The week after Christmas passed by pretty quickly. The boys spent most of their time playing with their new toys and learning boundaries. Especially with the Legos. Those little pieces of jagged hell when stepped on. I curse at Miles for giving them to the boys. So I was shouting at them to get down to the Great hall and clean them up when Mark dragged me into the kitchen for our talk.
I was shocked. Ben and I hadn’t told anyone yet. I slumped my shoulders.
“Yeah. I am.”
Mark looked at me like the news hit him in the gut. His jaw dropped open, his brows went up and he looked a little green.
“What are you doing to do?”
“Go yell at the kids to clean up the Legos?”
I was being deliberately obtuse. It was a little mean and I knew it, but so was his question. His face drew tight and he frowned.
“Marlowe, You can’t-”
I held up a hand and cut him off. “I’m not going to live my life constantly afraid of this town, Mark. This is life. You have to take it as it comes and figure out how to handle it because it’s not going anywhere.”
“but with everything that’s happening, don’t you think it might be wise to stay safe?”
“Safe is something people tell themselves at night in the hope that the things that come along with stepping outside your door don’t happen. In other words, Mark: life finds a way.”
He paced the kitchen. I could sense something was really wrong.
“What’s going on, Mark?” I asked, sitting down at the table.
He paced more before stopping and looking at me. “I’m leaving Blueville.”
It was my turn to look shocked when my mouth tumbled open. I blurted out a “How? Why? Logan?” before I could stop myself.
“I don’t feel safe here anymore, Marlowe. I can barely leave the house without having a panic attack that someone’s going to force my change the way it’s been happening to Ben,” he sighed as he dropped to a stool and leaned on to the kitchen table. “I keep seeing Max everywhere and Logan is just a reminder of how much I lost thanks to what’s going on. I’m angry, Marlowe. I’m so angry at what’s going on.”
“That’s not a reason to leave!” I exclaimed. “What about Logan? This is the only family he’s known! You’re just going to take him away?”
“I’m not taking him with me.”
I felt sick when I heard that and ran for the bathroom when my lunch gurgled in my stomach. When I’d finished retching, I came back to the kitchen and Mark had already pulled a glass and poured water for me.
“You’re just going to leave him here? He loves you, Mark. You’ll hurt him immensely.”
Mark shook his head. “He’s not really my son. He’s yours. The egg was given to you. He adores you and I’m honestly a little jealous.”
“I’m mom, Mark. That’s kind of how it’s supposed to happen.”
“I just can’t do it anymore,” he sighed and rubbed hands over his face. Mark looked so very tired. “I can’t be here. I’m not moving on, I’m just getting worse. I thought I would put my things in storage and go home for a while.”
I started to speak, then stopped. It was obvious that he’d spent a lot of time thinking about this and that it wasn’t just an overnight decision. I put forth a considerable amount of effort to sit on my feelings and look at it from his point of view.
I sighed. “Okay.”
Mark’s head snapped up. “Okay? Just like that?”
“Just like that. You’re family, Mark. All I want for you is to be happy. If that means leaving here, then that’s the way it has to be.”
Mark stared at me, mouth opening and closing. When he finally caught up with what I was saying, he laughed.
“You’re a better mother to me than my own.”
I reached out and clamped my hands over his. “That’s the best thing you could have said to me.”
“I mean it, Lowe.”
“I know you do, Mark. I love you. You are family. Never forget that we’re here for you when you need us.”
Mark nodded. “I thought I’d leave in a week.”
“Better leave before I change my mind.”
“What would cause you to change your mind?”
“Fear. Especially the fear that I wouldn’t be welcomed back.”
“You’ve always a place here. Ben would agree with me. You’d better tell him on your own though. Miles too,” I said as I finished my water and stood up.
“Thanks for understanding.”
“I don’t, not really. I do know this is something that you’ve thought about considerably, otherwise you would have done it a long time ago.”
Mark nodded. “Thanks anyway.”
“You’re welcome,” I said. I kissed his temple and patted his shoulder before walking out in to the hallway.
I checked on the boys in the Great Hall, they were cleaning up the Legos. I smiled and ran a hand over my stomach. I stayed there, watching my boys until Ben came home. He slid his arms around my waist after putting his coat and boots away.
“Doing well. She’s hibernating. Another one of her eggs hatched, but the father of that egg has already taken possession of the hatchling.”
“That’s good. How many are left?”
“Three. Two purples and a gold.”
“Who’s the gold?”
“I have no idea. It’s not in the records. I’ll spend more time there later this week.”
I patted his hands, which were rubbing circles on my belly. I leaned back against him and yawned.
“Have you laid down today?”
“Miles had a thing at the Library and Mark went to the office. So, no. I have not.”
“You need a nap,” He said as he kissed my hair.
I smiled. “Okay. I’ll go lie down, but you have to talk to Mark before making dinner.”
“I’m ordering in from The Great Wall. Why do I have to talk to Mark?”
“Talk to him and find out. It’s not my place to say,” I said. “But Ben?”
“Hmmm?” he said as he herded me upstairs.
“Don’t be angry with him when he talks to you. He’s pretty delicate right now.”
Ben looked at me, studying my face.
“This is important, isn’t it?”
“Okay. No judging. I’ll try to keep an open mind.”
“Good. Now, put me to bed,” I smiled up at him and wrapped my arms around his neck.
He grinned and scooped me up, taking me upstairs. He set me down on the chaise near the window and as I changed in to my pjs, he pulled the bed covers down.
“I’m glad you’re not fighting me on this.”
“I pick my battles, plus I’m pretty tired anyway,” I said as I climbed in to bed.
“Still, I’m glad you let me fuss.”
“You’re supposed to,” I said with a yawn.
Ben laughed and I was nearly asleep when he left the room. I was out a few minutes later and only woke up when I felt Logan climb into bed with me. I tucked him in and snuggled him close.
“Momma,” he whispered.
“Mm? Yes?” I said sleepily.
“I love you.”
My heartstrings tugged hard and I sniffled as my eyes filled.
“I love you too, Logan.”
I heard a yawn from him as he settled in and a few minutes later we were both asleep.