Everything You Could Want (The Third Ending)
There is no life - no life without its hunger;
Each restless heart beats so imperfectly;
But when you come and I am filled with wonder,
Sometimes, I think I glimpse eternity.
You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains;
You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas;
I am strong, when I am on your shoulders;
You raise me up... To more than I can be
“What happens to them?” Emma asked the loa, nodding towards the reunited couple.
The demi-god considered. “Dey can come with me into de next world. Dey could stay here.” He shrugged. “Dey can decide.” He gave them a gentile smile.
“I get to decide?” Rumach asked him.
Belle lightly cleared her throat.
Rumach looked at her a moment and then nodded, “We get to decide?” he asked again.
“You know,” said the loa, grinning and taking a drag from his cigar. “I like you tw. Strong, faitful to each other. If you have true love, I tink dere could be someting else for you.”
Belle and Rumach looked at each other.
“Everything has a price,” Rumach looked at the Baron obviously hesitant to commit to anything.
The Baron laughed. “I like you more and more.” He considered, “Once you leave, you would not be able to return to dis house, de grounds, ever. Dat would be de price. But I can let you live your lives again.”
“You can do that!?” Belle was astonished.
“All come to me eventually. I’ve waited a long time already, what’s anoder forty, fifty years to me?”
He smiled and faded.
Belle gasped and Rumach gaped at his hands in wonder. Both abruptly became aware of their breath.
They were breathing.
“We’re alive!” Belle announced. “He’s given us a second chance at life!”
Emma, Neal and Clarissa were equally amazed, astonished, floored.
“This can’t be real!” Emma protested.
“I don’t understand. I always thought that dead was dead,” Rumach shifted his weight off his weak leg. “But this is definitely alive – I’d forgotten how much my leg hurts.”
“Darling, let me fetch your cane,” Belle immediately offered to help.
“I can do that,” Neal offered. “I’m guessing the attic?”
“I guess,” Rumach wasn’t sure. He looked around, “Let’s get out of this room,” he told everyone and with him leaning on Belle, they all managed to get downstairs. “It would be nice if that room was gutted and completely redecorated,” he told Emma.
“Yellow, something yellow and maybe white. Light and airy,” Belle suggested.
Emma nodded, “I’ll let Mary Margaret know.”
Neal had returned quickly with the cane and handed it over. Emma ducked down the hall to take a quick break to ease her over-filled bladder from the Monster drinks and Red Bulls she’d been imbibing throughout the night. She re-joined them all in the parlor, along with Colin, and both Leroy and Jefferson who had come in from the command trailer.
Rumach was engaged in looking around at everything. He stood for a moment with the light switch, flicking it on and off, on and off, on and off, fascinated with the instantaneous display of light.
“This is amazing,” he said aloud to no one in particular.
“Has much changed?” Neal asked him, watching his grandsire as he went from room to room downstairs.
“Yes, the place has been painted, the furniture is now worn looking, colors faded.” Rum had taken the cane and had stepped over to the library. “There are a stack of papers in here with our names on them,” he called back to Belle.
Emma got there first. “What are these?” she asked.
“I don’t recognize most of these,” he puzzled over these for a while and then turned, “I shall ask my very capable clerk to look them over. Miss Belle, if you would please?” he handed the stack over to his wife.
Belle quickly went through them. “They seem to be papers establishing our existence. There are birth certificates, naturalization papers for you, darling, some things called social security cards,” she looked up at Rumach, “and passports.” She shuffled through a few more of the papers, “These appear to be deeds to a house in Philadelphia and one in, oh my goodness,” she looked up at Rum. “We have a house in Paris!” She continued looking through the last few papers, looking closely at one of the last items. “This appears to be a bankbook.” She opened it and her eyes widened. She handed it over to Rumach.
“This seems improbable,” he remarked looking at the total. Emma peered over his shoulder.
“That is nice, real nice,” Emma told him. “Apparently the Baron felt you would be needing some pocket change.”
