Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
"What are you two doing?" A surprised Evangeline came upon her husband and little boy frolicking among the fall leaves.
"Uh oh." Trey's mouth hung open and his dark brown eyes were wide with expression. Trey appeared adorable in his navy jeans, plaid shirt, denim jacket and beanie.
"Babe I thought our plan was to rake up the leaves on the lawn. You remember instead of hiring someone, doing it ourselves as a family - get some exercise..."
"And we did that,,,right Trey." Trey agreed shaking his head vigorously in agreement.
It looked like they indeed had gathered a considerable pile.
"And then what happened?" Evangeline crossed her arms with a smug expression on her face.
"Daddy Victor fault mommy," Trey blurted out pointing his finer at Victor.
A stunned Victor turned to Trey in mock disbelief. "Why would you tell on me like that?"
"Cause mommy mad," he replied without hesitation.
"Come here." Soon they began rolling around in the leaves scattering them even more. There was enough squeals and laughter between the two. Evangeline shrugged and joined in on the fun.
Suddenly Victor saw someone come into view then disappear. He couldn't tell but the person seemed familiar. He quickly rose up to investigate feeling drawn to follow. "Evangeline I'll be right back."
She heard the nervousness in his tone; concerned eyes tracking his movements. "Victor what's wrong?...Victor!"
He hurried away praying that his eyes were deceiving him. Then he caught up to the woman walking ahead. "Wait!" The figure dressed in a black pantsuit stood still. "Who are you? I sense that I know you."
The woman slowly turned and a shudder went through him. His eyes hadn't betrayed him after all; Irene Manning stood glaring at him.
"Hello Victor... "
"You are not real. You can't be here," Victor whispered harshly.
Irene chuckled. "Darling I will forever be a part of you. After all I am your mother..."
"Stop saying that! You're dead! Dead!"
His mind must be playing tricks on him. He couldn't imagine the other alternative.
Irene smirked. "Death can't keep me away from my precious..."
She reached out to touch him but he instinctively drew back.
"Victor..." He could hear Evangeline calling out to him but her voice seemed faraway. In fact the whole scene of the house and trees began fading away.
"You cannot stop the darkness from overtaking you."
Victor squeezed his eyes shut, concentrating as hard as he could on Evangeline and Trey.
"Open your eyes Victor," Irene said sharply. He didn't know why but slowly his eyes opened. "Good boy. You have such a wonderful new family - lovely wife and a little boy too."
"Stay away from my family!"
"Or else what!" She gritted her discolored teeth. "Besides they are my family too." Victor felt utterly powerless. His mother always held a certain kind of control over him. Irene's face displayed complete satisfaction. "Darling there is someone else who is anxious to say hello."
"Baby shh...shh..I'm here my love...shh...shh." It was all she thought of doing, rocking him in her arms, kissing his face and whispering words of love. Sweat poured down his face and covered his bare chest. His heart was pounding, breathing shallow. She prayed he would hear her.
Victor told her a while ago about these crippling nightmares that plagued him but hadn't grasped its full effects until now. It was indeed a jarring experience. She began thinking about all those times she comforted Trey and now she had to do the same for her husband. Soon his heart rate and breathing returned back to normal. She was thankful and breathe a sigh of relief when she heard him lightly snoring. For him to go through this alone broke her heart but she was happy that at least this night she was able to chase his monsters away. She snuggled in closer and drifted off to sleep.
"Go on wake up Victor. He needs to get up."
Since his nightmare, Victor had fallen into a blissful sleep of which he hadn't fully awaken.
Trey dutifully obeyed his mother; jumping on the bed. "Wake up...Wake up!" He shook him as much as he could then started to smack his arms. "Wake...Up!"
Victor groggily responded, "I don't want to," pulling up the covers.
"You have to."
He spun around asking, "Why?"
"Because mommy says so."
"Mommy says a lot of things. I bet you don't remember them all."
Trey was unsure how to respond. "I don't know."
"Come closer let me tell you a few." Evangeline began smiling. When Trey leaned in closer, Victor grabbed him, threw him up in the air then caught him.
Trey delightfully yelled, "Again!" At which Victor did it again. Thereafter Trey jumped and tumbled around on the bed.
Evangeline quickly approached the bed, "Alright you two...ohh." Victor pulled her into their play and all three were having a fun time laughing and messing around.
"Guys we need to get ready...it's Thanksgiving and we've got to go over to Uncle Hugh and Auntie Layla's house."
Uncle Clay and mom were doing the cooking. It has been a month and half since her marriage and Lisa still was a little wary. Hopefully with Uncle Clay being in town, things would go back to normal.
Victor stared loving at his wife and baby boy. "What?" Evangeline inquired suddenly self conscious. She tucked a stray strand behind her ear. It became hard to think sometimes with those eyes gazing intently at her.
"There is just so much I'm thankful for. For the first time I'm living life and it's pretty incredible."
"Trey and I feel the same way about you too." Evangeline said stroking his hair then his cheek. "Glad that you're doing well this morning,"
Her last comment perplexed him. "Why do you say that? I feel fine."
"Don't you remember? You had one of your nightmares..."
"A nightmare...Oh..." His eyes shifted away; embarrassed." Sorry you had to go through that..."
She continued caressing his face. "Victor I'm your wife and I love you so don't do this to yourself...ok."
"Ok...thank you." They hugged and shared a sweet kiss at which Trey covered his eyes.
"Done?" He asked sneaking a peak.
"I can't believe it."
"That mom threw you out of the kitchen?" Layla questioned.
