Advice from Cbar (my beta reader): "I don't think I would read this at work."

Well, honey, (my beta reader is also my honey) that might be wise!

A love that risks nothing is worth nothing - (unknown)


Heart’s Choice

Chapter 8


Lois Kay

"This is amazing," Emma mused in wonderment. "It all seems so…right, so natural, so…well known, familiar even."

Her eyes gazed at the woman who was standing in the circle of her arms, whose hands were resting against her shoulders, while a pair of dark green eyes looked up at her with genuine, endless trust.

They were standing in the small bedroom, at the foot of the bed, both of them knowing fully what was about to happen, but neither of them being in a hurry. Lacking any experience, Kyra was a little nervous, waiting for Emma to take the lead, but the teacher was thoroughly enjoying the moment, reveling in the erotic haze her body had been enveloped in ever since Kyra had kissed her in the kitchen. She wanted the moment to be special, something they would always remember as one of the highlights in their lives. She knew it would be Kyra's first time and she wanted to be as tender and loving as she could be.

"Are you all right?" she gently asked, brushing Kyra's forehead with her lips.

"Yes," Kyra softly answered. "Are you?"

"Very all right," Emma smiled, seeing a shadow of insecurity appear in the green depths in front of her.

Immediately her grip on Kyra lessened and she would have stepped back if Kyra had not wrapped her arms around her to hold her in place.

"It's just that I'm not sure what to do," Kyra explained with a faint blush, seeing the relief in Emma's eyes.

Or, to be exact: what to do first. I'm sure once I have taken that first step, my body will just take over.

"Following your heart is always a good idea," Emma smiled, kissing the soft skin of Kyra's cheek. "But if there will be a moment you want me to stop, just tell me and I will."

"I can't imagine I would want that," Kyra smiled, bringing her face closer to kiss Emma's lips. "And if I would follow my heart right now, I'd rip off your clothes, because I am aching to touch your skin," she added in a heated whisper.

Emma felt a hot surge course through her body and she swallowed hard when she saw the darkening of Kyra's eyes.

"I thought you just said you didn't know what to do?" she breathed, feeling a pair of insistent hands roam across her back.

"Well, maybe I do know," Kyra answered, nipping the skin of Emma's neck that was conveniently close. "I do have internet." Her tongue snaked out and tasted the slightly salty skin of Emma's throat. "And I did do a lot of research lately."

Emma closed her eyes and moaned softly when Kyra's industrious hand found the zipper on the back of her dress and slowly started to pull it down.

"I like those fanfic sites I found, especially The Academy of Bards. I learned a lot there. Do you think that is why they call it The Academy?" Kyra teasingly added, pulling the zipper all the way down and finally feeling the warm skin of Emma's back underneath her fingertips.

"I…have…no idea," Emma stuttered, feeling Kyra's hands slide up to her shoulders and push away the fabric of her dress that fell down immediately and pooled around her feet.

Kyra's breath caught when she looked at her friend, who now was only dressed in a black, lacy bra and a pair of matching panties.

"You are beautiful," she whispered, letting her hands caress the well developed shoulders and upper arms. She leaned forward and pressed her lips against Emma's chest, gently kissing and nipping the exposed skin just above the black lace.

"And you are overdressed," Emma groaned, aware of the increasing need to lose Kyra's dress and touch the skin it was hiding.

Her hands effortlessly found their way to the hidden zipper and with a sigh of contentment she felt the fabric of Kyra's dress part when she lowered it.

"This is so much better," she whispered, pushing down the green silk. "I have wanted to do this all night."

"You have?" Kyra breathlessly asked when a pair of lips traveled down her neck towards her bare shoulder.

"Mmm…I have."

"What…else…did you have…in mind?" Kyra asked, closing her eyes against the intensity of feelings when Emma's lips changed their course and started to slide down to the swell of a breast.

"I'll show you," Emma promised with a husky voice, turning Kyra in her arms and gently lowering her on the bed, immediately sinking down next to her on her side.

Supporting her weight on one arm she leaned over Kyra and lowered her mouth to a pair of waiting lips. When Kyra's arms slid around Emma to pull her closer, they both moaned when their bodies came into full contact. Emma realized she was practically lying on top of Kyra, but when she tried to push herself up a little, to lessen the weight, her lover pulled her back.

