Wished away a broken fai.., p.20
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       Wished Away: A Broken Fairy Tale, p.20
 

           S.P. Cervantes
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  “I never let you go.” His lips are on mine, his tongue sliding across them, before moving in skillful precision in my mouth. The way he’s kissing me, I believe I am his air. When he pulls back, I realize he is my air too, and wrap my arms around his neck again. “I love you more than I’ve ever loved anyone, Jess. Anyone. But I also won’t be treated that way again. I can’t. If you’re mine, it’s forever. I don’t care how long or how short of a time we’ve been together. No amount of time will change that I want only you. You can’t let my job, my friends, or even Dave and Cassie ever make you doubt it again.”

  Dave’s letter comes to mind and I have to know the whole truth. “Tell me about Dave and Cassie, Gage. What was that letter really about?”

  He doesn’t hesitate. “You were Dave’s world, Jessica. He made no secret to anyone at college that he was taken, and there was no changing his mind about it, and trust me, some tried hard. Cassie wasn’t one of them though. The short of it is that they were close, they were both attractive and had a lot in common. One night right before graduation, Cass and I were fighting, we were all drinking at a bar. I saw Cass out in the parking lot crying in Dave’s arms. He kissed her cheek and I tried to kick his ass.”

  My eyes shoot open. “How come you never told me all this?”

  He runs his hand down my face, biting on his bottom lip contemplatively. “It wasn’t important. You see, I was the asshole. That night was nothing more than a friend being there for support. Cass was killed only a year after I moved here, and for a while, seeing Dave only reminded me of Cass, so I did as much as I could to keep my distance from him because for too long, my thoughts were haunted with flashbacks of her accident.”

  “Do you think they’ve found each other up there?” I say without thinking.

  Gage looks at the pictures on the mantle for a moment and smiles. “I’d like to think so.”

  “What do you think she’d say about us?”

  Gage smiles brightly. “She always admired you, Jess. I think she’s happy it’s you.” He nuzzles into me. “What about Dave?”

  I smile at the thought. “He’d be happy it is you too. He’d tell me to live.” I grip Gage’s shirt in my hands. “He’d tell me to love.”

  His lips crash against mine and I am whole again. I am living. I am loving.

  Dave

  The warm brown walls covered in framed newspaper articles and America’s Most Wanted signs held an eerie comfort for me that many people found odd, everyone but Cassie. No one got me like she did. I never had a friend like her and sometimes it left me feeling guilty even though I hadn’t done anything wrong. The thought didn’t ever even cross my mind…usually. When she walked into the dull room wearing a tight white t-shirt and green shorts, the dull room brightened and I had to look away. I hated this feeling. I mean I was human. I obviously can notice when a woman is good looking, but I hated the guilt I felt when I wondered what those long legs would feel like.

  She slipped into the seat next to me and tossed a newspaper article on my lap. “I saw this and thought you’d be interested.”

  I looked down to see an advertisement for a huge jewelry sale in the city this weekend. I’d been telling Cassie how I wanted to propose to Jess after her graduation next year, and had started trying to find the perfect ring that would be in my budget. As I looked at the ad, I noticed today was the last day of the sale. “Shit,” I said under my breath remembering that Holden borrowed my car. “How am I supposed to get to the city now?”

  “You are so predictable, Dave. I already told Gage I was going into the city after class today, so I’ll drive you. It will give me a chance to check out the perfect ring for Gage to buy me too. Just promise to drop him the hint when we get back…Deal?”

  I turned and high fived her. “Deal. Thanks, Cass.”

  “Can I ask you something, Dave?” Cassie sounded almost shy, she was never shy around me.

  “How did you know that Jess was the one?” She asked quietly trying to pretend we were talking about our class project rather than relationships.

  “I’ve always known.” I laughed and she rolled her eyes at me as if I was full of it. But I wasn’t. I smiled confidently back. “The second I saw Jess with her long, wild hair blowing behind her, riding her pink and white Huffy towards Joey and me when we were six years old, I knew there’d never be another girl who would rock my world that way again.”

  “You are such a pussy, Bosi,” she said with a laugh, but then her expression turned forlorn. “I knew I loved Gage from the beginning too. He is honestly not only the most kind and generous partner a girl could ever have, but he is also the best looking man I’ve ever seen.”

  “Easy there Cass, you’re in the presence of greatness. I must say though, I never took you for the superficial type.” I couldn’t help but tease her.

  She just smiled and nodded. “Do you want to know the truth? He intimidates me sometimes. I mean, how many kids like him do you know, whose parents have the kind of money they do, who could have skipped college altogether and be a partner in one of the biggest hotel chains in the world, someone who could not lift a finger for the rest of their life, how does someone like that give all of it up and decide to become a doctor? And how does someone like that choose a small town country girl here on a scholarship, whose parents can’t even afford to visit, to spend the rest of his life with? It doesn’t happen.” Her eyes lit up with her smile. “But I have no doubt I will spend the rest of my life with him.”

  I agreed. Gage was solid. He’s loyal, smart, and I couldn’t think of another person as worthy of someone like Cassie than him. “He’s a lucky man.”

