Wished away a broken fai.., p.18
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       Wished Away: A Broken Fairy Tale, p.18

           S.P. Cervantes
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  Gage has tried to have Joey and Cam talk “sense” into me, but it’s no use. I cannot live with myself if I’m the reason he throws away his dream. My thoughts these days shift back and forth between Dave and Gage, the only two men I have ever loved. Sometimes it’s as if I can hear Dave telling me to let Gage in, but I push the thought aside knowing it’s impossible.

  One of the hardest moments was telling Charlotte about Gage. She loves him too, but I didn’t want her to know I made this decision for her. I couldn’t take her away from her family and friends all because I’m helplessly in love. I keep telling myself that I’m luckier than most people to have experienced the kind of love from the kind of men I have in my lifetime. I never want Charlotte to think that my decision was Gage’s fault. He deserves her love.

  Just then, Cam and Holden come walking out onto the deck to see me cuddling with a quart of ice cream, and Charlotte, Sophie, and Ellie come running past me and into the house. “Well if this isn’t the most pathetic sight I’ve ever seen,” Holden jokes and I fling a spoon full of ice cream at him, just missing him when he dodges out of the way laughing.

  Cam sits on the chair at my feet with a sad smile. “By the look of things, you finally spoke to him.”

  I roll my eyes. “He trapped me. He called Charlotte and asked her to come over tonight because he has something to give her. Before he moves.” I take a large bit of ice cream and shake my head at the realization he’s really moving away, that he really did lie to me. I should be happy, he’s following his dream like I told him to…Like I wanted him to, but instead, I feel like I’m losing him all over again. “One of you two have to take her over there for me.”

  Holden laughs. “Hell no, woman. Man up and talk to him. You at least owe him that, since you are being a bucket of crazy. Why are you being so stupid?”

  “Holden!” Cam hits Holden in the chest, but I can’t help but laugh because a part of me has been asking the same question since I watched Gage walk away.

  I spray whipped cream in my mouth in defiance to Holden, making them both laugh and take another bite of ice cream for courage. “I was holding him back, Holden. He’s was going to give up the job his worked his entire life for, all to be with me. I can’t be responsible for taking away his dream.”

  Holden sits next to Cam and wraps her in his arms, looking at her lovingly, causing me to pretend to gag at their cuteness. “Dreams change.” He echoes Gage’s words he used when he told his dad he wasn’t taking the job, and I’m beginning to feel like I’m sinking in doubt, thinking of the way Holden fought for Cam.

  Cam looks up at Holden and smiles. They’ve been to hell and back together and have made it through everything stronger than before. “Are you going to take Charlotte to see him? You really should. She loves him Jess, and he loves her. She should at least get to have some closure too.”

  Guilt fills me at the mention of my daughter and I roll my eyes at Cam and Holden, pick up my phone, and search for Gage’s number.

  I hover above the button before pushing send knowing seeing him again, being in his presence, will be like ripping open my wounded heart and pouring alcohol over it.

  Got your message. We can stop by for a few minutes tonight if that works.

  “I’m proud of you, Jess,” Cam says patting my leg and I stick my tongue out at her.

  “Jess, that dude is head over heels for you. Every time Joey and I try and get him out, he just winds up asking about you the entire time. He didn’t even go to his own going away party at work.” Holden runs his hands through his hair and I just stare at him in shock. He’s not working at the hospital anymore? One more step to being gone forever.

  “I didn’t realize he’s moving so soon. I didn’t think it’d be happening for another few weeks…” Just then my phone chimes in with a text and my heart thumps with anticipation hoping it’s Gage, and we all pause to read it.

  Cam and Holden are leaning over my shoulder as Cam reads the text aloud. “I’ll wait for you forever.” She sits back and throws up her hands clearly disgusted with me. “What’s wrong with you, Jess? Seriously? He isn’t taking the job in Ohio like he keeps telling you. He only wants you.”

  I look at her with a questioning expression before another text comes through and I know it’s Gage when

  “True Love” rings through again.

  We need to talk.

