Chapter 5, part 2 - Molly
"Okay so...this is the loft. There's a guest space here that you can turn into your room. It's a loft so..lots of open space..." I said with a semi-fake smile. I wasn't overly thrilled about Cathy being here but I liked her and wanted her to have a good time.
"Oh this is wonderful!" Cathy was full of teenage energy as she looked around the loft. "Thank you so much Molly! I know this must be a terrible bother but I am so very thankful!"
"No bother Cathy. I'm happy I could help." I said fairly honestly. "Um, I need to go out and get some groceries since I've been out, do you want to come with or settle in?"
"I'm pretty tired, I'd like to stay and unpack if that's alright." Cathy said.
The first couple weeks with Cathy were awkward; I'd grown used to living alone for one but also I was now in charge of a fifteen year old girl. Thankfully she was a good charge; she went to school and did her homework. She made friends easily and really seemed to be enjoying herself. She also met boys; which she regaled me with details about all the teenage boys in the program. Having been isolated in an all girl boarding school up until then, she rarely had a chance to socialize with boys and was very shy around them. Having her there was like having a sister.
Shortly after getting back from England, Tony called again to let me know he was going to be in Paris for a couple days at the end of the month. This time, thankfully, I had nothing planned. So true to my resolve, I pulled out Ian's scrawled number and called him. "Hey Ian, it's Molly - the intern from work?"
We talked for a few minutes and I told him about my desire to actually see some of the Paris night life after all. "I'm glad to see you've changed your mind! Marisa and I are going out with a few people this weekend, you can join us!"
"Thanks, I'll get the details from you at work then." I said; when I hung up the phone, I smiled. I didn't even think Tony would have time to see a club but I wasn't going to miss out on any more of my time in Paris.
"So when are we going to meet this British fiance of yours Molly?" Marisa teased. I'd been going out clubbing with them for a couple weeks and was happily surprised to find that Marisa was a very nice and down to earth person - especially considering she was a model.
I tried to hide the emotion from my face as I thought about Colin before answering. I didn't have a chance to reply though when Ian piped up, "What was his name again?"
"Colin. Colin Beckham." I replied, taking another drink from my glass to hide my face. Fact was Colin and I just didn't get to see each other...at all. And his calls had become even further apart due to business.
"Beckham? Why does that sound familiar?" One of the others in the group mused. "Oh! I remember!" she pulled out what looked like a tabloid from her massive hand bag and put it on the table between us. She flipped quickly through a couple pages until she came to a picture of Colin...with Anna Wentworth.
"Is that him?" Marisa asked, looking at the picture. "Oh he is hot! And rich to boot!"
I felt like the blood had drained from my face as I looked at the picture and read the caption. "Colin Beckham escorts Lady Anna Wentworth to Royal function." I reread it several times and then skimmed the article, which to further my horror, mentioned me in it and then questioned Colin's fidelity right there in black and white print.
"It's just a tabloid Molly, I'm sure they are grasping at straws..." Ian said, having skimmed the article as well. When I didn't reply he snatched the tabloid and closed it, handing it back over to the girl who had pulled it out.
"I have to go." I said sullenly. I stood and grabbed my purse and started to pull out money for my drinks.
"Don't worry about it Molly, we got it." Ian said, a pained smile on his face. I nodded my thanks but said nothing as I left. Ian's words played in my head along side the words of the article. Just a tabloid...they're friends, Colin would never cheat on me. Unfortunately, when I attempted to call him that night and the next day, he didn't answer the phone.
"Molly, what's wrong?" Tony asked for the third time that day.
"Hmm?" I said looking at him and laughing sadly. "I'm not all here today am I?" I said pathetically. We'd spent the day sight seeing and shopping mostly and we now sitting on the patio of a cafe while the sun set.
"Not particularly. What's up?" he asked, smiling at the waitress as she refilled our coffee cups.
"I don't know, I just can't stop thinking Colin and Anna - which is ridiculous because he assured me that they're just friends and I believe him..." I felt like I was rambling and stopped mid sentence. "How's Laila? How's work?" I did a quick subject change.
"Oh no you don't," Tony said with a laugh. "After knowing you so long, I am immune to your quick changes Molly. So, let's stick with you - you believe Colin so what's the problem?"
"I don't know honestly, I guess not seeing him at all just makes it harder." I said finally.
"So go visit him...or he can come here." Tony suggested.
"He's too busy, I'm too busy - and I can't take the time off. I'm going in November for a few days though." I said finishing my second cup of coffee. I walked with Tony back to his hotel and gave him a hug; he was leaving in the morning so we wouldn't see each other for awhile. "Come back to town soon." I said with a smile.
"Moooooolly!" Cathy whined, pushing yet another bridal magazine at me. "You're getting married! You have to make plans...unless you want my mum to pick out your dress!" she teased.
"Oh fine!" I said shuddering at the thought of what Mrs. Beckham might pick. I flipped through the magazine absently looking at the dresses and accessories. "Ooh I like this one..." I said pointing to a page.
Cathy was practically bouncing in her seat next to me. "Very pretty!" she pointed out all the same features I liked and we laughed as we continued to look through some of them.
"You'd look good in this one. So would Stormy and Ruby...." I said pointing to a bridesmaid dress. "I think in a blue...maybe a lavender, although I'm not sure what color would best look good with her hair."
Cathy's motion stopped as she looked at me, her mouth hanging open slightly. "You mean you want me to be a bridesmaid?"
"Of course silly! You're going to be my sister after all!" I started to point out the dress again, for her opinion, when she enveloped me in a hug.
"Thank you Molly, thank you!" she kept hugging me, and for such a small creature, she had one heck of a grip.
"Okay, okay," finally she let go but she was grinning broadly. "Come on, let's go shopping. The Paris shops will have way more than these magazines." I grabbed her hand and we hurried out of the loft giggling.
Still unable to use my camera at work, I subjected Cathy, Ian, Marisa and Tony - when he was in town - to be my subjects so that I could fill in my portfolio for school. I'd set up a small studio area in the loft since it had so much natural lighting. Marisa was a natural model and was always willing to have her picture taken. Ian and Cathy were a little more awkward and Tony, used to my photo taking ways, always humored me with a series of funny poses and faces. I doubted many of the ones of Tony would actually end up in the portfolio but I liked having them for myself.
He was in town again in October, this time for a whole week. Of course we both had to work during the days but my time out with Ian and company had paid off because I had some great night life places to take him to this time.
"Remember that time we were coming home from an away game and I fell asleep on your lap on the bus?" I said; we'd be remembering old times most of the night.
"Oh yeah! Your cheerleading coach...what was her name....oh whatever, she saw me sitting up and your feet stick out into the aisle and freaked out!" Tony laughed along with me.
"From then on cheerleaders and football players weren't allowed to sit together on the bus!" I said through chuckles. I finished my drink and grabbed his hand as a fast song came on. "Let's go Stark!"
We danced at a few different clubs that week and he even met Ian, Marisa and Caleb one night. I saw Marisa looking him over appreciatively and rolled my eyes. She and Ian had a strict look but no touch relationship and she certainly liked to look.
We caught an old black and white film playing at one of the old theatres as well which was a treat to see on the big screen. I was sad when it came time to say goodbye again, being in Europe, I was a long way from my friends and I felt like I was growing apart from them and having Tony here always reaffirmed the need to stay in touch with them.
I didn't have time to miss my friends long though because Ruby was in Paris with Hector the following week. A few weeks before she'd called and went on and on about some Save the Music foundation they were both now working for and begged me to take some promotional shots for them to use. I'm sure Hector could have gotten plenty of famous photographers to take the shots but I wasn't going to point out that particular point.
"No you can't use the magazine's studios or equipment for your own projects Ms Gregory" Ms. Norland said, once again running on her treadmill.
"Okay then...I'll take Hector Michaels some where else then..." I said with an eye roll. I was halfway to the door when I heard the treadmill stop and the editor was sputtering a bit.
"Hector. Michaels. The rock star?" She asked in shock.
"Yes." I said with an innocent smile. "Have you heard of him?"
"Of course I've heard of him!" she snapped. Then she gave me a fake smile, "And of course you can use our studios for the photo shoot." She walked around the desk and put her arm around my shoulder. "Do you think Hector would agree to do an interview...about this cause of his of course...what was it again?"
"Save the Music." I said, resisting the urge to pull away from her.
"Right, right! Save the Music..." she was clearly deep in editor thought so I took my leave of her.
"Did I hear right?" Marisa asked, grabbing my arm as I walked back to my desk to call Ruby. "You're going to be shooting Hector Michaels?!" I nodded and finally shooed her off.
The day of the shoot, half the staff and several of the models were crowded around my tiny little cubicle, waiting for Hector to show up. I tried to focus on editing but every time the elevator chimed, the whole group would let out a collective ooh and then sigh in frustration when it wasn't him. Finally I snapped and shooed all but a few away - though they just selected another cubicle that they could watch the elevators from to crowd around.
Hector had to navigate through a tide of fans the moment he stepped off the elevator and I had to move against the current to try to get to him. "Hi Hector, hi Ruby!" I said when I finally reached them. Ian had followed me and tried to hold off some of the group as we made our way to the studio.
As I was setting up, Ruby came over to me and clutched my arm, "You will not believe who we saw the other day!" I could tell she was agitated by the near death grip she had on my arm. "Boris and that tramp Elissa!"
"Elissa? Who is Elissa?" I asked confused.
"That girl he met here in France a couple summers ago!" Ruby said with an exasperated noise. "She's a gold digger and she's still trying to get her hooks in him even though he's married!"
"Boris is in France?" I asked in surprise. "Why didn't he tell me?!"
