Marguerite sat on the edge of her bed, a bemused frown creasing her forehead. What on earth was she supposed to do now?
She couldn’t very well have Yuna come here and take them away. She could already picture it–the accusatory glares, the air thick with the scent of scandal, Yuna summoning the whole household as if she’d caught Marguerite red–handed in some illicit affair.
Then Yuna would undoubtedly play the victim, wailing about the betrayal and how Marguerite had committed the ultimate treachery.
If that happened, Marguerite won’t have peace anymore.
With a resigned sigh, Marguerite scooped Hayes up onto the bed, relenting, “If you need anything, just call for me. I’ll be in the next room over.”
The apartment was a two–bedroom suite, so with Frederick Winston deciding to camp out for the night, Marguerite had no choice but to move to the adjacent room.
Hayes curled into a little ball near the headboard, reaching out with chubby arms, his voice a soft plea, “Daddy… I’m scared…”
Frederick’s brow furrowed, pain sharpening his features. Breathing heavily, he tried to muster a gentle tone, “Boy, can you sleep by yourself tonight?”
Hayes‘ bottom lip quivered, “But… I’m scared…”
Frederick’s heart softened at the sight of his son. The little guy just wanted the comfort of being held–no kid should have to be brave after facing the threats and fears they had encountered today.
The incident had been so severe that Frederick was already considering getting Robert to give Hayes psychological counseling.
He wanted to hold his son, but his own body betrayed him; even the slightest movement was excruciating.
Hayes didn’t want to cause his father more pain, so he turned those hopeful, watery eyes to Marguerite and implored in his childlike voice, “Auntie… your turn to cuddle?”
Marguerite couldn’t bring herself to say no to that face. She embraced Hayes once more, “How about you come sleep with me in the next room?”
“No… wanna stay… with Daddy…”
Marguerite was at a loss. So, Hayes wanted to sleep with his father but also wanted Marguerite’s embrace. Were they all supposed to share the same bed?
The situation was getting weirder.
Marguerite cleared her throat firmly, trying to reason with the child, “Hayes, if we do that, Auntie will end up sharing the bed with your dad. And that’s inappropriate.”
“This is critical situation. Let Hayes sleep in the middle,” Frederick interjected.
Marguerite’s mind reeled. Was Frederick serious? She felt a tension coil within her as she glanced between the man, writhing in silent agony, and the little boy, shivering from trauma in her arms.
For the first time in her life, Marguerite felt truly cornered.
This was a disaster. Could someone extricate her from this mess?
But there was no way around it. Hayes had been through too much, and despite her comforting hold, he couldn’t stop trembling.
Frederick, now propped against the headboard, his face a mask of impatience and pain, cut through her indecision, “Let’s not waste any more time. If we don’t sleep now, it’ll be morning. Do you want the whole world to know about this?”
Marguerite’s heart skipped a beat. Gritting her teeth, she gingerly climbed into bed, careful not to get too close to Frederick. Hayes was sandwiched between them, and despite her reservations, Marguerite couldn’t deny the warmth that enveloped them.
Soon, Frederick seemed to drift off. His breathing, though labored, evened out, and his familiar scent enveloped Marguerite, evoking memories long buried.
For a brief moment, Marguerite was transported three years back in time, to a place of longing and sorrow.
If only things hadn’t fallen apart between her and Frederick, if only she had known his feelings sooner, perhaps she would have been the woman next to him every night.
But life doesn’t deal in ‘what ifs.‘ Some things, once lost, can never be reclaimed.
Meanwhile, Hayes nuzzled his face against Marguerite’s neck, finding the perfect nook to curl into. He had never been held through the night before, and this curious sensation was nothing short of magical.
He felt as though Marguerite was an angel sent to love and cherish him, to hold him every night just as his own mother would.
In that instant, Hayes was convinced that Marguerite was meant to be his mother–a guardian angel who would envelop him in nightly comfort and love.
It was a bliss he was determined to cling to, a happiness he was now set on weaving into
a future where Marguerite and his dad could be together, just like in the fairy tales.