"I don't want to squash you," she whispered.

"You are not," Kyra huskily answered, caressing Emma's calf with the side of her foot, while her hands slid toward the small of Emma's back. "It feels great. If this means you are squashing me, you've my permission do it all the time."

Emma smiled into a pair of green eyes that looked at her with a mixture of desire, affection and humor and that slowly closed when their lips met again in a kiss that was rapidly increasing in passion. Emma took her time to thoroughly kiss, nibble and taste Kyra's mouth, leaving her lover gasping for breath when they finally broke apart.

A pair of eyes that were almost violet with desire traveled to Kyra's chest and when they traveled up again to meet a smoldering green gaze, Emma smirked.

"I love a bra that opens in the front," she purred, eliciting a small gasp from Kyra when she reached down and deftly unclasped the dark green silk, exposing the soft, but firm mounds to the cooler bedroom air, watching with increasing longing how her own hands cupped the soft skin and her thumbs started to caress the hardened centers.

Kyra's head fell back into the pillow and a low moan escaped her lips when jolts of electricity shot through her body, setting every nerve ending on fire as soon as Emma's hands had touched her breasts.

"Oh, my God," she gasped. "I had no idea. This has to come off," she breathed, pulling the strap of Emma's bra and reaching around with both hands to unclasp the garment that stood between her skin and Emma's.

Emma smiled at her lover's urgency and released her hold on Kyra's body to quickly shrug off the lace, hearing her lover suck in a breath when the creamy skin was exposed to her appreciative eyes.

Slowly, but determinately Kyra raised her hands and mimicked the way Emma's hands had touched her just a few moments before. Emma threw back her head and her body arched into the touch, while she bit her lip to prevent herself from crying her pleasure out loud. Her body was so responsive she had to make a conscious effort to control herself and let Kyra explore, not wanting to scare the other woman away by giving in to her primal urges and ravishing her lover's body.

"You are so soft," Kyra's voice sounded full of wonder and awe. She was inspired by the look of barely contained desire on Emma's face and increased the pressure by inviting her index fingers to play. Emma's response was a low, guttural moan and with difficulty the teacher opened her eyes to cast a look at the woman who was inflicting a delicious torture to her already overheated body.

"The Academy, huh?" she croaked.

Kyra smiled and nodded her head. Her green eyes were dark and determined when she lifted up her head.

"I learned a lot more," she whispered, before replacing a thumb and finger with her mouth, putting her tongue and lips to good use.

Emma's only answer was the arching of her body and a hissing breath. She closed her eyes and let the increasing desire carry her away.

"It's after three already," Kyra's sleepy voice whispered into Emma's ear, who was lying on her back with her arms wrapped around her lover who was basically resting on top of her. Everywhere their naked bodies touched, the skin was warm and slippery with perspiration as an aftermath of their lovemaking.

"Are you okay?" Emma softly asked, brushing away a strand of curly hair behind Kyra's ear.

"Mmm…perfect," Kyra sighed, snuggling even closer, enjoying the feel of Emma's soft curves. "You were wonderful. You are wonderful," she added, peeking up into Emma's eyes, which gazed back at her with tenderness.

"I'm glad you feel that way," Emma sighed, kissing Kyra's forehead. "I would never want you to feel anything but safe and loved."

"And I do," Kyra smiled. "Very much so. And I have a confession to make. Those stories I told you about, at the Academy? Well, they did give me a pretty good idea, but they are nothing compared to the real thing."

Emma chuckled and pulled Kyra up a little, so they were nose-to-nose.

"It takes two to make it an experience that is worthwhile," she smiled, kissing the tip of Kyra's nose.

Kyra smiled back and used both hands to cup Emma's face, while her elbows rested on either side of her lover's head. She studied her face with intense green eyes, from the dark eyebrows, to the pools of dark blue that gazed up at her with a mixture of tenderness, amusement and patience, to the nicely shaped nose and the full lips, that were slightly parted, showing a little of the healthy white teeth.

Kyra ducked her head and captured those lips in a slow, sensual kiss, not aware of the arousing way her hips were grinding against Emma's.

