Chapter 63 - For Better, Not Worst
The colour green and blue, was the first to pop in Kate’s head as the helicopter made a final turn over the Mahé Island and began to make its course towards their destination - The Fregate Island. Forty minutes the pilot had said, and that was how long it would take to reach Taylor’s private island.
No matter how many times Taylor had tried to engage her in a conversation, she still couldn’t tear her eyes away from the magnificent view of the islands below nor the Sapphire sea that surrounded them.
She had never in her life seen so many trees all in one place, and birds flying so carefree over the clear crystal water - it took her breath away. It felt like they were making their way to a fantasy island and the anticipation was slowly killing her.
“Do we really have to go back?” She mouthed into the headpiece, smiling at the group of dolphins that came to view.
The husky deep sound of his laugh made her turn to look at him. “You mean you wouldn’t miss the others?” He returned, his eyes soft when they finally met hers.
She shook her head without so much as a second thought. “We spend our whole lives trying to make it to heaven, the promise land. So why would we leave? We’re in paradise!”
“Oh? I see. So should I just call your grandmother and tell her that we’re staying, indefinitely?”
Her eyes instantly widened in fear.
“Don’t you dare!” She yelped, returning her gaze out the window. “Not unless you’re planning on sleeping alone for the whole week.”
The rest of the ride was quite and on few occasions, it was only Taylor and their pilot that exchanged a few words here and there. And when they finally landed on the ground, Kate was speechless. The air was incredibly fresh and the whole surrounding tranquil, as if excluded for sands of time, untouched and unbothered by the busy world outside. The harmonious songs of various birds singing in the trees brought a smile to her face as she followed behind Taylor - taking in as much of the scenery as she possible could.
Nana would have loved it here, she thought to herself. She would have to ask Taylor to bring her along on their next trip.
“Mr. Price, ” she heard and swung around only to bump hard into Taylor’s back.
“Sorry babe,” she apologized, taking her place at his side. Only then did she notice a dark-skinned man standing by a golf buggy, dressed in a white shirt and a pair of brown pants.
“Bernard,” Taylor acknowledged him with a firm handshake, then he brought an arm around Kate and held her close. “This is Kate, and Kate, this is Bernard. His keeps everything running smoothly around here.”
Kate offered him a polite smile, leaning forward as she shook his hand. “You are so lucky, Bernard. This place is amazing.” She exclaimed.
“It is,” Bernard agreed, his voice was filled with pride.
“Why don’t we go and freshen up?” Taylor suggested, helping her into the buggy. “You can even rest a while if you want.”
“Rest?” Kate raised a brow him, amused that he thought she could. She was anxious to explore this little slice of heaven. “I don’t think I can even if I wanted too.”
Taylor sighed, shaking his head light. Jet lag was bound to catch up with her, he thought. So he made no move to argue but instead turned at the key and stepped on the ‘go’ pedal.
The warm breeze caressed her face as they followed a narrowed dirt path with coconut trees aligned on the sides of the road. The sun ray penetrated through the shade that the leaves provided, Kate turned and casted a glance at Taylor - and just as though sensing her eyes on him, he turned and returned her gaze.
He looked different but the same. He was here yet so far away. She wanted to reach out and tell him that everything was going to be alright but instead of saying the actual words, she reached over and placed her over his. Taylor smiled at the small gesture, to her it may have meant nothing but to him, it felt somewhat like a reassurance that she was here, really here and wouldn’t leave - not even as after he shows her a different side of him.
When the buggy pulled to a stop, she peeved her head out and gasped at the house before her. It was made entire out of wood - simple yet elegant.
Taylor’s eyes sparkled with pride at her expression. If he were to be honest, he had been abit skeptical about her reaction. Not many woman would be fond of the idea of leaving a luxurious life behind to come here, yet Kate, judging by her reaction, she seemed to favour being here more than being back home. He was suddenly reminded why he had felt inlove with her.
“Let’s go inside,” he said, getting out then came around to her side to assist her.
