Posts Tagged kiss

Excerpt 148

Ala awoke with Danno sleeping with his head on her shoulder.  They had landed in Seoul safely.  Her head was tender from the stress of the turbulence and the sleep she managed to get was not restful. She unbuckled her seat belt and gently climbed over Danno’s seat.  Her legs nearly gave out when her feet hit the floor and she headed toward the restroom.

“Ms., please sit down,” the weary stewardess said slouched in the seat she was still strapped into. Her jacket was off and her eye makeup was smudged.

“I really need to stretch. How much longer until we’re off the plane?” Ala said.

“A few more minutes, when we get word from the captain.”

“We’re on the ground.  I don’t understand the hold up,”

Danno woke up and immediately registered the exchange going on between them.  He got up and took Ala’s hand.

“Let’s just sit down,” he whispered.

“Stop acting like I am crazy.  I have every right to stand up after a whole day on this plane.”

“I know. We’re almost done. Let’s sit.”

She let him pull her back to their seats.  He took her hand into his hands.

“We made it through the plane almost crashing. The last thing we need is for you to be detained in South Korea for mouthing off to a flight attendant.” He kissed her.

She took a compact out of her purse and ran her fingers through her hair, which looked better after she had slept on it. She turned on her phone, even though she knew the staff would take issue with this if they saw her.  She had missed eleven phone calls during the flight and could see the most recent three were from Jase.  Her face grew hot and she leaned forward, afraid she was going to be sick.

“Ala,” Danno rubbed her back. “We can get off now.  Are you okay?”

She nodded and made sure she had all of her things. Their luggage was still in tact there a sense of relief among the passengers that the flight had come to an end without the use of an emergency slide Some of them even thanked the stewardesses while leaving the plane.  Ala walk straight past them without making eye contact.

The waiting area was very hot.  The smell of people who had been on planes and in airports for multiple days overwhelmed her. She and Danno held hands tightly and squeezed through the crowd.

“Are you hungry?” He asked.

“No, I’m fine.”

“Let’s go the lounge, so I can have a cigarette.”

She wondered how soon into their relationship she could mention that his smoking bothered her. It added to his sex appeal, but now she was concerned about both of them being alive and healthy for years to come.

Danno took out his membership card and showed it to the pretty hostess who was wearing a sea green kimono.  They took two armchairs away from everyone else and ordered some tea. He lit a cigarette and, leaning back in his chair, winked at her.

“Do you think anyone else has had a crazier time than we have?”

What she had learned for sure this summer was that there were crazy people everywhere and that there was no reason to believe that she, or anyone else, was ever safe.

“I’m going to make a phone call,” she said, walking to the window that overlooked the tarmac. She didn’t know what time it was back home, but knew that Jase wouldn’t care when she called even if it was the middle of the night. The phone only rang once.

“Ala?” His voice was badly broken like he had been walking through a blizzard with bronchitis. She knew he had been up drinking.

“Hi. Did I wake you?”

“No, I’ve been up. Where are you?” He said with urgency in his voice.

She bit the side of her cheek.  She always got really honest when she felt like he needed her help.

“Jase, what happened?”

“My mom died.”

She pushed the phone against her ear, picturing Abigail’s face.

“I’m so sorry.”

“She was alone. I don’t know how, but she was all alone when the hospital called. My idiot brother.”

“Oh Jase, I-” She felt her throat constricting, trying to hold back tears.

“Can you come home? Or here? I need you.”

She looked back at Danno who was also on a call. Panic flowed through her aching legs. They were not together anymore, but she knew this day would come and couldn’t imagine not being there.

“I can’t come right now. I’m sorry.”

“Tomorrow then? Please Ala, I’ll never ask you for anything again.”

“I don’t think so, Jase.”

“Where are you that’s so Goddamn important?” He yelled. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry. Look just please; let me get you a ticket. We can talk when you get here.”

She shook her head.

“I just can’t.”