"I can still taste me," she whispered huskily when they broke apart, immediately seeing the darkening of Emma's eyes. She shifted her body a little to allow her thigh to slip in between Emma's and her lover's response was a low moan, while her hands slid down to Kyra's hips to be able to hold her closer.

"I want to try and make you feel as wonderful as you have made me feel," Kyra whispered, kissing Emma's lips one more time, before pushing herself up and determinately kissing, nibbling and licking her way down Emma's chest and belly. When, after a long and leisurely trip down, she had reached the conjuncture between Emma's hip and thigh and experimentally nibbled the sensitive spot, Emma's breathing had become fast and labored. Part of her wanted to urge Kyra on and put an end to the delicious torture, but the other part of her wanted to postpone the inevitable as long as possible.

When finally her thighs were gently parted and she felt her lover's hot breath on a very sensitive spot, Emma's hands clutched the sheet of the bed, her body arched into the soft but loving touch and she briefly wondered if it would be a real bad thing to choose that moment to faint.

But then, as Kyra's touch became even more intimate, all coherent thought disappeared from her conscious mind, when her lover took her higher and higher…

A hesitant ray of sunlight peeked through the curtain and illuminated two bodies in the middle of the bed. Emma was spooned against Kyra's back, her one arm firmly wrapped around her lover's waist, while her other arm was resting underneath Kyra's pillow, supporting the weight of the other woman's head.

Emma reluctantly blinked open a pair of sleepy eyes and with a shock her brain registered it was already light outside. Which could only mean one thing: time to get up, since she had promised her nieces and nephews pancakes for breakfast. If she managed to be late, she would never hear the end of it.

With a sigh of regret, Emma carefully tried to pull away the arm that was wrapped around Kyra's body, but even in her sleep, her lover did not want any of that. With an incoherent mumble Kyra tightened her hold on Emma's hand and pulled it closer again.

Emma smiled and bent over Kyra's sleeping form to softly kiss her on the cheek.

"Kyra, honey, I need to go. I promised the kids pancakes, remember?"

The long eyelashes fluttered, but Kyra's eyes remained shut. Her nose wrinkled though and Emma could see the beginning of a cute, little scowl.

"Do you really have to?" she grumbled sleepily.

"I promised," Emma simply answered. "Besides, what do you think will happen if I won't show up?"

"They will have to eat something else?" Kyra tried with a half-smile.

Emma laughed and nuzzled her lover's neck, regretting the fact they were not able to stay in bed together for the rest of the day.

"Hester will show up here and give us a very, very hard time," she whispered, grinning when the green eyes flew open and Kyra turned her head to look at her with a mixture of shock and amusement.

"We don't want that to happen, do we?"

"No," Emma laughed. "Not really."

Kyra reluctantly let go of Emma's hand and turned onto her back to languidly stretch out her body. The sheets had slipped away, exposing her naked torso and with a smile she noticed Emma's appreciative look.

"Do you like what you see?" she teasingly purred.

"Very much," Emma smiled, reaching out a hand to trace her fingertips across a naked shoulder. "You are simply breathtaking, in all aspects."

Kyra saw the honesty in Emma's eyes and a faint blush colored her cheeks.

"Thank you," she shyly whispered, casting down her eyes for a brief moment.

Kyra could feel Emma's body shift and when she looked up again she immediately felt a pair of warm, soft lips covering her own. Closing her eyes she melted in the loving touch, feeling the happiness bubble up inside her chest, while Emma's lips thoroughly explored hers.

When they finally broke apart Emma's smile quickly disappeared when she saw the moist eyes of her lover.

"Kyra, honey? What's wrong?" she softly asked, while her thumb brushed away a lonely tear.

"Nothing, really," Kyra answered with a smile. "You just make me feel so…much, it's overwhelming. You make me happy," she added with a whisper.

Their gazes locked and when Kyra looked into the blue depths that always managed to pull her in and make her feel like she was drowning, the words that had been tickling the back of her tongue came rolling out.

"I love you."

Emma's blue eyes slightly widened at the confession, but then the corners creased when she gently smiled at the woman who had held her heart from the first moment they had met.

"I love you," she answered and in Emma's eyes Kyra could see it for the truth it was. "I have for a long time now," she added, caressing Kyra's cheek with her thumb.

"I know," Kyra smiled. "And I am sorry I made you wait, but I needed to be sure about my feelings for you. For your sake as well as Simon's."