"Yes Boris is in France with the gold digger tramp!" she fumed silently while I continued setting up and felt a sting of hurt that Boris was so close but hadn't called at all.
"I'm sure Boris can take care of himself - besides, Jing would kill him." I said with a smirk.
The shoot went great once I evicted all the onlookers. Hector had been doing publicity shoots for years no doubt but he was still just uncertain enough to make it fun and natural. Unlike Marisa and Caleb who had the model look down, Hector wanted to look down to earth and approachable for the promotions and I think he pulled it off.
Ruby, on the other hand, was about as uncomfortable in front of the camera as she used to be in front of crowds. She was awkward and mostly looked terrified. Hector tried to calm her down and eventually they just sat together in front of the backdrop while we asked questions of Hector. The longer we talked, the more she relaxed and I started shooting again. Hector grinned at me, realizing what I was up to, and helped keep her distracted.
In the end I had hundreds of pictures of both Hector and Ruby alone as well as ones with the two of them together. I could only hope that at least a handful of them came out being usable. In my limited experience, for every great picture there were about a dozen or more that were rubbish for some reason or another.
"Gregory!" Jake snapped, about an hour into a shoot with Caleb. Caleb was one of our regular male models and, like Marisa, was a natural. He needed very little instruction as a result.
"Yes?" I said startled, looking up from the most recent issue of our magazine.
"Put that damn thing away and grab a camera. I have to go take care of something but I want a few more shots of Caleb." Jake snapped. He didn't give me any further instruction as he whipped out his cell phone and started talking rapidly in French.
Ian smiled at me, shooting me a thumbs up and Caleb looked unperturbed by the development. "Um...okay then..." I said as the door closed behind Jake. Ian attempted to anticipate my wishes regarding lighting like he did with Jake but I found myself giving him more instruction than I had to give Caleb. Ian, for his part, was happy to oblige me and did as I asked.
Jake returned thirty minutes later and without even looking at the pictures on my camera, he dismissed the group and disappeared again. I went back to my desk and quickly downloaded the pictures to the computer to look through them. I was only halfway through them when my phone rang and I saw it was Tony. I grinned, he'd been in town for a day but we'd both been busy and we were supposed to meet up that night, I was eager to tell him about my day. "Hey Tony!" I said beaming.
"Hey Molly," I knew instantly that something was wrong, unlike me, he sounded upset. "Sorry I'm not going to be able to meet up with you this time. I got a call and need to leave right away."
"Oh that sucks!" I said with a frown. "When are you leaving?"
"Right now actually, they just called my flight. Sorry Molly!" he said, I could hear him collecting stuff and the chatter of people around him. "I'll call you later okay."
"Sure sure, safe travels Tony!" I said, I hung up the phone sadly.
On my way to our train to London, Cathy and I stopped to mail out birthday packages to Stormy, Boris and Ruby. Their birthdays being stacked the way they were, I knew if I forgot one, I was more than likely going to forget them all and I would feel awful if I did. I was cutting it close considering they had to cross the ocean but I hoped they get there at least before Boris's, the last of the three.
Colin greeted us at the train station in London and seeing him there, feeling his arms wrapped tightly around me, pushed all the lingering doubts out of my mind. "Oh it's good to see you." I said. He agreed and didn't let go of my hand the whole car ride to Talford. I talked most of the time, telling him about the photo shoots with Caleb and with Hector. Cathy talked about school and boys, mostly boys which made Colin cringe a bit.
Mrs. Beckham claimed Colin's attention the moment we walked in the door, not even sparing a glance for Cathy. "Oh Colin, Lady Wentworth called to ask what color Anna ought to wear to garden party, so the two of you don't clash together." I'm certain she glanced my way as she said the word together.
"I already told her I would be wearing a gray suit Mum." Colin said without looking at her, he was flipping through the mail Thompson had handed him as he'd walked in.
"Oh that's right of course." she smiled but it was cold and calculating, there was no warmth behind the expression at all. "Oh and an invitation the Orland's Ball arrived just today. I'm sure you must contact Anna right away."
"Mmhmm." Colin murmured, not really paying attention to her. "I need to see to some things," he said, kissing each of us quickly on the cheek before disappearing down the hall with Thompson. I exchanged a glance with Cathy, who merely shrugged before hurrying off to her own room. Mrs. Beckham looked pleased with herself as she too left the entry, leaving me standing alone for a moment before following Colin's trail to his father's old office.
"Are you having an affair with Anna Wentworth?" my voice carried around the room, it sounded worse out loud than it had in my head. Colin and Thompson both looked up at me startled and Thompson looked toward Colin anxiously, uncertain as what to do. To his great relief, Colin nodded to him to leave.
When the door shut softly behind the retreating man, Colin turned his gaze on me. "No, I told you that when you asked last month."
"Garden parties, balls, Royal functions..." I started listing off just the things I knew about. "What am I supposed to think Colin?"
"You're supposed to trust me." he was far too calm compared to the emotions rolling through me. "I trust you with Tony, you've never given me a reason not to - have I given you a reason not to trust me?"
I sputtered, he was right of course. "No." I finally said, feeling deflated in that short instant.
"Anna and I are merely friends Molly, she likes to attend functions with someone, nothing more." He came around the desk and held me closely. "I promise you Molly, nothing is going on."
I blinked back a few shameful tears and leaned against his chest. "I'm sorry, being apart - I think my imagination gets the better of me."
"How about I brush off this work, it can keep a bit, and we go for a walk." he offered his arm to me.
The following days were calm; Colin pushed aside all his work so that we could spend real time together and we started talking about wedding plans. We both agreed on a summer wedding, since I'd be done with my internship by then and with any luck he would be able to turn over most the business affairs to other people.
Cathy and I were looking at bridal magazines while Colin worked on a sketch for something when Mrs. Beckham came in, trailed by Thompson carrying a large garment box. "Oh there you are dear." she said in a sickly sweet voice. I expected she was talking to Colin, so I resumed looking at the magazine until I heard a familiar tutting sound.
Looking up I realized she was actually addressing me. "Yes Mrs. Beckham?" I said carefully. Colin and Cathy had turned their attention to her as well.
"I have your wedding dress!" she said with that cold smile. Somehow I didn't think I would like what was in the box.
Cathy gulped and looked at my pityingly. "Oh Mum...not that..." she said as Thompson opened the box and she reveal a hideously dated gown that was yellowing from age and poor preservation in some areas. I detected a few moth holes as she held it up and let the whole nightmare unfold before me.
"It's been in the family for years dear and I think you would look fabulous in it." she said; her whole expression was daring me to to say something about what was probably her great great grandmothers wedding gown.
"Well Mrs. Beckham...I appreciate the sentiment but..." I looked over the gown again and tried not to grimace. "I'm afraid it's stained there, you see." I said pointing to what looked like an ancient wine stain.
"Oh I'm sure that can be got out." she came over to me and held the dress up to me. "Oh yes, it suits you." Her sweet expression dropped for a fraction of a second as she looked at me and then was back so fast I almost missed the glare. She turned to Colin, "Don't you think Colin?"
I tried to plead with him with my eyes over her shoulder. "Well, I'm not certain it can be gotten clean Mum - and I think Molly was considering another gown." he pointed to the magazine Cathy was holding in her lap.
Mrs. Beckham looked down at the gown on the page, a sweet v-neck dress with delicate lacing, and she let out a disapproving 'tut'. "Well if she wants to look like a harlot..." she tossed the heirloom dress at Thompson, who barely caught it.
"Mother!" Cathy said in shock. She didn't get a chance to say much else as Mrs. Beckham left the room with Thompson hot on her heels. Once again, Colin hadn't said anything.
"Cathy," I said quietly, tears stinging my eyes already. "Can you give us a moment?" She nodded and left the room, quietly closing the door behind her. "You could have said something..." I said, looking at Colin who had already gone back to his sketch.
"I did say something, that dress was hideous. And you won't have to wear it Molly." he said.
"Did you hear what she called me?!" my shout was mixed with tears.
"She didn't call YOU that, she simply didn't like the dress in the magazine Molly - she's old fashioned." Colin said, trying to excuse her horrid behavior.
I shook my head, "She's not old fashioned Colin! She hates me...or she hates the idea of me! She called me a harlot! And she takes every opportunity she can to put me down and belittle me!"
"She does not Molly." Colin said barely looking up from his sketch. "I've never seen her act anything but cordial to you."
"Then you're blind!" I turned away from him, trying to stop the flow of tears.
"Molly, she offered you my great great great grandmother's wedding gown after all! I admit it's been damaged by age but that should be an exceptional honor. She wants you to be part of the family." Colin said coming up behind me and placing his hands on my shoulders.
"She doesn't want me to be part of this family!" I snapped, "She would rather I go back to the states, as far from you as possible. She'd rather I be dead no doubt!"
"Molly! You're being ridiculous." Colin said with a heavy sigh.
I fiddled with the engagement ring on my finger for a moment considering. "I don't think I am Colin..." I pulled the ring off and walked to the door, placing the ring on the side table, I shook my head and walked out of his room. Thankfully, I'd already begun packing my bags as Cathy and I were scheduled to leave in the morning.
"Are you breaking up with me Molly?" Colin asked, following me into my room with the ring in hand."This is your ring!"
"No I'm not breaking up with you...I love you...I just....I need to get away from here. Away from..." I passed through the great double doors into the entry hall. I asked a passing staff member to bring a car around to take me into town; from there I could get a cab back to London.
Colin grabbed my arm and turned me toward him. "Away from what Molly?" he asked.
