WARNING!!! Sensitive issues in this chapter.
As promised, Mathilda and I talked more about the unsettling nightmares I was still having. They grew more intense each time, and sometimes I would awake, heart pounding, with a scream clawing its way from my throat.
“The only way is to go right to the source, child. I will enter the spirit world myself and…” However, I broke off Mathilda’s words with a shake of my head.
“I know you’re going to protest, but it should be me who goes,” I said.
“Hear me out,” I said, squeezing her hands. “I’m not as fragile as I once was. You know that. I know I must return, so I will be all right. You’ll bring me safely back, and we’ll have some answers. It’s something I must do. Can you see that?”
“Oh, Lenora, child, I don’t want to lose you,” Mathilda said
I hugged her and leaned my head on her shoulder. “You won’t. I’ll come back. I’m stronger now, and I can handle it. Witch’s honor.”
She held me for a long time, not saying a word as she smoothed my hair. “All right. You’ve always had faith in me. Now it’s my turn to show my faith in you. Just know that I love you, sweetheart.”
“I know, and I love you too, so very, very much.”
Mathilda explained that the spell would need to be cast during a full moon. “Now, let’s run through this again, child. First, I will link your mind with mine so I can see exactly what you are seeing. This will need to be done because I’ll need to know what is happening while you are…away.” I lay on my bed while she squeezed my hand tightly. “Once we are linked, I will perform the spell that will send you into the next realm. Once there, you should easily be able to make contact with Landon and Linc. There are a couple of possibilities to consider. You must prepare yourself for the possibility that there is no concrete reason for these unsettling feelings, which means Landon would remain where he is. That is an unlikely outcome though. Ariadne tells me there is unrest where Landon is concerned. The greater possibility is that you could get an indication somehow that your fears are legitimate, which means it is Landon’s destiny to return to this life. Above all, I want you to remember that only one can return. There is no way to bring both Landon and Linc back. If Landon is to return, I will perform that spell while you are away and then bring you back. If he comes back, he will be at your side when you awake. Do you understand?”
I nodded and squeezed her hand in a tight grip.
“Remember, Lenora, you cannot stay.”
“I know,” I said. “It will be hard, but I understand.”
“I love you, Lenora. Come back to me safely,” Mathilda said.
“I will. I promise.”
Mathilda traced her fingers over my brow and began chanting in some sort of ancient language. Almost immediately, I felt her strong presence fill my entire being. I knew how it was to communicate telepathically with her and to feel her emotions, but this went much deeper. Our two souls were now connected, and I felt her presence in a way I had never known before.
She then waved her palm in front of my face. A misty substance engulfed me, and I felt myself drifting away as Mathilda’s voice chanted on. My eyes were so heavy I couldn’t keep them open. An instant later, I was looking down at myself being held in Mathilda’s arms as my spirit floated away.
I found myself once again in the heavenly place I’d come to when I’d died. As Mathilda predicted, it only seemed like an instant before I was enfolded in Lincoln’s strong arms. “Oh, Lenora,” he whispered as his lips met mine.
“Linc, my love. How I’ve missed you,” I said, framing his face and drinking him in. “I didn’t expect to see you again so soon, but I had to come.”
“I know why you’re here, sweetheart. You’ve been feeling our son’s distress.”
“You know of this,” I said, taken aback.
“I watch over you every day, Lenora.”
“I feel your presence always,” I told him. “I will always love you, and there are days I still miss you terribly, but I’m okay. You told me I would be, and you were right.”
“You’re more than OK,” Linc said as he touched my cheek. “And you look so beautiful! I’d always hoped you’d grow your hair again.”
I hadn’t worn my hair super long since I’d been a teenager. Lincoln always said he’d love to see it longer one of these days. “I know you did. I wish I’d done it while you were still living. Do you really like it?”
“I do, my beautiful Lenora.” He took my hands and brought them to his lips. “I reckon I won’t be able to think of you as mine anymore before long. You’re going to find someone else to love and you’ll be his.”
