Posts Tagged love

Excerpt 149


She slammed the pages down on the table.  Both hands shook uncontrollably and she feared she might lose control of her body.  She picked the letter back up and skimmed for keywords, tried looking it over to find where she misread.  The words stayed the same. Danno knew Bruno before he ever knew her.  He knew Emmanuel. He knew where he lived. He never would have come to her town if it weren’t to try to get Emmanuel’s money.

She stood, letting the papers fall to the floor.  Everyone was still working on their computers or talking on their phones.  Men were drinking beer with their suit jackets on the backs of their seats.  There was no earthquake happening except inside of her.  Everything inside was pushing her to go.  Every thought she had was prefaced with “Go now. Take your bag and go.”

If she left, Danno would be worried.  She knew he loved her, which was the worst part.  She knew he didn’t care about the deal or the money. She knew he would die if anything happened to her. She knew their time together changed him, as it had changed her.  It was the worst part because there was love.

She slumped back down in the chair.

“More tea, Miss?” a server asked meekly.

“No, thank you. Just the check.”

“It’s on the account Miss.”

“Yes, okay, thank you.”

He ran his world by signing his name.  His name took care of everything. He lived differently than people who had to apply for credit or hope they could save enough money to retire. He risked a lot, but the reward was living a life that wasn’t confining day after day.

Her chest tightened as she folded the pages and shoved them back into the envelope. She knew Emmanuel was telling the truth, but felt better trying to find holes in his explanation, to prove him wrong.  Why would he still pay her when he knew something, anything, had gone wrong?

She could confront Danno and ask him to tell her the truth. He o course would know that she already knew what the truth was to even ask in the first place. He would know she knew about all of it. What did he do to people who knew too much? Did he kill them or have someone else do it? He wouldn’t actually kill her if he loved her, she thought. The again, she had nearly forgotten that a man burned to death because of her. Self-defense or not, she had taken a life.

He could be the only kind of person with the only kind of life that she could actually build something with. They both did things the way other people didn’t do them. They both felt connected to one another. She wouldn’t be able to find anyone who made her feel that way he had. And he meant the most to her since she was left the country with him and didn’t tell anyone she knew that she was going.

She held her hands out and tried to steady them. When this didn’t work, she did her best to dry her eyes by waving them rapidly.  People began to look at her.  She was the most underdressed in her sundress, damp with sweat,  sandals and sunglasses. She took another cigarette out and lit it.  This time the smoked entered her lungs easier.

“Get up and go. Leave,” she whispered.  She zipped up her bag and swung it over her shoulder.

“Hey, are you smoking?” He said, coming up behind her.

She jumped, sending ashes all over the armchair.

“Just one,” she said, stubbing it out next to the first cigarette she had smoked.

He sat on the coffee table in front of her and took her face into his hands.

“This flight is not going to be as long. Just have a nice dinner, read a little and I’ll be at the gate in no time.”

She nodded and let tears slide down her cheeks, into his hands. He hugged her.

“Come on.  Everything is going to work out.”

He signed the check and took her hand, walking her out with his arm around her.

“I have to use the restroom,” she said.

“Sure. To the right. I’ll wait.

“Do you want to come in with me?” She asked, winking.

 

 

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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,

Emmanuel”

 

 

 

 

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Excerpt 139


After swimming for a half hour, Ala laid on a blanket sprawled on the grass.  The sun seeped into her skin and, smelling the coconut tanning oil baking, she felt reconstruction happening. Danno came outside and set a tray down next to her.  He removed his shoes and sat of the edge of the blanket.  She sandwiched a thick slice of salami in some French bread and, pressing it flat, ate slowly.  She wanted to eat the entire roll in one bite, but feared being sick.  She smoothed her wet hair back from her forehead.

“You look like a movie star like that,” he said.

She did not feel like one and looked like a different woman from the one he met.  And she knew he didn’t care and this made her chest twinge because he really did love her back, and she really could be hurt if something happened to him.

“Want to go back in?” She said, peeling another slice off the pile and shoving it into her mouth.

“No, let’s get some real food at the track.”

She bowed her head and began to cry. His smile dropped.

“Hey what’s wrong?” He said, taking off his sunglasses.  “What is it?”

As she shook her head, she raised her fingers to the corners of her eyes, scooping away tears.

“No, I just—I’m afraid.”

“Of what?  I told you I’d take care of this.”

