palmThe peals of thunder shook Ameya from her dreamless sleep and she sat up with a start as a flash of lightning lit up the room. She whipped her head to peer out the window, eyes widening in horror as the bent shadows of the trees that lined the periphery of the house now thrashed violently against the brick and slate walls of the house.

Pushing off the blanket from her legs, she stumbled to stand and started out the door, heading for Tomas’ room. She heard his strangled sobbing before she saw his tear-stained face.

“My baby,” she whispered in agony as she knelt beside the bed and pulled the crying boy into her arms, tears streaming down her face. Her entire body trembled against the roaring wind pelting rain and stones against the walls and the windows.

Squeezing her eyes shut against the fear that gripped her as Tomas squealed his crying in her ears, her trembling hand tried to soothe him. “Please, please…” she said to no one in particular but hoping someone heard her all the same.

Suddenly the door to Tomas’ room swung open and Ameya whipped her head over, tears blinding the image of people standing in the doorway. As the tall blurry figure stepped forward, Ameya released the sobs that had caught in her throat and as the man’s arms swept over both her and Tomas, she let go completely.

The tropical storm raged on through the night, minutes stretching into hours as Ameya huddled in the warm living room with her family around her. She shivered involuntarily and pulled the sleeping Tomas closer in her arms. The howling wind was now a tame swirling sound around the sloping foundation of the house and the broken trees slapped their limp branches on the windows.

Thankfully Marcus and Jonathan had pulled a bed sheet over the cracked but secure glass doors.
For the first time since they’d burst into Tomas’ room, Ameya lifted her sore eyes to Tampa and Marcus cuddled on the sofa across from where she sat with Tomas in her arms.

Her eyes took in the protective sweep of Marcus’ arms around her pregnant twin sister and swallowed a sigh. They were a welcome sight for sore eyes, the assurance on their faces as they leaned against each other, drowsy from keeping watch all through the night. She shifted her gaze over and bit back a sharp inhale of breath when her eyes collided with gray eyes focused on her.

Ameya couldn’t look away from the evident worry in his steady gaze and remembered his secure arms that shielded her from the terror that threatened to consume her whole. She managed a smile and he frowned.

Her smile waned slowly as his gray eyes searched her face.

“I thought I would lose you… again,” he said hoarsely.

Ameya bit the inside of her cheek to keep the tears from rising in her throat. The pain in his voice was palpable, she could feel it as she did the twisting of her heart. If she’d lived more than eight years with the nightmare of an impending storm, she could only imagine what haunted his mind. “I’m sorry…” she said barely over a whisper, eyes taking in the dark circles under his eyes, his drawn mouth. From the picture Tampa had shown her of the two of them at a date years ago, she could tell that her disappearance had aged him. Ameya was surprised at the urge to reach for him to give him a tight embrace.

He managed a smile, the corner of his mouth crinkling slightly upwards. “I’m glad you and Tomas are okay…” Ameya held her breath when she noticed the glint in his eyes. He was crying. Her eyes welled up with tears as she smiled gently at him.

As the storm died down into the morning, Tampa stirred awake in Marcus’ arms. Her eyes fluttered open and a gentle smile crossed her lips as she gazed at the sight of Ameya cuddling Tomas in her arms. Beside them sat with his hand cupping Tomas’ own as the three of them slept, Ameya and Jonathan’s heads dipped in and resting against each other’s.

Although she had not stayed awake long enough to see when Jonathan had abandoned his seat to join Ameya on the floor, Tampa was sure the two of them had just gotten a lot closer during the stormy night.

Satisfied for now, Tampa drew Marcus’ hands around her swollen waist and snuggled deeper into his arms, the sweet call of sleep beckoning her softly.

<<Part 34 || Part 36>>