“Linc, my beloved…”
“Oh, Lenora, it’s all right…it’s all right,” he crooned as he brought me into his arms again. “I wouldn’t want anything less for you, and you don’t have to say anything. Our love will never die, and you’ll always carry a part of me with you. You were never meant to be alone, Lenora. You will find love again, and I will rejoice because you’ll be happy.” His eyes twinkled then. “Remember something though. If he doesn’t take good care of you, I’ll come back to haunt him forever.”
I knew what he was trying to do. He wanted me to find some laughter and humor in the midst of a bittersweet situation. He confirmed this with a grin as I burst out laughing. Then, I touched his cheek. “I can’t remain here much longer. Linc, we need to talk.”
“I know this, and I know why you are here. As I said, you were feeling Landon’s distress. You have probably figured out by now that he is not meant to remain here. Somehow, something got messed up with the space/time continuum and he was sucked here before his time. We both knew this when we arrived, but we knew we had to keep this from you until you were ready to be made aware. We knew you would have consumed yourself with trying to bring him back rather than getting on with life and figuring out your destiny. Landon knew he needed to be with you, but it wasn’t time for him to go back. He told you he was all right, and for a time, he was. But now, he is desperate to come back to you.”
He took me by the shoulders and looked intently into my face. “I can’t go back. We both know that. I’m content with that because I know you and Landon will be all right. He needs to live the life he was meant to. He needs you as much as you need him, Lenora.” He brushed a lock of hair from my face. “He is different than you remember, my Lenora. He will not go back as a child. Many years have passed in the physical world, and Landon grew very wise while here. Time runs differently here, so he will seem much older than how you remember him. His physical appearance will be that of a young man in his early twenties, but his demeanor is that of a much older and wiser person. Or course, he is still our son with all the wonderful qualities he’s always had, but you will see what I mean as you get to know him again.”
“I’ll take him however I can have him,” I said.
“I will love you both forever,” Lincoln said, giving me a last kiss.
“I’ll love you always, Linc,” I whispered.
I was hugged and kissed by my parents and grandparents. Then, as I looked off in the distance, I saw a glimpse of my son running toward me, his arms outstretched. However, I was pulled away, the ethereal scene fading as it had before as my spirit sought reunion with my body.
“That’s it. Breathe for Mathilda. I’ve got you. It’s all right, child. Come back, Lenora.” I was once again lying on my bed with Mathilda holding me and coaxing me back. I took in a big gasp of air, then gave a weak cough.
“Mathilda?” I croaked when I found my voice. My fuzzy brain tried to reach for her, but she’d severed the link once I began to breathe.
“I’m here, darling. it’s all over. You’re back with me, and you’re all right,” she said, easing me back against the pillows.
“Did you see?” I whispered. “Landon…he was running toward me, but I was pulled back before…” A tear ran from under each of my closed eyelids. “Landon…my angel,” I choked out.
Mathilda wiped away the tears on my cheeks, and I heard tears in her own voice as she gave a tremulous laugh. “Open you eyes, child. Open your eyes and look toward the window.”
At first, it took great effort to even attempt to lift my eyelids. As my strength returned, I found it easier to move. When I was finally able to crack then open, I saw Mathilda smiling through a layer of tears. “Look over by the window, child,” Mathilda said again.
I turned my head and will never forget the sight as long as I live. A handsome young man who was practically the image of Linc was smiling at me. “Hey, Ma. Time to wake up and greet the day.” Oh Ariadne! He had an angel’s voice, and the love that radiated from him was palpable.
“Oh, Landon! Landon…my son…my angel!” I reached my arms out for him as I started to sob helplessly. He came into them, and I once again held my boy against my heart. I held on desperately, never wanting to let him go ever again.
“Oh, Ma, I love you so much,” he choked out. “I won’t leave you again. I’m not gong anywhere.”
I kissed his darling face over and over, then cupped it in my hands so I could just feast my eyes on him. I basked in my Landon’s presence, so thankful to have regained my life’s most precious prize. “Ye are so handsome. Ye look so much like your father.”
