I felt my orgasm swirling through me, my balls drawing up tightly against my body. And then it hit and I groaned out loudly with the sudden, intense pleasure, bucking my h*ps up into her. Eden gasped and then fell forward on me, moaning out her own cl**ax. God, I loved that.
I brought my arms up around her, enveloping her small back and just held her there, breathing in her sweet scent and loving her so intensely, it made my heart speed up.
"Polly," she said in a voice a little above a whisper, "you deserve a man who is going to love you in ways that make you feel like the angel you are. Someday maybe I'll be that man, but right now, I'm not. And I love you far too much to offer anything less. Wait for me, Polly. Believe in me. Be my reason for fighting."
She was silent for a second as I waited.
"I'm sorry, Hendrix," she whispered. "I can't." I felt the wetness of a tear fall onto my shoulder as I waited again.
When she was silent, I said, "And then?"
She shook her head against my shoulder. "And then nothing. That was the end."
"What the hell?" I asked, feeling an outrage that I wouldn't have admitted to.
"It's a cliffhanger," she said. "We'll find out what happens in three months."
"You bet your ass we will," I said.
Eden started laughing and I slipped out of her with the movement. She brought her head up and gazed down at me. "I'm pregnant," she whispered.
My whole body froze. She continued to watch me closely as I gaped at her. "I . . . what? I thought . . . you said . . ."
She nodded her head, moving off me and lying down on her side. I turned toward her. "I know. I'm shocked, too. The doctor said it'd be highly unlikely I'd ever conceive without assistance. I don't know what to say. I feel like I tricked you or something." She continued to watch me, her eyes wide and filled with worry.
"Eden," I said, gently, my heart finally stuttering back to life. I brought one hand to her stomach. She sucked in a breath.
"Are you . . . are you happy?"
I was shocked, not quite feeling ready to parent a baby. But I knew how much Eden had ached having our other baby stolen from her, how much we both had ached. And then thinking she'd never be able to have another. A feeling of relief, followed quickly by joy, filled my heart. I brought my hand up to her cheek and whispered, "Yeah, I'm happy. Are you?"
Tears filled her eyes and she nodded her head. I pulled her close and just breathed with her for a few minutes. "How far?" I asked.
"About five weeks, I guess. I don't know. I bought a test at the drug store we stopped in today and took it in the bathroom down at the spa." She sniffled against my chest.
"Did we make this baby in the Bed of Healing?" I asked with a smile.
Eden laughed out a small half-laugh, half-cry. "I think we did."
I let the news sink in. "It feels right. It feels like a second chance," I whispered.
Eden nodded and sniffled again.
A part of me felt inadequate . . . I still didn't have a name, an identity, let alone the ability to support them yet. But I knew one thing. "I'm going to protect you, both of you," I said. "I won't let anything happen to you."
Eden leaned back and studied my face, her eyes troubled. "I know you will," she said. "Never for one second will I ever doubt that."
I breathed in deeply and pulled her closer. We fell asleep in each other's arms - a small, new life nestled between us in the safety of Eden's body.
In the darkness of night, Eden shook me awake. "You're dreaming, Butterscotch," she said softly, gentleness in her voice. "You're dreaming of them."
I let out a harsh breath, trying to get my racing heartbeat under control. I brought my hand up to my hair and gripped it. A feeling of deep dread had settled somewhere inside me and wouldn't release its hold. "Yes," I gasped out.
"You haven't had a nightmare in a long time," she said softly, laying her head on my chest and wrapping her arm around my bare middle.
"I know," I said, starting to relax a little bit.
"Is it because of the baby?" she asked.
"I . . . maybe." I pulled her closer. "But only because I want to keep you both safe." She kissed my skin softly.
"You will keep us safe. I trust you, Calder," she said, tenderness in her voice.
For the first time in a very long time, I said a prayer to the God of Mercy. I wanted so desperately not to let her down.
The next day was chillier than the one before and so Eden put on a big sweater and I layered two long-sleeved shirts before heading out to breakfast. The air was crisp, but the sky was cloudless and blue overhead, and there was that faint smell of burning leaves in the air that I had learned to associate with fall since being in the outside world.
I held Eden's warm hand in mine and we lingered over our food. The dread of the nightmare released its grasp in the bright light of day and I was feeling hopeful. It had to be normal that I would have a few bad dreams, that the nightmares would come back temporarily. Eden had given me some big news and it had rocked me, and naturally it brought up memories of the first time we'd created a life, and how cruelly that life had been taken from us.
"We should think about leaving today or tomorrow," I said, glancing at Eden. She had her hair pulled back from her face and her sunglasses were resting on top of her head. Her thick, black sweater came all the way up to her chin and the dark knit right up against her skin made it look ever creamier than normal. Or maybe she was just glowing. "I think you should go to the doctor as quickly as possible to make sure everything's all right."
Eden's eyes met mine and she nodded.
"As soon as we get back, I'm going to ask the police to help me get a social security number like they're doing for Xander. I can't wait forever for someone to come forward. It likely won't ever happen, and I have a life to build for us." Marrying her was even more important than ever to me now. I wondered distantly how Carolyn was going to take this news.
Eden nodded, glancing at me worriedly. "Okay."
I watched her pick at her food and after a few minutes, she said, "I have an idea." She looked at me a little nervously.
"Uh oh," I joked, one side of my mouth quirking up.
She laughed. "I know, right? No, really," her expression went serious, "I know we haven't had much opportunity to talk about that water thing from yesterday, and chances are it's a coincidence, I guess. But I can't help but wonder if Hector not only passed through here, but . . . oh, I don't even know." She pursed her lips. "I thought maybe we could go to the local library and just look up a few things."
