Chapter 19 ~ Letting Go
The weeks following the funeral have been hard, but much less difficult to endure now that I am surrounded by friends. Well, Dante’s friends, that have somewhat, semi-permanently taken up not only residence at my house but also filling the days of emptiness with laughter, deep and meaningful conversations and a lot of alcohol consumption. I felt young again, not a haggard and an emotionally crazed widow, but the age I was meant to be.
They all worked different hours, so there was always someone there to interact with and I think the guards and Angelique enjoyed the extra company to considering they had relaxed in their duties, even joining us for poker and shots on Friday nights.
The weekends, however, had become an exciting time of letting loose and partying, even though it was just the seven of us. Deciding to venture outside of the house, being a Saturday, we ended up at Dante’s place, spending the day surrounded in sun and surf. As the ocean licked at my toes, I felt relief in escaping to such a warm, calming environment.
The others had gone back to his house to start dinner but I was content with watching the ocean from the shoreline, for the first time since Tim’s death I felt as though I could finally breathe and I closed my eyes soaking in the tranquillity.
“Hey, you coming in anytime soon?” Viola’s sweet tone filtered through my ears, she had become one of the most important and interesting people I have ever met.
“Soon, I’m just enjoying being somewhere different.”
“I remember playing out here as a kid, this was always my favourite house, I was annoyed that I didn’t think to buy it off them before DJ did.”
“This was your childhood home?” This news was surprising to me, Dante had never mentioned it before.
“Yeah, Dante never told you?” I shook my head, “yeah, he’s a bit sentimental under that hard-headed dickiness.”
“Viola… can I ask you something personal?” I watched her closely out of the corner of my eye.
“C’mon Q, we are friends, you can ask me anything, except maybe if you can borrow my knickers, I kind of draw the line there as I only own G-strings, god knows I don’t want your asshole rubbing where mine was.”
I chuckled, “hey, even I would lend you my undies if you pissed yourself.”
“Well isn’t that sweet of you, see, that’s why we are friends.”
“What’s going on between you and Blade?” From the surprise on her face and the way it fell, I could tell she wasn’t expecting that question. She turned and looked back at the boys on the veranda, Blade was watching us, Viola sighed and turned back around to face the ocean again, all playfulness long forgotten.
“Q, can I share something with you, without it going back to my brother?”
“I’m in love with him, have been for about four years now. When I came back from Italy and met him, we began to see each other in secret but Dante has always been very clear about his friends and I remaining separate, no relationships and no contact of any sort. See, the boys used to have another member, Jarred. He was like sex on two legs, muscular, gorgeous and of course he was a ladies man. Jarred and I started dating in their last year of high school, only, while I was under the impression being his girlfriend meant we were exclusive, he thought he could still see other girls. The fight was the biggest in our school’s history and landed the boys in a lot of trouble while Jarred ended up in the hospital. Since then, Dante has had a strict ‘hands-off’ policy when it comes to his mates, Blade knows this and because he would lose his job and shared custody of his daughter, we continue to play this - I can live life without you - game…”
“Wait, Blade has a daughter?”
She laughed, “yeah, I know right, he doesn’t seem responsible enough to take care of another person but he’s actually a fantastic dad.”
“So why don’t you both say screw it and go for it, it’s obvious he has feelings for you.”
“I can’t answer that because I don’t know. I would do it tomorrow if I could, however, every time he hooks up with someone else, every time he flirts with someone else in front of me, it burns just that little bit more and he always finds a way to reel me back in when I find a way to move on without him. He’s had my heart this whole time and yet he continues to break it.”
“Seems to me, he’s scared of commitment.”
“Oh, he is. Scared to commit, scared of losing his friends, job and daughter. He has too much to lose if we end badly but in the meantime, I’m left loving a man who will never love me back.”
“What are you going to do?” I felt great sadness for Vi, she didn’t deserve this treatment.
“Move on I guess, find a way to fall in love with someone else.”
“So, I guess your situation is similar to mine,” she nodded slowly.
“I guess, but, DJ adores the ground you walk upon. Speaking of DJ, your husband gave you explicit instructions to find someone to love you, Dante loves you and I know you love him, I can see it, why haven’t you jumped head first into a relationship? What’s the hesitation?”
“I don’t know, guilt maybe, trying to allow my heart to heal before I give it to someone else,” I shrugged my shoulders dejectedly, I actually couldn’t tell her or even myself, because I didn’t quite understand it either. He had been nothing but loyal, supportive and caring this entire time, yet crossing that line and starting again meant closing the door to my past and losing the last bit of my husband I had left or did it? There was room for them both before, no matter how much I denied it, could there be now?
“Maybe matters of the heart will remain our mystery, god knows the men in my stories don’t have an issue with their feelings, but this is not fiction, this is reality and in reality… I don’t get a happy ending, all I get is pain, torture and rejection.”
Her confession hurt me, how can someone so beautiful, vivacious and caring, but also simply wonderful in every way feel like she didn’t deserve a happy ending? From what she had said it was easy to understand that Dante’s ruling was simply out of the protection of his sister’s heart but he needed to let it go. She was justified in having a happy ending, warranted in receiving a happily ever after she wrote about in her books. He no longer needed to protect her because she was old enough to take care of herself.
As we sat down to dinner, the mood from the both of us had shifted. Me, I was trying to figure out a way to bring up the topic without it being obvious, Viola’s because she had confessed her secret and now was reliving her pain in quiet silence. The boy’s furrowed their brows at our odd behaviour, “what did you two talk about out there? You’ve both come back in a sombre mood.”
