Graduation was an emotional roller coaster for myself and my best friends! Although we planned to stay in touch and meet each year, there was that nagging feeling that time and space would try our friendships! I must do everything within my power to make sure we do not drift apart.
With graduation behind us, we were forced to look into the future and move on with our lives. Ruby and Axel found a nice bungalow on Crescent Bay looking out over the water. Molly was going to school. Tony had enlisted in the military. Stormy had not made any concrete plans. She stayed here for Sunny's sake - to give her some stability while she grew up!
Ranna and I had spent time together since prom, getting to know one another better. We had become fond of each other and enjoyed each other's company very much. We picnicked in the park and dined at the Bistro. We toured the Art Museum, and attended the theater. We were only able to enjoy a few days together before she returned to Egypt, to spend some time with her family. Our last night together, we spent together at the beach. We had become very good friends and vowed to stay in touch.
Dad encouraged me to return to China to complete my Sim Fu training. Upon my arrival I was informed that my previous instructor, Master Hong, had passed on. I would meet my new Master, Master Wan, shortly.
I arrived at the Academy earlier than I had anticipated, thus giving me a chance to look around. It had been some time since I had last been here. Nothing of significance had changed. Honored traditions rarely change much, if at all.
I headed back up to the office where I was to meet my new Master. As I ascended the stairs, I was greeted by the most beautiful woman I had ever seen.
"Hello, I am Master Wan, Master Jing Wan," she said. "Are you Master Michaels?"
I was caught off guard, expecting an aging gentleman. "Yes, I am Boris Michaels."
"You will be under my tutelage for the remainder of your stay. Let us begin immediately, if that is agreeable with you. Let us concentrate on you mediation technique first. Once you have mastered the art of meditation we will move on to the sparring matches."
We had spent much of our days together at the Academy. I had mastered the meditation quite quickly. Once the Meditation Technique had been mastered, Master Wan, Jing, invited me to her house for dinner.
We cleaned up, changed our clothes and headed out. Just outside the Academy we secured our bicycles and began the ride to Jing's house. Along the way, she pointed out points of interest, such as the Forbidden City which was where the market was located. I had indicated that I had visited the city on my previous visit. Other landmarks included the Dragon Cave.
We soon arrived at her house and she led me past a koi pond and a very nicely maintained garden to the porch. We were greeted by a gentleman at the door.
"You must be Master Michaels. My name is Wan Mao. My sister has told me about you. Welcome to our home." Mao introduced himself with a slight bow.
I returned his bow. "Thank you for inviting into your home."
"Mao, if you would entertain Boris, I will begin cooking the meal."
Mao ushered me into the living room, where he offered me a seat. Heat sat down opposite myself and we talked. He asked of my training. I asked of the pond and the garden. Mao was a master gardener, lovingly caring for his plants. I saw some varieties that were not native to China and he explained that he had purchased the seed from tourist and explorers travelling through the area. Mao was ever the considerate host, occasionally asking if I desired something to drink.
Soon, Jing called us in for dinner. She made the most delicious egg rolls. The meal was perfect. The conversation was light. When we had finished, I offered to help clean up, but was assured that was not necessary.
After dinner, Jing desired to go shopping, so we headed to the Market. She led me through several shops. It did not appear that Jing was furtively looking for anything in particular.
As the shops began to close, we leisurely strolled through the streets of the forbidden city. It was a calm and peaceful night, with an almost full moon bathing the city in its soft glow. As we strolled along, I reached my hand out and she lovingly grasped it with hers. We stopped, turned toward each other and gazed in to one another's eyes. I leaned into her and pressed my lips against hers. She longingly returned the kiss, soft and sensual.
Have you ever met someone and knew that you were meant for each other. I was never one to believe in love at first sight. There must be a science to everything. A logic. Spock would tell you it was completely illogical. What I was feeling then knew no science, no logic. I believe I had met my soul mate.
We returned to her house and she invited me to stay the night. We shared a bed that night. It seemed so right. The perfect moment; for Jing; for Me; for love. Our love.
The next day, I moved my belongings to Jing's home, where I lived for the rest of my time in China.
While I was still in China, Axel and Ruby arrived for their honeymoon. Although they had already made their plans and booked their accommodations, Jing and Mao were kind enough to offer their home to them. Graciously, (as much as Ruby and Axel could be), They turned down the offer, but did take time from their schedule to spend an evening and enjoy a meal with us!