"I would have waited for as long as it would have taken," Emma confessed.

"I know," Kyra answered with a smile. "And I am very grateful for that."

She wrapped her arms around Emma's neck and pulled her closer, kissing her lover tenderly and without any hurry. It was a kiss that quickly deepened and increased in intensity. It conveyed their love for each other in such a tender, loving way that it seemed to touch the deepest parts of their hearts and souls.

When they broke apart they smiled, both aware of the growing connection between them, which was tying them closer together with every touch, smile, kiss, glance and caress.

"I'm afraid I will have to leave you for now, my beautiful," Emma smiled. "Before Hester comes running down here and starts embarrassing us."

Kyra chuckled and took her time to let here eyes roam over the body in front of her. She smirked and quirked a brow when she noticed Emma's blush.

"Nice shade of pink," she gently teased, laughing when Emma pulled a face and rolled her eyes. "By the way, my love, what will you be wearing while fixing pancakes for that bunch of hungry kids? Your rumpled cocktail dress?"

Emma grinned and playfully tickled Kyra's side, laughing out loud when her lover started squirming, trying to get away from her agile fingers.

"Well, I was hoping I could borrow a pair of jeans and a shirt, so I can sneak in the backdoor, have a quick shower and get some clean clothes out of my own room."

"Oh, I don't know," Kyra said, wrinkling her nose. "Maybe if you ask real nice I will consider lending you something to wear, although I have to admit I was looking forward to sharing a shower with you," she ended with an adorable pout.

Emma's eyes looked at the digital alarm clock at the night stand and she frowned.

"I'd love to share a shower with you," she sighed and her eyes were twinkling. "It's an excellent way to conserve water, but I did promise the kids and…well, simply stated: I am running out of time."

"I understand, honey," Kyra smiled, seeing the hesitant longing in her lover's eyes. "I'll get you some clothes you can wear, but they will cost you some pancakes."

Emma grinned and leaned forward to quickly kiss Kyra's lips.

"As many as you can eat," she promised.

After putting on a pair of Kyra's jeans and one of her t-shirts Emma had reluctantly left the little house. It had taken all the willpower she possessed to break free from her lover's embrace and cross the short distance to the main house, where she had carefully sneaked up the stairs in the back towards her old room. With a smug smile she had taken a fast shower and quickly dressed into a pair of faded jeans and a dark blue t-shirt, before noisily running down the stairs again and throwing open the door to the kitchen with a cheerful: 'Good morning!"

Ann Altena looked up from the huge kitchen table where she was having a cup of coffee and affectionately smiled at her daughter.

"Good morning, sweetie. Do you want some coffee?"

"Oh, yes, I'd love some," Emma answered, lovingly squeezing her mother's shoulder when she walked behind her towards the coffee maker on the counter.

The door to the living room was closed and after pouring herself a cup of much needed coffee, Emma sat down opposite her mother and gestured towards the inner door.

"You declared the kitchen 'Private Property, trespassers will be prosecuted?" she chuckled, hearing the cheerful noise of her nieces and nephews who were apparently playing some kind of a game.

Ann Altena's blue eyes wrinkled as she sent her daughter a mischievous smile.

"I love my grandchildren very much, but I can only deal with that rowdy bunch after having some caffeine," she laughed. "You know how much I value my coffee in the morning."

Emma chuckled and took a sip from her coffee, enjoying the rich, sweet taste.

"How is Simon? Did he enjoy the sleep over?" she curiously asked.

Emma's mother nodded her head and smiled when she pictured the little, dark haired boy with his cute smile.

"Together with Peter, Steven, Thomas and Jacco he teased the girls with rubber spiders that glow in the dark," Ann Altena grinned, remembering the high pitched squeaks that had woken her up that morning. "But he is a sweet boy, Emma, when Amber started crying he apologized and just sat next to her with his little arm wrapped around her shoulders."

"He is like that in class as well," Emma smiled. "He is a very sociable boy. Kyra is doing a great job raising him."

"He looks a lot like his mother," Ann remarked, casting a look at her daughter and suppressing a smile when she saw the dreamy expression in her expressive blue eyes.