“I’m always going to be waiting for you,” he said starting to cry. She hung up the phone.

She walked back to Danno, wiping both eyes with her fingers, as he was putting his phone away.

“I love you,” she said, sitting on his lap.

“Are you crying?”

“I just love you.”

“I love you,” he said, pulling her mouth to his mouth. “You’re going to have to board soon. Finish your tea. I’m going to use the restroom and then I’ll walk you to the gate.”

She took her seat and made herself take a sip of tea. It burned her mouth.  She took a cigarette from the pack on the coffee table and lit it.  She inhaled and the smoke seemed to make tiny hatch marks down the back of her throat.  She coughed violently.  Several people dressed in suits looked over at her.  She took another puff and eased back into the chair.

It wasn’t possible to go back for Abigail’s funeral. There would be too much pain and too many people who had known her as someone else. She would be uncomfortable the entire time and Jase would lean on her for more support than she could give. Years later, she could imagine feeling like a heartless person, and if that happened, she would apologize then.

She opened her bag and put her phone away. Emmanuel’s letter was crumpled toward the bottom. She smoothed the pages out on her lap and a smaller slip of paper flittered to the ground. It was a check for ten thousand dollars. She folded it in half and shoved it into her wallet.

She stubbed out her cigarette and continued to read.

“…I am still out of the country and, while I have received disturbing news about my property being disrupted, I am a firm believer in assessing a claim before reacting. This only has to do with the current company you keep, specifically Danno. As someone who has known his character well for years, I feel it is my duty to warn you that you are in danger.”

Sweat spiked up on the back of her neck. She wanted to reread, but had to keep going.

“When I hired Bruno ten years ago, I thought he was a lowly gardener who hadn’t had much luck. Being from my native land, I trusted him without any idea that he was acting as Danno’s informant. I am not going to delve into the kind of business we do, since I have a feeling that in your current situation, time is precious. I can only say that my fortune is spoken of often in my industry’s circles and that the two of them have been working for quite some time to drain my assets.

Apparently Danno and Bruno’s relationship has gone south, and Bruno was not paid what was promised to him. This is where you came in. There aren’t any known people or things in this world that would affect Danno’s decisions, but you apparently have done so. This is not something to be proud of. I am only relieved that you had enough fight in you to stay alive.

Please do whatever you have to and get away from this man. Even if he doesn’t kill you himself, his line of work will. You will have no way of reaching me once I send this letter. I hope that for you and your parent’s sake, you leave this unsavory character’s side and find safety.

Best regards,







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Excerpt 138

Her knees buckled and he held her around the waist, searching her eyes.

“Come on,” he said, wrapping his arm around her waist and leading her toward the house. “Watch the glass.”

She sidestepped away from a pile of broken shards and, making her way up the porch steps, saw what his nerves must have been in the crystal ashtray packed with butts.

The house smelled of smoke, but some  windows had been opened and a heavy-duty fan was on full blast.  Everything seemed in its place, and she decided to wait on looking at the office.  Danno sat on one of the side benches and pulled her onto his lap.  He ran her hair through his fingers and looked at the faint bruises on her arms.

“I lied to you,” he said.

Frayed emotions kept her from getting up. Instead she rested her head on his shoulder, pushing her nose into his collar.


“I said we could go away together. You might not see me for awhile.”

“Stop,” she said.

“I mean it.” He tilted her chin up to meet her eyes.

“I’m okay,” she whispered.

“I’m not. And I don’t even want to hear about it.” He pushed her hair away from her face. “You look like a concentration camp person.”

“I just need to eat,” she said, standing up and going to the kitchen.  She shielded her eyes from the white light pouring in through the windows.  She took a nearly rotten banana and snapped off the top.  The smell made her stomach heave, but she forced some into her mouth.  Danno came in and lighting a cigarette, sat at the counter.

“I’ll be careful. I won’t get caught.”