“This is hardly pocket change, Miss Swan,” Rumach protested.
“I guess he figured your net worth when you died and translated it into twenty-first century dollars. You doing ok,” Emma explained to him.
Belle had begun to move around the library, touching the different books, smelling the flowers on the desk, looking at the interplay of light coming through the curtains. She kept returning to Rum and putting her hands on him, lightly touching his shoulder, sometimes leaning into him, smiling up at him.
“As I understand things, once we leave this place, we can never return,” Rumach shared.
“I got that too,” Emma responded.
“We need to talk, Rum,” Belle told him. “We have some things to decide.”
Neal cleared his throat. “Would you two like some alone time?” he asked the two.
Rum glanced over his young wife and there was a kind, gentle smile, making him look younger than his apparent years, “I think some time, just the two of us, would be excellent. We have much to discuss and decide.”
He actually gave a slight bow to the group as he conducted Belle out of the room and up the stairs.
Mary Margaret chose that moment to come into the house. “What happened?” she asked.
Emma looked at the other members of the group and then back at Mary Margaret. “A lot,” she finally said.
It was early that same afternoon when Belle came down the stairs. Emma was out in the command center with Leroy. Neal had gone back to town to bring back a special request for Emma’s lunch. Jefferson, Clarissa and Colin were sitting in the parlor by a fire that Mary Margaret had lit. Mary Margaret had retired to the front office. Clarissa had been pulling out some of the old books in the library. Belle found the group and sat down with them.
“I see you’re looking at William Blake’s book of poetry. It was always one of my favorites,” Belle told Clarissa. She kept looking at Clarissa. “You must forgive me. You look so much like my own child. She was such a joy to me. She was all I had of Rumach after we were separated.”
Clarissa blushed. “Can we help you with anything? I can’t imagine what you two are dealing with, suddenly being thrust into a world two hundred years after the world you knew.”
“I’m with Rum. Everything will be all right,” Belle assured her. “We have much to discover, I know,” Belle hesitated as if she had something else to say.
“What? Can I help you?”
“We’re a bit hungry. Before . . . I would go over to the kitchen and bring something back but now. . . what do I do?” Belle asked.
Clarissa smiled, stood and gestured for Belle to come with her, “Let me introduce you to the kitchen. There’s a refrigerator, a microwave, a food processor, an immersion blender. . . “ she continued listing modern conveniences.
The two had been gone for a bit when Rumach joined the parlor group downstairs. He was wearing only his boots, pants and his shirt open at the neck, looking comfortably ‘at home.’ He sat across from Colin, scowling at him.
“Sir, I want you know that I do have honorable intentions towards Miss Clarissa,” Colin spoke up. “I know I’m descended from somebody who you didn’t like.”
“’Didn’t like’? He wasn’t worthy of my dislike. No, I’d simply say that I had no respect for the man whatsoever,” Rumach replied with a scowl.
“Although, him running off with your wife, did eventually open the door for you and Miss Belle to get together,” Jefferson reminded him. Rumach now glared at both young men.
“I’m not Killian Jones,” Colin told him. “I’ve made my share of mistakes and I’m still learning, but Clarissa has faith in me. And I’m really trying hard to be the man she thinks I am. She makes me a better man and I am trying to be worthy of her.”
Rumach looked hard at the young man but didn’t make any response.
Clarissa and Belle returned with some soft drinks and some paper plates. Clarissa explained, “Neal has gone off to bring back some pastrami sandwiches. I gave him a call and he added two more for you two. He’s picking up fries too.”
Rum looked at Belle who translated, “He’s bringing us all back some food.” She turned back to Clarissa, “May I?”
“Of course,” and Clarissa handed Belle her cell phone.
“Rum, this is a remarkable device.” She swiped her finger across it and explained the device to him, “By pressing a specific sequence of numbers, one can contact different people and talk with them as if they were in the room with you. They can contact you also to talk with you. It’s called a,” Belle glanced at Clarissa, “a smart phone. I think we should get two. That way, if we are ever separated, we can contact each other.”
