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The Final Kiss
“Daddy?” a little brunette girl said.
The man in the swivel chair turned around to face his daughter. His green eyes met hers and smiled.
“Yes, Maddy?” he asked.
“What are you looking at?”
He beckoned her over and hoisted her up onto his lap, letting her see the photo album he was looking at. It was from his wedding.
“Is that Mommy?” Maddy asked, pointing at a picture of a fairly short brunette in a white gown holding a bouquet of purple roses. She was laughing at something happening behind the camera.
“Yeah, Maddy, that’s Mommy,” he sighed.
“She’s pretty! I want to be like her when I grow up!” she exclaimed.
He laughed at his daughter. She didn’t know how much she was like her mother now.
A knock on the door drew his attention away from the pictures. Then it opened and another little brunette girl rushed into the room.
“Uncle Elijah!” she screamed.
He slid Maddy off his lap and picked the other one up, hugging her to him.
“Ella!” Maddy said, messing with the hem of her purple shirt, “Want to come see what you want me to bring over?”
Ella jumped off Elijah’s lap and the two girls ran hand-in-hand to Maddy’s room.
“She does know that I’m not really her uncle, right?” he asked the brunette that walked through the door.
“Yeah, but you’re a close family friend. Might as well be her uncle in my opinion, Eden thought that Ella was her niece. She’s been my ‘sister’ since high school.” She shrugged.
He thought about it for a second. “Point taken.”
“What are you looking at?” she asked, peering over his shoulder at the photo album.
“Best time of her life,” she said after flipping through the pages. “She was walking on air for about four months after that.”
“Yeah,” he sighed. “Brigid…”
“Hmm?” she asked.
He saw her wipe her eyes and look away for a second. She missed her, too. He could tell that she didn’t want to break down again, but she’d gotten better. She doesn’t get hysterical anymore.
She didn’t try to argue.
“Aunt Brigid, are we having McDonald’s for dinner?” Maddy asked.
Both girls giggled.
“We better get going,” she said to Elijah. “C’mon girls!”
Maddy walked over to her dad and reached for his hand. As they strode out of the room, he couldn’t suppress the memories…
“C’mon,” she whispered in his ear.
Her hands ran down his shoulders and arms. Gently, she kissed him on the neck making him paralyzed for a second. While he was frozen, she plucked his pen from his hand and ran.
“Eden!” he laughed.
“Yes?” she taunted.
“Give me my pen.”
She dropped it down her shirt. “Come get it.”
He chased her to the living room and tackled her onto the couch. He pinned her arms above her head, leaving her no way to get out from under him. Slowly running his fingers down her neck, he retrieved the pen from her shirt.
“Not fair,” she breathed.
“How so?” he whispered on her neck.
Her head lolled back going farther into the pillows.
“To…to…” Her argument was lost.
“By the way, I got it.”
He got off her before she could get energy back in her to chase after him. He went back into his study and continued working.
“Elijah,” she said from the door way.
Stowing his pen away, he turned to face her. Quickly, she made her way over to him and straddled his lap, kissing him passionately.
He decided against thinking about the rest of that particular memory, especially because his four year old daughter was right beside him. He walked with the girls to Brigid’s car and gave Maddy a kiss on the head.
“Thanks for taking her,” he said once Brigid closed the car door.
“No problem.” She smiled.
He smiled in return.
She placed a hand on his shoulder, “Don’t do anything too drastic.”
“I don’t drink anymore that much anymore. Barely, actually.” He grimaced at that part of the past.
“Just call of you need anything, ‘kay?” she asked, opening the driver’s door.
He nodded and smiled. He watched them drive away and then sat in one of the chairs on the porch. He let his mind stray to Eden. Like the time when she came home with the biggest smile on her face…
She almost tripped getting out of the car. She looked so happy even though she left the house feeling sick.
“Elijah!” she screamed, rushing into his arms.
She kissed him with so much force that he practically fell. He picked her up and walked into the house. Still holding her, he placed her back against the now closed door.
Neither of them knew how long they stayed like that. Being so close to each other, kissing with much force, she felt confident in what she hand to say. Unwillingly, she broke away from him and slid out of his grasp.
“Elijah,” she panted, bringing his hands to her stomach, “I’m pregnant.”
“How far along?” he asked, his hands never leaving her stomach.