"He does," Emma answered, sipping her coffee and staring over the rim of the mug, not seeing the beautiful, spring green pastures that were visible through the window. Instead it was a pair of twinkling dark green eyes that filled her mind, causing her heart to skip a beat and her skin to flush a delicate pink.

Ann Altena watched the expression on her daughter's face and a feeling of happiness and relief flooded her senses. It was obvious to her that Emma loved Kyra and from what she had seen the previous evening, she was convinced the feelings were mutual. Hopefully it was time she could stop worrying about her daughter, who had been through so much heartbreak already.

"You love her," she quietly stated, seeing the dark blue eyes leave the window and slowly travel back to meet her own.

"I do," Emma softly answered. "And she loves me too," she added with a voice that held a touch of wonder.

Ann Altena reached out hand and covered Emma's, giving it a loving squeeze, while her eyes radiated warmth and love.

"I am so happy for you, sweetheart, for you and Kyra both. She seems to be a very nice person."

"She's wonderful," Emma let out a happy sigh. "And so much more than that, she is amazing. Wait till you get to know her better, I am sure you and dad will love her."

"I am sure we will," Ann Altena smiled, looking over her shoulder when a car came driving up the yard and skidded to a halt just in front of the barn. It was an old, beat up Volkswagen, that in its best days had been a bright red little car, but whose appearance over the years had deteriorated to a dull pink.

"Here is Hester," Ann Altena chuckled, seeing her energetic eldest child exit the car, carrying an overstuffed shopping bag.

Emma's eyes danced when she saw her sister approach the door, casting a curious look at the little guest house on the corner.

Oh, no, sis, I beat you to it. I am right here, she inwardly smirked.

The kitchen door was thrown open and again Emma was amazed at the sturdy door's resilience. Years ago, when Hester was still a teenager, Dirk Altena had decided to replace the hinges on the door with the strongest ones he could find, because his offspring had a habit of barging into the kitchen, instead of calmly entering. Hester being the worst of them. But their father had made a good decision, because the poor, abused door had held over all the years. And still did.

As soon as Hester entered the kitchen, Emma jumped up to take over the heavy looking bag and put it on the kitchen counter.

"Is this all for breakfast?" she asked with wide eyes.

Hester shrugged off her jacket and draped it over one of the kitchen chairs and immediately went over to the counter to pour herself a cup of coffee.

"Yup," she answered, dumping a spoonful of sugar into the steaming liquid. "Why? Do you think it's too much?"

"Well, there are twelve kids next door, there are you, mom and dad, Kyra and me, I guess that makes seventeen. Lots of pancakes," she grinned.

Hester's blue eyes sparkled when she looked at her sister, taking her time to study her, knowing that would often make Emma slightly nervous.

"You look…a little tired," she casually remarked. "Did you get home late?"

Emma's eyes narrowed when she returned her sister's teasing look, but she decided to not take the bait.

"Not really," she calmly answered, returning Hester's inquisitive stare with a look of indifference.

Hester knew her sister well and realized Emma would not give her any information at all, so she decided to change tactics.

"Mom, I hope Emma didn't wake you and dad up when she came home in the wee hours of the night," she smirked.

"No, she didn't," Ann Altena answered, knowing full well Emma had not spent the night in her old room at all. But she also knew that Hester was an incredible tease and even though she normally refused to take sides in her children's teasing sessions, she felt the relationship between Emma and Kyra was still so new, it deserved some protection.

"She didn't wake me up. I was awake when she came barging up the stairs," Emma's mother added, bending the truth just a tiny little bit, giving her younger daughter the barest of winks and receiving a grateful smile in return.

Hester's eyes darted between her mother and sister and she loudly snorted, knowing they were hiding something from her and intent of finding out what that was.

Emma and her mother just smiled and exchanged a look of conspiracy, while sipping their coffee.

"I smell a rat," Hester remarked, but her eyes were sparkling. "But I love a good challenge, so don't worry, I'll find out what the two of you are hiding from me…By the way, sis, where is Kyra? " she casually added, stirring her coffee.

Emma's heart skipped a beat at the mentioning of her lover's name and she couldn't stop the gentle smile from emerging.

"I did invite her for breakfast," she answered calmly, trying not to blush when she remembered the circumstances in which her lover had traded her pancakes for something to wear. "I guess she will…." Emma's eyes flew to the door when it was unexpectedly opened and her face flushed when Kyra stepped into the kitchen, neatly closing the door behind her.