She became paranoid that there may be a bug or cameras throughout the house. Emmanuel would know that his money and paintings were taken from the house, and she did not want Danno to incriminate himself on top of everything else, by saying he would kill anyone.

“No, no. I don’t want that.  I want to leave here. I want to get out.”

She got to her feet and ran into the house.

“That’s not going to fix anything,” he said. “What are you doing?”

She closed the door behind door and ran her hand along the baseboard.  She pushed herself into the refrigerator, moving it forward and forced her head behind it, searching for a camera.

“But that’s what I want.  And I want you to come with me. You said we could leave.”

He snickered as she pushed the appliance back in place.

“That was before this mess. Come on, let’s have lunch,” he said. She continued on to the office.

“Is the cash back?” She yelled behind her.

“Yes.”

Turning on the light, she saw that the artwork was in place.  She stood on the desk chair and searched along the border for a recording device. “Ala, what are you doing? You’re going to fall.”

“Listen to me,” she said, jumping off.  “I can’t stay here.  The whole reason I took this job was to get out of here. You don’t have to come, but I’m leaving.”

He pressed his face into hers, visibly stricken by her threat.  She could tell that before she had said that she would go without him, he had thought that she was just traumatized and was tiptoeing around her.

He kissed her.

“I meant what I said before about us leaving together.  I just don’t want you to leave because you’re scared.”

“I’ve wanted to for months.  I’m just glad it didn’t happen and I met you instead.”

Where do you want to go?”

“Burma,” she said.

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Excerpt 137


Danno told her that “watermelon” would act as the password between her and the driver and not to get in the car with anyone who came to pick her up who did not know it outright. She nodded and hung up, and then waited under a nearby tree whose shadows swallowed her from street view. 
The car that came was black with tinted windows and gold rims.  The driver wore a gray blazer and stubble sprinkled his jawline and coffee can of a neck. Keeping his eyes straight ahead, he rolled down the window.

Ala approached, suddenly feeling ridiculous about having to ask him for a password, when she would obviously do anything to get out of the area at this point.  Bruce was probably awake and looking for her, calling the police to tell them he knows that Ala was involved in the fire.

“Did Danno give you a password?” She said, not knowing what to do with her hands and holding them behind her back.

“Watermelon,” he said. “Get in.”

She let herself in to the back, pulling the nightgown so it covered her knees.  The driver lit a cigarette and turned the radio on.  Whatever career path he had pursued most likely promoted more excitement than driving a girl with an awful haircut and no shoes around in the middle of the night.

A blues song vibrated in the back speakers, forcing her to bite down on her lip to keep from audibly crying.  She turned her face toward the window and let a few tears leak out before straightening out in the seat.  She had almost died.  And now another chance had come from someone who loved her and didn’t bother asking questions.

They passed the local library after twenty minutes. Bruce did not live that far away from her parents, yet his neighborhood had been unrecognizable.  He probably visited the same library. His mother probably shopped at the market that Ala’s mother shopped at.  They probably had seen each other before. A strong gulp managed to push the bile back down her throat.

She rolled down the window as the car turned onto the street where her parents had lived.  It looked the same as always when she had returned from a trip.  The houses looked smaller, cozier, as if she had conquered somewhere more important, and was coming home to recharge.  Now her heart banged against her chest with the thrill of being safe, of coming back from the dead.

Before the car came to a full stop, she opened the door and spilled out in front of Emmanuel’s house.  The car stopped sharply. Danno came out the front door and nodded, sending the car on its way.  Before Ala could comb through her hair with her fingers, she was in his arms.

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Excerpt 108


They were up all night, further defiling Emmanuel’s house.  Each time they moved to another room, Ala looked for the self that watching herself do so much wrong. She did not want to stop.  She knew she was plunging deeper into reparable damage, but could not pull herself from the tingling embrace to surface for air.  Danno was so highly effective at reading her needs that she felt part of the grand plan for the first time in her life.

She wondered if she was dead, drowned in her parent’s master bath. She kept correcting her thoughts because she knew she was still alive, but the ease of the idea was so tempting.  At one point he stopped and looked up at her face.

“You’re not happy,” he said.

“I am,” she said.

He locked his fingers between hers.  She gave him a weak smile.

“Then show me,” he said and continued.

