Embers (Inferno 3) - Page 1


To My Baby

My sweetest love,

I knew it wouldn't last, but I still dared to hope. You see, when he took me as his new wife he made a promise that no matter what happened between us, everything would be okay. Has he made the same promise to you? I'm sure he has.

I bet you're a girl. Did he make you bear his children? God, I hope he didn't; I pray that you were spared from having to become just like me. But if he did, watch them; keep them close to you because the moment you think it's safe—the very second everything seems to be normal, he'll snatch them away from you just like he did you to me. He'll make you believe that he loves them and that he'll never do to them what he's done to you, but he's a liar. Please don't fall for the words that slip from his silver tongue.

I love you. I love you so much. Remember that when things seem dark and whatever happens, I want you to know that I've never been more proud of anything in my life than the moment I felt you kick inside of me. That's when I knew that I had finally gotten something right. Even though I never got the chance to hold you, please remember me.

Love always,

Mom

Mom died almost a year to the day that Dad put her back into the well. He stopped going to check on her when he realized that maybe I wasn't too young to take care of his needs after all. A little bit of training and easing me into the things he liked, and just like that, Jocelyn became a distant memory.

I had my first child when I was twelve, the second at thirteen, and the third one at fifteen. I’ve managed to keep them away from their father and they seem to be happy for the most part—and to be honest, so does he.

Time has taken a toll on the old man and I can tell he won’t last for much longer. Oh, but he’s stubborn; too stubborn and I know that he won’t leave until he’s good and ready.

Everything has to be on Dad’s terms because it’s the only way he knows how to function. He doesn’t seem to be bothered by the sands of time spilling over his head into the almost full end of the hourglass, if anything, he seems to be looking forward to it.

So am I.

Even though it will hurt me when he takes his last breath, I think it’ll hurt me even more if he continues to watch our children with the same intent that he watched me, and my mother before me, and her brothers along with her.

Dad lost his way a long time ago. I don’t know what happened to him to make him the monster that he became, but my heart hurts for the man he could have become. A loving husband, a doting father, an amazing grandfather—but his mind is rotten with ill intent and the need to taste each drop of dew from his family tree, and for that reason alone, if he doesn’t succumb to whatever illness is plaguing him this time, I’ll have to look the man that I love most of all in the eye, and send him on his way.

For my children.

For my mother.

For her brothers.

For the end.

"Go outside and play,” I say softly to Cleo giving her a gentle shove toward the door. Her brother and sister are already outside picking wildflowers like I used to be so fond of doing when I was young. She has a habit of wandering around the house looking for Dad, but I always manage to get to her before she finds him.

He’s been good with them so far, and when he tucks them in at night, I’m standing in the doorway watching. It pisses him off, but not much doesn’t these days.

Dad has been sick more often than not lately, and we both know his end is near. It’s just a matter of when now.

Every time I offer to take him to see a doctor, or even to an emergency room, he declines and tells me that he’ll be alright.

“Don’t worry about me, baby. Daddy will be just fine as long as you’re by his side,” he always says.

Lately, he’s had more good days than bad and I would be lying if I didn’t say it brought me some comfort that he’s still here. Even with all that he’s put me through, I don’t know a life outside these walls and I’ll be completely lost when Dad dies, so I do my best to nurse him back to health each time he gets closer to death’s door.

“Darbs!”

His gruff voice echoes throughout the house and I quickly close the door, locking it so that the children can’t come back in before I call for them.

I move as quickly as I can because he doesn’t like to be kept waiting. My heart races with the impending thoughts of what he’ll require of me. Will it be a simple conversation? To just have me sit with him for a while? Or will he want something more—something I don’t want to give.

I run up the stairs and jog down the hall to his bedroom, pushing the door open and walking in slowly.

“Hey,” I greet him softly.

“Come here,” he says, holding a hand toward me. He’s leaning against the wall, watching the children play outside. Time has been kind to his appearance—his hair is still mostly black as is his beard, though there is more gray with each passing day. He keeps his body as strong as it will allow him, and that damn grin hasn’t faded away like most of his spirit has.

He’s still the same bastard that I remember when I was young, and he’ll never show any signs of slowing down. No matter how much his body wants to give out on him.

I walk over to him and take his hand, allowing him to pull him closer to where he’s standing. He rubs the top of my hand with this thumb before he lets it go and sucks his teeth.

“How long are you leaving them outside for?” he asks, narrowing his eyes against the sudden burst of sunlight that breaks through the sparse clouds in the crystal blue sky.

“I don’t know. Cleo just went out and Richter and Skylar haven’t been out very long.”

He grunts and crosses his arms over his chest. He continues to watch them in silence until Cleo wanders too close to the well.

Dad immediately lifts the window halfway, leans out, and yells at her.

“I told you not to go near that fucking thing! Go back to your brother and sister or come back inside,” he barks at her.

Cleo looks up at him before she covers her face with her small hands as she runs over to her siblings and I can tell she’s

crying.

“You shouldn’t be so hard on her—she’s just curious,” I say to him softly.

“Yeah well I never got around to scraping the bitch out of there and she doesn’t need to see that,” he grumbles, lowering the window again. He places his hands on the sill and sighs heavily. “Look, I’m sorry. I don’t get why I’m such a bastard these days. I guess it’s because I’m getting so damn tired lately and watching those kids is the only thing I can do to keep me sane.”

I nod, even though he can’t see me, and turn to walk out of his room.

“Where are you going?” he asks.

I glance over my shoulder and see him now sitting on as much of the sill as he can, arms crossed over his chest again, eyeing me dangerously.

“I was going to get some lunch together for the kids,” I reply cautiously.

That grin—the damning one, the one that tells me that he wants the one thing I don’t want to provide, starts to slip across his ruggedly handsome face.

“Want some company?”

I don’t.

I don’t want his company, but I don’t want to leave him alone either. If I do, who knows what will happen to him. He fell the last time he was alone, and it was a struggle to get him back up the stairs to his room, so I had to leave him in the den and tell the kids to stay away from the door. They get so angry with me when I tell them to stay away from their father, but they don’t understand, and I’ll never tell them.

They don’t need to know that their father is no father at all, rather a monster that walks in the daylight among them, hunting their innocence.


Tags: Yolanda Olson Inferno Dark
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