I am unable to hide my smile as I sink further into the comfort of our sofa. Haven is snuggled contently in my arms, wrapped in her favourite designer blanket gifted by her Uncle Damien. Gucci of course, what else could I expect from him?
Her drowsy half asleep eyes blink heavily at the TV mounted on the wall in front of us. It's almost her bedtime, actually, it's past her bedtime, but I don't want to let her go just yet.
Now one, Haven has grown in the blink of an eye.
She walks, giggles, climbs, and I can finally tie her untamed dark hair back into a little ponytail. I never knew it was possible to love something as much as I love her little, curious soul.
Holding her in my arms has become my most favourite thing in the world.
The news is on currently, sports highlights grabbing our toddlers attention at the same time it does mine.
"Dada!" Haven's tiny finger points desperately at the TV as a preview of Shawn's latest interview airs before us.
He looks good, too good. Confident and composed in his black fitted suit before the camera.
"Yes, that's your Dad" my voice is low, calming as Haven stares at his face on the screen with focused eyes and a wobbly bottom lip. The confusion on her face will always break my heart as she tries to figure out why she can see him but he isn't here at home with her.
"Tomorrow we'll see him, at the airport" I tell her excitedly, though I know she's too young to really understand.
"Dada" she repeats in a smaller voice as Shawn smiles sideways at the camera. Her mischievous green eyes are identical to his, she is his twin. She even has his dimples and the perfectly tanned complexion I envy.
"He'll be home tomorrow" I promise her again as her eyes grow heavy.
Shawn's been away for a few weeks in Las Vegas, attending the latest UFC fight a division below the one he's in. The house is different without him, it feels so quiet and empty. He travels a lot, it's part of his job, and because we both agree we don't want to fly Haven across the country every month, she and I stay here at home.
I still miss him terribly, as does Haven, who has thankfully fallen asleep tonight rather than crying out for him like she usually does when he isn't here.
My footsteps are quiet as I carry her small form into her room. I'm careful not to stir her as I place her down in her crib, guided by the night light on in the corner. I can't help but stare at her for a little too long once I tuck her in. She looks so peaceful when she sleeps, adorable in every sense of the word. I will never get used to the overwhelming sense of love I feel for her. Being a parent is the hardest job in the world, but little moments like this make you forget all of that.
"Goodnight Haven" my whisper is quiet as I kiss her forehead, tiptoeing out of her room and into Shawn and I's instead.
The king bed in the centre looks so empty without him in it. The entire room does actually.
I hum softly as I flop down on the mattress against the pillows. The problem with a house as big as ours, is that once you're by yourself, you really do feel the loneliness.
I allow the thoughts of seeing my husband tomorrow to distract me as I fall asleep ridiculously early, exhausted from being up countless times with Haven the night before.
Just like every other morning, she wakes me up the next day just after six, wide awake and giggling as I walk towards her with a large mug of coffee in my hands.
Ever since she started walking, I can't slow her down. She gets into things that should be impossible, never wanting to sit still or be in one place for longer than a minute. It makes getting ready almost impossible and I swear chasing her around the house has made me the fittest I've ever been in my life.
"Shoes Haven" I remind her impatient little self as she attempts to reach for the door to the garage. Turning around, she hums and assesses the pair of sneakers in my hands.
Seeing her so excited to go in the car and see her Dad, only makes me more excited too. I strap her in to her car seat quickly once I finally get her shoes on, starting the SUV at the same time as the Bluetooth from my phone rings through the speakers.
"Hi Damien" my words make Haven smile. She loves her Uncle Damien, though she never really had a choice. He's smothered her with affection since she was born.
"Are you on your way to the airport with my child yet?" his question makes me scoff as I reverse out of the garage.
"Yes, I'll only be about 10 minutes. You?"
"Same, same. See you then" he answers before hanging up.
As I pull out of our driveway, Natalie, our neighbour, is already smiling eagerly at me from her letterbox. She seems to miraculously appear whenever she hears our gate opening. Although I think she mostly hopes to see Shawn, because her smile hardens somewhat when it's my white car she sees instead.
"Hi Ava" she greets anyway when I roll down my window. "Going to pick up Shawn?" her question is filled with interest.
"Yes, he's finally coming home" I offer her perfect self a polite smile, one she returns somewhat awkwardly.
"Well, Phil and I will have to have you both over for dinner again sometime now he's back" she offers.
"That would be lovely" I do my best to sound enthusiastic.
She nods, satisfied. "See you soon Ava."
I wave goodbye, glancing back at her designer six inch heels through the rear vision mirror as she walks effortlessly back to her three storied house. Phil Stevens is a partner at one of the biggest law firms in the city. He seems to work a lot, leaving his much younger wife Natalie at home a most of the time.
I wish I liked her, I really do. I think I'm just paranoid by the way she hangs on Shawn's every word and always asks after him. Isn't it weird to be so obviously interested in another woman's husband? It could all be harmless. I don't know.
I block the thoughts from my mind, focusing instead on the road and getting to the airport on time for Shawn's flight.
It's easy to spot Damien when we arrive. The bright red Porsche 911 he drives sticks out amongst the other cars it's parked beside. Nothing about Damien has ever been discreet, his car included.
"There's my baby" he grins as he opens my backdoor, ignoring me and helping himself to Haven instead, who wraps her arms around him in a tight hug. "I missed you angel!"
She giggles, grinning up at him with soft eyes.
"Hi Damien, I missed you too" my greeting goes unnoticed by him, he's too busy spinning Haven around in his arms. "It's rude to only use a friend for their child you know."
"Carter won't let me have my own one yet, so we have to share Haven" he explains casually. "I did miss you too Ava, even if I did see you yesterday."
He wraps one arm around me, the other carries Haven as we walk inside the busy airport entrance side by side.
"Mrs Michaels, please follow me to the private arrival gate" a young woman in pristine Airport uniform appears in front of us before we've even reached the front desk.
Damien glances sideways at me, amused by my clear surprise.
It doesn't matter how many times we do this, I'll never get used to going to a secluded arrival gate and waiting for their private jet to land.
YOU ARE READING
Book three of the Underground Series follows the ups and downs of married life, parenthood and an overbearing career, threatening to unravel everything Shawn and Ava fought so hard to protect.