Wished away a broken fai.., p.11
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       Wished Away: A Broken Fairy Tale, p.11

           S.P. Cervantes
 
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  We snuck back into the kitchen to find good ole’ Helen standing there with a basket filled with three bottles of wine, wine glasses, and all kinds of snacks. It sure did pay to be as stinking rich as Joey is at times like these. When we got to the sand, Jess kicked off her green heels and tossed them onto the deck and turned to me with her wavy blonde hair flying slightly in her flushed face, looking so damn sexy that I wanted to throw the basket away and take her right there.

  “Ah, ah, ah,” she said shaking her finger at me and she strutted over to my side. “I know that look, and you’re just going to have to wait.” When she came to my side, she leaned up on her toes and whispered in my ear, “We have people waiting for us, and I never like to disappoint.” I didn’t miss the meaning behind her words, and was validated when she nipped at my ear as she wrapped her fingers along my package making me let out a groan.

  “Then you better stop that this moment, Jess Bosi,” I said regretfully before bringing her lips to mine and getting some relief from the burning need inside me. Her tongue dancing with mine made me know she wanted me as bad as I did her.

  We made our way down to the beach and saw our friends gathered around a fire in the distance. It was a sight to see everyone dressed in formal attire lounging carelessly in the sand, laughing and drinking together. I was surprised when I saw some new faces in the circle. Well, not entirely new, but faces I hadn’t seen in years. Gage Scott and his wife Cassie went to Yale with Holden, Joey, and me. Gage was on our flag football team and had become a good friend of ours. Cassie and I both majored in criminology, and had spent a lot of time together studying for our courses and working on projects together and had formed a close relationship. When Cassie and I realized that our friendship started to feel like we were being unfaithful to Jess and Gage, we decided to try and keep our space. With that decision, it also meant I had to put space between my friendship with Gage. I’ve always thought he suspected Cassie and I had feelings for each other after that one night right before graduation. The truth was, Cassie was someone I cared about, but no one would have ever made me stray from Jess. No one. She was someone I had a lot of common with, she and I are both laid back, but focused at the same time. She was the perfect study partner, and someone I hadn’t realized I’ve missed until I saw her sitting snuggled between Gage’s legs by the fire, wearing a deep blue dress that brought out her bright blue eyes. Jess and Cassie had met before and I was glad when she reacted sweetly when she noticed them at the fire. She never knew of my separate friendship with

  Cassie and I wanted to leave it that way. I watched as Jess talked spiritedly with our friends, emptying out the goodies Helen packed for us when Cassie came to my side.

  “Hope you don’t mind us crashing your party.” Her giant smile made me feel at ease.

  “Of course not, as you can see, Jess has plenty for everyone.” I watched my beautiful wife welcome Gage politely and then move over and plop down on Joey’s lap with a bottle of wine.

  “She really is amazing, Dave. A firecracker, but amazing.” Cassie laughed when Jess hopped up off Joey and headed over to us handing Cassie a cup of wine.

  “Hi again. Glad you guys came out tonight, it’s always the best part of Joey’s parties.” Jess tapped her glass up against Cassie’s as welcoming as ever. I wrapped my arm around Jess and kissed the top of her head and took in the sweet vanilla scent that she always wore and got lost in the comfort of it.

  I’m brought back to reality when I hear the faint whimper of Charlotte crying. Jess has her held close and is rocking her back and forth on the couch of our house. I notice instantly that it’s no longer winter when I see their sun kissed skin displayed in sundresses. The memory I was in is still calling me back, and as much as I want to get lost in the end of that night, making love with my wife, I can’t when I see my daughter hurting. When she lifts her face from Jess’s chest, I’m struck by how much older she looks. In so many of my memories Charlotte is so little, but she must be eleven or twelve years old by now. God, it’s frustrating that I’m not even sure how old my daughter is anymore. I want so badly to be able to know they’re okay, but I know this isn’t where I belong and watching them this way, not being able to control anything that happens, is torture.

  “I miss him so much, Mommy.” Charlotte’s voice is so innocent and broken, it tears me apart to hear the pain my death is causing her.