She turned and faced him, the speed of the movement making her dizzy.

“You just said I wouldn’t see you for awhile.”

“It’s done,” he said, walking out to the pool.

She threw the banana in the sink and turned on the garbage disposal.  The sputtering reminded her of the fire crackling and she slammed it off. He was probably already sending people to kill the men who took her, even though he didn’t know who they were.  She went to the guest bedroom and found her bathing suit. Her skin was clammy and pale and badly in need of sunlight.  She peeled off the nightgown and threw it in the bathtub.  She carefully tied the straps of the bikini top across her back.

She found him with pants rolled up and his feet in the pool.  She lowered herself in and swam over.

“Let’s just start clean, okay?  I don’t think it’s sexy, you know.”

He laughed. She wanted him to make her quiet, but she knew he was too worried about her to be forceful.

“I’m not doing it for that.  Nobody takes from me.”

“Don’t you see how weird and lucky it is that we met?  Use your head. Tell yourself that me being okay is enough.”

“I don’t know if I can,” he said, stubbing the cigarette out. She rolled her eyes.

“Promise me you’ll try.”

“I don’t know if I can.  Look at what they did to you. Your hair…” his voice trailed off. She kissed him.

“It’ll grow back.  You know you belong with me.”  She hugged him around the waist and he let her pull him into the pool with her.

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Excerpt 107

he stalled by the window, waiting for Bruno to drive away and rubbed her arms to get rid of the goose bumps that had developed during their conversation.  She walked into the kitchen to look for the pouch. Where had he been in the house and why? Danno came into her view.

She pulled an open bottle of wine from the cabinet and poured some into a juice glass. He came up behind her and gripped her shoulders, easing them back into his hands and rolling them forward.  He put his mouth to her ear and she could feel the moisture in his breath.

“What are you doing?”

“Drinking wine.”

“You didn’t take a pill?”

“None of your business.”

He spread his hand across her throat and stroked it.

“It will all be back, I promise. It will never happen again.”

“I’m aware of that,” she said, turning away from him.  “I can never trust you again. I should never have trusted you in the first place.  I don’t even know you.”  She turned and went into the living room, finishing the wine in one gulp and feeling the burn trail down her throat while lowering herself into an armchair.

“Do you think that matters?” He said, squinting at her. “Do you think what we have goes away just because we don’t know each other on a surface level?”

She didn’t want to look at him.  She didn’t find his face to be attractive, but it interested her.  She was drawn to whatever he gave off and she knew he could tell.

“Maybe not, but trust means something.”

He knelt in front on her, forcing his chest between her legs and stretching the dress across her knees.

“You’ve already trusted me in the most important way. Don’t dumb all of this down.”

“Don’t tell me what to do.”

“Don’t lie to me about how you feel. You know how I make you feel.” He brought her trembling hand to his mouth and kissed it.  She leaned back against the chair as his hands worked her.  She saw herself far away, slipping into another dimension that holds versions of people after they change.  Gene was right.  Anyone who heard about this would agree with Gene.  And it just didn’t matter. She leaned in to catch his kiss Soon after, he stood and she and allowed him to carry her into the other room.

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Excerpt 99

She knew why already, but knew he wanted her to ask him.

“How come?”

“My mother only has one grandchild, and it’s that crazy pill popper’s.  She probably won’t even stay with my brother.  He’s such an ass to her.  And then he’ll have to battle with her to even see the kid.”

“I think you’re jumping ahead a little bit,” Ala said, touching his arm.  She felt him tense up slightly.

“I don’t.  I screwed up.  My mother won’t be able to see me get married.  She’ll never meet my kids.  And all of that could have been done by now. She put her life into this family and won’t even see it grow. My father worked to make life comfortable for this family and they won’t even enjoy it. Neither of them.”

He was always irrational when he couldn’t control a situation.

“Jase, you can’t get married and have a family for anyone but yourself.”