I frowned. "What kind of things?"
Her expression became pensive and she chewed on her bottom lip. "I don't know. But I think it's worth a try. If nothing comes up, nothing comes up. But we're the only ones who know about this possible connection to French Lick, Indiana. The police aren't going to look into a hunch about spring water. If we don't try, no one else will. And who knows if we'll ever be back here."
I smiled across the table at her. "My little knowledge seeker," I said.
She let out a breath and then laughed softly. "That's your fault." She winked. "What do you think?"
I considered it for a minute. "Yeah. Okay." I crossed my arms in front of my chest. It suddenly felt chillier.
My phone dinged and I looked at the text:
Xander: Dude, Pluto Water? Sounds like our holy water. ???
Me: I know. We think so too. Not sure what to make of it. Looking into a few things. Will let you know.
Xander: Okay. You all right?
Me: Better than ever. You good?
Me: Talk soon
We asked the waiter about the nearest library and then gathered our things. It was within walking distance.
Less than ten minutes later, we were walking through the doors of the public library.
"What are we hoping to find here?" I asked in a hushed tone as Eden looked around.
She headed toward a librarian unloading a cart and I followed. "I'm not sure," she said. "Like I said, maybe nothing. I thought we'd look back at some newspapers from the time when Hector took me from Cincinnati and brought me to Indiana, maybe even someplace close to here."
I furrowed my brow, but followed her.
Thirty minutes later, we were looking through the library's internal computer system, going through the local paper for what, I wasn't sure. The librarian had explained that back copies of other papers could sometimes be found online, but they were such a small town, the newspapers were only catalogued there. Eden sat and scrolled through the top stories as I sat beside her, just watching. I was happy enough just to sit and stare at her. Plus, the quiet was nice as I considered the many things we'd need to do when we got back to Cincinnati.
After a while, Eden huffed out a breath and turned to me, a small, embarrassed smile on her face. "I don't even know what I'm doing, or what I'm looking for. I'm wasting our vacation."
I leaned back in my chair, taking in her disappointed expression. I shook my head, thinking for a second. "Okay, wait, let's go over the timeline. That one you had on the back of your door? Do you have it memorized?"
She laughed a soft laugh. "Sadly, yes. Why?"
"Okay." I leaned forward and put my elbows on my thighs. "So, we're looking at articles that came out about the time you were abducted. But," I considered things for a minute, "Acadia was formed years before that. Wouldn't it be safer to assume if something happened that, I don't know, inspired Hector to form Acadia, that that event would have happened right before?"
Eden looked upward, considering my words. "You might be on to something there. So, from what we know from the police and when the land was purchased, Acadia was formed a year before you were born, whether you were born there or not." She glanced at me and then away again. "So, maybe we should look back at articles from the few months prior to that?" Her eyes were shining. I couldn't help but to feel like it was a bit of an adventure, too, despite the topic.
"Let's do it."
Eden looked forward at the computer again, concentrating, and I sat back in my chair while she scrolled.
As she focused on what she was doing, I glanced around the library, people watching for a few minutes. There was a young couple at one of the computers arguing in whispered voices. There was a mom picking out bright-colored cardboard books with her toddler. My eyes lingered on the child who was excitedly reaching for the books his mom handed him, hardly being able to believe we'd have one of those little people soon. I wondered if we'd have a boy or a girl . . . who he or she would look like. When I glanced back at Eden, she was leaned into the computer, focusing intently on something. When she looked over at me, her face was drained of color.
"Hector's real name was Thomas Greer."
My whole body froze. I immediately looked around and then stood and moved my body to protect Eden as if Hector would somehow materialize because of what she had just said. "How do you know?" I whispered harshly, leaning my head in toward hers.
"This," she squeaked out, pointing at the news article on the screen.
I leaned in and looked over her shoulder. My eyes scrolled quickly through the article and then I went back and read it more slowly, something icy filling my veins.
There was a picture of what was very clearly a younger Hector at the top of the page, with short-cropped hair and wearing a dress shirt and tie. The title of the article said, "History Professor's Family Murdered in Robbery."
"Oh, God," Eden croaked out, her eyes not leaving the screen. She brought her fingers up to her lips as we both read on.
The family of Indiana University Southeast Greek History professor, Thomas Greer, was found murdered early Sunday morning. Professor Greer returned home from a conference to discover his wife, Alice, and five-year-old daughter, Danae, stabbed to death in their home. Police don't have any suspects at this time, but are speculating it was a home invasion robbery. Our source at the police department is telling us the Greer home could have been targeted because Thomas's wife, previously Alice Lockwood, was the heiress to an Australian mining fortune and the thieves most likely anticipated the presence of money and jewelry. The family had planned to accompany Thomas Greer on his trip, but his daughter became sick at the last minute and they stayed behind.
We scrolled forward, our eyes glued to the screen. We came upon a few, short articles, but no more information was offered. After a couple months, the case had grown stagnant. The police didn't have any suspects and Thomas had a foolproof alibi. He'd been at the conference the entire weekend and presented several times.
My mind raced. An Australian mining fortune. Well, that answered the question of where Hector's money came from.
I watched as Eden did a search for Greer's name, but no more articles came up.
"Look at this," Eden said quietly, pointing her finger to the bottom of a short article on the screen. I looked closer and read aloud. "Alice Greer (née Lockwood), and Danae Greer will be laid to rest this Saturday at Our Lady of Mercy cemetery."
"No, this part," Eden said, moving her finger down.
I read quickly through "survived by" names, most with Alice's maiden name and then stopped when I got to her mother-in-law's name. Willa Greer.
"Willa . . . she was his mother," I said softly, picturing crystal blue, ageless eyes.