  “Me too, but he wouldn’t want you to be sad like this. He only ever wanted you to be happy. We both want you to be happy. It’s ok to miss him baby, but let’s think of the happy times and try and be happy we had him.”

  Charlotte wipes her eyes and looks up her mom. “That’s not what you do mom. I hear you crying all the time. You aren’t ever happy anymore.”

  Jess reacts as if she’s been slapped and I can feel the hurt those words cause in Jess’s heart. She holds Charlotte’s face in her hands and kisses her forehead. “You’re right. But I’m trying, and I’m going to even try harder, alright. I promise.”

  My heart is breaking watching this, but filling with hope at the same time.

  Jess pulls out something and holds it up to Charlotte, but I can’t make out what it is. She tilts our daughters face so that she’s looking at the object. “This was your Dad’s, and your grandpop’s before that. It was very special to him and I know he’d want you to have it. It’s a St. Michael pendant, the patron saint of ultimate protection. When you wear this, I want you to know your Daddy is always with you, watching over you and keeping you safe.”

  Charlotte smiles through her tears. “I’ll never take it off. Never.”

  With that, I let my thoughts drift back to my memories of Jess and Charlotte when we were together, when we were a family.

  Jess

  I can’t believe I’m actually looking out the window as Gage drives away. What am I, fifteen? Spending the day with him was such an unexpected pleasure, that I was sad when it was time for him to go over to Joey’s and for me to get Charlotte from school. One thing I learned about Gage today is that he truly is a walking contradiction. I mean one minute he is dominant, playful, and sexy, then the next he is companionate, empathetic and sensitive, and it makes him that much more attractive to me.

  Once we got down to the beach, Gage came up with the idea of playing Twenty Questions as a fun way to get to know each other. Only twenty questions turned into more like one hundred questions, letting me know more than I probably needed to about him. His favorite color is green, his favorite movie is Last of the Mohicans, he hates black olives, and he’s addicted to chocolate peanut butter ice cream from Carvel, to name a few. When he caught me staring at his tattoo that I’ve been wanting to get a closer look at since Saturday night, he didn’t wait for my question.

  “It’s big, I know.” He smiled sadly. “After Cass died, I felt nothing for so long. It was a way to feel again I guess. I’ve got a few other tats.” He rolled over to show me the word Faith written in script on the back of his neck, and the word Live engraved on his opposite forearm. I instinctively ran my fingers over the tattoo I had that matched Dave’s deciding to share my story later, this was his to tell. “It’s a prayer for strength,” he said pointing to the cursive that’s laced through the intricate design.

  “I love it,” I said and sat up reaching for the cooler, hoping to change the topic remembering I wanted to keep things light today.

  Around question sixty nine is when Gage decided to take the questions into a different direction and made things much more personal. When he rolled to his side, resting his head on his hand, I could feel his breath on my wrist and it made me blush. I hate how he made me turn all girly and mushy, when I’m not usually that type of girl. I’m the kind of girl who tells it how it is, and don’t let men intimidate me. But I’ll be damned, here I am, lying here next to Gage, with his perfectly sculpted muscles glistening with sweat and smelling of sunscreen inches away, feeling like a ball of tightly wound excitement and nerves. I. Am. Going. To. Explode.

>   “Where is your favorite place to be kissed?” He was looking right at me, surely gaging my reaction to his turn of questioning.

  I prayed I wasn’t blushing and smirked up at him, trying to act as if I’m not affected by how he looked at me. “In the ocean.” I smiled innocently and took a sip of my water, knowing well, that he meant where on my body did I like to be kissed.

  He didn’t break his gaze and only lowered his head so that I could clearly see his eyes above his sunglasses. That did it; I had officially turned into mush. “Noted. But let me try this again, where’s your favorite place on your body to be kissed?” His voice took a deeper tone that made my core clench with pleasure.

  I swallowed hard trying to gain my composure and remembered I’m usually the one who starts these types of conversations. I couldn’t let him get the best of me. “Sweetheart, you couldn’t handle my real answer, so I’ll just say my lips.” I turned to my side, mimicking his position, showing him that he couldn’t fluster me, and I could see in his eyes that he liked the challenge I was providing.