Rum examined the phone. “There are small pictures on this. What is their meaning?”
“Apps. . . uh. . . applications you can put on your phone. Like this one changes my phone into a flash light, this one is a calculator . . . “ Clarissa explained to him.
“Interesting,” Rumach said. “And how does one go about getting one of these?”
“Well, you have to pick a provider and . . . oh, I’ll take Belle out one afternoon and we’ll get you set up with a plan,” Clarissa said.
Rumach gave her a puzzled nod. Belle was continuing to chatter on, “There are marvels in the kitchen, Rum. A machine that keeps food cold so it doesn’t spoil, a stove that works without a wooden fire, machines that chop and blend things up,” Belle continued to talk. No one in the group failed to notice Rum sitting back, steepling his fingers, and regarding his young wife, a tolerant smile on his face as she continued to describe the wonders she had discovered.
It was a moment, however, before Belle noticed his response. She flushed, “Oh, I’m sorry, I’m just talking on and on.”
“I confess my dear that at one time that characteristic of yours annoyed me, but I tell you now that I have missed your enthusiasm and your fierce interests in the world around you. I now find it one of your most endearing traits,” he took her hands into his and Belle beamed at him. For a moment the two seemed lost in each other.
They might have continued to gaze into each other’s eyes for some time had not the front door opened and Neal came in bearing sacks of sandwiches and fries. “Hello, I’m back with food.”
Clarissa hopped up and helped the man distribute the meal onto paper plates. Belle reluctantly pulled herself away from Rum and assisted Clarissa and Neal. Neal called Emma and Leroy into the meal. Mary Margaret joined them from her front office.
Rumach sampled the sandwich and asked, “What is this?”
“Emma’s favorite, a pastrami sandwich,” Neal explained.
Rum looked at Neal closely. “You are the legal owner of this house now, I understand.”
“Yes sir. I’m descended from you and your first wife Milah,” Neal responded.
“Belle tells me that you’re a writer. That you used to be a police officer,” Neal was a bit uncomfortable with the close scrutiny he was getting.
“Yes sir,” Neal answered.
“You are doing well?”
“I am. I’m set up pretty well financially. And I’m trying to renew my relationship with Emma. I didn’t make the best decisions regarding her in the past and I’m trying to make it right.”
“You remind me of my son. Unfortunately, he and I did not have a close relationship,” Rum looked away. “I’ve always regretted that.”
“You’d be welcome to come and visit me anytime, sir. I have a place just down the road. Once you leave here, you may want to use my place as your center of operations while you decide what you want to do, where you want to go. As a writer being able to talk to someone with your particular life experiences is invaluable.”
Emma had just walked in. She glowered at Rum.
“You cleared all our data, didn’t you? All my evidence. You just wiped it out,” she accused him without preamble.
Rum managed to look appalled and innocent at the same time, bringing his hand to his chest. “Miss Swan whatever are you talking about?”
“You erased all the evidence I had of the activity we witnessed in this house! I don’t have any evidence now.”
Rumach managed to look contrite. “I’m so sorry. This was something that was important to you?”
“Of course. It was why I came here to begin with. To get some irrefutable evidence of the paranormal but you, you son of bitch, you managed to erase it all.”
Now Rum managed to look wholly innocent. “Miss Swan, I am most unfamiliar with any ‘evidence’ you may have had. As to your accusation that I erased it, please, I’ve been rather busy for the last, what has it been now, eight hours? And I’ve been human, an ordinary human for most of that time. How could I, with no knowledge of your infernal machinery, have erased your evidence?” He graced her with a minimal smile, “And by the by, my mother, while I never knew her, was by all reports a lovely kind woman.”
Despite her reservations, Emma was half convinced, “All right, I guess. I don’t know of any way you could have erased it,” she admitted. “Maybe it was the Baron,” she speculated mostly to herself.