“About two and a half months,” she sighed with content. “I can’t believe it! A baby!”
A white car pulled into the drive way, dragging him out of his reverie. The girl that got out was the typical tall, blonde, beautiful. She walked to him and kissed him.
“Everything okay?” she asked.
She noticed that he slightly froze under her touch.
“Just an off day for me,” he replied, taking her hand and bringing her into the house.
“Where’s Maddy?” she asked, looking around.
“Her aunt came and took her,” he sighed.
“So we have the house to ourselves?” she said flirtatiously.
“Delilah…” he sighed.
She gently twined her fingers in his hair and brought her mouth to his. She leaned back against the door and let the heat escalate. But, too soon for her liking, Elijah stopped it.
“What’s up? I mean usually you…” she let it trail off. Their lives behind closed doors didn’t really need to be vocalized. “Is there something I need to know about?”
He sighed and looked away.
Realization hit her. “Maddy’s mom! She…”
“What exactly happened to her?” She asked.
He remembered that the best of all, even though it happened three years ago. It was as clear as crystal and never seemed to want to leave his head.
“We just can’t have afford to have a baby right now!” Elijah yelled. “Besides, we just had Maddy! It can wait a bit.”
“Maddy’s almost a year old! Now would be a great time to have another!” she retorted.
He went to his study and yanked open the drawer. Taking the stack of envelops back to the dining room, he smacked them down onto the table. They spilled all over.
“Once we get all of these damn bills paid and we’re not in debt, we can have as many kids as you want!”
“What the hell, Elijah! It doesn’t f*ing matter!”
“Do you not hear yourself? You sound ignorant!”
She looked like she was going to slap him, but she didn’t.
“What if we are never able to get them paid off?” she asked, still yelling.
“Then I’m sorry!”
“I thought you wanted kids!”
“Damn it, Eden! If we don’t have any money, then how can we afford to have kids?”
She narrowed her eyes at him. “I don’t want to wait until Maddy’s years older than her siblings.”
She hit the table so hard that it shook. Maddy began crying from the other room.
“F***!” he hissed under his breath.
“Why do you make it sound like it’s her fault? She’s only eleven months old!” Eden screamed at him.
“I’m leaving,” she announced.
“Don’t leave,” he begged.
“Why?” she hollered. “Want me to stay here and wait for the f*ing bills to be paid off so I can finally have another kid?” she yelled. “We’re probably never going to have another baby!”
“We can barely afford the one we have!”
“Damn it! It’s not her fault!”
“I never said it was!” he defended.
“Then quite acting like it!” she ordered.
“Don’t you have somewhere to be?” he hissed.
She was shocked and pissed at the tone of his voice. She grabbed the keys to her Jeep and stormed out of the house. With an aggravated grunt, he slammed his hands on the table. He noticed the purple cell phone. He slid it off the table and ran outside.
Then everything turned to slow motion.
A car turned the corner, but cut it too wide and ended up in Eden’s lane. She must’ve realized it too late because Elijah saw her swerve out of the way, but it didn’t do any good. A sickening sound of crunching metal and screeching tires resounded through his head. He cringed, and then froze.
No one got out of either car.
“Oh my God,” Delilah gasped. “Did she…?”
“Died on impact,” he finished. “They said she probably went to adjust the AC or radio or both and was hit dead on.”
Delilah sobbed. “No wonder you’re like this! You’re first love-”
“Gone but not forgotten.”
“What from I’ve heard about her, she sounded wonderful. Perfect for you.”
“And Brigid would say that.”
“Is that why she wasn’t at work Friday?”
“She wasn’t at work Friday?”
“When did she, um, pass?” She asked, quickly changing the topic. Maybe she shouldn’t have said anything about Brigid.
“Three years ago today and it does seem like a long time, but Eden was my high school sweetheart.”
“Understandable,” she said, wiping away a few tears that leaked out.
“She must’ve been beautiful. You have such a cute daughter,” she whispered a few moments later.
Elijah gave a weary smile. “She was.”
A few minutes of silence drifted between them. It was comfortable, serene, and full of remembrance, hope, and love.
“Do you want me to stay or leave?” Delilah asked.
He walked to the kitchen and got prepared to make dinner. She stopped him and pecked him one last time before making the dinner herself. He already did enough things.
