What can I say? I was trying to set a new record of longest time between updates... ;) Sorry this one took forever. I don't even have an excuse as this part has been written for some time but I thought maybe if I posted this, it'd motivate me to continue. No promises though!
In case you don't remember what happened in previous chapters (even I didn't), here's a little synopsis: Robert and Anna finally reunited in Africa, but it wasn't exactly a happy reunion as Anna couldn't quite forgive Robert for playing dead all these years even if he did have (according to him anyway, lol) some very legit reasons. Upon reuniting with Robert, Anna also finds out that she was the person who set the explosion on that tanker all these years ago. It's a revelation that throws her for a loop and, for once and for all, she decides to make a concerted effort to remember what happened on that ship, by taking off by herself to a motel room and forcing herself to confront her memories, no matter how difficult they are. Meanwhile, Alex dragged Dimitri to her clinic in Vancouver after his car accident and then stuck him in a cab back to her apartment to recover.
It took Dimitri Marick a long moment to remember where he was when he woke up, because absolutely nothing looked familiar, especially not the dark-eyed toddler that was standing at the foot of his bed, staring at him.
"Hi," the little boy answered back, not taking his eyes off him even for a second.
Dimitri pushed himself up and glanced at the clock on the bedside table.
It's one twenty-two in the afternoon, I'm in a strange bedroom wearing a t-shirt that doesn't belong to me, and there's a little dark-haired boy staring at me.
And my body feels like it's been hit by a truck.
He barely remembered much of anything after Alex told him to wait for the doctor at the clinic. He had a vague recollection of stepping into a taxi and speaking Spanish to an old lady who met him at the door and helped him into bed.
He winced as he sat up, trying to remember the boy's name. He remembered Alex saying it aloud when he first came to see her.
I probably should know the name of my wife's son.
He held out a toy train to him. "Thomas."
Dimitri smiled. "Is that your name?"
"No," the boy came closer, ready to climb up into the bed. Looking at him as though he'd asked a dumb question. "The train." His nose was running and Dimitri grabbed a tissue.
"Come here, let's fix that," he said to the boy, who looked at him sceptically. Dimitri hoisted him up onto his lap and wiped his nose. "That's better."
The boy made a face that told him he didn't agree, but he made no move to wriggle out of his grasp. In fact, he seemed pretty comfortable where he was.
A sudden chill went up Dimitri's spine. Am I holding my son?
"Liam, whatare you doing?"
Dimitri didn't see Alex enter the room.
She scooped the boy up into her arms. "I'm sorry," she told Dimitri.
"No...no... it's okay."
"You're hurt," she told him. "And Liam knows better than to cuddle with strangers."
"I'm a stranger?"
She gave him a lop-sided smile. "You are to Liam." She set the boy down and told him to go see Maria.
She looked tired and, as far as he could remember, she still wore the same clothes she did last night. "Have you slept?"
Alex stifled a yawn. "Not yet. I wanted to check on you after you woke up. I'll sleep after that."
"Let me judge that. Take off your shirt."
"I thought you said you didn't have equipment at hand to examine me."
"I have eyes and hands," she replied. "I can look...and poke and prod."
"For god's sake. You had a car accident last night that could have killed you. Would you humour me, so I can go to sleep without worrying that you're dying in room next to me?"
"Well," Dimitri took off his t-shirt. "If you put it that way."
She'd already put on her glasses and he felt her fingers running along his side. "Tell me if anything hurts."
"Not at the moment."
He gritted his teeth when she started prodding his ribs. "Don't do that."
"Sorry. For what it's worth, you're lucky they're not broken."
"That's me. Lucky. How was your night?"
"Did you get in trouble with that doctor for..."
"Yes," she answered before he had a chance to finish. "He fired me this morning. After we finished with the rush."
"What?" Dimitri looked at her in disbelief. "Alex, I'll explain...I'll tell him I insisted! That this wasn't your fault..." Then again, when he took a second to think about it, he wondered what he was saying. He didn't want her working there. Not in that kind of chaos or that kind of neighbourhood.
She took off her glasses and rubbed her eyes, unable to hold back a yawn this time. "Ahmad was right to do what he did. I'd have done the exact same thing. It doesn't matter...I'll find another job."
Again she didn't let him finish. "I can't even imagine how sore you are." She pointed to a bottle of pills on the nightstand. "Ahmad prescribed these and I picked them up on the way home. I suggest you take one every six hours for the next couple of days, until you start to feel human again."
"I'm going to be okay."
"I know," she said. "But don't overdo it, the bruises you have are not minor. You're welcome to stay in bed for the rest of the day, in fact I'd recommend it. I can ask Maria to bring you something. She's an amazing cook."
