Chapter 6

Three weeks later…

The October air rolled in all to quickly and although she loved the vibrant colors of the fall leaves where ever she walked, Schuyler hated how the cold reminded her of her past on the dirty cot with a thin blanket to keep her barely warm. When the weather grew colder, Carey had taken her shopping for some more clothes and a thick quilt for when she wanted to snuggle up on the couch. Schuyler had to remind herself to pay back Carey for all her generosity these past two months or so she had been living here.

Crawling into the sofa with the quilt, Schuyler watched as Cohen carried wood from Carey’s pourch to the fire place in front of her. He had spent most of his time at the house the women shared since the day she shared her story and she didn’t mind it at all. Although her guard was still up about him, he seemed to have finagled his way around it just to be a friend. He asked questions about her life before being handed off to dirty men and seemed to want to help dig up who she really was outside of her horrific past. And sometimes, he brought food to the conversation.

“So what exactly do you write about?” asked Schuyler snacking on chocolate covered pretzels that he had came with.

“Nothing big. I can write about mostly anything but sometimes I’m given assignments to write about. I haven’t been given any serious ones lately.” He fixed the wood in the fire place and lit a smaller piece of wood and placed it underneath the wood pile and waited for it to catch.

“What do you enjoy writing about then?” She tossed a pretzel in the air and caught it with her mouth.

“I’m more of a creative writer. I like making up my own stories. letting my mind go there with endless characters and scenarios.”

“Got anything I can read?”

“I don’t like sharing my work that isn’t for the job.”

“Why not? You seem pretty confident in what you do. Maybe you should try writing a book.” she tossed up another pretzel, catching it with ease and even let out a victorious whisper. Cohen shook his head at her and chuckled.

“Confidence doesn’t pay the bills, my friend.” He poked at the wood and closed the chain fence before joining her on the couch. He thought back to his childhood where he made up endless stories to distract him from his own struggles; not many poeple had read them because he was too shy to share and he wasn’t yet going to let her in on the things he had created in the recent months that he had hidden away in his room.

A smell of beefy stew filled their noses as hymns filled their ears from Carey in the kitchen. They watched the fire glow with brilliancy and it filled the room with its warmth in just mere minutes. Schuyler pulled her knews close enough to her chest to make herself comfortable enough with feeling the paranoia of hurting the baby.

The baby.

This child had her feeling sick to her stomach and more emotional than she ever thought she would be in her life. She often laughed at herself how easy it was to tear up at a cheesy commercial she’d catch in the living room when no one else was home. But most of all, she was hungry all the time. Whenever Carey worked, she learned to make simple meals with the ingridients left in the kitchen and when Carey was home, she would always bring something delicious from the bakery that didn’t make it to the trash at the end of the day. And sometimes, during his lunch breaks, Cohen called the house to see what she would be hungry for that day and bring it over and have lunch with her before heading back to the office.

Cohen could see Schuyler from the corner of his eye. He smiled in a way that she wouldn’t be able to spot if she turned to face him. For a week or so, he tried to push down the attraction he was having towards her. There was a new sense of awe for the woman who took a risk on running from dangerous men, a type of strenght and fight that made him want to be around her all the time. Slowly but surely, he watched her come out of her shell. There were times when all three of them would be out and about together and he could see her pay careful attention to her surroundings. If he had a gun, he’d carry it on himself all the time just to make her feel safe. But he didn’t want to chance it if she was not yet used to that kind of thing, so he always stayed close beside her just instead and kept an eye out as well.

He could see her wrapping thick ebony curls around her chocolate index finger and then letting it unwind and spring back up. He could feel his cheeks burning underneath his scruffy beard, thankfuly it was too dim in the room for her to even notice. He had learned to embrace the way his body reacted to her being around. And to his surprise, she never crossed his mind in a sexual way like all the other woman he encountered. He even chilled out with the random women in his bed and mostly went straight home from work instead of the Nashville city bar he used to occupy.

“Supper is ready!” Carey sang from the dining room. Like teenagers, Schuyler and Cohen moved from the couch quickly, shoving each other out of the way to get to the table first.

“Calm down you two, there is plenty for everyone,” Carey said as she placed a basket of homemade biscuits on the table and began pouring lemonade from a glass pitcher.

“But I’m eating for two, so I’m extra hungry,” Schuyler said grabbing for the ladel that was placed in the the serving bowl for the stew. Carey playfully smacked her hand away from it and gestured for them to say grace before digging in. Schuyler gave a sheepish look as she grabbed Carey’s hand, then Cohen’s. He hesistated before taking it but did reluctantly. Carey spoke the blessing and they all ladeled thick beef stew in there deep bowls and grabbed big southern biscuits. Schuyler enjoyed Carey’s cooking more than anything in the world. All the flavors seemed to sink into her soul and rest her weary heart from all her heavy thinking. Every bite tasted like home and the silence from Cohen seemed to give her the indication that he felt the same way as his eyes opened and shut slowly as he chewed. Carey watched them with amusement as they spooned the savory goodness.