Training with Jing progressed very well. I spent time sparring with the dummy, and the board breaker. My prior training had gotten me to five balsa wood boards, so it did not take me long to move through the levels. Several sparring matches were arranged with other members of the academy. When I had achieved my black belt, Jing informed me I had one match left to spar. She would be my opponent. When, and if, I beat her, I would truly have earned the coveted Black Belt. The date and time were set for the match. I had one day to prepare. The appointed time arrived and we met on the sparring mat at the academy.
We took our places, bowed to one another, and took up our stances. The match began, each of us attempting to "read" the other's moves. Each move was countered. Each blow deflected. It seemed that there would be no end in sight. I saw a weak spot, and with lightning speed, made my move. Round one was mine.
I tried not to feel too cocky at taking the first round, but it was difficult not to. I let the thrill of the win get to me and it caused my downfall in the second round. Jing easily outmaneuvered me after several successful blocks.
I had to focus on the last round. I had to will my mind to the sparring match and nothing else, or I would fail. I managed to remain focused. Blows were dealt. Blocks were successful. I saw my chance and I took it. The third round was mine.
I had won the match, 2-1. I was congratulated y Jing and the other members of the Academy. I had truly earned my black belt in the Martial Arts.
The time had come to go home. It was a bittersweet moment, when saying good-bye to Jing. I did not want to go, as much as Jing wanted me to stay.
"Must you go? Can you not stay a while longer?" Jing pleaded with tears in her eyes
I had responsibilities at home that I could not ignore. "I must go. We will be together soon. I promise."
It was a long flight home. My mind was centered on Jing. I was unaware of anyone else on the plane. I eventually dozes off and slept the remainder of the flight.
After I returned home, I returned to my duties within my father's organization. Work was easy, but concentrating on it was not. All of my thoughts returned to China and the love I had found there and left behind. I had spoken to Jing only once since my return. All was well and we began to discuss ideas on meeting again.
I called Molly and we chatted for a short while. Everything was going well for her. She was preparing for school in the fall, as was I.
I began my Computer Programming courses in early September. I am attending the local university. While attending the university, I remain in the employ of my father. He is very supportive of my endeavors.
About an hour and a half ago, my father came to me with a request.
Boris, I need to deliver a package to a contact in France." Achilles began. "You've done this before, and performed quite efficiently, I might add. This is not a dangerous job, or I would given to one of the trained men."
"Dad, I was just coming to see you. I would love to go to France, but I'm afraid I cannot go," Boris countered. "I have just received a request for my assistance from a friend. I have to go and help in any way I can. I hope you understand."
"That's ok Boris. I'm glad to see you have such a good friend that you would rush to their aid. I trust you know what you're doing. Can you tell me anything about it?"
I wish I could, Dad, but I have a plane to catch. I'll fill you in when I return, if I can,"
I made a hasty departure from the house. I got in my car and headed for the airport and the flight that awaited.
What will this new adventure hold?
The two months between graduation and the day my plane left for France were both the longest and shortest two months of my life. I spent as much time as I could with my friends and family during that time - particularly my little brother Eric. I knew, in leaving, I would miss so much of life and so many changes in him as he grew from a precocious three year old into a young boy. In early August, a few weeks before school started, I walked away from my parents and my brothers (as all but Garrett who was currently deployed had shown up to see me off) and boarded a plane for France. I intended to do a little sight seeing before school started and settle in.
My first day in France was not really promising. My luggage had decided to remain in the states apparently - probably in New York where I'd made my connecting flight. After spending an hour in the airline office for Lost Luggage, I left with few reassurances of it coming anytime in the next week. As I stepped out of my cab with nothing but my carry-on, I hope things would look up soon.
Due to the luggage snafu, I didn't get much actual sight seeing done before classes started. My luggage showed up nine days after I did, apparently having seen Germany, Italy, Sweden and of course France. It was more traveled than I was and it had various stamps, tags and stickers to prove it! I settled into my small room in the school dorms finally and a few days later my roommate arrived. She was gorgeous. When she first walked in she had all the appearance of a good roommate - clean, tidy and charming - except she wasn't. Charming at any rate. She barely said two words to me as she put her stuff in her drawer and walked out. I found out later her name was Amelie Rousseau, she was a theater student and she apparently hated all Americans.
Fabulous. Just fabulous. We both settled into the routine of ignoring the others' existence - not an easy feat given the size of our room. Classes officially started a few days later and despite having had a week or more to explore the place I found myself easily lost. Looking for the library - or should I say one of the libraries - I walked through a large wooden door. And found myself on top of a tower. Glancing over the edge toward the moat like structure beneath me, I let out a frustrated grumble. "Clearly I'm lost." I said to no one seeing as I was the only one up here.
