1.30: Time

 

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“What do you want to name him?”

Him?” This elicited a smothered giggle from Lilith.

“Him,” Shane confirmed. He leaned forward to rest his chin on the back of her shoulder. Another snowstorm blew in that evening, so Shane had built a fire in the fireplace. Now they sprawled on the floor by the bed, wiggling their toes in the heat. He splayed his hands around the swell of her belly, lightly stroking with his fingers.

Sighing contentedly, Lilith leaned back against his chest. “If it’s a boy, I was thinking of maybe naming him after your father.”

That surprised him. “Carrick,” he mused. His arms tightened around her. “I love you, woman.”

Her head swiveled around to look at him questioningly. “So you like it?”

“I love it. Dad would’ve loved it, too.” He ran his nose up the side of her neck, taking in the clean smell of her skin.

“It’s sad our parents aren’t still around to see their grandchild,” she said. Settling back against him, Lilith closed her eyes. They lapsed into a comfortable silence for a few minutes.

“When we have a girl I think we should name her Ayala, after your mother,” Shane said suddenly. “But this one’s a boy, I can tell.” She shook her head at him, and felt his responding grin against her shoulder.

 

 

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True to his word, Shane crafted a new cradle for the baby. Lilith loved it, and loved even more his enthusiasm. He’d traipsed all over the island looking for the perfect pine from which to hew the cradle, then spent hours smoothing and sanding the wood down until it was nearly velvet to the touch. “Maybe you should go into the cradle-making business instead,” she joked. He is going to be a wonderful father, I think. He already loves this baby.

 

 

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As the weeks flew by, Lilith spent more time with Daniela. Daniel watched the boys while the ladies spent hours discussing all things baby-related. Jake was already toddling around on chubby legs. Not surprisingly, his first word sounded suspiciously like “wand”.

 

 

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“You have another six weeks or so, I think, maybe less,” Daniela said, examining Lilith’s belly. “I think I may be pregnant again too! I’m hoping for a girl this time.”

Lilith smiled. “You do have a lot of testosterone around here to deal with.”

“Tell me about it. It’s going to be hard holding onto my sanity when the boys get older. Daniel is bad enough,” she laughed.

 

 

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“I’ll see you back home later,” Shane promised, giving her a kiss before they parted. The weather had cleared up, and he was on his way to do some fishing. When the weather was good, like today, many villagers would be out doing the same. On Ouroboros, seasons typically lasted a few years, so conserving winter food stores whenever possible was always a good idea.

 

 

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Maru cuddled Bronwyn close as he turned away from the consignment shop, where he’d just dropped off some potions for Kaila. It was a sunny day, almost warm for winter, the perfect excuse to bring the baby with him. Kaila had smiled in relent; it would give her a chance to spend some one-on-one time with her son Dustin. “Just bring her back soon so I can nurse her,” she’d told him. Dustin was a handful lately, no doubt adjusting to suddenly having to share the attention with a new baby.

It was a jarring jolt when he turned from the register to see Lilith making her way across the Community Center. The easy smile froze on his face, and a cold finger of shock traced down his spine. He’d seen her from afar a few times, but had generally gone out of his way to avoid Lilith…and his cousin. She crossed the lot toward the consignment store, and her swollen belly was impossible to miss. Following her gaze toward the beach, Maru could see Shane casting a reel at the tidal pool.  As she drew closer, her aura of happiness hit him like a ton of bricks.

“Wow, you two didn’t waste any time.” He regretted the words before they finished their escape from his lips. Damn it. What the fuck did I just say?

Lilith froze, a hand cupping her stomach almost protectively. In her absorption, she hadn’t even noticed Maru.

 

 

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Very slowly, she turned to face him. She regarded Bronwyn in his arms for a long moment. “What the fuck did you just say to me?” she said, raising her eyes to his and crossing her arms.

He dragged his free hand through his hair and shifted his weight on his feet. “I–I didn’t mean it like that. I’m sorry.”

“I didn’t waste any time? That’s the first thing that comes out of your mouth when you see me again after all these months? That my husband and I didn’t waste any time?” He flinched at the acid in her voice. A hush had fallen over the Community Center.

