Two months have now passed since Zac's death. Two long agonizing months. It's October and it's also his birthday. Looking at Carrick I smile as he holds Zac's urn in his hands. Somehow I don't know how but he convinced Kate to give our parents his ashes. I am guessing it's also the same way he convinced her to let me have my daughter back.
The day after Zac's memorial I had been pleasantly surprised to see Kate on the doorstep, Junia on her hip. She had explained that she thought it was best Junia be with her real mom. That she had tried her best to tell Junia the truth about me being her mom. She also said she'd like for me not to move too far away if I did leave Oklahoma. She still wanted Junia and Shepherd to be close because all they knew was each other for the past two and a half years.
I never had to ask Carrick but I knew. I knew deep down he had convinced her. He had been talking to her throughout the reception after the memorial. I am kind of glad he has such a way with people. That he did this for me. Got my daughter back, got Zac's ashes so that we could spread them ourselves.
"You ready Avery?" Carrick asks me as he opens the urn. I nod my head, watching as he takes some of the ashes in his hand dropping them on the ground where our old tree house used to stand. It's gone now but I know Zac would want to be here. It's where he was always the happiest as a child.
"Avery," Zac's voice sounds beside me. I turn my head to look at him. A smile forming on my lips. I'm only seven years old now and the fact that my older brother is actually showing me attention instead of being so wrapped in his video games is surprising.
"Yeah, Zac?" I ask wondering what he wants from me. The last time he actually showed me attention it was so Taylor could go and behead all my Barbie’s.
Zac chews his lip running a hand through his long hair. "C..can you come outside and play in the tree house with me?" he asks as he sits down on the couch next to me.
I look at him cautiously wanting to know why Taylor can't do that or Isaac even. Why is he asking me?
"What about Isaac and Taylor? Can't they play with you in the tree house?" I ask before sighing and looking away. I just really don't want to go off with him to only come back and find my Barbie dolls beheaded again.
Zac frowns when I mention our older brother's. "Isaac and Taylor both had dates tonight," he mocks before scrunching up his face. They never seem to have time for me anymore."
Frowning as well I stand from the couch, "Fine I will go outside and play with you but if I come in to see my Barbie’s with no heads I am telling Mom."
"You won't have too," Zac grins as he stands from the couch. "First one outside is a rotten egg," he yells before taking off towards our sliding glass doors. Opening it he runs outside, leaving me the dust. I don't think I have seen anyone so happy to get to go outside and play.
Coming out of my thoughts I look at Carrick again seeing he is almost done scattering the ashes in his hand. Reaching into the urn with my free hand I take some of the ashes and walk closer to the back door. Getting to the right spot I bend down slowly letting Zac's ashes go, a tear going down my cheek as I watch them blow off in the wind.
I can't help but think he is free now. He is free to be wherever he wants to be. Free to go anywhere. No one will hurt him again. Not Kate, Not me, Not Taylor.
"Mommy," Junia speaks making me look at her. It's still so weird when I hear her call me mommy, a habit she has started just two weeks ago. "Don't cry," she frowns before wiping away a few of my tears.
I smile kissing her cheek, "I will try not to cry," I tell her as I stand up, walking back to where Carrick is.
He takes a few more of Zac's ashes out, walking to another spot in the yard, letting them fly free. We each alternate with the ashes after that until there is just enough left for a tiny bottle.
"I wanna keep the rest," I tell Carrick. "For Junebug to have a part of her daddy with her forever."
Carrick nods, shutting the urn. "You ready to go back to your parents house? I think we have a few more hours until we have to leave. I think your mom said she was making meatloaf."
At the thought of meatloaf I feel my stomach turn, "I think I am going to skip on dinner," I sigh following him back to his car. "The thought of meatloaf or any food is making my stomach turn right now."
"You need to eat though Avery," Carrick lectures me as he opens the backseat of his car, moving out of the way so I can put Junia in her booster seat. "It's what's best."
I smile and peck his lips after I get Junia in. "I know what's best babe." I tell him. "I have done this before you know," I laugh as I walk to the passenger side of the car. "I know how to take care of myself."
Carrick grins but stays silent on the drive to my parents house. When we get there he pulls in behind a familiar looking SUV. I'm sure it's Natalie and Taylor's new car they got a week ago.
Chewing on my lip I freeze in my seat not sure if I can breathe. I haven't seen Taylor since Zac's memorial service and before that it was at the cabin the second time we had sex. I'm not sure if I'm ready to face him. Not right now.
"You okay?" Carrick asks me as he unbuckles his seat belt. "If you want we can just go get fast food so you don't have to see him."
I shake my head no, "I'm fine Care," I smile before unbuckling as well. "Just give me a few minutes out here by myself okay."
