He folded up and put the letter away and then he took a drink. It was killing me waiting to find out anything. He gave me little clues to each letter before but this time he wasn’t saying anything. I was dying over here. Please Joe give me something.
“It was Mamma Jade’s letter,” he said and then he was quiet again.
I thought me and Mamma Jade were in a good place when I left. At least I was hoping we were, she was a hard woman to read. I also knew how much Joe valued her and her advice. To say I was scared was an understatement. Joe wasn’t saying anything. I had to know.
“Um, did she say anything?” I asked.
“She said a lot.” He said and my heart dropped.
He didn’t explain anymore he just sat there thinking. That wasn’t good was it? What did I do? Mamma Jade what did you write? Was it over now? My god this was killing me.
“Joe tell me what she said, this is killing me.” I said out loud before I could stop myself. I covered my mouth with my hand and he looked at me then he smiled a little smile that took my heart away.
“She said Malcolm is bragging about how he is going to wipe the floor with my team at the last game.” He said and I was confused. Why was he thinking so hard about that?
“Well, I doubt that. Their goalie is weak and your front lines are on fire. You’ll probably beat them by three or more goals.” I said after a quick analysis of the game and the lineups in my head.
“Not by three, but at least two.” He said looking at me intently.
“Well, I still think three or more, but I know you’re not a betting man, so.”
“You want to bet me on a hockey score? Who are you and where is the Cassie I remember?” He asked and I laughed a little.
“This is the new and improved Cassie. This Cassie knows a lot more about Hockey and hockey back office work and this Cassie comes with a love for a certain man that she would like to see turn into more.”
“What did the new Cassie give up from the old Cassie, there were a few things I liked about the old Cassie?” He asked and I smiled. He was trying to be playful but I wanted him to know how serious I was.
“The new Cassie gave up all the delusions and pretense. She also gave up the denials and fear. Most importantly she gave up the lies she would tell herself to try and make things seem right in her head. The new Cassie has all the good of the old Cassie and none of the bad.” I finished hoping he could see me the way I was now.
“Well, it sounds like the new Cassie picked up gambling though.” He said smiling.
He was so cute when he did that. “Yeah, guess I did. Did you want to bet?”
“What are the stakes?” he asked
I wanted to answer that in so many ways. I didn’t want to bet our love on a game of hockey, but if it would work? No, nothing that drastic. “The game is in two weeks, how about loser buys the winner dinner?”
He smiled. I made the right decision. I was going to have to go slow to win him back. I could do that, couldn’t I? I would have to, no matter how much it went against my normal way of thinking.
“I like that. My idea of dinner is Steak and Shake.” He said.
“Fine if you win Steak and Shake, and if I win you have to dress up and take me out. That way I can show you off and let everyone know that I’m the luckiest girl in the world.” I said eyeing him.
“You know, you’re pretty high maintenance.” He joked.
“I can be, or I can be the kind of girl that grubs up to go camping and eat s’mores. I can do it all.” I promised.
“One problem with that,” he said. “You live in Syracuse and I live here. Long commute for dinner.”
Now he was touching on the subject that I was hoping we could overcome. “Joe, I said I love you. I would do whatever it took to get you back in my life. I will miss Cindy, but if that means following your stubborn ass all the way here, I will.”
He looked shocked at my proposal. I was serious about this and I wanted him to know it. If I had to make the biggest leap, well, I had the most to prove. I just hoped he could see how serious I was and was willing to forgive me and move on.
“Mamma Jade also said that she was with you when you talked to Thomas.” He said thinking after that. “You told everyone you could think of that you were coming to see me, why?”
“I at first told Cindy and Mark, and Mark brought up the question of repairing bridges that I had broken. I made a list in my head of all the people that would be hurt because you left. I just wanted to tell those people how sorry I was and I would do all I could to get you back, for them and me.” I said.
“I can’t leave here Cassie, Tammy needs me.” He said.
“Dammit Joe, I know, this is killing me. I know what I am trying to do and I know who I am doing it to. I know Tammy is the here and now, but I love you. Joe I need you as much if not more than Tammy. I don’t want to make you choose, but I want a life with you, and, well, I want that future. I can’t think of another day without you.” I said pouring my soul out to him. Please take me back Joe, Please.
“So, let’s just say for a moment, that I agreed to forgive you, but I didn’t want to leave here. Would you really be willing to move here?” He asked.
“Yes,” I said without hesitation. I knew I would do whatever it took to have him back.
He looked at me and his eyes penetrated me in a way that no one has ever done before. I met his gaze. I wouldn’t look away, not now, not ever.
“What would you do for work, and money. A place to stay, have you thought about any of that Cassie?”