"Well that is a shame." replied a British accented voice from the other side of the wall. I grimaced - either I was going crazy or I was not, in fact, alone on this damned tower.
I stepped forward and looked around the corner of the small room that must have served as a look out or some such thing. Leaning against the wall and eying me was a tall, handsome man with blond hair and a devilish smile. "Um, hi." I said my voice cracking a little with embarrassment.
He pushed himself off the wall and turned toward me. "'Ello" he said extending his hand. "I'm Colin Beckham."
I shook his hand and gave an unsteady smile. "Molly, Molly Gregory." I said.
"Well Molly Gregory - perhaps I could help you. Become found." he said with a wink.
I'd finally met my first friend. I was thrilled as he showed me to the library and pointed out a few landmarks around the castle - yes it used to be a CASTLE - that might help me find my way in the future. "Until we meet again." he said extending his hand again. I took it, expecting another shake but he raised the hand to his mouth and placed a very gentle kiss on it. 'Wow' I thought to myself as he walked away. I shook my head to clear away the image, just like an etch-a-sketch and went into the library.
I was reading one of the books for class in a lounge later that week when a red head with a lot of hair sat in the chair next to mine. She didn't take out a book and when I ventured a look I found she was watching me. "Um hi?" I said it more of a question than a greeting. Behind me, I noticed, was tall man with a boyish grin. He was muscular and scruffy looking but he had a playful twinkle in his eye.
"You must be the American." the red head said looking jovial about her 'discovery'. She had an Irish accent near as I could tell.
"You say that like I'm the only one." I said putting my book down. I meant it in jest but the man behind me answered.
"Aye but you are." he said with that grin. He also had an Irish accent.
I looked between them in surprise. "I'm the only American here - in the whole university?" I asked and they both nodded. "Seriously?" Again they answered with nods.
"I'm Deidree O'Connor, this is my brother Sean." she said pointing to the man. "We thought we'd welcome ya."
I looked between them and noted a few similarities in appearance. In doing so I noticed just how charming that playful smile was on Sean's face. 'Why are they all so handsome here?' I thought to myself. "Molly Gregory." I said as way of introduction. We were chatting for a bit when Sean interrupted, grabbing a passerby and spinning him around to meet us.
"I want ya to meet my...." he started to say but was interrupted by my blond rescuer.
"Molly Gregory." Colin said hiding the glimmer of surprise well. Sean watched us curiously as I stood to greet Colin.
"My tour guide." I said with a smile. "Hello again Colin."
"So you know each other then do ya?" Sean asked. "Why didn't you tell me you met the American Colin?" he asked thumping Colin on the chest. Colin was a bit more reserved than he had been on our brief tour.
"Colin was good enough to rescue me from wandering aimlessly about the castle for hours on end." I said with a smile. "Thanks to him I manage to be on time to at least on class on my first day."
"Good man." Sean said thumping Colin on the chest again. Sean had enough energy and spirit for four people and by size and attitude dominated any room he was in.
Over the following weeks, Colin, Deidree and Sean became my friends. They were an accepting group and brought me into their fold easily. Colin (and apparently my roommate Amelie) were both second year students, Sean was in his third year. Deidree at least was new like I was. Sean had become friends with Colin the year before and now they were great friends. When it was just the four of us sitting around, we all talked easily amongst each other but in social situations, Sean had a way of being loud and boisterous and the center of attention. He liked to play, party, have fun and was very flirty. Colin, on the other hand, got quieter the large the crowd got. He wasn't shy exactly but had no desire to be the center of attention like Sean.
As part of my course load, I had to take a few "extra" fine arts classes in attention to my photography classes so I'd signed up for a painting class. Their were easels all over the school to accommodate the students and I'd taken up one in the corner of a room to work on my latest canvas for class.
"Y'know, that's very good." Sean said coming up behind me.
I smirked at him. "Not really." I said with a chuckle. "But thanks." I said smiling at him. Sean seemed to flirt more than he just talked to girls and I'd fallen in with his rhythm in that respect. Although I wasn't remotely interested in dating someone at this point, he was charming and witty and funny.
Sean leaned in closer, his hand brushing my side accidentally and I laughed as it tickled. Sean laughed as well as he pulled his hand back, he had a deep, rumbling laugh that I'm sure must have started in his toes and built up momentum. "Really is good." he said with a wink and then walked off.
I watched him go, appraising his attitude as he strolled casually through the halls. He stopped to flirt with some girl and I chuckled, wishing her luck against his charms and turned back to my painting.