She leaned back into the goose down pillow and took a breath, pushing and flushing the worry out.  She pictured they anxiety all flooding from her ears and around her neck, dripping down her back.  She quivered and squirmed, her fingers gripping his hand and pressing it down into the sheets.

She could not change any of her choices or any of his.  She loved Danno and had to believe that what he promised was so.  Everything would be returned in the morning.  Emmanuel would return from the business trip, not suspecting a thing about the art being removed from the house.

Abigail lying in a hospital occurred to her.  She would call tomorrow and see how she was feeling.  Ala would not allow Jase to be involved in the relationship between herself and his mother.  She would also not allow herself to let him make her feel guilty about his mother never seeing him have children.

Danno glanced up again.

“Show me,” he said.

She laughed and threw her head back.

Later on she wrapped herself in one of the sheets and opened the window, letting the smell of charred beef over charcoal seep in.  They began to salivate and tiptoed to the kitchen, like teenagers, to raid the refrigerator.  There was nothing except a few eggs and fine mustards, but in the freezer, Ala found a two-pound rib eye wrapped in plastic.  Peeling off the film, she examined the thin layer of miniature icicles, and ran her finger over them, revealing the purple meat.  She began to rewrap it.  Danno took hold of her wrist very gently.

“That looks great,” he said.

“It’s frozen through and I don’t want to wait for it to thaw.”

“We don’t need to do that.  I’ll start the grill. Want to fry some eggs?”

“Sure,” she said, shrugging and turning on the broiler. The maniac was going to grill a frozen steak. They’d be up for hours, waiting for it to cook.

She found a cookie sheet and buttered it, then cracked the five eggs on top, making sure to space them out.  She heavily peppered each one.

Danno came in from the yard and took the steak. Ala opened the oven door to slip the pan inside.

“What are you doing?” He said.

“Making eggs.  You like sunny side up, right?”

“In the oven?”

“Yes. Under the broiler.”

He laughed. “Are you serious?”

“Yes. This is how my father and I always make them.”

“Okay,” he said, going back outside.

Ala instantly smelled the meat when it hit the hot grate.  She poured some red wine and took a long sip.  When the whites of each egg were translucent and she removed the pan and transferred them to awaiting plates. She turned on the porch light and arranged a tray to carry out.  The house phone rang and she almost dropped all that she was carrying.  She had forgotten there was a landline and couldn’t imagine who would be calling at three fifteen in the morning.

Danno came inside.

“Steak’s done.  Are you going to answer that?”

“No,” she said and carried the tray out.  She arranged the table and he, carrying the steak on a salad fork, set it down on her plate and leaned in to kiss her.  She tasted charcoal on his mouth and smelled the juicy smoke in his hair.  She wanted to evaporate and float up to the sky, leaving all of her happiness to people who would never experience how she felt in that moment.

They began to eat with their knees touching under the table.  The sun began to lift, revealing how exquisite the food looked.

“This is the best steak I’ve ever had,” Ala said amazed by the char and amount of juice oozing out of it.

“I was going to say the same about the eggs,” Danno said, dipping the meat into the yolk, leaving a red trail in the center of the bright yellow sticky, delicious mess.

After they finished the wine, Ala cleared the plates as Danno skinny-dipped.

“Hurry up,” he said.

“I will. I don’t want to leave a mess, ” she said, before realizing how ridiculous the statement was based on the condition of the house.

While rinsing the plates, there was a knock at the front door.  Wearing only the sheet, she turned off the faucet and slowly went into the drafty bedroom to pull on a robe. She walked back to the yard.

“Danno, someone’s here,” she said, trying to whisper, and noticing her was under water.  The gate opened, and a very built man in a black suit walked through.

Danno surfaced and looking at him, begin to climb out of the side of the pool.

“Go inside,” he said.

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Excerpt 102


Weary from the disruptive bus ride, Ala walked from the train station.  She had called Danno again when she arrived, but could not reach him.  She was too tired, and aching for a shower, to think about where he might be and why he was not taking her calls.

A pebble bounced around in her shoe and she didn’t bother to stop and fish it out.  Instead, she let it get wedged in between two toes and then fall over and over, scraping the skin in the crevice between them.  She was going directly to Emmanuel’s house, but then decided she should stop in by her parents.  She hadn’t seen them in what seemed like months, and she thought they should know about Jase’s mother.

