Love Never Leaves-Chapter 4

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Jake entered Helena’s home it was beautiful and comfortable as he knew it would be she had photos and art all over the walls they told of her culture and travels. He was intrigued, she seemed very worldly to him and he liked that his wife Connie had also traveled the world. He found that it made her more interesting and Helena seemed to be that kind of woman.

“Jake would you like something to drink?” She asked as they entered the living room.

Helena looked at him curiously; he looked deep in thought as he perused her walls looking at the art and photos. He seemed not to be aware that she even asked him a question.

“Jake!”

He looked up startled for a moment. She was standing there looking at him oddly.

“Yes.”

“I was just asking if you’d like something to drink.”

“Oh I’m sorry, I was just really intrigued by your artwork and photos they’re really beautiful.”

“Thank you. I’ve traveled all over the world and collected art from many places. I love those photos, they remind me how wonderful my life has been and all the love I received from it.”

“Wow, that’s really special. You’re very lucky.”

“I don’t think I’m lucky, I know I’m blessed.”

He looked at her and smiled a bit but she noticed it didn’t seem happy there was something about him that was sad something in his eyes. She couldn’t shake the feeling that something terrible had happened to this man but she wasn’t sure he was ready to share it.

“Well Jake I’m headed to the kitchen to pour myself a glass of wine. I’d be more than happy to pour you a glass while I’m there.”

He did smile then, a big genuine smile, “sure. I’d love a glass of wine.”

He walked behind her into the kitchen. There was light from the porch outside streaming through the windows, it gave the place a romantic glow. He liked her kitchen it seemed lived in and used. He’d only been in his house a week or so but he barely touched anything regarding the kitchen. He thought that may have been because his wife loved being in the kitchen, it was her domain when she was alive. It seemed so sacred to him now as if he had no right to touch it or make it his own. He’d been eating out of to-go boxes and the microwave for the last couple of days he just couldn’t seem to bring himself to use the stove and cook a meal.

Helena opened the fridge and took out a bottle of Pinot Grigio she had in there, she went into the cupboard and pulled out to wine glasses and filled them. She handed him a glass and he smiled and raised it to her in a toast.

“Here’s to our new friendship.”

She raised her own glass in acknowledgment and took a sip; it was cold and tasted delicious.

“Why don’t we go back into the living room and sit and chat for moment. I’d really like to get to know more about you Jake.”

He nodded in agreement and they walked back into the living room together. Her living room seemed to invite comfort the pillows on her couch were plump and soft, at least they looked that way. She fell into the couch and seemed to relax immediately.  Jake sat on the other end and turned to look at her. She was really beautiful and he wasn’t really sure he should be there on her couch drinking wine. Maybe this was a dangerous place for him at this moment. She picked up a remote, pushed a button, and music begin to flow from speakers near them it was the soothing sound of jazz. She sighed and kicked off her shoes as she put her feet under her to get cozy in the downy softness of her sofa.

“Now I can ask you more questions,” she said to him with the sneaky grin on her face.

“I’m not sure I’ll answer them all if you do ask.”

“You mean if I ask questions you’ll dodge them?”

“I didn’t say that, I may answer and I may not. I get to make that choice.”

“Oh, are you telling me you’re enigmatic?”

“I’m just saying I may or may not answer the question. It doesn’t mean I’m mysterious just that I’m private about some things.”

“I can respect that but I’m not going to delve too deep this early.”

“I’m thankful for that, you seem like a nice lady and I think I’d like to get to know you better too but I don’t want to invade your space.”

“You’re not. I’m an open book for the most part, but I can understand that others are not like me. I mean your reception when I first came to your front door told me a lot about you. One of the things it told me was that you’d like your privacy.”

Jake had a look of deep regret on his face, he knew he’d been really rude to her when they first met and he wasn’t sure how he’d make that up to her.

“I’m still very sorry about that incident. You and your friend didn’t deserve my scorn.”