Carrick nods before getting out and then also getting Junia out carrying her inside the house where I am sure she will run off and play with Taylor and Natalie's children.
Taking a few deep breaths I place a hand on my stomach feeling a tiny pain there. I chalk it up to nerves but I also know it could be other things. Closing my eyes I take a few deep breaths again hoping to calm myself down. The last thing I need is to be upset. It isn't good for me.
Hearing a knock on the window I open my eyes turning to see his damn blue eyes staring at me. When he motions for me to get out I nervously do just that, crossing my arms as I look at him. I refuse to speak first, not after the way he acted at the cabin towards me or the way he blew me off afterwards since then.
"You and Carrick are moving to Oklahoma City?" Taylor asks as he locks eyes with me. I want to ask him how he heard but then I just figure mom probably told him about our purchase of a four bedroom house there. Oklahoma City is only an hour away from Tulsa so I know it's still close enough for Junia to be able to see Shepherd.
I nod, confirming his question, "Yeah," I finally speak my voice almost wavering. "Carrick and I bought a house there a week ago. It's big enough for all of us and I figure it's close enough that I can still bring Junia back here to see Shepherd whenever she wants too. It's closer than New York anyway."
Taylor sighs running a hand through his blonde locks. It looks like he has dyed it again or at the very least got highlights. I wish he'd leave his hair alone sometimes. "I figured you'd stay around Tulsa. At least for awhile so Junia could adjust."
"Junia is adjusting just fine," I reply as a hand falls to rest on my stomach. "She is adjusting better than I thought she would. She is strong like Zac was which is good because I wouldn't want her to be broken like me."
Taylor shakes his head, "You aren't broken Avie," he frowns as he reaches out a hand resting on my cheek. His touch makes me shiver and ignites something in my bones. "I always wondered why and how Zac could love you," he sighs his voice getting soft towards the end. "Now I know how and why."
At his words I raise an eyebrow feeling cold as his hand moves off my cheek. "Y..you know?" I ask not able to even speak at first. How can I speak after what he just said? Is he saying he loves me? It seems to me like that is what he is saying.
Taylor smiles before he leans in to kiss my forehead, "I know because I love you too," he whispers before pulling away. "But unlike Zac I love my family too much to leave them," he sighs as he chews his lip. "I'm sure Carrick is the better choice anyway. He's the one Zac would want you with and he's the one who will be a better dad to Junia and any future kids you decide to have."
Standing there in silence I nod knowing he is right. Carrick is the better choice but that doesn't mean I want Carrick. Yes, I like Carrick but I'm not in love with him yet. Though to be honest I'm not in love with Taylor either. But I know deep down that Carrick is the best choice, especially with our current situation.
"I should go in again before Natalie gets worried," Taylor tells me, walking off before I can reply back.
Watching him leave I take a deep breath not even sure if I am awake or dreaming this. God I really hope I am dreaming this right now. Shaking my head I turn to head inside as well. ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Smiling as I stand in mine and Carrick's house I finish putting away a few of things while Carrick is upstairs getting Junia to bed. She was having trouble sleeping in her new bed and the only way she even agreed to sleep with a night light on was if Carrick slept beside her in the bed.
Humming along to one of the songs on the mix CD that Zac had left behind for me I pull on the necklace that now has the engagement ring he had given me. The mix CD and the engagement ring on a necklace were the things he had refereed to in his letter to me.
When the last song on the CD ends I just turn off the radio, sitting down on the couch, putting my feet on the coffee table. I'm about to close my eyes when I hear a guitar from somewhere and I turn my head to see Carrick coming down the stairs.
Hearing the song he is playing I smile. It's a song he has been playing now for the past few weeks in the hotel before we go to sleep.
When he sits on the couch beside me I watch as he stops playing only briefly to pull my shirt up, then he starts playing again, "Hey you, you're a child in my head, you haven't walked yet, your first words have yet to be said. But I swear you'll be blessed."
Putting a hand on my stomach as he continues to sing I shake my head. I know he is singing to the baby in there. The baby that I am now ten weeks pregnant with.
"You don't have to sing to the baby every night you know," I tell him when he finishes the song.
Carrick shrugs as he takes the guitar strap off, laying it on the floor. "I know but I want too. I want our son to know my voice."
When he says our son I force a smile. I have too because I know I am lucky he agreed to be with me and be the father of my baby..my babies. "What makes you think it's a boy?" I ask curiously. "I am kind of hoping it's a girl."
"Call it father's intuition," he smiles before leaning in to kiss me on the lips. "I love you and our baby," he mutters on my lips.
Kissing him back I just moan into the kiss. Maybe I can come to love him. I know I owe it to him for what he is doing for me and my babies. Junia and this unborn baby will be lucky to have him. I know I am which is why I really can't take him for granted.