Wished away a broken fai.., p.8
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       Wished Away: A Broken Fairy Tale, p.8
 

           S.P. Cervantes
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“I love you so much,” I said brushing her mussed blonde hair from her face.

  “I want you to show me.” She leaned down and started to kiss me again.

  I pulled back and held her face once more in my hands, looking her in her eyes so she’d understand I wasn’t rejecting her. “I will show you a lot tonight, Jess, but more than this…” I slid my hands back into her warmth and slowly teased her, “more than this will be special. It will also be very, soon.” She began to move her body up and down matching the rhythm I was setting only responding by giving me a kiss so deep, so full of meaning, that I came undone by her.

  By the time the movie was over, we hadn’t actually seen one scene. But what we did realize was that not only were Cam and Holden in here with us, but Joey also had brought Kat in here, thinking he too could have some alone time. That was the one and only time Kat fell for his game. The six of us spent the rest of the night held up in the theater room, locking the door and ignoring the rest of the party, deciding we had everyone we wanted to see tonight right there with us. After a lot of teasing and rude comments, and far too many beers, Joey had convinced us to give a name our group, making Kat a witness rather than a member. We chose GoodFellas because it’s a badass movie, but also, we were drunk and it kept playing over and over for the rest of the night, so it was almost like being brainwashed at that point.

  Now, watching Jess with the others posing in front of the GoodFellas logo does nothing but fill me with happiness and pride. I can feel the mixture of sadness and excitement of her accomplishment, and only wish her sadness could be replaced with the same contentment about my situation as I feel. I don’t ever get sad when I revisit the memories of my past, I only feel peace that I’ve lived such a full life in such a short time. The only time I ever feel anything other than complete serenity is when I see the sadness on Jess’s face. Tonight she’s doing a good job at trying to be more like the Jess before, smiling and laughing along with the guests when the moment calls for it. She even makes some sarcastic comments, giving me a glimmer of hope that she’s beginning to find some light in her darkness. I watch as man after man blatantly stares her way, but as usual she has no idea.

  Then, I’m drawn to a powerful energy that pulls my attention across the large room overlooking the ocean that’s filled with round tables all adorned with bright blue table cloths and seashells. I notice someone watching Jess and realize it’s a face that I recognize. A face I respect and regard. His eyes are assessing, no… admiring Jess as she waits at the bar all alone and looking so vulnerable. I can feel the way his heart rate begins to pick up and know that it’s in reaction to seeing my wife. There aren’t many other than Joey and Holden that I would trust near my girls, but Gage Scott is one of the few I would. Just knowing he’s looking at Jess in such a caring way rather than tearing off her clothes in his thoughts, settles me. He knows how it feels to lose a partner, and he worries about her. It’s written all over his face. He makes his way over to the bar towards Jess, not stopping for the women who try to intersect his advance, never taking his eyes off her, and for a moment I have hope that she will connect with him in some way. Maybe he can help her find her way out of the sadness that she seems to be sinking in.

  Watching Jess interact with Gage is almost painful. Not because I notice the way her cheeks heat up when he touches her arm, but with how closed off and dismissive she is. Jess has always been a friendly, flirty girl, and seeing her this way only reinforces my fear that she won’t find happiness again. I keep feeling as if her need for me is keeping me from moving on, as much as my need to know she will be ok is. I have to find a way to let her know it’s ok to let go. I have to or else I won’t be able to let go either. Such a big part of me would love nothing more than to get lost in the memories of our time together, but it doesn’t feel right, I feel an underlying sense of uneasiness all the time when I watch Jess and my friends.

  I know this is not where I am supposed to be. The times when I’m lost in the memories of my past are the happiest times for me since my death, and where I find myself spending more and more time.