“I told you it was no big deal we lived; we’re not scarred from it. I don’t expect you to apologize again and again about it we’re supposed to be moving forward in this relationship. I only mentioned it because you said you were so private and that incident really let me know how private you were. So now that that’s over with tell me a little more about being the famous author, Earl Gall, I find it interesting that you’re a famous writer. Does it seem sublime to you that you walk around all day and no one knows you’re Earl Gall?”

Jake looked at her and furrowed his brow, “no, not really, since I like my privacy it’s nice that people don’t know. That’s one of the reasons I made sure not to have my picture taken too frequently when I’m on book tours. Some people do know but surprisingly people aren’t that pushy. Particularly here in the Pacific Northwest they seem to love to give you your space. Although I sometimes notice that people are staring and they may recognize me but they won’t come up and say anything. Some people do ask if I’m Earl Gall and I always answer honestly but they’re very nice.”

“Do you enjoy writing?”

“That’s a funny question, of course I do. I’ve been writing all my life. I have lots of drafts of stories I wrote in my teens and 20s but I never thought I had the talent to do it full-time.”

She laughed. Jake enjoyed watching her laugh it gave him joy. He felt like he should be ashamed of his feelings toward her but he wasn’t, he was happy. It confused him he’d been depressed for so long about his wife and son’s death he didn’t understand this woman who was practically a stranger making him happy. He’d met people before and they didn’t do this to him. He’d spent time with family and that didn’t make him feel happy either at this point in his life. But sitting there with Helena was just such a delight she was contagious, her happiness was contagious.

“Why are you looking at me like that?” she asked. Helena had noticed that he seemed more relaxed and the look he gave her was full on erotic.

“Helena, you’ve made me feel something I’d thought was lost.”

“What’s that?”

“I feel delight with you, it’s strange since we’ve known each other such a short time. But with you I feel at ease and I’m not really sure how to take this. I want to tell you all my secrets but I’m not sure if you can handle them. But sitting on this couch with you more than anything I want to touch you, I want to kiss you, I want to hold you.”

Helena just looked at him she was shocked he’d told her this he’d been a tad closed off the whole evening. Now here he was telling her she was bringing him delight and he wanted to kiss her. She thought, well she wanted him to kiss her too. There was something in him that she felt needed the human bond. Helena knew that she needed that bond also but in her mind she felt they were moving too quickly. But there was something about him sitting on her sofa now appearing so relaxed and so at ease it didn’t matter how quickly they moved.

Suddenly she felt herself move forward as she saw Jake moving toward her his eyes softening and filling with need. She wanted to kiss him and it looked like he was going to reciprocate that feeling. She felt herself being cradled suddenly in his strong arms as his mouth moved towards her, his lips were on hers before she could think about what was happening. It was soft at first then she felt the urgency in him his mouth crushing against hers, his tongue seeking out her own. It felt good as she wrapped her arms around him and held him tight and close. He was holding her against him as if his very body wanted to merge with her own. Their mouths separated for brief moment to catch a breath while in her ear, he whispered to her, “Helena I need you so badly. I don’t know what’s come over me but I need you.”

They looked into each other’s eyes as he moved in again to kiss her it was a heady feeling for both of them. Helena felt the stir of passion while she tried her best to keep her emotions under control. She smiled as his lips pressed against hers and felt a joyful giggle come to her lips this was the best kiss she’d ever had even better than kissing Scott. Then suddenly Jake’s body jerked away from her his arms went to his side and he had a look of complete horror on his face.

“Oh my God what have I done,” he said more to himself than to her, “I’ve betrayed you, I’ve betrayed you!” He was talking to someone but not her.

He rose from the couch swiftly and suddenly left Helena there sitting, wondering what the hell had just happened. She got up and moved to the door that he’d run out of and opened it and stared as he ran to his house. He looked back only briefly with the same look of anger and despair she’d seen the first night she met him. He opened his door slammed it hard and locked it.

