“This is awesome!” Ambrose exclaimed as he stood in front of the house.
“You don’t think, it’s kind of, I don’t know, small?” Lynette asked.
“Yeah, it’s way smaller than my parent’s house BUT I don’t have to see my so called father everyday anymore,” He said.
“Come on Ambrose, he basically payed for this place and he didn’t have to,” Apollo scolded.
“He’s right you know,” Lynette agreed.
“You too?” Ambrose sighed. “We need to set some rules so that nothing gets too awkward in here.”
“It won’t get awkward,” Lynette said casually. “Apollo and I have been friends since college. There isn’t any way that I’m going to let him shirk out of his responsibilities of being a father. He helped make these little guys, so he has to help too!”
“Lyn, come on, I promise that I will. I love them to death,” Apollo said, snuggling Scarlett closer to his chest.
“You’ve picked a favorite already?” She asked. “No favoritism!”
“This isn’t favoritism!” Apollo exclaimed. “She just likes me better than the other two. Don’t pretend like you don’t feel that way about Ken.”
“And I have to give Bailey the love that you guys don’t,” Ambrose joked. “Such bad parents. No wonder you’re divorced.”
“Excuse me!” Lynette called after him. “You don’t even have a girlfriend!”
Surprisingly, the three had gotten along well together. In the mornings, Lynette worked at the police station and Ambrose and Apollo took care of the children. When Lynette got home, she’d take a quick nap before going into mother mode. Ambrose had opted out of college, saying he needed to help Apollo. It sounded like a copout but he was grateful for the extra help. Raising three children on his own was a daunting task. Despite Lynette’s growing paycheck and Ambrose’s sold artworks, they couple couldn’t afford to throw a party for the children and instead had a small get together at home. They were saving all of their money for a bigger house, and soon they would need one. The house only had one bedroom. Apollo and Ambrose slept on a bunk bed and Lynette slept on a separate bed across the room. There was one crib in the bedroom, one in the hallway and one in the living room. There was barely enough room for the three of them to coexist, let alone raise three growing children. Lynette was ecstatic to see that both Scarlett and Ken had her hair and skin tone. Bailey looked remarkably like her dad with black hair and paler skin.
With their aging up came a very peculiar package in the mail addressed to the triplets. “Did you order anything online?” Apollo asked Lynette when she had come home that day.
“Not really, and if I did, I would put my name not theirs,” She said, grabbing the package from his hand. “It’s pretty big, what do you think is inside?”
“I don’t know, why don’t you open it?” Apollo asked.
“Alright, step back. I’m a professional. I have to be willing to risk my life for the civilians.” She kneeled down and opened the box as Apollo rolled his eyes. It wasn’t that serious. What could be inside that box, anyway?
“Oh, hey!” Lynette exclaimed gleefully. “I had one of these when I was little!” She held one close to her chest. “My mother gave it to me. She said it was from long lost relative or something. Man, it was my favorite toy.”
“I’ve never seen those things before in my life.” Apollo shrugged. “Are they stuffed animals?”
“They’re called imaginary friend dolls. The package that mine came in said to name it and talk to it all the time, kind of like an imaginary friend and we’d grow a bond. It’s corny, but I really did feel like I had a connection with my doll.” Lynette smiled at the thought of her memories.
“Oh yeah?” Apollo smirked. “What did you name yours?”
Lynette laughed. “Nothing crazy. His name was David. I had this whole backstory for him and everything. He was a green boy, about my age and all of the kids made fun of him because he was green and scaly, everyone except for me. I know it’s a corny story, I should have made him superhero or something,but I don’t know. That’s what stuck with me.”
Apollo thought for a moment. Could it really be? Was her imaginary friend David, the one who locked him up? Or was he just being paranoid. David had mentioned something about a human forgetting about him, and he was indeed green and scaly. But, those things were just dolls, there’s no way they could have that power right? Either way, he didn’t want to find out. “I don’t think our children should be playing with them.”
“What? Why not?” Lynette frowned. “I think that the kids should be able to play with something their mommy got to play with.”
“No, I don’t think it’s a good idea. I mean, we don’t even know where they came from,” Apollo argued.