  “Jess is a lucky girl.” Cassie smiled brightly and pointed down at one of the rings she had circled. “So let’s go get your happily ever after.”

  Charlotte comes running down the hall, and for a moment I think it’s Jess. She seems much older again with her hair longer now than I remember. Or has it always been that way? There’s a lightness in the air that I haven’t felt since I’ve been here, where ever here is. My attention falls on Jess and if my heart was still beating, it surely would’ve stopped at the sight of her. Her hair is longer now too, almost down the entire length of her back, hanging in loose, wild curls instead of tied carelessly back in a ponytail like how I’ve come accustomed to seeing. She’s wearing a deep pink formal dress that shows off her perfectly tanned and toned legs making me pause to remember how they feel. Both of my girls are dressed up looking more beautiful than ever and I’m beginning to feel more and more at peace with every moment that passes.

  “Are you ready Mommy? Wait, you need lipstick. Where’s your bracelet? Do you have your camera?” Charlotte’s running around like a lunatic looking more than ever like Jess, and it makes my soul sing.

  Jess’s face lights up and I swear it’s as if I have been stuck in darkness until now, and I hadn’t realized it. Her happiness is electrifying and I feel more at peace than ever. Watching the two people I love more than anything in the world, I feel their happiness and it’s like nothing I’ve ever experienced. Flashes of my past shoot through my consciousness like a slideshow of my life as I watch my girls, together, happy, and living.

  This is it, the moment I have often wondered about. The moment I wondered if would ever come. The moment I go home. For the first time, I feel a sense of concern, wondering what if they need me? What if…

  “You’ll know when they need you, and you’ll be there,” a familiar voice comes from nowhere.

  It’s a voice I know. A voice that calms me again. A voice I can trust.

  “It’s your time if you’re ready.” I can’t see Cassie, but know it’s her.

  I look back at my sweet Charlotte fixing her hair in the mirror dancing around to some song Jess has blaring like she always used to love to do when she was getting ready. She’s so perfect. So…happy. I had feared that this part of Jess, one the best parts, had died with me. I focus in on my girls and nothing else, memorizing their every fea
ture and whisper. “I’m ready.” I feel nothing but happiness and peace.

  Jess

  I’ve spent day and night for the past week getting ready for the 3rd annual charity event for GoodFellas that is tomorrow night, and tonight, I’m ready to spend some time with my little girl and my man. Just thinking of Gage makes my body ignite with desire. I’ve been so busy with the planning for the event, and Gage has been wrapped up with the opening of the B and B coming up in a few weeks, that we haven’t seen each other in three very long days, and I wish more than anything that we’d be staying in and fill that burning need that’s surging inside me. Tonight’s sure to play a close second though because it will be the first time we get to see the B and B completed. Gage and his dad are hosting a tasting event, and we are going to be able to taste every single dish they are planning to serve at the restaurant. I haven’t been over to the cul de sac where the estates for the B and B are sitting because Gage has wanted everything to be a surprise. I’ve actually surprised myself and kept to my word without peeking even once.

  The truth is, I want to be surprised. I’ve come to realize that the little things are the ones I need to cherish more. The hugs from my daughter that she gives me every time we are close. The way Gage watches me whenever he is near. The nightly conversations with Cam. I think it’s the most important thing that losing Dave has taught me. One of the last things he told Joey he wanted me to know before he died was for me to live. For so long, I couldn’t, I didn’t see how it could even be possible to ever feel alive again without him. I felt like I couldn’t be happy without him--that I shouldn’t be happy without him. I wasn’t living then.

  Gage says I’m his air, but he’s the one who gave me life again, and I’m going to live it to the fullest without taking one second for granted ever again, because I never know when it could all end.

  Charlotte comes down the hall frantically making sure we have everything we need before Gage gets here, seeming more anxious and excited for him to get here than me. I can only laugh when she buzzes around the room, trying to find my camera insisting my cell isn’t good enough for a night like tonight. Right then I realize I really need to take this girl someplace other than Cutter Lane when we go out since a night like this has her so excited. I decide some music will help keep us entertained and put on “Happy” by Pharrell and let loose with my little girl. It’s times like these when I wonder if Dave is with us, but then push the thought away and remember he once told me he’d always be with me, and that part of my heart is still his.

  When Gage walks through the door to see Charlotte and me dancing on the couch, clapping along, the look on his face turns me inside out. It’s filled with such awe and admiration that I can only run right into his arms and share in his happiness. He takes me easily in his arms, kissing me softly, pressing his lips to mine, letting out a moan when our lips part, knowing there are watchful eyes on us.

  “I needed that,” he says with a wicked grin.

  Charlotte is right at our side tugging on the sleeve of Gage’s tuxedo, pulling him down to whisper something in his ear. They’ve had quite a few secrets these days, and rather than be nosey like usual, I instead revel in the special bond they have developed together. The fact that Charlotte loves him as much as I do means everything to me.