  This is exactly what I was afraid of. It’s why I’ve avoided seeing him since I broke up with him, because I don’t trust myself around him.

  Not in front of Charlotte. Another time.

  Holden and Cam both completely invade my privacy and read my text aloud again and nearly knock me off the chair with their looks of disdain.

  “I remember, not too long ago, it was you who was telling me to go for it with Holden. Now it’s your turn, Jess. Stop being so stupid.” Holden and Cam high five and I give them the finger.

  Doubt is battling guilt inside me, and I look up to the sky and wish that Dave was here to guide me through this dark haze. Regret builds knowing if Dave were still here, I’d never be feeling this way, I’d have never fallen in love again, I’d never have had my heart crushed again. I smile when I see another heart shaped cloud, and a thought rushes through me; this time I have a way to heal my heart. This time there is a chance to get back the love I’ve lost.

  I try to act calm as we turn onto the street leading to Gage’s house, but in truth, my insides feel like a scene from Cirque de Sole is playing out. Charlotte has been talking non-stop, wondering what Gage has for her, and wondering if we are getting back together. I gently remind her that Gage and I’ve decided to part ways because he has an amazing opportunity to save people’s lives. She tries to be strong for me, but I choke up when I see tears well in her eyes.

  I’m surprised to see several people standing in Gage’s driveway chatting along when we drive up, however am instantly struck with a sense of calm when one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen looks at me and smiles. I’m even more overcome with wonder when the woman standing next to her turns and looks exactly like the other. Three little children begin running around in circles around the women, who still have their sights on our car.

  “They are the most beautiful people I’ve ever seen, Mommy. Do you think they’re princesses?” Charlotte asks, and I can’t help but agree at her observation. They seem too perfect to be real.

  My face begins to heat up and I can feel him before I see him. I look in the garage to see Gage watching me intently as he emerges with two other men. It’s only then that I’m struck by how drop dead gorgeous the other two are, and begin to wonder if I’ve just pulled onto a GQ shoot. One of the men has sandy blonde hair, and mysterious eyes that almost seem to glow a bright blue. The other is so tall and muscular that I have no doubt he could stop anyone in their tracks.

  Charlotte leaps out of the car when she sees Gage and jumps into his arms. He breaks his gaze from mine to say something to Charlotte before placing a kiss on her forehead. I get out of the car and make my way to meet the others who all continue watching me intently. The two men walk over to the women, and when they touch, I swear they glow as if they are angels.

  Gage comes to my side with Charlotte in his hands and kisses my cheek, taking me off guard. I hold my hand up to my cheek secretly wishing I could capture the feeling in a jar and save it for later. I notice the strangers smiling over at us with a knowing expression, and yet again, a feeling of calm and peace falls over me. “I’m glad you’re here.” He turns to the others. “Hey guys, this is Jessica and Charlotte, the lovely ladies I was telling you about.” He looks at me with such love, I want to fall back into his arms.

  “I’m Dalton, and this is my wife Ava.” His Irish accent is like a warm river flowing through me. “Our children, Kate and Aiden are running around here somewhere.” He smiles brightly looking over to the others.

  “I’m Hannah, and this is my husband Patrick. Our little ones are around here somewhere too.” She
smiles at me with deep happy dimples. “We grew up in the house next door and are just visiting.”

  Gage puts his arm around me and I lean into the warmth it brings me. “After they saw the top notch job your dad did on the renovations and expansion, they decided not to sell.”

  I smile proudly. “I’m glad you are happy with his work.” I look over to Gage. “Thank you for recommending him.”

  “After what he’s done with the bed and breakfast, I had to have him,” Ava says with a smile.

  I notice a young girl and boy, maybe a little older than Charlotte, watching us from the steps. The little girl has a face of an angel and the grace of a butterfly. Her every moment seems in slow motion as she turns and whispers something to the boy sitting there with his arm protectively draped over her shoulder. His eyes are so big and brown that I feel like I’m being sucked in under a trance.

  Gage nudges me, breaking me from my thoughts. “Did you hear me? How about we go inside for a minute?”

  “Can I play for a little bit?” Charlotte asks.

