Three weeks later
The door opened and Deva stepped inside. I pulled the cord on the confetti cannon, sending a flurry of brightly colored paper flying through the air as Cash jumped up and down at my side, shouting, “Supwise!” at the top of his lungs, even though I’d spent the better part of an hour working with him to say congratulations.
Deva laughed as she waved the flying confetti away. “You guys are crazy,” she giggled. “I just got my license. It’s really not a big deal.”
I picked Cash up, holding him against my hip with one arm as I used the other to pull Deva into me. “You’re wrong, baby. This is a huge deal. You’re now a licensed driver. That means you’re free to go anywhere you want. I’d say that’s worth celebrating.”
She melted into me, her face growing soft. “I love you,” she said on a breath. “I love you both very much. Thank you for doing this.”
I backed away, a smile tugging at my lips. “Oh, it’s not over yet. We have a surprise for you. Come on.”
She followed me back to our room where I’d set up her mother’s sewing machine. It had been sitting in her old room this whole time after she’d moved into mine months ago, making it ours, so I’d taken in upon myself to find someone who restored old sewing machines. It still worked, but it had been showing its age, and it was only a matter of time before pieces started breaking.
The guy worked wonders, and by the time he was finished with it, it looked brand new and ran perfectly.
I’d built a mobile cabinet with storage for everything she needed so she could use the machine wherever she wanted. I just hoped she liked it.
I placed Cash on the bed and pulled off the sheet I’d hidden it under. The instant it came into view, she sucked in a gasp and clamped her hands over her mouth. She stared at it in silence, her wide eyes brimming with tears.
“He didn’t change anything,” I assured her when the seconds ticked by and she still hadn’t said anything. I started to worry that I’d crossed a line somehow. “All he did was restore it to its original state, I made sure of that. It works as good as it did when it was brand new. There were a few pieces he had to replace, but he found the original ones, just in better shape. What do you think?”
She finally turned to look at me. “It’s perfect,” she breathed. “Thank you so much.”
“I have one more thing.” I turned to my son, giving him a nod, and he jumped all the way up the bed to grab the present I had wrapped and tucked under the pillows for safe keeping. He came back and thrust it at Deva.
“Happy Birfday!” he sang, earning a watery laugh from her.
She pulled him into a hug and kissed his cheek. “Thank you,” she said, not bothering to correct him.
I watched, my stomach in knots as she slid her finger beneath the piece of tape securing the wrapping paper together.
We’d talked a lot more about her childhood since her abduction. She had no memory of her mother, something I knew hurt her. The memories she had of her father were vague, faded with time, but she struggled to recall if she’d been happy. I’d wanted to give her everything in my power, so I’d asked if she wanted me to track down her father. Her answer had been resolute.
He hadn’t cared enough about her back then to keep her, so he didn’t deserve to know the woman she’d grown into. She’d made a family of her own, and he had no place in it.
The paper fell away, revealing the manila folder sitting on top of the picture frame.
“You said you wished you could know your mother,” I explained when she looked at me with curiosity. “In that folder is everything I could find on her. Her name, her date of birth, things like that.” I reached out and slid the folder from her grip, revealing the photograph I’d had printed out and placed in the frame. “And that’s her picture. I thought you might like to display it somewhere.”
Deva’s fingers slid down the glass reverently. “My mother,” she whispered in a hushed voice.
“She’s beautiful,” I said, pulling Deva back into my arms. “When I found that photograph, I had no doubt. You look just like her.”
She sniffled, wiping at the wet on her cheeks as she looked at me with that dimpled smile I loved so damn much.
“You’re incredible,” she told me, her arms coming up to wrap around my middle. “I don’t know what I did to be lucky enough to deserve you.”
“I think, after everything we’ve been through, we deserve each other. We deserve our happy.”
“I couldn’t agree more.” Her smile grew bigger as she melted deeper into me and pulled our boy into the embrace. And it was exactly how it was supposed to be. The three of us. Our family.