She wasn’t really sure what had just happened they were sitting there enjoying a passionate kiss and suddenly he breaks away in horror. She picked up her cell phone and called him she wanted to know what happened. She was confused and angry. His phone rang and rang but she got the voicemail. She called again and got his voicemail again. She was tempted to go across the street and bang on his door like a maniac but she didn’t feel like she needed to chase him. She wasn’t sure what she’d done to make him so upset but she knew the things she’d felt from the first time she saw him were true, this man was hurting and maybe he just needed time. Maybe he just needed time.

 

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Remembering Your Heart-Chapter 5

beautiful Black WomanIt had been over a month and Mona had neither seen nor heard from Luke. Well, it wasn’t as if he didn’t try, he’d come by the firehouse only to be turned away brusquely and with threat of bodily harm by some of her fireman brothers. She didn’t want to speak to him, she’d cried not just for the loss of her relationship with him but for the betrayal and knowing he was part of it. She’d gone home that night after the scene on the street and threw up, she was sick to her stomach. She’d felt so violated, she cried and wailed for days at home but at work she was just stoic. Guys asked her what was wrong but they got the look of death for interfering but they knew she didn’t want to see Luke so they protected her. He called so much, she actually changed her phone number and threatened her niece with bodily harm if she gave it to Brady.

On this S
unday she’d finally come out to have lunch with Georgie and Amber. Her older cousin had found out that she’d broken up with Luke and was happy about it although she tried her best not to show Mona.

‘So how about shopping after this? It’s almost time for my baby to head back to Eugene. I am so sad.’ She reached over to caress Amber’s cheek.

Amber rolled her eyes and sighed she was excited about getting out of there so she wouldn’t have her mom watching her every move. It seemed she and Brady had been secretly going out from time to time, she wanted to tell her Aunt Mo but that was the last thing she needed to hear now.

‘Mom it’s just Eugene, it’s not a big deal.’

‘It is to me young lady, I’m your mother and I miss you when you’re gone.’

‘I’ll be back Thanksgiving mom, geez.’

‘Well ask Mona, I’m sure she’ll miss you too. Won’t you Mona?’

‘Huh?’ Mona had barely heard the nattering of her cousin, maybe it was bad idea to come out today.

‘Aren’t you going to miss Amber.’

‘Oh. Yea, of course, I’ll miss my regular running buddy. But she’s a grown woman Georgie, let her live her life.’

‘Oh whatever, you don’t understand. When you have kids you’ll know.’

Mona got a pained look on her face, Georgie realized what she said. ‘I’m sorry Mona that was so thoughtless of me.’

It had to be bad if Georgie apologized, she never apologized but Mona knew that they all knew what she had been struggling with over these last few weeks.

‘It’s okay, it really is. I need to go to the bathroom,I’ll be right back.’

Mona rose from the table and headed toward the restroom sign. She was standing in the mirror looking at herself, gosh she looked like warm death, her eyes were bloodshot because she’d been having nightmares about her parents. Her face was sort of gray, she didn’t normally wear makeup but today would have been a good day to start. Her hair was pulled back into some sort of makeshift ponytail. She thought for a woman who’d supposedly moved on she certainly didn’t look like it. As she headed back into the restaurant, she noticed in her peripheral vision a sight she knew. It was Luke. She wasn’t sure at first but then she heard him laugh that deep rumble of his, she was mortified. She’s looking like a hag and he’s here guffawing it up with a blonde. She was a fool. After she got back to the table Georgie excused herself to the restroom. Mona hoped she didn’t see him because knowing her cousin there would be a scene but then again what did she care he deserved it.

‘Aunt Mo?’

‘Huh?’ She seemed to not be listening to anything or anyone today.

‘I was just asking how was your salmon?’

Mona shook out her consuming thoughts of beating Luke senseless. ‘It was great honey but we better go. I’ve got stuff to do today.’

