shackJonathan almost forgot to breathe. It wasn’t until Marcus nudged him that he whooshed out a breath. “How did you know?” he asked the old fisherman on the other side of the shack.

The man smirked knowingly, a stiff smile as if he rarely did it. “I have eyes.”

“Han—Ameya didn’t recognize it.” His heart skipped a beat at the thought of her figuring it out. He grimaced, dreading the fury she would feel that he’d kept it a secret this long.

Old Man Jonas rolled his eyes in sheer exasperation at the mention of the woman. “She’s absentminded. Even if the truth was in front of her, she wouldn’t recognize it.” Then he narrowed his eyes at the white man. “You, why it take you long to come here and find her?”

Jonathan bit the inside of his cheek, not sure how to answer the question.

Marcus frowned, not understanding a word between the two. For a while, he’d forgotten that since both Hannah and Jonathan had lived in the Caribbean Islands, they would be fluent in Creole. Chagrined, he turned back to the old man who was now scowling at Jonathan.

“And why come now when eight years have passed and she has formed a new way of life?”

Jonathan nodded, understanding the man’s frustration with him. “I wanted to leave once I realized she didn’t remember me, that she was happy and content here not knowing her past…” he swallowed against the tight hold on his throat, glancing once at Marcus before returning to the older man’s weathered face. “But it’s more than just me and her involved in this.”

Old Man Jonas tilted his head at Marcus curiously before shifting his eyes back to Jonathan, nodding for him to explain further.

“Ameya has a family back home, her mother and her twin sister are in Houston, still waiting for her to return to them,” Jonathan said with a wavering voice. “We have a son… a son I thought was never born.” His heart constricted painfully and he forced out a breath. “I can’t leave now. Not without knowing my son or him knowing who I am.”

The old fisherman scanned Jonathan’s taut jaw and his steady gray eyes before he nodded slowly. There was something very determined about this man that reminded him of the small, mute boy with eyes that mirrored this man’s. If anything, the two had to meet. He nodded again before speaking. “It will not be easy to tell her.”

Jonathan nodded, already prepared by this point to finally address his reasons to Ameya. No more hiding. Not now that he’d found out about Tomas his son. Even if Hannah chose not to return to him… His heart skipped a beat or two at the thought of Hannah never returning her once love for him.

Just then, Marcus’ phone vibrated loudly in the small shack and Old Man Jonas lifted a glare at him. Holding out a finger, Marcus pulled out his phone from his pocket and backtracked to the door. Stepping outside, he glanced once at the screen and frowned at Hapta’s caller id. “Yeah, what is it?” he asked impatiently, annoyed that he was missing the rest of the conversation inside the shack.

“Big trouble, man,” Hapta said abruptly over the static.

Marcus lowered his eyes from the window where Old Man Jonas and Jonathan were staring at each other quietly and frowned at the darkened path in front of him. “Big trouble how?”

“Tampa knows.”

Marcus’ eyes widened visibly and he gripped the phone. “What… What do you mean?” his heart slammed hard against his chest. “Knows what?!” he gritted through clenched teeth, shuffling away from the open window.

“I don’t know, man…” Hapta bemoaned aloud. “One minute she was asking how the trip went and the next she started crying—I didn’t know what to say.”

“You said enough, you idiot,” Marcus scowled. “Why didn’t you just hang up on her?!” He groaned as a telltale beeping on his phone alerted he had another call waiting. “Shoot. That’s probably her now. When did you tell her?”

“Just right now,” Hapta muttered hesitantly. “I thought I should at least give you a heads up.”

“Thanks…” Marcus replied dryly. “Okay, hang up. I’ll take care of it.” He lowered the phone and truth looked him hard in the face as he stared at Tampa’s picture flashing on the screen. Swallowing a curse, he accepted the call and slowly lifted the phone back to his ear. “Hey sweet thing…”

“Don’t ‘sweet thing’ me, Marcus,” Tampa snapped. “When?”

Marcus grimaced openly. Leave it to Tampa to cut to the chase. No doubt she was already booking tickets to come out to St. Lucia. That was when he heard it. The telltale sound of rustling zippers. “Tampa, what are you doing?”

“I’m on my way to meet you.” She zipped another bag. “Honestly Marcus, if you needed help, all you had to do was ask.”

He frowned, not understanding the calm in her voice. “I don’t understand,” he said lamely. “You’re not mad?”

“Of course I’m furious and disappointed,” Tampa replied easily. “But more than that, I’m excited and relieved. My sister is alive and well and you found her. So I’m coming to help you bring her home.”

Marcus frowned, regaining his composure. “Hold on. You can’t do that.”

“And why the heck not?”

“Because…” his gaze traveled back to the slightly-opened door of the fisherman’s shack. “Because we’re busy.”

Tampa laughed lowly. “Husband of mine, I’m sick and tired of your ridiculous game… Stop playing with me.”