“Lilith, I’m sorry–”

“No! I’m sorry! I’m sorry that you wasted our time and betrayed a perfectly good friendship by cheating on me and hiding it from me.” Lilith could feel herself spitting fire, and knew she should calm down. But on the other hand, she hadn’t vented this particular issue, and he had the nerve to say–! She shook her head. “Your daughter is beautiful. And she’s very obviously your daughter, she has your eyes.” Lilith lowered her voice. “She’s also a few months old. I’d have to say, Maru, that you weren’t wasting any time. In fact I’d have to guess that you were sleeping with Kaila while we were together.”

Maru only hung his head, shamed and embarrassed. A few moments of tense silence hung between them.

 

 

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“I screwed everything all up. I know it and I’m sorry things happened how they did.” He held Bronwyn tighter. “I do miss you Lilith,” he said softly.

She threw her hands up. “You know what Maru? I suppose I really can’t regret what happened. Things happen for a reason. And somehow, everything that happened led me to the man I love and the life we now share. But don’t you dare talk to me about wasting time.” With that she spun on her heel and left him.

Watching Lilith’s back as she strode away, Maru heaved a sigh, and looked down at Bronwyn’s serene face. “Daddy had that coming,” he told her. She really does have my eyes, he thought. He was surprised to find that he felt relieved. It was a confrontation that was bound to happen and he’d been dreading it; now it was past. Lilith had always been like a river; she was usually slow to anger, but when she did, there was no escaping it. The dam was broken now at last, for both of them. Things do happen for a reason. His step was lighter as he brought Bronwyn home to her mother.

 

 

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When Shane got back to camp early that evening, it was immediately obvious that something was bothering Lilith. “Sweetheart what’s wrong?” he asked. He swept her into a close embrace. Well, as close an embrace as her growing stomach would allow. He felt the baby kick against him.

 

 

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Leaning down, he ran his hands over her belly. Lilith couldn’t help but smile at him. Her mood was lifting already now that he was home.

“Hey little guy,” he cooed, “You’ll be out of there soon enough. Don’t be giving your mother such a hard time.”

“I’m alright,” she said. “I just had a run-in with Maru today.”

Suddenly grim, Shane straightened and studied her face. “What happened?”

He listened silently as Lilith recounted what happened, then took her into his arms. “You had every right to be angry.” His voice was low and soothing against her hair. “And I’m proud of you for calling him out. He cheated on you, but was jealous of anyone that so much as looked in your direction.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean he was territorial about you, as far back as when we were all teenagers. And everyone pretty much assumed the two of you would end up together.”

She wrinkled her nose. “Apparently he assumed that, too. I didn’t like feeling I should be with him just because it was expected of me. I wanted more than that. I wanted butterflies.”

 

 

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“Butterflies.” He leaned forward and brushed his lips against her temple. “You were standing in a cloud of butterflies in France when I fell in love with you.”

Lilith looked surprised. “I remember those butterflies. The night I got back home, I dreamed of you and butterflies. I always wanted to feel butterflies. I wanted something more, and it was you, all along.” Her eyes softened. “That night, on the beach…”

“You said ‘butterflies’. I remember.”

 

 

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Lilith drew him down onto the bench and leaned her head against his.  She breathed in Shane’s familiar scent, relaxing finally as his arms wound around her shoulders. “I was so glad when you came back to the island. I’m glad you’re here now.”

“Me too baby, me too.”

 

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Story notes: Hope you enjoyed! This was, in a roundabout way, a means of a resolution between Maru and Lilith. She’s finally had the opportunity to confront him about cheating on her. Even though she wasn’t happy with him and had indeed been breaking up with him when the whole scene with Kaila happened, it’s still a slap in the face when your best friend cheats on you and hides it from you. You could say I know this from experience. But they are both where they’re supposed to be now. Lilith wouldn’t trade Shane for anything in the world. Next chapter we can haz baby.

Shane reminds me in a way of my husband. We too knew each other for many years, since we were teenagers. Kind of like Shane and Lilith, we spoke sometimes and had many mutual friends, we just weren’t best friends or anything. We started dating in our late 20s, after knowing each other for 13 years. It was a relief to have someone who already knew much of my past. We’ve been together now since 2006.

 

 

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Ah Shane, how I’ve missed you taking your shirt off!

 

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Daniel was cute with his boys <3  He used to be such a player, and now he’s the quintessential family man.