A soft, blissful sigh escaped her lips as she snuggled against his chest. This was definitely where she was meant to be. Stifling a yawn that sent warm shivers down her back, Anaya closed her eyes and scooted deeper in the cocoon of Tunde’s arms.

Tunde chuckled against her forehead and moved his hand over her shoulders. “That tired?”

She merely smiled, nestling against him.

“Keep moving like that and you won’t get any rest tonight, woman.”

Anaya grinned impishly, deciding that she liked his husky ‘I’m ready to sleep’ voice the most. “Goodnight…” she said quietly, knowing full well that he wouldn’t hear it. Her heart stirred with an overwhelming feeling of compassion for him and she tightened her hold around his narrow waist.

“Do you feel better?” he asked drowsily, one finger lazily drawing lines along her bare arm.

Anaya pictured her mother’s taut jaw and immediately images of beaming smiles from her father and sister plus Tunde’s entire family covered the dark thought. She smiled warily and bobbed her head.

“Good.” His finger stilled along the nape of her neck. “You’re the most beautiful bride I’ve ever seen.”

Her body hummed in delight under his open praise. She would never grow tired of hearing—

A dull crash sounded just right outside the door and Anaya stiffened instantly. Her eyes flew to the locked door of the bedroom.

“What is it?” Tunde muttered, still half-asleep.

Anaya shifted in his arms, nudging him awake. When he lowered his eyes to her face, she gestured to the door. “I heard something…” she mouthed, trying to remain calm in the stifling silence of the room.

Puzzled, Tunde frowned down at her mouth before pulling his eyes to the door.

As his hands fell from her shoulders, Anaya felt the cold settle on her skin. She reached for the blanket and pulled it over her once Tunde shifted to the edge of the bed.

Another crash and Anaya stiffening beside him before Tunde rose to his feet. He reached for his buttoned-down shirt draped over a chair and shrugged into it.

“Be careful,” Anaya said, shivering from the cold penetrating her skin. She gripped the ends of the blanket draped over her body and watched as her husband hunkered slowly toward the door. Her brow furrowed at his back and shook her head. He couldn’t hear the noises outside. What if someone was in the house and he wouldn’t notice it? She started to rise.

“Stay there,” Tunde instructed her firmly, reaching blindly in the dark for a baseball bat near the door.

Anaya bit her bottom lip, torn between her vow to obey her husband and her desire to be beside him, to protect him. “Tunde…”

“Sit still,” he muttered in a tight voice, gripping the bat. He didn’t even look at her as he slowly turned the doorknob and opened the door slowly. After he stepped outside, Tunde closed the door firmly behind him.

She clamped down her protests as he stepped into the parlor, wanting very much to jump off the bed and grab another one of his baseball bats. His warning for her to sit still echoed in her head, forcing her to remain sitting. Her body shivered with trepidation, dreading what waited for Tunde on the other side of the door. “Please…” she whispered urgently, eyes trained on the closed door and ears perked for any strange noise. I just found him. Don’t let anything bad happen to him.

Tunde scowled at the gaping hole in the window nearest the front door, fragments of chipped glass sprinkled all over the carpeted floor. The offending rock sat a few meters from his right foot, marked by a sticker placed there by the forensic team. He peered out to the street where blue and red lights flashed obnoxiously into the night. Beside the car, two police officers chatted among themselves while waiting for the forensic team to gather the evidence. They would need a day or two to investigate the vandalism incident on his home. He heaved a sigh. What an interesting wedding night…

A tap on his shoulder pulled Tunde’s eyes down to the uniformed man next to him. His brows lifted. “I’m sorry. You said something?”

The forensic aide raised a speculative brow. “We’ll take a few pictures and gather the evidence. Will you need a locksmith or do you have everything to take care of the window?”

Tunde nodded wryly. “I’ll take care of it.” His eyes noticed Anaya sitting stiffly in the couch facing him, her shoulders bowed as she huddled under the blanket. A pang of guilt niggled him as he took in her dazed expression. This wasn’t how he’d planned out their wedding night. He probably should have heeded Silas’ suggestion and taken her to a nice hotel room instead but at Anaya’s insistence to spend their first night at home, he gave in to her.

His skin crawled at the thought of her being a victim of violence and he straightened his spine. This would be the last time he’d let anything like this happen to her. To them.

Anaya stared blankly at the patterned threads of Tunde’s carpet, hearing snippets of the conversation between her husband and the police officers. They were done with their investigation and would be leaving a patrol officer to guard through the night. She clearly heard the contrite appreciation in Tunde’s voice and felt the hardened lump in her voice. Lifting her eyes, she watched him quietly as he walked the officers to the door, a gracious but tight smile on his face as he thanked them for responding to the inconvenient call.

When he closed the door, Anaya pulled her gaze back to the carpet. His hesitating footsteps toward her threatened to undo the bravado she mustered up since he left her in the room by herself.

As he knelt beside her and reached for her hands, Anaya felt the tears roll down her cheeks and could do nothing to stop or slow them down.

“Aw, Ana… Don’t do that,” Tunde mumbled, reaching up to wipe her tears.

At his tender touch and his gentle voice, Anaya choked on a sob. “It’s not fair…”

His fingers stilled.

She lifted her eyes to look at him and the look in his broke her heart. “You’re such a good man… A kind and loving man. Why would they treat you like this?”

Tunde raised a brow, gaze searching her face. “You’re… not upset with me?”

Her bruised heart slammed hard against her ribs, taking her breath away. She blinked in confusion. “Why would I be angry with you?” Lifting her hands to wrap around his wrist, Anaya mustered up an encouraging smile. “I’m a very blessed girl… To have a brave and loving husband who will fight even phantoms for me.”

He gave her a crooked smile before chuckling softly. “I don’t know about all that.” He grinned wider when she wrinkled her nose and swatted his arm. “We’ll be fine. It’s just glass.” Before she could protest, Tunde pulled her into his arms and braced her back with his hands. “Don’t be afraid. Everything will be fine.”

Anaya propped her chin on his shoulder and stared at the offending hole in the window, all the while holding back the tears that threatened to spill over.

<<Part 17 || Part 19>>