“No, but I will figure it out. I have a little money saved and I will find a job, even if it’s working at a fast food place. Joe I am serious about this, about you.” I said.
“Cassie, I don’t know. I can’t ask you to give up your entire life and career for a man you weren’t even attracted to. You may love me but you never were attracted to me.” He said.
Oh hell no, I thought. I reached across and pulled him toward me and kissed him hard. I put all the need and want into that kiss and it took him a few seconds but when he began responding I let him know how much this meant to me, how much he meant to me. We broke our kiss and we began hearing the crowd applauding. I thought the tornadoes scored but when I looked up at the jumbo Tron it was a live look at me and Joe. We were on the kiss cam.
“Uh, Joe.” I said pointing.
He began laughing. “Well, I hope we put on a good show.”
“Joe that wasn’t a show, this is a show,” and I pulled him in for another kiss. This one wasn’t as urgent as the last but it still felt so right. I let him go and looked at him. “I want you, all of you, for the rest of my life.”
“Well, I can say I have never been kissed like that before.” He said smiling.
“I don’t want to ever kiss anyone, but you, like that for the rest of my life. Please forgive me and tell me you will give me a chance to get you back?” I said.
“I don’t know what the future holds Cassie, but I know I have to stay here. Are you willing to stay here with me?”
“Yes, I will begin looking for an apartment tomorrow.”
“No,” he said and he was upset. “The last time you had an apartment you would never let me in. Others, but not me. I don’t want that again.”
“Oh Joe,” I said forgetting about that and what he saw that morning. “You will be the only one I ever let in again. I swear.”
“Where are you staying now Cassie,” he asked.
“In a nice place Mr. Updyke is letting me use. “Would you like to see it?” I asked biting my lower lip.
“After the game, I think. I want to fall for you again Cassie. I never stopped loving you, I just hurt so bad.” He said almost breaking down.
I grabbed his hands in mine and held them. “We can go slow if you want, and I will prove to you Joe. I will spend as long as it takes proving to you that we belong together forever.”
“Cassie, do you love me?” He asked.
I had told him a hundred times since I’ve seen him that I did, but now he was asking for me to say it and to give him a pledge. “With everything that I am. I love you Joe Miles.”
“I still love you too Cassie. Now we have to figure out what to do about it.” He said.
“Now we have to figure out what to do about it.” I said.
“I will do whatever Joe, I already made that commitment.” Cassie said looking at me.
“I know baby,” I said thinking. She had been helping Tammy this past week. Was Thomas serious about wanting to hire her? I mean if he was, then she would have a job, here, with me. I looked at Cassie and she was smiling and wiping a tear away.
“What’s a matter? Why are you crying?” I asked.
“You called me baby.” She said starting to laugh, cry, and hiccup all at once.
I smiled at her and handed her a drink. “Here baby, take a drink. I still have one more letter to read.”
“Oh,” she said getting serious again. “I almost forgot, the one from Thomas. Oh Joe, I’m scared again.”
“Don’t be. I want you back in my life Cassie, and nothing in this letter will change that.” I said taking her hand in mine for a moment and relishing the touch. I let go and opened the envelope and slid the letter out.
Joe, yes I locked the door. I didn’t want you running out on the poor girl without hearing her out. I don’t know what your decision will be, but let me put in my two cents, for what it’s worth. Joe, I had the love of my life, and I lost her to disease. I have Tammy, and now she is sick. Joe what I’m trying to say is that, you only get so long with the people you care about, don’t waste it.
I love you my boy and I want you to be happy, and I know how you look at the girl. Joe she is that rare breed of beauty and intelligence that every man longs for. I had it once, and now you have that chance. She loves you Joe or she wouldn’t be here. Trust me, I have seen enough of life to know.
Now the question is what are you going to do about it? Here’s my thought. I want her to work here and for Tammy. She has already helped her so much that Tammy was doing meditation during the middle of a work day on the floor in her office. She’ll be perfect for what we need. I will be giving you the papers later if you decide to follow that avenue.
Don’t so it for Tammy, or me. Joe do what feels right to you. I know you still love the girl. I know you won’t ever be happy here without her, so what are you going to do Joe. Do you want happiness? If so, do what it takes to make it happen.
Opinions from an old tired man, Joe. I need you here, and she needs you and you her. I hope you see it my way and follow through, but if you can’t get passed the past, I will still love you. You are the son I never had and I always wished I did.
I wiped the tears from my eyes after the last paragraph and replaced the letter in the envelope. I was going to save all these letters. They were what made me realize the woman in front of me, was back, and with me.
“Well baby, we need to get you a job, and I think I might have an idea.” I said tucking all the letters away.