Retta jolted awake as something sharp poked her in the ribs. It was pitch black dark in their bedroom, but a full moon was beaming through the cracks in the blind. She glances to her left, seeing the source of her discomfort and probable bruise. Her three year old son Nicky was sound asleep, but dreaming about kicking the winning goal or something of the sort. Aware of what he was doing, she grabbed his tiny ankle and placed it where it was supposed to be, diverting the kick that he was going to deliver once more. Whispering in his ear, she smoothed his hair, hoping to soothe his wild dreams, pressing a gentle kiss to his forehead.

"Is he kicking you?" her husband mumbled sleepily, his voice hoarse.

"Go back to sleep, I got him to calm down", Retta whispered back, leaning over the three year old to give him a gentle kiss. Carbo had always been a heavy sleeper and he had no problem drifting back to dreamland before his head even hit the pillow again. Retta sighed, glancing at the three year old once more.

One night only a week ago, Retta and Carbo had gone out for dinner, leaving their housemates in charge. Ben and Nathan had tucked the little boy into bed, sitting downstairs and keeping their ears out for any noises to tell them he was awake, they had watched TV. But what they didn't know was that the half asleep Nicky had crawled out of his toddler bed, heading towards his parents' room, forgetting they weren't home. Upon climbing onto the bed, he had pressed the remote, turning on the television- and the rest had been history.

They had found him wide eyed and shaking, staring at the man wielding a knife on the screen. And since that night, three year old Nicky had been tucked into his own bed, his parents finding him in between them an hour later.

She rolled over in bed, facing her away from her son and her husband- identical in every way. She figured that a kick in the back would be a little less painful than another kick to the stomach, lying there in the darkness, she tried to figure out a way to get the little boy sleeping in his own bed once more (she could have killed Ben- he was the best Uncle any child could have, but that night he had been clueless). She could feel her eyes start to close and her mind start to shut down, and she pulled the blankets a little higher over her shoulders,

But she was jolted awake again by a little voice.

"Mummy?"

She could barely make out her five year old daughter's silhouette, but she could see her bright eyes. "What's the matter baby?"

"Mummy, there's a monster under my bed", little Megan Melissa whispered. "Can you come and get rid of it for me?"

"A monster? Oh, Meggie". Retta gently climbed out of the bed, careful not to disturb the other occupants. "Where's the monster, baby?"

Megan latched her hand into her mothers, as Retta stroked her wild red hair. "in my bedroom, Mama".

After peering under the bed and checking the wardrobe ('just in case'_, Megan looked at her mother with big eyes.

"can I sleep in your bed?"

"Okay", Retta sighed, taking the little girl back to their bedroom. she was not surprised to find that her husband hadn't moved an inch- but Nicky on the other hand, had kicked off the blankets and stretched out horizontally, using the crook of Carbo's knee as a pillow. She tried to suppress a smile, as she readjusted the little boy in the bed.

Pulling her pillow over a little so she could share with Megan, she stepped back so her daughter could climb in.

"No!" Megan said quickly. "He kicks!"

"Thanks, Meg", Retta said sarcastically, climbing into the bed and pulling her daughter into her arms. Megan snuggled against her mother, falling asleep almost immediately. The soft, steady breathing of the little girl had lulled Retta into an almost sleep; when a kick to the back jolted her awake again. Sighing, she untangled herself from Megan's grip, before padding over to the other side of the bed, Nicky in her arms.

"Carbo, shove over, Meg wants to sleep with us", she said gently, and without opening his eyes, Carbo shifted. She wasn't quite sure if he was even awake, but placed Nicky beside his father and tucked them both back in. with a kiss to their cheeks, she resumed her position next to Megan, who settled into her arms once more. She took a moment to stare at them all, tucked under the one blanket, before closing her eyes for the last time that night.

Her life was worth all the sleepless nights in the world.