Another couple months passed. I was feeling homesick a bit and my friends had picked up on it. Summer had given way to fall and many of the days were wet or chilly so when it looked like a clear sunny day, Deidree grabbed my hand coming out of class and dragged me out to the courtyard. Colin and Sean were already there having claimed a spot for us to sit back and enjoy one of the last sunny, warm days of the year. I could see Amelie sitting near by but, as ever, I ignored her. She still didn't like me and things only seemed to have gotten worse as I became better friends with Sean. I'd seen her watching him more than the others so I figured it must be him she was interested in. Of course he flirted with pretty much every girl...except her so maybe that had something to do with it.
Colin and Deidree were sitting back in the grass and Sean took my hand, surprising me. "Molly, will you go to the Winter Ball with me?" he asked before I was ready. Of course I'd heard of the Ball, every year between terms the university held a Winter Ball for anyone not going home on holiday. As a result many people opted not to go home on holiday at least until it was over.
I didn't want to go alone, I wasn't going home and no one else appeared to be asking so I nodded with a smile. "Of course Sean." I said. "I suppose I need a dress." I said laughing as I looked toward Deidree and Colin. Deidree was grinning but Colin looked a little sullen I noted.
Deidree and I went shopping in the little village where the university was situated. Deidree had wanted to go to Paris but I knew we could find something for each of us here - and we did. The village went all out for the ball since it was one of the bigger social events on their calendar. Many shops imported clothes from Paris anyway, just a smaller selection.
The night of the Ball I met Sean at the bottom of the stairs and gave him a winning smile. He looked very refined in his tux and offered me his arm like a gentleman to walk me to the large ballroom which had been done up like a royal affair was being had.
As we danced, Sean was a perfect 'date', although I refused to call him a date. In my mind we were here as good friends. For the first time I wondered if he thought the same thing. He could have asked anyone....why me? Did he want more than I was willing - or able - to give? I still thought of Tony every night when I sat down at my computer or laid down at night. Even though we had mutually agreed to end things, feeling anything for someone else seemed like a betrayal to him right now. I was distracted and Sean noticed, asked me if I was okay. I gave him another smile and nodded but feared words might betray my thoughts. As I danced, I noticed Colin watching us. He had come with Deidree - clearly as a friend seeing as Deidree had spent half the night dancing with others.
I continued to watch Colin and remembered the anxiety - good anxiety - I had the first day I met him. And every time I saw him really - particularly if it was just the two of us. He caught my watching him again and looked away from me, a flush coming over his cheeks. I flushed as well then and felt unsteady on my feet. I shook my head. As the dance ended I excused myself and walked a little unsteadily from the room. Once I was away from prying eyes I hurried out the front doors and into the courtyard. The cool winter air hit my face, cooling the warmth in my cheeks.
I heard footsteps behind me but didn't stop until I heard my name called out. "Molly!" Colin called following me. "What's the matter?" he said easily catching up to me as the weight of the ball gown slowed me.
"Nothing...nothing!" I said feeling out of breath despite the short run. I was no theater major like Amelie and I felt horrible lying.
"Molly?" he said turning me towards him. He was standing close - too close given all the thoughts running through my head. I stepped back from him stumbling on my dress and he caught my arm, again with the standing close. "Molly?"
I closed my eyes and shook my head - hoping to shake the thoughts away again. "I'm not....I can't....Ugh!" I said toward the ground in frustration. "I'm fine." I lied to the ground.
"I don't believe you." he said placing a hand on my chin and gently making me look him in the eye. "You're beautiful - but you're not fine. What's the matter?"
"I'm not ready..." I said simply, not elaborating.
"This is about your fellow back home." he said. I couldn't remember telling him about Tony exactly but I'd talked about all my friends with them so I probably had mentioned it. "You feel by seeing Sean, you're betraying him."
"What?" I asked confused. He'd misunderstood - he thought my anxiety was related to Sean. Then he too must think that Sean and I were more than friends...I should have corrected him, but I knew it would have made him question me further. I couldn't tell him the truth, not yet. So I simply nodded.
He gave me a friendly hug and sat with me while I composed myself and then led me back into the ballroom where Sean was anxious to know what was wrong as well.
The next morning, I got up and found the first available computer I could. I typed in my passwords and drummed on the keyboard trying to find the words. I punched in Stormy's email address and typed in "I need your help..." for the subject.
"Stormy, I went to the Winter Ball with Sean last night - I thought we were going as friends but I'm pretty sure he wants more than that. He was charming as ever but more attentive...anyway, oddly enough that isn't the problem. While at the Ball I noticed Colin for the first....well not the first - you remember what I told you about the day on the tower! Gah! Anyway, I think....I know....no maybe still I think...I have feelings for him. But it feels like I'm wrong, like I'm betraying Tony to even think of someone else like that.....
