forestorAmeya bit the inside of her cheek, watching as a series of emotions flit across his face. Her fingers pressed firmly on the mattress, her body tense as she waited for him to speak.

His Adam’s apple bobbed visibly and his lips parted slowly before closing, jaw clenching. “Yes.”

Her cheeks warmed at the simple confirmation and she bit harder on her mouth. “Do I know you?”

His gaze softened on her and Ameya had to fight from looking away. The familiarity in his gray eyes was more than she could handle right now. “Eight years ago, did I know you?” she asked, her voice barely a whisper. Her heart picked up speed and she swallowed a gasp when she saw the truth in his eyes.

“Yes…” Jonathan’s baritone voice answered gently, his eyes searching hers.

Ameya lowered her gaze to her tightened fingers curled into fists. “I see…” Sharp intermittent pains jabbed at her chest as she turned her eyes to the sleeping Tomas. Face tingling, she reached for her son and pulled him onto her chest, before starting to stand. A shuffle of feet in front of her stiffened her movement and she clenched her jaw. “I can do it myself,” she said stiffly, not giving Jonathan another glance. Tears gathered at her eyes as she rose to her feet and positioned Tomas on her hip. Without acknowledging the tall white man standing in her path, Ameya steeled her jaw and stepped around him to the door.

“I’m sorry…” Jonathan said just as she pushed open the door.

Ameya straightened her spine, glaring into the dark night in front of her. His apology fell against her shoulders, leaving only an empty, despairing feeling. She didn’t want to hear his apology, she wanted an explanation. Heart throbbing painfully, she stepped over the threshold and pushed past a stunned Marcus and wary Old Man Jonas who had been standing just a few feet from the door.

The tears held at bay released their hold at her eyelids and fell liberally as she trudged down the hill to her car. She drew in her trembling lips to keep from sobbing, blinking at her blurry vision even as she held tightly to Tomas, with Jonathan’s last words echoing in her ears.

Jonathan stepped out quietly onto the front step of the shack and stared ahead at the darkened path down the hill. He had to keep himself from running after Hannah, knowing that she would only balk if he came close. The hardened look in her gaze just earlier was enough to keep him at arm’s length when all he wanted to do was pull her into his arms and never let go.

Old Man Jonas snorted disgustedly and stepped around them into his shack, shutting the door behind them.

Marcus sighed heavily. “That didn’t go well…”

Jonathan swallowed hard, his open hands hanging at his sides.

His brother-in-law glanced over at him and shook his head. “Maybe it’s time to try something different.”

The man shifted his morose gaze to him. “What?”

Marcus hesitated only a moment before speaking. “Tampa is coming here.” When Jonathan’s brow furrowed instantly, he held up a hand. “I didn’t tell her. She pressured Hapta to spill the news. Either way, she’s already packing to come here tomorrow.”

Jonathan shook his head, not sure this would do any good for Hannah. “What about the children?”

“I tried to stop her… I’m sure she’ll keep them with her mother.” Marcus rubbed the back of his neck. “If Hannah sees her twin sister, there’s no way she can deny the truth.”

“It’s not about denying the truth, Marcus,” Jonathan mumbled, shifting his worried eyes to the darkened path. “It’s more than that.” He fought a grimace, still replaying the hurt look on her face when he confirmed her fears.

Ameya stared listlessly at Tomas curled in her bed and lifted a fist to her mouth, feeling the sobs push against her throat. She squeezed her lips to keep from crying out and stepped away from the bed, shuffling quietly out of her bedroom toward the living room. Her knees knocked with every move and she had to perch on the nearest surface, leaning forward against the tightness in her chest. The tears spilled freely onto her legs and her fingers. Her body trembled, wracking against the pent-up sobs.

Jonathan Harris was Tomas’ father. She’d had a sneaking suspicion but hearing him confirm it in not so many words was enough to make her heart twist painfully. The soft-spoken giant was the man who she’d loved and who had abandoned her eight years ago. The empty feeling that remained after the sobs had subsided was more painful than before and Ameya squeezed her eyes tightly, sliding onto the floor. She covered her sticky face with her hands.

Those warm, fleeting images of her and Jonathan were from the past, of times when she’d allowed herself to love wholeheartedly. It was obvious from her gleeful laugh and the willingness to fall into those freckled arms that she’d loved him. The question was if he’d really loved her and why he left her?

She winced, recalling the first night she’d woken up to a bare hospital room with unfamiliar eyes staring down at her. She’d curled in, feeling naked and alone. Where had he been? What had Jonathan been doing when she lay there, wondering where she was and who she was?

Her jaw tightened as she thought back to their first meeting in St. Lucia. Jonathan and whoever Marcus was, they knew her then. That meant their fated meeting was planned. They were not tourists. They had come to look for her. Her hardened eyes lifted over her hands and she glared at the wall in front of her. Right now, it didn’t matter why they’d come. She was more than slighted that they pretended not to know her. The tears gathered again and Ameya pushed them away with a frustrated sigh.