He smiled at me and softly touched my hair. “You look so beautiful, Ma. How I missed your lilt and how you always called me your angel!”
“Well, you’ll be hearing it every day, sweetheart. I’m not letting ye out of my sight. Not for at least ten years,” I croaked, the tears still very evident in my voice.
He grinned at me and I cried some more as I caressed his face and held him close. I was afraid he’d vanish if I let him go. Eventually, Mathilda tapped me on the shoulder, a wobbly grin on her face. “You’re going to drown the poor boy if you keep that up, Lenora.” This got us all laughing, which put an end to my motherly blubbering.
I had to start my new job, but I found it hard to be separated from Landon. I was so afraid this was all a dream and I’d wake up to find him gone again. One day, he hugged me tight and smiled serenely at me. “I’m not going away, Ma. I’m here to forever pester you and give you all kinds of grey hair.” He playfully tugged a lock of my very long hair and kissed my forehead. “Heaven knows you have a lot of hair now.”
I roared with laughter and patted his cheek. “I suppose I must seem pretty ridiculous. It’s just, well…”
“Oh, Ma, I know. You’ve had to be without me for so long. I promise, I’m not going anywhere. You’re stuck with me.”
“I’ll hold you to that,” I said, kissing him and squeezing him tight.
Landon and I settled into a nice routine. It was quite an experience introducing him to everyone I knew in Aurora Skies. Caleb, especially, was thrilled that I had my son back. Landon and Amadeus got on swimmingly, and he was happy I had a friend like Erica to spend time with.
Landon and I were reading together and enjoying some wine in the living room when we heard a scream, glass shattering, and an almighty thud from upstairs. “What the…?” Landon yelled, jumping to his feet. “Stay here, Ma. I’ll check it out.”
“Like hell,” I said, jumping up to follow him. His long legs carried him up the stairs a lot faster than I could go. By the time I arrived, Landon was crunching his way through the glass from a shattered window where a little fairy lay.
“Holy shit!” he yelled as he lifted the unconscious woman in his arms. Landon lifted her as easily as a child would lift a doll and cradled her against his chest. “Ma, she’s hurt!”
“Let’s put her down on the bed so I can have a look,” I said.
Landon carried her to his room but still kept the little fairy cradled against him. “She’s so tiny, Ma. She’s light as a feather.”
“Landon, sweetie, you’ve got to lay her down so I can have a look,” I said gently.
He reluctantly did as I asked but stayed by her side and picked up her hand. His fingers gently stroked the back of the tiny fairy’s hand, and he spoke softly to her. “Miss, can you hear me?” He then smoothed the hair away from her face and visibly winced as he saw the blood. “There’s so much blood, Ma.”
I examined her, noticing little cuts and scrapes from the broken glass. There was a particularly nasty one on her temple, which was the source of most of the blood. “It’s okay, darling. Head lacerations tend to bleed a lot more than other types.”
“Can you make her well?” Landon asked as he continued to stroke the fairy’s band.
“I think so. She’s pretty lucky. I can fix the cuts, but she’s probably got a concussion. There are no broken bones, thankfully, but she’s lost a fair amount of blood. I can replace that with a blood replenishing potion.” I then leaned over and breathed in deeply. “I think she’s had a bit to drink. That’s probably what contributed to her accident.”
“Will she be all right?” Landon asked.
“I’m pretty optimistic,” I said. I went to work on her and quickly healed the little cuts and scrapes she’d sustained. I spent extra time working on the large laceration, making sure there was no glass embedded in it. I used my telekinetic ability to carefully knit the broken tissue back together from the inside out so there wouldn’t be any scarring. I would have to save the potion for last since I’d need her to drink it. Then, I concentrated on her head and chanted healing spells to ward off any complications from a concussion.
“I’m worried that she’s not waking up yet,” Landon said as I finished the work.
“Give her time,” I said.
“Where did she come from, do you suppose?” Landon asked me as he stroked the little fairy’s cheek. It definitely didn’t take a genius to figure out that something about the tiny fairy captivated my kindhearted son.