  “Actually how about I steal you away for a minute first, then you can come back out and play?” He says tapping the top of her nose.

  “Carson and Kate would love it, right kids?” Dalton calls over to the two children sitting on the steps who smile back happily.

  “Just send her over when she’s ready,” Dalton says smiling and turns to me. “It was a pleasure meeting you.”

  I smile and nod back too captivated by them to respond.

  Gage leads us through a garage packed with boxes and I get a sick feeling of loss knowing he will be leaving any day now. He has Charlotte’s hand in his and turns back to me with a shy smile that seems so unlike the confident man I’ve come to love. “Do you mind if I have a moment alone with Char?”

  If it was any other man, I would question his intentions, not wanting him to make things worse on her, but I know Gage, and I know he’d rather die than harm that girl, so I nod and smile. “Of course not. I’ll just wait out here.”

  He smiles up at me and shuts the door behind them leaving me alone, surrounded by nothing but reminders that he’ll be gone from my life forever if I don’t do something. A swift breeze sweeps through the room blowing a pile of papers, scattering them across the floor. I look down to see an envelope at my feet and reach down, taking it in my hands when I think I recognize the printing on the front. The way Cassie’s name is written, in perfect script with a squiggle line underneath makes me pause wondering why Dave would have written a letter to Cassie. I look around the garage for a moment, knowing it would be wrong for me to open an envelope that isn’t addressed to me, but curiosity is getting the better of me, so I pick up the wrinkled, blue envelope and trace my fingers over her name, and begin to feel nervous at what could be inside.

  Memories begin to assault me and fall into place like a puzzle. Gage and Dave went to college together. Cassie also went there. My heart races as the next thought crosses my mind. Dave was never close with Gage the way Holden and Joey were when Gage moved back to town, in fact every time they joined our group, Dave and I would leave. I remember a phone call so long ago that nearly broke Dave and me apart. I begin to feel sick wondering if the perfect love I thought I had with Dave was all a lie. And if that’s true, I don’t know if I can ever trust anything again. Dave had someone else in his life at one time. I remember sitting on the beach all those years ago when he told me about her. He never said who it was. Oh. My. God.

  I tear open the letter and glance back to make sure Gage isn’t coming yet. I take a deep breath before looking at the letter to see the signature that I feared, Dave’s name is signed in the perfect penmanship that’s uncannily his. I close my eyes, take another deep breath, trying to hold back the tears and begin to read.


  You have been one of my best friends these past few years, and I will always think back fondly on our time together. But now that we have graduated, it’s time for us to say good bye. When Gage asked me about us the other night, I didn’t lie, because I didn’t have to. But after the other night, I know we can’t be friends anymore.

  “Mommy, look at what Gage gave me!” Charlotte flies through the door causing me to stop reading the letter that leaves me with so many questions. The shock that the person Dave and I fought about that one night so long ago, that made me doubt him, was Cassie, is making me feel like I’m going to be sick.

  When Gage’s eyes meet mine, it’s clear he sees the distress I’m in when and his bright smile fades, and a mask of calm covers his face when he swipes Charlotte up in his arms. “Hey sweetie, why don’t you go play with Carson and Kate for a minute so I can talk to your mom?”

  She smiles brightly up at him and winks, like they are in on some secret plan, running past me before I can see the present she received and Gage is at my side looking down at the crumpled paper I have gripped in my shaking hand.

  “Why didn’t you ever tell me about them?” I begin to take my anger and feelings of betrayal out on the only person I can. “I asked you why we never hung out when you moved back. I asked you why you always kept a polite distance at Joey’s parties. And you dismissed it as bad timing. What else have you lied about?” I yell and have no idea why. I close my eyes, and look up at him knowing I’m being an ass, and he’s not really the one I should be mad at. I’m just so confused.

  He reaches out and takes my hand that is holding the letter in his hand. “What is this?”

  His touch sets me on fire and I want nothing more than to feel them all over me, but when I look at the letter and feel the sting of betrayal, the tears become harder to hold back. “A gust of wind blew it on my feet. It was Dave’s writing.” My voice breaks and Gage takes my other hand in his. He gently opens my hand and kisses my palm, his way of showing me he loves me, and I dissolve.

