Wished away a broken fai.., p.12
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       Wished Away: A Broken Fairy Tale, p.12

           S.P. Cervantes
 
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  “Charlotte?” I go to the stairs and call for her again, “Char? Are you up there?”

  She comes walking down the hallway with her arms crossed around her tiny chest still fidgeting with Dave’s necklace, trying not to look at me.

  “Charlotte?” I grab her arm when she tries to walk past me. “You are not going anywhere until you tell me what the hell is wrong with you?” So much for taking a calm approach.

  She flashes me a venomous look, but then softens and begins to cry. I take her in my arms and walk her over to the couch, letting her crumble in my arms. Charlotte never cries. Never. She is just so much like Dave in that way, always holding feelings in rather than spewing them to the world like me. When Dave died, she cried only when she saw his body, but never again in front of me before the other day and her sudden emotional state these past few days is beginning to worry me.

  “What happened Char? You can tell me anything, Sweet Thing.” I use Dave’s term of endearment and kiss the top of her head wanting to do anything to make her pain disappear.

  “Nothing, you won’t understand.” Her voice is a whisper.

  “Maybe I won’t, but I can try.” I’d do anything to make her happy.

  She sniffles and wipes her tears away and begins twisting the bottom of her yellow sundress. “It’s just that everyone always likes Sophie the most.”

  I already know where this is going, and boy can I relate. “Everyone always likes you too honey. You’re smart, and loyal, and kind.”

  “Ugh, mom, you just named all the reasons why I’m a dork.”

  “First of all, dorks are cool and they make all the money. Second, you are a beautiful dork with a ton of friends. I should know, I had to pay for all of them to go to Bibbity Bobbity Boutique for your birthday.”

  “Mom! You just admitted I’m a dork.” She can’t help but giggle a little. “You are the worst mom ever!” She playfully hits my arm and sits up and looks up at me seriously. “Cody likes her, but I want him to like me. He always asks her to play handball.”

  Relief washes over me that at least she’s only jealous about handball. “Charlotte, you’re still so young, and there will be hundreds of other boys who you’ll want to play handball with in the future. I know it hurts now, but soon enough, there’ll be another boy who will grab your attention, and you’ll wonder what you ever liked about Cody in the first place.”

  “Did you like Daddy when you first met?”

  I have to pause before answering, knowing anything I tie to his name will be remembered forever by her. “When I first met your dad, we were just kids. I liked him from the first second I saw him and I’ve loved him just about as long as that.” I kiss her head, trying not to choke up and play with my bracelet again. “Your Daddy didn’t always like me though, and we both had other people that we liked along the way too. There’s plenty of time to find your “someone special” and I have no doubt Cody or someone better will be asking you to play handball any day. For now, go play four square. Remember, you have to look for the butterflies and rainbows, and sometimes it takes longer for them to appear.”

  She smiles up at me. “I’ll look for butterflies and rainbows if you promise to too. I miss Daddy so much too, but he said he wants you to be happy, and you aren’t.”

  My heart sinks realizing that she can see through my forced smiles. “Crap, when did you become so grown up? First boy troubles, now calling out your own mom.” I laugh when she rolls her eyes at me. “Alright, deal. Only rainbows and butterflies for the both of us from now on.”

  “Oh and one more thing mom.” She looks up at me. “You probably shouldn’t say crap and stuff like that around me so much…I’m just a kid.”

  “Now that’s asking a little too much.” I kiss her again and both of us laugh.

  “Ok, thanks Mom, I feel a lot better. I think I’m ready for some ribs now.”

  Just like that she’s up with a smile on her face and skipping out of the room. I wonder if PMS is already beginning, but I push that thought out of my head because there’s no way my baby is starting that crap yet. Maybe she is just more like me than I want to admit. Lord help me.