I know I'm not ready to date, I know that but would it betray Tony or is it all in my head?
Advise me please! I miss you, this would be easier to explain in person - of course in person you could probably finish my sentences for me! Write back soon!
I clicked the send button with a sigh. On my login screen was still a picture of Tony and I at the beach. We'd broken up...right?
Well, here I am where I always thought I wanted to be, looking back sometimes I wonder if I made the right choice. My first week of boot camp was very hard, I thought with all my foot ball training and keeping in shape this would be a cake walk; boy was I wrong.
It was 3:00 am, and I was still awake thinking about Molly; I just keep seeing her in the back of my mind in the arms of some French man. I got out of bed and found my way to my laptop and sat down to write her an email.
I sat at the laptop for hours thinking of what to say, I did not want to sound needy or as if I could not live with out her, but I wanted her to know I was thinking of her.
I looked up at the clock it was now o’600, my heart jumped out of my chest, I was due at roll call. I ran down to the meeting square where everyone was assembled and fell into formation. “STARKS” the sergeant shouted. “YES SIR” I shouted back.
Sergeant: “What Kept you Private!”
Pvt Starks: “Sorry sir, I was writing an email to someone Special.”
Sergeant: “let me guess your girlfriend or maybe your Mother.”
Then he stepped up in my face and shouted, all I could see was the back of his throat.
Sergeant: “WELL FROM NOW ON I’M YOUR GIRLFRIEND AND YOUR MAMA! YOU ONLY THINK OF THREE THINGS THE CORE, GOD AND ME!”
Well the next 3 month I gave 110% I trained, worked out and trained some more I was then promoted to PFC (Private First Class).
In my fourth month I was given my first mission, to retrieve the black tongue.
We were sent to the Middle East; to invade the Khadra (small militant groups) enter their head quarters and steal a laptop known as the black tongue.
During the invasion I was shocked, for the first time I knew what all the training was for.
We fought our way through the streets, for a moment I thought I was a done for. As I was pinned down by gunfire, I managed to make my way into one of the buildings.
Finally we fought our way out of the building and reached the Khadra head quarters.
However we meet strong opposition, and had to fight every inch of the way.
I was the point man So I ran ahead of the squad and entered the office first, two second floor, one 6:00, three at the second door way and four guarding the black tongue.
I signaled the rest of the squad to enter and take position. Once our snipers were in position I gave the orders to take out the enemy, Open fire I signaled. For the next three minutes all you could hear was gunfire, then silence, as the enemy was all taken out, Lance corporal Green entered the building found the black tongue and we were on our way home.
However all was not well, a month later and we still could not crack the cryptogram used.
My sergeant told me it was all for nothing that we could not crack the code. I informed him I knew someone that may be able to help. He then took me to the Lieutenant General.
Sgt: “Sir, Starks think he knows someone that can break the code sir.’
LTGen: “Is this true Starks?”
Starks: “Yes Sir, His name is Boris Sir”
Tony then told them where Boris may be found.
LTGen: “We have a base near there; I’ll send someone out to find him.
Boris turns around and said “who wants to know?”
SgtMaj: “I’m sergeant Major Franklin, The military is in need of your assistance and your presence is required right away, we understand you have the skills to hack into systems”
Boris: “Sorry, you have the wrong Boris.”
SgtMaj: “I don’t think so, I don’t make mistakes.”
SgtMaj pulls out his cell phone. “This is Franklin, get Starks on the phone.”
I answered the phone, I need you to talk to Boris Franklin requested of me, Sure I said.
He handed the phone to Boris, I told Boris what had happened and we really need this favor.
Boris: “Sure Tony I’ll do it for you” then hangs up the phone and hand it back to Franklin.
Boris: So when do I leave? I just got back into town from China.
SgtMaj: Well say your hello’s and good bye’s your plane leaves in two hours. Someone will meet you at the airport. Then he saluted Boris and left.
LTGen: So do you think you can get into this program?
Boris: “sure, but I’m going to need a few illegal supplies.”
LTGen: “just tell us what you need and we will find them.”
Boris gave the a list of the thing he needed and agreed to do it for a price of $10,000
The Items were found and Boris was told that they were his to keep. It only took Boris 15 hours to crack the code.
Boris not only cracked the code but stayed for a week building a program for the military to use to automatically hack into the enemy’s system using the military’s satellite and a program for the military to send this data to any of their computers.
