Chapter 10 Part 2
We were sitting on the golden sand on the beach, the ocean stretched out before us, the waves rolling slowly towards the shore. It has been over an hour. I was still staring and silent the entire time.
Aaron said nothing. He asked nothing.
He’d brought coffee for both of us. He was working on his, while mine remained full untouched and probably went cold.
I lost myself, playing with the sand, swirling my fingers in a spiral pattern; it made me feel at ease. Somehow it tranquilized my mind.
Aaron touched my hand, and I jolted in surprise. He pressed it gently, leaned closer. “Say something,” he said in a tender voice. “It’s been a long time you haven’t talked.”
“I loved him.” My eyes stung with tears when I saw Aarons face, and our sorrow matched. I averted my gaze back at the ocean.
“I was away when I found Sam lying on the cold floor. I was there, but I couldn’t save him...” I burst into a flood of tears. “He died because I was unavailable. It’s all my fault. I’m responsible for Sam’s death.”
“Hey.. hey.” He consoles me. His arm stole around me. “You cannot blame yourself for any of this, Jess.”
“I tried to wake him up, Aaron, I called his name, but he never answered me back.” My heart clenched in my chest. I hold on to him very tightly, releasing my grief.
“I lost my dad. I lost S-sam...too.”
“Hush... You still have me, Jess.”
‘Yes, I have Aaron. though he’s far away, I still got him.’
From the brittle, dry sunlight of noon to the chilly evening, we sat observing the sunset.
It was oddly soothing; how only for a few hours of sharing Aaron’s presence was comforting. I started to feel a little better with him.
“How did you know to come?” I asked.
“Alice, she called me.” He answered in a natural tone.
“She did.” A small smile was starting to crawl across my face.
‘I also have my best friends too.’
Aaron drove me back to my apartment. He sat still, just driving and not saying anything. I’m sure he was analyzing me, but I didn’t want to talk more.
Before, I unfasten my seatbelt. “Thank you for escaping me out of there and coming for the funeral. It meant a lot.”
“Anything for you, Jess.” He said so quickly. There was a moving glint in his beautiful blue eyes. I dropped my eyes down to my hands.
“Are you sure you’re gonna be alright, all by yourself?” He asked after a few more seconds of silence.
“I’ll be fine,” I said to him.
Aaron insisted on walking me to the apartment. As we walked into the corridor, Aaron answered his ringing phone, and I wondered at all this time his phone never rang, maybe he’d shut it off completely, giving me all his attention and care, ‘Noble he had in plenty.’
It dawned on me that I’d forgotten my purse at the church—the black bag contain with my credit cards, keys, and my phone in it. I had never hidden a spare key elsewhere.
Great! How am I going to get inside my apartment?
Then I heard familiar voices, not too far from the door, that sounded quite irritated. I correctly presumed Alice, Sage, and Mom was inside the apartment, worried for me.
‘Oh, thank god.’
Twisting the door handle, I pushed the door open, and there was a worried frown on their faces.
“Jessica, are you okay? You got us so worried?” Mom said.
“Have you ever considered how much? We all have been worried for you, and you just ran away with Aaron.” Alice and Sage ran towards me and enclosed me in a hug. Mom came and squeezed me in a mama’s bear hug. I assumed the girls told everything about him.
“I’m sorry, I know it was a bad move, but I wanted to get out of there, Mom.”
Aaron walked in, standing next to me.
“Aaron, this is my Mom,” I made his introduction.
“Hello, Mrs. Skyy, nice to meet you.” He held out his hand to shake.
Mom slowly extended her hand, “She is a little trouble maker, what can I say?”
“Mom!” I shot her a look.
“You should be proud of her.” He said to her. “You have got a beautiful daughter and strong enough to withstand anything. She may crumble at times, but nothing could break her.” His words held such strength, I could feel my Mom’s chest swell with pride, and mine recovered with the confidence I thought I’d lost.
Then he turned to me, “You don’t need me here anymore, so I’ll leave.”
“Let me walk you out.” I couldn’t help but feel a bit heavy thinking that Aaron no longer had a reason to stay.
“Good night.” He says to all of them. Once outside of the apartment. I walked with him to the elevator.
“Are you flying back to New york tonite?” I asked.
“I was, but I changed my mind.” He went to push the button of the elevator.
'How sweet and thoughtful of him.'
“Aaron, I understand if you have to go back.”
“It's not a problem. I’ll stop by in the morning before I fly back to New York.” He said, and I nodded.
“Thank you for being here for me,” I said, and simultaneously the elevator door opened. I couldn’t hold it in me, and I hugged Aaron. He was a bit taken by surprise by my action. But soon enough, he reciprocates.
Aaron picked me up just an inch from the ground and nuzzled his face in my neck.
'When I'm with Aaron, the magic never dies.'
He kisses my hair and then steps in the elevator.
“Good night,” I said.
“Good night, Jess.”
We stood looking at each other; somehow, the sadness and bliss blended, forming a different tone.
'I still have Aaron.'
“Bye.” I mouthed the word before the closing of the elevator doors.
I made it through the evening without breaking down, but I hid away from everyone to weep on the bed at night. Sleep doesn’t come to me, and the memories don’t go away. I clutched on the t-shirt I was wearing to bed and reminisced of the day when Sam took me to his private estate in Napa Valley. We started in the vineyard and tasted the grapes off the vines. He took me to a small tasting room.
Then we head out to the garden—a big open oak barrel filled with grapes.
“You ready?” Sam said, removing his right shoe off his leg.
“Are you serious?” My eyes were wide, “We—stomping ’em grapes?” I peered at him.
Sam nodded. "You want to make memories the let us make it the messing one."
He kicked off the other shoe and rolled up his jeans. We washed our legs thoroughly.
Sam carried me like a bride and installed me in the barrel, he climbed in, and we stomped the grapes holding on each other. It felt weird, mushing them grapes under the feet, but it was delightful fun.
We even got t-shirts with the imprint of our feet as a souvenir. Sam dipped me for a kiss—a long passionate kiss.
I squeezed my eyes shut; in your memory Sam, my heart cries every moment.
‘Holding Sam’s to my chest. I held his motionless body close to my chest.’
My eyes shoot open in a panic, waking up from the horror. I’d screamed, I realized.
“Jessica...” Mom had clasped me into her arms and cooed in my ear. “It’s okay. I got you, honey,” she whispered, stroking my hair repeatedly.
'I also have my Mom.'
I held her tightly as I whimpered quietly into her chest.
“I know what you’re going through.” She said, relating to my pain, as she went through hell when dad died.
“I’ll be okay, Mom... I promise.” I let her go and smile almost sadly at her.
“I know. You’re my brave little girl, my darling.” She compliments, wiping my tears. “You’ll get through this, just don’t give up on yourself.”
“I love you, Mom.”
“I love you too, honey.”
“Come on, you need to eat something--” The doorbell interrupted her. “Okay, I’ll go get that. You rest, and I’ll bring you coffee and something to eat.” Mom left to answer the door.
I laid back, crying on the pillow.
“Knock! knock...” Aaron peeked inside and walked in.