Justin: Tell Hawaii sorry about his shirt.
I shake my head and move to the plane.
I walk into my house, and everyone sitting in the living room stops to look at me, but my eyes are on Myla, whose eyes instantly fill with tears.
She comes to me, wrapping her arms around me, and the moment I have her in my arms, a sob tears from her that rips through me.
“I’m home. I told you I would be.”
“I know!” she cries.
I tilt her head back and kiss her, absorbing her taste, letting her soak back into my system.
“I was so worried.” She holds me tighter, and I do the same.
“Nothing could keep me from you. Not even the devil himself,” I whisper into her ear.
She nods then lifts her tear-filled eyes to mine. “I love you.”
“I love you too.” I hold her face in my palms and kiss her again, the salty taste of her tears mixing in with her natural sweetness.
“Oh, God,” my mom whimpers.
Myla wipes her cheeks then steps back.
“You’re not dead?!” my sister cries.
I shake my head. “I had to take care of some business,” I explain.
“I should kick your fucking ass,” Pika yells, rushing towards me, and I brace myself, ready for impact.
“Pika, I knew all along!” Myla cries.
Pika stops halfway and looks at her.
“He came and saw me the night he went missing. I wanted to tell you guys, but I promised not to tell anyone,” she whispers.
Aye glares at her. “You cried and screamed about keeping the search going. You flipped out whenever we talked about giving up and having a funeral.”
She drops her head, looking at her feet. “I didn’t want to have a funeral. I didn’t want you guys to give up hope,” she whispers.
“This isn’t her fault. This is on me. I made her promise not to tell anyone.” I go to her and wrap my arms around her. “I didn’t want anyone to know what was going on. I couldn’t risk anyone finding out I wasn’t dead.”
“I know that we raised you to always do what needs to be done, but this is going too far. Your mom was a wreck, and your sister and brother were devastated,” my father scolds.
“Sorry, Dad, but I had to make sure that, when my son takes his first breath, nothing and no one can harm him,” I explain, and I see understanding flash in my father’s eyes.
“We thought you were dead. I believed I was going to have to plan a funeral then figure out how to get Myla through this pregnancy without her having a meltdown!” my mom shouts.
Guilt strikes me hard. She would have done it. She would have put her own pain away to make sure everyone else was taken care of.
“I love you, Mom,” I tell her as she comes to me, wrapping her arms around me.
“You ever do anything like that again and I really will kill you,” she says.
I hear some grunts of agreement around the room, but I ignore them.
“I needed to make things safe for my son,” I repeat, and my mom nods against my chest.
Since Myla became my wife and we found out we’re having a baby, I have worked tirelessly to make sure she can have a normal life and our boy has a chance to experience normalcy.
“I have been blessed to have you guys as my parents, but I don’t want my kids growing up in a house where there has to be men with guns hanging around all the time. I want to enjoy my family.”
“I can understand that, honey.”
“Runt.” I look at my baby sister, and she comes to me, winding her arms around Mom and me.
“Don’t ever do that again,” she whispers.
“I won’t,” I promise then look at my brother.
He closes his eyes then comes over to us. He wraps his arms around all of us, muttering that he’s going to kick my ass.
“I’m sorry, guys, but thank you for taking care of Myla for me,” I tell Aye and Pika.
“Always,” Pika says, and for once, there is no feeling of jealousy—just gratefulness.
“You don’t even have to thank me,” Aye says.
I nod then step away from my mom, my sister, and me brother, and step towards my dad. Then I hug him like I haven’t done since I was a kid.
“I love you, son, and I’m proud of the man you have become,” he tells me.
I pat him on his back then step away and walk right to Myla to scoop her up.
“What are you doing?!” she shouts.
“We’re going to bed,” I tell her, looking at her beautiful face.
“Your family’s here, and you just got home.”
“I don’t care.” I lift my head and look at my family. “No offense, but I’m taking Myla to bed. You guys can stay or go,” I tell them then turn and walk to our room, where I carefully set her on the bed then get down on my knees in front of her, lifting her shirt up so I can press my mouth to her stomach.
“You shaved your head,” she says quietly, running her hands over my buzzed hair.
I close my eyes, relishing the feeling of her touching me. “Yeah.”
“I’ll miss your hair.”
I open my eyes and smile. “Yeah?”
“Yeah,” she repeats, resting her forehead against mine while her hands curve over my skull.
“It will grow back.”
“You look good in jeans,” she teases.
“Yeah?” I chuckle.
“Definitely,” she whispers, placing her mouth on mine.
I let her take charge for a moment then push her to her back, taking over. This is what I would kill for—the woman under me and my child she is carrying. They make everything worthwhile.
“You can do it, makamae,” I tell Myla, kissing the top of her head while she bears down on another contraction.
“Oh, God, Kai!” she screams.
I wish I could take her pain away. Since the moment we arrived five hours ago, she has been in pain. They gave her the epidural as soon as we got here because she was already dilated five centimeters, but it only numbed the left side of her body.
“You’re doing so good.” I press my forehead to hers as she lies back on the bed, looking exhausted.
“One more, Myla,” the doctor says.
I want to tell her to shut up, that my wife is exhausted, but when the nurse hands her a blanket, I relax.
“He’s almost here,” I tell her as her foot presses into my hand and she pushes again, her face turning so red that it looks purple.