always Me - Chapter 1

Two years had passed since Sebastian Chelios died. Two years since being told that Jose Alvarez was still out there. And two years since I was told I was pregnant.

Pregnant with Sebastian’s baby.

God, who knew that that would happen?

A result of my forgetting to take the pill. But it was well worth it when I looked into the eyes of my baby. Sebastian’s baby. Our child.

I tried to forget. But the calendar on the wall beckoned like a tease, and my eyes darted to the dreaded numbers. My mind went back to that horrible couple of days.

It was like a bad horror movie in my mind. Jose kidnapping me. Sebastian showing up. Us both shot. The blur of the hospital. Doctors and nurses in my face. The news of the pregnancy. Then my lover. Dead. The letter I received from Sebastian gave me hope that he was alive. He told me to wait. To be patient. But when I didn’t hear from him after several months, I knew then that I was wrong. My head whirled when I got sucked into my thoughts. Real, as if it was yesterday. Realizing I would have to raise a child on my own.

But now…every day I looked at Antonio and ached. His eyes had slipped from blue to brown, and he reminded me so much of Sebastian.

His father would never see him. Never know him.

Fresh tears filled my eyes, but I shook them off. I headed to the front door and made sure it was locked. I looked out the window and noticed a big black car a couple of houses away. Relief fluttered through me. The feds were watching. Protecting me and my son from Jose.

A scream came through the baby monitor on my counter.

I ran up the stairs in my small two-bedroom house and headed right to my baby’s room. After throwing the door open, I stood there, panting, gripping my chest as my heart raced against my rib cage.

My son lay there, looking up at me from his crib, a big smile on his beautiful chubby face.

I sucked in a breath and tried to ease the thumping in my ears. “Hi, baby. You sure like giving your mama a heart attack, don’t you?”

He giggled. Yup, definitely Sebastian’s kid.

I looked down into my baby’s big brown eyes, so full of life. I watched my son, Antonio as he drifted off to sleep. My baby was getting big, fifteen months old now. He’d always be my baby. Age wouldn’t matter. He was my angel. My everything. My heart and my soul. He was every bit Sebastian as he was me. Give or take a couple of piercings and tattoos.

My chest ached. I picked him up and curled him against me. Needed to hold him. He cooed and snuggled into the crook of my neck. I sighed at the warm body wrapped in my arms, and I walked to the rocking chair in the corner of his room. I cradled my son against my breasts and made a go for my phone, pulling it out of my pocket.

I ran a hand up and down his back and marveled at the fact that he could sleep so peacefully when the evils of the world were going on. Innocent. No cares at all. Eat, sleep, and play. I smiled, and the hurt in my heart slowly lifted.

My phone buzzed and I reached for it, swiping across the screen before placing it to my ear. “Hello?”

Static came through the line, but no one answered. My heart sped up. I checked the call display and cursed to myself. Disconnecting, I went through my contacts. With shaky hands, I placed the phone back up to my ear and waited for an answer.

“Jameson,” a deep voice answered.

“Garrith,” I breathed a sigh of relief.

“Tori? What’s wrong?” Worry coated his voice.

“The same person called again.” My stomach twisted with anxiety. Why hadn’t I checked the screen before I’d answered?

“Shit. I told you not to answer the phone if you didn’t recognize the number,” Garrith barked.

I frowned. “I know. It was a mistake.”

Garrith sighed. “We’ll get to the bottom of this, Tori.”

“Who’s on the phone, baby?” I heard a woman ask.

“Tell her it’s your lover,” I joked, ignoring the twinge of jealousy in my belly.

“It’s my lover,” he said.

“Hi, Tori!” she called out. I laughed. “Let me talk to her, please,” she said.

“We’ll talk later, Tor…” A muffled grunt came over the phone. “You’ll pay for that later, love.”

She squealed and giggled. “Hi, Tori,” she said a moment later, sounding out of breath.

An unsettled feeling formed in the pit of my stomach. I wouldn’t have that happiness with Sebastian ever again. God, I missed him. I swallowed against the lump in my throat. “Hi, Keisha.”

“How are you doing?” she asked softly.

It’d been awhile since I’d seen her. I wasn’t much into visiting anymore. Even though it’d been two years, I stayed to myself. Just Antonio and me. The only other person I had seen regularly was my mother.

I sighed, rocking Antonio and I. He stirred, and I kissed his head of black hair. “I’m all right.”

“How’s my main man?” she asked. Her tone was light, as if she was trying to lift my spirits. Leave it to Keisha.

“Hey,” Garrith exclaimed in the background.

“What? Have you seen him? He’s gorgeous,” Keisha teased.

“I can’t believe that I have competition from a toddler,” Garrith mumbled.

I laughed, rubbing a hand down Antonio’s back. “He’s sleeping, but he’s good.”

She giggled. “He is handsome though.”

I smiled. Pride washed over me. “Thank you.” He was handsome. I was probably biased, but Sebastian and I did pretty good. I just wish he could see who our love created.

She sighed. Silence dominated and sadness hit me. We didn’t talk like we used to.