"Where will you sleep?"
"Maria has a bed."
"I have a hotel room, I don't want to..."
"You can go to your hotel if you like. I won't stop you. But..." she paused for just a moment. Long enough for him to catch her hesitation. Or was it something else he caught in her voice? "You can stay here too."
He nodded, knowing already which one he'd choose. "Fine."
"I'll see you when I get up."
He swallowed, feeling a lump in his throat. What a routine thing to say: I'll see you. Words that usually went in one ear and out the other. They were so routine they'd long since lost their meaning.
A few days ago, I would have given the world to hear you say them again.
In spite of his soreness, he felt a contentment that he hadn't felt in a long time.
Robin Scorpio opened the door of her hotel room, surprised to find her father on the other side.
"What are you doing here?"
He gave her a quick hug before looking around the room. "Did your mother come back here?"
Robin hadn't missed the worried look on his face. "No. Why? What happened when she went to see you?"
"Did she call you?"
Robin shook her head. "No. But she sent me a text."
Robin held out her cell phone. "Here, read it for yourself."
Might not be back at hotel tonight. Some things I need to take care of alone. Nothing serious, don't worry. I'm fine. Love you. xo
Robert looked at it, unconvinced.
"Dad, what's going on?"
Robert didn't say anything and his silence alone annoyed Robin.
"Dad...I'm not thirteen anymore. Tell me what's going on."
Her father was on the verge of pacing around the room but he stopped himself. "Her coming to see me...it didn't go well."
"What did expect?" Robin prompted. "Did you think she was going to agree with your decision to play dead all this time for the sake of our protection? If you do...you really don't know her anymore. This is Mom we're talking about."
"It's not that, luv," he tried to explain. "It's when I tried to make her understand why I did it. I didn't realize that she might not have remembered..."
"That she set the explosion on the boat."
Robin sat down at the desk in her room and frowned. Her father was right. There was a good chance her mother wouldn't have remembered that. It wasn't something she'd ever mentioned, and it had been news to Robin when her father first suggested it to her.
And it's not like we got a chance to talk about it since she came here...
"I assumed she had her complete memory back," Robert explained.
Robin's frown deepened. It was an assumption her shouldn't have made. One among many. "Was she shocked?"
Her father ran a hand through his thinning hair. "You could say that. Robin, there's something else too. Something I didn't tell you..."
Of course there are more secrets. Robin stopped just short of rolling her eyes. "What?"
"I don't think your Mom had any intention of getting off that ship alive when she set those explosives."
"What?" This time she did roll her eyes. "That's one hell of an assumption, Dad."
"I also think your mother realized that was the truth and that's why she ran."
Robin put her hands on her hips. There were too many feelings assaulting her now. Shock. Anger. Indignation. Disbelief. "You know what I think, Dad?"
"Luv, I'm not trying to..."
She wouldn't let him finish. "I think you have no clue what you're talking about. That it's pretty arrogant and presumptuous to think you can read Mom's mind after you spend, what ten minutes with her, out of the last fifteen years?"
"So where is your mother right now?" he asked her softly.
"I don't know," Robin admitted. "But I know that no matter how much the truth might've hurt her, she's not about to fly off the deep end because of it. If you think it is, then you really don't know her anymore."
Robert raised his hand in a defensive mix of anger and defeat. "Look, I get it. I don't know you anymore. You or your mother. I missed too much of your life for that. And I deserve every jab you're throwing at me right, but can we look past that for a moment and focus on your Mom, and make sure she's okay?"
Robin bit her lip. Maybe her reactions to his concern were a little more insolent teenager than rational adult. But still, this time she wasn't about to back down.
"You what else I think, Dad?" she said softly. This time her voice was level and there was no hint of bitterness. "I don't think you can play dead all this time, then come back into our lives and feel like you suddenly have a right to know what Mom's up to when she's upset. Leave that to me." She took a deep breath. "You're not our protector anymore."
This time there was no mistaking the sting her words left on him.
"I see." He took a step back, acknowledging defeat this time around. "So what do you want me to do?"
"I want you to go home. And when I've heard from Mom, I'll give you a call."
Robin could almost see the effort it took for him to relinquish the control he was so used to exerting.
He left her hotel room without another word and Robin slumped down on the bed, exhaling.
Then she picked up her phone and dialled her mother's number.
"Mom...Dad was here. He thinks you're about to do something crazy and is ready to send the cavalry after you. I told him he had no idea what he was talking about." She took another deep breath. "Please call and tell me that I'm right!"