I looked over at Reese. “What do you mean quiet?” I asked him shocked as he kept driving us. He looked at me quickly before looking at the road again.
“I don’t want you to being going back to that horrid place.” I swallowed at him. “What about Peyton? What if something terrible happened there?” I looked back at Peyton as she stared above us through the sunroof watching the birds flying over the car. “She needs a mother.” I looked down.
“I can’t afford it. I can’t afford to quiet. I won’t be able to pay rent, pay for diapers and formula….” I shook my head. Reese pulled over to the side of the road before turning to look at me.
“I can’t let you go back there and get hurt.” I looked away from him. “Please don’t go back.” He took my hands in his. I looked at him out of the corner of my eye.
“I don’t know…” He moved his hand slowly over my stomach pulling up my shirt to show the dark marks over the skin. I looked up at his face, the pain that flowed through his eyes, and the concern that showed on his face.
“Please Halyn, please.” He pulled my shirt down taking my face in his hands. “I’ll pay your rent; I’ll buy you anything in the world. Please don’t go back there. I’ll do anything.” He leaned his forehead against mine. “Please don’t go back.” I closed my eyes taking a deep breath as tears slipped down my face.
“I’ll think about it.” He opened his eyes to look at me before leaning back roughly wiping his eyes on the back of his hand. Peyton squirmed in her car seat.
“Mama.” She whimpered wanting out of the car seat. I looked back at her patting her leg as she kicked her feet.
“We’re going sweetheart.” Reese says turning the car back on pulling back onto the road. I wiped my eyes as Reese put his hand out to take mine in his. I looked out the window watching the city go by as Reese pulled up to the apartment as I felt my eyes getting heavy. I just woke up a couple hours ago but I just wanted to go back to sleep. I wanted to quiet, but I couldn’t afford it. It was wearing me out. I got out slowly as I watched Reese put a happy Peyton from the car seat. She smiled at him holding on to him as I pulled out my purse. He smiled at her as she talked to him in baby gibberish. She giggled throwing her head down on his shoulder as he locked the car walking over to me. I unlocked the door to the apartment as Peyton pointed to one of her toys in the toy box I kept in the living room next to the TV. Reese laughed as she shook her hand clutching his shirt as she babbled. “You want me to go get the bags for you?” He asked putting Peyton down as she walked to the toys pulling one out plopping her butt down to play with it.
“Please.” I mumbled curling up on the couch. Reese kissed my head putting the throw blanket over me. Peyton looked at me from her toy. She was a gentle soul. She put her toy down and stumbled over to me putting her little hand on my face making me open my eyes. I picked her up putting her on the couch like I always do. She laid on my stomach putting her head down to look at me. She was lying across me watching the door, then looking back at me, then watching the door again. The door opened as Reese walked in carrying the bags from the grocery store. Peyton squealed and got off the couch. I smiled at her as she walked over to Reese he put the bags down and picked her up. “She really likes you.” I said as he kissed her cheek making her giggle.
“I really like her.” He smiled at me before kissing her cheeks again. I got up taking things out of the bags.
“You can just put her in her high chair.” I said taking the milk out of a bag. Reese strapped her in before coming over and wrapping his arms around my waist leaning his head on my shoulder. He sighed happily. I smiled. “What are you so happy about?” I asked him taking more things out.
“I could get used to this.” I looked at him as he kissed my shoulder.
“What? Me unpacking groceries?” He shook his head holding me tighter.
“It’s like playing house.” He closed his eyes listening to the sound of Peyton kicking her feet in amusement. “Almost being a family.” He smiled kissing my shoulder again. “It’s what I always dreamed of.” I stopped to look at him. He kissed me before helping to put away all the food items away. I made a bottle for Peyton thinking over what Reese just said. I pulled out a box of pasta and put on a pot of water as Reese made funny faces at my daughter. What was I thinking? Him not liking her, her not liking him. It all seemed crazy now. What he’s done for my family, it’s something I feel I can never pay back. I stare at the water boil as I think of the past year and a half, even the past two years. I look back at them as Peyton offered her bottle to him only to pull it back giggling. Her Father. Him. I haven’t thought of him in a while…that might be a lie. I saw him in her face. But mostly in her eyes. They sparkled to show she was happy, that she was having fun. I could never let that change. The horror I felt that night. The night I almost lost her, the moment I almost lost everything because of him. Him.
