Begin Again

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Fourteen: Hemingway

My mind is struggling trying to come up with an explanation for Violet’s Facebook not having any of Jade’s family as friends. It seems like a minor issue and an easy over reaction, but in the end it doesn’t make sense. Even if Jade and Violet grew apart, she would have some Cooper’s as friends, but why doesn’t she?

I try my best to make excuses in my mind, but I struggle to find a plausible explanation. The most I can do at this time is talk to Violet about it, so I text her to meet up and await her reply. As I stare at my phone impatiently there’s a knock on my door.

Ella holds up a stack of papers, staying in the doorway, “The Altman project emailed these for you to review... They need to be reviewed and signed by Friday.”

“Oh, yeah... Uh, can you just read through it and give me a summary?” I asks, looking back at my computer and scanning Violet’s friend list again. I have to be missing something.

As Ella walks in, she sits on the black leather couch and clears her throat, “There’s about fifteen pages double sided. It’ll be a little difficult to give a few minute brief summary.”

I shrug, “Do your best.”

My mind goes elsewhere as Ella skims through the papers. I feel my phone vibrate and I read the newest text from Violet explaining that she’s busy right now but would message me later to meet up.

I’m disappointed, I can’t deny that but I also can’t force her to make time that she doesn’t have, we never had an issue making time for each other before and the only thing that changed was Mila making Violet cry unintentionally. She said that she understood but she could have said that to make me feel better.

We also had sex the last time we were together, maybe she regrets it. I know that it wasn’t bad sex, but maybe she feels guilty. In a way, I feel guilty for sleeping with Jade’s cousin. I wonder if Jade would approve or feel betrayed, but if I’m being honest, this is the most I have connected with someone since Jade was alive.

Ella’s fingers snap which causes me to look at her with furrowed eyebrows, “What?”

“I feel like you’re not even listening,” She says, she isn’t wrong but I only shrug. As frustrated with me as she seems, she continues, “They changed the numbers in hopes that you’re willing to negotiate price for the building.”

“How much did they drop?” I ask her.

“Based on the number to estimated them at, they dropped fifteen percent.”

“Yeah, you can tell them to go fuck themselves. That’s at least a fifteen thousand dollar loss. I’m charging fifty dollars per square foot of a 2,000 square foot building... This rages to as high as seventy per square foot and he wants me to drop 15%?” I chuckle and lean back in my seat, “That’ll be a no. A fuck no.”

Ella looks at me and then back at the papers in her hands, responding quietly, “So what is it you want me to do?”

“Tell them to fuck off with their cheap asses and find a company with better price a quality. Then when they come running back in two months time I’ll raise my estimate 15% just for the hell of it,” I smirk at my idea, liking the thought of throwing someone’s mistakes in their face. You cross me and I’ll fuck you up like a true businessman.

“You’re kidding... I mean about telling them to fuck off. You clearly mean something more formal, right?”

Ella seems confused and a little unsure of what I’m saying but regardless of how people expect professionals to act, I will run my company authentically and that includes me being exactly how I am whether it seems rude or not.

“No. I clearly mean fuck off.”

“Do you think people will choose you if you talk to them that way?” She asks me.

I shrug nonchalantly, “That’s up to them. At least I would avoid losing money to low ballers.”

She only nods her head, standing from the couch and approaching the doorway. Suddenly she stops and turns to look at me again, “Will you ever change, Thomas? I mean, high school is one thing but you’re an adult now... Regardless of business being business, people have feelings.”

I stare at her, surprised that she would question me on my own methods but not offended. Of course she had a point, but there was only a brief time in my life that I actually care and now I’m turning back into the same guy I was before Jade. She would be disappointed but she can’t tell me that so it doesn’t phase me like it would if she were still here.

“Ella, I’m a different person. You may not see a huge difference in me but I am better in a way... My take on life has always been more aggressive than most people but it got me where I am now, and that’s success,” I try to explain, hoping to convince myself as well as convince her but it’s unlikely, “Do you really think I’m that bad of a person?”

I expect her to pause but she doesn’t. She actually surprises me with her answer, shaking her head no, “I don’t think that... You do things that are bad but you as a person? I’d say average.”

“I like to think that I’m above average,” I reply.

“Everyone would like to think that but not everyone can be,” She smiles. Ella smiled at me for the first time and I’m waiting for her to run out to avoid me, or change her mood suddenly. But she doesn’t, she actually smiled and doesn’t seem to hate me at this moment, “Believe it or not, everyone has a bit of good in them whether they show it or not.”

“I don’t believe that,” I object, shaking my head and leaning back in my chair, “What about serial killers? What good did Ted Bundy have? Or John Wayne Gacy? Jeffrey Dahmer? Absolutely fucking nothing, they were all bad, not a single ounce of good in them.”

Ella rolls her eyes at me and that seems more like her than the girl who had just smiled a moment before, “You always have to prove someone wrong, don’t you? You can’t compare the average human being to a serial killer...”

“And you can’t say that everyone has good in them when it’s clear that not everyone does,” My smirk grows, feeling victorious.

I guess watching murder documentaries came in handy, not in a creepy way but a knowledge for someone’s criminal mind - most of the documentaries that I watched had stated that bad people often felt no remorse which meant there was no good in them. For a while after Jade passed I considered becoming a lawyer, I thought about going to school for becoming a family lawyer and extending to criminology which is where my knowledge for criminals came from.

“Have a good day, Thomas,” She says but I stop her again.

“Hey, Ella?” I stand from my chair slowly as she turns to me, “Are we good? I mean, can we start over and put the past behind us?”

“Don’t push your luck, Mr. Reid.”

She responded in a joking way and I find myself chuckling as she walks away. For a moment, Ella had managed to keep my negative thoughts about Violet’s secret keeping away and actually make me smile. After every storm, there’s a rainbow and today Ella is my rainbow.

When Ella leaves from my sight, I type Jade’s name on my Facebook search which had her profile now listed as “Remembering Jade Cooper.” It’s a punch in the gut every time I read it but it’s somehow getting a little easier.

Her profile photo is the same, her infectious smile and gorgeous hair. Her last status update was two days before the accident: “The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them - Ernest Hemingway.”

Ah, she was obsessed with that dude and his inspiring quotes. I felt like I had been dating a poetic version of Taylor Swift with all of the Hemingway quotes she would post. A lot of them were confusing at the time but now they all seemed to make sense to me.

When I scroll back to Jade’s photo, I smile at her and feel as though she’s near me just by looking into those beautiful eyes, “Baby, I don’t know what to do anymore... I try to make you proud and be a better person but I’m afraid of failing you. I’m not sure I can be the man that you wanted me to be, but I’m trying. For you.”

I could never add up to the kind of amazing person that Jade was, but I will spend the rest of my life trying so she continues to leave her mark on this world. Even at my worst, just looking at her brings everything else into perspective and I find courage in doing what I need to do, which right now is talking to Violet whether she’s free or not.

I text Violet again, this time not asking her to meet up, but telling her that I need to see her, no questions asked. It seems a little forceful but I can’t sit here wondering when she has all the answers that I need.

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