He flashed me one of my favorite smiles, then tossed me onto his back. I wrapped my legs tightly around him as I held my arms up high in the air, like a bird soaring through the sky. Riding on his back had always been one of my favorite things to do, but I enjoyed it so much more now.

When we arrived back at the house there was no one to be heard. We wanted to leave it that way so we quietly sneaked into our room through the window. would be commanding us soon enough. I sat down on the bed, watching Vlaic as he went into his closet and pulled out a perfectly wrapped package. He walked over and set it down in front of me. He smiled from ear to ear. "For you, my love."

I ran my hand over the blue ribbon as I looked down at the blue flowery paper. It seemed a waste to open it; it was so beautiful on its own. The paper was decorated with single white and blue roses and little singing blue birds. My eyes gazed over the shape and size as I tried to figure out what might lay inside. It was an odd rectangle shape, something in between an A3 and A4. It also felt very heavy. It must have been at least three inches thick.



"Open it please."

I carefully and slowly untied the ribbon, which led to a sigh from Vlaic. He was growing impatient. I slid my finger underneath the joins of the paper as I tried to pull it open without tearing it. Vlaic sighed again. I gasped as I opened the paper, inside was a huge photo album, trimmed in ivory silk. On the cover of the album was a large picture of our daughter and me. It was taken last year when we went hunting for bears up north with the rest of the family. We were both covered in blood and mud, but smiles were beaming from our faces. The picture spelled happiness; it was one of my favorites.

I looked up at Vlaic, un-shed tears glistening in my eyes. "Thank you."

"You like it?"

"Of course I do."

He sat down next to me, wrapping his arm around my shoulder as he placed a kiss on my head. "Why don't you open it?"

I nodded my head as I turned the page. Inside the first page was a picture of Monica just minutes after she was born. She was lying in her Aunt Rose's arms. Her eyes were so wide and aware of what was going on around her as she gazed up at her Aunt,

Monica's left hand on her cheek. I guessed she was asking her about me. Vlaic had told me that was all she was concerned about after she was born. I turned the next page and it was full of similar pictures, Monica being held with different family members. It wasn't till the tenth page that there was one of Monica and me. The first time I held her. The first time I had met my daughter. I ran my hand along her face. She was so tiny then, though she looked more like a three-month-old baby than a newborn.

I flicked through more pages. Vlaic had included every important moment. I stopped when I saw a picture of Alex and Monica . The first time he had met her. I smiled down at the picture. I had never thought that I would be able to share my daughter with Alex, but he had widely accepted her as his granddaughter with no questions asked. I was so thankful for being able to keep Alex in my life all these years. He was getting old now; he was turning sixty four this year. I might only get another twenty years with him. Another reason why I wasn't ready to leave Shade Port .

"We'll visit him, Jose, as often as you like," Vlaic whispered into my neck.

I turned to him, smiling. "Thank you." I placed a kiss on his cheek. "I would feel worse leaving him if he didn't have Sue. I know at least he will still have Seth and Leah popping in and out of his life, as well as Leah's child, and his grandchildren. I know he won't be alone, but I'll miss him all the same. Soon time will pass, and I won't have the chance to visit him any more... he'll be gone."

Vlaic closed the book and set it aside, pulling me onto his lap. I rested my head into his chest as soft sobs escaped my throat. "I'm sorry, Jose."

I looked up at him, shaking my head. "No, Vlaic. None of this is your fault. It's just the way it is. I knew what would happen and what I would lose. It's worth every minute I have of you. I chose this... it's... it's just not that easy to bear."

"I'm sorry you have to hurt like this, Jose, if I could take it away from you I would."

I lay in his arms sobbing as he tried to kiss the pain away, we stayed like that for over an hour, only stopping when there was a knock at the door. I looked to Vlaic wondering who was there.

"Come in," Vlaic called.

I watched as Jacklyn skipped into the room, taking a seat beside us on the bed. She pulled my hand into hers. Her face looked sympathetic. "It'll be okay, Jose, Alex iss happy, he understands it's not safe for you here, he wants you to be safe." I nodded at her kind words. "You'll be able to call him whenever you like. He's even going to learn to email, just to keep in touch with you." I laughed at the thought of Alex sending me emails. "Vlaic's going to get him a laptop with a webcam. Seth will show him how it works; you'll be able to see each other whenever you want. This will work for you both; you'll both be happy. I promise."

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