The horror of her crying, the raised voices, the pain. Oh the pain. “Halyn?” I stared at the water as the bubbles popped on the water’s surface. “Halyn?” I felt a hand on my shoulder making me snap out of thoughts as Reese took my face into his hands. I could see the concern on his face. “Baby?”
“Sorry.” He rubbed my cheeks gently with his thumb.
“You’re pale Halyn,” He kissed my forehead “and you’re shaking.”
“Bad thoughts.” I whispered. Reese leaned over to turn off the water.
“Come sit down baby.” I sat down in the chair taking short breaths. Reese held me close to him kissing me gently. “It’s okay. I’ll protect you.” I held onto him tightly. “Come on baby, I’ll call in a pizza. Come sit on the couch with me.” I nodded picking up Peyton where she was suckling away on her bottle watching us. She curled up on me laying her head on my shoulder. Reese was on the couch calling for pizza on his phone. I sat down putting Peyton on my lap only for her to move and put her butt on both my leg and Reese’s so she was between us before leaning back to finish off her bottle. I laid my head on Reese holding him tightly to myself as Peyton curled up in his lap. I turned on a Disney movie to watch. Reese ran a hand down her back gently as her face turned into a fish again. Her face was on one leg as she lay across till her legs were on the other. His hand ran from the back on her neck till her diaper before going back again. I smiled as she fell asleep silently. I must have fallen asleep to because then next thing I know I feel Peyton tapping my face waking me up from my nap. I looked over at Reese who was sitting on the love seat typing away on his laptop. He smiled at me seeing my eyes open.
“How long have I been out?” I asked sitting up picking up Peyton.
“Couple hours. You looked like you need to make up on some sleep. I took care of the little one here till she wanted to run around some.” He smiled at Peyton in my arms. I looked at clock understanding why I was woken up. Dinner time for my little baby. “I didn’t want to eat without you so I just put the pizza in the fridge. You hungry now?” I nodded at him standing up slowly. I put Peyton in her high chair taking the fruit out of the fruit making a nice little bowl before getting a yogurt for her. I took out the pizza getting four slices as Reese sat down.
“Twos fine right?” Reese nodded putting away his phone.
“Are you feeling better now?” He asked as I put the pieces in the oven. He patted his lap and I happily curled up putting my arms around his neck. “I know.” He said after I sighed comfortably. “Cozy right?” I nodded kissing his chest snuggling into him. Peyton shoved some fruit in her mouth watching us. She picked up a blueberry and held it out to Reese speaking gibberish to him smiling. Reese took the berry putting it his mouth making Peyton smile at him happily. I took the pizza out of the oven putting it on a plate and opening the yogurt and getting a spoon to gently feed it to Peyton. Reese smiled at me as I made funny faces and ‘nom, nom, nom’ noises at her.
“All done baby.” I smiled wiping her face with her bib. “Now it’s bath, bath time.” Peyton giggled at me as Reese cleaned up our plates. I pick up her up giving her a quick bath as Reese did something quickly on his laptop. I took Peyton into the bathroom putting on the faucet cover before putting Peyton down on the ground as I started to fill the tub. I quickly changed as Peyton stared at the water filling the tub. I pulled on some pajamas before walking back into the bathroom. I put the little turtle temperature into the water before undressing Peyton and putting her in. She giggled as I put her toys in and splashed around with them. I washed Peyton before letting her play in the water. I sat and watched as she splashed around before getting her towel ready.
“All done in here? Did I miss it?” Reese said as Peyton squirted him with one of the toys. He smiled as I picked her up putting her little naked butt on the towel. She smiled up at him as I started to dry her off. I kissed Reese taking Peyton to her room. I dressed her in some pajamas before giving her the night time bottle. Reese walked in smiling at me as Peyton fell asleep. I took Reese’s leading him into my room. It was weird. It was like old times, we just talked. I was always falling asleep when Reese looked at me. “Let’s do something tomorrow. Let’s go to the zoo. The three of us.” I looked up at him.
“Sure.” I smiled. He yawned tiredly. He mumbled something. “What?” I asked him.
“Goodnight.” He mumbled again. He was only in his boxers as he had nothing to sleep in. “I love you.” He fell asleep, I know because his breathing was slow, but mine wasn’t. My heart was racing as I stared at him. He’s never said that to me…no one has who wasn’t related to me.