warmth and scent always managed to calm her down. It made her feel like she could take on the world; as long as she had those two arms to return to at the end of the day.

"Penny for your thoughts," Emma’s warm voice rumbled in her ear.

"Mmm...you," Kyra answered with a contended sigh.

"May I conclude from that...fairly short answer, that your mind was occupied with me?" Emma teased in a light tone.

"You may," Kyra mumbled, resting her cheek against Emma’s chest, letting out a moan of pleasure.

"Dare I ask what you were thinking?"

"I don’t know, honey. You do seem fairly fearless and courageous to me. Pulling Anne out of that fire is just an example of that." Kyra opened her eyes and peered up. "Don’t tell me my thoughts can scare you off."

"They don’t, actually," Emma smiled, quickly kissing the tip of Kyra’s nose. "I think your thoughts were about how great it feels to be snuggled up together. And I hope you were also thinking about new ways to kiss me senseless."

"You were partly right," Kyra smiled.

"I was right about the kissing part?" Emma eagerly asked and Kyra could see the mischievous twinkle in her lover’s eyes.

"Nope, sorry. It was the snuggle up part that was dead on," Kyra answered, turning around so she could face the teacher. Emma saw the green eyes darken when Kyra moistened her lips. "But we can fix the other part," she whispered huskily, slipping a hand behind Emma’s neck and pulling her closer. "If you want ‘ senseless’, I’m just happy to give that to you," were Kyra’s last words, before their lips met in a kiss that was a mixture of passion, tenderness and deep desire, lasting several minutes and leaving Emma breathless.

Swallowing hard, Emma tried to calm her racing heart, vaguely remembering there was something she had wanted to discuss with Kyra, but not able to remember exactly what that was.

"You turn my brain to mush," she half-heartedly complained, making Kyra chuckle.

"I thought you wanted to be kissed senseless?"

"I did," Emma smiled, burying her face in the crook of her lover’s neck, while letting out a contented sigh. "You are very good at it."

"Thank you," Kyra replied with an amused look, reaching up and gently caressing Emma’s sutured eyebrow. For a brief moment, her thoughts traveled back a few days and she relived the frightened moments when Emma had run into the burning shed to try and rescue her niece. Watching the burning building, knowing her lover was inside and not knowing if she would ever see her again, had been terrifying. Kyra had known she loved Emma. But after seeing her lover disappear in the smoke and flames and fearing the worst outcome possible, Kyra had realized Emma had become such an important part of her life, she couldn’t live without her anymore...ever.

With a small smile, Kyra rested her head against Emma’s shoulder, feeling the arms that held her, pull her ever closer.

If my mother thinks she can force me into giving this up, she’s really wrong. She has no idea how strong we are together...how much courage and strength Emma gives me by just being there. No, mother...you have no idea...

"Oh, I remember," Emma soft voice suddenly sounded and Kyra lifted her head lazily, to look up into her lover’s face.


"There was something I needed to talk to you about."

"Does it require me to sit up properly?" Kyra mumbled, feeling Emma chuckle.

"No, it doesn’t. You can just stay where you are. In fact, I like having you right here in my arms, so, by all means, don’t move."

"Thank you, honey," Kyra smiled, using her thumb to rub the back of Emma’s hand in slow, lazy circles.

"It was something Simon told me this morning, when we were at the hospital playground, building all sorts of interesting stuff with Lego blocks."

Kyra smiled. It was not hard to picture her lover and son together, sitting on the floor amidst the colorful building blocks, happily chattering, while creating crafty constructions.

"You want some Legos for your birthday?" Kyra joked. "Of course, sweetheart, no problem."

"Oh, you’re so funny," Emma replied with a laugh, playfully swatting Kyra’s behind. "No, I don’t want Legos for my birthday. Simon promised me I’m allowed to play with his Legos if I wanted to. So there!"

"Good," Kyra chuckled. "Because, frankly, I have something else in mind for your birthday."

"You do, huh? Well, that’s interesting. Especially since I had my birthday just before we met, which means you’ ll have to wait about ten months before the happy occasion presents itself again."

"No worries," Kyra answered. "There are always anniversaries and ‘just because I love you’ events. I’m sure I can think of something, because I sure don’t want to wait ten months to share the surprise I have in mind for you." Lifting her head, Kyra gave Emma a quick kiss, before snuggling back into her comfortable spot. "But, you wanted to talk to me about something," she encouraged.