Elijah sat at the kitchen table and watched as his girlfriend prepared dinner. He tried his hardest to stop thinking so much about Eden, but it was really hard. He loved her. He never stopped loving her. He never would.
After dinner was done, they sat, kissing, on the couch. He couldn’t put much passion into it and she understood why. The doorbell rang, cuing the end of their night.
“I’m glad you didn’t drink yourself to death like the first time,” Brigid said.
Maddy was watching TV, Delilah left, and Brigid left Ella at home. They sat on the porch, remembering.
“I still have someone to live for,” he whispered. “My daughter.”
She smiled at him.
“So why weren’t you at work on Friday?” he asked.
“Oh, no you don’t,” she said.
“Changing the topic and pinning it on me.”
“How about you answer that question and then we can talk about Eden and me?”
“…Fine. I wasn’t at work Friday because I found out that I’m pregnant.”
He just stared at her in surprise.
“I thought you guys were only having one.”
“No, Bryson wanted another one. I was cool with it.”
“How far along are you?”
“About three months-ish. Found out I’m having another girl, though.”
“Continue.” He felt like there was something she wasn’t telling him.
“Bryson and I want her middle name to be Eden, if that’s okay with you.”
“Perfectly fine.” He smiled.
“Daddy?” Maddy said from the door. “I don’t like the show that’s on. Can you come change it for me?”
“I better be going, anyway. See you later, Elijah. Bye-bye Maddy,” Brigid said.
“Bye Aunt Brigid.”
Once Maddy was tucked into bed for the night, he made he was back to the study. He was greeted by another picture of him and Eden.
They were sitting at on of the college football games that Sara, a mutual friend of everyone, dragged them to. She must’ve taken the picture.
It was them, snuggling together, his arms around her waist. That was the night that he decided he was going to propose to her.
“Eden, I love you,” he said to the picture.
Then a memory came to mind. One that he never told anyone…
“We’re really sorry for your losses, Mr. King,” the doctor said.
“Losses?” he asked.
He was already trying not to break down because he lost his love, but someone else? Did they mean the other driver?
“No, my daughter wasn’t in the wreck.” He pointed to where Maddy was being held by Eden’s mother.
“Your wife was pregnant. She wasn’t too far along, though, about a month. You didn’t know?”
“No. I don’t think either of us did.”
The doctor placed a hand on his shoulder, “I’m sorry, Mr. King.”
And he left Elijah alone to break the news to everyone else.
“We’re you trying to tell me you were pregnant, Eden?” he asked the picture.
He was pretty positive she didn’t know either.
But if she did, he wouldn’t have yelled. He wouldn’t have fought with her about it. He wouldn’t have told her to leave. If having all the kids in the world meant having his wife back, he’d do it.
He dragged himself to bed and was lulled to sleep by more memories that seemed like dreams now. He didn’t care. He welcomed them, including the one from the night before she died.
Her hair was all mangled on the pillow. That was all he could see of her. Her lips were pressed to his neck, slow and passionate. Even with all his might, he couldn’t help the moan that slipped out. Eden was doing a few things that should’ve been illegal.
“Shh! You’re going to wake Maddy,” she whispered, coming into view.
She shifted a bit then said, “I know it is.”
“Not what I meant, but that works, too.”
“I love you, Elijah,” she moaned.
He didn’t reply, he was to busy kissing her neck. She bit down on her hand to keep quiet.
When their, for lack of a better word, activities were over, she cuddled to his chest and began to kiss his neck again.
“Elijah?” she asked between kisses.
“Hmm?” he replied breathlessly.
“Nothing. Just start from the beginning again.”
And he did so happily. There wasn’t mush sleeping going on that night.
“Did you know, Eden? Did you know you were going to die?” he whispered.
“No,” a voice whispered. “I just loved you so much and had the weirdest feeling that you loved someone else. But you proved it that night that you didn’t.”
He opened his eyes and saw her sitting on the edge of their bed, smiling at him.
“I love you, Elijah. And that fight we had was silly, but it made me realize that I love you so much…” It looked like she was trying not to cry. “If I were still alive, that baby I was carrying was going to be a boy.”
He didn’t say anything except, “Eden, I love you. I love you so much and I wish there was a way to get you back.”
She smiled and pushed a few stray hairs off his face.
“Go to sleep, love,” she whispered.
And with that, he closed his eyes. She leaned down and kissed him one last time before departing from him.