“I’m a police officer, I know that they’re safe. I don’t see any threats in these dolls.” That was that, Lynette had always gotten the last call and she placed one doll into each of the toddler’s cribs
Apollo had thought about taking the dolls from their cribs when they were sleeping, but he couldn’t once he saw how attached the kids got to the dolls. Especially Scarlett who had loved her doll. She was only a toddler and she already had him wrapped around her finger. He couldn’t take the one toy away from her that she loved above all else. He was sure that Lynette’s story and his past was just a coincidence.
“Mmmm,” Ken sounded out.
“So close!” She said excitedly. “Mom.”
“Mama,” he squeaked out.
The utterence brought tears to Lynette’s eyes. She swooped the little boy up into her arms and snuggled him close. “He did it. He said mama!”
“Mama!” He said happily. The three had decided to take one child and teach them three necessary skills, walking, talking and using the potty. WIth Lynette’s work schedule, and the children’s need for constant attention, there was no way for one of them to do it themselves. Plus, they believed that switching the teacher over would only confuse the children. Ken had been the first one to talk, and Lynette was feeling more than satisfied.
“Uncle,” Ambrose told Bailey. He had wanted to teach her a new word. Mom and Dad were of course the simplest, but they weren’t around and he didn’t want her to refer to him as dad. That had caused enough trouble in his life. “I’m your uncle.”
“Un il?” Bailey said.
“Uncle,” Ambrose repeated.
“Un il,” Bailey repeated.
“Uncle,” Ambrose said patiently.
“Untle!” She said happily.
“Close enough!” He chuckled as he ruffled her hair.
It brought tears to Apollo’s eyes as he watched his little girl toddle over to him. She had recognized his voice and tried to reach him, but she fell to the floor once Apollo had stood her up. “Let’s try this again,” He said more to himself than her. He picked her up and placed her on the other side of the deck. “Come to Daddy!”
Scarlett took one step and then another, and another. She was walking! Apollo couldn’t believe his eyes. He was so lost in thought that he didn’t realize that Scarlet had made her way into his arms. “Good girl! Daddy loves you!” He kissed her forehead and set her back at the beginning for more practice.
“Grandpa, what are you doing here?” Ambrose asked, as he opened the front door.
“I was hoping to talk to Apollo, is he here?” Levi asked. Levi had been slowly aging, but it had been almost six years since Athena had died. Levi seemed to still be going well.
“No,” Ambrose shook his head. “He took Ken over to the library. The little boy loves to read. Can you believe it?”
“Kids are wonderful things,” Levi said. “They grow up so fast, so keep an eye on them and make each moment count.”
“I know, I can’t believe they got so big already,” Ambrose commented.
“Let me ask you something, if you had the chance to live forever and alone or have a family and live only a short life, which would you choose?” Levi questioned.
“I’d like to think I’d want to live forever, but I wouldn’t want to be alone. Not after I’ve got to be with these kids. I love them too much,” Ambrose answered.
“Good, keep in mind that family is number one, and will always be. Please remind Apollo that. Tell him that no matter what happens, to instill his kids with love, courage and hope. No matter what happens he has to teach them to be strong and stand their ground. This world may not be the kindest, and it may seem like theres someone out to get you. Those kids need to fight for what they think is right.”
“Will do, gramps. Why don’t you come in and see the kids?” Ambrose stepped to the side.
“Only for a little while, my bones are already feeling sore.” Levi held his hand to his back. “Getting old sucks.” But he wouldn’t give it up for anything, because that meant he’d never be staring at the incredible family in front of him. He was glad to live this long, but it was time for him to let go and reunite with his love.
“I’m sorry about your grandfather,” Lynette said quietly.
“Thanks,” Apollo said, eyes never leaving the screen of his laptop.
“What are you doing?” She asked.
“Writing, it helps clear my head. I lost out four years of hanging out with my grandfather, and I’ve been so preoccupied with the kids that I haven’t been paying much mind to my family at all. The worst part is that Ambrose said he spoke to him the same day that he died. He said that my grandfather came over and gave him this whole speech to tell me. The man knew he was dying, and where was I? I was in my own little world. I’m so damn selfish.”