She was dressed in a pair of dark blue jeans and a dark red knitted shirt with short sleeves.

"Good morning," she smiled shyly, while her eyes traveled to Emma's and the smile deepened in warmth and affection.

"Good morning, Kyra, would you like some coffee?" Ann Altena asked, already standing up to retrieve a mug.

"I'd love some, Mrs. Altena," she answered, noticing the stern look Emma's mother sent her. "I mean…Ann."

"That's better," Ann Altena smiled warmly. "Sit down, honey. Milk and sugar?"

"Just milk, thanks," Kyra answered, taking a seat next to Emma and glancing at her lover through her long lashes.

It had not even been an hour since Emma had left her at the guest house, but it had been the longest minutes in her life. As soon as her lover had disappeared through the door, she had already missed her. She had taken a long, warm shower and had impatiently waited until she could join her Emma in the kitchen of the big farm house.

Emma couldn't wipe the smile off her face and had to really control herself not to reach out and pull Kyra into her lap to kiss her senseless. Instead she grabbed the hand that had settled on her knee and held it tight, interlacing their fingers.

Hester and her mother exchanged amused smiles, endeared by the way the world suddenly seemed to disappear for Emma and Kyra.

"It's perfectly alright to kiss each other good morning, girls," Hester dryly remarked. "Especially since you have not seen each other for such a long time."

She paused to observe the faint blush on Kyra's face and grinned. "It must at least have been a whole hour," she guessed, mentally pumping her fist when she saw the blush on Kyra's face deepen.

Emma shot her sister a warning look and turned in her chair, so she could face her lover and wrap her in a warm hug.

"Ignore her, honey," she told Kyra, smiling when her lover's arms slid around her waist. "We all do."

She could feel Kyra chuckle and looked up to her sister to stick out her tongue, which of course only made Hester laugh. She turned her attention back to Kyra and brought her mouth close to a shapely ear.

"May I kiss you good morning?" she whispered. "It has been a very long hour and I really would like to kiss you now."

Kyra peeked up from her hiding place against Emma's shoulder and her green eyes radiated love and happiness.

"Since we already gave a demonstration on the dance floor last night, I guess I am basically cured from being embarrassed about public displays now," Kyra remarked with a smile.

Without hesitation she captured Emma's lips in a warm, loving kiss that was fairly short and left both of them longing for more. Reluctantly they pulled apart, immediately reaching out and grabbing each other's hand.

"I need to see my son," Kyra smiled, bringing Emma's hand to her lips and softly kissing the back of it.

"Of course you do," Emma agreed. "Just follow the noise. Tell the kids breakfast will be ready in about thirty minutes."

"Thirty?" Kyra repeated with raised eyebrows.

"Sure, honey," Ann Altena replied. "See that double stove? It holds four skillets. We do pancakes the Altena way."

"That's right," Hester smirked. "And Emma is a wizard with the spatula."

"It is all a matter of efficiency," Emma explained with a twinkle in her eyes. "Of course that is exactly why Hester sucks at it. I believe she only has three children because her limited skills concerning the making of pancakes don't allow her to prepare a meal for more than five people at the same time."

For a moment Hester was stunned into silence, looking at her smirking sister with wide eyes, but then her sense of humor kicked in and she laughed.

"Paybacks, little sister," she warned, shaking a finger at Emma. "Be very careful from now on, because I will get you when you least expect it."

"Oooh, I am so scared," Emma grinned.

Kyra chuckled and stood up from her comfortable spot to go and check on her young son, whose laughing voice she could hear from the room next door. She kissed Emma on the top of her head and winked at Hester.

"Be good, you two," she warned in her most stern voice, the one that usually clued in Simon to take his mother very seriously.

"Yes, mom," two voices answered at the same time and shaking her head Kyra quickly left the room.

Breakfast was an interesting affair. With calm efficiency Emma managed to produce a huge amount of pancakes in less than half an hour, while her mother set the table and Hester cleaned what seemed to Kyra like a bucket of fruit to make a healthy fruit salad for the children.

Kyra had wanted to help, but Ann Altena had made her sit on a chair and relax, telling her she was a guest and there would be enough occasions in the future where she could chip in and help out.