Tampa’s heart was racing as she stepped under the archway, her eyes frantically scanning for familiar faces amid the crowd of people in the airport. Her heart slammed hard against her chest when she spotted the mismatched couple standing behind the barricade. She hid a smile and waddled over, tugging her handbag over her shoulder. “Hello boys…” she drawled to Marcus and Jonathan who both had sheepish expressions on their faces. “Good to know you still take directions well,” she said, pulling off her bag to hand over to Marcus.

Her husband merely sighed, taking only a moment to stare wistfully at her swollen belly before he accepted the bag. “You really should’ve stayed home… This isn’t good for you and the baby.”

“Where’s my sister?” Tampa asked Jonathan who looked as if he hadn’t slept in days. Her brow furrowed at his wary expression. “What, you haven’t told her yet?”

“Let’s get out of here first,” Marcus reasoned quietly, gesturing to the open gate down the hall. “We’ll meet you over there.” He nudged at Jonathan and Tampa scowled as the two walked ahead of her.

Shaking her head, she walked as quickly as her belly would allow her to cross the barricade and cut off their brisk walk, standing directly in front of her brother-in-law. “What happened?”

Marcus threw an exasperated look to the ceiling. “Tampa, for goodness’ sake, let’s get to the hotel first.”

Tampa frowned at her husband but held her tongue, seeing that Jonathan was in no mood to talk. She bit her bottom lip and let Marcus lead them out of the airport. She shielded her eyes from the bright, warm sun and allowed herself a smile as the warm ocean breeze drifted over her face.

“Where are the kids?” Marcus muttered, sliding into the front seat while she and Jonathan climbed into the back.

Tampa rolled her eyes. “With Mom, naturally. She didn’t even hesitate when I told her you’d found Hannah.”

Both Marcus and Jonathan jerked their astonished gazes to her. “You told your mom?”

“Why not?” Tampa blinked at them. “Of course! She would’ve come too if she didn’t have to babysit for me.”

Marcus heaved a sigh and pinched the bridge of his nose. “Oh boy…”

“What is the matter with the two of you?” Tampa shifted her attention to Jonathan who looked like his eyes were about to roll to the back of his head.  “Bro, give me the run down. What’s going on?”

Jonathan sighed heavily and leaned back in the seat, proceeding to tell Tampa everything.

“You big clowns…” Tampa muttered scornfully as the cab driver pulled up in front of the yellow hotel building. She reached forward and swatted her husband’s shoulder before stepping out of the car. “I can’t believe you let Hapta come up with such a ridiculous idea.”

Marcus scowled over his shoulder at her before turning to the driver with the cab fare. “What other idea would you have come up with?” He stepped out of the car and closed the door firmly.

She frowned back at him, walking around the cab to meet him on the other side. “Definitely not that I’m a dumb researching team. My God, Marcus. What were you thinking?” She turned to Jonathan and clucked her tongue. “And you let them.”

Jonathan shook his head, closing the door and stepped back onto the brick sidewalk. “That was the only thing we could think of. Why else would we need to see her?”

Tampa wrinkled her nose. “I should’ve come earlier.” She shoved at Marcus’ chest, glaring up at him. “You should’ve told me as soon as you found her.”

“You’d have scared her!” Marcus shot back, glowering down at her. “Even now, I doubt you’ll do much to help the situation. She already knows and is refusing to take our calls.”

“Do you blame her, you terrible liars,” Tampa jutted her hands on her hips. She heaved a sigh, looking over Marcus’ shoulder at the clear blue sky, picturing her sister’s haggard expression. “Poor girl… I want to see her.” She gritted her teeth when Marcus narrowed his eyes at her. “I know I’ll do a lot better than you.”

“You obviously don’t remember who you look like,” Marcus mumbled darkly. “Just one look at you, she’ll hightail out of here in fear.”

Tampa scowled at him. “Okay Smarty-pants. What’s your big idea then?”

Jonathan shook his head and stepped away from them, walking toward the street. He couldn’t stand and just wait until Hannah was ready to talk with him. Now that he’d found her, he didn’t want to leave her alone.

Marcus halted in his retort and jerked his attention to Jonathan’s back as the taller man trudged quietly toward the road. “Where are you going?!” he hollered, scowling when Tampa smacked him again. “For God’s sake, woman, keep your hands to yourself.” He grinned despite his annoyance with her defying him and started to pull her into an embrace. He’d missed her.

“Nu-uh,” Tampa ducked under his arms and started after Jonathan. “Let’s go together, Jon!” she called after him as she waddled to meet him.

Clucking his tongue at his pregnant wife walking over to Jonathan who had slowed down to wait for her, Marcus shook his head and pushed forward to follow them. “This is a bad idea…”

“It’s better than what you’ve done so far,” Tampa threw over her shoulder at him, snaking an arm around Jonathan’s as they walked down to the nearest main street to flag down a cab.

<<Part 29 || Part 31>>

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