The dogs barked an alert before the knocking began. Bella glanced at the two blonde-haired children leaning on the table, oblivious to the disruption as they smeared paint across sheets of paper. She hurried down the old farmhouse hallway to the heavy front door, shooing the dogs away.
Bella peered through the glass panel and froze. The face staring back was almost identical to hers, but reflected twenty-five years more in the sun.
With a thundering heart, Bella released the deadbolt and allowed the door open a few inches. The chain caught, keeping it from opening any wider.
“What’re you doing here, Mom?”
When the woman smiled, a chill ran down Bella’s spine. “Why, it’s time, of course, Bella.”
“What’re you talking about, Mother? Why’re you here?”
Her mother smiled again. “Why don’t you let me in and we can talk?”
Bella shook her head. “I don’t think so. Look, you’re not welcome here. You can’t be a part of our lives.”
The older woman sniffed, a smile still frozen on her face. “You’re my daughter. Our futures are tied. You can try to shut me out, but there are some things from which you cannot escape. It’ll be better for you, for your family, if you accept it now.”
“It’ll be better if you don’t come back. Good-bye, Mother.” Bella shut the door, latched the deadbolt and hurried back to the kitchen.
That night Bella stared at her husband across the dinner table as the kids played in the next room. He glanced up, wiped his mouth and stared back.
She pressed her lips together and glanced down at her plate. “My mother came by today.”
Bella nodded and looked up. “I have no idea how she found us. But she did.”
He started to speak but was interrupted by a pounding at the front door. Instead, he stood and headed for the foyer.
“What’s the meaning of this?” He demanded amidst heavy footsteps. The sheriff appeared in the doorway.
“Bella, Ethan, I’m sorry. We have warrants to arrest you both and an emergency custody order for the children. I’m sure this will be sorted out in the morning.”
A deputy secured her hands and escorted her to a car where a figure waited in the front seat. Without turning around, she spoke. “I tried to tell you, dear. Your future is tied to mine.”