Kate took hold of his hand and followed him inside the two story house. He introduced her to his staff members and practically had to drag her upstairs when she would stop asking them questions. And when she told him that they must think them rude for leaving them in a hurry, he eased her mind with promises of what he had in store for her.
Taylor had taken his time stripping her of her clothes before taking her to the promise land - his shower. He could still recall the many times that he had fantasized about making love to her in here. And just as he had imagined it the last time that he was here, he held her up with her back pressed against the wall and took his time thrusting inside her, showing her just how much he cherished her body and enjoying her sweet cries of pleasure.
Yes, it was just like he had imagined it, if not, better than he had imagined it happening. But the only thing that was different was the look in her eyes when he settled her back to her feet. And when he asked her whether he had hurt her, she quickly shook her head no to reassure him and took him by surprise when she wrapped her arms around him and held him close with the shower head spraying over them.
“You weren’t here,” she had muttered against his chest, her fingers caressing the smoothness of hid back. “You were making love to me but your mind was elsewhere.”
Before he could gather his thoughts to apologize, she had left him alone in the bathroom and suddenly, his shower felt too big for just one man. He had heard she moving around in their room but by the time he made it to the bedroom, Kate was already fast sleep on their bed.
Taylor made his way downstairs in search of Edna, the home nurse that he had hired. It wasn’t until he reached the kitchen that he found found her standing behind the counter with a glass of water in her hands.
“Mr. Price,” the nurse acknowledged his presence and immediately placed her glass on the the countertop.
“Edna.” He nodded his head at her, leaning against the the coolness of the freshly wiped granite. “How is he?” He asked in a bland tone.
The nurse’s lips pulled at the side and her eyes glazed. “He hasn’t woken up yet. And if I’m being entirely honest, I don’t think that he ever will.”
Taylor’s jaw clenched. He would have to called Brandon to let him know about this.
“What did the doctor say?” He asked, wondering why he didn’t feeling anything about the news. He should. He knew that and yet, he didn’t - couldn’t even if he forced himself to.
“He said around the same thing that I said. Only I still have a bit of hope that he will. But he said that it wasn’t likely given that he’s relying entirely on life support now.”
He drew in a deep breath, pinching the bridge of his nose as he shook his head. “I’ll be up later to see him. There’s somebody very important to me that I want him to meet before he--” His voice finally give in and croaked.
Taylor swallowed down the last of his words. Edna leant over and placed her hands over his, squeezing them as and sign of support. “It’ll be alright, Mr.Price,” she said, offering a gentle smile. “I know.”
When Kate finally woke up Taylor wasn’t by her side. She made her way down the stairs in search of him. After checking the aalomost all the rooms downstairs, she ran into Bernard and he directed her to where Taylor was, where he would always go to whenever he was here.
The white sand was warm underneath her feet as she followed Taylor’s footprints. The sun was setting, Kate noticed, it was only now that she realised that she had slept the whole day away. Her feet halted when she found him sitting at the edge of the shore, brows knitted,arms crossed over his knees with the waves gently crashing on the beach, washing at his feet.
It was all the confirmation that she needed. Something was definitely not right.
After taking a deep breath, she walked over to him and sat beside him, burning her feet in the sand.
“Hey,” she said, resting her head against his shoulder. “I missed you. I woke up and you weren’t there.”
Taylor planted a soft kiss on her head before returning his gaze on the vast abundance of the sea before him. “Forgive me, love.” He muttered, “I meant to go back up but I needed to make a call to Brandon, and I guess I just lost track of time.”
“Babe, it’s fine.” She told him, “I just missed waking up in your arms, that’s all.”
His arm dropped from his knees and he circled it around her. “Brandon and Kayla will be joining us the day after tomorrow.” He announced, his frown deepening on his face.
“Really?” Kate tilted her head and looked at him. He seemed lost, torn and the distant look in his eyes tugged at her heart. “what is it, Taylor? Eversince you spoke of this trip, you’ve been different and now, it’s as if I’m here with a complete stranger, ” She said, wrapping her fingers around his arm.