"Away from her...." I put down my suitcases and embraced him. "I just can't..." I paused and took a breath to hold back the tears. "I love you but I can't be treated like that anymore...and you don't see it or think it's okay and I can't do that right now."
"Your car ma'am" someone said behind us, clearing his throat.
"Molly!" Colin sounded exasperated as I pulled from his grasp and gathered my things. I was sure I'd left something behind but I didn't want to slink back in the house to retrieve whatever it might be. Mrs. Beckham was probably watching from some where, gloating in her triumph.
I let her gloat and walked out of the house, leaving Colin still holding the ring in confusion. I called him from the train station to reassure him that I loved him but he didn't answer. I had no doubt I'd wounded his pride.
An assistant was waiting for me when I stepped out of the dark room, "Oh Molly!" she said, "There's a gentleman waiting for you in the lobby." She grinned and winked at me before hurrying along.
My heart skipped a beat. A gentleman...maybe Colin was finally ready to talk? I dropped my recently developed photos on my desk on the way to the elevator and waited impatiently for it to descend to the bottom floor of the building. Finally the doors slid open and I scanned the lobby quickly, there he was, flipping casually through the latest edition for our magazine. "Tony!" I practically shrieked in excitement. More than one head turned my way and Tony looked up and smiled at me.
He was on his feet by the time I practically flew into his arms. As we hugged, all my nagging worries about Colin slipped away. "Hey Molly." he said finally setting me back on my feet.
"I thought your flight didn't get in for a few more days! Why didn't you tell me?" I may have let go of the hug, but I didn't let go of his hand.
"And miss that look of surprise and happiness on your face? Never." he laughed and put his arm around my shoulder.
"Well I have a little more work to do, but I'll be done in..." I checked my watch, "About an hour or so. Wanna hang out or we can meet up later..."
"I still need to check in at the hotel, give me a call when you're done with work." he pulled me into a hug again and we kissed each other on the cheek.
The last hour of work dragged now that I knew Tony was in town. I tucked the photos away and tidied up my desk some, trying to look busy without actually having to do anything. Thankfully no one dragged me away from my non-existent busy work and I was able to slip away as soon as the day ended.
Back in the loft, I tossed my bag on the couch and checked my voicemail; "You have no new messages" I repeated with an eye roll. "Of course I don't because my fiance hasn't called in two weeks." I muttered to myself. I grimaced and glanced around the loft. No sign of Cathy, on the fridge was a post it note in my own handwriting, 'Cathy, England; November 22nd through the 3rd'. Thank goodness for small favors, when Cathy had returned a day after me - things had been awkward between us. She tried to assure me that Colin knew I didn't mean to break things off with him but since he hadn't called me back after a half dozen attempts on my part, I was starting to have my doubts.
I gave myself another few minutes to feel depressed before I dialed Tony's number. "Hey you" I greeted him. "I know this great club near my apartment, want to go out for some drinking and dancing?"
"I'm on my way." he replied, I could almost hear the smile in his voice and smiled as well.
Twenty minutes later we were walking to the club and already laughing. "You need to have business in Paris more often." I said between chuckles. "I miss you when you're gone."
Tony laughed as well. "I'll see what I can arrange." The club was already busy by the time we arrived but there were a couple empty spots at the bar and I saw a small table nestled in the back. "Why don't you grab that table, I'll get us some drinks." Tony said over the music.
I managed to snag the table before anyone else saw and immediately pulled out my phone. Nothing. I was about to try calling him again when Tony arrived with drinks. Thankful for the save, I smiled at him and tucked my phone back into my pocket.
We spent the evening talking, laughing and dancing. As we stepped out into the chilly November night, I shivered and Tony put his arm around my shoulder as we started walking back to my loft. "You really are freezing." Tony said when we were about halfway there. He paused and turned me toward him, rubbing my arms and shoulders vigorously to warm them up.
"Thanks Tony." I said leaning into him as he continued his attempt to warm me up. I looked up at him and smiled, "It's only a couple more blocks..." I trailed off as I gazed into his eyes, they were so familiar to me. I'd once known every feature of his face better than my own I thought. But a few years had changed his face from that of boy into a grown man; and some how I hadn't really noticed it until that moment.
He seemed to have noticed that I stopped talking because his rubbing became slower until it too stopped. Our eyes were locked on each other and I hesitantly reached up and stroked his cheek, memorizing his face all over again. I don't know who moved in first but that first kiss was careful, like we were both afraid of the other one rejecting it.
And then we weren't careful at all. My fingers laced behind his head, pulling him closer to me and I felt his finger slide through my hair. I'm not sure how long we stood there making out before I felt a slap of cold wind against my side, shocking me back to reality. I started to pull away from him, my cheeks flamed red. I looked away and bit my lower lip, not sure what to say. Not even wanting to look at him because I didn't honestly know what I wanted him to say - if anything.
I saw the lights of the Eiffel Tower glittering back at me. I turned back to him and took his hands, squeezing them tightly. I didn't speak, I didn't trust myself to say anything, I started for my loft, still gripping his hands in mine. A small part of me willed him to break away because it was the right thing to do but most of me wanted him to follow. When I looked back toward him, there was conflict spread across his face, but he followed me anyway.
Just inside the door to apartment, I had to push it closed with my foot because he swept me into another kiss; one just as hot and fiery as the one we'd shared on the street. We stumbled up a few of the steps before he swept me into his muscular arms and carried me the rest of the way up. He set me on my feet beside the bed, a hint of hesitation in his actions. I don't know if he was reconsidering or if he was waiting for me so I stepped closer and leaned into him, stroking his cheek with my thumb. "I dreamed about this once." I whispered. "Years ago...I thought we'd missed our chance."
My hands moved down his chest slowly, savoring the feeling of his muscled abs beneath his shirt. Looking into his eyes, I started unbuttoning the shirt, certain he was going to pull away, certain that I was going to pull away. As the shirt was tossed to the floor, I knew neither of us was going to say no. Tony slipped my own little jacket from my shoulders and pulled me into another kiss.
The fabric of my dress shifted under his hands, then he reached behind me and slowly unzipped the dress. It puddled on the floor at my feet and I kicked it aside along with my shoes. "Molly..." he said, barely above a whisper. I smiled at him, certain he was about to ask if I was sure about what we were doing.
I pressed a finger to his lips and whispered, "Kiss me Tony, touch me..." While he did just as I asked, I unbuttoned his pants and he unhooked my bra.
When I woke up, I could feel the warm sun's rays coming in through my windows. His strong arm was draped over me, holding me close as if afraid I would slip away from him. I hadn't known he was awake until he stirred and I felt his warm breath against my neck and ear. I must have stiffened slightly because he whispered in my ear. "Do you regret last night?"
"No" I said honestly. "No I don't." I wiggled and rolled until I was on my back and could see his face. "Do you?"
He brought a hand up to my face and gently stroked my cheek for a moment, then his fingers trailed down my bare skin, sending exciting shivers through my body. "No." he said softly, his hand came to rest on my hip and he leaned over, kissing me gently at first. My body, responding to his kisses and touch, arched toward him and I wrapped my arms around his neck pulling him back for another kiss.
Coming up for air, I couldn't contain a small giggle. "You know I have to go to work at some point." I said as he started kissing my neck; the feel of his lips on my skin thrilled me though and I forgot about work for a few minutes.
"Call in sick." Tony suggested with a playful smile.
"Hmm..." I mused aloud. "I could do that I suppose. Will you make me chicken soup?" I faked a couple coughs.
"Mmhmm." Tony had already resumed trailing kisses along my neck and shoulder.
I wiggled out from under him and slipped off the bed. Tony frowned a bit as I pulled on my robe but I smiled at him and retrieved my phone from the pile of clothes we'd left behind the night before. I dialed the number; while waiting, Tony kissed me sweetly on the cheek and retrieved his own clothes before heading downstairs. "Oh Anna" I faked another cough. "What's on the schedule today?" I feigned illness and it seemed to convince her by the time we hung up. Abandoning the phone on my bed, I looked down the stairs. "Tony?" I called as I went downstairs as well. He already had a pot of coffee brewing when I reached the kitchen. "Want some breakfast?" I asked as I opened the refrigerator to see what I had to offer.
"Sure, what's on the menu?" Tony asked, coming up behind me and wrapping his arms around my waist. We barely made it through breakfast before I found myself giggling as Tony carried me up the stairs; the dishes from breakfast were left sitting on the table.
I woke up on Saturday and Sunday in the same pleasing way I'd woken up on Friday - with Tony's arm draped across me, holding me snugly to him. We did finally make it out of the loft but I was reluctant to even let go of his hand as we toured Paris together; I was terrified of losing this feeling, of losing him.
The days went by too quickly and as we said our goodbyes, I felt tears sting my eyes and start to roll down my cheek. "Don't cry Molly." Tony said, using his thumb to wipe away some of the tears.
I tried to smile for him. "I hate this part...the saying goodbye part." I said, knowing some where that this one felt different. The moment he left, a wall would slam down and the bubble would burst. I ran my hand along his freshly shaved face and frowned. "I miss the stubble." I said. "I liked it."
"I know." he gently stroked away a few more tears and then we kissed each other. It was a deeper, more passionate kiss than any we'd ever shared as if we both knew it would probably be our last. His phone started ringing then, probably his car calling to say it had arrived, and we reluctantly parted. "Goodbye Molly." he said softly. He was holding my hand in his and I imagine it took us both a great deal of strength to finally let go of each other.
CHAPTER 5 PART 2 TONY
Things were going well on the job, we were making progress. Laila was not happy with the hair on my face and would ask me to shave often. I don’t know I kind of like it.
It seems to be all work and no time to play but Laila and I enjoyed our time together when I was home, sometimes just standing out side watching the sunset or rise depending on the time of day.
