Robert left me alone immediately following Tempy's birth - even he seem to accept that I needed time to heal before...well, before anything. Part of me thought he was waiting to see if the blood bond would finally take me.
Waiting. Waiting for life, waiting for death.
Prior to Tempy's birth, I was sure I would have welcomed death when it came - eager to be away from this house! But every time she clutched my hand, every time she smiled and coo'd for me, I wanted nothing more than to live! I wanted to savor every moment I had with her!
She was worth all the pain and heartache I suffered at Robert's hands. When it became obvious that the blood bond was still at bay, Robert wasted no time in resuming 'marital relations'. It had become such a habit now, I didn't feel the strikes and I could barely remember each night. Jared was always in my mind, like a salve applied to a burn - his presence dulled the ache.
By Tempy's first birthday, I was feeling the familiar symptoms of being with child.
This time, it brought me no joy.
For this child was not conceived out of love as Tempy had been, this was Robert's child. I couldn't hate the life growing in me, as he was as much mine as Robert's, but I couldn't love him either.
It didn't help that I felt weak and fatigued almost everyday. This pregnancy was just as likely to kill me as the blood bond at this rate!
"Yes Tempy?" I grunted and clutched my back in pain. The sound of wood grinding against wood reverberated in my head as Tempy tried to shove a square peg into a round hole. Damn you vampire hearing.
"Momma hurt?" her voice was so soft, almost quivering with sadness as she said it.
"How did you know baby?" I asked, trying to ignore the cramps and focus on her.
"Momma hurt, Tempy hurt." she said with a frown. She'd been trying to walk for weeks now and was still pretty clumsy on her feet but she was a persistent one. She put away the blocks and got to her feet, wavering for a second before trying to come to me.
Before she could fall, I ran to her and scooped her up - my own body seared in pain at the movement. Tenderly, I bent over and picked up her blocks. "How about we play on the bed then? Mommy can rest and Tempy can play..."
Tempy bounced happily in my arms at the prospect.
Things didn't improve from there. Everyday it was agony to move, let alone try to take care of Tempy! The baby inside me was sapping every bit of energy I had and then some. I tried, in vain, to hide it for the first few weeks but Annaliese was not one to be fooled.
"You, in bed, now!" Annaliese said as she strode into my bedroom. She dropped a small stack of books on the end table along with a goblet full of blood - yick! I'd yet to develop a taste for the stuff even though it was a necessary evil. To everyone's surprise, I'd survived the transformation with very little effort so surviving on human food was no longer an option for me.
"Lele!" Tempy shouted when she saw Annaliese. She got to her feet, eager to show off her fumbling walking skills. Annaliese had her arms open, ready to catch her, in a flash.
Following her bidding, I'd crumbled into bed - welcoming the sweet comfort it offered while she played with Tempy and kept her distracted. "Thank you." I said softly.
Annaliese smiled and nodded as she tried to tell Tempy a square peg will NOT go into a round hole. A lesson Tempy refused to learn.
"Go!" Tempy shouted at the block in frustration, still pushing it hard into the block sorter. Annaliese and I shared a bemused look before she suggested a story to Tempy. Tempy dropped the blocks quickly in excitement.
Annaliese had selected a book and was on her way back when Tempy suddenly stood up and started toddling to the other side of the room happily. "Dada!" she said toward nothing in particular.
I looked over at Annaliese in shock. "Does she...?" she started to ask, but her eyes went back to Tempy.
"She's never even looked twice at Robert..." I said reading Annaliese's mind. "He's certainly not 'Dada'"
"Then who...?" Tempy was babbling on and on to the emptiness about the blocks and Momma and Lele and everything. Once in awhile she'd stop as if listening to a response and then would reply eagerly.
Before leaving for the day, Annaliese tucked Tempy into bed for me and promised to return as soon as she could the next day. "Rest Luna, you need it..."
But, try as I might, I simply couldn't sleep and Tempy wasn't helping. She'd fussed constantly until I finally let her out of crib and returned her to the blocks. That's when it started...