  My focus returns to Jess standing before all of the guests and I’m at her side, wishing I could reach out and take her in my arms. When she starts to speak to the crowd of guests gathered to celebrate the success of her charity organization, I see a glimpse of the old her peek though. She breaks a full dimpled smile telling the crowd the millions of dollars the foundation has already been able to use to make the lives of others better. I feel a sense of swelling pride for all she has done. When the auction begins, I notice again that Jess is doing everything she can not to react to the way Gage watches her from his table. Her heart is racing, so she picks up her drink, and takes a sip to try and level her breathing as she always has in the past. When he makes an impressive donation there is nothing she can do to hide her admiration, or the questions that are swirling around her. Just when I think there may be hope, I watch as Gage gets up and walks away without approaching Jess, and is gone. I hear a sharp intake of breath, and know instantly it’s Jess. She’s staring up at the screen projecting images of our life together, and her sadness fills my soul. A picture of Jess and me with Charlotte on our boat appears and Jess gets up from her chair and walks away trying to hide her pain. I try to follow her, but am pulled back into the memory of the day on our boat when the picture was taken.

  I remember that day when we pulled up to our favorite cove. I’d found a circle of rocks at the bow of our boat when I was tying her up. I took handfuls of the smooth stones like the one I gave her when her parents died and when I proposed and put them under one of the benches on the boat. Whenever Jess was upset or needed cheering up, I would have one to give to her as a peace offering, reminding her to always choose love, and to be strong. We spent the afternoon going from cove to cove, exploring for driftwood to use for a table Jess was making for one of the crafting projects she loved to do in her free time. She was always creating things for our home, and was now even making a few things for our friends and family. Days like those were my favorite. Just the three of us. I can think of nothing else but the smell of the salty ocean water splashing over us while we skipped across the waves, just the three of us, feeling nothing but happiness.

  Jess

  Camryn has been in labor for ten hours and I’m ready to pass out. The poor thing, I thought with this being her third kid, this one would fly out, but no such luck. This little man seems to be just as stubborn as his parents. I begin to laugh a little at the thought, my mind flickering to Dave high fiving me like he always used to when I picked on the two of them.

  “What’s so funny?” Cam says in a slurp voice while she sucks on ice chips.

  I look over at my best friends and feel a mix of emotions watching Holden hold a cool washcloth on Cam’s head with one hand and rubbing her belly with the other. Holden is such a strong man, but when he’s with Cam, he turns into a total softy. I hate myself a little every time I feel jealousy about their life, so instead I smile up at them. “I was just thinking how perfect your family will be now.”

  Holden smiles down at Cam and kisses her head and looks back at me. “While I’m sure you were laughing about some smart ass comment you made to yourself, I’ll let it slide this once.”

  A nurse walks into the room ready to check Camryn saving me from the prodding for my secret thoughts that were sure to come. I decide this is a good opportunity to grab some coffee and make some calls, giving them some privacy and time alone. “I’m going to go give your dad and Joey an update. Can I get you guys anything from the cafeteria?”

  “Get me coffee and I’ll love you forever.” Cam smacks Holden’s head and he just laughs.

  “You already do,” I say walking out of the room.

  After I call Cam’s dad and Joey, I make my way to the sparsely filled cafeteria. It is nearly 2 a.m. and the only people here are the doctors on a break and a few older people huddled together in the corner. I haven’t eaten since I got here with Cam earli
er today, so I decide on a piece of chocolate cake telling myself that I’ll run an extra mile tomorrow excusing my indulgent choice. Giving Cam and Holden some alone time right now is probably best since it’s so late and still no baby. Cam begged me to be here for her delivery, so here I am, cheering her on, trying everything I can not to think of the last time I was at this hospital. But looking at the family comforting each other in the corner of the cafeteria makes the memory unavoidable.

  “Mind if I join you?” The now familiar deep raspy voice sends my heart leaping. I look up and meet bright blue eyes that always seem to be marred with sadness that matches mine.

  I smile and am glad to have something to take me out of the morbid thoughts that seem to be increasing with each day instead of getting better. “Of course not.”

  He sets down his tray filled with a large salad, a fruit bowl, and a water. I poke my fork into my double chocolate cake and can only imagine what he’s thinking of my food choice. His dark brown hair is cut shorter than it was when I saw him a few weeks ago and it makes him look even more attractive than before--if that’s even possible. I can only imagine how many of the nurses and patients chase him around here every day, vying for his attention that always seems so aloof towards others. I notice for the first time black script peeking out the top of the collar on the back of his neck and wonder if it’s a tattoo. He doesn’t seem like the type to have a tattoo, especially one that big.