"Yeah and Uncle Clay didn't say anything to stop her." Evangeline had to chuckle. Uncle Clay's presence seem to lighten her mother's mood and it also give her a confidant. Evangeline believed that even though her mother was around her daughters and grandson, she missed home and being around the rest of the family and friends. Being far away from home can wear on a person mentality then add to it the shock of an unexpected marriage.
"Mom must have told him all her troubles especially with one particular daughter."
"Yet it seems that Uncle Clay has managed to successfully broker a truce between mom and I."
"Thanksgiving dinner is going to be drama free after all - too bad."
Layla giggled. "Just teasing...Come sit."
Layla was relaxing in the baby's room, dressed in a black maxi dress and grey cardigan. As the weeks went by, she found herself spending a lot of time in there sitting in her now favorite glider and putting her feet up on the ottoman. Victor, Hugh and Trey were in the family room playing with the Xbox. The sisters considered that a major victory. Sure they weren't going to be best buds but at least they were able to tolerate each other's presence for a length of time. Evangeline believed Trey played an important role in making this possible.
"I guess I shouldn't be asking how you are feeling." Evangeline had been there and done that - the pain, discomfort, swelling, irritation. The last stages of pregnancy can be difficult.
"You know when you're in one of those sustained relationships and desperately wanting to take it to the next level. It's the same way I'm feeling about this baby - I want him/her to be born. It's not right when you want the comfort of your mother more than your husband - that's not correct."
Evangeline laughed. "Don't say this going to be your first and last baby."
"Perhaps not but its going to be a long while Mr. Hughes." Layla sighed rubbing her belly. "Come on little one, don't you want to see your mommy and daddy."
"Be careful what you wish for."
"Humph I don't even want to think about labor right now. I just need to go to my happy place when it starts."
"There is no happy place until that baby pops out."
"Thanks a lot Evangeline for your two cents." Layla said rolling her eyes.
"Happy to assist," Evangeline teased with laughter.
Layla had a thought. "So are you and Victor considering..."
"Not right now," Evangeline was quick to respond. "We've only just begun," Evangeline sang, "Besides Trey is loving the attention - he deserves that. It's funny Victor wants four and I want two so we settled on three. I've got two more to go."
"Gee Evangeline did you two sign a contract as well," Layla mocked.
"Layla I do not sound that technical...do I?" The sisters laughed.
The food, atmosphere and lively conversations reminded Evangeline of what life once was when her father was alive and a lot of family came over to their Maryland home on holidays. A southern-sty;e thanksgiving meal with Uncle Clay given the honor of sitting at the head of the table and leading the family in saying grace. There was much to be thankful for which was expressed by all present. This included Trey whom when prodded by his mother said one word, thanks before shyly burying his face into her sweater.
Eventually the men went off to watch the game, Layla retired to her room while Evangeline and Lisa cleaned up the dining room and kitchen.
"Next time we should insist that the men clean up," Lisa grumbled scrapping some leftover food off a plate then placing it in the dishwasher
Evangeline giggled. "Uncle Clay would say he assisted you in the kitchen and he needs to do some male-bonding with the guys."
Lisa became quiet then turned to Evangeline and said, "Evangeline I know I haven't made it easy on you and Victor but I do see the happiness that he brings you and Trey."
Evangeline quickly hugged her mother. "Thanks mom." She had been waiting for this and she felt a burden lifted.
After so many hours being around family, it felt nice to be finally sharing some alone time. While Trey slept, Victor and Evangeline retreated to the condo's enclosed terrace snuggling on a plush, round accent chair staring out at the night sky before going to bed.
"Babe what's on your mind?" She entwined her right fingers through his left then stared into those mesmerizing blue eyes. "You've been pretty quiet and that's so unlike you."
"The nightmare reminded me that I don't want anything from my past intruding on this future we're building but sadly it will," he said resigned to that fact. The nightmares and ghosts from his past were starting to make themselves known.
"Honey everything is not going to be perfect. Life is not a romance novel. Hey you've seen me less glamorous and survived the shock," she chuckled wanting to lighten the mood. Sometimes they ventured into these deep conversations and Victor had a bad habit of being too hard on himself.
"In my eyes you are always beautiful."
"Good answer...and you are adorably handsome."
Victor sneaked a kiss then looked at her. "What would I do without you? Even at my worst, you've found ways to bring out the best part of me."
"It was always there. You chose not to see it."
"Now may I provide my lovely wife with some advise of my own about the house?"
She readily responded, "Of course."
"Speaking of perfection, Sweetheart you want things to be too perfect before we move in..."
He got her there. Evangeline bit her bottom lip. "It's just that its going to be our forever home and I want every detail to be just right. I do see now that I'm making it my vision instead of ours."
Humph that wasn't exactly what he was referring to. "You know I will agree with every decision you make but I just don't want it overtaking you. You're taking care of me, Trey, worrying about your mom, sister, career and now this home...I'm concerned about my wife." He played with her hair ends curling it around and between his fingers.
Part of her wanted to rebut his statement knowing herself to be someone who multi-tasked quite easily but she refrained. She understood his meaning. "Alright Victor but hiring someone is not on the agenda and I know my husband has an excellent eye for design." Victor immediatelyscrunched his face. "Come on babe..."
"Either we won't get anything done..." He liked that idea. "Or we will be at each other's throats." He hated the thought. Having a lawyer for a wife has its drawbacks but the making up hmm - that made him smile.
"Earth to Victor." Evangeline said snapping her fingers.
"What?" Victor blinked.
"Where did your mind go?"
Victor instantly arose scooping her up into his arms. "Time for me to take you there."
"Excellent idea," she replied wrapping her arms around his neck then passionately kissing him.