Flashback….17 years ago.
Ebony sat on the beach with her toes just dipping in the water as the waves came up, her shoes laid out besides her. It had been two weeks since Bray had left to find the Mall Rats and she was starting to regret her decision to encourage him to go. Whilst she didn’t think he’d come back to her after finding Amber a little hope remained within her. But that hope was diminishing day by day.
It was clear to her now, he would see Amber, fall in love with her all over again and stay with the Mall Rats – the way it was supposed to be. The last two years would come to mean nothing to him. But maybe at least he would think better of her now. Maybe one day she would be able to go back and be close to him again.
She picked up a stone and tried skipping it into the ocean where it immediately sunk with a loud “plop”. She’d never been very good at that. Suddenly something flew by her and skipped along the ocean gracefully before sinking.
She turned around and immediately leapt to her feet, “Bray!” she exclaimed. She fought every instinct to jump into his arms again, she wrapped her arms around herself. “What are you doing back here?” she asked ‘he’s come to say goodbye’ she thought.
Bray smiled, “I told you I’d come back to you. You didn’t believe me did you?”
“But what about the Mall Rats? What about Amber? And the baby”
“I found them Ebs. I found my old friends, my son, my old love and I couldn’t go in. I watched them from the bushes and I just felt like that person who would have been with them is gone. I don’t belong there. It’s not my home anymore, not my life. This is my home this is my life, here with you. I learnt so much out there about who I am and what I want in life.”
“Like you. How much you mean to me. I know our relationship hasn’t always been easy but these last two years with you by my side I’ve been happier than I ever thought was possible.”
“But these last two weeks have showed me something.”
Oh here it comes….
“Waking up without you by my side, it’s been hell on earth. And I never want to do that again.”
“What are you saying?” Ebony was confused now, she had thought this was going to be the break up speech but this was turning into something else. Was he choosing her over Amber?
“I am saying that I am sorry it took me time to come back. But I had to find a trader who could give me this.” He put his hand in his pocket and produced a small box. Ebony’s eyes widened in shock and awe as Bray slowly sunk down to one knee.
“Ebony Mackenzie Rafael, I never want to wake up another day without you by my side. Will you be my wife?”
Ebony gulped as she re-introduced Bray to Amber and Trudy. Bray had chosen her over Amber once before but he hadn’t been in close confines with Amber in many years. Would he chose her over Amber again?
“Amber? Trudy? What are you doing here?” Bray exclaimed.
“Trudy, am I dreaming?”
“Nope, he’s really there.”
Amber couldn’t breathe, she couldn’t blink. The father of her eldest child, the man she had thought was dead for twenty years was standing in front of her, real and in the flesh and married to Ebony.
“I need to sit down.” Amber said, moving to sit at the desk chair Ebony had previously occupied.
“you’re live?” Amber asked Bray in disbelief
“and you have been all of this time?”
“Well I know my brother came back from the dead but it’s not a power I seem to have received.”
“and you know who I am?”
Bray looked down, before he replied sadly “yes.”
“But you didn’t come back to me? You are married to Ebony?”
Bray shrugged, “Sometimes things just happen. You don’t intend them to, you don’t even want them to. They just seem to slot into place like that”
“Sorry I am just trying to get my head around this. You are alive, and you’ve been married to Ebony for 17 years?”
“And you have two children together.”
“Four,” Ebony piped up, obviously feeling uncomfortable.
“We have four children together. You met Blaze and Flame . The twins have been out with Bray all day. He took them for an adventure in the woods.”
Amber just looked completely overwhelmed with the information she was receiving in one go. Trudy took over the conversation.
“I don’t understand how this happened. Bray, why didn’t you come back to the Mall Rats, to Amber, to your son.”
“It’s a long story.”
“I bet it does if SHE has anything to do with it.”
“Hey, lay off her.” Bray immediately jumped to his wife’s defence, “I made my choice, and it was my decision. She didn’t force me into it. In fact the total opposite. Ebony encouraged me to go back.”
