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Chapter 1 It Started with a Goodbye

     Belle walks toward Elven who's carrying their 1 year old daughter who's fast asleep. He's looking at the vast ocean in front of him. He seems preoccupied as he doesn't bother to respond when Belle calls his name.
     " Hey babe... "
     And she planted a kiss on his cheeks.
     " Hello! " she said abruptly and turned away, avoiding his eyes.
     Her face was reddened as she was surprised by her own gesture. She's embarrassed. It wasn't anything special, just some light peck or small kiss but it still affected her. They were in a 5 year relationship and 2 out of that 5, they were married and blessed with a beautiful daughter. And yet, she still acts like a teenager having a crush!
     The man didn't seem to react much though, only slightly turning his head and a little smile graced his face. It was a genuine smile with a bit of amusement.
     She took in the scenery. The sun is shining brightly over the surface of the ocean. The waves are crashing against each other creating a loud sound. The air is cool but not cold. A slight breeze was blowing her shoulder length black hair.
     " I'm done with the registration."
     She quickly changed the subject before he started to tease her endlessly.
     " We can board the ship when it's time. "
     She said while she slips her identification card in her jacket's pocket.
     Elven just nodded and continued staring into the ocean. His dark brown eyes scanned everything. After a few more moments he softly caresses his daughter's hair and softly kisses her head.
     " Sweetie, won't you wake up already? We're gonna ride the ship soon! You want to see the ocean, right? "
     He softly said in a voice full of affection. Belle couldn't help herself from smiling at them. He loves this girl so much, she can tell. That much is evident from how much he talks about her. He loves to hold her. He loves it when they're spending time together and he would always be careful with the way he speaks to her.
     This is the most relaxed she has seen him since their wedding. The stress that usually surrounds him was nonexistent.
     After a while they started to board the ship that will take them to Elven's father's land. They're going on vacation.
     But as soon as the ship leaves the dock, the rain starts to trickle. The wind suddenly picked up causing everyone to shiver. They've never expected such weather today.
     " Let's head to our cabin and rest. We can just go back here at the deck when the rain stops. "
     As they were walking along the deck, they heard an older woman murmuring something unusual.
     " Something's wrong."
     She says while looking at the ocean. The sea looks dark and gloomy. She could see huge waves moving slowly.
     She had no idea what the woman meant by "something's wrong". But she knew that it probably had something to do with the rain.
     Elven led his family inside their cabin. Their daughter is still fast asleep. Time passes and it's still raining. It's almost dinner time. They didn't have a chance to enjoy the view outside. The baby woke up and asked for milk.
     " I'll go get us something to eat. " Elven said and headed outside.
     " Sure. " Belle simply replied while she breastfed her baby.
     She closed her eyes as she felt her head spinning. The ship's moving roughly now. The rain's getting heavy. Then she hears a baby cry. She opens her eyes and looks at her daughter, she's not crying.
     " Of course she's not, she's busy. "
     She smiles at herself because she heard the cry outside and yet she checked the baby in her arms.
     The crying continued frantically and being a mom, Belle put down her baby and looked outside and saw a baby girl that she guessed was the same age as her baby. Alone. Slumped on the floor and dripped because of the rain.
     " Oh my goodness! Where's your mom? "
     She picked up the baby and scanned the corridor. It's empty. No one is there except for her.
     " Come on, let's get you dry. "
     She picked up the baby and quickly grabbed the railings. The ship won't let her stand straight. It takes her more than two minutes to reach the cabin as she's struggling to keep her balance. She managed to open the door and finally made it inside. She snatched a towel and covered the baby she found outside with it. She placed the baby on the bed beside her own baby who's quietly playing with her toys and then she sat on the chair beside the bed.
     Her diaper was full and covered in water. Her dress has gotten wet too, soaking through. Belle breathed out and started to change the baby's diaper and put some dry clothes on. She's still crying so she grabbed a bottle of milk and gave it to the baby, she gladly took it. She looks really hungry.
     Then she heard something again.
     " Where's my baby? Where's my baby? "
     Belle hurried outside leaving the two babies on the bed.
     " She's here! "
     The woman runs towards her and peaks at the open door. Her face lightened up at the sight of her baby.
     " Thank you! Thank you so much! "
     The woman's words of thanks flooded Belle. She held the woman's thin and frail hand and led her inside their cabin.
     " I go to the comfort room and when I get back she's no longer inside the bag- "
     " What?! Bag? "
     The frail woman was dumbfounded. Sheepishly, she told Belle the truth.
     " I smuggled her to board this ship. I put her inside my luggage. I don't have money, you know. I can't afford the fair price. We don't even have food to eat. I'm glad that they still haven't found out about us until now so can you please do us a favor? "
     Her eyes looked at her full of pleading. Belle looks at the baby who's still drinking milk. She's so thin like her mom. While her baby is quietly playing with her feet.
     " How old is she? "
     " She's already 2 years old. "
     " Oh. "
     " Okay. "
     Belle smiles warily. Trying to hide her pity. The baby is malnourished. She's already 2 but her baby who's just 1 yr old looks much bigger. She doesn't want to compare but her heart feels heavy for the baby's condition.
     " We need to keep going. I don't want you to get in much more trouble because of us. "
     Then the frail woman picks her baby up.
     " Ah, yeah. Sure. "
     Belle answered absentmindedly. But then she grabs a tote bag and puts some bottled water, biscuits, milk and some dry clothes for the baby.
     " Here. Take this. It's not much but I hope it helps. "
     The woman's eyes became watery. She hesitantly accepts the bag. But she needed this. She badly needed this.
     " You have such a good heart. "
     Belle smiles and shakes her head. She can't find the words to comfort her.
     " We're going now. Thank you so much! "
     Belle picks up her jacket that hangs on the chair, slips some bills in the pocket and covers the frail woman and her child.
     " God bless you and your family "
     She just smiles warmly at the woman's sincere words as she bids them goodbye.

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