At first all he could hear was the sounds of birds singing, which was odd because he was standing in a pitch black forest. The night hung heavy around him, wrapping him in a blanket of cool air. He stumbled forward, his small feet carrying him closer to the source of the noise. Tears stung his face as he stumbled through the dark. He felt so incredibly lonely, and hot despite the chill in the air. He wasn’t sure how long he had been walking, but he was scared and wanted nothing more to be snuggled up in the arms of–
“Gustavo” he heard his name and jumped, it sounded like-
“Gustavo my baby come to me,” the voice said again. His mind was reeling, it was so familiar. Flitting on the tip of his tongue like the wind wrapping itself around him. The sound of her voice became all consuming, it sounded like his mother.
At the moment of recognition his eyes grew wide, searching the darkness in front of him. A hopeful tone filled his voice, “Mommy! Mommy where are you?” he shouted into the night air. It echoed around him, mingling with the sounds of the birds. A second later his call was met with a soft response.
“Follow my voice mi nino, come to me my love.” She sounded like she was in front of him, so he picked up his pace making his way near blindly over rocks and fallen logs in the pitch black of the jungle.
Despite his excitement, tears continued to roll down his cheeks, as he scrambled across the dense terrain. “Mama! Where are you I don’t see you?!” His voice echoed again, ringing in his ears. She answered once more and she sounded like she was coming from everywhere and nowhere at once. It took a moment for him to single out the solid sound of her voice, and once he did he determined she was to the west. Even though he was tired, and his legs and feet were sore, he kept walking. Pushing through large leaves almost as big as he was.
It felt like it took an eternity.
And then he saw her, standing in front of a large glittering archway. Her figure seemed faded, like it was struggling to stay solidly formed. Flicking as if she were a light bulb just about to g out. He broke out into an uninhibited run, “Mama!!!!”
The woman smiled, crouched and held her arms out for him. When their bodies touched he felt her materialize around him. He could smell the scent of petrichor on her hair, her skin was warm and felt as if blood was running underneath her coca colored skin.
“Ahhh mi niño I missed you,” she wrapped her arms around him in a big hug. Her voice cracking with longing. Gustavo broke out into a hard sob.
“My baby, oh my baby,” she cried, stroking his hair and kissing his cheeks. Gustavo sniffed a few times before smiling, wiping the tears from his eyes. The smile on Delmar’s face faded gradually, turning into a concerned thin line, it seemed if she were struggling to hold herself together.
“Mama I heard you calling me and I came! Why are you out here? Why aren’t you home with me and papa?” he asked, noticing the expression on her face change.
“Oh. Mi niño…….You need to go back my love. You cannot stay here with me.”
Gustavo’s face fell, “…but I wanna stay here with you,” he whined.
“Oh my baby. I know you do. But you have something very very important to do. And,” she smiled knowingly, “you have someone who loves you. Wouldn’t they miss you?”
Gustavo frowned, his childlike voice raising in protest, “The only people who love me is you and papa!”
Delmar then smiled brightly, “That is true, your papa and I love you very much. But there is someone else who loves you almost as much as I do. You need to go back to her my love. Can you be a good boy and do that for me?”
“But momma I don’t wanna go back without you!…”
Delmar didn’t answer, instead kissing him on his cheeks again. A moment later her eyes glittered with tears and her figure started to fade quickly, along with the glittering archway behind her.
“Mama don’t leave me!” he groped for her and felt nothing but air.
“Don’t worry my love. I am always with you. I promise.” Her figure, and the archway behind her were replaced with nothingness.
Gustavo awoke in a white room. There was a mechanical sounding beeping ringing in his ears that he just wished would shut up. His head was killing him, his body felt heavy and foreign. He thought he had a dream about his mother, but it was fleeting and the more he tried to focus his still waking mind on her, the faster it faded from his memory. He could only seem to remember that glittering archway but he didn’t know why that stuck out more than anything else. A deep loneliness began to settle in his heart when he felt a warm limb brush against his arm. He looked to his side and saw Bronwyn sleeping in the chair next to him. Her head leaned on the edge of the bed. He blinked, and surveyed the room again realizing he was in the hospital. The next thing he realized was the ache in his back. Slowly he tried to adjust his position but the moment he stirred and Bronwyn jumped awake.
“Gustavo! Oh my god. Your awake thank fuckin god,” she breathed. Her face was sunken with exhaustion, her braids were matted and fuzzy. Quickly she leaned up and hugged him hard, kissing his cheeks and forehead, “They thought you might not wake up,” tears were forming in her eyes her voice sounded hoarse. Like she had been crying a lot recently. Even now he reached up and brushed a stray drop from her cheek.
“I’m here,” he whispered looking at her like he was seeing her for the first time. His heart swelled, “How long have I been in here?”
“It’s been a few days.” Wyn replied, Gustavo wiped another stray tear from her cheek,
“Mi amor stop crying. Tell me what happened???”
“Uhm. You got bit by a spider, it turned out to be really poisonous. It’s so weird, I was freaking out, and I got a call from your Aunt….imagine that in the middle of the fuckin jungle. There was NO reception. But she called, and gave me the recipe of a herbal remedy. It helped bring your fever down a lot….and then uhm. I used that walkie Mathias gave us? I wasn’t sure if it was going to work but, a couple hours later a emergency helicopter came and brought us here.” She spoke quickly, and sat in her small seat again looking uncomfortable.
“Come here,” he motioned, scooting over a bit so she could share the bed with him. She settled next to him on the small bed.