“Glad yall are enjoying it,” she chuckled while spreading butter on her biscuit. The rest of the meal was filled in comfortable silence until Schuyler offered to do the dishes. She collected bowls and glasses from the table and walked them to the sink and began filling it with hot sudsy water. Cohen, walked in shortly after with the left over stew and empty basket and started putting the food up before he joined her at the sink. In rythmic fashion, Schuyler scrubbed at the dirty dishes, rinsed them and handed them to Cohen to towel dry before placing them back on the shelves. Ever so often, their hands and arms brushed up against each other and Cohen tried his best not to be moved by it. If he leaned closer, he would get a faint whiff of her floral body wash which turned his stomach his stomach into butterfly clouds.

Carey’s entrance broke Cohen away from his attention off Schuyler, “Would you two mind grabbing the ice cream and toppings? I have to take care of something upstairs.” Schuyler and Cohen nodded and watched her exit as quickly as she entered.

In her room, Carey quietly closed the door behind her and grabbed the manilla envelope that came in the mail earlier that day. She sat gingerly on the edge of the bed, heart racing as she opened it slowly and pulled out the white sheets of paper that held information she had been waiting on.

Her eyes read through each sentence carefully before being filled with tears. Her emotions ran deep as her now glassy blue eyes scanned the birth certificate, foster and adoption information and lists of accomplishments all the way from elementary school to college. Her heart filled with pride and sadness as she realized she missed every achievement of the son she believed she had lost forever.

When she was finished, she glanced at her face in the mirror and began wiping away any evidence of her tears before meeting Schuyler and Cohen down stairs.

At some point, she knew the truth would need to be revealed but for now, she would have to believe God would have a designated time for such a moment. Until then she would enjoy the blessings that were Schuyler and Cohen and pray.


Chapter 5

The gynocologist smiled warmly as Schuyler settled herself down on the table. She pulled up her shirt showing off her stomach and watched as she put cold gel on it.

“Is this your first child?” the doctor asked, grabbing a device and taking her spot at the chair besides the examining table.

“Yes, ma’am”.

“Oh please, just call me Charlotte.” She smiled at her before fidgeting with the screen. Schuyler smiled back before glancing at the door.

“Did you want the father to come in and see the baby?”

Schuyler gave her a bewildered look and forgot that Charlotte had spotted Cohen walking into the office as she was walking out with another patient.

“Oh, he’s just a friend. Not the father.” she responded bitting her bottom lip.

“Oh, of course. Well, he is welcome in here if you’d like me to go get him for you. You know, support?” Charlotte’s hazel eyes met with Schuyler and they exchanged a silent conversation before Schuyler nodded approval to go retrieve Cohen. A few seconds later, he was standing by her side when the baby appeared on the screen.

Charlotte spoke, but Schuyler wasn’t paying a bit of attention while her eyes were glued to the screen. Her heart swelled ten times bigger than she expected and a weird experince of love overtook her.

Soon enough Charlotte left Schuyler to get situated as she retrieved ultra sound pictures. Cohen handed her napkins to wipe the goo off her stomach.

“So, that was pretty cool,” Cohen spoke breaking the silence. Schuyler lifted her head and noticed how impressed he seemed to be.

“Yeah,” she said voice catching in her throat. She tried clearing it, but the feeling came back, this time followed with hot heavy tears. Trying to not let her face show, she turned her back to Cohen and wiped her eyes quickly.

“Here you go!” Charlotte entered in a sing songy voice holding the picture in her hand. Schuyler tried paying attention as she gave her some last minute details and instructions while she escorted them out of the office and at the desk to schedule her next appointment.

The sun shined beautifully as they walked out the building, Cohen quickly walked over to his car and opended the door for her. With a raised brow, she sat in the passenger’s seat and waited for him to get in.

Schuyler looked out the window as they drove through the historic downtown area, passing Carey’s bakery and the little shops surrounding it. She began to dream of raising the child growing inside her, in this small town with seemingly sweet people that could one day be her friends. She glanced over at Cohen and for the first time felt grateful for his presence. He chose to be there with her, even with the known tension between them, and didn’t even argue about it.

Cohen stopped to let some kids cross the street from the town park, a red pick up paused beside them as well. When Schuyler looked over into the truck, a familiar face looked back at her, quickening the beats of her heart.