He parallel parked on his street and they got out of the car.  She let him walk ahead because he had the keys.

“I could’ve by now.  We could’ve.  There was no reason to not get married.”  He opened the heavy front door and stomped up the stairs.  She didn’t know if she should even follow him.  She had to though because all of her things were in the apartment.  And he would never forgive her if she didn’t.

“There was a reason, Jase.”

“Yeah,” he said, slamming the apartment door behind her, “What?”

She leaned against the card table in the dining room.

“To begin with, getting married is a big deal.  It’s not just a next step because you’ve been dating someone for awhile.”

“Says who?  Some feminist online publication?” He hit the top of one of the windows and opened it.

“No.  I do.”

“Why did you even move here then?”

“Because I wanted to be with you.  I moved here with love for you. But I realized that we weren’t working very well together.”

“You didn’t even try.  You fled.”

“I didn’t try?” She put both of her hands on the table to steady herself. “I know you’re upset.  This isn’t something we should talk about now.”

He paced the room, kicking off his shoes.

“I brought you into my whole life.  Into my family. I consulted with you before I made decisions about my future.  I thought we were building something.”

“I did too.”

This was a scene she had replayed many times since moving out of the apartment.  He wanted her back.  He wanted to make this work. He loved her as much as she had loved him.  It was a dream come true.  She could kiss him right now. He could lift her up and carry her into the bedroom and they wouldn’t have to ever look back. They could feel how they felt when they had first met. They could go back to their first time.

And she didn’t want any of it.  It wasn’t that she was over him, but that she felt how she had dreamt of feeling when being in love.  She couldn’t go back to what she had with Jase, because it didn’t feel as right as everything felt with Danno. She had known Jase for years and already knew Danno better.

Jase saw her looking out the window and slowly approached.  He took her arms with both of his hands and turned her toward him so they were face to face, eye to eye.  Her phone rang and her eyes darted to her purse. He held onto her.

“I know you’ve been with someone else,” he said, almost smiling. Ala wasn’t afraid of him or what he might do.  She realized he was so upset about his mother and so upset about her not wanting be with him, that he could kill her.  It was possible.  But she was happy that she was telling the truth very plainly, no matter what the outcome. She had come here out of concern for Abigail and to show support to his family.  Now he had turned the visit into their issues.  Her phone rang again and he snickered. “Come on, tell me you haven’t been.  Lie.”


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Excerpt 95

Ala didn’t remember washing, throwing wrinkled clothes back into her suitcase, or even locking the front door.  She sat on the rubbery blue bus seat and let her head rest of the cold glass window.  She was going to Boston and didn’t want to think about what she would do when she arrived.

Danno was quiet that morning, awakening her with nuzzling and then slipping into the shower.  He asked nothing about where she was going or when she would be back, which to her meant it did not warrant a discussion, which made her feeling desperate to want to talk about it.

She had not told her parents she was leaving town.  Her mother would ask too many questions and would say it looked pathetic that she wander off in a moment’s notice to be with someone she was not seeing anymore.  Her father would have no opinion.

What was most alarming was her carelessness toward the house.  The garbage had not been taken out.  The housekeeper had not come and Ala had not inquired.  That could all be dealt with upon her return.

She decided to have a drink in lieu of breakfast.  The dining cart was open and serving breakfast burritos with egg whites tucked inside, or cereal.  She ordered a Bloody Mary.  It came think and lukewarm, tomato juice and vodka with a dash of pepper.  She tried to drink it as quickly as possible.

A man wearing a leisure suit took the seat next to hers.  She quickly stood and went to find her seat.  After reading two pages of mild erotica from a book Gertrude had leant her, she fell asleep.

The sound of luggage being dragged out from the bottom of the bus awoke her.  She stumbled out onto the sunlit sidewalk and waiting for her bag to be passed from smudgy hand to smudgy hand before finally reaching hers. She did not look to see if Jase was waiting for her and climbed into the first cab she could find.