There were meeting after meetings yet we were able to stay on top of things, I don’t think I did this much traveling my entire time in the service. But the trips to Europe were my favorite; I got to see Molly. It would have been nice to have my office in Europe but it would have to wait until after construction of the plant.
But with each visit to Europe there she was with a huge smile upon her face, we talked about old times mostly, except for the time she was upset about Colin, I guess she thought he was seeing someone, although he said he was not and she believed him; so I could not see what the problem was.
There was one or to visits so far where I did not get to see Molly, as construction of the recycling plants were taking most of my time, Xiang really was more involved in overseeing the development of the China plant, he knew the language and he knew the area, although it would have been nice if I had it seeing I lived in china, but Xiang was the better man for that job. So he stayed at our house when he was in China. When Xiang my father and I were all in China at the same time we would do something together.
Things continued this way for the next three months until;
My meeting in Europe was moved up from December to the last week of November, meaning I had to make last minute flight arrangements, the meeting was to be at nine O’clock am Monday morning So I decided I would arrive on Thursday and spending the weekend in Europe.
I arrive at the airport in Europe, got a rental and was on my way to check into a hotel when I decided to stop by and see what Molly was up to first; I was a little surprised to see it was business as usual, while back in Crescent Bay they would be getting ready to celebrate Thanksgiving Day.
I arrived and was greeted right away, “May I help you?” “Yes, I’m here to see Molly Gregory please.”
“Oh? Just one Moment please” as she smiled and walked away; I thought I would take a load off and help myself to a magazine, skipping through the pages looking at pictures more than reading, I heard Molly yell out my name, like a child just told they were going to Disney land; she leaped into my arms and embraced in a tight hug.
I could not help but smile; “Hey Molly, missed me much?” I asked as I gently lowered her back toward the ground. Molly still had work to finish and I still needed to check-in at the hotel; so we agreed she would call me later.
Molly called later and invited me to a club; the place was really jumping, you could hear the music from almost a block away while the doors were opened. Bobbing my head to the music as we were approaching the club, Molly looked at me and asked “are you getting your grove on Tony?” I smiled as I noticed I was already moving to the music. “Are you going to wait till we get inside Tony, before you bust a move?” We both began to laugh as we entered the door.
Molly managed to spot an empty table in the crowded room, after dancing we sat back and talked about our younger years as we sipped on our drinks. “Molly, do you remember the first time we came to Europe?” I asked “Yes, I remember it well Tony” she replied with a smile. I continued the conversation; “I remember thinking how much I would miss you, when you registered for school here.” Molly slowly placed her hand over mine “I know Tony, I was thinking the same thing hoping our relationship would not be hurt over it, then when you told me you were going to join the military I was hurting inside, but I could not tell you at the time as we wanted to support each other’s decisions .” “I know Molly we both were.”
Still with her hand placed on top of mine she gave a gentle squeeze “But we had fun prom night.” We talked a little more about prom until I started to blush; “Tony are you blushing? What are you thinking about?” “To be honest I was thinking about all my plans for Prom night and what I did not do.” Molly gasped “Tony you wicked boy you!” we both started to laugh “No, no Molly that’s not what I was thinking” Molly laughed “Sure Tony, Sure you ware not thinking it.” We both had a good laugh over that one.
Then it was silent as Molly gave a slight grin and asked me “Not that it matters Tony or that I would have said yes, but why didn’t you try anything prom night?” caught off guard by Molly’s question I leaned back in my chair and smiled as I remembered prom night and explained to Molly what happened, “before we left for prom Mr. Gregory had a little talk with me, I believe his words were; I know you care for my daughter quite a bit Tony, so I’m only going to say this once, If you are not ready to marry Molly there better not be a reason for you to have to marry Molly, get my drift son?” Molly laughed “yeah, I was always daddy’s little girl”.
It was getting late time seems to go by so quickly when I’m with Molly, I escorted Molly home; walking in the cool night air something changed between us. Standing outside with Molly in my arms we were like two moths drawn to the flickering light of a dancing flame, I was mesmerized while looking into her eyes, I felt our bodies being pulled together as if we were magnetized. And then the slow Kiss we shared between us was all I could think of, I don’t even remember walking to Molly’s apartment.
When we arrived to Molly’s apartment I was somewhat nervous, Yes, I know I’m married to Laila and I thought about what I was doing, I’m sure Molly could see the confused look upon my face. Any other woman I would have said no and left, but this was Molly; the woman I loved for almost all of my brief lifetime. In my head I knew it was wrong, but I could not help myself as I surrendered willfully to my love for Molly.
As I kissed Molly again in her apartment; my will to be with her overpowered all my reasoning, It was such a hard passionate wet kiss, as I looked at Molly lips glistening from the Moisture of our kiss, I was going to say sorry, I did not mean to get so sloppy, but then I watched as she took her index finger and slowly dragged it across her lips to wipe them, and then slowly rubbed the same finger across my lips; It was lights-out for me, I knew we were going to be together.
The next morning Molly called off sick form work, during breakfast I could not keep my eyes off her I even found the way she lifted her fork to her mouth sexy. We were making plans for places we could go today when Molly got up to clear the table, I stood up “let me give you a hand with the dishes Moll” when she dropped a fork on the floor.
As she bent over to pick up the fork I could no longer contain myself as I swept her off her feet and carried her back to the bedroom. Once in the bedroom I slowly placed my hand on the back of her neck and brushing her cheek with my thumb. “Tony I need to take a shower if we are going anywhere today” giggling as she went to shower.
I spoke to Molly through the shower door “I need to go back to the hotel to shower and a change clothes” I don’t know if the same thought ran through both of our minds at the same time. That If I departed for long we both might have thought of what we were doing and I would not return.
Molly suggested; I wait until her shower and I should stay the rest of the weekend in her apartment.
Molly and I returned to my hotel room, “This is a nice room Tony, it’s a shame you did not get to use it” as she plopped down on the bed, “your place is better” I replied, “Well at least you should use the bed” as she beckoned me over to the bed. After making love again, Molly went to take a shower.
Molly was not in the shower long when I entered; she was silent as I stood in the shower behind her. I took the soap from her hand, and then she gave a slight moan as I gently began to rub the soap down her wet back.
Molly turned around facing me and leaned into me, as I put my arms around her I continued to slowly lather her back as she washed my chest with hers.
As I began to kiss her neck she gave a slight moan as she arched her back “Take me Tony, right here, right now,” I slid my hands down Molly’s legs placing them behind her thighs and lifted her off her feet. I felt her thighs tight around my waist as she locked her feet behind my back, as I pressed her to the shower wall.
After making love in the shower we washed each other’s bodies, and returned to the bed room to dress.
Standing in the hotel room wearing nothing but our towels Molly said “we should get going if we are going to catch that train Tony” I walked up to Molly “what train?” I released her towel from her body and watched as it dropped to the floor. As we started kissing Molly slowly inched backwards until she was against the bed never breaking our kiss, she lay down on her back as I lay on top of her.
After making love I turned over on my back; Molly turned on her side to face me and laid her head on my chest. I was looking down at the top of Molly’s head as I stroked my fingers through her hair then Just lifting them and watching them fall back down to her head.
I don’t know how long I was doing that before I started to talk to Molly “I’ve dreamed of this moment ever since we were teens, I’ve always loved you Molly and I know now that I always will, I don’t know what tomorrow holds for us, what I do know is that I need you in my life, I know that soon we will have to go back to our lives and this may be the only weekend for us.” As I waited for a response from Molly there was only silence, as I looked down at Molly and discovered she had fallen asleep in my arms. She looked so peaceful, so at ease with the world, she knew she was safe in my arms, and I would not move from that spot until she had awakened. Needless to say Molly and I did not go anywhere that day.
We made love a few more times before going to sleep that night, I think if it was physically possible; we would have made love the entire weekend without stopping. Early the next morning I checked out of the hotel and spent the rest of the weekend at Molly’s apartment.
We spent the next two days making love at night and sight seeing during the day, we have gone sight seeing before, yet this time was different, holding hands, making out in public as if we belong together, for now this was our world, our time in the sun, the day belonged to us, there was no tomorrow, Molly was mine and I belonged to her, all that mattered was what was here and now, and that was Molly and I.
I know people will not understand what happened between Molly and I this weekend, and I don’t expect them to understand I’m not even sure that I do. I don’t think anyone can understand what I feel for Molly unless they have loved someone that they could not have as much as I love Molly, even the word love is not strong enough a word to express what I have felt for Molly most of my life.
Our weekend together was short lived however, as it was time for me to leave, It was very hard for us to part this time, we embraced not wanting to let go, as if I was going off to war never to return. I remember breaking our hug as I began to slowly walk backwards never breaking eye contact with her, holding her had till the very last second as the tips of our fingers slowly parted.
Chapter 5 part 2 – Boris
A chilling scream rocked me from a less than restful slumber. A scream the likes I’ve never heard before. Piercing my ears, making them hurt.
I suddenly sat bolt upright in bed. What a terrible dream; or was it? What day is it? What time? I struggled to focus on the alarm clock on the bedside table.
I swung my feet down and got out of bed, careful not to wake Jing. I was drawn toward the scream; compelled to move forward; having this feeling of déjà vu; I’d been through this before; I’m almost sure of it. I made my way down the hall, unable to stop or turn around. I felt strangely cold, although the house was warm.
The scream came from down the hall. I neared the room that had belonged to Axel just a few short years back: the room he has used recently. As I approached the door I heard what sounded like a sack of grain falling to the floor with a loud thump. The sound made me jump.