The Beater stared back at her and she felt his hands on her again though there was too much distance between them. He tilted his head forward and looked above dark sunglasses, revealing those piercing eyes. Before Schuyler could make a move or sound, Cohen moved forward, making his way back to Carey’s home. Mouth agape, she looked ahead with thoughts racing in her head. They reached the driveway of the house, but Schuyler didn’t dare make a move to get out. She felt her mouth getting dry and palms becoming sweaty with fear at the very thought of her last moments with the man in the truck.

“You good?” Cohen asked breaking the silence as he parked his car. He pulled off his seat belt and made a move to get out but Schuyler stopped him, “I can let myself out, thank you. And no, I’m not fine. But can you stay with me until Carey gets home.” A puzzled look appeared across his face but he nodded before opening his door.

As they entered the house, Schuyler made her way into the half bathroom, let the toilet lid down and sat, head in her hands. Those familiar eyes came to her mind and she began to cry. It was the first time in a while that she really let herself release all the pain and hurt and confusion she had been bottling up inside. She tried to cover her mouth to silence the sobs so that Cohen couldn’t hear her but they seemed to continue getting louder. She could feel tears and snot running down her face but she didn’t even care. Feeling herself become hot from the sobbing, she stood up and took a step towards the sink to splash cold water on her face before taking her seet on the toilet again. Her heavy sobs slowed down, chest hurting and an occasional hiccup escaped her lips. She knew at some point she had to get out of the bathroom but being alone felt better than having to face Cohen wherever he was in the house.

A door slammed and Schuyler wondered if he had decided to leave her in the house alone after all. She grabbed some tissues and pulled herself together as best as she could. Her chocolate skin was red and blotchy but she could care less. Wiping the last of her tears she gave herself one last look in the mirror before walking out and into the living room where Carey and Cohen sat whispering quietly. They hushed when they noticed her presence and gave her concerned looks.

Schuyler sheepishly smiled at them, “Hey Carey,”

“Oh sugar!” Carey said raising from the couch to embrace her. In her shoulders Schuyler released her tears and stayed there for what seemed like forever. When she had finally calmed down, she wiped her face with a paper towel that Cohen retrieved for her. She thanked him before sitting between them on the couch.

“I need to tell you guys something,” Schuyler said between heavy sobs. Fidling with her tissue, she told her story leaving Cohen and Carey sitting in stunned silence until she was finished. “So now,” she said “I can’t keep this kid. I have nothing to offer it and even if I did, I wouldn’t know how to. I’ve never had to take care of kids before and I’m too afraid to try. And I’d be putting it in danger living out here if he’s here.”

Cohen cleared his throat, “Maybe we can go to the police, give him a discription of the man that has been coming to you all these years and find him.” At his very words, Schuyler noticed his fists clinching.

“The guy who owned me, if he gets word of where I am, he’d come after me to cover himself. I’ve seen what he does to women that go against him…” Her voice trailed off as she she remmebered the time that she watched his friend carry a bleeding girl out after not bring him the type of business he wanted and she shuttered.

“First of all, sweet pea,” Carey interjected, “no one owns you. You aren’t a piece of meat for sale or something you can easily pick up off a shelf. You are a human being and should be treated with respect and love. So we won’t speak of such ownership. You are hear, with us and you belong here. You are free. And as for this child of yours, I can help you raise them. You stay long enough, there may be some other ladies at church that would love to help. We can be your family and your friends. And you can stay here as long as you want. Don’t stress about feelin’ like you have to leave or not be a burden to me. You aren’t causing me any set backs. And even if you were, you still belong here.” That motherly look appeared on her face and Schuyler could’nt help but smile at her as she pushed back her curly hair and nodded.

You belong here

The voice echoed in her very being as Schuyler let the words sink in.

“I belong here,” she declared in a whispered tone.

Chapter 4

**If you are new to my blog, I started writing a book and posting it on here. This story started 3 years ago and hasn’t been worked on much since due to certain issues. But the Lord is good and has given me the words to write again. Thank you for your patience for those that have followed along. God bless and happy reading**

There was nothing but everything special about him that was earthly attractive. His facial features were plain but held a sense of kindness and warmth that drew her in. His eyes and hands carefully focused on the piece of wood before him, sculpting with his hands, eyes full of vision for the piece he was diligently creating. Schuyler watched him with awe and wonder as the wood came to life and in mere seconds, the chair came to be, her name engraved on the back with such beautiful intricacy.