“Oh, Starlight Shores, I expect. I wonder what she’s doing all the way out here though?”
Landon looked up at me. “You…you know her?”
“Well, I most certainly do. She was one of the ladies on ‘The One’ during Caleb’s season. Her name is Crystal Light.”
“Crystal,” Landon said softly as he touched the fairy’s hair. “Such a lovely name for a beautiful little fairy.”
A soft groan came from the bed, and Crystal stirred slightly. She let out a little whimper that tore at my heart. I could feel from Landon that it did the same to him. He bit his lip, and gently squeezed Crystal’s hand. “Shhh. You’re safe now, Crystal. No one will hurt you.”
“How do you know my name?” she whispered. Her eyes fluttered open, and she gave a startled cry to see Landon bending over her. “Who…?”
“It’s all right. Don’t be frightened. I won’t hurt you.” Landon stroked her hair to calm her. “My name is Landon Atherton. That was my window you crashed into a while ago.”
“Atherton…” Crystal said, blinking up at Landon. “Are you related to anyone named Lenora?”
“I should say so. She’s my mother.” Landon grinned.
“Your…what? But…I thought…” Her hand came up to rub at her temples.
Landon chuckled and ran a finger over Crystal’s brow to smooth out the worry lines. This made her giggle, which, in turn, made him smile.
“I know what you must be thinking. I’m Lenora’s dead son back in the land of the living. It’s a long story so I won’t explain it now. You need to rest and get your strength back,” Landon said.
Well, I love a good story, so I can’t wait to hear it,” Crystal said.
I reached for Crystal’s free hand and squeezed it. “Speaking of stories, I’d like to hear how you ended up flying through my window,” I said gently.
“I feel so stupid,” Crystal said, turning her face away for a moment. “Where do I start?”
“How about from the beginning?” Landon said.
Crystal took a deep breath and blew it out slowly. “I suppose it all goes back to us being on ‘The One’ together, Lenora. See, I was really bummed after I was eliminated.”
“Oh, I know you were, sweetie. I’m sorry,” I said, squeezing her hand.
“I know, and I’ll never forget what you did. I was crying because I knew I was leaving. You comforted me and said not to worry, that I’d find my true love out there.”
“Where a door closes, a window of opportunity opens,” I said, repeating the words I’d spoken to her that night. “I also said to call me if you ever needed anything.”
“I couldn’t believe how nice you always were to me, especially since I was kind of mean to you in the beginning,” Crystal said regretfully.
I chuckled and patted her shoulder. “I didn’t think anything of it. You know as well as I do these shows make people act in crazy ways they normally wouldn’t in the real world.”
“You were so nice to all of us. You really cared about all of us,” Crystal said.
“Of course I did,” I said. “Granted, I liked some of you more than others, and there were times it truly got ugly in there. Still, I wished the best for all of you.”
“What brought it home to me was how you stayed up with me all night when I got that belly ache,” Crystal said. “I figured someone who holds your hair back while you puke your brains out has to really care.”
I nodded and smiled at her. “I was concerned for you, and taking care of people is part of what I do.”
“But you did it like a…a mother,” Crystal said.
I grinned. “Well, it’s hard to kick the habit after you’ve been someone’s mother. I was just glad they were more careful about the food supplies after I made that stink.”
“This is really getting good now,” Landon said, grinning. “Tell me more.”
Crystal and I both laughed, and Crystal continued the story. “Lenora figured out that some of the stuff from the buffet was starting to go south. It didn’t quite turn over yet and it tasted okay, but it still ended up being enough that it could make someone sick. Thankfully, nobody else turned up sick. Anyway, Lenora tested every single thing on the buffet tables and made a point of getting right up into one of the main cameras and saying something like, ‘Since we are all expected to conduct ourselves as a harem and throw ourselves at The Sheikh, the least the powers that be could do would be to check the food supplies more carefully. After all, just because the guest of honor is a vampire and has a strict diet doesn’t mean we ladies should be given hog slop.’ I swear, I laughed myself hoarse over that one. Lenora is one of the sweetest, kindest people I know, but boy, she sure can get pissed. What made it funnier was hearing all of that in her beautiful Iris lilt.”
