-◊Chapter Two◊-

Annie didn't sleep that night. She tossed and turned in her bed and every so often got out of it and went to check on Benjamin. She was worried sick about Matthew. Her head said that she should have kept him here, but her heart knew that if she did he would only suffer more. He had lost the love of his life. Annie couldn't even imagine what he was going through.

Every time she checked on Benjamin, he was sound asleep in the spare room. She never heard a peep except for the few delicate snores that escaped his tiny mouth. He was such a sweet little child. With dark hair and emerald eyes, he was sure to grow up to be as hansom as his father. His skin was pale but smooth and he had a few tiny freckles spread across the bridge of his button nose.

Annie ran her hands through his dark hair. "Sleep little one, all will be well." She whispered before she left the room to let him sleep. She went downstairs at around eight-o-clock and made breakfast. She fried up bacon and eggs, made a batch of pancakes and poured a glass of orange juice and a cup of coffee.

A few moments after she sat down, Annie heard a sniffling sound coming from the living room. Going in to see what it was, she saw Benjamin standing by the staircase with tears in his eyes.

"Annie, where's my daddy?" He said in a small voice. Annie held out her arms to him and he ran to her, holding tightly to her sweater. Annie stroked his hair and spoke very gently to him.

"He had to go away for a little while, Ben. You get to stay with me for a while. Would you like that?" She said quietly and tried to hold back the tears that were forming in her eyes. Benjamin nodded against her shoulder and held tighter to her.

"I'm hungry, Annie. Can I have some eats?" He said turning his head toward the kitchen. Annie giggled and pushed him up higher so she could hold him better.

"I already made breakfast. You must be starving. Let's eat ok?" She cooed and he nodded against her. They walked toward the kitchen together and sat down to enjoy a big breakfast.

Matthew completed the drive home in silence. The place he used to call home was now just an echoing building that made no sense to him. He didn't want to be here. He wanted his wife and son back. He wanted so many things but he knew that he couldn't have any of them. His footsteps were the only sounds in the eerie silence, and he hated it.

As he passed the kitchen, a flashback over took him. He saw Angeline standing by the counter, her belly large from her first pregnancy with Benjamin. She was smiling and her skin had a healthy glow. She laughed and ran over to greet Matthew at the door.

"He kicked, Matt! Feel it, he kicked!" She cried as she waddled over to him. She took his hand and placed it just to the left of her belly button. A few seconds later, Matthew felt a small punt against the palm of his hand. "He's a feisty little bugger isn't he?" Angeline breathed against his cheek before she kissed it.

The memory faded and Matthew was alone again. He sucked in a deep breath and moved away from the kitchen. He couldn't stand the thought of his beautiful Angeline not being with him.

He ambled up the stairs slowly and walked into his den. He lit the fireplace with a few logs and sat down in his leather chair in the middle of the room. He watched as the flames licked the walls of the fireplace, watched the flames devour the logs beneath it. There was nothing left for him now. His wife was gone; his son was safe, but still gone. He had nothing. He was just a lonely man now that sat in his chair with his dead wife several rooms away. He wanted to call the police, but he knew they would try to stop his plan.

In the time he had to wait, there was something he had to do. He would write a letter to his son. He sat down with pad and pen in hand and began to write…

Once he was finished he knew exactly where he would put the letter. Moving slowly over to the bookcase across the room, Matthew selected the book that he had read to Benjamin every night since he was born. Grimm's Fairy Tales, it was called. Chuck full of bedtime stories that Benjamin absolutely loved to hear.

He opened the book to Benjamin's favorite story, The Golden Bird, and placed the letter inside. He closed the cover and stared at it with sad eyes.

It was a story about a greedy king that sought nothing but gold and riches. One day, his son found a golden bird that would turn anything it touched into pure gold. The king was delighted with this discovery and changed nearly every item in his kingdom to gold. One day his youngest son accidentally touched the bird and was turned into a statue of solid gold. The king then realized that the best things in life weren't good because they were made of gold. He died lonely, with nothing but the mountains of gold that littered his palace. His son's statue was placed before his throne and for the rest of his life, he would sing to it. Until the day he died, he would talk to the statue as if his son could truly hear him…

He placed the book in Benjamin's room on top of the pillow with the letter inside. He knew that Annie would take him back here one day. Matthew only hoped that Benjamin would find the book. If he did, no doubt that he would look inside. The letter would explain all of the things to Benjamin that neither he, nor Annie would ever be able to…

He waited thirty-four hours in that room. He left only once to relieve himself. When the men finally returned, he was more than prepared. He had a vengeance in his mind and he would kill as many of them as he could. He would not walk out of that room alive. Not if he had anything to say about it at least.

He stashed his shotgun behind his chair and waited. He heard the men enter the house,-he heard the silence broken as he hadn't when they came before- and straightened in the chair. No doubt they would find him. There was no way they could possibly miss it. There was a roaring fire and practically a trail leading up to the den. He only had to wait a few minutes before he got what he wanted.

The men were grouped behind a single one, the tallest, presumably their leader. They halted in the doorway, as if they were unsure of what to do. Matthew smiled at them and nodded once, daring them to enter. They did. They sauntered slowly towards him, taking each step carefully.

Once they were just a few feet away from him, Matthew gritted his teeth and reached behind the chair. He pulled out the shotgun and fired off two rounds. Two rounds that went straight into one mans' chest. He flew backward several feet and landed with a thud on the oak table, shattering it completely.

Matthew had no shots left in his gun, but those shots had been for his beloved wife and unborn child. And he made damn sure that they knew it. He threw the shotgun to his left and turned back towards the men. He held his arms out toward them and waited. The leader stepped forward and stabbed him seven times in the torso.

Mark Callows gaped at what had just happened. The man before him practically begged for death. He had killed the man's wife the night before, but he had never guessed that he had put a man to so much pain that he would plead for bereavement. The image of that man before him, welcoming death with open arms, was forever branded into his mind, to all of the men's minds.

Awakening from his trance-like state, Mark pulled the knife out of the man's chest. "Alright boys, quit staring, let's trash the place and get out of here." He hollered over his shoulder to his men. And they did exactly that. They ruined anything their grubby hands touched, left such amounts of destruction in their wake that it was unbelievable. Then, they left the house with mounds of precious items that would later be sold. This was just an average night for these men.