  He flicked my nose. “Your lips huh?” He licked his lips, and I swear it took every inch of self-control not to jump on top of him and find out his favorite place to be kissed. “You’ve left that innuendo wide open, no pun intended.” I melted when he shook his head, seemingly having fun playing this game with me.

  “My turn.” I said rolling onto my back again, continuing to try and pretend he didn’t have such a carnal effect on me. “Same question to you. Where’s your favorite place to be kissed?” I turned my head towards him and lifted up my glasses above my eyes. “On your body.” I smirked and dropped my glasses back on and stared at the waves waiting for his answer, trying to act like it really didn’t matter, when all I was doing was waiting for it so that I could spend the rest of the day daydreaming about kissing him there.

  He didn’t flinch and I could still see the mischievous smile playing on his lips out of the corner of my eye. “It depends. Nothing is better than a deep kiss on the mouth, but if you want to seduce me…neck.” He sat up and rested his arms on his knees. “Just in case you ever decide you want to seduce me, that is.”

  I laughed. “Just in case, huh?”

  Gage sat there silent for a moment staring out to the ocean and I wondered if I missed something. He finally turned back to me, his face more serious. “Want to take a dip?”

  “Um…Sure…” Before I could finish my sentence, he had me swept up into his arms and started walking towards the waves. I slid one of my arms around his shoulders and leaned my head back trying to act like the fact that his hand was scarcely close to my breast wasn’t making my insides burn. “You know, I think I might have to demand that everyone carry me to the water this way from now on. The sand is scorching.”

  He just smiled and nodded his head, still holding on to me as he hopped over the first set of waves crashing at his knees. I instinctively wrapped my other arm around his neck and buried my face into his chest blocking myself from the spray of the ocean waves. The sweet smell of his sweat mixed with sunblock was intoxicating, and I realized I had to get out of his arms before I did something stupid when I had an uncontrollable desire to kiss his chest. “Alright, put me down now.” I tapped on his chest and made the mistake of looking up into his eyes just when another wave crashed at our waist. He placed me down, never breaking our gaze. My heart was racing because what was happening was something much different than has been happening all day, this was more than just innocent flirting. His look was like the one he had the other night, only this time, he was stone sober, and so was I.

  He reached up swept my hair back, cupping the side of my face with his hands. “We’re in the ocean…” His voice was filled with desire making my breath hitch. “And I’d really like to kiss you on your favorite place.” A smile played at the corner of his mouth and I didn’t know if I actually answered or nodded my head in agreement, because I couldn’t take my eyes off his full lips until they met mine, and this time, he was not holding back. He took one of his hands and pulled me close to him, bracing my body against his as the waves crashed against us, and the other was still cupping my face. I didn’t think, but responded to his kiss with need, swiping my tongue across his lips begging for him to let me in. He let out a moan and pulled me down into the water so that the waves were splashing up towards our faces.

  “I think I have a new favorite place to kiss,” he said smiling, then suddenly concern swept across his face. He took my hands in his, but put some distance between us. “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have.”

  “It’s ok. It was nice,” I said smiling trying to ease his concern. Just hours before we had talked about my difficulty with moving on and how I really needed to take things slow if we decided to spend more time together. I splashed some water up at his face. “Still my favorite place to be kissed.”

  We spent the rest of the time swimming in the water and continuing our questions, some steamy, some innocent, but he didn’t kiss me again, and I wasn’t sure if I was relieved or disappointed. I know my vajayjay was sure disappointed.