  “Has Cam had the baby yet?” He interrupts my tangent thoughts, smiling sweetly showing me his deep dimples.

  I’m glad that he starts the conversation, I’m always so on edge when he’s around. As easy as it is for me to say some things to him that I don’t dare say to others, something about him makes me nervous. “Nope. That boy isn’t wanting out of the cozy home she’s given him these past nine months. They’re giving him a few more hours to make an entrance on his own before moving to a C-section.”

  When he smiles at me again, my insides begin flipping all over the place. He. Is. So. Hot. “I’ll have to stop in and check on them on my way out.” He looks down at his salad and begins poking around, suddenly seeming shy. “I thought Joey was here with you?”

  “Ha, Joey lasted an hour before heading out for a hot date. I’m sure he’ll be back in the morning after he bags his latest conquest.” Joey has been at my side for every single life event since Dave’s death, but I had to insist he leave tonight because he was driving me crazy with his impatience. He still hasn’t learned child birth takes hours, not minutes.

  Gage looks up at me again with his forehead crinkled, and a questioning expression. “Can I ask you something…” he pauses and runs his hand across the slight stubble of his chin, and something inside me makes me want to reach over and touch him. My exhaustion must be kicking in because my thoughts about this man are turning far too personal and X-rated. He clears his throat and continues, his eyes filled with sincerity that I can’t define. “So, you and Joey aren’t a thing then?” He surprises me by blushing when he notices the shock on my face and quickly begins to retract his question. “I mean, he’s never said you were, it’s just you’re all he talks about when we’re out or at the gym. You both seem to care a lot about each other…” He’s cut off by my choking on my cake at his outrageous comment and laughs a little seeming as nervous as me.

  I wish he would have chosen another time to ask me if Joey was my boyfriend; the thought alone is ridiculous. Joey has never had a relationship that lasted more than six months, not to mention it’d be like incest at this point; he’s like family. Gage begins patting my back looking truly concerned about my well-being while handing me his water. I hold up my hand letting him know I’m ok, and begin gulping the water, catching my breath, and hoping this moment will be over before I’m the one he has to operate on. The embarrassment is now creeping in when he sees that I’m alright and smiles with those dimples that make him seem so young and carefree.

  His laugh is shockingly light considering the deep, dark tone it usually has. “Yeah, I’m going to take that as a no then.” He’s blushing again, and I wonder what he has to be embarrassed about when I’m the one with chocolate drool sliding down my chin.

  I wipe my mouth still unable to stop laughing at the thought of dating Joey when I remember why dating anyone would even be possible, and sadness once again drapes me. I try to hide the change in my heart and pat the back of his coat. “That’s a definite no.” When he looks over at me from the corner of his eye, the same feeling I have every time he looks at me slides over me, and I decide to say more. “Joey seems to have taken it upon himself to make sure I haven’t had to spend an important moment alone since Dave died.” My breath catches every time I talk of Dave’s death and I wonder if that will ever change.

  Gage pushes the chicken aside and pokes mindlessly at his salad. “You know when Cassie died, Joey was there for me more than some of my life long buddies. He made the time to make sure I wasn’t ever alone that first year too, and we had only just started hanging out again. He’s a good man, any woman would be lucky to have him.” He laughs when he notices I raise my eyebrow at his last statement.

  “He’s a man whore,” I say when he holds his hands up like he has no idea what could make me snicker.

  Gage’s smile fades. “Maybe he’s just waiting for the right one to give him a reason to settle down. I thought you were it since he hasn’t been hooking up with anyone when we go out lately.”

  When I feel jealousy inch though me, I can’t figure out why. “Well, he was out with someone tonight.” I take another sip of my coffee and look back over at Gage who is eyeing me curiously. I can feel the warmth permeating from his eyes. “And I have no doubt she will still be with him in the morning.”

  “You’re probably right,” he says taking a bite of his salad while he examines me with a playful smile.