  “I knew they cared about each other. But they cared about us more.” His eyes are soft and sure. “Don’t let this be another reason to push me out. Let me love you, Jess.”

  “You’re leaving,” I say in a whisper. “I can’t follow you.”

  “I’m not leaving. I never was leaving. If you would stop and just listen to me, Jessica.” He takes my face in his hands and presses his forehead to mine. “I. Am. Nothing. Without. You.” His deep, raspy voice sparks something inside me and I have no doubt he means every word.

  I look up at him, wanting nothing more than to be his forever, but I can hardly breathe. I’m so confused about everything, about Dave, about Gage not leaving, and now about if I can ever trust again, because right now the two men I trusted more than any other in the world seem to have been keeping the same secret from me, and I’m hurt.

  “I can’t think right now, I don’t know what to believe anymore.” He wipes a tear away with his thumb and I want so much to let him take away my hurt, but I can’t. “I just need time.”

  He presses a kiss to my forehead. “I can give you time as long as it brings you back to me.” He steps back and releases me from his grasp. “Hell Jess, if I could wish away all your doubt I would, because you should never doubt me or my love for you.” He takes my hand in his. “I love you, Jessica.”

  Charlotte calls for me from the yard, and I wipe my tears away, trying to hide my sadness. I look over to Gage and try and smile. “I do love you, Gage. I never stopped.” I take a deep breath trying to gather my emotions and walk out of the garage to see Charlotte waving goodbye to her new friends.

  I quickly usher her into the car and look back one last time to see Gage standing in the driveway, with his hands in the pockets of his dark black jeans, watching us intently.

  Charlotte rolls down her window and yells, “Rainbows and butterflies,” to Gage before blowing him a kiss. And it takes everything inside me not to completely fall apart when Gage catches her kiss and places it on heart.

  When I drive away, I do everything I can to hold it together seeing Gage in my rearview mirror just standing there, watching us drive away.

  “Look what my new friend Kate gave me.” Charlotte holds up a heart shaped rock.

  A tear escapes as I think of the words that Dave would say whenever he’d give me one of those rocks. Words that only the two of us knew he would say. “Always choose love,” I say to myself.

  I try to focus back on the road, crossing the bridge leading back into Mantoloking wanting nothing more than to close myself away and read the rest of the letter. Charlotte turns up the radio and begins dancing to “Happy” and it takes all of my self-control not to smash the stereo and instead focus on getting us safely home.

  When I turn off the car once we pull into the driveway, Charlotte holds something up to me. “Mom, will you put this on me?”

  I take the silver necklace in my hand and smile, noticing the three stars hanging at the center. “What’s this?” I ask as she leans in for me to clasp it around her neck.

  “I showed you in the garage. It’s a present from Gage. He said that it’s so I know I can always look up in the sky and know someone is watching over me. My grandparent’s and my dad. Isn’t it beautiful? The diamonds are real, but he told me not to tell you. He said it will fit perfectly with Daddy’s necklace.”

  I smile at the gesture. He never knew that a star was a symbol of love for Dave and me. “It’s beautiful, sweetie.”

  I get out of the car and Charlotte runs across the street to show Sophie and Ellie her new necklace. I’m glad to have a moment alone, and text Cam to ask her to keep Charlotte for dinner so that I can have time to read the letter a thousand times before she gets home. I grab an entire bottle of wine, one glass, a blanket off the couch, and walk out to the deck. I pour a glass full of wine and drink half of it down before opening up the letter that I’ve had clenched in my hands since I found it. When I see Dave’s handwriting, I choke up, feeling such an overwhelming sense of sadness, wishing more than anything he was here with me to explain all this, that I have to look away for a moment before beginning. I take one more large drink from my glass when I hear the crunching of stones from the side of my house. I silently curse under my breath, pissed that Cam has let Charlotte come home when she knows what I’m about to read. My frustration turns to relief and I smile when I see not only Cam come around the corner, but Joey and Holden are close behind holding another couple bottles of wine.

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