My insides seemed to be tearing apart and I nearly passed out right there! I grabbed the edge of the bed and took a step carefully. Each step seemed to make it worse but I kept my face as calm as possible as not to scare Tempy.
"Momma?" she whimpered when I'd made it a few steps. "Momma hurt..."
"No Tempy...Momma is fine." I lied, balling the comforter on the bed in my fist to keep from crying out.
"Momma hurt..." she persisted. She started to get up and come toward me.
"No Temperance! Stay there!" I shouted - harsher than I'd intended. Within seconds, her eyes pooled with tears.
"Oh Tempy...I - I..." I staggered, clutching my stomach as if to hold together the gaping hole I felt.
Shush now Tempy, Momma will be okay.
In a moment the tears stopped and she smiled weakly at nothing before returning to her blocks as if nothing had happened.
"Thank you." I whispered before continuing on toward the bathroom. "T-Tempy..."
She looked over at me expectantly.
"M-Momma loves you." I said, one hand holding me up against the door frame of the bathroom.
"Luv ew momma" she chirped.
With one last great effort, I stumbled into the bathroom before collapsing on the floor. I shoved my foot out to kick the door closed - Tempy didn't need to see any of this.
I can't say if it was minutes, hours or days before the pain finally stopped. I know there was blood - a lot of blood - though.
And I know Jared was there with me the whole time. Once or twice I believe I even saw him but that may have been the intense pain causing a bit of delirium.
In the end, I know I'd lost the baby who'd been eating me alive from the inside out. Robert's baby. I'd lost Robert's baby...that wasn't going to go over well.
Somehow I ended up cleaned up, dressed and tucked back into bed after it was all over. Tempy had finally worn herself out and fallen asleep as well - to my great relief.
I'm here Luna. Always.
His voice lingered in my head as I drifted off to sleep, finally free of the pain and agony I'd been suffering under for weeks.
After a few days, I felt like a new vampire - completely healed from the pregnancy and miscarriage! I woke up chipper and eager to enjoy the day with Tempy. Though Annaliese knew the truth, we'd yet to tell Robert the baby was lost and I fully intended to avoid the topic as long as I could.
"Good morning sweet child!" I said as I scooped Tempy from her crib. "Did you have good dreams?"
"Dada and me park!" she screeched. Did she actually remember her dreams?!
"Well did you have fun?" I asked. She bobbed her head quickly and started babbling about slides and swings.
Our felicity was short lived though. A week after the miscarriage, Robert thundered in and I knew, in a second, that he knew.
"Thought you could hide it from me eh?" he grabbed me by the arm and yanked me away from Tempy, a sick smile on his face. "You can't hide ANYTHING from me!"
"Not here..." I squeaked. I looked over at Tempy, she was on the verge of crying. "Pl-please, not in front of her..."
He sneered at me. "Perhaps it would teach you a lesson..." He hooked his finger on the collar of my shirt, preparing to rip it off no doubt.
"Momma..." Tempy's voice cracked and she was clearly terrified for a second. And then a warmth filled the room and she calmed down.
Even Robert seemed to feel it and looked around nervously for a moment. After another second, he shoved me away and backed toward the door. "Tonight..." he pointed at me but was still looking around the room. "You come tonight. Make sure that brat is asleep or..."
He didn't finish his sentence but I knew well enough what he meant.
"You have to take her Annaliese. Take her and keep her safe." I pressed a sobbing Tempy into her arms. After a moment Tempy calmed down and smiled for her beloved aunt. "You have to protect her from him...I can't..."
From then on, Tempy lived almost exclusively with Annaliese. Robert didn't even seem to notice or care - a fact I was grateful for. Nearly every evening, Annaliese would bring her over for several hours after Robert was done with me and they would stay until near dawn.
I felt better knowing she was away from this house and even when she wasn't close I could feel her in my mind. I had a permanent mental fix on her so I knew when she was happy and safe.
Like with my pregnancy with Tempy, I felt the tiny little mind reach out to me before I even realized I was pregnant but the symptoms soon followed. The nausea had to be the worst...