I grinned while Landon totally cracked up. “That sounds just like Ma,” he said.
“Well now. I got me point across, I did, and it was much better after that, ye ken.” I purposely thickened my lilt, which made the two of them grin like a couple of imps.
“Anyway,” Crystal said, getting back on track. “I went back to Starlight Shores to pick my career back up and to nurse a broken heart. I quickly got involved with this guy named Bill. If I’d been thinking more clearly, I never would have even gone there. I know a rebound relationship seldom works out. Bill and I were together for a while, and I stupidly though there was more to the relationship than what we had. It seemed he just wanted a good time and didn’t have any plans of settling down. Lord, I do hate guys with Commitment Issues.”
I nodded in agreement, and Crystal continued.
“I came home one night after a gig to find Bill in bed with some floozy. I mean, they were doing The Wild Thing right there in my bed!”
“Eww,” I said, making a face.
“Yeah, exactly. I just stared for a minute, trying to get my head wrapped around what I was seeing. Then, I totally lost it. I did a tummy twister on both of them, gave that bitch a hot foot, and then took after Bill with a frying pan.”
“Good for you,” I said.
“Remind me not to get on your bad side,” Landon quipped, which made Crystal laugh. Hearing Crystal laugh made Landon’s entire face light up.
“I was thoroughly pissed and feeling reckless for a while, so after that, I spent a bit of time club hopping when I didn’t have a show to do. I’m a singer…or trying to be one,” she explained for Landon’s benefit. “One night, this guy started showing interest in me. We started dancing, and he told me he was drinking away his sorrows because his wife left him. His name was Shane Clayton, and he had this magnetism, you know?”
“Oh hell!” I rolled my eyes heavenward. “That man does get around, doesn’t he?”
It took Crystal a minute to register what I’d said. Then, she gaped at me. “Oh Calista!” she exclaimed, invoking the name of the Goddess of Fairies. “Not you too!” She started to laugh and scrubbed her hands over her face. “Whoever’s running this world has to have a sick sense of humor. I mean, we were after the same guy on that crazy TV show, and now, I find out we were both involved with that asshole Shane.”
“Irony’s a strange thing,” I said, shrugging. “Sometimes life is a bit nuts like that. You called him an asshole, so I’m assuming he got up to some hijinks with you.”
“Yeah,” Crystal muttered. “We were having a great time that night, dancing, talking, and drinking. I excused myself to go to the bathroom and left my drink sitting there. I should have known better, and I’ve been kicking myself for it ever since. Anyway, I came back and finished the drink. I started feeling kind of funny, so Shane took me to his room so I could lie down until I felt better.”
I knew what I was going to hear next and was completely disgusted. “Oh, Crystal,” I sighed as I gathered her up in my arms.
“I know, I know. I can’t believe I was so dumb.” She held onto me tightly and started to cry. “I don’t remember much after that. I’m sure I went to bed with him, but I don’t remember any of it. I woke up the next morning feeling sick and…” She burrowed her head against my shoulder and shuddered.
“He hurt you…inside,” Landon said softly as he rubbed her back.
She nodded miserably. “I disguised myself and went to the hospital and gave them a fake name. I didn’t want this to leak to any tabloids or anything. Thankfully, there was no permanent damage done. I thought about pressing charges but again, I was concerned about the damage to my career.”
I nodded. “Did he try to contact you again?”
“Yeah,” Crystal said. “The bastard sent me roses over the next week with little notes about what an enjoyable time he’d had and how we’d have to do it again sometime. It made me feel sick every time, and I was scared. It happened again yesterday, and this time, the note said…it s-s-said…” She shook violently in my arms, and Landon wrapped his own arms around both of us.
“What did it say?” I pressed gently.