"Like dinner tomorrow night," Hester had smirked. "It's our Easter tradition to have the whole family come over in the morning, so the kids can do their egg hunting and in the afternoon we will have a family dinner."

Kyra had pondered over Hester's remark and her eyes had taken in the big kitchen table. It was huge, but she could not imagine it would be big enough to seat the whole Altena family.

Emma had cast a look over her shoulder and smiled when she saw her lover's puzzled look.

"The kids have their own table," she had explained, expertly flipping a pancake.

As soon as the enthusiastic bunch of nieces and nephews entered the kitchen, Kyra could see why they had their own seating arrangement. With a grin she noticed every child apparently had his or her own chair, where the older kids were each seated next to a younger one to be able to help them out, if needed.

Simon was sitting in between Hester's son Christian and Kyra and his gray eyes were sparkling when he looked around the table, taking in all the smiling faces and the enormous amounts of pancakes.

"Did Emma make all of them?" he asked in awe.

"Yes, she did," Kyra answered, raking her fingers through his unruly curls. "She did a great job, huh?"

Simon nodded his head and grinned at Emma who was sitting across from him, with a six year old niece on either side of her.

"Emma makes the best pancakes," he proudly announced. "She made us banana pancakes once and I helped because Mom was still in bed."

Emma bit her bottom lip and cast a look at Kyra, who looked at her with amused green eyes and subtly shrugged her shoulders. She just knew Hester had heard Simon's admission and it would not take her sister long to respond. And even though Emma could almost feel Hester's eyes burn on her skin, she refused to look at her sister, instead she turned to Amber and helped her niece to open up a jar of jam.

"Did she now?" Hester's amused voice drawled. "I bet those banana pancakes were really good, weren't they Simon?"

Simon nodded enthusiastically, unable to talk with his mouth full of syrup covered pancake.

"They taste the best in the morning, don't you think?" Hester continued with an amused voice. "Did Emma make them for breakfast too?"

"Yes," Simon answered, stabbing another piece of food on his fork. "She stayed with us and Mommy was still asleep so we sneaked out the bedroom and made her pancakes," the little boy innocently announced, sending Emma a radiant smile.

Emma just shook her head and smiled, knowing full well that Simon's innocent remarks had given her sister some new ammunition. With a resigned sigh she finally looked up into the sparkling blue eyes of her sister.

"You are so busted," Hester mouthed with a huge grin.

Emma shrugged her shoulders and cast a look at Kyra, who was sipping another cup of coffee, while her green eyes curiously traveled between Emma and Hester.

"Kyra, did I ever tell you that story about that one time I walked into the barn? I guess I was about thirteen years old and…"

"Don't you dare!" Hester's startled voice suddenly interrupted her and Emma raised one eyebrow when she cast her sister an innocent look.


"You know what I am talking about, Emma Louise Altena," Hester growled in a threatening voice, which made the children burst out in laughter. "Don't you give me that innocent wide eyed look, sister!! Spill the beans and I will make sure you…you…"

"Yesss?" Emma grinned, thoroughly enjoying the sisterly banter.

Kyra's eyes danced with merriment as she observed the interaction between Hester and Emma. Ever since they had arrived at the Altena farm, she had seen a completely new side of her lover emerge. And she liked it, a lot. It was a playful side of Emma that she had not seen before and it made her realize how much her lover must have been missing her family after moving away.

"I will make sure you'll regret it," Hester finally managed to finish her sentence.

"I will try to remember that, Hester," Emma seriously stated, but her eyes were twinkling.

"You'd better," Hester mumbled, but there was a shadow of a smile on her face. "Because if… "

Hester was interrupted by the muffled sound of a phone and with a puzzled expression she looked up.

Kyra quickly put her coffee on the table and shot Emma an apologetic look when she reached inside her pocket and pulled out a tiny, silver colored cell phone. She cast a look at the display and tried not to pull a face.

"It's my mother," she softly explained. "I'll take it outside."

She got up from the chair and walked towards the door. Within a few seconds she was standing in the yard with the still buzzing device in her hand. For a brief moment she debated with herself whether to answer or not, but her common sense won and she pressed a little green button.

"Good morning, mother," she softly greeted, mentally bracing herself for whatever her mother had in mind with her early call.