I was not able to see Boris while he was here; they kept him in a restricted area. However before Boris left he asked someone to give me a message.
So she found me and gave me the message from Boris, if I ever needed anything just call him, and he was sorry he could not see me while he was here.
The Military Was so grateful they named the new program “Boris” I was so proud but the pride was short lived however; the laptop gave us information on the Khadra, they were larger than we thought they were planning terrorist acts and they also were holding some of our informants.
It was not long before we were given the orders to destroy the Khadra. With that information we were on our way back.
The months that followed graduation night were a nice time to celebrate the many events that occurred in my life. Later that month, Sam and Dean both had birthdays. Mom threw them a nice party. It was small, but we had fun. Mom had invited a few of our family over for a potluck of sorts, but the crowd was too much for me. I had to get out of there. I went outside and sat on the porch, just watching the sky.
The stars were so brilliant and it seemed like I could get lost in them if I just watched the sky long enough. I was lost in thought when Axel spoke my name. “Ruby...” I was so enraptured with my thoughts I hadn’t heard anyone approach. “My Gosh, Axel don’t scare me like that!” I replied with a shriek. He smiled his mischievous smile that I had fallen in love with all those years ago. “I’m sorry Ruby, really I am. What are you doing out here all alone? Shouldn’t you be in there with your brothers?”
He took a seat beside me and we watched the stars together. “Yeah, I’ll go in a bit, but I started to feel suffocated. Too many people, you know.” I answered. We sat in comfortable silence for a while when I finally spoke, “You know, the universe is so vast. It’s mind boggling to think how tiny and microscopic we really are, in the scheme of things.” Axel laughed, “What brought this on?” I sat up in the chair, “I was just thinking of where we go from here. Where do I go from here? Mom has been nagging me lately to either get a job or go to college. I hated high school so much; I can’t really see me going back again.” I look back on that night as a good night for Axel and I. We discussed what out we wanted out of life, what our futures would be like together. I told him of how I missed my friends.
Axel took me by the hands and kissed me. It was a slow and passionate kiss that left me weak in the knees. My brain got fuzzy. “You know I hate it when you do that.” I whispered in his ear. He laughed again, “Do what?” “Make me forget about the pain and the worries I feel.” We kissed again and then he accompanied me back in the house to join the party.
The months that followed have been interesting to say the least. Mom and Dad had a wonderful surprise; she gave birth to twin girls. Mom and Dad named them Jessica and Olivia Lewis. They are so precious. Olivia can sleep through just about anything.
Holding her makes me want children of my own, although I can imagine the little hellions they might be with Axel and I as parents…scary when you think about it. The girls grew up quick, seems like they were walking and talking before you knew it. Dean and Sam had decided to move out. Sam had gotten a good job at the Science lab and Dean was ...well Dean. He is currently unemployed, but enjoying his bachelorhood.
Axel has moved out of his father’s house into a little house near the beach. It is a beautiful house that overlooks the ocean. Axel had mentioned to his father that he was interested in following in his footsteps. Achilles was thrilled that his son would want to continue on in the “business”, but he made it poignantly clear he would not be doing any favors. Axel was going to have to make it on his own. He was introduced to the right people and was on his way. Axel was doing well and was making his way up the ladder. My family knew of Achilles and his “business” practices. Mom forbade me to continue seeing Axel. This caused many fights in our house as, I refused. I explained that I loved him and he loved me. I tried to get her to understand he wasn’t like his father, he was different. She wouldn’t listen to me and said those words every child hates to hear. “As long as you’re living under my roof, you’ll do as I say!” Well, I had had enough. I packed up my things and I moved in with Sam and Dean. It was tough leaving home, but I couldn’t stay there and listen to it. Dad was upset that I wouldn’t stay and try to work it out, but I was tired of fighting. I just wanted to get on with my life and I know that includes Axel, whether she likes it or not.
Now, I do keep in touch. I call them and let them know I am well and I ask how Jess and Olivia are. We still have dinner on occasion. I think that night was good for both of us. It gave me the courage to branch out on my own. I wasn’t sure if I could and Mom, whether she realizes it or not helped me do just that.
One particular evening Axel had called up. He sounded elated. I had never heard him sound so thrilled before. He said he was given a very nice promotion and he wanted to celebrate. “Ruby get dressed up, we’re going out.” I was happy to get out of the house for a while, I wasn’t working much and I wanted to support Axel, I was very proud of him.