I could hear my father say ”Beware of things that go bump in the night!” followed by his sinister laugh. Scenes of him telling ghost stories around a fire pit raced through my head. Stories meant to scare the bejesus out of Axel and me. Shivers ran down my spine. My fingers began to tingle. My heart began pounding in my chest.
I stood at the door, wanting to turn back; return to my bed; unable to so. I can’t explain it, but I could not move my feet. They were planted in this very spot. I jumped for no reason. My skin began to crawl, thinking giant man-eating spiders; God, how I hate spiders. What kind of gruesome scene lurks behind this door; this door that I am sure to open. I really don’t want to find out. Not now; not ever. I closed my eyes, hoping that I would be safe in my bed when I opened them again.
I can see my hand reaching for the knob, even before it responds to the brain and physically moves. I slowly turned the knob, sweat now streaming down my forehead and dripping from my fingers; and opened the door… slowly…swinging quietly on its hinges.
The bed was empty; the covers thrown back…
…movement on the floor next to the bed startled me. Was this for real? His head rose above the side of the bed; he had the look of someone who had been frightened out if his wits; by an apparition; white as a sheet; sweating profusely, and breathing fast and heavy. Perhaps this is but a dream.
“You’ scared the hell out of me! Are you alright?” I asked as I moved further in to the room. I was still in a cold sweat. What was happening here? Why has Axel fallen out of bed.
“Wha…what am I doing on the floor?”
“That’s a damned good question, Ax! What ARE you doing on the floor? Look at you; you’re white as a ghost!”
“I can’t believe I fell out of the bed. Boris I just had the most disturbing dream. You can’t begin to imagine the pain and guilt I’m feeling.”
Axel was definitely disturbed about something. I have never seen such fright in anyone’s eyes before. Tears were beginning to well.
“Want to tell me about it?”
“It was eerie! I was you! I mean I was seeing everything from your perspective; as if I were in your body. It was creepy; being inside you; you know?”
“You’re starting to creep me out. I had the same dream; the same freaking dream, Ax. Come to think of it, I felt as if I were looking through two sets of eyes.”
Axel proceeded to tell me the events of the dream. How I came into this very room and found him dead. How no one cried for him at his funeral mass. The whole family was at the funeral, including our grandparents who’re all dead now. Ruby and their kids were not there. He was beginning to get choked up, making it difficult for him to speak.
Tears began to slowly make their way from the corners of his eyes, slowly down his cheeks as he struggled to get the words out.
“And then I…you…we were standing in the cemetery watching a woman place death flowers on my grave. It was Ruby. Why would she do such a thing? Did I lose her trust and respect that much? Oh, God, Boris what am I gonna do?”
Axel grabbed me into a hug and buried his face into my shoulder. His whole body was shaking as he held me in the embrace.
“Axel, everything will be alright. You’ll see it will all work out for the best. Ruby loves you too much to let you go. You…we made an error in judgment and it is costing us now. You two will be back together again in no time.”
“God, Boris, this dream sounds like it had the makings of great thriller,” Axel laughed, trying to lighten the mood.
“You have no idea how true that is,” I chuckled.
“Please don’t EVER tell anyone about this. I mean my crying like a baby. PLEASE?”
“Scouts honor Ax. So, how about some breakfast.”
“Yeah, I think a good breakfast will do me good. But, who’s going to cook? Mao is still asleep.”
“I’m handy enough in the kitchen. I can burn some cereal or something.”
Axel laughed. As we were walking downstairs, I hear him say under his breath, “You were never a scout.”
I couldn’t help but laugh under my breath! I wasn’t sure he would catch it.
A few days later I received a cryptic message. I tracked the origin to France, but little else could be found out about it. The message read, “I have something of yours. You need to come and retrieve it.” It indicated a date next month and the place to meet.
I spent several weeks trying to determine the original of the message. With my skills and the resources available to me, all I could find out for certain, was that it originated from France.
After several calls to Ruby, with no answer, I suggested Axel accompany me to France. I wasn’t sure exactly what I was walking into there, but Axel may or may not be of help. Besides, it would do him a world of good to get away from Crescent Bay. It would also be easier to explain away the trip with him going along.
Jing and I went out for her birthday to one of the local restaurants. I had initially thought a Chinese restaurant, as her favorite dish is egg rolls, but we get more than enough Chinese food from Mao at home. It was good to get away from the house and enjoy an evening by ourselves. I had called the restaurant several days ago and ordered a birthday cake. After dinner, we headed down to the beach and walked along the shore.
I felt bad not telling Jing or Mao about the message and made up some flimsy reason about checking out some merchandise for my father. This wasn’t totally inaccurate, as there was a new nectar making process that my father asked me to look into while there. Besides, I really had nothing to tell them.
We arrived in France and did a little shopping on our two-day layover in Paris. We then made our way to the countryside. According to the message, we were to meet at the Gatehouse; the inn I stayed at while in France for the nectar festival. Madame Rousseau was happy to see me again and insisted on making a pot of coffee. Who was I to argue? Besides, it was the best coffee I had ever tasted. And her homemade kumquat jelly on day old French bread was to die for.
While the coffee was brewing, I took the opportunity to call home and let them know we had arrived safely. Sadly, when asked, I was still unable to give any details or shed any light on the reason for the visit.
The heavenly aroma of the fresh-brewed coffee urged me to end the call and make my way to the kitchen. It was as delicious as I remembered it to be. Axel either wasn’t a big coffee drinker, or just didn’t enjoy the taste as much as I. His loss, my gain!
I was so lost in the coffee; I had forgotten that we hadn’t even taken our bags to our rooms. As we were heading for the stairs, I was met with a familiar female voice. I couldn’t place it right away.
“Elissa; is that you?” I asked, knowing how stupid the question was as I asked it. Of course it’s her.
“You’ve forgotten me already?” she began to pout.
“Of course not, it’s just that I was not expecting to see you. I’m here on a matter of some business.”
“I know! I am the one who brought you here. Axel, isn’t it; so good to see you again,” She nodded in Axel’s direction.
“Thank you. It’s nice to see you, also. What have we here?”Axel asked, not one to dwell on pleasantries.
“This is the reason you are here. Boris, meet your son.”
“WHAT? You’ve got to be kidding.”
“I’m not trying to be funny, Boris. I am certain he is yours. Can you not see the resemblance?”
I walked out the door to the courtyard with Elissa and her son in tow. This scenario hit me from out of the blue. The last thing I would have suspected was a child.
“Can you blame me for being skeptical? This is quite a shock.”
“I understand which is why I didn’t mention it in the message.”
“I will, of course, want to have a paternity test.”
“I assumed as much, and have contacted the local physician. He will take the samples tomorrow and get them to the lab in Paris. He said we can have them back in five days.”
“What’s his name?” I can’t believe I hadn’t asked before this.
“His name is Jacques. I named him after my brother.”
“Jacques! I like that.” I said as I took him into my arms. “You have a brother? Will I get to meet him?”
“Sadly, he died three years ago. He was in an auto accident driving to Marseilles for the summer break after finishing at university.”
“I’m so sorry! Was he younger; older?”
“Thank you. It was a long time ago. He was two years older than I.”
“That’s a shame.” Turning my attention to Jacques, “Hey little guy! I’m gonna get you!”
I had the DNA sample taken the next day. We spent the rest of our visit waiting on the results. I was occupying my time with Jacques, while Axel and Elissa were getting to know one another. The four of us spent much of the time together.
One morning, Axel and I made it to the nectary to look into the new processes for Dad. They were very helpful and provided us with as much information as they could.
On our last day, we met with the physician, who gave us the results of the paternity test. It was conclusive, Jacques is my son. The only thing that ran through my mind at that moment was how would Jing react? After the initial shock wore off, we met Elissa in the town square.
“Boris, now that you know he’s yours, you have to take him. I can’t have him with me. He deserves better than what I can offer him,”
“I can’t possibly take him. I am married now. I can’t simply walk in the door when I get home and say ‘Hi, honey, I’m home. By the way, this is my son.’ I need more time to prepare everyone.”
“I am sorry for everything, Boris, but I cannot take him home with me. I have already made plans for my departure,” she said through tears, kissing Axel on the cheek. “I have to go; thank you for coming.”
She turned on her heel and ran over to a waiting limousine. I tried to catch her, but the limousine pulled away as soon as she was inside. Elissa had conveniently left all of Jacques’ things laying on the walk beside the table.
“That conniving bitch,” I thought.
“That conniving bitch,” Axel exclaimed aloud. “She had this whole thing planned down to the last second.”
“It sure seems that way, doesn’t it? Dad would love to have someone like her working for him. Damn, Ax! What do I do now?”
“I don’t know, Boris, but I’m glad I’m not the only one with problems. Maybe you should call Jing before we leave here. Tell her everything.”
“It’s probably the best way. Now I’m the one shaking!”
I called Jing and explained everything to her. Well, everything except the part about deceiving her in the first place. She said she understood everything and that she would make the necessary preparations on her end. God I was blessed to have such an understanding wife.
We made it to Paris in time to catch our flight, and purchase an additional ticket for Jacques. However, we had difficulty trying to check his bags through, so we took one bag as a carry on, filled it with what we felt was necessary and left the rest behind. There was an envelope in the bags. I grabbed it and slid it into the outside pocket of my carryon. We raced through the terminal and barely made it to the plane before the door was closed.
The rest of the long flight was thankfully uneventful. I got a chance to quickly look through the envelope. It contained his birth certificate, naming me as his father, and other important documents. There was also a sealed envelope addressed to me. I decided to open it later when I was alone.
We deplaned at Crescent Bay airport and met at the gate by my Dads. It was great to see them again. They hugged Axel and me and then went gaga over Jacques. What a display for two grown men! I guess I can’t blame them, he is every bit as adorable as Ning.
