I groaned; it was far too early.
"Father! Mother! You promised!"
I was being shaken by two little, excited hands. Reluctantly I opened my eyes.
It was not as early as I had suspected; the bedroom was filled with bright rays of sunlight.
The little being responsible for ending my sleep was kneeling on the bed between Gemma and I, looking rather pleased. I supposed that was because we had locked the bedroom door the night prior and he must have picked it most sufficiently.
Jack Bonheur was our eldest son. He was named for his grandfather, but as Gemma and I preferred the Americanized version, Jack he became.
"Father you promised me that if the rain held off you would take us out today! And it is not raining!" Jack bounced excitedly up and down on the bed.
"No jumping Jack," Gemma told her son in a sleepy voice.
Jack stopped; he never directly disobeyed his mother.
"Yes yes I remember," I yawned, sitting up.
Jack was smiling from ear to ear. I was amazed at how much my son resembled me. I supposed that it was logical; he was part me after all. Yet it had still come as a surprise when I began to notice such similar facial features.
Of course, he was missing one key characteristic. Jack had no deformity; nothing was wrong at all with the boy. Looking at him was like looking at a younger version of myself, only the good side of my face had been duplicated and spread over both sides.
Jack had inherited everything of mine; his dark hair, his stature, his voice, but his eyes were his mother's. Just like Gemma, one was green and the other was blue.
At that moment another little blur of color rushed into the room. It to bound up on the bed, winding up with a pillow and smacking Jack on the side of his head.
"Sasha! Do not hit your brother!" Gemma said, her voice shaking off the sleepiness as she sat up.
Sasha was our second oldest, only two years younger than Jack. I had named her, neglecting to mention to Gemma that as I child my dog had been named Sasha.
"He—broke—my—doll!" Sasha said, her young voice filled with rage, hitting her brother between words.
"Oh…well then by all means, continue to pummel him." Gemma laughed.
Like her brother, Sasha had dark hair and one green eye and one blue. However Sasha looked much more like her mother; at only nine years of age it was clear she would become a great beauty.
Jack grabbed the pillow from his sister, "Leave it Sasha! If we misbehave Father will not take us!"
Sasha seemed to have forgotten our plans for the day until that moment. She dropped the pillow.
"Oh! Sorry," Sasha quickly threw her arm around her brother's middle, showing her mother and I that nothing but sibling love was between herself and Jack. "You are going to take us Father? Because you did promise."
"I know!" I laughed at the two of them. "Go wait downstairs and your mother and I shall be along shortly. Just wait quietly!" I yelled this bit after them as they ran from the room. Jack and Sasha were typical rambunctious children and often raised cane where ever they went.
"Oh Erik," Gemma scooted over in bed next to me, her head drooping onto my shoulder. "I suppose we must go off and be parents now?"
"I am afraid so." I kissed the top of her head.
"Not good enough," She said, smiling up at me. I laughed and kissed her lips this time.
"Oh…well, good morning," Gemma smiled slyly up at me.
"So you wish to get started on our fifth child?" I asked her.
She tapped my chest, "Never touch me again."
We had four children in all; Jack and Sasha, then Davin then Doutzen. Davin had black hair and eyes like his older siblings. Though he was still young, only six, he had given Gemma and I quite a start. The previous summer he had taken to shutting himself up in his room and playing with his small violin day and night.
I had worried; though he had no deformity, Davin had been showing signs of the kind of anti social behavior I had fought so hard to overcome. We needn't have worried however; with some not so gentle prodding from Jack and Sasha, Davin had come though this little phase without harm. Even now I could hear him calling out to his brother and sister, bounding down the stairs.
Doutzen was our youngest. At four years old she was the apple of her parent's eyes. Even more than Sasha, Doutzen resembled her mother. Her hair was lighter than the rest and her eyes were the exact shape and color as Gemma's. Because Doutzen was her last baby, Gemma coddled her a bit more than she had the rest of her children. I was guilty of this as well and as a result Doutzen was carried almost everywhere she went.
Not that she was resigned to this; she would often toddle off, eager to play with her brothers and sister. They were all very good to her as well; keeping little Doutzen happy and safe was always a top priority.
Gemma and I had not meant to have so many children; it had simply happened. Jack brought us so much joy we could hardly wait to add to our family. It was like a silent understanding between Gemma and I; we like all the noise that came with a full house.