"Yes, I do. Simon told me that once he had overheard your mother and you talking about moving. Your mother wanted you to move to a ‘richer’ neighborhood. You told your mother you wanted Simon to have friends and then you apparently mentioned Simon being born with a silver spoon. He asked me what that meant."

Emma could feel Kyra exhaling and a few moments long, there was silence.

"Funny," Kyra finally said. "This morning my dad actually encouraged me to tell you a few things I haven’t mentioned yet." Kyra looked up and Emma noticed the expression in her eyes was a mixture of guilt, apprehension and amusement. "But it never really came up and I...well, I guess it didn’t even cross my mind," she added softly.

"So, the silver spoon thing is true?" Emma asked, with a hint of amusement in her voice.

"Umm, yes, it is," Kyra confessed. "My dad was very surprised that I had asked you to be Simon’s guardian, without telling you that, at the moment, he’s heir to a...substantial fortune. Of course that will all change when he’ ll have his five siblings. They’ ll have to share."

Emma had the distinctive feeling that Kyra was still doing her best to avoid the actual subject, and to her amusement, she noticed her lover was slightly embarrassed as well.

"Of course," she answered and if Kyra had looked up, she would have seen the twinkle in Emma’s eyes. "But, just to give me an idea about the...substantial...part of the fortune; if the booty would be divided by six, would the spoons still be silver?"

"Yes," Kyra mumbled, not daring to look up.

Emma softly chuckled and dropped a kiss on the top of Kyra’s head.

"Does that mean I hit the jackpot when I seduced you?" she joked in an attempt to lighten her lover’s mood.

It worked. Kyra’s head shot up and her dark-green eyes narrowed when she looked up at Emma.

"Hold on a second here, Emma Louise Altena! I might be rich, but I’m not stupid. If you care to remember, I seduced you, well, sort of anyway."

"You sure did," Emma smiled. "Once you had me alone after that party, there was no stopping you."

Remembering that exciting and scary, but love-filled night, Kyra smiled and her eyes locked with Emma’s. There was no doubt or apprehension in those dark-blue depths, just love and acceptance, filling Kyra with warmth and happiness.

"So, you don’t mind?" she asked.

"No, I don’t. I loved the way you seduced me," Emma answered, deliberately misunderstanding her lover, who laughed and gave her a quick kiss.

"Thank you," Kyra replied. "But that was not what I meant."

"I know," Emma smiled. "And I don’t mind. I’m glad the subject came up though, because it would have been awkward to find out by reading some business magazine and seeing your name in the list of richest people in the country."

"It’s not that bad," Kyra responded, pulling her face. "Besides, I wouldn’t want my name on any list. I’d be worried for Simon, if that would ever happen."

"So you keep a low profile," Emma concluded.

"Yes, that’s the main reason," Kyra admitted. "But I would have done that anyway, even if I hadn’t had Simon. My dad always made sure to tell Jazz and me that money is just a means to an end. It’s not the amount of money one has, that is important, but the way a person is. He always taught us that we have a great responsibility, because the people who work for our company, and their families, depend on us for their income. Wasting a lot of money that they helped earn, would be disrespectful for their hard work."

"That’s a philosophy you don’t see too often," Emma smiled, brushing away a strand of hair from Kyra’s forehead. "I admire that."

"Thank you."

"And I’m sure your mother has other ideas?"

Kyra let out a short laugh and nodded her head.

"Oh, yes. That’s why she’s going to be absolutely furious tomorrow. She sure won’t like what I have in mind for her." A flash of anger crossed Kyra’s face and she wrinkled her nose in disgust. "Her blackmailing antics have cost my dad about a million."

"Euro’s?" Emma gasped and Kyra nodded.

"Wow, that’s a lot of money."

"It sure is, although he joked about it. But that’s my dad," Kyra added with a mixture of amusement and pride.

"So, she did blackmail him," Emma concluded. "And he will have a statement drawn up tomorrow? Isn’t he afraid your mother will act on her threats, now that she’ ll be exposed?"

"He’s not worried about himself. He’s worried about me," Kyra softly answered.

"You? But, what...wait a minute." Emma pulled back a little, so she could look at her lover’s face, but Kyra avoided her eyes and stared at her hand, that was playing with the hem of Emma’s shirt. "Honey, look at me, please."

Kyra sighed and slowly her eyes traveled up, until they met a concerned, blue stare. She knew she had not fallen in love with Emma just for her looks. The teacher was intelligent as well, and a quick thinker.

And sweet and kind and a heck of a kisser, a little voice in the back of her mind added, almost making Kyra chuckle.

