Begin Again

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Eight: Best Man

I stand outside of Violet’s apartment door with flowers. Because of course fucking flowers made most girls weak in the knees. Maybe not Violet, though. She’s more rough on the outside than the other girls I have met, but not in a bad way. Instead of beautiful lively flowers, I could see Violet enjoying flower more when they’re dead and crispy. Not in a bad way, but a decorative way.

She opens the door and my eyes instantly scan her. Her red hair is down and wavy, she wore black short shorts with weird tight things with holes in them under the shorts. What do girls call those things, again? Who the fuck knows. To match her dark shorts and dark personality, she wore a tight black tank top.

I barely know her but I want her, more than a friend and I hadn’t felt this way toward anyone since I lost Jade. I knew exactly why I wanted her specifically - because I could see Jade in her. It’s wrong, but my heart is constantly telling me to stop being a pussy and to just go for it.

Mason was right when he told me that my motives towards Violet were wrong, I can see that now. Would it change where I was headed with Violet?

Absolutely not.

“Hey, Thomas. Come on in,” She says as she steps aside, running her fingers through her hair, “Don’t mind the mess, I’m just in the process of de-cluttering.”

I walk inside and look around her otherwise clean apartment, the only thing messy being the coffee table that was filled with papers. “Your place is far from messy. You wanna see a mess? Come to my loft.”

“That sounds tempting,” Violet jokes before closing the door. She walks towards the kitchen, looking back at me, “I made fried chicken. Is that okay?”

“I’m not one to turn away food,” I tell her and she heads into the kitchen. Her apartment is tiny and I can tell it’s a building that people who are just getting by rents. I don’t judge her for that, I respect her. She’s doing things on her own in a world that can get so damn costly. Not everyone can be as fortunate as I am to be born into a wealthy family.

I take a seat on the couch, leaning back and taking in the smell that was coming from the kitchen. Based on smell, I expected this meal to be good. My eyes fall to the papers on her coffee table, nothing seemed important. I could tell from a quick glance that there were doodles on paper, appointments written down, and then something did catch my attention.

A folder that had Jade’s name on it.

Without hesitation, I grab the folder and bring it close to me. Jade Cooper Scholarship Foundation. What in God’s name is this? As I open the folder I scan over papers with stats, universities and colleges listed, a bunch of random numbers and at the bottom it read: Founded by Violet Cooper.

“Thomas?”

I drop the folder and look over at Violet who was walking towards me with a plate in each hand, “Hey... Sorry, I...”

“It’s not official,” She says to me as she sets the plates down and looks at the folder on the floor, “It’s just a work in progress at this point. Just pretend you didn’t see it.”

I can’t just pretend that I did read about a scholarship foundation that Violet was trying to start in Jade’s name. It just isn’t possible.

“You know I have a foundation in her name already, right?” I ask her.

As Violet sits next to me, she nods her head and picks up the folder from the floor, “I know. And it’s great... But it’s for victims of car accidents. This one is different, our family never had much growing up and for most of us it didn’t matter, but for Jade... Well, you know how smart she was. Going to post-secondary school meant everything to her, but affording it was always in the back of her mind. Thomas, I want to be able to provide a a student from a low income family the chance to attend college without having to worry about how they’ll make it work. Once a year, a hard working teenager gets a boost to keep going after high school. Like Jade.”

I’m taken aback but all that I can really think about is how brilliant Violet’s idea is. Everything she says is true, academics meant everything to Jaded and she worked he ass off at Caesars to make things happen for herself.

The idea that Violet has represents the good that Jade had always stood for the only thing that was disappointing for me was the fact that I didn’t think about this idea on my own.

“Violet...”

“Please don’t tell me that this isn’t possible because I’m going to make it possible.”

After she interrupts me, I shake my head and take her hands in mine, “No. No, Vi. This is incredible. It’s everything that Jade stands for and more. I can’t believe all of the specs you’ve worked out.”