‘Oh yea, mom said when she got back she’d pay the check and we’d be out of here. You know what Aunt Mo?’

Mona smiled at her, ‘what?’

‘I’m worried about you.’

‘Dont be sweetie, I’m fine.’

‘I know you miss Luke and you know he misses you too. Brady tells me that all the time. That his dad is miserable without you.’

Mona clenched her teeth, he couldn’t be too miserable with that blonde.

‘Really. Well it’s too complex for you to worry about. We’re adults we know what we’re doing.’ Although Mona wasn’t sure what she was doing.

Amber just looked at her suspiciously, she loved her Aunt Mo but she couldn’t understand someone giving up someone they love. She was willing to defy her mother to be with Brady, although secretly.

Georgie had returned and was ready to pay and get out there.

‘Okay, ladies let’s head for shopping. There are these bad pumps I’ve got my eye on at Lindstrom I have to have them.’

‘Well, I won’t be joining you guys I’ve got other things to do.’

‘What other things?’

‘Just other stuff, will you lay off Georgie,’ Mona raised her voice at her cousin it was something she rarely did but Georgie could be overbearing sometimes and she wasn’t feeling it at the moment.

‘Okay, okay I’ll leave you alone.’ Georgie put her arm around Mona and pulled her tight it was a sweet gesture and actually Mona could use some human contact. She was becoming a bit prickly.

She was hoping they could escape without anyone catching a glimpse of her ex man here with another woman. That hope was dashed as they headed for the exit and she spotted Luke and his lunch companion. She was a petite blonde all curves in a dress Mona couldn’t pull off on her best day.

‘Aunt Mo, you okay?’ She heard Amber say in her ear as she took her hand.

Mona shook her head because she felt as if she spoke she’d scream like a maniac. She could hear Georgie behind them babbling, she hadn’t seen Luke and Mona was not in the mood for a Georgie drama trip. She turned toward Georgie who spotted the look in her eyes.

Georgie’s brow furrowed and she saw who Mona was giving her the look about. Georgie’s shock and disgust shown immediately and as she opened her mouth, Mona mouthed ‘please no’ to her. Georgie stopped but only because she knew Mona needed her silence now but any other moment and she would have ripped him a new one.

Luke saw her coming toward him, of all the days to run into Mona why today. He couldn’t think he just wanted to grab her and drag her away from this place, away from the obvious pain that shown in her eyes. This was a business lunch and although Ms. Sheila Webster wanted more he had no interest in her. The only woman in his thoughts was Mona. She looked away for a moment at her cousin Georgina who he’d met at a family gathering. She didn’t like him then and there was pure hatred in her face now, but Amber was there and in her he did have an ally. But even she looked confused at this scene, he’d have to get Brady to explain it to her later.

He spoke first to the frostiest reception of his life. ‘Hello there.’ Sheila stopped at his side and eyed the group of women in front of her cautiously. The one in the middle who looked like she needed a vacation as she looked almost through her and back to Lucas.

‘Hi Luke,’ Amber was the first to speak up, ‘wow fancy seeing you here.’

Luke tried to play it cool but his hands her itching to reach out and touch Mona so badly. He was wiling her to look at him but she wouldn’t.

‘Yes, I’m taking an associate out for lunch. Everyone this is Sheila Webster. Sheila, this is Amber, her mother Georgina Delacroix and Mona Anderson.’

‘Hello y’all. Nice to meet you.’ She had a heavy southern drawl Mona noticed.

‘You too,’ they said in unison.

Mona was ready to head pass Luke, when she felt his hand on her arm. ‘How are you, Mona?’ His voice was so soft, sweet with care and concern could this be the same person she’d discovered had a hand in her parents’ death. She turned to look at him then down at where his hand warmed her skin.

‘I’m fine.’