The restaurants and parks held no reminiscent feelings for Ala.  They pushed into one another as the cab sped past them.  She wrestled with her purse to find her comb and compact.  She was sweating between her legs and down her back, but did not have time to change clothes.  Even though she had not set or confirmed a meeting time with Jase, her instinct was pushing her to arrive as soon as possible.

She threw a balled up twenty-dollar billed toward the front seat and ran around to the trunk to pull her suitcase out.  The ivy on the side of the building had some new growth and the block smelled with damp grass, as it always had.  She opened the heavy glass front door and opened the mailbox that had always had the defective lock to find the extra key Jase kept inside.  She let herself inside and hobbled up the three flights of stairs with her bags.

The door to the apartment was open.  She smelled dust and saw that the floors hadn’t been cleaned in awhile.  No one was there.  He wouldn’t have gone into work if he knew was coming, but she couldn’t remember whether she had said she would come for sure or not.

She took off her clothes and found a dress to step into.  The weariness of the bus ride without fresh air hit her and she crawled into the bed she had spent two years sleeping in.  The sheets felt rougher but otherwise the room looked the same.  They had never put a lot of thought into what the space looked like.  They didn’t entertain because they preferred being at home alone either locked in the bedroom or reading in the sunroom.

She buried her head under his pillow.  The smell of his face was there and it sent cold prickles up her back, but she did not cry.  She closed her eyes and thought of coming home to Danno.

What must have been a few hours later, she heard the door open, but was so relaxed she could not force her body to get up.  The footsteps were steady until they reached what must have been where she put her suitcase, and then they increased rapidly until Jase was in the bedroom and taking off his shoes.

She turned over just as he climbed into bed next to her.  He put his hand up the front of her dress and began pulling down her panties.  Her mind was three steps behind and trying to register.  She turned to face him and he kissed her very hard on the mouth.  His arm wrapped around her and brought her on top of him.  He pulled her dress down and began touching her.  She could feel him beneath her and put both of her hands against his chest.

“Jase.” He didn’t say anything, but unzipped his pants and turned her so he was on top.  She closed her eyes.  She did not want this to stop. She had dreamt of this moment when he would realize that he was wrong and had made a mistake.  She thought of Danno and the immediate cosmic ease she had felt. “Enough,” she said, rolling out from under him.

She stood and put her dress on, then looked down to find him red-faced and crying with one hand covering his face.

“I’m sorry, Ala. I can’t believe I just did that.”

She sat on the bed next to him and took his hand.

“Where is your mother?”

“At the hospital.”

“I think we should go.”

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Excerpt 90

A large, powerful, pulsing knot rose up from her stomach to her rib cage and perched between the bones as Danno drove them back to Emmanuel’s house.

“Wrong”, her brain kept telling her.  “Wrong, wrong”. She ignored the message.  She seemed to climb outside of her aching, sweating, exhausted body and was watching.  She made note of what a beautiful couple she and Danno made.  She watched his hands work the wheel steadily.  He was quite possibly going to lose his job because of her, and he wasn’t panicked in the slightest.

This time he pulled into the carport.  Ala found the keys in her purse and lead him around to the back of the house.  She opened the gate and saw a squat khaki clad man was perched by a rose bush snipping away.  She stepped backwards quickly, nearly crushing Danno’s foot and closed the gate quietly.

“Is something wrong?” He said.

“I think the gardener’s here,” she said. She peaked over the fence.

“He isn’t supposed to be?”

“I guess he is, but I don’t want to talk to him right now. Let’s go around to the front.”

She basically tiptoed to up the front steps and opened the door. Danno touched the back of her neck and when she turned to face him, he kissed her.

 “You don’t have to do this.  What I think you’re going to do.”

“It’s fine.  How soon will you have it back?”

“As soon as I can get a new access card.  Two days max.”

She nodded and looked out of the back window.  The gardener was still hard at work on the roses.  She walked slowly down the hallway toward the study.