“Where are Jing and Mao?” I had expected them to meet us.
“Jing said she wasn’t feeling well; that you would understand. Mao stayed with her.”
“I hope it’s nothing serious.” I was concerned. “Let’s hurry and get home.”
Once at home, Dad took care of Jacques and I went to check on Jing. She looked pale but assured me she would be fine with that calming smile of hers.
Jacques was accepted into the household as if he were always there. I can always count on my family to be there for me. Even Axel.
We had been planning a Halloween party for some time. Unfortunately none of my friends would be able to attend. Just my luck, when I finally feel like a party, my friends are not there to share. I have invited a few of my old classmates. It is quite disconcerting to know how many of them have moved away from Crescent Bay. Most of those still here have families of their own now and were unable to attend.
Axel, Mao and I got busy decorating the back yard for the party. Not knowing much about Halloween, Jing would help as she could. Axel and Dad had arranged to have some sharks and death fish delivered and placed in the swimming pool. Ning was right there pointing and laughing at the fish as they swam around.
I had been playing around with mechanics and putting some of my engineering knowledge to use. I made a few small working inventions, mostly stupid looking toys with sharp edges that would cause massive bleeding to any child that attempted to play with them. Of course I kept Ning far from these less than perfect machines. Perhaps I’ll look in to working with polymers next.
I connected with an inventor online while looking for plans and such. He provided a lot of useful information and links. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that he lived in Riverview. I would have to look him next time I was there. One of the plans he led me to, was a replica of the phone booth time machine used by Bill and Ted in their Excellent Adventures.
This gave me an idea for a time machine model. I designed the façade for a time machine and built a fake one with the help of Jacob Thompson. Jacob is one of the triplets we went through school with. He is currently working for the local science laboratory, in the robotics division, I think. You know, I never really asked. Anyway, we set the time machine up in front of the service door to the garage.
The night of the party, the Saturday before Halloween, arrived and the guests started to filter in. Some showed who said they weren’t sure if they could make it and others who weren’t even invited. It didn’t matter, all were welcome. Everyone was escorted through the garage to enter the party area through the time machine.
Just as things were getting under way, Dad made his grand entrance through the time machine portal. He came jumping through the door, hit his head on the top and crashed to the ground on his derriere. I think he was the only one not laughing. What a sight it was. I was shocked when he stood up, brushed off his loincloth and happily joined the party. I was sure he was going to blow. I’m glad I was wrong.
Everyone seemed to be having a great time. Everything was going smoothly. Jacob came with his two brothers. Uncle Dante and cousin Kale were there; and Jacob Gregory brought his fiancé, Natasha, and youngest brother Eric; just to name a few.
Everyone’s costumes were great. I don’t think there were two of the same costumes anywhere on the property.
There was a buffet set up in the dojo with quite the spread. At one point during the party I found Jeremy Thompson sleeping in the sarcophagus that we had placed near the buffet. Evidently he had worked all day and was quite tired.
Everyone seemed to congregate near the garden, where we have set up a small shelter with a glass coffin under. Everyone took turns laying in the coffin and getting their picture taken. Where was Molly when you needed a professional photographer?
Ruby and Uncle Hector were, as far as any of us knew, were still out on their music promotion, and were unable to attend. Since we had no musicians in attendance, a stereo was our source for music. Several people took turns choosing their favorites or styles of music.
Behind the shelter, we had placed a small-ish cemetery at the edge of the garden. With the help of some laser technologists Jacob knew from the science lab, we were able to set up some holo-projectors near the grave stones that projected images of ghosts in front of the stones. I was amazed with the animations that these scientists were able to program into the projectors.
They used the likenesses of my grandparents. The similarity was uncanny. I felt like my grandparents were right there with us. Yeah, I know, I’m a dork! I would recommend these people to anyone looking for laser technologists.
Everyone had a great time, or so they expressed as they began to filter out and leave. I was quite pleased at how everything came together and the help of everyone involved. Of course, all of those that volunteered wouldn’t take anything for services rendered, so I will make some donations to research here and there in the near future. We have to keep those minds working.
The cleanup from the party took no less effort than the set up, although tearing down the structures was much easier than the construction. When all was said and done, it was well worth it. I think Jing really enjoyed her first Halloween party; she met many new people.
I received a package from Molly just in time for my birthday. The shirt looks like an expensive Parisian fashion. There’s always room in my wardrobe for more. I sent her a thank you right away, so I wouldn’t forget.
For my birthday, Jing and I spent the day at the beach with the kids. She told me she was upset with me initially about Jacques, but she could not turn him away since he was my son. It will make things a bit more “exciting” in about seven months. I must have looked like a dolt, not understanding what she was implying. It was not until she hit me in the arm that it dawned on me what she was trying to tell me.
“A baby? Are you sure? That’s wonderful!” I rambled on excitedly.
“Yes, a baby!” she smiled. “Would you like a boy or a girl? Do you want to know in advance?”
“I just want a healthy child; boy or girl, makes no difference! A girl would be nice, though!” I said with a wink. “Do you want to know for certain if it’s a boy or a girl?”
“No, I don’t think so. I want to have the surprise,” she said as she snuggled next to me.
I love her all the more for loving me.
Good news (I hope)! Ruby answered one of Axel’s calls. Ruby wants to try to make the marriage work as much as Axel does. I really hope they can mend their fences. My relationship with Ruby is much less important than theirs, although I hope we can become close friends again. Axel has invited her for Thanksgiving dinner.
Thanksgiving morning arrived. It was going to be a beautiful day. Well, outside, at least! I ran from the kitchen to answer the doorbell.
“Happy Thanksgiving, Ruby!” I said as I stepped back to let her in.
“Happy Thanksgiving, Boris!” she said in return.
We hugged. It was loose. It was awkward!
Chapter: 5 Part: 2 – Ruby
It seemed like we had been in the living room for hours instead of mere minutes. The touch of Hector’s gentle hands along my back seemed to make time stand still. I ran my fingers through his hair and just felt the softness in each strand.
All the while, a terrible guilt was gnawing at my insides. I knew this was wrong, so why didn’t I stop it? I wanted to pull away and yell, “No! This is wrong and we must end it now”, but the electric pulses running through my body made me cling to Hector’s strength all the more.
“Hector…” I managed to say. “We…can’t do this…” I said between breaths. “This is wrong.” Every fiber in my being screamed at me to stop, but I was weak.
“You’re right, Ruby.” Hector said, while he continued to lavish me with sensual kisses upon my neck and face.
It was with a strong resistance that I finally tore away from Hector. My cheeks were flushed and felt hot, while my chest heaved trying to catch its breath.
“We can’t! I can’t do this.” I cried. “Think of Axel…what will he think of us…and what will the kids think of me?” The thought of their disappointment broke my heart. My tears began to fall; they felt hot against my burning cheeks.
“I…I’m so sorry, Ruby!” Hector exclaimed. “I don’t know what came over me.” He replied miserably.
“We’ve been seeing too much of each other, Hector.” I said, while looking at his unhappy face. “I think it would be best if we didn’t for a while.”
“You can understand can’t you?” I asked hopeful.
I didn’t want this one stupid act to ruin our relationship. Lord knows I’ve pushed enough of my loved ones away. I don’t know if I could bear anymore.
“Of course, Ruby, I understand. I just hope you can forgive me.” He answered shamefully.
“There is nothing to forgive. I am just as much to blame.” I looked down at my hands, which trembled slightly. “I was weak. I’m sorry, too. I think we need to forget this ever happened.”
As I watched him leave, I dropped to the floor and cried. How could I have been so thoughtless, so reckless?
I felt like such a terrible, terrible woman. The guilt that emanated from me was too much. I hurried to take a shower in the hopes that all the shame I felt would wash off.
The next few weeks I busied myself with work and the continued success of the Save the Music program. The added activities kept my mind off of Axel and Hector and provided me with a much needed respite from all those struggles.
We had signed up a few more acts to perform in various concerts that were to be held throughout the month of September. I was still amazed at how far my little endeavor had actually grown.
Mid September I received a call from Hector. He would be performing in Paris and wanted to get some publicity stills. He thought it’d be a nice idea to have me there to promote Save the Music.
“You know, Hector, Molly is in France. Maybe she could take the pictures. I am sure she could use the work.” I said.
“That sounds like a great idea. Go ahead and give her a call. I’ll make the travel arrangements.”
“Oh, wait. What will I do about the kids? They’ll need a sitter.” I answered sadly.
“Don’t worry, I’ll ask Kale to watch them.” He replied confidently.
“Kale? You’re son Kale? Is that such a good idea?” I asked warily.
“Ruby, its fine, he’s insane, not inept. I guarantee he won’t try and flush them down the toilet.” He remarked jest fully.
“Oh, wow…now he has my full confidence.” I answered sarcastically.
“But really, it’ll be alright. He’ll have both our numbers if there are any problems… plus he can call your Mom or Achilles and Damon.”
“No! Not my Mom!” I replied suddenly.
“Ok..Why not?” He asked.
“She doesn’t know that Axel and I separated. I fully intend to keep it that way.”
“No problem. My lips are sealed.” He covered the phone and said something to someone. “Sorry, Ruby. I gotta go. I’ll call you with the details later. Bye.”
Hmmm, a trip to Paris…and a photo shoot. What does one wear? I then remembered I should call Molly and ask her if she can even do it.
I called but received her voicemail. I left a message and then went to see what my closet had to offer.
Looking at each outfit left me with the realization; I had nothing I could really wear to Paris. Then I saw my old leather jacket sitting at the back of the closet. Hmmm…with a few accessories, I could really rock this outfit.