  I stab at my cake and mimic his actions challenging him. “I’m always right.” My mouth full of delicious chocolate cake, I look at his healthy salad and grimace. “So, is it in your contract that you have to eat healthy?” I ask, trying to change the subject to something lighter.

  He smiles again, and I think my heart may have skipped a beat with the way his face relaxes at my question. “Very funny. Did you see my choices? This was my safest choice since you took the last piece of cake.”

  I look down at the delicious chocolate cake on my plate and smile up at him innocently. “That I did. I tend to make really good choices.” I can’t believe I’m flirting this way when I wink up at him, and can only attribute it to exhaustion.

  My heart begins racing again when he leans in next to me and stabs his fork at the left over crumbs. I slap at his hand playfully telling him to step off and we begin bumping into each other, giggling like school children.

  His full lips come down over the cake, and my eyes are drawn to the way he slowly pulls the fork out of his mouth and licks his lips. I feel myself again mimic his action, and when I look up at him, his face holds the same questioning expression that he had at the fundraiser.

  “Can I buy you coffee sometime?” he says, out of the blue. I can do nothing but stare at him, because a voice in my head is screaming at me to say yes, but my heart is collapsing at the thought of why I could accept his offer. Before I can answer, he reaches over and takes my hand in his and my insides are set on fire. “Just friends getting coffee. I like talking to you, and I’d like to get to know you better.” He pulls his hand away and I can’t help but wish he didn’t.

  I look up at his sincere eyes. “Friends getting coffee?” I smile when he taps the tip of my nose just like Dave used to and nods yes. “That sounds nice.”

  He sits back in his chair seeming much more relaxed and I begin to feel the same. We’ve seen each other here and there since the fundraiser, but there’s always an underlying tension, probably because we both know everyone in the room is most likely whispering about our sad lives. It wasn’t that long ago when I was one of those people when I saw him a
lone at the Old Mill Inn on my last night with Dave.

  Before my thoughts can sink back down into the black hole of depression that swallows me far too often, my phone begins playing “Roar” by Katie Perry and I jump out of my seat, fumbling with the buttons to read the message. “It’s Cam. She’s getting ready to push. I have to go.”

  Gage stands and taps my nose again. “How about Monday? Is 10 a.m. alright?” I look at him totally confused and overwhelmed with the swarm of emotions I’m feeling right now. He just laughs and shakes his head, and casually puts his arm around my shoulders leading me out of the cafeteria having no idea the effect that this one action is having over me. “For coffee.”

  Once we’re through the doors I break free of his touch that is far too comfortable and make some distance between us. “Oh, right. Monday’s great.”

  He puts his hands in the pockets of his coat and looks unbelievably delectable when a shy smile crosses his face. It’s the same smile he gave me from across the room at the fundraiser that had my head spinning, and only now, it makes me hope for a moment that our coffee get together is a date. “I’ll pick you up at 10 sharp then.” His shyness turns to confidence and I melt a little more. “I’ll try and stop in and check on Cam and Holden later. Wish them my best.” He’s gone before I can give him my number, and I turn to go be at Cam’s side trying not to feel guilty at the excitement I feel at the thought of spending more time with Gage.

  Jess

  Why is there never enough wine in the house when you really need it? I slam through the cabinets pissed that I forgot to get some more when I was out today. One bottle will not be enough to numb me and help me forget that today was Dave and my wedding anniversary. Dave’s parents begged to have Charlotte tonight because they wanted something to take their mind off the same thing I’m trying to forget. I agreed, deciding that wallowing in my sorrow alone will be much easier than trying to pretend in front of Charlotte. Unknowingly, Cam and Holden sent me to the edge of sadness when they told me they’ve decided to name their son after Dave, and instead of being honored and touched, I only feel sadness. Cam and Holden thankfully call their son by his initials, DJ, because every time I hear Dave’s name, the hole in my heart begins to pulse with sorrow. I usually can count on Joey to be here for me on a day like today, but with all of the excitement over baby DJ’s birth, they all seem to have forgotten about what today is. Everyone but me.

 
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