  When I get ready to go to Cam and Holden’s, I’m a bundle of nerves and Charlotte just keeps laughing at me when I change my outfit five different times. She has no idea why I’m acting like a crazy woman, but luckily she’s used to it. We’re having fun and both being silly dancing around the house to Beyoncé while we get the double decker caramel brownies I made for dessert ready. I totally suck at cooking, but I love to bake, and these brownies are always a hit. When I walk down the hallway from the kitchen all ready to go in my rolled up jeans and a casual white shirt, I stop in front of the picture I love so much. The picture of my family. I look at Dave and wonder if he knows what I’ve been going through, all the sadness and grief I’ve been drowning in, and hope that he doesn’t know, because he’d be so pissed at me. I press my fingers to my lips and kiss them, placing my fingers to his mouth, and whisper, “I love you.”

  Charlotte and I trot down the street like giddy girls, me with the brownies and a bottle of wine, and Char with Frozen and her sing-along CD, already chatting to me about how she and the girls are going to put on a performance for us all tonight. Joey’s used to this type of thing by now, but I have no idea to how Gage will react being thrown into family time this way. It’s one thing to frolic on the beach together and block out reality, it’s another to be thrown smack dab in the middle of it. The truth is, the reality of parenthood is filled with lots of early nights, runny noses, and children singing horribly loud to every Disney movie and song in creation.

  Holden is the first person to greet us and I already know Cam has gotten to him when a spirited grin appears on his face. “Well, hello there,” he says exaggerating his words.

  “Mommy and I had the best afternoon, Uncle Holden. She’s going to find the butterflies and rainbows with me,” Charlotte says thankfully stopping Holden’s pending line of questioning that was sure to follow. The lawyer in him just can’t help himself.

  Holden raises an eyebrow at me and smiles when Charlotte runs past him back to see the girls. “Rainbows and butterflies?” He’s laughing now and shuts the door behind me before taking the bottle of wine and yelling to Cam, “Hey Cam, Jess is back to finding rainbows and butterflies! I’ll get the glasses.”

  “Shut the hell up, Holden,” I say slapping his butt and grab DJ out of the jungle themed bounce chair he’s playing in.

  “I think you’re right, Holden,” Cam says with a playful smile. “She didn’t even drop an F-bomb. Why the sudden change?”

  “You shut up too, Camryn Patrick. I know you already blabbed everything to Holden, so don’t act so innocent.”

  Holden wraps me and DJ up in his gigantic arms. “Seriously Jess, I’m glad you’re at least trying to find butterflies and rainbows. It’s what Dave would have wanted.”

  I lift DJ up and begin kissing his soft, chubby cheeks trying my best to swallow the lump developing in my throat at Holden’s mention of Dave. Just looking into the innocent eyes of this adorable munchkin reminds me that life is precious and I need to make the best of the life I have left, because everything can change in an instant. As long as I take things slow, I’ll be Ok. Rainbows and butterflies.

  Charlotte and the girls begin their sing-along to Frozen prompting us to move out onto the deck. It’s going to be October in another week, but it still feels like we’re in the dead of summer. I prop my feet up on the chair next to Cam wondering when Gage and Joey will get here. I also can’t help but wonder how he’s going to act towards me in front of all my friends--all of Dave’s friends. I know he and the boys are cool with each other, but the five of us were an impenetrable gang. The GoodFellas.

  I look down the street of water that runs behind Holden’s house when I hear the distinctive rumble of a boat’s engine. I notice Joey and Gage preparing to dock the sleek black speed boat that belongs to Gage remembering the way he wrapped his
arms around me when we sped across the bay to get the crab for tonight’s dinner earlier today. My heart races as usual at the sight of him. He’s wearing a loose white button down shirt, that is unbuttoned just enough to show his dark, tanned skin and his tat that I’ve come to love on full display. It’s just another symbol of the contradiction that is so him. He’s always so unexpected. Both Holden and Cam look at me with knowing smirks on their face and I throw pieces of the crackers I’ve been munching on at them, before putting my sunglasses back on so Gage doesn’t notice my ogling. My heart skips a beat when his gaze meets mine and he smiles up at me before hopping to the bow of the boat with a rope in his hands. He easily jumps onto the deck and guides the front of the boat along the edge as Joey turns off the engine. I can tell he’s done this many times before by the quick work he makes of docking the boat.