“It said he knew where I lived and that he wanted to come see me. I panicked, you see, and I didn’t know what else to do. I downed a good supply of brandy to try to calm myself down, but I was still so scared. I racked my brain for somewhere safe to go, to get out of town until he lost interest in me or whatever, if that’s even possible. Then, I thought of you, Lenora. You said if I ever needed anything that you’d be there. I-I knew you’d moved to Aurora Skies and that you’d be working with the theater. I was able to find out where you lived and quickly flew toward your house. I was getting close when these two cars turned their brights on, and I was at the perfect angle to go temporarily blind. When I could see, I was coming right at the window. I tried to steer away, but I was too close to avoid smacking into it. Besides, I was still impaired from the drinks I’d had, so my reactions were slower. And now, here I am.”
“And here you’re going to stay, at least until we get this sorted out,” I said, punctuating my words with gentle squeezes.
“Ma’s right. There’s safety in numbers. You’re more vulnerable alone,” Landon said as he tenderly wiped tears from her cheeks.
“I just didn’t know where else to go, and…” Then, she pulled away from both of us and attempted to get to her feet. “But if I stay here, I’ll be putting you two in danger.”
Landon gently pushed her back onto the bed. I situated Crystal against the pillows and covered her over with the blankets. “Don’t you worry. Landon and I are perfectly capable of seeing to ourselves, and we’ll see to you. What you need right now is some good old-fashioned TLC, some rest, and plenty of good food.”
“I can handle that,” Crystal said. “I’m so sorry about your window and flying in here this way.”
“Windows can be replaced, but you can’t, Crystal. I’m glad you came to me,” I said, stroking a hand over her hair.
“But my career! And what if he comes after me again,” Crystal said.
I exchanged a look with Landon and then spoke. “There are plenty of places here for you to perform at, and I’ll help you all I can. As to Clayton, I have a feeling he was just trying to scare you. He seems the type to move on to the next victim but doesn’t want you talking. I’m sure he realizes rape would be hard to prove because you weren’t really in a position to be able to tell him no. You were under the influence of some date rape drug that incapacitated you. If it ever came to trial, it would be your word against his, and he’d claim you consented.”
Crystal nodded woefully. “I know, and that’s part of why I didn’t press charges. I wouldn’t be able to prove it because I don’t even remember any of it.”
“It tells me he’s done this before and he’ll do it again,” I said grimly. “Unless he’s caught, he’ll keep doing it.”
“I bet he didn’t like it when you sent him packing,” Crystal said.
“No, he didn’t,” I said. “He likes to be the one to call the shots and end a relationship.”
“I’m still just so scared he’ll come after me,” Crystal said.
Again, Landon and I exchanged a look. “All we can do for now is put some precautions into place. We can get you a restraining order, and I’ll talk to Caleb about keeping an eye out for him. Other than that, all we can do is wait for him to make a mistake so he’ll be caught and punished.”
“Caleb will think I’m so stupid, and I was,” Crystal said.
“He’ll understand that you were a victim and will treat you as such,” I said. “He’s a good cop and an even better person.”
She just nodded. “It makes me sick that he could do this to someone else.”
“If he’s ever caught and brought to trial, you can help send him away if you testify,” I told her.
“I will,” Crystal said and then yawned.
“Time for sleep,” I told her, tucking the covers around her. “You’re safe here, Crystal. Nobody’s going to hurt you.”
“Thank you,” she whispered.
I leaned over to kiss her brow. “My bedroom is the next room over. If you need anything, all you have to do is come get me.”
“Thank you, Lenora,” she said.
I squeezed her shoulder and got up to leave. Landon did the same, but Crystal pulled him back down to sit beside her. “I’m sorry about taking over your bed, Landon.”
“It’s OK. I’ll camp out in my sleeping bag when I get tired. Do you want me to stay with you a while?”
“Would you?” she asked him. “I don’t know why, but I want you close by. I feel safe with you around.”
“I’ll be here as long as you need me to be, Crystal.” Oh yes, I didn’t need empathic senses to tell me that my son was completely besotted with this little fairy.
Landon started to sing softly to her. He sounded so much like Linc that if I closed my eyes, I was transported back in time. I smiled and tiptoed out of the room, closing the door behind me.