“Mrs. Lothario? Would you mind coming into my office? I have something I’d like to discuss with you.” Mrs. Flesner said seriously.
Oh, Lord. What did I do? I immediately started to think of a million ridiculous reasons that could cause me losing my job. I felt sick to my stomach. I cleaned up my room and walked the few feet to the Director’s Office.
With sweaty hands, I reached for the knob and turned it slowly. The butterflies weren’t content to just stay in my stomach, now it felt like they had invaded my knees as well. I trembled as I saw her rise to greet me.
“Have a seat Ruby.” She motioned towards a chair that faced her desk. “This is Mr. Hutton, he is the Music Director at Crescent Bay High School. He has something he’d like to ask you.”
I took my seat and my butterflies took up their flight double time. I cleared my throat nervously as he began to speak.
“Mrs. Lothario, we have been keeping a close eye on you. You have been doing an amazing job with the young kids here, and your success with the Save the Music program hasn’t gone unnoticed.” He sat down in a chair adjacent to mine and continued. “We’d like you to come work for us.” He paused and waited for my reaction.
“I…I don’t know what to say.” I was literally speechless. This so, wasn’t what I had expected at all.
“Now, because you are not a Certified Teacher, sadly we can’t offer you a position in that field, but I would love to have you as my assistant.”
I couldn’t hide the excitement I felt as Mr. Hutton began to explain the details of the job. This would be a big step for me. I mean, teaching little kids is one thing, but teenagers, in the same school I graduated from. It seemed almost surreal.
I wanted to say yes right then and there, but something was holding me back. I wanted to talk to my friends about it first. I wanted to get a second opinion. This seemed like a great opportunity, but I was scared to jump right in feet first.
“Mr. Hutton, I am really excited at this prospect, would I be able to take a couple of days to think about it? I’d really like to talk to some of my friends and family first.” I asked cautiously.
“Of course, Mrs. Lothario, I understand this would be a big change for you.” He handed me a card with his office number on it. “Give me a call when you are ready. I’ll look forward to hearing from you.”
I shook his hand and I left the office, the butterflies had since flew somewhere else so my stomach felt better. Now I was left with multiple questions running through my head.
Early October, my plane had touched down in Paris, France. Hector’s concert wasn’t until the middle of the month, so this left a couple of weeks to get the shots we needed and to promote our cause before the big night.
After we got ourselves settled in the hotel, I was feeling pretty hungry. Hector had made reservations weeks in advance at Guy Savoy, an incredibly expensive restaurant. Traffic at the time was calm and we made good time, as I excited the car I happened to glance over at this quaint little courtyard across the street. I had to blink a couple of times to confirm what I was seeing was real.
Across the way, I could have sworn I saw Axel. He was with a woman; she looked so familiar to me. Then it dawned on me. I swear my face turned five shades of red and I could feel my blood start to boil. That … Gold digging…Tramp had her filthy hands on Axel. I watched in horror as she kissed him on the cheek.
“Did you see that?!” I nearly yelled at Hector.
He turned around in shock, “See what?” He looked worried at my sudden outburst.
“Axel…right over there!” I pointed to where he had been, but as I looked they were gone.
“Ruby, I don’t see anyone. Are you sure it was them?” He asked.
“I know what I saw!” I barked.
“Ruby, please lower your voice.” He whispered to me urgently. “You’re making a scene.” He glanced around sheepishly at the strange stares we had received.
Hector led me to the door, but I managed a look over my shoulder, of course there was nothing to see. I couldn’t help but feel confusion, hurt and rage all at the same time.
“Molly, you don’t understand!!! They were there in plain sight…kissing!!! What the hell?!” I had resumed my tirade. I was just as upset today as I was last night. I wanted someone to be disappointed with me.
Molly seemed more hurt that Boris would be in town and not tell her than the fact that he and Axel were both cavorting with a known Hussy!
Sooner or later I managed to take a few calming breaths and Molly was able to get the pictures she needed. It was a strange experience for me. I don’t know, being in front of the camera made me feel uncomfortable. I know, I’ve had my pictures taken lots of times, but this was for something much bigger than myself. What if I screwed something up? What if I had something hanging from my nose and nobody told me? That sudden realization filled me with such horror. I leaned over to Hector and asked him that very question. He simply smiled and said, “No Ruby, you look fine.”
I don’t know how I survived it, but I did and the pictures looked fabulous. I hope we were able to help Molly just as much as she helped us.
There were so many people at the Save the Music Concert! The energy in the place was immense. Everyone was singing and dancing, it was like nothing I had ever experienced before.
I couldn’t stay in the audience; there were just too many people. I could feel my heart beat start to race and sweat began to appear en masse on my forehead. I just knew I had to get out of there.
I made my way backstage and watched from a big screen they had set up in Hector’s dressing room. He looked like a natural. I am amazed at how easy he makes this life appear to be. The screaming fans, the constant interruptions for autographs and pictures, and yet, he happily obliges each and every person.
It made me wonder if I could see myself doing the same thing. Was this lifestyle something I could see myself doing? Hmmm, mother of triplets, wife to a criminal and a Rock Star…. It had a certain flair to it.
“What are you grinning about? You look like the cat who ate the canary?” Hector managed between breaths.
My face blushed red in embarrassment. “I was just thinking about this lifestyle you lead. You make it look so darn easy.” I smiled.
Hector had drunk two bottles of water so far and was now working on his third. “It’s easy to do something that you love to do. It’s made even better when people are going to pay you to do it. It makes me so joyful to see people enjoying my music. The fact that out of all the things they could be doing, they chose to come and see me, it’s very humbling.”
“Well, it was a great concert! I’ve never seen anything like it.” I beamed with pride.
“You should feel good; you helped bring it all about. So, thank you, Ruby.”
I sat in the living room, looking at the phone. Uncertain as to what I should do. My heart was pounding in my chest, the picture of Axel and Elissa still burned into my memory.
Was this the right thing to do? If I am really serious about saving my marriage, it is. What if it’s his turn to reject my calls? I thought sadly, could I really blame him.
With a trembling hand I picked up the phone and dialed Boris’s number. With each ring the words of Axel’s letter continued to touch my heart:
** Hey Ruby/Honey,
Gah! I don’t know how to start this as I don’t know where we stand.
Just know that I love you and the kids very much, and the last thing I ever wanted to do was hurt you. But I’ve done that. I’ve made my mistakes. I am far from perfect; very far from perfect. I hope that one day we can mend the wounds. I know it won’t be easy, but I have learned so much about myself since we’ve been apart. I am incomplete without you.
I have my job back, but I am willing to do what it takes to make us right again. If that means moving away or finding a “day” job; whatever it takes.
I’m sorry for all the pain I’ve caused you.
Also, I realize that it was my stupidity that placed a strain on your relationship with Boris; ruined your friendship. For this I am deeply sorry as well. Boris only ever meant well. He wanted to tell you everything, but I wanted to do things my way, and it has all erupted into a huge cloud of hurt; mistrust; maybe even hatred.
Boris has been my pillar of strength through all of this. He has made me see the error of my ways; if you never take me back, at least mend your friendship with Boris. He loves you and cares for you and the kids.
I had thought about ending it all a couple times, but I was able to keep going because of Boris. He gave me an envelope just after the wedding. In the envelope were Valentine’s that the kids made for me. Every time I felt like I couldn’t go on, I would take them out and be filled with strength of purpose. Boris found them lying on a table when he came to visit you and thought I needed them. I look at them every day.
After all of the horrible things I’ve done to Boris in my life, he has always been there for me when I needed him most; always kind; always caring; always loving; always Boris. We are lucky to have him in our lives.
Well, anyway, I wanted to tell you that I love you more than anything. I need you. I can’t begin to say how sorry I am. I am very grateful for the time I’ve had to spend with the kids through all of this.
All my love,
P.S. The tears stinging my eyes as I wrote this were well deserved.
I wiped the tears from my own eyes as I heard Axel’s voice. “Hello Axel.”
There was silence, I wasn’t sure if he was still there or not.
“Axel? Are you there?”
I could hear what sounded like crying. It broke my heart to hear my husband crying.
“I’m so…so sorry, Ruby.” He finally managed to say. “I love you so much, Baby.”
The tears that were stinging my eyes, made it difficult to speak.
“I love you too. I’m sorry…I know I’ve been childish and spiteful, but I just felt so betrayed. I want to make this work as much as you do. I know the road ahead of us, it won’t be easy. We both have wronged each other in so many ways, but know this…I have always loved you and I always will.”
“Ruby, please join us for Thanksgiving. I need to see you. Boris misses you; he has been a pillar of strength to me throughout all of this. When I thought about just ending it all and releasing you from the burden of my existence, he made me realize what I would be missing. If I have to choose work or my family, I’ll gladly choose my family each and every time.”
“Of course I’ll be there. Axel…I love you!”
Pulling up to the driveway with the trips in tow, my heart hammered in my chest. Thoughts of what I would say to Boris and Axel kept running through my head. I want to make things right, I really do, but I still felt so betrayed and nervous at that moment.
I rang the doorbell and stood there waiting. The seconds seemed to pass by slowly. Finally the door opened and Boris’s smiling face could be seen.
Time seemed to stand still as he greeted me. “Happy Thanksgiving, Ruby.” He said.
“Happy Thanksgiving, Boris.” I said in return. He stepped aside to allow me into the massive foyer. I was immediately greeted by Mao and Jing. They were very helpful in navigating my troop and getting us settled.
“Oh, Ruby. The babies have gotten so big! I can’t believe how much they’ve grown.” She playfully tickled Celia.