Approaching the house, she saw a figure sitting on the porch.  She sped up, the pebble now stuck  in the front of her foot and digging into her flesh, as she prepared to fly into Danno’s arms.  The man stood and she could tell, from his droopy posture, that is wasn’t Danno, but Gene.

His eyebrows rose upon seeing her, but he did not smile.  She smiled and dropped her bag on the lawn while removing her shoe.  Dried splotches of blood surrounded her toes and she could not tell which were actually injured.  Gene came over and picked up her bag, moving it to the porch.

“Are you alright?”

“Yes,” she said, walking to the other side of the lawn to find the garden hose.  She turned it on and the water sprayed, wetting her dress, before letting out an even gush.  She rinsed her toes and the coldness made her entire foot numb. “Hi.”

“Hi.  I thought I’d come by since I didn’t hear back from you.”

“I’m sorry.  I just got back from Boston.”

“You went for one day? Why didn’t you stay for the weekend?”

“Something came up with Jase, and I thought I should go. I was very wrong.”

Gene sat on the last porch step, letting his long legs stretch out in front of him.  Ala turned off the hose and sat in the grass.

“What happened?”

“It was disturbing.  Basically he’s mad at things he can’t control and he’s taking it out on me.”

“Oh?” Gene said this as if she was leaving something out, which she was.  She didn’t feel it was her place to discuss Jase’s family, or how he felt about her, with anyone.

“Yes. So I thought it would be best to leave.”

“That doesn’t explain why you haven’t gotten back to me.”  He picked the tiny blades from a bush, crinkling them into green dust and letting it fly from his palm.

“There’s been a lot going on. I met someone.”

“Really?”

“I did.” It was too much to contain her smile, so she showed her teeth freely.

“Where?”

“The race track.”  His eyes widened.

“At Dora’s party?”

“No. The next day.  It’s sort of a long story.”

“The day we had a drink?”

Ala had forgotten about the drunken advance after Flynn’s. She looked down at her red foot.

“Yes. I think you’ll like him.”

“I’m meeting him?” Gene said with thick disgust on his lips.

“I think you should. Things are moving quickly.”

“I’ll say.”

“It’s hard to explain.”

“I thought you’ve been holed up finishing that paper.”

Ala had forgotten entirely about her term paper.  She had signed up for the summer class to take her mind off of Jase and now most likely would not pass.

“I’m sorry I didn’t call you back.  I took a job too.”

Gene shook his head.

“I’m worried.  You look exhausted. And this whole thing with the guy sounds crazy.”

“I can’t explain it.  I feel different.”

“What do you even know about him?”

She hadn’t thought of that either.

“Gene, please don’t worry.  Do you think this is upsetting because maybe, you might have feelings for me?”

He scoffed. Ala nodded empathetically.

“Why would you think that?”

“Well, because you kissed me, for one.”

“Ala, I was very drunk. And you were flirting back all night.”

She felt her face getting warm.

“What?”

“It’s what we do, Ala.  Come on, we’ve always been that way.  Stolen glances, laughing, touching.  This time, I drank too much.”

She was embarrassed.

“Why would you ever do that?”

“Why would you ever let me hold your hand?  Even when you were with Jase?”

She stood up and crossed her arms.  She had nothing to say in that moment, but when coming up with something, raised her voice.

“This is ridiculous.  I met someone. I want to be with him.”

“Fine.  But I have a right to say if I think something is off.”

“Since when?” She said, pulling her shoe back on.

“Look, don’t call me crying and bitching when this guy fucks up, okay? Think about what you’re doing for once!”

She turned, picked up her bag, and stomped off toward Emmanuel’s house.  Her entire relationship with Gene had been built on superficial feelings. She was infuriated that he would kiss her without feeling anything for her. And if that were the case, why did he seem put off when she revealed that she met Danno the same day they had drinks?

She wanted to call Danno again, and secretly hoped she had missed his call while arguing with Gene in front of her parent’s house.  Why hadn’t they come outside to see what was happening?

As soon as she made it to Emmanuel’s front door, she let the tears drip loosely down her face.  She heard snipping shears coming from the yard and typed in the code for entry.  As soon as she crossed the first arch inside, her stomach jumped up high before hitting the ground.  The air smelled different or felt different, or both.  She struggled for equilibrium.

In the main living area, across from the bay window, was a piercing white square, surrounded by the slightly dim white of the wall.  A massive painting was removed, leaving only the two brittle nails sticking out.

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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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