Chapter 3 of Special 5 Year Update
"Goodmorning, princess!" Michael sang sweetly upon entering Luna's room. "Chocolate chip pancakes are waiting in the kitchen for you!"
When Michael removed the bed's blanket, he shook his head sideways and made his way towards the door. One of Luna's favorite games to play was hide-n-go-seek—and Michael regretted teaching it to her. Like he at the age of five, Luna was brilliant and intuitive. Anything he taught her, she excelled in.
Since this wasn't Luna's first time vanishing in the house, he wasn't too worried. She usually reappeared within 15 min of hiding, but this time was different. It was now 30 minutes without a peep from her. But—"better safe than sorry," he thought.
Retrieving his cell phone from his pants pocket, Michael made his security team aware of the situation and directed them to scan the entire ranch. Though he highly doubted Luna made it outside of the house, he couldn't be too sure she hadn't snuck out behind one of the house workers. Hell, when he was five years old, he managed to sneak out of his home and made his way to buy candy from their next-door neighbor, affectionately known as "the candy lady."
After looking all over the house for Luna, Michael made his way to the kitchen, where he found Paris, Prince, and Blanket having breakfast. "Have you guys seen Luna? I can't find her anywhere."
"No." The three replied in unison.
"Do any of you know if she has any new hiding places I'm unaware of?"
Prince being the eldest, immediately picked up on Michael's concern. "Is everything okay, dad?"
Michael took a deep breath and said. "Yeah. Everything is all right. I promised to play hide-n-go seek with Luna, and I want to win!" he lied, not wanting to worry his children.
"Good luck, dad! Luna is almost as good as you at that game." Paris chuckled.
Michael eyed Blanket, knowing he and Luna were the best of friends. "And what about you? Have you discovered any of Luna's new hiding places? You're also a hide-n-go seek expert."
"Not anymore." Blanket snickered. "Luna is the new champ!"
A wry expression crossed Michael's face. "You all find this amusing, don't you?"
"Yep!" The three answered. Usually, Michael thought it to be adorable when they replied in unison—but now was not one of those times. He was worried sick.
Taking a glance at his watch, Michael then hugged the three and said, "I love you... Have a good day at school."
"Love you more, dad!" Prince, Paris, and Blanket beamed in return.
"Mommy, why are you crying? Did you get a boo-boo?"
August smiled through her tears. "Yes, sweetie, I did."
Luna frowned and said, "I'm sorry, Mommy. Does it hurt?"
August picked Luna up and hugged her. "Yeah, it hurts a lot."
"My heart," August replied in her head and then pointed to her cheek. She couldn't tell Luna what was really hurting her, so she made up a fake location for her very real boo-boo."
Luna kissed her cheek. "Now you just need one from daddy!" She chimed. "When you and daddy kiss my boo-boo's, I stop crying, and they feel better."
"Aww, thanks, baby." August beamed, returning Luna's kiss. "Mommy needed that."
Later that morning, August stared at the phone in her and Luna's suite at the Wine and Valley Cottages—located in Santa Ynez Valley—a twenty-four-minute drive from Neverland. After her argument with Michael, she packed a few clothes and left the ranch with Luna. At first, she thought about getting a hotel in downtown L.A. but ultimately didn't feel like making the two-hour drive into the city at such a late hour—but in hindsight, she wished she had. The Wine and Valley Cottages reminded her of Neverland, which she thought was beautiful, but it also reminded her of Michael—and right now—that was the last thing she needed.
Moments later, August's cellphone rang. When she saw the number, she rolled her eyes. "Just pick up the damn phone and talk to him," the logical part of her brain reprimanded, "you know he's most certainly worried sick about Luna."
Giving in to her gentle nature, she answered the phone and said, "Luna is safe. She's with me—her mother. You know, the woman who carried her for nine months and almost died giving birth."
Michael took a deep breath. He knew there was no arguing with her there. She was the aforementioned and then some. She wasn't just a mere woman to him—she was his wife, lover, confidante, and friend. Up until last night, she was the divine Goddess he'd do anything for.
"August, how could you?"
"How could I what?"
"Just up and take off with our daughter." He snarled. "You're no better than those that have tried to destroy me!"
Michael's words stabbed her heart, twisting and turning, causing her to break down into tears. "No, Michael, I'm not like them! I love you... I'd never do anything to hurt you!"
"Yes, you are!" He shouted angrily, banging his hand against a nearby wall. "If not, then what the hell are you doing?"
"Michael, baby. Please, calm down... I'm not. Luna is my only child. And though I love Prince, Paris, and Blanket as if they were my own—I couldn't bear to leave her," August countered, her lips trembling. "And since it seems as though you've already made up your mind, I won't have anyone after we divorce."
"August," Michael uttered. "Where are you? We need to talk."
"We tried that all ready."
"We need to try again... We can't end like this—least, not for our kid's sake. Yes, Luna is yours by blood, but Prince, Paris, and, Blanket consider you to be a mother to them as well—and so do I. They don't deserve to suffer because of us. I don't want a hellish custody battle... I want us to work together."
When Luna heard Michael's name, she came bopping into the living area. "Mommy! Are you talking to daddy?" She inquired, jumping up and down.
"Hold on, Michael," August said hastily, turning her attention to Luna.
"Baby, aren't you supposed to be doing the school work I gave you?" August replied stern but gently.
"Yes, mommy, I am. But I need help," Luna answered, showing August her worksheet. "I don't have any crayons."
"Ok, baby. I'll get you some crayons when I get off the phone."
"Yay!" Luna shouted gleefully and then asked once more, "can I speak to daddy?"
"Sure, sweetheart. Just give mommy a few more seconds, please."
Luna beamed and then settled down.
August returned her attention to Michael. "Luna wants to speak with you."
"I know. I overheard," he replied softly. "Thanks for letting her."
"No need to thank me, Michael. I'm sorry. I don't want to say too much right now. We'll talk later tonight. I'm staying at the Wine and Valley Cottages here in Solvang. Is 8 pm good for you? I'm sure Luna will be happy to see you... And get her favorite bedtime story read by you."
Michael cleared his throat and wiped his eyes with the sleeve of his shirt. "Yes, I can be there by that time."
"Sounds good," August replied coolly. "Here's Luna."
Luna retrieved the cellphone eagerly and exclaimed, "Hi, daddy! Mommy and I are on a field trip!"
Michael made a wry expression. He knew August told Luna the lie because she had to explain dashing off without him and the rest of the kids. Like him, Luna was very curious and liked to ask a million questions.
Attempting to sound happy when he was anything but, he smiled and said, "I know! I hope you two are having fun!"
"Yes, we are! Mommy took me to Ostrich-land!"
"Cool! I've always wanted to go there! Did you get to feed any?"
"Yep! I did! Mommy didn't because she was scared."
Michael chuckled, remembering that August was more of a city girl. Though she had grown accustomed to the animals on the ranch, there were a few she still felt hesitant around—tigers in particular. Whenever their tigers Sabu and Thriller roared, she would squeal and jump into his arms.
"I'm glad you had such a fun day! I can't wait to hear about the rest of your field trip... But for now, I need you to get back to your schoolwork, ok?"
"Ok, daddy!" Luna grinned from ear to ear. "Have a nice day! I love you!"
"I love you more, princess."
Lord, August then ran off with the baby! I understand her reasoning, though. I can also understand why Michael feels very hurt over her actions—any parent would. The next chapter will be interesting in regards to where Michael and August will go from here. And aww, Luna... She's definitely the Lil sunshine of both their hearts.
As always, thanks for reading! Next Sunday is a longer chapter. I actually might post two chapters because they are connected together.
Have a great week!