“Mr. Neal sir,” Belle began, changing the conversation topic, “If you are willing to have us at your house, we may want to make those arrangements. Miss Clarissa has been telling me that we will need new clothing and, if we plan to do any traveling, we’ll need a portmanteau.”
“Are you planning on traveling?” Emma asked.
Belle glanced at Rum who answered, “Miss Belle has entreated me, and I find I cannot gainsay her, for a trip to Paris. I am in agreement. We shall ready ourselves for this venture and secure passage and find this house of ours on la Rue le Sueur.”
“Sounds like a nice neighborhood,” Jefferson said.
Emma had returned to her little apartment and was back to regular teaching duties. Neal had, at her invitation, driven down for the weekend. Emma had met him at her front door. She looked intensely serious.
“Neal, I have someone I want you to meet. He’s expecting you,” she told. He’d been prepared for this. She had (finally) tearfully confessed to Neal that he had a son. She hadn’t told him before. It had been too painful, too difficult. Neal had struggled to understand why Emma had kept this from him, but kept reminding himself of the abject condition in which he had abandoned Emma. She had been left with less than nothing, owing on his debts and then finding herself pregnant right as she was stressing out trying to finish her dissertation and course work for her degree. She had, somehow, with all this working against her, she had still managed to come out ahead. . . and ended up doing well for herself.
“This is Henry,” Emma introduced her son to his father. She was a remarkable woman and Henry . . . well Neal thought he was a remarkable kid.
The weekend was quite interesting with Neal spending as much time with his son as with Emma. He didn’t want to rush things but he was intent on building a relationship with the child. After talking with Rumach Goldark, Neal was determined to do whatever he needed to do to get to know his son.
Weekends became regular events for the three with Emma and Henry sometimes heading up to connect with Neal or Neal heading down to connect with Emma and Henry.
It was Christmas break and Emma and Henry were staying with Neal.
“Are you going to marry my mom?” Henry had asked him early one morning when they were sharing breakfast together while Emma slept in.
Neal considered, Why not? He loved the woman. He was in a steady employment situation. She’d probably want him to move to that little town where the college was, where she taught. That would be all right. He could write anywhere. He had submitted his proposal for The Enchanted Chronicles (the story of the intrepid Police Detective Lacey Avon and her demonic advisor and co-investigator, The Dark One), to his publisher and with their enthusiastic approval and with Emma’s gracious collaboration, he had submitted the draft for his first book and was working on the follow-up book. It was going well.
Christmas Eve would be a great time to propose, he thought. Yeah, he’d ask Emma to marry him on Christmas Eve.
It was now February and Emma and Neal had stopped over at The Goldark Inn to finalize their wedding preparations. Emma was sharing letters from Belle with Mary Margaret.
“I guess it’s asking too much that Belle learn to email us or skype,” Mary Margaret had commented.
Emma had nodded in agreement and began reading from one of the earliest letters, “We are having a wonderful time in Paris. The house is beautiful and with a lovely garden. We are slowly adjusting to life in the twenty-first century. Rumach bought me one of those electronic book readers and I have spent far too much money on books. He insists on indulging me with books, clothing and flowers (the dear, sweet man).”
Emma rolled her eyes at this. “’Dear, sweet man’? I think Belle is the only one who sees that side of him.” She continued reading, “Rumach sends his regards to you and wishes me to let you know that your driving lessons have proven invaluable. He also extends his appreciative thanks to you and Clarissa for taking me shopping for modern undergarments.”
“Wait, you and Clarissa took Belle underwear shopping?” Mary Margaret asked.
“Yeah, all she had were these bloomer-like underpants and this little chemise top. Once they stepped off the estate, we took her out and got her a couple of bras and some panties. It was the same time that we got her a couple of skirts and blouses and a few dresses and a winter coat. And shoes. And a little makeup. Neal took Goldark out and told me the man insisted on getting a couple of high-end suits but refused jeans and t-shirts.”