  “Show her, show her!” Charlotte begins practically ripping Gage’s jacket off and all I can do is laugh at her enthusiasm. I can see her time spent with me is starting to show and it makes me glad to see her so happy and carefree when so much of the past few years have been clouded with grief. Charlotte and I’ve decided that we would have Daddy Days together once a month, where we’ll go and visit Dave’s grave and go do something he loved, like riding the Gravitron at Point Pleasant Boardwalk, or having clam chowder at the Crab’s Claw. We always try to make it fun, and to remember the good times rather than wallowing in our sadness. We talk about how it’s a good thing to miss him, and we both will always miss him and honor him, but he wouldn’t want us to be sad thinking of him. He’d want us to be happy. It’s times like these that I know we are making Dave proud and honoring his last wishes.

  Gage smiles down at Charlotte with his bright blue eyes sparkling more than ever. “I’m all tied up in this monkey suit Char, and we have to get going soon.”

  My interest is peaked when Charlotte begins to beg and tells him we can help him get dressed again. “What kind of surprise do you have that would require taking off your clothes?” I eye him eagerly.

  His smoldering gaze meets mine and he winks suggestively making me use every inch of self-control not to put on a movie for Charlotte and drag him upstairs.

  “Pleeease Gage, please let us see it!” Charlotte is laying it on heavy now, batting her long lashes up at Gage who clearly melts right there and he begins to take of his jacket.

  “How can I say no to my girl?” He hands her his jacket and begins loosening the bow tie and it takes everything in me to keep my cool and act mature in front of my daughter. Gage is smiling at me surely knowing me well enough to know the wicked thoughts racing through my mind when he begins to unbutton his perfectly ironed white shirt.

  “Gage, what in the world are you doing?” I can’t imagine what he has to show me.

  Nothing’s sexier than a man dressed formally the way he is, hiding a ridiculously sculpted body with tattoos that no one would imagine were there. My favorite has become the sleeve he has on his right arm. The intricate Celtic knot design wrapped around his biceps always drives me wild. Charlotte begins hopping up and down clapping her hands in excitement and it’s only then that I notice something different wrapped around his toned muscles. There are new, colorful tattoos added to the black sleeve that immediately catches my attention. I trace my finger over the bottom of his tattoo and examine the intricate design in black that’s etched in the center of colorful the bands forming a cuff on either end. Gage smiles and points to the same design at the top of his shoulder. “Rainbows and butterflies,” he says simply, and I come undone. Nothing has ever touched me more in my life than seeing that added to a symbol of Gage’s heartbreak. It’s as healing to my soul as anything else in this world could have ever been, and I can’t hold back the tears.

  “He did it for you, Mommy. It’s your favorite saying. He wants a part of you with him forever.” Charlotte’s beaming from ear to ear.

  “Hey Kid, you were supposed to let me say that part,” he says laughing when Charlotte jumps in his lap completely oblivious to the wonton way he’s looking at me.

  “You get to tell her all the rest. I promise I won’t ruin anything!” She kisses his cheek and he sighs, pretending exasperation.

  I’m still tracing the design of his tattoo when he whispers something to Charlotte and sends her off to do something, giving us a minute alone. He tilts my chin up so that I’m looking into his eyes that fill me with love, when “Ink” by Coldplay begins to play in the background. I look up at him and smile. “Charlotte?”

  He nods. “She’s been my partner in crime.” He leans in and kisses me so fully that it nearly brings tears to my eyes and I can’t imagine what has come over him.

  I’m instantly taken back to our first date, dancing under the stars, and knowing he was going to be the man to bring me back into the light. He takes my hand and stands up, dancing along to the happy song of love that tells me just how much I’m a part of him, symbolically and now literally.

  “Thank you,” I whisper before bringing my lips to his again, needing to feel the connection, not worrying if Charlotte sees. I know it makes her happy to see us together, happy, and in love. He grips my waist tightly and pulls my body up to his, letting me feel the reaction his body has to the way my kiss if filled with so much. The burning desire is overcoming me when he nips at my bottom lip and I light up feeling the lines of his tattoo just for me and never want to let him go.

  “I love you.” he growls through our kiss and I know he wants to take me upstairs as badly as I want to follow.


  “Ditto,” I repeat as he moves my body against his in the most seductive way. It just doesn’t seem fair that any person should have the qualities he has.

  When the song ends, Charlotte comes bouncing back in and he laces his fingers through mine. She runs up to him and they high five. “Can we go now? I can’t wait for her to see the next part!” Charlotte hands Gage his shirt and tie with a smile broader than I’ve ever seen.

  “Another surprise?” I whisper leaning in and brush my lips across his ear, knowing how much it drives him mad. “By chance do any of these surprises end up with you naked in my bed?”

  He gets the predatory look on his face that always makes my insides turn inside out. “Something like that.” He kisses me one last time before buttoning up his shirt.

  After I help him with his tie, Charlotte is practically bursting with excitement, holding the door open for us. Just then I see Cam and Holden standing in my driveway with Kat and Joey, all dressed to the nines. I notice the way Joey has his arm draped around Kat, but decide not to call them out since I know Gage invited them all to the opening because they were the most important people in the world to me.

 
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