His eyes closed shut at her words and he lowered his head, ashamed at what he was about to reveal. Terrified at how she would react. Afraid that she would seem him as the monster that his father had created.
She never hated her name as much as she did now. It was because of the way that he had said it, as if it had torn at his heart and squeezed at his lungs then burned through throat before scratching at his tongue - torturous.
“Brandon is coming here because,” he took in a deep breath and slowly released it. “Because our father is here, and he’s dying.”
Her fingers left his skin as if it had burned her. “How?” She asked in near shout. She hadn’t intended for it to come out that way but the whole world knew that the great Daniel Price was dead, had been dead for eight years now.
“Dante,” he replied, “He helped me stage my father’s boat accident. When all attention was being direct at the wreckage and the media was fighting over who gets to the scene of the crime first, Dante and his gang snuck him out of the country without being noticed and I’ve keep him here. For eight years, I’ve kept my father a prisoner on this island.”
Her hands flew to her mouth in disbelief. Eight years. Her eyes never left his face, yet he was having a hard time to look at her.
“Why?” She whispered, “What did he do to deserve being exhiled?”
Taylor ran a smooth finger on the scar on his forehead then dropped them and gripped a fistful of sand.
“He was having a hard time accepting Brandon as his son. Said that his mother wasn’t that good of a lay for his name to be dragged through the mud.” He scoffed bitterly as though the memory was still raw, burning through his mind. “My father was - is a cruel man. He made sure that after my mother was dead that I would grow up to be just a bitter and cold and cruel as him. I did everything I could to try to please him but it was never enough.” He explained and his soft blues eyes finally met her uncertain ones.
“After I found out about Brandon, I reached out to him. I was the one who went to find him. I had been alone for so long with that cruel man for a father and all I wanted was to feel normal, to feel what it was like to have a family again.” He swallowed, averting her glistening eyes.
Pity wasn’t what he was looking for, not with Kate. He only wanted her to know the man that she loved, to really know him. And perhaps understand why, why it had been necessary to rip his father out of his life.
“After the first few times that Brandon and I met up, my father found out. We got into a big argument, the worst we’ve ever had, and I asked him what was so wrong in me getting good to know my own brother? My own blood. I even begged him to at least try and give Brandon a chance, to get to know him like I did. I thought that I could change his mind - I really did. But the next thing I knew, I was on the floor, bleeding from the fucking head. He fucking hit me with an astray and threatened to cut me out of his will if I ever tried to contact Brandon again.”
Kate’s lips quivered and a tear fell from her eyes, rolling down her cheek as she enclosed him in a fierce embrace. Her heart went out to him, not out of pity, but out of love. She didn’t even want to imagine what he must have gone through growing up as he did but she could finally understand why he was like this, closed off and cold.
“Baby.” She cried against him when he shifted and pulled her onto his legs, cradling her close.
“Don’t cry, love. It was a long time ago. And I didn’t have him exhiled because of that. I did it for Brandon,” he said roughly, his eyes darkened. “The bastard threatened to get rid of him for good.”
“What?” Kate sniffed, unable to stop the tears.
Taylor nodded his head. “He gave me a choice. Told me that I had to choose. My father or my brother. And without so much as a second thought, I chose him. I chose my brother. And even after all the years that’s gone by, I still have no regrets.” His voice fell into a breathless whisper and its broke Kates heart.
She lifting her head up and saw the tears in his eyes and she did the only thing that came to mind - she kissed him.
She kissed him so hard, so fierce to remind him that she was here, that Brandon was here and Kayla and Nana and Mrs.Kirby and Ben and Maria and Bernard. She kissed him to let him know that he had a family, one that he had created on his own and that in their own way, they all loved him. She loved him. And he would never have to wonder what it feels like to be loved.
Taylor Price was hers. And yes, she was going to have to keep him. For better, not worst.
Their tears mixed and blended. They could taste it on each other’s lips, yet that didn’t stop them from clinging on to each other like a lifeline.