This Beautiful Love
A blinding white light bombarded me as I stepped inside a seemingly empty room, each step I took inside only heightened my confusion. I had never been here before. I knew without a doubt that I would remember a place like this. There were lilies lining the walls. The light above me was bright, so very bright that I thought it may be the summer sun beating down on me. A thick bundle of nerves gathered in the pit of my stomach as I heard the deafening click of a door closing behind me, causing me to jump in shock. I expected to feel fear at the thought of being trapped in this unknown place but it never comes.
“Hello?” I called out, my voice coming out soft, I didn’t want to disturb the sense of calm this place exuded. I couldn’t help but feel that there had to be a reason I was here now.
Someone called my name then, the sound of her voice stopped my heart all together.
My eyes stung as if I would cry, but like before, they never came.
I neared the end of the room and when a head peeked out from under a silk curtain, my heart froze once again. I had never met the little girl I’d only had a glimpse of but somehow, some way, I knew she was mine.
With shaking fingers, I pulled back the fabric and gasped.
A little girl with long black hair that curled at the ends, just like mine did, sat on the tiled floor with black building blocks in front of her. She looked up at me and the eyes that met mine were identical to Gavin’s. Bright blue.
“Who are you?” I asked, my voice shaking as I spoke.
For a moment I thought this was my baby girl, the girl I had given birth to eight years ago, Hope May. But as I knelt down with her and took a good look at her, I knew she wasn’t.
She was an angel.
An angel that was in front of me now.
“I’m your daughter.”
I shook my head, trying to make sense of the words the angel said.
I had a daughter.
My beautiful Hope.
But this wasn’t her.
“You’re my Mama.”
I pushed forward, shaking my head.
“Then why are you here? Why aren’t you with me?”
“I wasn’t meant to be, Mama.”
My chest tightened to the point of pain at her softly spoken words.
I wasn’t meant to be.
The room began to spin and I closed my eyes, trying desperately to hold in the scream of agony that threatens to unleash from my dry throat.
Behind my eyelids, a million words flew through my mind, as if trying to tell me something I just can’t see with my eyes.
Shaking my head, I refused to see the words, though I knew they were there.
I didn’t want to see them.
I didn’t. want to see them.
That mantra repeated over and over in my head as I heard a sound come from behind the curtain I stepped in front of.
“Who’s here, Mama?”
“I don’t know.”
Loud, sure footsteps approached us and only now did a sharp tug of fear settle in my gut.
The voice came from directly behind the curtain and the man that called out to me steps into the room I’ve found myself in, in his hands he holds a piece of paper.
This doesn’t feel right.
A sharp need to run found me but something wouldn’t allow me to.
It was the little girl.
She was mine.
I didn’t want to leave her just yet.
“I’m sorry, Mrs. Thomas.”
The man said, the deep voice somehow familiar to my ears.
Where had I heard his voice before?
A flash of a memory came back to me and my heart is clenched in regret.
“I’m so sorry, Mrs. Thomas.”
His words repeat over and over, as if they are on a broken record, never to stop from being spoken.
“Stop it, Stop it.”
“You aren’t strong enough, Mrs. Thomas. I’m so sorry.”
A cold sweat covered me as my eyes flew open, blinking rapidly as every moment of the vivid dream comes back to me.
I found it hard to breathe, as if there was something blocking my lungs from taking in the air my mouth was gasping for.
I heard loud, large footsteps on the stairs just outside of the bedroom and a wave of safety fell over me.
He was coming for me.
“Aria, what’s wrong?”
On weakened legs, I rushed toward him, taking a grateful breath the moment his arms, strong and steady and never wavering, locked around me.
“I’ve got you, Beautiful. I won’t let go.”
Gavin said gently next to my ear and I nodded, my body finally sagging into his and allowing his strength to fuel my own.
I’m safe now.
The meadow that spread below me was vast, colors spreading over the land as the sun, bright and unyielding, covered it. My hands fell over the banister I leaned against and a soft, blissful sigh left my lips. The array of flowers in the garden below made me smile, the memory of the long days I had spent planting each seed in the spring shadowed in my mind. One of the best memories I had were the days I spent with my mini me, my beautiful daughter, Hope, gardening until dusk fell and we had to go inside for the night. And when we did, we would curl up together in the living room with a movie and a homemade meal. Strands of my hair fell in my eyes as I closed them and smiled at the memories that bombarded me. I had loved a lot of things in my life. But what I loved most after almost ten years of marriage and two beautifully perfect children was being here in our home.
“Home is where your heart lays.”
That is what my father always told me as a young girl and as I opened my eyes and felt a pair of large, strong arms curl around me where I stood, I knew he’d been so very right.
“Hey, Beautiful” The deep tones of my husband’s voice next to my ear caused a deep longing in me, the sound both calming to my soul and catastrophic to my core.
I never stopped wanting this man.
“Hey.” I breathed, pressing against him as his hold tightened on me.
“How was your day?”
As he placed a soft kiss to the skin behind my ear and breathed in my scent, sparks flew underneath my skin, his effect on me still as strong as ever.
I wanted him and as I leaned into his embrace now, I’m sure I always will.
A sigh left my lips and I wondered how he knows me so well.
