After his death, the police were able to locate the bodies of the two men he had slain before he’d stormed us that day. He had left detailed notes about where he’d tossed their bodies. At least, with that, their families would get some closure.
It’s been hard for everyone. We are struggling with just how insane the man who almost stole my life before it could truly begin was, but we’re all slowly healing. Today will be a big step in that process.
“I can’t wait to get him home, Cohen. To show him the house and have him under our roof.”
Cohen reaches over and grabs my hand, the one he placed a ridiculously huge diamond on three weeks ago—without proposing. “Same here, Dani-girl. It’s going to feel damn good to have my family together in our home.” He kisses my knuckles, flicks my ring with his thumb, and looks out the windshield with a huge grin.
We make it to the hospital in record time and have our son discharged and strapped to his car seat as soon as the last form is signed. I hug all the nurses we had gotten to know over the last month, and we make quick work of leaving the hospital behind on our way back to our house.
It is past time to get our family home.
Owen—meaning little fighter—James Cage. Our gorgeous son. I smile to myself and look over at his sleeping face from my spot in the back seat.
Just like Cohen said, Owen looks just like him. His dark hair, tan skin, and perfectly handsome face.
But those lips are all mine.
IT’S BEEN TWO WEEKS SINCE we brought Owen home from the hospital, and leaving him today for my six-week checkup was harder than I ever imagined. Cohen and I had agreed that, since the visit would be a short one and I could pump any milk Cohen would need to feed him while I was gone, I would use this as a dry run to leave the baby.
In the last two weeks, I’ve struggled to do something as mundane as take a shower. The fear I’ve had over letting him out of my sight is unexplainable. I know Cohen is worried about me, so I agreed with him more or less to placate his concerns.
But sitting here, with the paper sheet over my naked bottom half while my ass sits on the cold chair, isn’t making me feel like I’ve hit some big milestone. It makes me feel like I need to have my baby in my arms.
“I think it’s time to stop freaking out, Dani.”
I look up, meet my mom’s eyes, and give her a small smile. I don’t even try to hide my mild embarrassment.
“I understand how you feel, my darling girl, but leaving your son for a few hours isn’t the end of the world. It’s good for him to bond with his father alone—or his grandparents. I’m not saying you should start planning vacations, but sitting at home day in and day out while never letting him out of your sight isn’t healthy.”
I sigh. “I know.” And I do. I know it isn’t normal, but I can’t seem to get my body to get with the program and physically leave him.
“If it would make you feel better, we can call Cohen. He can give you the reassurance that you need.”
I shake my head, knowing that, if I call home thirty minutes after leaving to check on Owen, all it will do is make Cohen worry about me more. “No. I trust Cohen, and I know he won’t let anything happen to Owen. I just need to get over my issues that something bad is going to happen. Ever since the whole . . . Mark thing, I keep thinking that something else is going to come and take away my happiness.”
Mom sighs and walks over to me, grabbing my hand and looking me in the eyes. “There isn’t one thing in this life that’s a guarantee, Dani. Nothing. I’ve lived a life that I can say that with clarity. But if you continue to have yourself stuck in the past of worry and fear, there is no way you’re going to be able to enjoy the life and future you hold in your hands.”
I study her face, finding love in her eyes and the hope that I understand what she’s saying.
“I need to get out of my head,” I respond.
“Yeah, sweetheart. You need to get out of your head,” she says with another big smile.
I felt a little better after my doctor’s visit. The two hours I had been gone from the house didn’t feel as stifling by the time Mom pulled us back up to the house and I rushed through the door, eager to see my boys.
I smile when I hear Cohen muttering to the television at whatever sports show he’s watching. When I round the corner and see him sitting in our big, overstuffed chair with Owen laying on his naked chest, my heart swells. He has his thick hand resting under the baby’s diaper-padded bum, and I smile when I see Owen’s big, round—blue for the moment—eyes looking off at nothing. His fist is pulled up to his thick, Cupid-bowed lips, and he’s sucking away while his father explains to him the finer points of football.