“But I saw you on the list, they said you were deleted.” Amber stuttered.
“Deleted meant having your memory erased… It didn’t mean killed.”
“Well that certainly explains some things. “ Trudy said pointedly, “What makes you think she told you the truth?”
“She didn’t have to. My memories came back. Ebony didn’t trick me or manipulate me. Truth is I fell in love with her before my memories returned but she wouldn’t be with me until I remembered who she was. She didn’t want me waking up one day and turning my back on her. So she tried and tried and tried to jog my memories but nothing ever did. Not until we went back to the Mall. Suddenly memories came flooding back to me. In bits and pieces and in chunks. All muddled together. It took me a long time to work through those feelings. But when I did I realised that my life was here.”
“But what about me? What about the love we had?” Amber begged him.
“Amber, we were kids when we met. We were teenagers who, let’s be honest only spent a few months together. We barely knew each other. And then you got pregnant. To be honest I wasn’t ready to be a dad. I was terrified. It was all so different with Blaze.”
“But you have a son. You didn’t think of at least coming back for him?”
The door burst open and two blonde children came running in, “Mummy, Daddy we want you to read us a story!!” the boy called. The boy leapt into Bray’s arms whilst the girl did the same with Ebony.
“These are our youngest.” Ebony explained, “This is Siva,” she told them jostling the girl up and down, “And that is Martin.”
“They’re very cute.” Amber could only manage a grimace.
“You know Bray, why don’t I put the kids to bed and you can finish up here.”
“Don’t be too long though. You need to get ready for the party.” She turned to Amber and Trudy, “It’s Bray’s birthday today you know. He’s forty. We’re having a big party later. You should come. Maybe I’ll even send someone to get Salene and May so they can come too.”
With that she left the room. Amber was beginning to get angry. How dare they? How dare they pretend they are in this wedded bliss. Pretending their previous lives didn’t happen. That they didn’t have responsibilities to them.
“why didn’t you come back for your son?” she asked again through gritted teeth.
Bray sighed, “I did come back. I found you, Ebony encouraged me to go back. But when I found you I just watched from a distance. I watched my son call another man father, you had another son by then and you were happy. You were happy without me. Why should I come back and confuse everything. I realised that wasn’t my life anymore. This was my life – here, with Ebony. I proposed to her the night we got back and we married the next day.”
“But in those 17 years you never thought about contacting us. Telling us you were alive?” Trudy asked.
“I did. But things happened…”
“Blaze for one. He came along virtually a year to the day after we got married. It was the best day of my life. This time I wasn’t scared. I was excited. I was proud. And Then Flame arrived and time I guess got away from me. The longer I stayed away the harder it seemed to go back. So I never did.”
“But Ebony? How did you fall in love with Ebony?” Amber asked him.
“It wasn’t something that happened in a flash. Especially after my memories came back. It was so gradual I didn’t even notice it happening. I guess something triggered in me that brought back all those feelings I had from before the virus. Something I had hidden away for so long. And when she stopped trying to trick her into loving me those feelings came out. From the minute she arrived here I knew she was special. That she meant something to me, even if I didn’t remember her. She arrived here about a year after she left you guys. She’d been injured in a fall and was sick. She looked so beautiful and helpless I couldn’t help but care for her. I guess at first I just hoped she was a key to unlock the memories I couldn’t quite reach. And day by day those feelings in me grew until they were something much bigger.”
“I wish I could say she’s changed then maybe you’d understand” he laughed, “truth is she hasn’t changed. She can still lie and manipulate with the best of them. But she doesn’t feel the need to with me anymore. I’m the one person she never lies to. She’s still the strong, warrior queen she once was but now she fights for the people she loves not just herself. And I love her for that.”
“I just have one more question Bray.” Amber told him.
“Do you ever regret your decision”
“Never. If I had to I’d make the same decision every day.”
Next Chapter we will see some flashbacks of their relationship building………