Conor Thames 2 by R.J. Lewis

PROLOGUE




Time





Charlotte



He kissed me softly while his hand lay over my bulging stomach. His forehead pressed against mine. In the darkness we held each other, absorbed in our own little world.

“I like the name Blodwen,” he said, gauging my reaction with a hidden smirk.

I gaped at him in shock. “I don’t even know what gender that name is.”

“A male.”

“I hope you’re joking.”

He feigned dismay. “I’ll have you know that Blodwen is fit for a stud.”

“No, it’s not.”

“He would disarm the ladies.”

“He would make them gag.”

“With lust.”

“Ew, no. Blodwen is out of the question.”

“Then Reginald.”

I smacked his arm. “Now, you’re really pushing it.”

He took the hand I smacked him with and kissed it. “Reginald Thames. Come on, dove. You can’t deny the ring to it.”

“Just watch me.”

“You wound me.”

“You’re throwing names like Blodwen and expect me to be chill? What was the other name you threw at me the other day –”

“Godfrey.”

I cringed. “Oh, my God, yes, that one.”

“It’s fierce.”

“You’re such a troll, Conor. I’m the only person taking this seriously, I can tell.”

“I’m very serious about this baby, Charlotte, but we don’t even know the gender yet, and you’ve been rattling names for hell of a lot longer than me. It’s my turn now.”

“Ah, so I’m being punished.”

“Yes.” His hand rubbed my stomach. He smiled softly at me before landing another chaste kiss on my lips. I shut my eyes, accepting his mouth greedily.

“What if it’s a girl?” I asked.

To my surprise, his face gentled. Any sign of humour disappeared, and he gave me the most tender look I would never forget.

“Can you imagine?” he replied, mesmerized.

“Imagine what exactly?”

“Loving another girl as much as I love you.” He looked like it was incomprehensible to fathom. “I don’t know if it’s possible, but god, I’d love to be tested.”

I swallowed the sudden lump in my throat as I lazily drew a circle around his bicep. “My mom never cared for me. What if I don’t know how to love her the way she needs to be loved?”

He kissed me softly, peering into my eyes with sincerity. “Dove, if you loved me through all my faults, your love for Penny will know no bounds.”

I smiled softly, feeling my eyes ache with tears. “Penny, huh?”

He gazed too deep into me – into my soul – to smile back. He brushed the strands of my hair from my face and traced my jaw. “You’re going to be the best mother, Charlotte. Mark my words.”





Time happens in a sequence that is irreversible. It is the most mysterious thing about our cosmos, and yet we are bound to it, imprisoned by the motions. You can’t go back in time. You can’t change the events from the past that have set the course in front of you.

Everyone experiences time differently. There’s an interesting study about it, a general sense that time goes by faster as we age. I kept waiting for that to be true, but so far, I felt like each day was slower than the last. I kept waiting for that instant in the future, when the organized series of moments in our time-prison aligned to bring him back to me.

A heart beats a couple billion times in a single lifespan. I felt this. I felt every beat as though my soul was tethered to the thumps. Every beat was an ache within an ache. My heart was hurting at the same time as it was growing. Growing with the love I felt for a tiny human being that I felt grow inside me. A being that transformed my body irreversibly. A being that gave me purpose in my time-prison.

In retrospect, the moments in time flashed through me, as though I were living them all at once.





I felt her leaving my body on that driveway. It was grief but reprieve at the same time. I felt sorrow she had to come like this. Torn from my womb, the labour traumatic, the events unforgettable. When the ambulance came to take us, we left behind a puddle of my blood and… Billy’s.

They rested her little screaming body over me on the way to the hospital, and I sobbed down at her. I couldn’t believe how fragile she was. So little, so innocent.