pebblesAmeya stood on the other side of the window, staring out with a wistful smile on her face. Little Tomas with his wild sandy curls shuffled around the tall sandy-haired man who held his hands over his hands, his lips wordlessly moving.

“Hide and seek?” Tampa’s voice drifted over her and Ameya straightened as her twin sister approached her. She smiled over Jonathan and his son, shaking her head incredulously. “Wow. It’s amazing how alike they look.”

“I couldn’t see it,” Ameya admitted, dragging her attention back to the father and son.

“Who’d blame you? Imagining a handsome stranger as your son’s father and your long-lost lover…”

Ameya’s cheeks warmed under Tampa’s gaze and her sister smiled knowingly. “It’s not that,” Ameya mumbled, lifting her hand to her mouth, biting at her thumb.

“You still chew your thumbnail?” Tampa’s amused voice caught Ameya off-guard and she jerked her hand back to her side. “Oh, I’m just teasing.” She nudged at her sister’s shoulder, chuckling softly.

Ameya sighed, turning to face her sister with a slight frown marring her forehead. “It’s still so…”

“Weird?” Tampa supplied with an easy smile on her glowing face.

Ameya wrinkled her nose that the woman echoed her thoughts. She looked away to where Jonathan was now running in place as if trying to catch up with Tomas. A short laugh escaped her lips and she shook her head. “He likes it…” she said incredulously. Even though Neve had been a very good playmate for Tomas, it’d taken the doctor-friend almost months to gain the shy boy’s trust. With Jonathan, it took them less than an hour to get to laughing and playing with each other. Her heartstrings fluttered at the sight.

“It’s natural.” Her sister said sagely, resting her arms on her protruding belly. “They say when a father’s eyes fall on his child and a child’s on his father… it’s love at first sight. They’re inseparable after that.” She snuck a glance at her sister’s profile and managed a smile. “It must still be strange to see all this.”

“You have no idea…” Just days ago, she’d been wondering about her son’s origin and the very man she dreamt about was the last person she imagined could be the father.

Tampa chuckled gently, pulling her gaze to the two before them. “You think so?” When the woman didn’t respond, she sighed softly and rubbed at her belly. “You have no idea how long he’s been looking for you.” She shook her head. “His life was on a virtual pause until just now.” Tampa turned to face her, brow creased with concern. “All our lives were like that too…”

Ameya’s eyes fell on Tampa’s swollen belly and her lips curled in a sardonic smile. “Looks like you pressed play at some point.”

Tampa snorted, eying her sister’s face. “Good to see you haven’t lost your sense of humor, Hannah.”

Ameya’s brow furrowed. “I’m not used to that name.”

Tampa sighed heavily. “I’m not used to Ameya… Who on earth gave you that name? What does it even mean?”

Ameya blinked, taken aback by Tampa’s forthrightness. “Uh…” She frowned for a moment and then laughed softly. “One of Neve’s nurses.” She could still remember Neve’s concentrated expression as he tried to find a name that would suit her.

Her sister’s frown darkened and Ameya’s smile waned. “Neve… Is that the doctor who saved you?” her sister’s voice was quiet, thoughtful and unsettling.

“Yes… Why?”

Tampa shrugged; pulling her gaze to Jonathan and Tomas, her heart lifting at the sight of the beaming father who had now lifted a gleeful Tomas effortlessly in his arms and was now spinning him in his arms. She sighed softly. “What a beautiful child… I wish I could meet him.” When Ameya sighed, Tampa managed a smile. “It’s okay, I understand.” She turned to face her sister. “How long has he been… y’know, autistic?”

Cheeks warming, Ameya looked away again. “Since birth.” She swallowed hard. “He hasn’t uttered one intelligible word… But he takes well to strangers, except not like this…” Her heart skipped a beat as Jonathan fell on his back and Tomas scurried up the length of his torso, laughing with unabashed joy.

Neve glanced up from the blaring screen of his laptop and sighed toward the darkened hallway. The sound of the doorbell resonated loudly through the thin walls of the house. His father was working late tonight and so he was the only one left to answer the door. Heaving a sigh, he pushed up to his feet and trudged down the hallway to the front of the house.

Pulling open the door, Neve stared bleakly at the woman standing on his porch. Quietly, he started to push the door to close it when she wordlessly inserted a glass dish in between it. He scowled as the metal of the doorknob clinked against the dish and jerked the door open. “Blast it, woman. Go away!” he barked in their native tongue. “I told you I don’t need anything.”

Genevieve unflinchingly stared back at him, cradling the warm dish in her arms. “Since when have I ever listened to you?” She nudged the door open further with her left foot and ducked under Neve’s arm into the darkened house.

Glowering, Neve closed the door and turned swiftly to face her, folding his arms across his chest. “What do you want?”

She was already walking toward the kitchen and Neve had no choice but to follow. He glared at her as she stepped around the counter and approached the fridge, pulling it open. “This is not your home.”

“You’ve said that many times already,” Genevieve replied easily, placing the dish on the empty top shelf, clicking her tongue as she looked down at the bare shelves. “Are you trying to kill yourself and your father with this misery?” She turned around to face him, placing her hands on her hips.

Neve narrowed his eyes at her. “What do you want?”

“I want you to stop this.”

“That’s none of your business. Now get out.”

Genevieve’s lips twisted with restrained laughter. “I’ll leave when I’m ready to.” She raised a brow at him, taking in his unshaven cheeks and the dark circles under his weary eyes. “All this because of a woman…”

Neve scowled, clenching his jaw tightly. “Blast it, Genevieve.”

She shook her head. “You’re eight years too late. Poor Neville.”

His teeth threatened to break as he gritted against it tighter. “Get out.”

“No.”

Neve closed the distance between them and grabbed Genevieve by her shoulders. “Don’t you dare laugh at me!” His nostrils flared with pent-up frustration. “Don’t even think to laugh at me.”

She blinked at him as the initial shock of him grabbing her eased away, replacing with a dull solemnity at the pain in his brown, glaring eyes. “I’m not laughing.” Genevieve lifted her hands and braced his arms, not moving from his tight grip. “I’m not laughing at you, Neve…”

His hardened face faltered at the soft lilt of her voice, the teasing disappearing. His fingers loosened slightly over her shoulders and Genevieve swallowed, staring up at him. Neve felt his face warm as the tears gathered, blurring the barefaced look of sympathy in Genevieve’s eyes.

<<Part 33 || Part 35>>

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