“I miss you,” Keisha whispered.

“I miss you too.” Tears welled in my eyes. “I’m so sorry.”

“What do you have to be sorry for?”

“For…for leaving.” I sniffed, wiping the tears from under my eyes. After getting told the horrible news about Sebastian, I up and left the city.

“Tori, you have nothing to be sorry for. You left a while ago. Why are you apologizing now?”

I shrugged to myself. “Feeling sentimental, I guess.”

“Well, stop. You’re gonna make me cry.”

“I just…” Antonio whimpered and squirmed against my chest. “Hold on, Keisha.” I put the phone down and held onto my son as I walked to his crib. I placed him down gently and stared at him lovingly. He had Sebastian’s long black eyelashes, black hair, and glowing Italian skin. I ran my fingers lightly down Antonio’s chubby cheek and sighed, love swelling inside of me for my baby.

Oh, Sebastian. If he could see his baby now. Our son. Antonio was growing so quickly. I was terrified I would wake up one day and he would be off to college or married. He was fifteen months, and it felt like time had flown by way too fast.

I took a deep breath and turned on the music box in the crib. I grabbed my phone and left Antonio’s room.

“Yes, she’s fine. You worry way too much, Garrith,” Keisha said, her voice muffled as if she was covering the receiver.

“Love, I worry about her. She hardly leaves her house anymore,” Garrith said in the background.

“There’s nothing I can do. I visit her when she lets me. She knows where we live.”

Tears welled in my eyes as I held the phone to my ear, and I cleared my throat.

“Oh, Tori. How much of that did you hear?”

“All of it. But it’s fine,” I said, sighing. I flipped my light on when I walked into my room.

“I’m so sorry. That was so uncool of me. We just worry about you, honey,” Keisha said.

“I…I should go.” Listening to my friends talk about me hurt. Even though the stuff they had said was true, hearing it from someone else really ate at my emotions.

“Tori, please. We only live an hour away from each other, but I feel like it’s a lifetime.”

“It’s been two years, Keisha.” I flopped down on my bed and sighed. “Today is the anniversary of…Sebastian’s…death.”

“Two years…” She gasped. “Oh my…oh, Tori.” She choked on a sob. “I didn’t even realize.”

“I try to forget.” I put the phone on speakerphone and placed it on my dresser. This day always left me feeling numb. Empty.

“I’m so sorry, Tori. Listen, when can I stop by? I’d really like to see you and my man.”

I smiled. “How about tomorrow?”

“Sure. Sounds perfect. Mind if I bring the goons with me?”

My heart jumped. “No, not at all.”

“So, I’ll bring beer, food, and the boys. It’ll be fun, okay?” Keisha said, cheerfully, interrupting my thoughts.

I smiled lightly. “I’m looking forward to it.” I was. It’d been way too long since I had seen any of them. Talking on the computer or phone just wasn’t the same. I disconnected the call and scrubbed a hand down my face.

Brett, Keisha’s brother, and I had become close over the last couple of years. Even though he was a dick in the beginning, he’d made up for that. We’d gone out on dates and kissed a couple of times, but nothing serious. I wouldn’t sleep with him.

He wasn’t Sebastian. There was no spark. No intense burning desire that I had felt for Sebastian the moment I saw him.

Brett was hesitant. He played it safe where Sebastian took what he wanted, when he wanted it I could never say no to him. Not that I ever would have. He knew that, too.

From the first kiss to the first time we had sex, he was controlling, and I loved every minute of it. My body stirred from those heated memories.

So many questions had been left unanswered. Garrith was an FBI agent, and he wouldn’t tell me anything, no matter how I demanded it. Maybe it was to protect me. The not knowing was what killed me. Made me feel lost.

I walked to my window, and grabbing the curtains, I paused. It was late. Something was off. Wind rustled the trees, and the swings on the swing set moved back and forth. Chills ran up my spine, and uneasiness settled in the pit of my belly.

The security lights came on, making me jump. My heart raced and then slowed when I saw a raccoon scurry across my backyard. I laughed to myself and shook my head.

“Get a grip, Tori.” God, I had issues. When would I stop being so scared?

My stomach dropped into my feet and my throat went dry.

“What the hell?” Cold sweat ran down my back as I watched a large man come out of the shadows. He was huge and gave off a powerful air.

My mouth opened and closed. No sound whatsoever came out. I couldn’t scream. I couldn’t move. I was frozen in that very spot. He had a hood up over his head and was dressed all in black. I could feel his eyes boring into mine. I’d seen him before. Didn’t know when, but I knew I had. Was I dreaming? Was my mind playing tricks on me?

I turned, ran out of my room, and headed down the stairs. I slowed my steps, heading into the kitchen and unlocked the patio door. I slowly opened the door, cool night air washing over my skin as my chest rose and fell with my ragged breaths. I reached beside me and flipped on the backyard light. I took a step outside as my eyes searched the small yard that was surrounded by trees. I frowned, confused when disappointment fluttered in me at the fact that I couldn’t find him anywhere.

He was gone.