I was just finishing up in the bathroom, when I heard his car pull up. I went out in to the room to greet him…I was shocked at how handsome he was. Standing there, he looked like the man I wanted to spend my life with. The same could be said about him. He drew in a ragged breath, “Ruby, you look divine. I am speechless.” He kissed me lightly on the cheek and led me to our “chariot”. He drove and drove, it seemed like we were driving for miles…when we finally ended up at the old beach club. The look on my face must have been amusing because he burst out laughing, “Ruby, why the face? Don’t you know why I brought you here?” I had been expecting a fancy restaurant, but this was just gorgeous. He had set up a small blanket on the sand. There were beautiful torches giving off a faint light and he had hired a small troupe of musicians to serenade us. I was speechless and I couldn’t breathe. It was all so romantic. He placed his arms gently around my waist and led me to the blanket where there was a meal prepared and champagne chilling. We sat down and enjoyed our dinner.
All the while I couldn’t keep my eyes off of him. I was brought back to the year at camp, when I had first fallen for him. He was so handsome and roguish. I was smitten immediately. I had hoped he felt the same, then I was reminded of our time on this very beach, where we shared our first kiss. It was so perfect and magical. “Our first kiss. That’s why you brought me here. You remembered.” “Of course I remembered, it was one of the best nights of my life.” I leaned over the blanket and we kissed.
It was tender and it was magical and I didn’t want it to end. He pulled away from me and he got down on one knee. He pulled out a small, velvet box, and proceeded to say these words I’ll remember forever.
“Ruby, since the moment I first saw you I knew I wanted you. I knew that I needed you, and the first time I kissed your lips I knew there could never be another for me. Without you in my life, it’s just not worth living. I am asking, here in the sand, that you’ll make me the happiest man in the world and be my wife.”
Those words moved me in such a way, I couldn’t speak. I don’t know what he was feeling while I gathered my composure, it must have been hell for him, finally I leaped into his arms, through my arms around his neck, covered his face in the sweetest kisses and said, “Yes!” He gently placed me back on the sand, placed the ring on my finger and we kissed once more.
We both were just as eager to be married, so we settled for a small wedding in town. We sent out invitations to our families and to our friends. I had hoped that mine would be able to attend, but many of them have left town. I am still saddened that the high school days I remember with them are over, but I look forward to seeing them again.
The wedding was beautiful and went off without any problems. Well, any major problems that is.
Axel looked as handsome as ever and I felt like the most beautiful woman on the beach…well..I was but that’s beside the point.
We had made plans to honeymoon in China. To my surprise Boris was there, his lady friend Jing had offered their home to us while we were there, but we had already made plans and had hotel reservations, so we politely declined. She did however ask us to stay for dinner, which we did. It was such a beautiful house and Jing and Mao were exceptional hosts.
China was every bit as beautiful as people say it is. The scenery was gorgeous, the music was titillating and the locals were very friendly.
Axel thought it would be fun to take in some of the activities, so he signed us up for Martial Art lessons. I am not sure if he knew of my trip to China with my parent’s years ago, but I didn’t tell him. Let him think I am a newbie and then his face when I whoop his butt will be all that much sweeter.
We asked a local if there were particular sights we should see while we were here. She insisted we see the Dragon’s Maw. It was an ancient cave of wonders. Axel and I thought it sounded like a great place to explore. We found numerous piles of coin and gems just lying around, so we of course helped ourselves. While we were exploring a certain room, we noticed there were fire traps, Axel being the manly man that he is disarmed them. I found this very hot...literally. We were so overcome with passion we set up camp right there and consummated the marriage.
It was so beautiful, the coming together of two souls in that one beautiful moment. The fact that it was in a tomb only made it that more exciting. What can I say, we’re strange folk.
The trip flew by, sadly it was over before we knew it, but Axel had to get back to work. Before we left I made sure I sent a postcard to Stormy telling her the good news. I picked a beautiful one and wrote upon it:
I have wonderful news! Axel and I got married! Can you believe it? Well, I am sure you can. I am sending you a postcard from our honeymoon in China! Isn’t that amazing? Achilles paid for it as our wedding present. Don’t let the rough exterior fool you, he is truly a sweet man.
I hope to see you and the others soon. I want to tell you all about our trip.
I love you,
Mrs. Ruby Lothario (I love how that sounds) :D
The afternoon was too beautiful to drive two long blocks to the General Store. So I leisurely walked there welcoming the ocean breeze that lightly caressed my skin and tousled my hair about. As the teasing sent shivers down my neck, I wondered what Sanders, the Seafood Manager wanted. He called me this morning wanting me to stop by some time today. Usually he took in whatever fish I caught for the day, and paid me according to the quality of each fish brought in. I shrugged the question away, while carefully crossing the busy intersection at lunch hour. Safely inside the store, I headed towards the fish department, spotted Sanders, exchanged hellos, small talk, then he brought up the real reason why he wanted to see me.