"I have a feeling you’ re leaving out some information," Emma gently rebuked her. "Is there a particular reason for that? I mean, the fact that we’ re lovers, doesn’t mean you’ ll have to tell me all the family secrets. I just..."

"No, no," Kyra interrupted hastily. "It’s not that I didn’t want to tell you, it’s just that I’m still trying to wrap my mind around it and I didn’t really know how to tell you."

"Then maybe we should start at the beginning," Emma suggested. "Your mother has been blackmailing your father for years. My guess is, she had information about him, that he didn’t want the world to know. Am I right?"

"Well, yes, sort of," Kyra sighed. "The blackmailing began when I was seventeen, but it was nothing that concerned my dad. Not directly anyway."

"It concerned you," Emma concluded, feeling the anger bubble up inside her chest when Kyra slowly nodded.

"Your alleged ‘affair’ with Kimberly?"

"Spot on. You’d make a great detective, honey," Kyra smiled, hoping the joke would chase away the smothering anger in Emma’s eyes. Cupping Emma’s cheeks with both her hands, she looked at her lover with an intense stare.

"But you were seventeen! A minor!" Emma exclaimed, the anger blazing in her blue eyes. "What on earth...? You and Kimberley didn’t have an affair and when the poor girl died, all reason to think you were a lesbian were over. What in the heck...?"

"Honey, honey, calm down," Kyra gently interrupted. "I don’t think she had an idea...or maybe she did, but that was not the point. At that time, my dad had become a bit of a...celebrity. He had recently opened the shop and restaurant in Aruba and every famous and semi-famous person felt the need to visit the place and make a big deal out of it. My dad was afraid that if my mother would act on her threats, my name and picture would be wallpapered all over every national and even some international gossip magazines. He didn’t want to do that to me, so he complied and paid my mother to keep quiet."

"But your dad kept paying her, even after you were of age and even after you had Simon. Until this day, he has been paying her all the time."

"I know and I asked him about that this morning. He told me my mother adjusted her threats over the years. First, it was all about me, but later on she did tell him it was easy for her to tell the Middle-Eastern business relations that the company they were doing business with, was lead by a gay man and his probably equally gay daughter." Kyra let out a deep sigh and shook her head. "If I’d known, I would have stopped him from doing it, but my dad didn’t want to put me through all the turmoil. Especially not after I had Simon. He said I deserved some peace of mind and he didn’t care about the money anyway."

"She’s such a...How could she even think of doing a thing like that to you, or your dad?"

"Sweetheart, try to relax. I love your protective streak, I really do, but tomorrow she’ ll get what she deserves, all right? We have the statements from Rick and Goran. Tomorrow we’ll add the one from my dad and I will slap her with them...figuratively speaking, of course. Yes, she blackmailed my dad, threatening to ‘expose’ me as a lesbian. Dad only tried to protect me and he succeeded, for years. But I am a lesbian and I don‘t care if the whole world knows. Besides, we live in a country where we have equal rights. I’d be surprised if anyone would care, besides my mother, that is."

"She’s your mother, she should love you," Emma replied in a sad voice. "Why can’t she see what a beautiful person you are? You are such a wonderful, compassionate woman and such a loving mother. If our children turn out to be like you, I’d be perfectly happy, not to mention proud!"

"You’ re so sweet," Kyra whispered, feeling unexpected tears sting the back of her eyes. "I know I told you this before, but I’m so lucky and blessed to have you in my life."

"Funny, I feel the same about you," Emma smiled, sliding her hand to the back of Kyra’s neck and pulling her closer. "Such a loving declaration can only be sealed with a kiss."

"Amen to that," Kyra managed to whisper, before Emma’s lips descended on her own, chasing away all worries and problems.

The day had been a tough one, starting with her conversation with her father in addition to her visit to Goran, whose mother had profusely thanked Emma and her for their goodness in not pressing charges. Although, she had admitted, her son did deserve the punishment. But Emma had decided that, in the grand scheme of things, Goran had probably done them a favor and the teenager had been punished enough already. She had given him the key to her apartment, so he could return and clean up the mess he had made. Natasha Markovic had sworn she would accompany her son to make sure he would leave the apartment spotless.

But, with Emma’s loving mouth on her lips and her own hands traveling up underneath her lover’s shirt, Kyra’s mind was emptied from the memories of that day’s conversations and the complications they had brought along. Right now all that mattered was the woman in her arms, who slowly, but surely, drove her to complete distraction, until there was nothing but warm skin and heated kisses.

Tomorrow would be another day....


To be concluded in chapter 20 (extra long one)

Return to the Academy

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