My eyes met Viola’s, I knew she was pleading with me to not talk about what she had revealed, “oh, ya know, periods and stuff.” Vi smiled, Vinnie, on the other hand, choked on his beer.
“Periods? Jesus, I’m going home if you start talking about that shit.”
“Vinnie, you will be the first one to run down to the store and get your Mrs her tampons,” Kason snorted at him.
“I would not,” he defended. “I’m a man, men don’t do that sort of thing.”
“Actually, a man does exactly that.” Blade cut in, now that I knew he had a daughter I saw him in a different light. “You take care of the women you love, worship them, provide for them, help them to understand you are there for them no matter what…” I couldn’t help but cuss out that fucken idiot in my head.
“Excuse me,” Viola stood up and walked out of the room. Blades eyes flicking to her retreating back longingly, before his gaze downcast to his plate of food.
“Well that’s only because of Ruth that you have that opinion,” Vinnie replied, my focus was on Blade as he met my accusing eyes. I gave him a silent and very unimpressed face, he knew what I was getting at. He should be going after her, he should be facing Dante and revealing how much she meant to him, but like a scared little boy, he cowered away.
“Excuse me,” I tossed my napkin on the table and scurried after Vi.
Finding her in Dante’s pink spare bedroom, which I now realised belonged to her from the beginning, her face unable to hide the disappointment at seeing it was me that walked in and not the object of her affection.
“I know you were expecting someone else, so I’m going to ignore your reaction to me.”
“I’m sorry Q. I am glad you’re here, I guess… I always hoped… ah, I’m being ridiculous.” She wiped the small tears that sprung from the sides of her eyes.
“You’re not being ridiculous, you’re wounded Vi, it should have been him but he clearly is a coward.”
“I guess, finally opening up and talking about it ruffled my feathers. Four years of this, it’s time to let go but I don’t know how?” She brought her knees to her chest and wrapped her tiny arms around them as I sat cross-legged on the floor next to her.
“I do, we light his house on fire.” She snorted, her laughter quickly brightening the room.
“Psychotic sounds good to me. Should we mutilate his body too?”
Now it was my turn to laugh, “sure, but not his balls, clearly he’s misplaced those.”
She leant her head on my shoulder, “I like the way you think.”
“Maybe it’s time for us both to let go? Maybe it’s time for us to reclaim our power?” I jumped excitedly to my feet and hauled her ass with me.
“What are we doing?” I dragged her all the way to the kitchen, opening and slamming cupboards in frustration. “What are you looking for?”
“What the bloody hell are you doing Viola?” Dante hollered from the table.
“We need wine,” I whispered.
“Ohh, I thought you were looking for something to burn his house down, top cupboard behind the gin.” She pointed and I laughed at how she was totally in for burning down Blades house. “We’re just becoming arsonists, no need to worry,” she called back.
I gripped the neck of the wine bottle tightly and grasped her hand, heading straight for the ocean. “Take off your clothes,” I ordered beginning to strip under the darkening open sky. “Skull,” I ordered again after taking a hefty swig from the bottle and thrust it into her hand.
“While I’ve never been one for a lesbian encounter I’m not going to lie Q, your assertiveness is turning me on.”
“Put it in your book,” I grinned at her.
“Oh, I intend too.”
Completely naked and warmed from our gruelling inhale of red wine, we entered the water hand in hand. It was freezing, our nipples had pebbled to points and goose pimples covered our skin.
I opened my mouth and screamed at the top of my lungs, “I am strong.”
She laughed and then joined in, catching on quickly to what I was getting at. “I am fearless,” she yelled.
“I am powerful,” I cried out.
“I am independent,” I gave her an odd look but she just shrugged.
“I can let go,” my voice betrayed me but I forged ahead regardless, there was still a slight fear of letting Tim go.
“I can let go,” she cried out as we laughed like a pair of nude maniacs and hugged each other. “Q? Why no clothes?”
“It’s symbolic Vi. We shed our old selves and revel in our new blank canvases.”
“I’m so fucken glad I met you…”
“What the fuck are you two doing?” Our intimate moment was interrupted by Dante as he stood with his hands over Kason and Vinnie’s eyes. Blade couldn’t look away from Vi, I was not even a speck on his register and Asher amusedly raked in our appearance, much to Dante’s horror. “Close your fucken eyes, I have enough trouble keeping these two perverts under control,” Dante spat at them.
“Fuck, I ain’t even sorry,” Asher smirked.
Dante kicked the backs of his friend’s knees, dropping them to the sandy floor before tossing us both giant bath towels. “Cover up,” he spat.
The walk back to the house had DJ steaming at the ears, but I had a feeling it was less to do with me and more to do with Viola and his friends. Vi and I, on the other hand, were in a very cheery disposition, linking arms and skipping along feeling quite jolly as the wine made its way through our veins. Our discarded items of clothing in the hands of Blade, “I like your tattoos,” I commented.
“Thank you, each has a meaning,” Vi replied.
“No way, we should go through each one in great detail.”
“No,” Dante snapped.
It was like we were in trouble like I was fifteen all over again and caught sneaking in the window drunk as anything. We chuckled and skipped up the steps, Dante strode straight through the door and up the stairs to his room. “I’ll deal with this,” I affirmed to Viola, Dutch courage pulsing through my system, after all, I had stripped bare of my former self.
“Great, he’s an asshole when he’s in this mood, good luck,” she sang.
“I am strong,” I told myself loudly.
“And fearless,” Viola shouted back.
I climbed the staircase and headed for his bedroom, memories of the night we met burning in my mind. This, is where it all began.