Sera cherished every moment she had to spend with her precious little girl. Everything about Amanda made her smile - the baby powder smell, the soft pink swaddling, the gurgling and the coos that told her Amanda recognised her as the centre of her world.
She even slept in the rocking chair in Amanda's room, having a baby had her so tired and her eyes so sore, she felt like she was going cross-eyed.
However, as much as she would have loved to stay at home all the time, she needed to visit the Fire Station to work off those baby pounds, and to maintain the alarm and fire truck.
She hadn't realised Silas would be here, although she should have thought of it. It wasn't that she didn't want to see him, she did! But her feelings for him were becoming confusing, and for the sake of her marriage she had decided to avoid him.
"Sera, hi!" Silas hugged her. "Wow, you look great!"
Sera hugged him back, trying hard not to notice how nice he smelled, how good it felt to be in his arms.
"Thanks," she laughed. "I feel like the truck ran over me! I never realised how hard it was to have a newborn in the house!"
They sat down on the chairs in the study. Silas looked at her closely.
"You seem...upset." He said finally.
Sera felt her eyebrows go up in surprise. "I am..." she said slowly. "But...I don't really want to talk about it. I'm figuring things out, and I just need space..."
Silas smiled at her. "Space is why you've been avoiding me, then?"
"I...yes, I suppose so. I'm trying to make things work, Silas. For Amanda. She deserves to have her dad."
"But is Andrew really a dad, Sera? Where is he now?"
"Home, with her. He knew I had to work."
"As long as you're okay and he's doing his thing."
"We are." Sera said firmly.
The next day, Sera mulled over Silas' words as she pounded the treadmill at work. Andrew had indicated to her that he wasn't happy she was going in to work, but she had to. How else was she going to keep fit and get everything done? Besides, she needed her space from him, too.
Meanwhile, at home, Andrew had had enough of listening to Amanda's shrieking. He still wasn't even sure that the brat was his, and he certainly hadn't wanted her. Frustrated with the world, he decided to leave and have things out with the one responsible.
Not only has he got Sera eating out of his hand, he's flirting with other girls too, Andrew thought scornfully when he got to the Fire Station. He couldn't see Sera around anywhere, she was probably on her way home or something. Not that he cared, he was here for one thing and one thing only.
"HEY!" He yelled. "Don't you get enough flirting with my slut of a wife without trying to add more to your harem?!"
"Sera is not a slut, Andrew," Silas hissed angrily. "Be careful who you say things like that around. After all, this is your wife's place of work. Do you really want her to have a hard time here because you're some insecure little mama's boy?"
"Pfft, everyone here knows it's true. That brat isn't even mine, anyone can tell. No one in my family has purple eyes!"
"Whatever Andrew. I'm not going into this with you," Silas growled. "Just leave me out of whatever 'manly' endeavour you're aiming for."
As soon as his back was turned, Andrew attacked.
Unfortunately, this being his work, Silas had no chance. He would have been fired if he dared throw a punch while on duty.
Satisfied, Andrew headed home.
Needless to say, he was not impressed to find Sera still not back. He would have to speak with her.
Sera was at the gym when she got a call from Silas. "Silas? What's up?" she asked.
"Can you come over?" Silas asked. "I need your help."
"Andrew," Silas said thickly. "I wouldn't have called, but I thought you ought to know and..." he grimaced. "And I couldn't bear the thought of you going back there without my telling you.
"Silas, I've been a fool!" Sera cried. "I can't keep letting him do this!"
Silas hugged her. "Don't worry, Sera, you're strong. You can do this."
"I don't know if I can," she sobbed. "I don't want Amanda to get hurt but..."
Silas took a hold of her hands. "I'll be here for you, Sera. In whatever way you'll let me. But for now, you should go home and speak to him. You need to sort this out, one way or another. But I'll always be here."
Sera nodded shakily. "I know. Thank you, Silas."
As she headed home in the taxi, she thought seriously about what she was going to say. This had to be perfect. She had to make things absolutely clear.
"Finally back, I see," Andrew sneered when she walked in the door.
Be strong, Sera thought as he walked towards her. He can't hurt you. You're a fireman for heaven's sake. She tried hard not to remember Silas's bloodied face. "I have to do things for work, Andrew," she said evenly. "Speaking of which, I hear you were there earlier."
"You leave me here to look after your bastard brat while you fuck your lover!" Andrew screamed. "Damn straight I paid him a visit!" A vicious smile spread cross his face. "And very nice he looked with his nose spread over his cheekbones. I'll be revisiting that image a few times over the next few days."
"I can't believe I ever loved you," Sera said, sickened.
"I only give you what you deserve," Andrew spat venomously. "If you're going to spread your legs you frigid whore, you'll get what's coming to you. In a better society I'd be allowed to kill you."
As he stepped towards her, Sera instinctively moved away. He wouldn't, she thought, horrified.
As his hand came up, she pushed him away and ran for Amanda's room.
She spent the night sleeping in the rocking chair, too scared to go upstairs. She'd ask Silas to come over in the morning.
The next day, safe in the knowledge that Silas was hidden in Amanda's room if she needed him, Sera confronted Andrew again.
"Decided to apologise?" Andrew sneered. "I might forgive you, if you start being a real wife." He looked her up and down.
"It's over, Andrew," Sera snapped, disgusted. "I'm not letting you near me, or our baby. Despite what you believe, she is ours. I wouldn't cheat. But I won't have you around her. I've called the police. They know what's going on. And I've got back up. So get out, and there won't be any trouble."
"Fine, I'm leaving! I can find better than you anyway!"
Shakily, Sera watched as he left. Then she went into the bathroom and locked the door. She didn't come out until Silas had left for work.
That day she slept alone in her bed for the first time ever.
And that night, Amanda became a toddler.