Half My Blood
Copyright © 2015 by Lauren Gilley
“You want me to take him back?” Leah asked.
Ava was about to say no – she loved the warm baby-smell coming off the top of his head, the brush of the black downy hair on his scalp. But then the doorbell rang.
“Yeah, that’d be good.” She handed Remy to Leah and got to her feet.
“Your boob’s still hanging out,” Leah said, helpfully.
She did up the front of her shirt, pushed loose strands of hair back over her ears, and went to see who was at the door. Probably not the neighbors, she reflected, given the looks they’d been shooting her biker moving crew the day before. She hoped it wasn’t them, anyway; she was in tattered old cutoffs, barefoot, the gator tattoo on her left foot dark and noticeable.
She looked through the window first, and saw a tall, tan, dark-headed man on her front porch. Very tall. Almost Mercy tall. The sleeves were cut out of his shirt, and she could see the ridges of veins beneath his golden skin, long ropy forearms and heavy biceps. He had big hands, and he wore his jeans very tight, just loose enough at the bottoms to go over the tops of old Timberland work boots.
Her stomach lurched, like it was her belly full of milk and not Remy’s. The first stirrings of dread raised the fine hairs on her arms, set her pulse to pounding in her ears. Whoever this man was, the way he carried himself was too familiar.
He turned and saw her through the window, waved, flashed her a smile. Tilted his head toward the door, asking her to open it.
“Oh, God,” she whispered.
Her hands were shaking as she turned the deadbolt and opened the door a fraction, wedging herself into the opening the same way she’d seen her mother do, a physical barrier. This is my house, and I’m the queen, and you’ll come in only if I want you to. She had to tip her head back to meet the man’s gaze, something she was well-accustomed to.
Their faces weren’t identical; there were subtle differences. This man’s jaw was a little wider, his forehead broader, his brows more heavily slanted. His eyes were dark, but so were lots of people’s. And though the hair was that same silken black, he wore it clipped short; much more respectable.
It was the nose that was irrefutable proof. Smiling dark eyes looked down the length of a narrow, autocratic nose. She recognized it from the faded photos. From the daily sight of the same noise on her beloved’s face. There was a man standing on her doorstep with Louis Lécuyer’s nose, and his name sure as hell wasn’t Felix.