~~Very few children were gathered at the party. Many adults had shown up for Selene’s birthday party. Elizabeth and Selene hadn’t gotten into the water yet, but they soon would. Over the past three weeks, Hailo and Cypher had become friends. For now, Hailo was comfortable with being friends. She didn’t mind. Hailo and Ivan’s baby was born over the course of the last three weeks, and he was now a week old. Hailo sat at the poolside on a chair with her newborn, Arthur, squirming in her arms. They had decided to name him after his grandfather. He fussed and whined, waiting for his mother to feed him. Hailo shushed and bounced him lightly. Ivan brought out a freshly made bottle for him, handing it to Hailo. “Do you want me to take over? You can go talk to Cypher,” Ivan offered to his wife.
“Are you sure, Ivan? I can do this. You go have a good ti-,” Hailo was stopped mid-sentence by her husband. He held up his hand as a gesture to silence her.
“Go have fun. I want to spend a little time with my son,” he chuckled.
Ivan leaned down and took Arthur from Hailo’s arms. He cradled the infant in his arms and extended his arm out to Hailo. She handed him the bottle and watched as he placed the nipple of the bottle to Arthur’s lips, expecting him to latch on. Arthur latched onto the bottle and sucked hungrily. Hailo smiled, pecking Ivan on the lips. She walked into the kitchen where Elizabeth, Selene, and Cypher were preparing lunch for everyone. Hailo brushed a quick kiss on the top of Elizabeth’s head and smiled. “Are you two not going swimming?” Hailo asked.
“I want to go swimming,” Selene squeaked happily. She was already in her little swimming suit. It was bright pink with red Hawaiian flowers decorating it.
“Eli, sweetie, I have your swimming suit in my bag. I’ll go get it,” Hailo said. She walked out to the pool and grabbed the bag next to Ivan. He was patting Arthur’s back lightly. Hailo took out Elizabeth’s blue swimming suit and returned to her daughter. “Here, sweetheart,” Hailo said, “Go get dressed.”
Elizabeth took her swimming suit and walked to the bathroom. Hailo looked at Cypher who was checking on a pizza in the oven. “Cypher, you better grab an oven mitten before you burn yourself,” Hailo suggested.
Cypher turned her head slightly to look at her friend and laughed. “I have done this enough times to know what I am doing.” Cypher suddenly yelped and jumped back from the oven, a string of low swears strung from her tongue. Selene jumped from her sudden outburst as well as Hailo. “Are you okay?” Hailo asked with concern. She walked around to Cypher and looked at the burn. Not too bad.
“I’ll just need to run cold water over it and put a bandage on it,” Cypher yelped from between her clenched teeth. Whilst Cypher let cold water over her hand, Hailo slipped an oven mitten over her hand and took the pizza out with ease.
Hailo sent a teasing ‘told-you-so’ look towards Cypher who just rolled her eyes. Elizabeth skipped out in her swimming suit with a grin from ear to ear. “Come on, Selene. Let’s go get in the pool!” Elizabeth exclaimed and pulled Selene from her chair. Arthur’s cries arose from outside, earning a sigh from Hailo. “I’ll be right back, Cypher,” she announced and walked out to Ivan’s side.
Cypher turned the water off and wrapped a paper towel around her hand, gently dabbing the water off of her sensitive skin. Elizabeth ran inside with two necklaces in her hand. “Miss. Keaton, can you please hold these for me and Selene? We don’t want to get them wet,” Elizabeth asked in the politest way she could.
“Oh, of course,” Cypher said. She held out her one good hand and Elizabeth placed the puzzle piece necklaces in the palm of her hand. She smiled as the little girl ran back out to the pool. “No running, Elizabeth!” she yelled out to her. Cypher shook her head with a smile and looked down at the necklaces. She was caught off guard by the two puzzle piece necklaces, one belonging to Elizabeth the other to Selene, upside down in her hand. Cypher’s interesting suddenly peaked and she turned the two over. Her hand shot to her mouth with shock when she realized the pieces fit perfectly.
“They fit….,” she mumbled.
Cypher placed the two puzzle pieces together, connecting them. Her breath caught in her throat. “How do Elizabeth and Selene have the same necklaces…?” Cypher thought. “I have had my necklace as far back as I can remember…I was adopted. But…no, there is just no way.” Cypher desperately held back her tears and bit her lip. She read the engraving of the word the two necklaces made when joined together. Once she said it aloud, her sobs could not be held back any longer.
“Family…,” she read the engraving aloud.