But I knew why, because I knew him the same way.
“Aria, look at me.”
Unable to resist his eyes, I did and hated the worry I noticed in them.
I wanted to shake myself as doubts clouded my thoughts, and that feeling only heightens when I see the potent concern in the depths of Gavin’s blue eyes.
“What is bothering that beautiful head of yours?”
I pulled my fingers through the smooth strands of his light brown hair and met his worry filled gaze.
“You’ve given me a beautiful life. I don’t know how I’ll ever deserve it.”
I pushed my head into the crook of his neck and wasted no time before inhaling the musky scent of his cologne. I could feel the muscles surrounding my waist tense with what I know to be anger. Gavin’s head rose from the top of my head before urgent hands moved to cup my face. Taking my head too gently in his grasp, the anger within his gaze surprised me.
“Don’t ever say that, Aria. You deserve all of this and more.”
The fury in his blue gray eyes was shadowed by brilliantly bright love and as he lowered his mouth to mine, his gaze stayed on me, never allowing me to look away.
“Gavin” I breathe, and he nods, hears the underlying meaning behind his name.
The crush of his mouth on mine chased away the doubts lingering in my mind and I gasped, his mouth on me causing the explosion of sensation underneath my skin to take hold of me. The moment Gavin moved his warm palms to the back of my head to hold me still and dipped his tongue in to taste me, I was his.
Smiling against his hungered kiss, my voice came out to tease him.
“You’re so sexy when you’re mad, baby.”
I felt his growl against my lips. He moved his ardent mouth down the slope of my throat. His fingers delve into my hair and with a sharp tug, he exposed my neck and began a slow tease along the heated skin.
“Not mad.” He growled.
“Yes you are.”
Kissing his way down my throat, he bit me gently, enticing a low moan from my lips.
“I don’t want you to ever doubt how much you mean to me. You are my entire world and even if I couldn’t give you this house and our beautiful children and anything else your heart may desire, I would hope my love for you would carry us through.”
Pulling his head back with my palms, I looked straight into those eyes of his that I fell for so long ago and held his gaze so he can see the love within my own.
“I was kidding, baby.”
The smile that spread over his features twisted my heart in the best way.
“You got me.”
As his mouth softened against mine again, we both smiled.
“I love you, Gavin Thomas.”
My heart threatened to burst with the love I felt for him as he whispered, in his own way, just how much he loves me.
The words I love you were never enough to capture the gravity of our connection.
We both turned at the sound of our daughter, Hope, calling us from inside the house.
It was her birthday today and just a few steps inside the house, our families were waiting to celebrate with her.
God, I can’t believe she is seven years old already.
My baby girl was growing up so fast.
Stepping away from the balcony, Gavin took my hand tenderly into his.
“She’s waiting on us.”
Nodding, I followed him inside to our awaiting family, the only doubt in my mind being if we would find another moment alone tonight.
Smiling to myself, I knew it was far from likely.
“It’s time for presents, Mom! Get over here!”
I laughed at Hope’s excitement and nodded, not wanting to diminish the glow surrounding my daughter for one minute. Pulling myself from the solace of Gavin’s lap, I kissed him quickly.
“Be right back.”
As he tipped his Sam Adam’s to his mouth, he flashed his eyes up to mine.
I hurried over to the seat next to her, and pulled her into my arms before she set her sights on the square gift in my lap.
“I want to open that one first.”
Kaelyn, my sister and very best friend, feigned shock from across the room, pressing her hand to her heart as if she’s wounded. Grinning, I shook my head at her. From behind her, I saw her husband and another close friend of mine, Lucas, smile at me from over her head. As my eyes wandered around the living room of our home, I couldn’t help the wide grin that spread. All of these people, all of our family, were here for my little girl. I thanked God every day that she was always surrounded by love and support like this.
“Tear it up.”
She smiled at me, wide and happy.
My daughter was going to break a few hearts in her life, for sure.
The sound of paper ripping and tape tearing silenced the room until Hope lifted the gift from the box and she let out a happy sound.
“Oh my gosh! This is so pretty! Who is it from, Mom?”
In her hands I saw a teal, oval jewelry box and inside laid a delicate necklace with a pendant stone at the bottom. It was her birthstone. It’s beautiful and thoughtful, a gift that was thought of by someone who truly loves my girl.
“Read the card, Hope.”
She lifted the envelope from the box where it was taped and started to open it being careful not to rip it. On the outside of the letter is her name. On the inside is a note and she reads it aloud for us all to hear.
A beautiful gift for an even more beautiful girl. I know you’re growing up sweetheart and I know you’ll receive many gifts on this day, but I hope you’ll wear this one. The day you were born was one of the best days in my life. I love you so much.
The prick of tears filled my eyes as I read the note her father wrote to her, his God awful handwriting blurred my vision.
“Daddy, I love you!”
Hope called from across the room, her voice, though loud and excited, still full of warmth for her father. I wrapped my arms around her and as we hugged, my heart fills with such pride at how she’s grown, how she’s matured and made us so proud.
So brilliantly proud.
“I love you, Mom.”
“Ah, honey, I love you too. Happy birthday.”
A few tears of joy fell onto my cheeks and the smile our daughter’s happiness spurs inside of me, widens.