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Chapter Thirty-four

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I gripped the television remote in my hand as I turned down the volume to grab Mabel's attention. SpongeBob SquarePants was screeching out to Squidward, but I found no humour in it. It was time to reveal the news to Mabel. To tell her the truth.

Henry shifted on the couch to wrap his arm around Mabel's shoulders while I kept telling myself to breathe. In and out. In and out. The nerves were intense enough to cause a bubble of pain in my gut.

"We have something important to tell you, bub," Henry said when Mabel appeared confused by the change in the television sound.

"Okay." She looked at him.

Henry tucked her curls behind her ear and sighed, "I need for you to know that whatever you feel is okay."

I squeezed her knees. "Just know we love you."

"Daddy? Are you poorly?" she said, fear starting to grow across her tired face.

Henry shook his head. "No, I'm not sick. Verity and I have something special to tell you."

The wheels were turning in her head as she looked between us both. I wanted for her to know so badly, but I also feared her reaction. If she took it badly, then I had no idea what I would do.

"Do you remember when Daddy told you that mummy still loved you very much, she just couldn't be with us at the moment?" he said, eyes flicking all over her face.

Mabel nodded. "Yes."

Henry flicked his gaze in my direction. "Well, you see," he faltered for a while, swallowing extra hard. "Your mummy has come back into our lives."

Mabel covered her mouth. "Do you mean it?"

The pure joy in her voice caused goosebumps to form across my body.

Henry nodded. "Yes, I mean it."

Her tiny hands began to shake as she glanced around the room. "Is she here?"

My voice led before my brain had the time to connect. "I'm right here, sweetheart."

Mabel's neck snapped to the side so quickly, the force of it was bound to give her whiplash. Confusion. Happiness. Fear. Shock. It all showed in her expression. "You are my mummy?"

I caught my bottom lip between my teeth when it wobbled uncontrollably. Keep it together. Saying the next words out loud to her felt scary somehow. "Yes, I'm your mummy."

Mabel blinked with tears beginning to trickle down her cheeks. "All of this time?"

A loud noise escaped me. "Yes, I'm so sorry, sweetheart." I couldn't think of anything else to say. My mind going blank.

Mabel used her fingers to wipe away her tears as she turned away from me to climb into Henry's lap. I tried not to let it break my heart. But it did. One million times over.

Henry tucked her into his side and combed his fingers through her hair, letting her have the time she needed to process it all. I, on the other hand, was impatient for her words. I needed to hear her thoughts. Craved it, as the silence descended upon us for a few more minutes.

"What you thinking in that little head of yours?" Henry whispered, breaking the silence with his face in front of hers.

Mabel's eyes fluttered to the floor. "Don't you want me?"

A burning in the pit of my stomach spread to cause a hitch in my breathing. "Of course I want you. You are all I want, Mabel."

"Why did you leave daddy and me?"

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