Chapter 23 – Reconnection
We sat there talking with Jazz Hands, whose name was actually Carter Noels. Turns out, he had been with Joel for three years and knew basically nothing about his life with The Brothers or what it was like when he lived under the ‘Hells Demons’ reign.
Jazz Hands worked odd jobs, mainly in theatre and music as that was his passion. Joel had brought them a property in the Suburbs and preferred Carter not to work at all, it was as though he was keeping Carter either secret or protected, we were unsure of which one.
He was stunning for a man, petite and refined with an addictive laugh and oozed confidence, except of course when it came to his relationship. He feared that Joel’s secrets or rather his secret life, was far too much for himself to handle and he was always left feeling rejected and heartbroken for days on end, alone - in an empty house - waiting for him to show up.
As Jazz hands told us their story, Mags and I became instantly comfortable with him, like he was the missing link to our unique family, though considering how much Joel kept Carter a secret, it crossed my mind he may not be happy about him being here. Joel obviously had reasons behind the choices he makes but was he really being fair on both of them? I had no idea how Carter had not left Joel yet - he seemed really lonely.
“...And so my darlings, that’s what brought me here, do you think he’ll be mad at me? He always tells me he wants to keep me safe and that’s why my love never tells me anything, but I have a feeling I’ve pushed the boundaries this time.”
“I’m sure he’ll be happy to see you,” Mags reassures Jazz Hands.
“I’m sure you three, are about to have one pissed off man on your hands, boyfriend or not, Joel hates his orders being disobeyed.” Arlo intercepts with a smirk on his face, while his legs hung over the side of his lazy boy.
“Arlo,” I scowled.
“Miss Aiya, you can feed the man’s confidence all you want but there’s a reason why Joel separates this life here from his personal one and Jazz Hands being here will not sit well with him. Joel is a prickly thorn at times and yes, his attitude could use adjustment, but that’s only because he cares so deeply and protects what he loves most, you three are messing with all his hard work to keep everything he cares for protected... he’s going to be pissed.” Staring blankly at Arlo, I could tell he believed every word he said... Fuck.
“Anyway, we won’t know until…” I never got the chance to finish my sentence, because the door swung open and they all filed in.
“Aiya?” Chase calls.
“In here,” I hollered back.
“Thank god, baby, you have no… who are you?” Chase immediately goes to attack Jazz Hands and I snapped into action, jumping over the back of the couch and halting in front of him, holding up my hands to stop his attack but before any of us could make another move or clarify, we heard Joel.
“What are you doing here?” Joel spits venomously, folding his arms across his chest shooting daggers in Carter’s direction.
“Baby please, I was worried, you’ve been gone more and more, I thought...” Jazz Hands scrambles to his feet, trying to reach for Joel.
“Don’t Carter, explain - what the fuck are you doing here?”
Jazz Hands eyes fall to the floor in defeat. “See, next time you should listen to the all-wise Arlo.” Arlo snickers at his lame joke as we glower menacingly at him.
Carter grabs Mags’ hands, wiping the hurtful tears from his eyes, “thank you darlings, for everything, ya’ll have been so kind.” He fakes a smile in my direction and turns to leave, walking straight past a seething Joel.
“Carter freeze.” Suddenly my temper flairs at Joel’s mistreatment of his lover, “you are not going anywhere.” Grabbing his hand, I dragged him upstairs, once, at the top, I called out. “Joel, you know where the door is, kindly go fuck yourself on the way.” I spun around, still holding onto Carter’s hand firmly and headed towards Joel’s bedroom, just as Mags reaches us on the balcony.
“Who the fuck was that and why is he walking off with my woman?” We heard Chase scream at Joel.
“Relax man, he’s my boyfriend.”
“Spew bucket, what are we doing?” Carter enquires dejectedly.
“The way he just treated you was unacceptable. How dare that sonofabitch think that we wouldn’t have something to say - this is his room.” I pushed the door open to reveal a dojo-style bedroom with swords that replaced pictures on the walls of the crème and red room. Bamboo slats covered the floor and a king-sized bed with red and black sheeting lay in the centre.
“This is where he stays when he’s not home with me?” Carter gasps, finding everything he was suddenly faced with unfathomable.
“Yes - what’s wrong?” Mags touches his shoulder supportively as he shakes his head.
“It’s so manly and different to our house,” he responds with wide eyes.
“Stay here for as long as you like, Joel will sort out his head eventually and come and talk to you. In the meantime join us downstairs when you feel up to it, there’s no point in you stressing out at your house all alone, waiting for him, when you have family here - you belong with us Carter, you should have been here all along.” Mags and I hugged Jazz Hands and closed the door behind us.
“Do you really think he’ll be okay?” Mags whispers.
“ I don’t know Mags, but he’s our family now and we take care of our family.”
Coming down, we noticed immediately that nobody was around. We wandered into the kitchen to find everyone minus Joel, sitting at the kitchen table - unusually on one side, and some lady with my Dad on the other side.
“Sweetheart,” Dad raises from his seat and gives me a hug and kiss on the cheek.
The woman’s eyes shift in my direction and then flits back to Chase’s while Chase does not remove the confused suspicion marring his face and his deep greens remained glued to her. As Dad sits back down next to the woman, he grasps her shoulder and she smiles out the corner of her mouth to him.
She was a medium height woman, a tiny figure with fawn coloured hair and big blue eyes. The atmosphere around her demanded authority as she sat straight-backed with a navy blue button-up blouse and black coloured business pants.
“What’s going on here?” Breaking their silence, I had become slightly annoyed that everyone knew what was happening in my house right now and I didn’t.
“Beautiful, this is Mariella...” Chase gestures towards the woman, “My dead mother.”