Walking in from the small coffee shop downstairs, Gypsy was relieved to see her cousin sitting there with Grace. Her stomach was in knots since the fever spiked, but the doctors assured her it wasn’t the virus that swept the world. It was worse because none had a clue of what ravaged this little girl’s bloodstream. For the first time since the kidnapping, she was scared. Grace was learning to walk and talk, but she made sure nothing was accessible. Her home babyproofed by a professional. There was no reason for her to be sick.
“Oh god, you don’t know how glad I am to see you. Nic, please, can you help her?” Gypsy asked. She never questioned things that Nicolette knew, but she was thankful for every one of them.
“Fever’s gone. Grace should be waking up soon,” Nicolette said. Reaching for a cup of coffee, she smiled when she noticed the blood under her nails. Her cousin wouldn’t ask. She never did. The one thing that Nicolette loved about her was that she trusted her with every fiber of her being. Nicolette was the only other person she knew who love Grace as much as she did.
“What do you mean?” Gypsy said. Sitting her coffee down on a table, Gypsy placed her hands on her daughter’s cheeks, giddy with excitement when they were as cold as her own. “How? Nevermind, thank you. Whatever you did, thank you. My little girl has been through enough already,” she added. Gypsy was living proof that all the money in the world didn’t make your life easier. She could afford anything she wanted, and Gypsy still mourned what she didn’t have—her husband.
“Why don’t you go home and get a few hours of sleep. You can shower and bring us some dinner back. I won’t leave Grace’s side,” Nicolette said. She needed to spend a little time with the child, and having Gypsy there would only complicate matters. Her cousin knew the kid was unusual, but she didn’t realize just what that meant. Thanatos would be coming soon, and Nicolette knew that Gypsy would never understand that he was not there to fetch the child but to offer advice on keeping her alive. There was an invisible doomsday clock looming over the world, and if Nicolette were to keep Hades at bay, she would need help. Arison proved to be no help at all to the young girl. All he cared about was that Nicolette disobeyed his direct orders. That was the breaking point in their relationship.
“Are you sure? Do you swear to god you won’t walk away? Not for a minute?” Gypsy asked.
Nicolette smiled, her hand still holding Grace’s, she knew that this child was never going to be alone. If her mother were not there, she would be by her side till the end of days. “I swear to you on her life that I will not leave her side. Not for a second in time. Grace will be fine,” Nicolette said. It took her an hour to get Gypsy to leave, but the moment she was alone with Grace, she lifted the tiny girl from the bed, holding her tight to her chest. Her body now relaxed, the child fluttered her long dark lashes before opening them, giving a big toothy smile at Nicolette.
“Well, hello there, little Princess. You gave us all quite a scare, but Aunt Nic to the rescue,” she said.
“She’s a beautiful child,” he said. Thanatos stood behind the young woman and child, lurking. No one else could see the male but the two, but that was all he was concerned with.
“I knew you would come. Please, tell me you’re not here to take Grace?” Nicolette asked. She knew that when the grim reaper arrived, death was knocking. You can escape anything in the world, but death. It will always come to claim it’s due. Her heart raced as she awaited his response.
On the other hand, Grace reached for Thanatos. Her hands held out for him to take her. “No, Grace, he didn’t come for you today. This nice man only came to make sure that your temperature broke,” Nicolette said. In her heart, she was scared. What if he had come for the child?
“Do not speak for me, Nicolette. Hand me the child, or I will take her to meet Hades,” he said.
With reluctance, Nicolette handed Grace over to him. The young girls had never been so frightened. What if he did, and Gypsy came back to an empty crib? She would never forgive herself. With reluctance, she handed the child to the man, her hands shaking the moment Grace was out of her arms.
Thanatos held her, his long boney fingers stroking her cheek. This visit was to find out if the woman could make a sacrifice to save this child. Could she take another to save the one she claimed to love so deeply?
“A child is being born at this very moment. Will you give up that life for this one?” he asked. Grace wrapped her hand around his finger, not finding his face repulsive or scary. She was comfortable resting in the arms of death.
“Thanatos, you can’t make me do this. How can I take a child from a mother? Please don’t make me choose,” she begged.
His voice soft, Thanatos pulled the toddler from his chest, holding her up as though she was an offering, “Choose or I will!”
“The newborn,” she whispered, tears pouring from her eyes.
Bells and alarms went off on the floor, the nurses running down the hall, pushing a crash cart. Nicolette had never felt guilt until that moment.
“Take the child. I have a collection to obtain,” Thanatos said. Handing Grace back to Nicolette, he disappeared into the air above.
As she sobbed, Gypsy walked through the door, her face covered with panic, “They said a baby died. I thought it, Grace. Oh god, a baby died, it could have been mine.”