A/N: Ya'll thanks for all the awesome reviews! We're having a blast! Has anyone figured out what's going on yet? Guess we'll see!
Okay. I told the truth like Daddy and Mommy always said to do all the time, so I think I'll still get my cookies tomorrow after all! That's great!
But…Mommy's face doesn't look like she believes me…
But, I'm telling the truth! The monster is real!
And it's scary!
And it's invisible!
But worstest of all…
IT WANTS TO EAT ME!
After hearing her stepson's blunt statement, Amanda merely blinked in response-caught off guard at how serious he sounded after stating something so bizarre. But the fact that he was being sincere along with the look of fear reflecting in his innocent brown eyes, let her know that he was being completely honest about his feelings.
But she still couldn't help her slight incredulous expression.
"…A monster? You're saying that…there's a monster in your room that is after you?" She said slowly in an attempt to paraphrase yet tread carefully as to not offend him.
Carl nodded adamantly. "Uh huh! And it's really scary and-and it's invisible and wants to eat me alive!"
Amanda blinked once more, slightly tilting her head to the side. "Okay…Carl- "
"-You don't believe me…do you?" Carl said in a quiet dismal tone before letting out a light whimper. "I bet you think I'm crazy!"
"Buddy of course I don't think that!" Amanda reassured him, grasping onto his shoulders, squeezing them lightly, but reaffirmed her statement. "I would not ever think that of you. Why would you say that?"
"B-because my friend in school talked about how he was scared of monsters too, and-and then everyone laughed at him and called him crazy and a scaredy-cat and said that only babies get scared."
Amanda frowned. "Now that wasn't very nice of them, nor was it true. Everyone gets scared of something sometimes whether they're babies, kids, or adults. Everybody does."
"Well you don't! You're the bravest ever! Uncle Nolan and Daddy says so! And-and you have a super ultra-secret power ninja secret cause you're a ninja! So I bet nothing scares you!" Carl said as if it was the most obvious fact in the world.
"…They said that?" His step mommy raised an eyebrow.
Carl nodded innocently.
Amanda felt like sighing and shaking her head at the valiant comments that were made on her behalf, but instead, bent down to whisper into her stepson's ear. "Well…this may surprise you, but…that's not always true. There have been times…there are times when even Mommy gets scared too."
"YOU?! Y-you get scared too?!" Carl's eyes widened-mouth agape as he slapped his hands on his cheeks.
Amanda nodded sincerely, holding back the urge to smile at how dramatic he was acting.
"No way!" He exclaimed.
"It's true." She stated.
"What stuff do you get scared of Mommy? Is it a scary monster that wants to eat you alive too?!" Carl asked curiously, eager to know the answer.
Amanda then looked away uncomfortably-her expression darkening slightly as her mind flashbacked to certain moments and memories…
"It's extraordinary that they were a match…."
"You know there always was something that I could never put my finger on about you…You and I have more in common than either one of us cares to admit…"
…Certain quotes from a certain person…
"If you hadn't volunteered Victoria's for transplant…"
"Ferocity. An embedded determination to get whatever we want no matter what the cost. But do not forget that I have been at this much longer than you…"
…All forming a certain damning nightmare…
"It's what mother would have wanted…"
"I promise you that you will not only fail…"
…That was ever recurring in her dreams at night...
"…But you will suffer!"
…Depriving her from not only a peaceful sleep, but peace in general…
"Hey, Mommy? Mommy!"
Amanda snapped out of her daze-eyes almost bulging and whipped her head around to meet Carl's inquisitive gaze.
"You didn't say anything. Are you scared of a monster too?" Carl asked again.
"…Something like that…" She murmured cryptically, before putting on a reassuring smile and brightening her tone, squeezing his shoulders in comfort once more. "But hey, back to you and this…monster. Why don't you tell me more about it so we can figure out how to make it go away so you can get a good night's sleep again, hm?"
"W-well…I don't think it's gonna go anywhere until I become its dinner…" Carl whined with a light sniff but continued. "I know not all monsters are scary. But this one is different than the nice ones I used to watch on TV. This one is vicious and-and it's loud with sharp teeth!"
"Wait I thought you said it was invisible? How do you know it's vicious with sharp teeth?" His stepmom raised an eyebrow.
"Oh I don't...I'm just guessing b-because it sounds like a lion's roar only scarier! And Louder! And viciouser! And since lion's have big sharp teeth, the monster must have big sharp teeth too!" Carl explained while attempting to imitate the ferocity of a lion.