Twenty minutes later we were heading out to the beach. Our house in Deauville looked much different now than it had when I had purchased it so many years ago. We had built on an addition to accommodate our family. Gemma had taken on the yards and now the house was surrounded by lush, beautiful gardens.
We also had considerably more neighbors.
"Look! That is Monsieur and Madame Kahn!" Sasha had spotted them, sitting down the beach a way.
"Oh!" Jack ran a hand though his hair, "May Rebecca come with us?"
I laughed. Rebecca was Nadir's daughter and Jack had been enamored with her since they were infants.
"You will have to ask Monsieur Kahn," I told him.
Jack did not need to hear anything more; he tore off down the beach toward Nadir.
The reason everyone was so excited was that I had promised to start showing them how to sail. Of course, as they were only small children they would not be able to do very much, but even the promise of demonstration thrilled them.
In all honesty, Gemma was a better sailor than I was; she had even organized a race for her fellow water enthusiasts. She held it every summer, and she always won. However, she had less patience than I as a teacher and agreed to put the education of our children in sailing, and music, in my hands.
We walked toward the pier jutting out into the blue green ocean. It had been built years ago, before Jack was born. Once the Westwood's, Ferreti's, Van Noten's, and Kahn's, to name a few, had moved to the area it was decided that some sort of dock was necessary. I had designed it of course, along with most of the neighboring houses and some of the boats themselves.
Oh yes, I had been a busy man. Once my fears, my torturing anxieties, had been removed my mind grew even clearer than it had ever been. The part of my brain consumed by worry and frustration was now free to roam wherever it chose. Music, design, oil on canvas; it all flowed through me like a raging waterfall. Of course, like any good father, I believed my children were the greatest masterpieces I had a hand in creating. I had not forgotten my first child either; Charles. However I had not seen him since that night when he was a baby and Christine had brought him to me. The de Chagny's had moved to the United States and lost themselves in the vast country. It still broke my heart that I could not see him, but I knew he was happy, and I knew it must be this way.
"Father, Rebecca is coming with us!" Jack was pulling the little dark haired, dark eyed girl behind him.
"Excellent; how are you Rebecca?" I smiled at her.
She looked bashfully back at me, "Well, Monsieur."
"And how are your parents?"
"They are well to."
Rebecca was a bit shy; I knew it had nothing to do with my mask. She simply lost her voice around adults. I had overheard her speaking with Jack however and I knew her character to be very sweet.
Gemma and I herded our flock of children down the dock. Gemma yelled out to stop Jack and Sasha from racing to the boat. I got in first, then turned to help each of the children in.
"I can do it myself!" Jack cried and before we could stop him he jumped into the boat, no doubt showing his fearlessness in front of Rebecca. Of course, Sasha was not to be outdone and she to vaulted from the dock.
"Jack! Sasha! We told you we were bringing you out here only if you behaved." Gemma scolded the two of them, "Now I'll have no childish antics!" However she could not hide the slight smile on her face. "Any more of this and I will throw you to the mermaids!"
Jack and Sasha feigned horror and this prospect and dashed off to their seats. Gemma and I both knew this threat did not scare them; they would have liked nothing better than to be left in a colony of mere-people.
Davin stepped in next, throwing me a look that said very plainly he did not approve of his siblings riotous behavior. I smiled; he was a very mature boy.
After I helped Rebecca in Gemma handed Doutzen to me before stepping in herself. Then we were casting off, into the deep blue.
I had fallen in love with sailing instantly; as had Gemma. Feeling the sea air on my face, though my hair, smelling the salt tinged wind, hearing the waves lapping against the hull; it made ones heart rise immediately.
Never was I more at peace than when I was ripping across the surface of the ocean, driven by the hand of Nature herself. The shore would grow more distant and undefined; a long strip of lush green. The Atlantic was always so blue, and with the small white caps on the waves, I almost felt like I was sailing high in the sky, amid the clouds.
That I could share this with my family, with the people I loved, made it as close to heaven as I had ever been.
Speaking of which, I had never seen the angel in my dreams again. However, she was not forgotten; she was with me of course, in Gemma, in my children.
And when I sailed off into the great blue sky called the Atlantic Ocean, the words 'Le Ange' could been seen written in blue and green across the hull.
A/N: Thank you so much for reading! I have really loved this story and it is hard to say goodbye to it but it is time. I am writing a short story about the children and if I like it I will post it. Thanks again!