Hell And Back(9)

By: Natasha Madison

I’m drying my hands when I hear a soft knock at the door.

“Who is it?”

“It’s Jackson and a large pie.”

I unlock the door. He steps in, filling the whole doorway. I haven’t turned on any lights in the house, so just a small light is shining from the kitchen stove.

“Were you sleeping?” he asks, looking around. “Where is Lilah?” He moves around me to the kitchen to put the pizza down on the table.

“She’s in bed. She’s probably exhausted after such a busy day.”

“Did she eat?” He places his hands on his hips, which makes the tight shirt he’s wearing pull across his chest.

“She ate McDonald’s at three. She might be up early. I don’t want to wake her to eat.”

I don’t know what the protocol is. I’ve never been in a room with a man before without trying to shield myself.

“Is that pizza for all of us or just for Lilah and me?” I look from the pizza to him.

“It’s for you two. I got my own waiting for me at my house.”

I don’t know why a sense of disappointment washes over me thinking he got two pizzas, but I pack it away.

“Well, thank you for cutting the grass and for dinner,” I say while wringing my hands.

He nods. “See you soon.” He turns around and leaves me in the middle of my kitchen with the delicious smell of pizza.

Making my way over to the table, I open the box and the aroma makes my mouth water.

I grab a slice, the cheese stringing to break apart. I eat it faster than I should have, causing my stomach to hurt from over filling it so fast.

I pack up the rest of the pizza, thinking about warming it up for lunch tomorrow.

Right before I go to turn off the light, I pick up Nan’s recipe box and decide tomorrow Lilah and I are going to bake some cookies as a thank you to Brenda and Jackson.

I’ve made two friends in one day. Almost like they were gifts from an angel.

I make my way upstairs right after I lock all the doors, placing chairs under the handles of the front and back doors. If someone breaks in, I’m damn well going to hear them.

I take a nice hot shower, shampooing my hair twice.

When I make it to bed I close my eyes, but I’m haunted by the piercing blue eyes all night. Only in my dream, I’m not running away from them. No, even scarier is the fact that I’m running toward them.

Chapter Six

“Momma.” Little butterfly kisses touch my cheeks, making my eyes flutter open. “Momma, I’m so hubgry.”

I pull my girl onto the bed and cuddle her close to my chest to give me an extra few moments to wake up. I know she went to bed without dinner, so she must be really hungry. As if on cue, her stomach lets out a grumble.

“Oh, boy, you must be really, really hungry. What about having pancakes today? Would you like that?” I kiss her before finally climbing off the bed and going to the washroom.

Once we get downstairs, I start the coffeemaker and open the blinds in the kitchen. It’s the first time I’ve done this. One step at a time. I also put the chairs back to where they belong.

Grabbing the ingredients to make pancakes, I place them on the counter. “Come on, love bug, come up here so you can help me mix.”

Her excitement shows as she starts flailing her arms, jumping up and down.

I pick her up, placing her safely on the counter. I pour the mix into a bowl while we both add in the water, milk, and oil. I make her break the egg, which of course ends in shells in the batter since she basically crushed it with her hand.

She immediately looks down at her hand, saying, “I sorry, Momma,” her brown eyes filling with tears.

“Baby, it was an accident. Look, I’m going to make it all better.” Taking a spoon, I scoop out the broken eggshells. “See? All better now, but how about Mommy breaks this one to show you how it’s done?”

I break the egg and then give her a spoon. “Okay, let’s mix this up so I can make us some big pancakes and we can eat them with extra syrup.”

We mix it together, then she plays with the Play-Doh on the floor right next to the table while I continue to make us breakfast.

From my spot in the kitchen, I can see shapes outside the window shades. I really need to get some thicker shades.

I see Jackson’s truck is already gone. I don’t even let my mind wander there. He doesn’t need me. I’m the last thing he needs in his life.

“Okay, ready to eat some yummy pancakes?” I serve up two pancakes on each plate. Getting her into her booster seat, another purchase from yesterday, I get her all settled and served.

The minute she tastes the pancake, or more accurately, the syrup, she hums in appreciation. “This so good!” she says as syrup dribbles down her chin and onto her shirt and her hair. She finishes nearly everything on her plate.

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