With a baby safely embedded in me, Robert resumed his habits of mostly ignoring me and Annaliese and Tempy came even earlier everyday. She insisted that I remain in bed as much as possible though. "If this one is a boy and is healthy....perhaps...
I nodded weakly. I hoped it was true but Robert seemed more interested in hurting me lately than an heir so I wasn't sure he'd give me up after an heir was born...then there was the blood bond. I felt like I'd cheated death for three years now and sooner or later it would catch up to me!
Unlike the previous pregnancy, this one seemed to be going smoothly - almost easily. The first time I felt him kick and nudge, I couldn't help but smile. It felt good to have a happy, healthy little baby inside again - even if he was Robert's child.
"I'll be gone for a week..." Annaliese said as she was picking up Tempy's toys. "Will you be alright?"
I nodded. She'd mentioned the trip before. At first I'd been anxious about it but Robert was gone almost constantly lately so I no longer feared for her safety as I had before. "Thank you, for keeping her safe."
"I promised you I would." she said with a tender smile. "She's my family after all."
"We go now Lele?" Tempy asked, her eyes were heavy with sleep as dawn was coming fast. She'd been able to say Annaliese's full name for months now but still used the old nickname out of habit or affection.
"Actually, you'll be staying here with your Momma sweetheart. Auntie Annaliese has to go on a little trip." she kissed Tempy on the head. "You take good care of your mommy for me alright?"
"Otay!" Tempy was rejuvenated by the thought of staying. My heart ached a bit as I thought back on all the mornings I'd had to say goodbye to her, hoping I'd see her again.
After Annaliese finally left, I tried to get Tempy to sleep but she resisted at every turn. I could feel the pull of dawn's approach and simply wanted to fall into bed but one busy little three year old would have none of it.
"Story!" she said, yanking book after book off the shelf until she found the one she wanted and presented it to me. "Read story mommy?"
Suppressing a yawn, I nodded and patted the bed. She climbed up with ease and snuggled into the crook of my arm.
"Jack and Jenny were like every other child on their street..." I started reading from the book.
"But they aren't Mommy!" Tempy argued. Clearly she'd heard this one before.
"Well we haven't gotten that far yet sweetie. Shush so I can read..." I scolded with a chuckle. She pouted for a moment but was silent so I continued. "Jack and Jenny were like every other child on their street. And like every other child, they had adventures. Their adventures were different though - their adventures were real..."
I read through the entire book and half the second in the series before she finally gave up the fight and fell asleep on my lap. I carefully closed the book and set it aside before picking her up and carrying her over to the crib. She whimpered a bit in her sleep as I laid her down but as soon as I tucked her doll under her arm, she was silent.
For a few minutes, I lingered over the crib and stroked her hair. "Someday..." I whispered. "You'll get away from this place...from this life..." With a final kiss on her temple, I turned back toward my own bed.
A wave of dizziness nearly toppled me then and I grabbed my head with one hand and the crib with the other. "Oh no..." I muttered.
"Momma?" Tempy's eyes flew open and she looked around the room hopefully. "Momma?"
When she finally found her query, she frowned. I blinked up at her - she seemed so blurry to me. Of course everything seemed blurry. "Stay in bed Tempy..." I whispered, the words croaked out of my mouth.
"Momma." she repeated even as she blatantly ignored my words. She pulled herself up and over the railing, a trick she'd picked up recently. I tried to push myself up, terrified that she would fall but my body didn't heed my commands anymore than Tempy did.
She was almost down when she remembered her doll and reached through the slats to drag her friend along. It's head stuck but Tempy refused to leave the doll behind. With a final tug that left her holding on by only one hand, the doll slipped free and I watched helplessly as she righted herself.
"Momma!" she said with a smile.
Luna. Wake up Luna!
Tempy shook me with her tiny hands, "Momma, Dada says wake up..." She dropped her doll to the side and shook again, her smile slipping. Somehow, this little thing realized this was not a game now. "Momma! Listen to Daddy! Up! Wake up!" she said practically pounding her little, ineffectual fists.