He let her go and Mona walked on. His body was racked with pain, Georgie was at her side and Mona looked back at the scene she’d just left. Luke was staring at her with a pained expression, she couldn’t look too long or she’d cry. Amber was saying goodbye and moving past. Mona could hear the woman asking, ‘who the heck were they? Why was the one in the middle giving you the evil eye? What a witch.’

Mona just tuned the rest out, as they reached the exit and into the parking lot. Amber and Georgie were asking if she was okay, she kept reassuring them that she was but she wanted to get to her car. She said her good byes and promised them, she’d call if she needed anything. Once in her truck, she lay her head on the steering wheel and began to sob loudly. She knew she may have looked strange to passersby but she cried like a baby in that car for almost an hour. Mona hadn’t felt pain like this since her parents’ death and she was feeling it for the man who killed them. At that thought her pain deepened.

Luke came home to an empty house, Brady had gone away to Lincoln City with friends. One more blast before it was time for him to head back to school for the Fall quarter. He was proud of Brady he seemed to be making friends and adjusting to life here. He was doing a lot better than his old man. Luke flopped down on the couch, he was drained. This last month or so had been the pits, he’d told his father happened between him and Mona. His papa had lectured him a bit but really what he needed he got from his dad. He cried in that small man’s lap just as he did when he was young. Luke couldn’t believe it, he cried like a baby but he needed that time. He hadn’t cried like that since his mama died but he was heartbroken.

He’d finally started getting full nights of sleep here in the last week and then out of the blue Sheila Webster had called about a business brunch. Well, maybe not out of the blue, she’d had her eye on him he knew since he’d rolled into town many months ago. What was his rotten luck to have lunch with her and run into Mona. He almost wanted to start crying again. She looked so sad, so lost, he wanted to kick his own ass for being the one to do that. He figured he could explain but what would it matter now he should have told her from the beginning.

That had been a tough time in his life, no mama, he was running wild in the streets. His father working day and night to keep the business alive. He was just a punk kid who followed, who wanted to belong so when he should of said no or stop, he ran. He remembered the next couple of days hearing about the fire and the people killed. He was so scared but he had to do something, he told his pops who immediately boxed him about the ears and dragged his sorry ass down to the station to report his friends. But in the end what he learned was they weren’t friends, they were punk kids like him. Danny was over 18, so he was an adult so he got the most time, the rest of the gang turned on him to make sure they got the least amount of time they could. Since Luke turned State’s evidence and didn’t have anything to do with the actual murder he was set free and immediately sent to live with his Grandfather and Nana in Brooklyn.

His grandparents had a store and he worked his butt off, his grandfather cut him absolutely no slack. He worked everyday after school and weekends. He was so tired most of the time he didn’t have the energy to get into trouble. He went to mass on Sundays and went to the school attached to the church. He hated it but his father wouldn’t let him come back till he cleaned up his act. He worked hard, played baseball, started to make friends and started getting serious about life. He graduated, went to a two year college to get his grades up and then went to Fordham. He meet his ex-wife on a trip with friends to the Jersey Shore, he’d completely fell head over heels in what he thought was love. She was a WASP, everything he wasn’t, cultured, beautiful, and rich. He felt lucky she looked his way. They got married after she graduated and started living not the life either imagined then Brady came and it got real complicated. He loved her, he really did, but he knew she deserved someone that was in love with her. So he got divorced and played bachelor about town and boy did he play. Beautiful women everywhere and he loved the sistas and they loved him.

He never thought he’d want to be married again even with all the beautiful women he met in New York but then he came here and found this spectacular angel that made everything about his world more sane, joyful and comforting. He didn’t know what he was going to do with Mona out of his life. The thought of never holding, kissing or making love to her again filled him with unspeakable pain. Luke physically hurt. He’d made a complete mess out of his life again but this time he didn’t think he could recover or if he wanted to. He rose from the couch to head to bedroom he just wanted to sleep and forget.