“Wait, really?”

“Yeah... I love the idea.” I smile at her, feeling completely uplifted at the mention of this idea, “Partner with me.”

“Huh?” Violet seems confused at my suggestion but I know the confusion is due to her being overwhelmed.

“Partner with me. It’s still founded by you, it’s 100% your idea but I’d like to help you build this foundation. I have money to give it a start, all I want is to have a say in some of the things,” I attempted to plead my case, growing up with a father in this business I knew a lot more than someone my age usually would. I know my rights as a partner, I know what it takes to make a proper investment and I wouldn’t back away from this. Not if I can help.

I impatiently awaited her response, hoping that she would give me the chance to be a part of this. Even though I already have my own foundation for Jade, this was something completely different and another way to keep Jade remembered.

Violet opens her mouth but it takes a few seconds for her to actually speak, “Thomas, I... I can’t say no to you. I know how much she means to you, but there’s no way that it’s fair for you to invest in something that hasn’t even taken off yet.”

“You can’t refuse an investment just because you haven’t built a company yet, that’s why it’s call an investment,” I explain to her before taking a hold of her hand and staring down at her, “Please just think about it. We would do great together.”

She seems hesitant and I can see that, as my phone rings she eyes the table where it is set and then looks at me again, “You should get your phone.”

I don’t want to, but I also know that Violet it avoiding answering me just yet, so I give her that time. I don’t mean to be pushy by any means, even though I am.

As I pick up my phone, I notice my dad’s name on the caller ID which results in me answering the phone with a sigh, “What?”

I hear my dad groan on the other end of the line before he responds, “Really, Thomas? Is it impossible for you to answer like an adult.”

“Do you want me to talk to you or not?”

I see Violet staring at me, I hadn’t told her about my bad relationship with my dad so at this point all she sees is me being a jerk without reason. But I have reason and she will learn that soon enough.

“We are here with Mason and Jenna, should we expect you to be joining us?” My dad asks me and I suddenly remember my prior plans. Mason had made dinner arrangements at a fancy restaurant to tell dad and Allison about the engagement.

To say I didn’t know about this would be a lie, I knew but I actually forgot. Of course I would do anything to avoid my dad, but that doesn’t include messing up my brother’s plans along the way.

“Fuck,” I cuss under my breath, “Give me twenty minutes. Tell Mase I’m sorry, but I’ll be there.”

Without saying goodbye, I hang up and turn to look at Violet who is holding her hands in front of her, “Everything okay?”

“No... Well, yes. I just forgot about this family thing,” I tell her before taking a step towards her, “I am so sorry that I fucked this up, but I gotta go.”

“It’s okay, I understand.”

Her smile causes me to smile and I fight the urge to hold her face in my hands, “I’ll make it up to you, okay? Think about my offer and I’ll call you tonight.”

Violet laughs and begins to shoo me, “Get going. You have twenty minutes, remember.”

This girl is something else. She challenges me in ways I never thought possible, she tells me what to do rather than shying away and above all, she reminds me of what I lost. But I wouldn’t admit that to anyone other than myself.

***

“Sorry I’m late,” I apologize as I approach my brother’s reserved table. I lean down and kiss Mila’s head before I take the empty seat beside her, “Hey, kid. You cut your hair, huh?”

Mila looks over at me with a big grin on her face, “A boy I like said that he likes shorter hair on girls. So I got a trim.”

I furrow my eyebrows, looking towards my dad and Allison, “Are you fuc-- kidding me? She wants a haircut to impress a boy and you just let her think that it’s okay to change herself for someone?”

I hear Mason sigh, muttering something about how I always star something with them but I ignore him. Allison speaks first, “We didn’t know until after the haircut... But regardless of her reasoning, she looks more grown up, which is what she wanted.”

My eyes shift towards my dad, awaiting his response, “Anything you want to add?”