“Are you ok?” he asked, brushing a stray braid out of her face.
“Yeah. I was freaking out though. The venom had spread so much, they said I gave you that remedy just in time or you would of….” tears started forming in her eyes again.
“Ay, stop crying please, I’m awake now I’m not going anywhere I promise ok?” He cooed kissing her softly on the lips.
Wyn sniffled again, “I’m just so glad your back.”
Gustavo nodded, “Thank you for taking care of me,” he searched her eyes for a moment, seeing heartache and fear in them.
“Your welcome,” she replied with a weak smile which became overpowered by a wide yawn.
“How long has it been since you actually slept?” he asked, noting the dark bags under her eyes.
She laughed blushing slightly, “I’ve been sleeping here and there.”
“Mami you need your rest, here come nap,” he pulled her close to him, stroking the crown of her head.
“We gotta wait for the nur-”
He interrupted her, “You take a nap, the nurse can come later,” he answered.
Wyn gazed at him for a moment before kissing him again. Hard. She was so glad he was awake. When they arrived in the hospital the doctors were somber about the outcome, her heart felt like it was breaking each day that he remained asleep and unconscious to the world. Now that he was awake, she felt elated, but extremely exhausted. So she snuggled up against him, feeling the warmth of his body against hers.
Gustavo watched her doze, her near sleeping face looked peaceful and the strain of the past few days seemed to be slipping away. Even though he didn’t remember what happened, he knew he missed her. Seeing her here in the hospital, at his side, crying for him, taking care of him made him feel a way he hadn’t felt about a woman before. At first it confused him, it was a strange and vulnerable feeling, but then the more he thought of her, the more he began to fully realize what he was feeling.
She stirred slightly, “mmm?”
“Look at me I need to tell you something,” he cupped her chin with his hand and brought her head up. She gazed at him with sleepy eyes,
“What is it?” she mumbled, half asleep. He felt a knot in his gut, taking a breath,
“Estoy enamorado de ti,” he breathed.
Wyn’s eyebrows scrunched together, “Mmm? What does that mean?” she asked, barely awake.
“I’m– in love with you,” he repeated watching her face carefully. At first she frowned, then slowly her face lit up.
“Wait? What? Really???” she was now fully awake, staring at him intently.
“Yes,” he replied. Before she could answer he continued, “You don’t have to love me back…not yet. Not if your not ready but. I just needed you to know that.”
Wyn continued to stare at him causing his heart to attempt to beat out of his chest. He knew it was a risk, but who would he be if he wasn’t a risk taker to some degree. It was silent in the room for a few minutes. Then tears yet again started welling up in her eyes. She leaned forward and kissed him again, slow and hard. He tasted the saltiness of her tears on his lips, and then she pulled away holding his face in her hands.
For a moment she just stared at him, drinking him in, etching his face into her memory, the face that she wanted to see everyday from this point on.
“I love you too,” she whispered.
Gustavo grinned relieved, “Yeah?”
She laughed and kissed him again, “Yeah.”
Climbing into his lap she kissed him harder and more passionately than she ever had– when they heard a knock in the open doorway.
“Ah, Mr. Rivera, your awake!” the nurse aid entered the room with a huge grin on their face. “You might wanna give it a few days before you….ya know. We gotta make sure your heart is strong enough.” They grinned and both Gustavo and Bronwyn’s faces flushed.
Quickly, Wyn climbed off of him and the bed, brushing her clothes full of wrinkles. The nurse aid winked at them, “Well now that your up, we can run some more tests and then hopefully send ya home! Lucky guy you are, she stayed by your side this whole time.”
Gustavo reached out and took Bronwyn’s hand in his, “Yeah. I’m lucky as hell.”
Mathias finishing up some paperwork when a phone rang. It wasn’t a tone he was familiar with, and it took a second for him to realize that it was Bronwyn’s phone ringing. Quickly he rushed to open the drawer that it was in, groping it out of its place in the back of the drawer. The LED screen was lit up,
“Incoming Call from Home.” Mathias was elated, finally. He nearly shouted in excitement, but held it together- barely. On the final ring another notification popped up, that prompted him to listen to the voicemail. Quicky he confirmed the notification before the phone locked itself. He brought the phone up to his ear listening intently, wishing, hoping and praying that it was Fallon. The message was silent for a few moment before he heard a voice on the line,
“Hey kiddo. We hope your okay…. your mother and I have been tryin’ to call. I know you don’t have good reception out there but…it’s been awhile? We hope you are ok. Anyway uh. Your mother is in the hospital. The baby decided to try and come a little early….6 weeks early to be exact. Your mother…she’s fine but she misses you and would love to hear from you. That’s all. We both love you so much kiddo. I’m sure your doing a great job! That Gustavo boy better be being a gentleman. I don’t wanna have to kill him when you get back. Amara and Xena miss you. If you call and I don’t answer uh, the reception in the hospital isn’t great but I will call you back as soon as I can. Would be great to hear from you. I love you.”
Nigel’s voice grated Mathias’ nerves. So Fallon was still with that Kalani man? And they were having a baby? He could feel rage bubbling in his gut. He leaned his head back, tempted to throw the phone as hard as he could, breaking it into pieces. But he refrained as a moment of clarity came to him. The Book of Edmundo would fix all of this, and he had always wanted kids. His ex-wife Melissa left him before they even got the chance to try.
The more he followed this train of thought, the calmer he became, and the more and more he knew that his plan most definitely, needed to work. He was so close he could taste it. He just needed a bit more patience and she would be his. He would get prize that he so desperately wanted.