  Once Gage is out of sight, I realize I’m holding my breath and know I’m smitten, and it makes me smile a real smile. I turn to go shower before picking up Charlotte from school so that I’ll be ready for dinner at Cam’s later and get to spend the afternoon with my little girl. When I get to my bathroom, I catch a glimpse of my face in the mirror, and hardly recognize myself. I look happy, and I know it’s all because of Gage and how he makes me feel. Just as soon as I begin to turn all giddy about my new crush, my gaze falls on a picture of me and Dave on the nightstand, and I feel conflicted. I know I’m not actually cheating on him, I know it’s perfectly acceptable to have feelings for someone like Gage, and is quite honestly impossible not to. But my heart still belongs to Dave, and I don’t know if that will ever change. I wonder if it’s fair to Gage to flirt with the idea of more with him when I’m feeling this way. I stare at my face, noticing the new lines along my forehead and eyes from worry, and decide right then that I need to give this a try. Like Dave said in his letter, moving on doesn’t mean forgetting. I feel more myself today then I have since the day Dave died. I don’t need to just “be here” for Charlotte in body, but I need to be here for her all the way, and I feel more alive today than I have since before.

  When I arrive in front of Charlotte’s school, I see Cam and run over to her, surprised to see her out and about with the baby. “How’s my little man?” I lean down and kiss DJ on his forehead as he sleeps peacefully. “Do you keep this kid drugged or what? He’s always asleep.”

  “He’s freaking nocturnal, Jess. It’s killing me.” I roll my eyes at her because I know Holden is up with DJ at night as much as she is. He insists on having an equal experience and it honestly makes me want to throw up. Cam pulls the visor back down over DJ and turns to me with an accusing look. “The kids will be out soon, so let’s get to it. What. Happened. With. Gage? You look all glowy and happy, and he got all weird when I saw him at the coffee shop and told him we weren’t hanging anymore. I gave him your address…you’re welcome…and invited him to dinner…your welcome. So did my plan work?”

  “You can’t take total credit for us having an unbelievable day together at the beach and for having an earth shattering kiss.” Sarcasm drips from me.

  “What the what? Details, now!” Before I can even begin, Charlotte and Sophie come running up to us, with Ellie trailing behind. Cam looks at me and points her finger. “Tonight, we are sneaking away and you’re telling me everything.” She leans into me whispering so the girls don’t hear. “Are you two a thing now?”

  I look at her in shock. I hadn’t really thought about anything like that, and we certainly didn’t discuss it. We just agreed to get to know each other, and the thought of being anything more than a friend, who possibly makes out every now and then, is about as far as my brain can process right now. “No…just friends.” Right when I say it, I know I want more--and so does Cam.
>
  “Uh huh.” She laughs and makes the mistake by turning to push the stroller, leaving herself wide open for me to smack her ass. The smack happened to be perfect and makes even me jump. I feel bad, for a second, but she only laughs. “Don’t be late.”

  My light, blissful mood comes crashing down when I notice the tears in Charlotte’s eyes. “Hey baby, what’s wrong?”

  She crosses her arms across her chest and begins fiddling with her St. Michael necklace turning to head to the car. Charlotte is quiet like Dave, and I know she wants me to give her time to settle in and focus her thoughts before sharing them with me. Dave was always so good at subtly breaking her down and now it’s my turn, so I decide to do things my way and wait for the right moment, and instead make small talk.

  “So, we are going to your Aunt Cam’s tonight for dinner, do you want to bring Frozen and watch it with Sophie and Ellie?”

  “Sure,” she answers meekly and continues to stare out the window, avoiding eye contact with me.

  “Uncle Holden is making your favorite tonight, ribs and corn on the cob.” I try to sound excited, and pretend I don’t notice her indignant demeanor when she simply shrugs. “Sophie and Ellie can sleep over tonight if you want too.” Man, I’m sinking like a ship from the daggers she sends my way.

  “Mom. Stop.”

  I pull into our driveway and before I can prod at her anymore, she hops out of the car before I even turn off the ignition and runs into the house. I take a few deep breaths before going in and try to maintain a calm interaction with my daughter rather than snap at her for being so disrespectful to me. It’s one thing to be upset, but she doesn’t need to be rude. Crap, Dave was so much better than me at this. I look up at the clear blue sky and silently pray for Dave to help me get through to her. I smile a little to myself imagining him looking down on us. I fiddle with the star on the bracelet Dave gave me when he proposed and remember his wish for me that day and walk in the house determined to break through with Charlotte.

 
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