I had no sooner put Leliana on the floor next to me when I heard his voice.
“Hello Ruby.” Axel said quietly as he descended the stairs.
“Happy Thanksgiving, Axel. You look well.” I answered amicably.
“You look great, Ruby. I’m glad you made it. Happy Turkey Day” He managed a small smile.
Standing in the foyer, glancing at each other awkwardly, the tension in the air was so thick, you could have cut it with a knife.
“Would you like to sit in the living room until dinner is ready? “ Boris asked. “We have some toys set out for the kids. It should keep them busy until then.”
“Sure, that’d be nice.” I replied quietly.
Boris led the way and I took a seat on the couch across from Axel. The living room was gorgeous, spacious and had a very homey feel to it. It would have been very enjoyable under better circumstances.
“Look…” We all managed to say at the same time.
“I’m sorry.” I said, “You first.” I replied to Boris.
“Ruby, I am sorry I wasn’t up front about everything. What I did was out of love for my family; for Axel. I completely overlooked the fact that you are family as well. I can’t go back in time to change what is done, but I can promise you that this will not happen again. You are the sister I never had, and I don’t want to jeopardize our relationship in the future. I truly hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me,” Boris pleaded.
“I understand why you made the choice you did. Believe me, if I were in the same position I might have made the same choice. But, you have to understand, I felt humiliated and betrayed by my best friend and my husband.”
My eyes started to water and I could feel the all too familiar sting. I reached for a tissue that had been conveniently placed at the coffee table near me.
“Ruby, this is all my fault.” Axel cried. “I should have been man enough to come to you and explain what was going on. You are my best friend, my soul mate. I should have trusted you and I didn’t. I am so sorry. I can’t help but feel I’ve lost you.” He said miserably.
“Oh Axel. You haven’t lost me. I wouldn’t be here otherwise.” I looked him in the eyes and answered honestly.
We were interrupted by a small clearing of a throat. Jing was standing with a small tray filled with various cheeses and meats.
“I thought you three might be hungry.” She smiled politely.
“Thank you, Jing.” Boris said smiling.
“Yes, Jing, thanks. The house is lovely, thanks for having the kids and me over today.” I answered.
“Ruby, you are more than welcome here anytime you like. And the kids too.” She smiled and ducked back into the kitchen.
“Whatever they are up to in there, it smells great.” I remarked.
“We’d probably be dining on Dad’s burnt Peanut Butter and Jelly, if Mao weren’t here,” Boris laughed.
We sat in the living room and continued to talk about various ways to continue the road we were on. To fix the fences we had allowed to be torn down. I was just happy the bridges that I had burnt weren’t destroyed beyond repair. It felt good to be talking to Boris and Axel again, even if it wasn’t the same as it once was. It was a small step in the right direction.
Achilles and Damon had joined us later for dinner. The food was good; in fact it was better than good…it was fantastic!
“Mao, Jing, dinner was phenomenal. You guys really outdid yourselves. Thanks so much.” I said patting a full stomach.
The trips just happily mashed their potatoes into their open mouths. Their collective “nom nom noms” were just too funny. I couldn’t help but laugh out loud at them.
As the night wore on I could see my little angels fighting fatigue.
“Looks like they are pooped. I should be getting them home.” I said, sadly.
“I want to thank you again for having us over, it was fun. And Boris?.... I’m sorry. I’m sorry if I made you feel like you made the wrong choice. I don’t know if we can be the friends we once were, but I’d certainly like to try.”
“Awww, Ruby. You’ll always have a special place in my heart. We’ll talk later, I promise.” He answered.
I stepped away from the rest of the group with Axel. “Axel,…today has been …. A good day.” I paused trying to collect my thoughts into a coherent sentence.
“And I’d love to say, ‘please come home, everything’s all right’ but it’s not. Know this, I love you.” I stopped and looked him in the eyes. He seemed to understand, but the hurt and sadness was still evident in those green eyes of his.
“We’ll talk more soon, I promise. Let’s take these next few steps slow and see where it leads us, okay?” I asked.
“Ruby, I’ll call you. Maybe we can have coffee some time?” he asked hopeful.
“Yes, I’d like that.” I answered as I made my way to the door.
I turned and faced Boris and Axel, “Thanks for a great night. I love you guys. And Axel, I’ll see you soon.” I gave him a reassuring smile that seemed to put him at ease.
Chapter 5, Part 2 - Stormy
I was on the plane, drifting in and out of sleep, wondering what dad was doing at this moment. I'll bet Sunny was up in the attic painting or drawing.
"Excuse me, Miss.." There was a light tap on my arm.
I opened my eyes to see the stewardess asking if I wanted something to drink. I shook my head no, closed my eyes remembering the look on dad's face when I told him I was going to chop half my hair off. He was so mad. He loved my hair long. And to top it off, me telling him I am leaving Crescent Bay for a while to rejuvenate my mind, spirit, and body. It will be nice to come back home being able to focus on priorities, and dealing with mom.
I did not go into details with dad about ALL the “whys” I needed to leave, but the little I told him, his response was that, number one, I was still very young and had plenty of time to figure out what I wanted to do in life. Number two, most people carry unpleasant experiences from their childhood into adulthood, never forgiving those that hurt them in the past, which affects present and future relationships.
Ding Ding Ding…. TIME OUT!
I looked at dad in shock. He was still going on and on about the consequences of not letting go of the negative things, but to only except positive things in your life. And lately, the more I spoke to dad, he’d spew forth a few words of wisdom. Was he talking about himself, or about me, or people in general? Also, I believe ever since his handy business has been booming, he seemed much happier.
When I come back home from this much needed vacation, I'll ask dad about this interesting, but nice change in him.
Turbulence shook me out of my deep sleep, as I looked around the plane at the panic on people's faces and the Captain telling us over the intercom we were going to make an emergency landing in the water. The oxygen masks popped out of its compartment overhead as we all scrambled to put them on. I was getting anxious, mostly from all the horrible noise, and convulsions the plane was making.
The plane fell for about thirty seconds when it hit an air pocket. That was a long scary half minute before the Captain gained some control of the plane.
Someone started praying.
The plane dipped again, and I wondered if this was going to be the end of my life….. or rather, our lives!
An image of my mother flashed in my mind, wishing I could see her one last time, because truly and honestly, I loved that crazy woman so much.
And of Beau, my love.
Silent tears streamed down my face.
We were still going down, still bouncing all over the place...the screams..
We hit the water extremely hard, but the plane kept on moving foward, causing my teeth to rattle, while trying to brace myself...
Everything went dark...
The pain in my right leg brought me to. I must have passed out. Not certain for how long.
"Hey!" I tried calling to the person closest to me. But their neck looked awkward. A wave of nausea came over me as I unbuckled my seatbelt and stumbled through the freezing water that was rapidly filling the plane. The nose of the plane was already under water.
People were dead all around me, still strapped in their seats. The people in front were either crushed in their seats, and or drowned since most of the water filled that section of the plane first. I checked the pulse of those that were nearest me as I sloshed my way to the emergency exit, having ripped off the seat I was sitting in as a floatation device.
I heard a moan and whipped my head around to pinpoint what direction the noise came from. I looked all around and called to the person. But I heard and saw nothing else. Maybe it was the plane creaking?
The need to survive and get away from the dead and the awkwardness of how the plane was positioned, and the fear of drowning is what kept me trudging on, causing me to ignore the new pain that radiated from my neck to mid back.
Pressure from the water made it difficult for me to open the emergency door. When I finally used whatever strength I had left in me and prayer, the door opened just enough for me to squeeze through as a rushing tide of water slammed into me, knocking me down.
Eventually, after many frustrating times, I made it out into the ocean with my floatation device. I swam a distance away from the plane so I could scan the area for any land nearby. I saw not a thing.
"I found her at the beach, halfway in the water..." a male's voice said. I was shivering and in pain. "Maybe after a little rest, she'll be okay enough to take herself home."
"Hmm..maybe she partied too much or tried to commit suicide?" came a female's voice. "Zahra, help me get her into some dry clothes and into bed."
“Wait! Bring her closer to the light. There’s a huge gash on her leg! We’ll need to sew that up.” Came the voice of a different female.
Three weeks later I still didn't know who I was, or where I came from. The three ladies, Naila, Shani, and Zahra, called me Kailani, of the Sea and Sky. I liked the name very much. And they were very nice.
My leg finally started feeling a lot better, and my neck and back was not as sore.
When my body permitted me to, I helped with chores, such as tending to the vegetable and fruit garden, fishing, which I seemed to be a pro at and collecting eggs from the chickens.
"You know we can't run the risk of the authorities knowing of our whereabouts. Or, more importantly, who we are." I heard the ladies whispering as I stepped outside to take in the fresh morning air. "When Kailani is ready to go home, she can take one of our bikes into town, park it somewhere of our choosing so we can retrieve it later. And, of course we’ll tell her not to reveal to the police where exactly she stayed, or with who."
"Think we can trust her?" asked sweet, bubbly Shani quietly. "For some reason, I think we can…..I don't know."
"Yeah...I think we can..." Naila said with much confidence "She has been a big help since she's gotten stronger. Besides, I love having her around. I don’t mind her hanging out for as long as she wants."
As Shani and Naila kept talking, I came to the realization I wasn’t ready to go back to my real home just yet. I wanted to stay here, living off the sea, helping the ladies around the house, and the garden. And, for some reason it seemed like I’ve been fishing all my life! I also wanted to hear more stories of their many adventures in Egypt. Though for now, I feel this is where I need to be for a while.
I made my way towards Shani and Naila to propose I stay for a time. They joyfully accepted as we hugged and laughed.
For now, this was home….