by Kat Heckenbach -
Mary leaned over the rail of the crib and kissed Jacey’s tiny forehead. The peach fuzz along the baby’s hairline clung to her skin, damp with sweat, but her angelic face was completely relaxed.
“If only your daddy could have seen you.” Mary gazed at Jacey in wonderment over the features that looked so much like Jax. A perfect replica, even down to the arch of her eyebrows and the dimple that played in and out on her left cheek as she smiled in her sleep.
She sighed and left the room. The kids would be home any minute and she hadn’t even figured out what to cook for dinner. Granted, having an old friend stop by had been a worthy excuse. She smiled as she sorted through the conversation she’d had with Tomika, recalling how good it had felt to talk to someone about Jax without feeling like “the criminal’s widow.”
As she walked across the living area, chill air hit her skin. She stepped toward the environmental control panel next to her bedroom door, but as her gaze passed the open doorway she froze. Something silvery glinted on her nightstand.
What is that?
She crept into the bedroom, chills running up her arms. Atop her journal lay a triangular piece of metal. It looked like a knife.
No, as she got closer she realized it was too wide to be a knife and had no real handle, but it looked deadly sharp. She reached the nightstand and sat down on the edge of the bed, tears burning her eyes as she read the word “Mary” carved into the metal in Jax’s signature scrawl.
She slid from the edge of the bed and landed on her knees, her hips sinking until she was sitting on her heels. Her hands found their way into her bangs and her torso rocked back, forth, back, forth, tears streaming her cheeks and dripping from her chin.
Jax….Oh, God, thank you…
The door to Maddie’s pub slammed behind Jax as he exited. His head swam from too much ale. It had been an unusually good haul today—but as his dust-encrusted boot caught on a rock and he stumbled to regain his balance, he wondered if maybe he’d celebrated a little too hard. But celebrations were something that came few and far between for him. Most days he was happy just to be alive.