"Where the heck are you? I drove by your place last night and you weren't there and I just went by again and you are still not there!" Vivian LeJeune's voice sounded accusingly.

"Simon and I are enjoying a little Easter vacation," Kyra answered.

At least, I was enjoying it up until a few minutes ago.

"You never told me you were planning on leaving town! Where are you?"

"With friends, in Friesland," Kyra explained, keeping her answer vague on purpose.

"You don't have friends there, I don't think that…."

There was a moment of silence and Kyra sighed, knowing what would come next.

"You are there with that…teacher," Vivian LeJeune spat, managing to make Emma's profession sound like it was the lowest thing to do on earth.

"Actually, I'm staying with Emma's parents," Kyra replied with a sigh. "But Emma is here as well, yes."

"I thought I warned you about that. Didn't I say…?"

"Mother!" Kyra forcefully interrupted. "Was there another reason for you to call, except your…concerns… about Simon's and my whereabouts? Because I am not in the mood to listen to another of your bigotry inflamed speeches. I have a breakfast to join."

Kyra winced when she heard her mother's heavy breathing, knowing full well that her mother was furious about her leaving town without informing her about her plans.

Ah, well, she would have found out sooner or later anyway, she mentally sighed.

"I received a very interesting phone call yesterday," Vivian LeJeune continued with a cold voice. "It was Roderick's mother."

Kyra rolled her eyes and leaned her head back against the brick wall, closing her eyes and soaking up the pleasant warmth of the early spring's sun.

"What did Rick's mother want?" Kyra asked briskly. She didn't like Margaret Peters at all. The woman was even more obnoxious and arrogant than her own mother, even though at times that seemed impossible.

"Roderick and his wife came over for a visit a couple of days ago. It is all pretty tragic, because apparently they can't have children of their own."

Which makes Simon their one and only grandson, Kyra quickly realized.

"So?" she asked, aware of the slightly nervous feeling in the pit of her stomach.

"So Margaret is wondering if you would be willing to reconsider your previous decision about Simon's guardianship."

Kyra's eyes flew wide open and she stared at the barn across the yard, slowly letting the words sink in. She didn't know whether to cry or become angry. Or maybe to just laugh about the whole issue.

Taking a deep breath she willed her racing heart to calm down and she clenched the phone a little tighter.

"I could answer in a lot of different, mostly rude ways to this…insanity," she answered in a strained voice. "But I will try and stay civilized. I don't have to remind you about the fact that Rick denied that Simon was his child and that he explicitly refused to have anything to do with him. Ever!"

"You refused to marry him," Vivian LeJeune accused.

"You and that…that…awful mother of his made him propose to me," Kyra answered with a raised voice. "He was utterly grateful when I turned him down."

"Still, Simon is his son."

"No, he is not," Kyra spat. "Simon is my son. Rick gave up his rights to be a father before Simon was even born, so don't give me that crap mother. Tell Margaret Peters she can go to hell!"

With an angry gesture Kyra turned off the phone and it took all her willpower not to throw the expensive device against the brick wall and trample on the remnants.

Her hands were shaking when she stuffed the phone back in its hiding place and closing her eyes she swallowed away the lump in her throat. Why couldn't they just leave her and Simon alone? Why did her own mother always try to push her into things she didn't need or wanted?

Why couldn't her mother be like Ann Altena, who loved her children and grandchildren with an unconditional love?

Kyra had not heard the kitchen door open and she almost jumped when a warm hand was suddenly put on her shoulder. She immediately knew who was standing behind her and with a sob she turned around and threw herself in Emma's arms that securely wrapped around her and pulled her close.

"What is wrong?" Emma's concerned voice sounded close to her ear.

"That was my mother," Kyra explained in a muffled voice.

"Oh," Emma breathed. "I guess she didn't take it well that you are here with me?"

"No," Kyra sniffed. "But I don't care about that."

"Then what is it?" Emma frowned, pulling back a little so she could lift up Kyra's chin. A pair of watery green eyes looked at her with profound sadness.

"She and Rick's mother have suddenly decided that I should let Simon's…'father' play a role in his life, since he and his wife can't have any children."

To be continued in chapter 9

Return to the Academy

Comments. Questions. Complaints: