Kelly Colton sat bolt upright in bed, her heart pounding loudly in her chest. Inhaling sharply, she blinked, taking in the dim light of her bedroom. Glancing over, she saw the other side of the bed was empty. Sighing tiredly, she looked over at her alarm clock on her bedside table. The bright, red lights read 4:45 a.m. Sighing even harder, she kicked back the covers from around her legs.
"That dream was much too good," she muttered softly to herself. "I've been trying to find inspiration for a new book and now I have. Might as well begin working on it while it's still fresh in my mind."
Rising up from her queen-sized bed, she stared around the empty bedroom. My new home for a year, before we move again... she thought tiredly. But she had known this was how it would be, before marrying Derek.
Her husband worked under year-long contracts for a private army. He made a ridiculous amount of money from it as well, so Kelly was a full-time mother and house-wife. But every time his contract came to an end, he would get a new one, in a different part of the world. Over the past seven years of marriage they had lived in first the United States, Russia, Egypt, China, France, Brazil, Australia, and Japan. Now they had once again returned to the States, until this time next year or so. Yawning, she moved out into the hallway.
As she walked down, trying to be quiet, she passed by the family photo that was hung up on the left-side wall of the hallway. Smiling, she paused to take it in.
She sat in a chair, wearing a sky-blue sundress for the photo. Her short blonde hair curled around her neck, her grey eyes sparkling with the wide smile on her lips. Her hair wasn't naturally blonde, but Derek said he liked her hair better blonde, so she had to dye it every few months and touch up her roots every month. On her left hand she wore her gold wedding band and a simple gold engagement ring with a small diamond on it, what she was wearing even now. Behind her, hands at her shoulders, was Derek in a white dress shirt and black dress pants. He was about six' one" so he was nearly five inches taller than Kelly. He had dark blonde hair and dark blue eyes. His lips were also smiling, the expression on his face filled with a gentle warmth. On his left hand ring finger he wore a simple gold wedding band. In Kelly's lap was Felix, who had been two at the time, a year ago. He had dark blue eyes like his father, but his hair was brown. Felix was dressed in a dark green button-down shirt and white shorts. His feet kicked out from Kelly's lap, the toddler having been incredibly excited by all the hustle-and-bustle of the photographer. Standing to the left of Kelly was their oldest, Lily. Six at the time, Lily had long brown hair and grey eyes like Kelly's. She was dressed in a pink dress with white, green, and red small flowers printed on the material.
Shaking her head a little to clear it, Kelly reminded herself why she had gotten up in the first place. Continuing pass the photo, she moved into the living room. It was an open plan, which worked out perfectly for her. Coming from the long hallway the TV, couch, and two armchairs were on the left side of the room, directly in front of her, the front door on that side of the room. On the far right side of the living room was her computer desk.
She was a full-time house-wife and mother, but she also wrote stories with what free time she had. She hadn't written anything major, hadn't ever even tried to get published. Derek made more than enough money, though they saved a good portion of it in college funds for Lily and Felix. As such, she had never felt any need to become published. Instead she posted her stories on an online site for writers like herself, getting feedback and gaining fans of her works. But for the past two weeks, after finishing her most recent work, she had been stuck in a rut. No matter how hard she tried, she couldn't think up any good ideas.
That is, until the dream that had woken her up a few minutes before. She moved across the room, pulling back her padded, swiveling desk chair. Pulling up her Word application, she opened a new document and began to write.
How had the dream started out? she asked herself, thinking back.
Oh, right. With snow. The little girl was in the freezing cold, looking for her dead father. Then there was that creepy voice…
The next hour and a half passed by as she was drawn into the dream-like state she always entered when she was writing. Her fingers flew over the keys, feeling completely in sync with this story idea and dream of hers. Her lips twitched as she fought laughter at Jack's, a character in the story, antics with the main character, Nisha. Kelly felt like she could emphasize completely with Nisha. Jack was crazy, bi-polar, apparently, and all together over-whelming. Even so, Kelly could already tell that this particular character was going to have a very dear, warm place in her heart. Despite how confusingly random and weird Jack seemed, she had an inkling that there was a really sad reason behind it.
Kelly was so in sync with the story, which she was still struggling on a title for, that she had finished the first chapter by the time it was 6:10. Pulling back, she saved the story under 'Frost', for now, and closed down Word. Rising, she stretched out her stiff muscles and hurried to go to the bathroom. Three minutes later, drying her hands, she let out a breath.
Time to begin the day, she thought.
Leaving the bathroom, she moved to two doors down, opening the door to Lily's bedroom. Flipping the light switch beside the door, she blinked at the sudden light. Lily sat bolt upright in bed, looking around in a panic for several seconds before glaring at Kelly. "Mom!" she groaned in sleepy irritation. "I don't want to go to school today! I hate it!"
Biting her lip, Kelly moved over to Lily's pink and white lace-covered twin bed. Sitting down on the mattress, she reached out and took Lily's small hand in hers. It was a little warm, but that was normal. Lily's body temperature had always been slightly warmer than most people. "Love, you know you have to go to school. You can't be late on your first day."
Lily's grey eyes were stormy. "It's always the first day…I hate it!" the seven-year-old grumbled. "Why does Dad's job make us move all the time?"
Kelly reached out, taking Lily into a hug, kissing the top of her head. "Honey, it's just how it is. I know it sucks though."
Lily's voice was still a grumble, but it was loosing some of it's edge. "I can't ever keep any of the friends I make…"
Feeling her heart squeeze, Kelly fought back the thoughts that swam through her mind. Truthfully though, she had been thinking them for a few years now. I should talk to Derek about trying to find a permanent residence. The kids and I are all getting tired of the constant moving…
Pushing aside the thoughts for now, she pulled back. "Please, Lily. Let's just get ready. It's your first day of second grade…You're growing up so fast on me, honey. Before I know it, you'll be a teenager," Kelly chuckled.
Lily shook her head. "Mom, Felix is cranky." Two seconds after the words were said Kelly heard the angry wail of her youngest coming from his own room. "I'll get dressed," Lily assured her, acting a little more mature than her age warranted, as was normal for the seven-year-old. Pulling out of her mother's arms completely, she rose up from her bed, moving to her white dresser with small red roses decorating the front of drawers and clear rose-shaped knobs for the handles.
Sighing, Kelly rose from the bed and moved across the hallway to Felix's room. He was sitting up in his own twin bed, as the toddler was proving to have inherited his father's height, already almost half the size of his older sister. His room was filled with race cars, planets, stars, and trains. Felix was a crazy monkey of a child, unlike his normally calmer sister. He loved to cause trouble and get into all kinds of mischief.
As soon as his blue eyes saw Kelly, he shot out of bed. "Mommy!" he cried out, running to her. His arms wrapped around her knees, his head reaching to nearly her hips. His black onesie pajamas with small silver and green UFO flying saucers were half unzipped. "Potty," he begged Kelly.
Sighing, she took his hand into hers, feeling the slight chill. The exact opposite of his older sister, Felix's body temperature naturally ran a little colder than most people. He was completely potty-trained, but he still insisted that someone in the family walk him to the bathroom door. She hoped that he would grow out of it soon, but for now, she was a little too tired and stressed over Lily's newest first day to really press the issue. He smiled in thanks before moving into the bathroom and closing the door. "Felix, come into the living room when you're done. Mommy's going to start on breakfast, alright?"
"Yep!" she heard his little giggle from behind the door. Shaking her head, she hoped he'd behave at least until Lily was on the bus to school. Sighing, she moved down the hall, glancing into Lily's open bedroom door. Lily was midway through pulling on a pair of jeans. Passing by, Kelly moved to the end of the hallway. Making a sharp right around the corner, she turned directly into the kitchen and dinning room. There wasn't a door in between the living room and kitchen, with the open-floor plan. Humming softly under her breath, she started on making breakfast.
Five minutes later, Felix came streaking through the kitchen, laughing like a madman, naked. Groaning, Kelly glared at her youngest sternly. "Felix, what have I told you about streaking?" she asked the toddler in long-suffering.
He stood ten feet away, grinning widely. He turned and shook his white little butt at her. Turning back, he stuck his tongue out at her. Trying to fight laughter, Kelly put a sad, serious tone in her voice. "Well…I guess I'll just have to eat all this bacon by myself then…I can't share with little boys who can't even get dressed for the dinner table."
Felix gasped, blue eyes going wide, shaking his head hard. "No! I want bacon! No, no! Dress, I am!" Shrieking in alarm, he rushed out of the kitchen and back down the hallway.
Kelly heard a small grunt. "Felix, watch where you're going!" Lily told him off. Kelly heard the sound of a raspberry and Lily sighing. "Little brothers are stupid," Lilly muttered.
Grinning in humor, Kelly turned her attention back to the hot stove as she finished making breakfast. Ten minutes later, she was pulling down plates and placing the appropriate servings on them for all three of them. "Lily," she asked over her shoulder, "can you please pour Felix and yourself a glass of milk?"
Five seconds later she heard Lily moving three feet next to her. When she glanced over she saw Lily had grabbed her kitty-shaped cup and Felix's red sippy cup. The sound of the refrigerator opening was followed close behind Felix's irritated voice. "Huuunnngry!" he whined. "Food, Mommy!"
Kelly placed the skillets back on the stove, double-checking that she hadn't forgotten to turn off the electric stove-top. "Felix, I am literally about to turn around and feed you. Calm down, love." Lifting up Felix's and Lily's plates, she did just that, moving to the dinning room table seven feet away.
His voice instantly changed into a happy giggle. "Yay! Mommy's bacon!"
Lily shook her head as her mother placed her plate in front of her. "Felix, you're crazy," she proclaimed.
Pouring herself a much needed cup of coffee, Kelly sat down next to Felix, starting on her own plate that she had in her free hand. Every now and then she had to help Felix a little with his food, but he did pretty well, considering his age. Every day both of her kids were getting a little more independent, a little better at handling things on their own. It was both amazing and saddening to Kelly. Had it really only been seven years since she had held Lily in her arms, as a newborn?
Glancing at the microwave clock, she saw it was 6:43. Yawning, she and Lily gathered up all the dishes and put them into the sink. "Lily, please go get everyone's medicine."
Felix's face was screwed up in a rebellious grimace at the mention of medicine. He shook his head as Kelly turned back, moving toward him from the sink. "No, yucky!"
Lily came back from Kelly's bedroom with the medicine bag, a resigned look on her face. "Here, Mom," she held out the large black bag with all her medicine administering tools in it. Sighing in disgust herself, Kelly opened up the bag, pulling out everything from inside and placing them on the table. Lily quickly grabbed hold of Felix as he tried to bolt away. "We have to do it, Felix. You know that. We'll get really sick if we don't."
The toddler shook his head in denial, tears in his eyes. "Yucky…" he repeated in a sad whimper.
Kelly silently filled the three clear flasks with the dark black liquid. She had an illness, one that both Lily and Felix had unfortunately inherited. After she had Felix though, she had had her tubes tied in an effort to stop another pregnancy. So far, it was proving successful, which was a good thing. But she also felt a little bitter about it. She had always wanted a large family, but she didn't want to force the problems she had on children. Learning that both of her kids had inherited her problems had been heartbreaking.
Sighing heavily, she forced a smile of her face, looking over at Felix. "Love, it's okay. Mommy will do it first. I'll show you it's not bad." With control that had been honed with so much practice over the years, she gulped down the entire flask in one go. Her body instantly wanted to scream out in disgust and pain, throwing the medicine back up. But she forced it to stay down, just like she forced herself to keep her face expressionless of any disgust. Her head immediately began to pound, feeling fuzzy as the only side-effect of the medicine. Even so, the whole experience was incredibly unpleasant.
Once she was done with her flask, she grabbed the other two. Moving to Lily's side, she placed them on the table. Reaching out, she took Felix's hand in hers, kissing his temple. "Honey, I know you don't like it, but it's very important that you take your medicine. Please…for me?"
His dark blue eyes stared into hers for several seconds before he nodded slowly. "Okay…For Mommy," he agreed reluctantly.
Lily reached out and downed her flask without a second's pause, shuddering in disgust. "I hate this stuff." Lily's dose had to be larger than even Kelly's as the seven-year-old's case of the illness was more extreme.
Kelly took hold of the last flask firmly. "Pinch your nose," she instructed. Felix was quick to do so as she held the flask steady for him to drink. He started to shake his head. But then, letting out a little whimper, he quickly downed it as well. Placing the flask back on the table top, Kelly pulled him into a hug. "You're such a brave boy, love. Mommy's big, strong boy," she praised him as her hand rubbed his back.
He clung to her, crying a little, nodding his head. "I a big boy," he agreed, sniffling.
Lily's voice was soft. "Mom, when do I have to see the doctor?" she asked.
Kelly blinked, feeling her own stomach twist. Every month, they saw the special doctor that took care of all three of them. She distantly remembered having a different doctor when she was in high school, but the face was a blur and that doctor had passed suddenly shortly after Kelly had gotten together with Derek. Derek had panicked and found a new doctor, one who was very dedicated to making sure all the Colton's stayed in good health.
Their doctor was a woman, not much older than Kelly's own age of twenty-five. The woman had long black curls, looking like she should be a super star instead of a doctor. Her eyes were a weird, off shade of pink and red together. She usually wore a bright smile, seeming kind, but there was always a strange air around her that made Kelly feel uncomfortable. Doctor Fae was the one they got their doses of medicine from.
Every month, Doctor Fae would fly in from where ever she lived and come to their house personally. She'd check up on all three of them, exam how they were doing, give Kelly more doses of their daily medicine for the month. She also took blood from all three. But the one she took the most blood from was Lily. According to Doctor Fae, since Lily's case was so extreme, she had the most to learn and the most to possible research for a potential cure by gaining more of her blood. And though Kelly hated every second of it, she was forced to make Lily go through it, since her daughter was an infant.
Derek trusted this doctor with the lives of his family and Kelly trusted him completely. If Derek said that Doctor Fae needed to visit them monthly, needed to exam them, needed to take their blood, instead of going to a more professional clinic, then she knew it had to be for a good reason. "Doctor Fae is scheduled to come by next week, honey," she answered.
Kelly lifted Felix into her arms, as a reward for his courage with the medicine earlier, while she turned to Lily. "Let's go down the check-list and make sure you have everything before the bus stops by to pick you up, honey."
Nodding tiredly, Lily led the way to her room. Felix clung to Kelly's side, his legs wrapped around her hips, arms around her neck. In Lily's room, she had a Hello Kitty backpack sitting on her bed coverlets. They spent five minutes checking that she had everything she would need for school. Walking Lily out the front of the house, the three of them waited out in the front yard by the mail box.
Their new home for the next year was in a suburban village. All the houses looked nearly the same. It was the house that Derek had been able to secure for them, in the center part of Illinois. After a minute, Felix clambered down from Kelly's side, holding her hand instead.
Lily held on to her other hand, squeezing it tightly. "Dad won't be back today?" she asked softly.
Kelly shook her head tiredly. Today was Wednesday and Derek didn't come home except on the weekends. During the weekdays he was busy with his job, doing whatever it was he was contracted to do. Kelly had no idea what it was and Derek was no allowed to discuss it with her, as all that information was highly classified. "Dad works on the weekends," she reminded her daughter. "He'll be back Saturday morning, honey. You know that."
Lily glanced down to the ground. "I know. I just miss him."
Feeling her heart squeeze in her chest, Kelly pulled Lily closer, holding her against her side. "I miss him too. I love you, baby girl," she told her simply.
Lily gave Kelly a small smile. "I love you too, Mom."
"Have fun today, okay? Try to make some friends. If you do, we can see if they can come over for the weekend."
Lily sighed heavily. "I don't want to make friends…We always leave…"
Before Kelly could find words to say to that, the large yellow and black striped bus turned down their road. It quickly pulled up at their house. Kelly and Felix waved Lily off, watching as she found a seat in the bus, toward the front, and it drove away. After several seconds, Kelly walked with Felix back into the house. "Looks like it's just me and you, little man. Do you want to watch the Octonauts?"
Felix smiled happily. "Yes!"
Smiling a little herself, trying to push back the sorrow Lily's serious voice had brought, Kelly led the way back into the house. Inside the house Kelly pulled up Netflix on the TV. After making sure Felix was settled in to watch his favorite show, she began cleaning up after breakfast and put away the medicine bag and flasks. When she was done, an episode had gone by. Glancing over, she saw Felix was still glued to the TV. His blue eyes were sparkling with delight as he interacted with the colorful characters on the screen, laughing, shouting, and jumping up in excitement at times.
Deciding she'd get some time to herself, sort of, she sat down at her computer. Pulling up 'Frost', she began writing some more. She turned around and made sure he was okay every five minutes, her instincts primed and ready for any mischief he might try to start.
Two hours later, Felix began to get bored. He came over to her, climbing into her lap. Kelly pulled back in her chair slightly, making room for him. He stared at the screen with all the black letters on the white background. He was just starting to be able to read, a little bit. But all the letters were too complicated and overwhelming for him to understand.
"Mommy, what is?"
She patted the top of his head. No matter how much of a troublemaker Felix liked to be he had learned never to try to touch her computer. She moved her arms around him so that she could keep typing as he sat quietly in her lap, curious. The TV kept going behind them. "It's a story."
He glanced up at her face in question. "Story?"
She nodded. "It's about a girl who gets spirited away to another world. She marries a boy and falls in love with him. But then she gets stolen away, torn from the boy she loves."
Felix's brow wrinkled in a confused frown. "Not good," he decided.
Kelly nodded. "Yep. It's not good indeed. But that's way ahead of where Mommy's at in the story at this point. We haven't even met the villain yet. We just met the boy the girl falls in love," she explained to him evenly. She moved her mouse, making sure to save what she had of chapter two written.
Felix smiled up at her. "I boy. Mommy girl. Mommy love me?"
Kelly wrapped her arms tightly around him. "Mommy loves you so much!"
He grinned, kissing her cheek. "I love Mommy!"
"But you want to know what Mommy loves even more?" He stared up at her with wide, expectant eyes. "Mommy loves to tickles little boys who like to cause trouble!" Saying so, she attacked.
Felix's laughter filled up the entire living room as he squirmed in her arms. She rose to her feet, taking him with her, careful to keep a tight hold around him as she moved away from the computer desk. He eventually broke free, giggling and running away. Laughing herself, she playfully chased after him.
Once the two of them came down from all the excitement, they were curled up on his twin bed. He ran his small fingers over her face and she smiled softly, just staring into his beloved face. It was a precious moment and she absorbed every second of it. "Mommy, never go away."
Her brow rose, wondering where that could have come from. "Why would I go away?"
His blue eyes were dark, filled with sadness. "I heard Daddy say. Daddy say 'Never go away'. Mommy was sleeping."
Kelly leaned forward to kiss the tip of his nose. What's that all about? she wondered. My life is perfect. I don't want a thing to change. "I promise, baby. I will never leave you. Not ever! Mommy loves you so much…Felix, you're my baby boy. How could I ever leave you? Don't you worry. I'm not going anywhere, honey."
He nodded after a few seconds. "Good. Glad. Hungry."
Kelly smiled. "After that appetite we worked up running around like crazy? I bet you are, baby. Let's go into the kitchen and find you something to eat. Afterwards, Mommy's going to clean the house. Do you want to help?" He nodded excitedly, clapping his hands together. She kissed his forehead. "You're such a good boy, even if you're a little troublemaker," she laughed.
Felix, growing impatient, climbed over her. She let out little huffs and grunts as his small feet, hands, knees, and elbows dug into different parts of her. "Hurry!" he grumbled as he gained his feet on the floor. He rushed off, out of the room. Shaking her head, she rose to her feet. Dusting off invisible lint, she followed behind him.
The two spent the rest of the day together. After a small snack to fill Felix's black hole of a stomach, they went outside for a walk. While they were walking, they discovered there was a small park that was for the private use of residents of the suburban village. By three, after Felix had gotten to spend four hours playing, Kelly right beside him in the dirt and the sandbox, they headed back home. The walk back was just long enough for the school bus to arrive. Lily caught sight of them, waving excitedly. After it was safe, once the bus had left, she ran over to Kelly and Felix.
"Mom! I made a new friend!" she said in excitement.
Kelly let out a breath of relief. Despite her daughter's depressing words this morning, she was incredibly glad that Lily had been able to find someone to get along with. "Great!" she gushed in happiness. "Did you find out if she might be able to come over this weekend?"
Lily shook her head. "It's not a girl, Mom. It's a boy."
Kelly blinked, surprised. Lily had never made a male friend before, let alone brought one home. "O-oh?" she stuttered for a second. "Well…that's good then. What's his name?"
Lily smiled. "I like his last name. It's neat. His name is Aiden Frost and he has these really cool turquoise-colored eyes."
Raising a brow, Kelly stared down at her daughter. Frost? Isn't that…the name of the character in the story I just started writing? Shaking her head, she frowned. It was just a coincidence. Frost wasn't that strange of a name. "That does sound really interesting," she agreed.
Felix squirmed next to her. "Hungry, Mommy."
Glancing down at her youngest, she nodded. "Alright. Let's all go back inside and I'll make us a snack. Nothing too big though. We still have to eat dinner. Lily, do you have any papers for me to sign?"
Her oldest nodded, falling into step beside her. "Yep. I forgot to ask if Aiden could come over. He lives with his great-grandma."
"Whoa. You don't see a lot of great-grandparents in this day and age. What about his parents?"
Lily shook her head, her voice sad. "His mom left when he was a baby, with his little sister." Kelly glanced down in shock, surprised something as horrible as that would have happened to the poor boy. "He doesn't remember her. But he wears this really pretty stone on his neck. His dad told him that it was the only thing left of his mom. His dad isn't around much though. Aiden said he only comes home once every year for a month or so."
Kelly swallowed. That was certainly an awkward situation to find out about without the knowledge of the other adults involved in the situation. She certainly hadn't expected this can of worms when she had asked the question. "W-well…if he ever wants to come over, he's more than welcome to."
Her daughter flashed a big smile. "He actually lives here too! He's lives over there," Lily pointed toward the entrance of the suburban village. "We rode home together on the bus," she explained. "He's funny. He reminds me of Felix, a little. He's really crazy like Felix is."
Felix glared at his big sister at that insult. "Not crazy!" he cried.
Lily stuck her tongue out. "Are too," she insisted.
Kelly sighed. "Alright, you two. Into the house we go."
The kids went in before her and she let out a breath. I'm just glad Lily was able to make a friend, she thought before closing and locking the front door behind her.