Three of Hearts (1.1)

“Who’s my little chickie?” Liberty swooped her daughter up into her arms. “Yes, that’s right! It’s you!”

It was summer, and they were spending a lot of time out in the garden, among the flowers and other plants. She’d spent some time this summer setting a paddling pool and slide up for Robyn, who’d squealed and started clambering all over them.

Summer had promised to pop by too this week, with Gideon.

“I need a playdate as much as he does!” she’d said, brightly. “I feel so exhausted at the moment!”

Small wonder, Liberty thought to herself sadly. Travis was working a lot, and when he wasn’t working he was arranging things with his buddies and from what she’d seen and been told, he was avoiding his wife and son. Summer, for her part, was managing it fantastically, and had been the toast of one of the last daycare events, which she’d helped to plan.

Which brought to mind the daycare itself. Not that Liberty listened to gossip, but there had been some whispering about the woman who had moved to the neighborhood recently from San Myshuno. Her name was Anna, and she was very pretty – blonde, with long hair and a full, pregnant belly. Her son, who attended the daycare, was almost a carbon copy of her.

“I hear she used to live around here,” Alice had said, as she cuddled her baby. “Eric said he remembers her from school, but that she was always more into the theater side of things. Apparently she played Juliet one year.”

Payton, a woman Liberty didn’t really like, had leaned in. “Ooh, Anna? Yeah, she’s quite the mystery, isn’t she? Although Dakota’s a little sweetheart.” She’d given a little laugh, as if to force the conversation to be light.

From then on, Alice and Peyton had traded things back and forth. Was she maybe escaping her ex? Why had she bought that tiny, flat house in the Newcrest area, which was so close to them? Did she dye her hair, or was it natural? It was clear that she was very much in favor in their neighborhood, but something about the woman rubbed Liberty the wrong way.

That night, after putting Robyn to bed, she went on the message boards to check in with her friends from GeekCon, who’d created the board in the first place.

LibbyLeeLoo: Hey, just put chickie to bed. Any news?

KaraokeGrrl: Libby! Omigosh, how is she? We miss u x x x

LibbyLeeLoo: growing every day!

KaraokeGrrl: awwwwww

KaraokeGrrl: oh btw my friend moved into our flat! you remember him, tall broody dude who let me paint tattoos on him last year at GeekCon?

LibbyLeeLoo: uh vaguely?

KaraokeGrrl: yeah he had to move out of his last place because he and his gf broke up

KaraokeGrrl: apparently she’s still in love with her high school bf or something and she slept with someone else but she wouldn’t tell him WHO

KaraokeGrrl: he got drunk last night and we talked about it, he’s really torn up because they have a kid together and now he’s all confused about whether that kid is even his

LibbyLeeLoo: oh my god

KaraokeGrrl: anyway

KaraokeGrrl: are you coming to the next GeekCon

Liberty paused. She did miss GeekCon, but at the same time, GeekCon with a toddler just sounded exhausting. Not to mention that the crowds would likely be too much for Robyn.

LibbyLeeLoo: Not this year, Robyn doesn’t really like crowds and it’d probably be difficult to bring her along.

KaraokeGrrl: Oh, okay! You’ve got to come visit some time, though. We miss you! x x

Though it was late, Liberty ended up snacking, her mind going back over the conversation. She missed them too, of course she did, but her life was so full of Robyn now that she couldn’t shake the feeling that it would be a long while before she could go to a con again. Hotel rooms with a child as young as Robyn would be difficult, and crashing with friends just wasn’t an option, given most of her friends from GeekCon still flat-shared. Until she’d fallen pregnant, she’d been house sharing herself.

Before, she’d have pressed Miko for more details, wanting to heaar everything about the drama – but now, she just found it sad that someone had gone through that.

She got up, and peeked in on Robyn to check she was alright. Yup, tucked in bed where she’d been left, sound asleep.

Liberty smiled to herself at the sight of Robyn snoring away, her little curls falling on the pillow. She was so peaceful when she was asleep.

No, Robyn wouldn’t be able to sleep this peacefully in a partying hotel, or even at one of her friend’s flats. Liberty sadly made up her mind. Perhaps when Robyn was older, but not right now.