  “Hey ladies, why don’t you wipe the drool off your faces.” Holden laughs at Cam and me who are admiring the men as they finish tying down the boat.

  Cam and I high five and take a sip of our drinks, making no attempt to hide our admiring eyes this time. Joey has his shirt off and I have to admit the way his tattoos wrap around his bulging biceps even make me look twice. Then I remember it’s Joey, and bring my focus back to Gage who turns my way with a sexy smirk showing his deep dimples, making both Cam and me giggle like little girls.

  “He’s so damn hot, Cam. You better keep me from acting the fool.” I give Cam a look letting her know I mean business.

  “Ok, if you see me rub my nose, that will be my signal that you’re acting like a nob.”

  “What’s a nob?” Gage’s sultry deep voice make my stomach do flips of excitement.

  “How are my girls? Hold on, knowing you two, you’re actually going to answer my question. We need beer first.” Joey puts his arm around Gage whose gaze is filled with something that I can’t quite put my finger on and leads him over to the grill where Holden is waiting with beers for them.

  “Holy sexual tension! Jess, he looks like he’s going to throw you down on this table and screw you right in front of us,” Cam whispers from behind her glass tying to be discrete.

  “Oh please,” I say even though I hope she’s right. I know my lady parts are screaming at me to let down my walls just this once. And when he smiles over at me again, it takes every bit of will power not to steal him away.

  When the men finish talking about their favorite type of marinade, they join us around the long dark wooden table where Cam and I’ve been sitting. Both Joey and Gage walk over to my side of the table and I say a silent wish that Joey will not be the oblivious douche he usually is and not sit next to me. I’m still not sure what today meant to Gage. I don’t know if I’m just someone he can talk to because of what we’ve been through, if he just wants to hook up, or if he wants something more. I have absolutely no clue what I want from him either, so I hope we don’t actually talk about it. But right now, I’d be fine with anything that includes hooking up. I smile when Gage takes the seat next to me making Joey move to the head of the table.

  “Hi,” he says with that same devilish grin from earlier in the day.

  “Hi,” I say back trying to act coy and give him the same devilish smile.

  Joey begins telling us all about the deck renovations he and Gage have been doing this afternoon while I sit here and pray that Gage can’t hear the pounding of my heart that feels like it is thumping so loudly that Mr. Dade next door can hear it. Being this close to him after the morning we spent together is making me nervous and unsure of myself, and I’m never nervous and unsure of myself around men. But then again, it’s been a lifetime since I actually cared. The sun’s still shining even though it’s after six, but I can feel the hints of fall in the cool breeze coming off the shore making little bumps pop up over my body. I tuck my legs into my chest and begin to rub them.

  Gage leans into me. “You cold? Can I grab you a blanket?” He smells so good, I’m pretty sure I stop breathing. A combination of vanilla, mint, and sweat mix in the breeze between us and I swallow hard, trying to maintain an air of indifference.

  “I’m good. I was just about to go in and check on the girls.” I look over to Cam and Holden who are snuggling in together still listening to Joey. “Hey guys, I’m going to check on the girls, do any of you want another drink?”

  “I do,” they all say at the same time just like I knew they would, and I can’t help but laugh.

  “Will you also grab the video monitor so I can make sure DJ hasn’t rolled to his belly?” Cam turns to Holden. “What time should I put the casserole in?”

  “Um, five minutes ago,” he says rubbing the top of her head.

  “I’ll pop it in,” I say as I stand from my chair and start gathering the empty bottles.

  “I’ll help.” Gage gets up and grabs Joey’s beer and the table gets quiet making both of us pause.

  I turn to my friends and give them a look that says to continue because I know that they’re all thinking what I’m hoping might happen, that Gage is only helping to get some time alone with me. Holden and Cam are sure to fill Joey in on the day we spent together while we are both inside. I can sure tell what Joey is thinking when he gives Gage that shit eating grin.

  “Shut up Joe,” I say and reach over and smack his head.

  He laughs and holds up his hands. “I didn’t even say anything,” he says innocently.

