Claudio’s fingers lightly strummed the strings of the guitar as Clara hummed along with the tune. He had his eyes closed and breathed in her scent, the smell of roses, as she stroked his hair.
“I wish we could stay like this forever…”
Claudio opened his eyes and looked up to see a small smile dance across her face,
“I know my love.”
They stayed like that for a little while longer as Claudio finished the song, Roses, that he made for Clara after their wedding. She always had a smile on her face when he played it for her.
As they laid in the grass in silence Claudio heard a far off knock on a door. He turned his head upward to look into Clara’s face. She looked sad even though she was smiling.
“I love you so much Claudio. I love our children, I love your parents. I love our family. Please take care of them, they need you right now, more than anything.”
Claudio set his guitar down and sat up to face her. The knocking was getting even louder now, it seemed closer too. When he reached up to touch her face Clara pushed her cheek into his hand and kissed it.
“They need you too. Why’re you talking like you’re going somewhere?”
Clara pulled him into a deep kiss and whispered into his ear,
“I will always been in your heart my love. Take care of them for me. Show them the love that I can’t show them anymore. I love you.”
Claudio woke up in a cold sweat as his eyes expectantly surveyed the room. He heard the knocking on his bedroom door and the voice of his Dad.
“Claudio. It’s time to wake up son. You can’t spend all day in there, especially not today…”
Claudio reached out to the other side of the bed and felt the cold sheets between his fingers. How many days had it been now? Every morning he would wake up expecting to see her there staring at him with those blue eyes. But now...now there was nothing but cold sheets.
Today was Clara’s funeral. They had just received her ashes back from the crematorium and she was to be placed in the crypt beneath the house along with the rest of the previous heir’s and their spouses.
She was gone too soon...no one in their family had died so early in their lives before. She was still a Young Adult, so beautiful and full of life. Claudio gripped his son’s shoulders to hold back the tears, she hadn’t gotten a chance to live yet.
As they all stood on in silence a small sniffle could be heard coming from Cullen. Harley turned around and grabbed the little boys hand.
“What is it sweetheart? Do you want to go back upstairs and play? You don’t have to stay down here with the rest of us.”
Cullen looked up and met Harley’s gaze as he cried,
“She’s not coming back is she?”
Harley grabbed Cullen’s shoulders as he slumped down and started to sob. Genevieve had been holding his hand the entire time and started to cry herself.
“Cullen...I know Mommy is gone but we have to be strong for Daddy, and for Rose. She won’t even know who Mommy is!”
Cullen turned his head and glared at Genevieve through the tears in his eyes,
“Rose?! Rose is the one that killed Momma! If she and Dad wouldn’t have wanted another baby she would still be here!”
Genevieve’s eyes widen as Cullen turned away and ran up the stairs. Harley looked on sadly after him and grabbed Genevieve’s hand.
“Let’s go try and calm down your brother, hm?”
When the kids left the room Claudio felt his knees buckle and he fell to the ground sobbing uncontrollably. His body was shaking and all the anguish that was built up inside of him came pouring out.
His shaking stopped when he felt a hand smooth out his hair and for a second he remembered his dream from the other night, but when he glanced up all he saw was his Father’s face.
“It’s my fault Dad...I couldn’t save her.”
“It was no one’s fault son. She just died from complications while giving birth, they did all they could to save her.”
“Cullen was right...if we just wouldn’t have had another-”
Mason gripped his shoulder,
“Don’t. Don’t say it Claudio. You can’t blame that little baby for what has happened. She’s innocent to the world and doesn’t even know she’s lost her Mother. You have to be there for her.”
Claudio gripped his hair in handfuls and rocked back and forth on the balls of his feet.
“I can’t do it! I can’t do it without her! I spent so much time away...I don’t even know who my kids are! I shouldn’t have been gone so much, I could have spent it with Clara…”
Mason grabbed Claudio’s head and forced him to look him in the eyes,
“You listen to me! Those kids are all we have left of her! You are their Father and you will learn how to raise them without Clara. You have to!”
“But the trial, it’s happening next week! What if-”
Mason grabbed Claudio’s chin as his head began to droop,
“We will deal with that when we get there. For now you need to go upstairs and comfort your children. One step at a time son.”