I rolled over and groped a cold bed.
You were gone. Empty room.
In one breath, I swiped the dagger from under the mattress and sprung to my feet. Panic knotted my guts as I crept from our room, ready to stab anything that moved.
Evil out in the world was one thing but this was our home, my Elysian fields on Earth with my wife and children.
My grip on the knife tightened.
The dark hallway was silent aside from my heart in my ears. Peeking in the first door, Solan and Hope slept soundly in their beds. Before I could be mad they hadn’t cleaned their room again, a horrible thought seized me. Eve.
I was halfway through her bedroom door in a blind panic when you waved me quiet, curled up on a corner chair. The moonlight lit you up like something from Olympus.
“Shh!” you hissed, cradling Eve against your chest and adjusting the blanket around her. “I just got her settled.”
Slumping against the wall, I braced a hand on my thundering heart. “You scared me. I thought… I don’t know.”
You smiled that smile, the one you gave me that first night at the campfire, and I watched you ease back in your chair. Your hair was a mess. In your oldest top and shorts, gods, you were beautiful.
“You could use the sleep,” you mumbled with heavy eyelids. “She’s been pretty fussy the last few nights.”
I couldn’t help smiling. Watching you with our daughter… “I think she just wanted you to hold her.”
Your eyebrow twitched. “Like mother like daughter,” you teased.
How many years have you made me blush?
Guiding our sleeping Eve from your arms, I kissed her head and placed her back in her cot. We held our breath, waiting to see if she’d stir. Merciful silence.
“She’s out cold,” I breathed, wrapping my arms around you from behind, loving the way you fit under my chin. “Come back to bed.”
You tipped your face back against mine and nuzzled it. “You check on the rest and I’ll meet you there?”
Taking your hand to lead you brought back a thousand memories. “Everybody’s out,” I confirmed as I ushered you back to our room and shut the door behind us. “Hope and Solan didn’t clean their room again,” I told you as we climbed into bed.
You curled up against my side and sighed. “We’ll deal with it tomorrow.”
We listened to the crickets outside like we did in our camping days before we settled down. “I’d almost forgotten what silence is.”
“Embrace it,” you chuckled. “You’ll need a Happy Place for tomorrow.”
I had to smile and laugh. Hope’s birthday party was going to be anarchy.
Running my fingers through your hair, I kissed it. “I have my happy place.”
And I did.