Landon and Crystal’s relationship flourished. I looked after Crystal to help her regain her strength, but it was Landon’s love that made her begin to heal in soul and spirit. Watching them was pure enchantment. Landon hardly left her side, and Crystal always gazed worshipfully at him. Crystal always had a happy-go-lucky nature, but now, it was even more apparent. She’d leap into Landon’s arms, and he’d swing her around, giving her a little kiss on the tip of her nose as he set her back on her feet. She was such a tiny, little thing that he started calling her “Thumbelina,” which made her giggle at first. As she grew accustomed to it, the nickname always made her smile softly at him.
Upon her arrival, Crystal was plagued with nightmares about her ordeal, and it was always Landon who went to her and held her. He’d use gentle and loving words to soothe her, and she’d drift off to sleep in his arms. Only when she slept in his arms did the nightmares leave her alone.
Crystal came to talk to me one day about Landon. She confessed to me that she loved him and hoped I was all right with their relationship.
“Oh, sweetie, I know how much he loves you, and I can feel that you love him. The two of you are just…right. You complete each other.”
“I never thought I could love someone so much,” she said, then hugged me tight. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Landon grinning at us. He had this glint in his eye just like his father got when he had romance on the brain. Landon was thinking about bed, but sleep was far from what he had planned.
It wasn’t long after that I had a similar conversation with Landon. I’d been thinking about a particular elixir recipe I’d been wanting to research when he said he needed to speak to me. “I love her, Ma,” he said, getting right to the point. “I’m going to ask her to marry me soon. Do I have your blessing?”
I was all smiles as I hugged him tight. “Of course, sweetheart. I’m so happy for you both.”
He blew out a relieved breath. “I’m so glad, Ma. There’s something else I want to speak to you about. I know we’re still planning the house design and all. I don’t want to be far from you, but I want a life with Crystal. I want our own place, but I don’t want to leave you alone either.”
“Darling, you mustn’t worry about me. It’s natural that you’d want to make your own home with your future wife. I understand,” I said.
“I know, but we’ve only been recently reunited and I’d feel like a bad son if I left. I know you’ll be busy with the show and all, but…”
Then, an idea hit me. “Hey, I might have the perfect solution. What if instead of a single house, we build a sort of duplex? It could be one large building, but we split it down the middle and make it two connected houses. That way, we can still be close but you and Crystal can have your own place, too. What do you think?”
Landon’s jaw dropped, then he picked me up to swing me around. “Ma, I love it! You’re a frigging genius!”
I laughed and kissed him. “I try. Now, gossip with your old Ma and tell me when you plan to pop the question.”
“I want it to be special for her, but I want to wait until after you get your time in the sun from the show. Besides, I want to bring Crystal home as my wife to our new place, not to some temporary rental. She deserves that.”
“Fair enough,” I said. “Oh, Landon…my angel.” I choked on a sob and held him close.
“Aww Ma,” he said, grinning resignedly.
“Mush, I know,” I said, laughing through my tears.
He just chuckled and rubbed my back. “I’m gong to miss you when you leave for the show tomorrow.”
“I’ll miss you too, darling. It won’t be long though and I’ll be back home with you,” I said, stroking his cheek.
“Hopefully with a new love,” he said.
“We’ll just have to see how it turns out,” I said. “Caleb had good luck, and maybe some of that will rub off on me. I want you to know that this has nothing to do with how much I still love your father.”
“Oh Ma, you don’t have to explain. I totally understand.” He took me by the shoulders and kissed my brow, reminding me so much of Lincoln. “I have faith in you. You’ll make the right decision, Ma. I can’t wait to see you find someone who loves you as much as I love Crystal.”
“I love you, Landon.”
“I love you too, Ma,” he said, holding me tight.
Author’s Note: This concludes the Prologue for Lenora’s backstory. Her story continues with Her Bachelorette Challenge, which will then be followed by the story proper of “Forever in Time.”
Thank you to PinkSparkles3475 for the lovely addition of Crystal Light for my story.