"Hm…Do you know where it comes from? Or where it goes when it comes into your room?" Amanda asked, playing along, but gathering information from his point of view at the same time-wanting to get to the bottom of the problem.
Carl shook his head shamefully. "No…I tried to be brave and look for it with my flashlight, b-but I can never find it since it's invisible. And every time it comes, I hide for my life under the covers before it can get me!"
"When does it come into your room exactly?" She asked softly.
"At night time…But one time, I thought I heard it in the morning from the couch and even in yours and daddy's boat when I tried to look for him!" Carl explained widened eyes.
Amanda stood up and put a hand to her chin, deep in thought, contemplating the clues. She had her suspicions from the details her stepson was giving her, but the pieces weren't coming together like she'd hoped to solve the mystery of this so called monster.
Until suddenly, a low growling sound started to reverberate in the room, getting louder as seconds passed.
"AH! IT'S HERE! T-THE M-MONSTER IS HERE TO EAT US!" Carl squealed, ready to run out of his bedroom, only to run back as soon as he made it into the hallway. "AH! I CAN STILL HEAR IT FROM THE HALLWAY!" Carl rushed back to his mommy, grabbing onto her legs, tugging on her, or rather his daddy's, shirt that she was wearing. "QUICK! WE GOTTA GET OUT OF HERE MOMMY BEFORE IT GETS US! W-WE GOTTA GET DADDY AND THE DOGGY OUT OF HERE TOO BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE!"
Amanda managed to gently pry the frightened five-year old off of her legs and bent down to his level once more, shushing him softly. "Carl, calm down buddy. The monster isn't going to get us or eat us. I won't let it. But I am going to get to the bottom of this once and for all."
Carl closed his mouth that was once open and ready to protest. He then muttered curiously, trying to keep the tremor out of his voice "H-how are you gonna do that?"
"I'm going to find out where it is." She said simply.
"But you can't see it! How are you gonna find it?" Carl stressed his question once more.
"Maybe I can't see it, but I can certainly hear it just fine. That's how I'm going to find its hiding spot." She explained.
"But you can't! What if it gets you?!" Carl protested.
"It won't. Don't worry. Remember my secret you mentioned earlier?" Amanda asked, watching him nod his head in response. "Well…part of erm…it, includes not ever letting anything happen to you…or Daddy…or the puppy and keeping you all safe. I have to be around to do that, so I'll make sure it won't get me so I can. Okay?" She smiled at him, feeling slightly silly of reassuring him of her so called ninjistic abilities but wanting him to calm down and feel more confident.
Once he hesitated but smiled at her in return, she stood up, ready to find the source of the disturbing noise only to feel her hand being grabbed.
"Be careful Mommy…" Carl said shyly yet seriously.
She smiled lightly and squeezed his hand gently as a response. "I will buddy. Don't worry."
Once she let go of Carl's hand, Amanda started to walk around Carl's room, looking around and keeping her ears alert, letting the loud almost roaring sound guide her. She came upon the air vent in Carl's room where the noise seemed to distort and grow louder. She raised an eyebrow at first-completely perplexed until her eyes widened with realization and shut abruptly. She was then tempted to let out either a very annoyed sigh or a sheepish giggle once she recognized the source of Carl's fear. She then rose up once more and hasted towards the hallway while Carl's head moved from side to side, watching her every movement from the safety of his bed and warm comforter-hoping that his beloved step-mommy would return unscathed.
Not even a few minutes later, Amanda walked back into the room once more with an almost completely straight look on her face.
"D-did you find it Mommy? Did you find the monster?" Carl asked eagerly as he hopped out of bed and ran up to her.
"I did." She nodded. Though she was tempted to reassure him of what his fears truly entailed, she had a better idea of how Carl could both be reassured and overcome his fear of the mystery monster that kept him up. So, she continued her sentence with a serious yet determined expression on her face. "And I was able to find out something about it. Turns out, it's not invisible like we thought! And I know where it's hiding too."
"Y-you do?!" Carl asked in disbelief.
"I sure do." Amanda nodded.
"Th-that means you're gonna get it right? You're gonna use your super-secret mommy ninja powers to get it and make it go away now?!" Carl asked with growing excitement.
His stepmother put a hand to her chin once more with a look of inquiry. "Hmm…I could…and I'm definitely going to help, but I'm not going to be the main one to get this monster."
She then smiled and pointed to Carl. "You are."
Silence struck the room for a long moment until it was broken by a squeal of disbelief….
To be continued.