She heard his steps behind her.  Maybe he should not go in with her.  It was too late though.  She opened the door.  The books and papers were neatly stacked as they had been the day before.  The window had been left open so the room smelled like wisteria.  Danno, with hands in his pockets, walked over to an overstuffed brown leather armchair, and had a seat.

“Would you like a drink?” Ala said.

“No, I’m fine thanks.”

She was nervous. Her hands shook. She didn’t know how to stay calm like he did.  The doorbell rang.

“Oh great! Who is that?” She said hysterically.

Danno got up.  

“I’ll go see.  Everything’s okay.”

He brushed past her.  Ala quickly got the magnet out from behind the painting.  She brought it over to the vase and, nearly spilling the rare sand everywhere, she tipped it until she heard a soft clink, and pulled the magnet up with the key attached.  She jammed it into the desk drawer and took out the album.  

She flipped through quickly, being careful not to smudge any photographs or tear any of the pages until she saw the list of birthdays.  The first birthday, 7-23-47, was someone named Lawrence DeGrello’s birthday.  She crawled over to the safe and turned the dial to each number.  She lifted the latch and pulled up.  The door opened into a deep dark hole in the floor.  She tried to peer in without feeling down there first, but had no luck.

Danno came and leaned on the doorframe.

“It’s the gardener. He wants to talk to you.”

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Excerpt 88

She could hear before she could see.  The sound of waves, but softer and more tangible, like paper being crumbled very slowly.  She turned her head to the right and felt the ache from sleeping in an odd position.  She turned her head all the way to the left to try and nullify the pain, which never worked. Then she opened her eyes.  The sound was the trees, the leaves rather, rustling and blowing while clinging to the branches. The sky was still bright, meaning she couldn’t have slept for that long, in less this was a different day all together.

She rolled over to her side and pushed up to sit.  She spotted Danno.  He was sitting on one of the slate rocks a few yards away, talking on his cell phone. His pants were still rolled up from the climb and his face had gotten color from being in the sun several hours. She wanted to kiss him. She  got to her feet and hobbled over, still weak from the climb and lack of water.

As she approached, Ala saw him pull the phone away from his ear and hold it so that the receiver was directly in front of his mouth.  Then he said something very loudly, but the wind made his words inaudible to her.  He tapped a button and put the phone back into his pocket.  He smoothed back his hair and turned toward her.

A thin smile appeared and he stepped off the rock and met her halfway.

“You were out cold.”

“I know.  I was so beat from the climb.”

“I’m sorry,” he said, taking her hand. “I thought it would be a nice way to spend the day.”

“Oh, it was, really,” she said, the fear creeping back that he may be looking for a way to leave her.

“Should we head back?”


This time they walked the outer perimeter of the hill, which was more of a downward ramp, to take their time.  Ala could not imagine climbing back down in one piece.

She almost began to cry when the car came into view.  She wanted to run, but didn’t risk it, because the boat shoes were sure to fall apart with any added impact.

They got in and Danno turned the air conditioning all the way up.  He opened the glove box and took out a pack of cigarette’s that said Shepheard’s Hotel on the gold foil on the front of the pack.  He pulled a shiny lighter from his pocket and lit one while it dangled sideways from his lips.

Ala hated smoking more than anything she could think of at that moment.  She pushed the button to roll down her window.  He turned the air conditioning off.

“I didn’t know you smoked,” she said, trying to sound casual, while also trying to evaluate whether or not the smoking was something she could live with.  As if he had asked her to marry him.

“Does it bother you?” He asked, looking straight ahead.

“A little, yes,” Ala said.

She watched his face for a reaction.  All she could see were the tiny lines in the crevices of his eyelids raising slightly.  He opened the window and tossed the cigarette out.  Ala rolled her window up.  He turned the air back on.

“What if I told you that I only smoke when something bad happens?” He said, keeping his eyes on the road.

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