Chapter 6

Inside the Soul

Almost nine p.m.

"So let them say its wrong

For me to love you

They could never feel

The way that I do when we kiss

When we're close like this"

With an old CD of Dawn's playing in the background, Sonny rocked Faith to sleep. Jason had left a selection of Dawn's music that was favorites of Faith. Sonny moved the rocking chair in time to the slow, seductive beat. The baby began to relax. Soon, her breathing became even and deep. Jason warned him that this was just the early phases of her sleep. It was always best to hold her until the second song came on. If she slept through an entire track, she'd probably stay down for the night. Sonny took his friend's advice to heart.

Sonny and company spent most of the day converting the third guest bedroom into a nursery. The white walls were covered with images of Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, and Daffy Duck. After finding a book about Africa in her diaper bag, Sonny made sure to include images of zebras and giraffes, too. A white sturdy crib stood in the middle of the room. The rocking chair that Sonny now sat on was surprisingly comfortable. He leaned his head back and closed his eyes.

"They can't see inside my soul

They can't know the love we know

All they do is waste their time

They can never change my mind

It's what my heart says

That is what I listen to

It's what my heart feels

That tells me, tells me what to do

It's what my heart knows

That's the only, the only truth I know is real

All I hear is what my heart says to me"

"That's Dawn, isn't it?"

Keesha's voice startled Sonny. His eyes flew open. Because he was almost asleep, it took a few seconds for him to focus. She stood in the doorway. Her arms folded protectively around her waist. There was a wary look in her dark brown eyes. Sadness clung to her.

"Yeah."

Faith's little chubby leg jerked. Her eyes fluttered open. Sonny held her close and murmured to her. "Ssh. Sleep now."

"I should go," Keesha said, taking a step back.

"No, wait," Sonny said, his voice soothing and calm. "She's almost there. When the next track comes on, I'll lay her down. We can talk then."

She bristled. "Who says I want to talk?"

He gave her a measured look. "I do."

"For a long time I was in love

Not only in love, I was obsessed

With a friendship that no one else could touch

It didn’t work out, I’m covered in shells"

The second track started. Just like Jason said, Faith settled deeper into slumber. Sonny rose from the rocker and carried the sleeping babe to her crib. Her little mouth curved into a sleepy smile as he pulled the covers over her. He placed a small Pooh close to her. Unable to resist, he bent forward and kissed her cheek. He made sure the baby monitors were on, took one and joined Keesha in the hallway.

"What are we talking about?" she asked, following him down the staircase. "Does Jason think I'll hurt his… Do you want me to leave?"

"No to both counts." They reached the first floor. He pointed to the living area. "Sit."

She rolled her eyes and plopped down onto the sofa. Sonny watched her for a moment and wondered… What happened to the feisty, self-possessed young woman who spoke her mind so freely? Sometimes too freely. Why had she changed? Was it the unexpected deaths of her father and her cousin? Or had a broken heart shattered her?

"What?" she asked, her voice hard. "You said talk, not stare."

"You should be used to that," he commented, sitting on the easy chair adjacent to the sofa. He placed the baby monitor on the coffee table. "You're a beautiful woman. Men must stare at you all the time."

She shrugged. Her fingers clenched in her lap. She stared at them.

"Keesha," Sonny began, watching her reactions closely, "I made a promise to Justus that I'll keep you safe."

"I'm still alive. So far, so good."

He inhaled a harsh breath. This was harder than he thought. "Yeah, physically--"

"You're not a shrink," she cut in. "Don't even try that stuff with me."

"I wasn't about to," he said. "Look, I know something happened between you and Jason. I know it hurt…both of you. The details are none of my business. But it's time to get over it. Move on. There's an innocent baby upstairs who doesn't need to be caught in the crossfire of your past."

Her fingers dug into her palms. "I'll leave."

"No, you won't."

She glared at him. "Of course not. Who'll babysit for you if I'm gone?"

"I'm not expecting you to take care of her. She's my responsibility."

"You like that word, don't you?" she asked. "Responsibility. Does it make you feel important?"

Shaking his head, he released a short laugh. "No, it just makes me feel responsible."

There was quiet for a few moments. Then, Keesha said, "The first time, he was taken away from me. Neither of us wanted or expected it. One day, we're in love and the next, he doesn't know me and doesn't want to." She paused to look at him before focusing on her clenched hands. "I got over it. Years pass and things change. He's not my first love anymore, but that doesn't matter because it feels right. Then, it's over again. This time, it's not an accident. He leaves because he wants to. Because he doesn't want me. I thought the first time was hard, but the second doesn't even compare." She released her hands and rubbed them on her sweat pants covered thighs. "I should never have come back here."

"Sometimes, it takes a second go 'round to bring things full circle," he commented quietly. His past with Brenda and later Carly came to mind. With both women, he'd been given second chances. Both times, the relationships failed. Why? There was no one to blame on either side. Maybe he was too hard. Maybe they were too soft. One thing was for sure: love was never easy.

"I suppose you would know," she said, her voice flat and void of censure. She stood. "The heart-to-heart has been insightful. Good night."

"You going to bed?"

She nodded and went upstairs, leaving him alone with Faith's baby monitor.

[Song credit: "What My Heart Says" by Monica and "A Simple Kind of Life" by No Doubt]

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