“You aren’t!” Lynette said quickly. “It didn’t sound like he was annoyed or felt neglected. Your grandfather lived a long and prosperous life. If he was upset with you, he’d hold out a little longer to yell at you or something. No, he was ready to go. he missed his wife, I bet. He’s probably up there watching you right now. Don’t do this to yourself.”
“How can I not feel like a total idiot when my world is only focused on one thing? I’m so stressed right now, Lyn, and I feel so helpless,” He held his head in his hands.
“You need someone that you can share your problems with, that will always be there for you. Ambrose and I care so much about you, but you need someone else to rely on. We can only do so much,” Lynette said.
Apollo shook his head. “That’s the worst thing I could possibly do, bring another person into my life that I can neglect.”
“You need a person who won’t care about that. One that will know what you’re going through and give you your space. Just think about it. Apollo, you need to find someone to love. You don’t have to feel like it’s off limits because you have kids. Look at me, I’m dating Jordan and he’s been nothing but supportive.”
She was right, but there was really only one person he wanted. He was stupid and naive for attaching himself to every guy that kissed him. It would only get him in trouble, but what the hell did his heart care? It had been years, and it still beat faster at the thought of him. Shaking his head, Apollo tried to lose the thought from his head. He was happy as he was, and he didn’t need anyone to make it more complicated.
Coming home from the funeral, Apollo thought he could hide his pain from his family, but he couldn’t. As soon as he saw Scarlett’s sparkling eyes, he broke down. She reached for his leg to be picked up and he obeyed. Snuggling her closer to him, he began to cry. He tried not to, but they flowed mercilessly from his eyes. He had held it in for so damn long. His insecurities began to surface. He was in a house with so many people yet he felt completely and totally alone. He loved his children so much, but not even their presence could fill the hole that was expanding in his heart. Watching Lynette go off day after day with her boyfriend Jordan, and listening to Ambrose talk to his best friend about girls, made him feel like he couldn’t be love. Because, if he could, where was Prince Charming? Nobody wanted a man with three kids, that was baggage. He began to think about his dead ambitions. At one point in time, he wanted to be a CEO of a big company, but here he was, struggling to save enough money for a bigger house. He wanted more for his family, and he couldn’t provide it. His grandfather’s death was enough to make the feelings spill over. He had waited too long, and he of all people should have known the importance of time. “Daddy?” Scarlett asked innocently. “No cwy. No.” It had been some time since he had taught her how to talk and she was already a natural. She looked at him with determination in her eyes and repeated her original sentiment. “No cwy. I wuv you.”
He didn’t know if she understood but he felt like she needed to know. He rubbed her back soothingly. “You don’t know how much I needed that.” Looking at her, had made him feel 10x better, because yeah, he saw a lot of fault in himself but at the end of the day, if it meant he could keep his beautiful children, he’d give up anything.
Apollo found himself writing more and more. What once was a hobby, became a therapeutic release. He needed to get his feelings out and he couldn’t take it out on Ambrose who was trying so hard to help him or Lynette who had been working so hard to keep a steady income for the family. Apollo, because of his degree in business, had been able to reconnect with someone he had met years before (he couldn’t really remember them, but if they were willing to help, he’d go along with it). who essentially got him a book agent. With each chapter he sent in, the flow of income increased. He was able to pull himself out of one rut, and with some soul searching, he’d realized the true meaning his grandfather had been trying to tell him, pulling him out of the second one. Hidden behind his grandfather’s words was the image of the guardians, Damian and Mason. No matter who tried to force themselves on the children, he had to protect them. He knew he’d have to pick a heir eventually, and by doing that, he would be essentially making them a target, but he had to teach them to stand their ground and instill that same passion that Athena had passed down to Noah that he had ultimately passed to to Apollo himself. The road ahead was looking brighter and brighter, but he knew there was an obstacle waiting to present itself. He would make sure that his children would be ready to face that threat when it came.
I just want to say that I’m happy that there is finally some female children in the Gray family! Thanks for reading 🙂