  I turn and open the sliding glass door and know Gage is right behind me when I hear the door slide shut. High pitched, off key singing blaring into the microphone echoes through the house making any of the fiery desire I was feeling seconds ago dissipate. I smile back at Gage who’s laughing and making a look of horror. “Just wait until the performance later. You are going to need a few more of these,” I say holding up the bottles.

  Gage looks around the living room and then stalks towards me with his bright blue eyes filled with the same look from when he was docking the boat. He takes the bottles from me, and places them on the counter before taking my face in his large hands making my knees go weak. “I’m going to kiss you now.” He presses his lips to mine and I instantly react by grabbing the hem of his untucked shirt and pull him close to me.

  He lets out a moan when my fingers brush his bare stomach and he begins teasing my lips with his tongue making me unable to think of anything but him. Our tongues dance in perfect step led only by our longing for each other. I don’t know if it’s because neither of us have been with anyone in a long time, or if it’s because our chemistry is so amazing, because I can think of nothing but ripping off his clothes and feeling every inch of his naked, muscular body on top of me.

  I move my hands to his chest, and am snapped back to reality when I hear the sounds of the girls’ voices booming once again over the microphone. This is not something I want Charlotte to walk out into, especially after the emotional afternoon she’s had. I have no idea how Charlotte will feel if I start to see someone else, she was so close with Dave. I reluctantly break our kiss and look up at Gage’s affectionate eyes. He brushes my blonde curls from my face, tucking them behind my ears.

  “I like kissing you,” he says in a deep whisper.

  I smile up at him, still trying to pretend he doesn’t have a polarizing effect on me. “Most people do.” I wink at him and grab the bottles off the counter and put them in the trash. “Sounds like you guys got a lot done this afternoon at Joey’s. I can’t wait to check it out.”

  Gage walks over to me and backs me up against the counter clearly not having any of my small talk. “Don’t change the subject. When can I get you to myself again?” His blue eyes peer into mine with resolve.

  I cross my arms across my chest in the little space between us and grin. “How about once you ask me on a real date instead of stalking me at my house?”

  “Jessica Bosi, go out with me tomorrow night. I work every night for the rest of the week, so no is not an option.” His goddamned eyes make it impossible to say no.

  “Okay…
I stretch my words trying to hide the fact that I love it when he acts so dominant. I’m used to being the one in control and always thought that was how I like things, but he’s showing me a side that sets me on fire. “I have to see if I can get a sitter though.”

  “It’s covered. I already asked Joey.” He taps my nose when I scowl. “Relax, he already hooked Kat into coming and helping.”

  “Mighty presumptuous of you, Dr. Scott. This is the second time you’ve ordered me to go out with you. What if I had plans?”

  He takes a step back when he hears the voices of the girls clamoring down the hall and grins. “I guess you could say when I see something I want, I go for it.” He turns and opens the refrigerator. “I’ll grab the drinks and baby monitor, you take care of the potato thing.” He surprises me when he kisses my forehead before walking outside.

  I feel like I’m breathing for the first time in forever.

  Jess

  “Details, details!” Cam stretches out on the lounge chair on my deck with DJ lying in a little ball on her chest.

  “Wait for me, I don’t want to miss a thing,” Kat calls from the window of my kitchen.

  I roll my eyes at Camryn and pull my aviator sunglasses down and cover my mouth trying to hide the grin that is bursting through me. Last night was my first official, real, planned, and incredibly romantic date with Gage. And yes, it was as amazing as you think it was.

  Kat makes her way out to the deck with a large pitcher of margaritas and a bag of Lays potato chips, my weaknesses. “Alright ladies, I have everything we need to get Jess to spill her guts.”

  “First things first, where did you go?” Cam asks as she gets up and places DJ, who’s sound asleep in the Pack and Play in the shade.

  I smile thinking of our night together. I’m beginning to learn that Gage is such a surprising person in so many ways. I’m used to being around men who are outspoken and blatantly confident like Holden and Joey, even Dave never held back. But Gage—he’s somewhat of a mystery, and I’m never quite sure what’s going on in his head. Last night I learned the times he finally decides to let his guard down and open up to me, it’s all the way and no holds barred.

 
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