He shakes his head, adjusting his tie, “I’m not here to explain myself to you, Mila is our daughter and we don’t care for your judgement, Thomas. Lets not start some unnecessary arguments this evening. We’re here for Mason.”

“Of course you are. You’re always here for Mason,” I comment before looking towards my brother who sat across the table from me, “The table is yours, little brother.”

Mason stays quiet, inhaling deeply and Jenna takes his hand on the table. Jenna was always good at taking over a situation, she wasn’t shy nor did she have trouble making announcements, “We’re really grateful that you were all able to make it here. We wanted this evening to be special so we could tell you all something.”

“Not all, I already know,” I point out proudly before holding my finger up to a waiter who was passing, “Beer please.”

Jenna rolls her eyes and looks towards dad and Allison again, “Mason has been by my side through a lot of my problems. He has supported all of my decisions and he never holds my past against me. I could go on and on about his amazing qualities but being his parents, you already know how incredible he is.”

Allison smiles proudly at Mason who is blushing like a little girl at this point, “That’s true, but we also know how lucky he is to have you, Jenna.”

Funny, because when I was fucking Jenna everyone thought she was bad for me. But, I’m not Mason.

“I love your son,” Jenna continues, her eyes becoming watery like anyone woman who talks about someone they love. I notice her squeezing Mason’s hand, turning her head to look at him and giving him a little smile, “I never want to go through life without him by my side...”

“And she won’t have to,” Mason adds to her comment, his smile growing as he lifts Jenna’s hand to show everyone the rock on her left hand, “We’re getting married.”

Within seconds the table becomes loud with laughter and chatting. Dad and Allison stand up, surrounding Mason and Jenna, giving them hugs and congratulations. I zone out, hearing nothing but muffled words. A side affect to my depression, unfortunately. I haven’t been the best in social situations since starting my medication.

It isn’t because I don’t care, I can’t control the way my body shuts down without my consent.

“Dibs on flower girl!” Mila grins happily before nudging my arm, “Just another reason to buy a new dress.”

I roll my eyes, “You’re a diva.”

After the commotion dies down, Mason looks at me with a hopeful smile on his face, “I was also wanting to ask you something.”

“Okay?”

I lean back in my chair, taking a sip of my beer and waiting for Mason to ask me to be his best man. Obviously that is what he wants to ask, but I wouldn’t say it for him. He clears his throat and I can see the discomfort in his eyes, “Well, I know we had a rough childhood, but... I don’t know, man. You’ve become my best friend through everything.”

I nod my head in agreement, “I know. A lot of people would say that I’ve grown as a person.”

“Shut up and be serious,” Jenna scolded me, a laugh following.

“I’m not good at these things,” Mason continues and I can tell that he’s rubbing his sweaty palms on his legs under the table, “I want to ask you if.... Well, there’s a part I want you to play...”

“Mason, I’m not sure where you’re heading with this...” I lie, taunting him as much as I could in this short amount of time.

I can see Jenna eyeing me, she knew that I was screwing with Mason but she also knew that I meant no harm. I simply teasing my little brother.

“You don’t see where I’m going?” Mason seems confused. He scratches his head and clears his throat, “I-I need a best man...”

“Every wedding has one,” I admit.

“Thomas,” He groans, tapping his fingers uncomfortably on the table surface, “Will you?”

I raise an eyebrow, “Will I what?”

Mason closes his eyes as he leans his head back, “Dude.”

“Mase, of course I’ll be your best man,” I chuckle before standing up and giving Mason a ‘bro handshake,’ as I mess up his hair I give him a smile, “I’m honored.”

A lot has changed since my childhood. I’ve gotten past a lot of anger I held against Mason, we became nearly inseparable which I would have never expected to happen. I’ve since made something of myself, I learned to care about myself and building a career. For the most part, I had done a complete turn around since my teen years. But there’s just one thing I can’t seem to get over and that’s the resentment I hold against my father.

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