Sanders told me to follow him to his office. I hope he still wanted me to work for him. I was a little anxious to know what was up and almost bumped into him when he abruptly stopped at his desk, snatched up a pink piece of paper off the top of it and handed it to me, explaining what it was. While he was telling me, I skimmed the flyer with one raised eyebrow what was written on it. He was saying that Crescent Bay Community College was going to hold a fishing class for one week. I looked up at him, eyes wide with growing interest. He went on to say he would pay for the class, because the work I do for him was really good, and knows I could do better. He wanted me to grab hold of as much information and improve my angling skills. We smiled at each other, then I thanked him for giving me the opportunity to to improve what I love. Fishing is a part of me and one of the few things I find great joy in.
When the time came for me to take the 5pm-9pm fishing class, I originally thought my weekly routine would change this particular week... it didn't much. Not being able to tuck Sunny in at bedtime was probably the only thing. Usually on Tuesdays and Wednesdays I'd visit mom for breakfast until after lunch, then a little while later, pick Sunny up from school. But on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, I'd go fishing a couple hours before dawn until mid-afternoon, but making sure to give myself plenty of time to give Sanders my haul of the day by late afternoon. And on the weekends Sunny would bring mom homemade treats and we'd stay from lunch until after dinner. Of course if mom is having an "off the rocker" day we would sadly leave early.
So, I arrived to class 45mins early everyday that week, making sure to snag a seat in the front row. I wanted to hear and see everything our Instructor wanted to teach us. I would chew the mess out of my pen while reading some of the material used for the class and occasionally watch people slowly fill in the thirty seats that were available. Yes, I counted them, one of the things I did to pass time. One particular evening, some guy trying to enter the class tripped over the metal strip that lines the doorway. I giggled a little, but at the same time wondering why the hell they have those strips there in the first place! I'll have to ask Dad. He should know. As Mr. Stumbles righted himself, he briefly looked at me, and to my surprise, his eyes were very similar to Tony's. I smiled to myself thinking of my friend, then of Molly and then rest of the gang.
Ben, the instructor was very energetic and enthusiastic in his lessons about fishing tactics, the types of bait needed for each fish, and fishing equipment. One session was all about commercial fishing onshore or from a fishing boat. I think I sat there the whole time captivated by everything stated! But on our last day, just like Sanders encouraged me to do, Ben wanted us to invest in fishing magazines, books, and go out there and angle away. Especially if harvesting fish will be a career some time later. As he dismissed the class for the last time, he interrupted us gathering our belongings and said deathfish and mummyfish, then said he enjoyed teaching us. I stood there for a second wondering what a deathfish and mummyfish was. I waited for everyone to leave the class, approached Ben and inquired about the weird names. He smiled at me and told me to do some research on them. I frowned, then thought no more on the matter. I thanked him for being an awesome teacher and headed home.
When I got home, I trudged over to the mailbox to see if any bills arrived. The only thing there, was a card. I rolled my eyes thinking, it's probably a coupon for pizza or advertisement for the local dentist. Upon closer expection, there were hand written words on one side and perhaps trees on the other. It was too dark outside to make out anything more, so I took it indoors. I was hit with that faint mildew odor as I plopped the keys on the dining table and looked at the card again. My eyes lit up when I noticed it was a postcard from Ruby while honeymooning in China! I read the amazing words of her and Axel having just tied-the-knot, while walking to the computer room. I turned the computer on as I gazed over how beautiful the card was.
I sat there a moment thinking how blessed she was. It has been almost six months since we graduated. I was shaken from my thoughts when the computer yelled I had mail. I really wasn't in the mood to check it right now, but instead, wanted to load a game and check on Sunny. I sighed and clicked on the email anyway. There were twelve new inbox, but I recognized one from Molly. I quickly clicked on her email and replied with:
I'm so sorry for what you're going through. Your heart is still fragile from you and Tony's separation. Also, you two don't know exactly what's in store, down the road. It's very hard to know how or what to feel while in a new environment, surrounded by new people and influences. Please take it one day at a time and for right now tell Colin and Sean you only want to be friends.
Do me a favor and check out the cheapest but most decent hotel for me to stay in. I'm coming out there so we can catch up and sort things out. I hope so anyway!
I sent the reply back to Molly, went upstairs to check on Sunny, and heard my dad snoring away in his room. Now
back in the office, I purchased the cheapest ticket to France online then researched what sort of fish I could catch there......