She watched as the man fashioned together a table long enough for the kind of feasts you see in movies. Moments later the table was draped in white cloth topped with wild flowers and tea lights. Gold and silver plates held food fit for royalty and at the end of the table the mysterious man sat, clothes changed from simple linen to a king-like robe and a crown on his head. He looked at her and smiled, extended his hand as if to invite her to the seat he crafted for her. Suddenly, Schuyler could feel herself feel unfit for such a feast and she stepped away from the table and walked away. A voice cried out from behind her but she couldn’t bare to look back and see the hurt that dressed the kind mans face at her departure. Darkness seemed to over take her vision, a sudden death like grip held her throat…

Schuyler awoke startled and became erect from her sleeping position. Eyeing the clock, she knew it was morning but the sun had not yet broken through. The smell of bacon and coffee filled her nose telling her that Carey was up and getting ready to open up shop. She dared not to leave the comforting darkness of the room and stayed in the bed, eyes looking out the window. Her mind went back to the dream, the man’s kind face greeting her and she felt her heart skip. The feeling of warmth covered her like a blanket straight from the dryer and she closed her eyes for a brief moment.

A soft knock forced Schuyler’s eyes open and the door opened. Carey stood in the door way, the hallway lamp showing her motherly figure.

“I didn’t wake you did I?” She whispered softly in the darkness.

Schuyler shook her head as if Carey could see her response, “No. I just woke from a dream. Do you need me?”

“Well, I just wanted to let you know that I made an appointment for you at my doctor’s office for later on this afternoon. Just so we can get you looked at and make sure that you are in good health for the baby. And of course make sure the baby is doing fine and all. Can you meet me at 3 o’clock?” Carey’s country twang had notes of excitement, making Schuyler’s heart hurt with the thought that her decision may kill the joy rising in her sweet friend.

“Yeah, sure.” Schuyler responded,  “Thank you for being so helpful, Carey.”

“It’s my pleasure, hun.” And she quietly closed the door. Schuyler looked back out the window, this time spotting a streak of orange and pink like behind distant trees.

Trust me

The voice spoke to the fear and worry that had risen in her chest and it died at the gentle command.

“What other choice do I have?” She spoke back into the darkness.

The bakery was busy with customers when Schuyler walked in to meet Carey. She could see her frazzled face from the front door as she delivered baked goodies to tables or packing them in simple paper bags. She made eye contact with Schuyler from the register and gave a quick smile before assisting another customer. Looking around the room, she spotted an empty chair in the back of the bakery and waited.

“Hey,” spoke a male voice beside her. There stood Cohen with his boyish ruffled hair and sharp green eyes. Schuyler wondered how many women this one man could charm his way with looking like that but congratulated herself for not being one of them. Cohen had been sweet to bring her chocolate covered fruit in her time of need, but she wasn’t swooning for him. He’d stayed with her at Carey’s for a good hour or so, not bothering her in their comfortable silence and then he left before Carey came home from the shop. She surprisingly enjoyed his company. But not enough to be buddies with him. If it weren’t for Carey’s generosity and her apparent love for Cohen, she probably would not feel compelled to respond back.

“Hi,” she said with a half grin. Her response seemed to have been an invitation for him to pull up an empty chair and sit across from her. Obviously there was no escaping him now.

“Feeling any better?” His seemed to look at her with genuine concern, or maybe it was the way the sunlight danced in his eyes.

“For the most part, yes,” she pushed back a curl before resting her chin in one hand and playing with the napkin holder between them. “On lunch break?”

“No, Carey said she needed a favor from me. So I left my office to help her out.” He watched people enter and exit the door which let in the crisp fall air. “What about you?”

“Doctor’s appointment,” she mumbled.

“Have you decided one what you are going to do with it?”

“Not really. I guess I’ll take it day by day,” she said shrugging the thought away.

Carey made her way to their table, flustered, “Hey, you two. “She said resting her palms on the table as if standing to catch her breath ‘It has been an absolute madhouse today. I may need to hire an extra hand or two.”

“Yeah that’s not a bad idea,” Cohen looked at the last of the customers walking out, paper bags in hand. “I’m sure I can’t place an ad in the paper for you before the week is out.”

Carey rested her hand on Cohen’s shoulder and gave him a motherly look, “You are my hero, that would be wonderful.” She turned her attention to Schuyler, “How are you feeling today?”

“Pretty good. I made sure to eat what you made this morning. Thank you again for that.”

“My pleasure, hun. But I have to tell you, I don’t think I’ll be able to leave this place if it keeps getting busy like this. So I called Cohen to help me out by taking you to your appointment.” Her last sentence forced both Schuyler and Cohen to look at each in utter shock and back at her.

“Are you sure, Ms. Carey? I mean I can wait for another time to go-”

“No sugar, you need to go so we can figure what the next move will be for you. I promise, I’ll be there for the next appointment, but right now, I can’t leave and Cohen will be more than happy to take.” She said, patting Cohen on the shoulder. Cohen glanced at her from across the table and can see the mix of emotions in his eyes. Schuyler could see there was no getting out of this. Sighing in defeat and stood from the table.

“Let’s go then.”