For possibly the first time, she did not relax into the wrap of his arms, standing stiffly there as he took over the cooking. "And?" she asked, staring at the cupboard directly in front of her.
"And I'm sorry," he added, making quick work of the eggs. If he wasn't mistaken, she was making a quiche. He left the whisk in the bowl and unwound himself from her so that he could add some salt and pepper. "I know I should have told you, but I didn't want to bother you, and I thought you'd hear us outside."
"I did not hear you," she told him, stepping away from the bowl, her arms wrapped about herself as she turned to look at her husband. "All I heard was the quiet. All I saw was our children missing, and no response from you when I called out for you. Anything could have happened, Rhys. And I have made a fool of myself calling to Elaine for the sake of a silly prank that went wrong."
"It wasn't a prank," Rhys said, in weak defense of himself. All his life, all he'd wanted was a little normalcy - the way things had been before his father had ... Well, he didn't really want to think about that now. Then again, he loved his life with Nat and their children, and he couldn't help but revel in the fact that it wasn't normal, and yet ... Rhys frowned as he turned back to the bowl and whisked the eggs and milk mixture together. He wasn't sure what he was feeling exactly. He wasn't angry at Nat really, only at himself. "I just wasn't thinking, I guess," he half-murmured in reply.
"It is my instinct to think the worst," Nat said, her voice shaking as she tried to calm herself down. The last thing she wanted to do was burst into tears and worry the children. "I thought we had been attacked, that our children had been taken right out from under my nose. I thought I had failed to protect them. To protect you. I would have killed anyone who walked in through the door, Rhys, without stopping to make sure they were an enemy."
Rhys was still frowning as he poured the egg mixture atop the veggies she'd already spread out on top the pie crust. He knew she was right and that he probably would have thought the same thing, but he hadn't really thought about it much, since they were just going out into their own yard. "I guess our lives will never be normal," he murmured to himself. "I'm sorry I worried you. It won't happen again," he promised, though his back was still turned to her, almost afraid to meet her gaze. It was a mistake to think their lives could ever be normal or even pretend they were normal. It was a mistake that could cost them their lives, if they weren't careful, and he knew that.
He could no doubt hear her breath shaking as she struggled to calm herself. "I could not bear it if anything happened to you," she said quietly, her voice half-choked. "To our children. I am sorry. I ... overreacted."
Rhys' frown deepened as she took the blame on herself. He could hear the tears in her voice, but before he could soothe her worries, he needed to pop the quiche in the oven, or lunch would quickly become dinner. It only took a moment and then he was wrapping his arms around her to pull her close. "I'm sorry, Nat. I just didn't think."
This time, she didn't stay stiff, hugging into him close as she held on tightly. "It is my fault," she kept saying, still trying not to cry. "I should not have ... should not have thought the worst. I am so sorry."
Rhys flicked a glance out the window to make sure the kids were still safe under that tree, while he held their mother close, one hand gently rubbing her back. "I would have done the same, you know," he admitted, though he might have looked a little harder before freaking out. "We've done everything we can to protect them, Nat. If they can't play in their own yard, we might as well move to Avalon."
"I did not know they were in the yard," she pointed out. "I could not hear them out there. All I knew was that they had disappeared, and you did not answer my call." She shook her head, lifting her red-rimmed eyes to his. "I am sorry."
"No, I'm sorry," he told her, his eyes dry but full of remorse as he lifted a hand to touch her cheek. "I never meant to worry you, baby. Ana wanted to learn how to play 'hot scots', and I was laughing so hard, I forgot to tell you we were going outside. I thought you'd hear us."
She blinked, her shock and tears forgotten in the face of another Ana-ism. "Hot ... scots?" she asked, a faintly curious smile beginning to quirk at her lips.
"Yeah, I'm pretty sure sure she meant hopscotch, but I could be wrong," he said, gently brushing the tears from her face, smiling softly. "I'm sorry, Nat. Really, I am. I didn't mean to upset you."
She sniffed, shaking her head. "I think we were both wrong here," she said quietly. "I should not have panicked so quickly. A lesson learned, da?" She turned her head, kissing his palm affectionately.
"For both of us," he agreed, turning her face toward him so that he could give her a kiss. "I promise to tell you where I'm going next time, and you promise not to panic, okay?" he asked, a soft smile on his face.
"I promise." She smiled, answering his kiss with her own. "But I still have to finish lunch, or Ana may incite a mutiny out there." A quick glance through the open door showed that Ana and Micah were cloud-gazing now.
"They're safe, Nat. Aurelia has this place so warded, a mosquito couldn't get in. And the dogs would kill anyone who dared get close," he assured her, though he, too, worried for the children's safety - and hers.
"I know." And to her credit, she did know that. But there were some habits that were so ingrained they might never leave her entirely. She could definitely try harder not to give into that instinctive panic, though. "I will do better."
He slid his arms around her waist, a reassuring smile on his face. "You're doing fine." He chuckled as a thought came to mind. "And here I thought I was the over-protective one," he teased.
"I am just better at hiding it until the very last moment," she teased him in return, brushing another kiss to his jaw. "You will never again suspect that I am not ready for a fight, I think."
"It's not a bad thing necessarily," Rhys remarked. "I mean, I think we should be prepared, just in case, but we don't want to scare the kids," he reasoned, frowning a little as he recalled the last threat, which had happened a few months ago at Micah's daycare center.
She mirrored his frown, remembering the same incident, the same panic she had felt then. "We were lucky last time," she murmured. "We had a friend we did not even know existed."