“I’m not!” Marcus shot back. “Look, Tampa, this is not a good time. Jonathan just found out that he’s a father.” At the sharp intake of breath on Tampa’s end, Marcus winced in regret.

“Oh my God. Hannah had the baby?”

“Yeah…” Marcus answered reluctantly, dragging his gaze from the door to stare ahead onto the path. His heart stopped as he spotted two lone figures climbing up the hill.

“Oh my Lord God!” Tampa sniffed back a tear. “Boy or girl?”

Marcus gaped as Ameya and Tomas stepped into the moonlight cast on the path. “Boy,” he said dumbly, watching as the two approached the shack. “Tampa…”

“Hmm?”

“I have to go.” He didn’t wait and disconnected the call over her protests, shoving the phone into his pockets just as Ameya stopped abruptly in front of him and pulled her son behind her. Marcus managed a smile at the confused look on her face and lifted a hand to wave awkwardly. “Hi again.”

Ameya frowned, her gaze traveling behind him to the lit cabin.

Marcus swallowed a groan as he too glanced over his shoulder at the two shadowed figures standing by the window. Then before he could say anything, Ameya forged toward the door, pulling a mute Tomas with her. “Wait a minute, Ameya,” he said loud enough for the two men inside to hear and for Ameya to pause in step to glance over her shoulder at him. He opened his mouth to say something but the annoyed look on her face stopped him.

“Why are you here?” Ameya started to ask but stopped as the door squeaked open and she jerked her eyes to the shack, frowning deeper at the sight of Jonathan and Old Man Jonas filling the doorway. She clenched her jaw at the sight of the taller, young man and swallowed hard before speaking again. “Since you’re here, I want to talk to you… Alone,” she said firmly.

“Which one?” Jonathan dared to ask, having mustered enough courage to speak with her now. He could see his son peeking from behind Ameya’s hip and felt his heart skip a beat.

Ameya narrowed her gaze at him. “My father.”

As the men stepped out of the cabin and Old Man Jonas closed the door, Ameya’s hardened face fell. She loosened her hold on Tomas’ hand and watched as he scurried to the cot, climbing onto the mattress to snuggle on the faded woven blanket.

She turned back to face Old Man Jonas now shuffling to the other end of the cabin, pulling up a chair to sit down. Ameya sighed heavily, folding her arms across her chest. This wasn’t part of the plan. She was supposed to find the men and confront them about her suspicions, but after a wild goose chase from their hotel to the fisherman’s village in search for Gill, she was mortified once he mentioned the men heading up to Old Man Jonas’ shack.

Seeing Marcus standing in front of the shack shook the resolve she’d worked up on the way to meet them but when Jonathan walked up to the door with Jonas standing beside him, she took several steps back in her mind. How could she ask them something she herself wasn’t sure made any sense?

“What is troubling you still?” Jonas muttered, folding his own arms across his chest. His narrowed eyes scanned her face.

Ameya bit her bottom lip, glancing once over at the closed door before returning it to the man’s face. “Why were those men here?” she said a loud whisper.

“Why?” He raised a bushy brow. “Didn’t you ask them to come find me?”

Her eyes widened and she shook her head adamantly. “How can that be so? Who said that?”

Old Man Jonas chuckled lowly and leaned back in his chair, smirking up at her. “It seems you didn’t come here to talk with me, girl.”

Ameya heaved a sigh, lowering to the bed. He was right. Shock had muddled her determination to address both men. Them standing in this shack, shook what she’d believed was her reality, made her question herself.

“What are you afraid of?” Jonas asked softly.

She didn’t respond, staring listlessly at the scuff marks marring the wooden boards of the floor.

The old man merely sighed at her downturned face and clucked his tongue. “You are afraid of too many things, girl.” With that, he rose to his feet and stepped toward the door.

Ameya jerked her head up and gasped as the old man opened the door and stepped outside. Her heart started beating fast, her breath shortening with each passing second he was gone. Then the door creaked open wider and she almost lost her breath as the tall, sandy-haired man ducked inside and closed the door softly. Her fingers curled inwardly as he stood by the door, staring solemnly at her.

She noticed the chagrined look in his eyes and the furrow in his brow. Ameya bit her bottom lip, trying to muster up some courage in the presence of this man. Then his gaze drifted from hers over her shoulder and she almost forgot how to breathe.

The way his expression softened at the sight of Tomas was indisputable and it near turned her bones to liquid. The images of strong and freckled arms wrapping around her, warm but soft lips pressed against her cheek before brushing her own mouth, long fingers tangling in her thick black hair, threatened to consume her. Ameya clumsily shifted her shoulder to hide Tomas, forcing Jonathan’s gaze back to her face. “Do you know me?” she asked in soft hesitance, holding her breath for his answer.

<<Part 28 || Part 30>>

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