“Hmmm, Master Goldark wearing jeans and a t-shirt . . . “ Mary Margaret mused.
“Yeah, me too,” Emma agreed. “Can totally see him pulling it off, especially if he has that morning stubble thing going for him . . .” Emma briefly drifted off, but pulled herself back on task and went back to another one of Belle’s letter.
“OK, here she goes on to say that they plan to come back in late March and set up in the house in Philadelphia. And, wow, she says Neal and I are welcome to spend the summer in their Paris house! We may just take them up on that!”
“This is lovely, my dear,” Rum was taking his afternoon tea while sitting on the patio of their house on West Chestnut Hill in Philadelphia. Belle had brought him a cup to drink while he sat outside reading the Wall Street Journal.
“So I’ve finally been able to make tea to your satisfaction?” she asked.
Rum hesitated, “Ah. . . “
“I see, you’re just being nice,” she smiled at him. She sat down next to him with a notebook and some gardening catalogues. She was looking out on their garden. It was in disarray and Belle was busy making plans to renovate the area. She was wearing a simple floral print sundress with a square neckline and some basic slip-on sandals. She had wound her hair up on top of her head and looked fresh and wholesome. Tendrils had escaped her quick coif and lay on her neck in undisciplined curls. Oblivious to his scrutiny, she focused on her catalogues and would stop to circle items or write things down in her notebook. As he watched she put the pen behind her ear. Shortly thereafter she began to look around, evidently searching for her pen.
“It’s behind your ear,” he said softly taking another sip of tea.
She reached up and located it and realized that he had been watching her.
“Yes, darling?” she asked him, concerned.
“You are the most astonishingly beautiful woman I’ve ever seen. And why you preferred me, I’ll never know, but I am grateful every moment of every day,” he told her.
“Darling, I fell in love with you because you are such a good man and you are so wonderful to me.”
He snorted, “I’m a dictatorial bastard, if I believe only half the people I meet.”
“Nonetheless, you are a good man and you are so wonderful to me.”
He shook his head, “Have you, have you given any further consideration to what I had suggested the other day?” he asked hesitantly.
“I have. I’ve given it a great deal of consideration,” she answered quietly.
“Perhaps it would be a good idea. This place is large and if we’re going to stay here, I will definitely need some help. Perhaps someone coming in twice a week?” she tentatively suggested.
“Full time,” he corrected.
She relented, “Three times.” He regarded her, his face implacable. “Four times?” There was no change and Belle caved. “All right, full time. And what about what I’d suggested? Would you mind terribly?” she asked him.
He took a deep breath. “She and I don’t always get along,” he warned her.
“I know, but she’s been very good to us.”
“All right,” he conceded. “I can’t refuse you very much,” he admitted. “If you want to have Emma come and stay awhile when our baby comes, we will have Emma come. I will welcome her.”
Belle jumped up and ran over to him, putting her arms around him. He clumsily pulled her around into his lap and welcomed her kisses, holding her with one hand and the tea cup in the other.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you,” she told him between kisses. She stopped a moment. “Do you think we should tell her about the other thing?”
Rumach reached out and allowed the cup he was holding to gently float back to the saucer on the table. He shook his head, “Hell no. I think it would be unwise. Miss Swan would certainly see it as evidence of the paranormal and would never leave us alone.”
“I suppose these unnatural talents we are both manifesting are the result of us crossing back and forth between life and death. We have been forever changed,” Belle speculated.
Rumach kissed his wife again. “I suspect so. Remind me to put out another bottle of rum and some good cigars for the Baron. I think it’s fitting we thank him from time to time for everything he has done for us.”
“I think that is an excellent idea. But I also think he knows how we feel and by living our lives to the fullest we thank him best,” Belle responded.
“To life then,” Rumach was content to gaze into his wife’s deep blue eyes.
“And love,” Belle fell into his soft brown eyes (like she had so long ago).