Nostalgia is a Liar

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Chapter Fourteen

Present Day, Fall 2019

A nervous Luna approaches Cooper and Jason, as they wait outside the venue at Gillette Stadium. Which the boys still true blue refers to as Foxboro.

Jason wastes no time, lifting Luna up into his arms and twirling her around.

“Hey girl! Oh my God, I’ve missed you.”

“Jase, we talk all the time”

“Yeah but we don’t hang as much anymore”

Cooper smiles, edging closer. A gentle touch of her elbow. But when she turns to face him, he felt compelled to hug her tightly.

“Hey Lu…”

She smiles.

“So, we have one more guest…” Jason points at a spot behind them.

Cooper and Luna turn in unison.

It was Leonardo Bianchi, Jason’s one-sided boyfriend from 2009. Before the boys could say anything, she runs over to greet him. Jumping into his arms.

Cooper looks across at Jason. “Not this again…”

“What? I’m giving it another shot… a fair shot”

“I’m just warning you; Hannah is not Luna… so if this goes the same as last time… you won’t have a couch to cry on pal”

Jason scoffs.

They watch the Luna-Leo reunion.

Ciao bella” he kisses her cheek, one at a time

“Leo! How? When? Why?”

He shrugs, “You know what they say… some just stick more than others?”

“They say that?” she teases

“How about you il mio amore… you look different.”

Luna’s eyes dart around, begging to avoid eye contact.

“Your eyes…” he bobs his head, trying to catch a glimpse. He resorts to holding her face steady between his palms. She succumbs and meets his gaze reluctantly.

“… they’ve lost their sparkle”

“You know how it goes... some don’t stick…”

His eyes turn sad, “What do you mean?”

She takes in a notable breath. “Cooper and I… we’re sorta not a thing anymore… He’s got another thing… like an engagement”

“No, Oh mio Dio! Mi dispiace

“It was… mutual… we just… it was a culmination of things, events… it was for the best”

“Tell that to your eyes tesoro…”

Luna shrugs, “It’s been 8 months… I might be a bit slower to recover”

Her mouth was laughing, but her eyes were not.

Leo looks over her shoulder at the two brothers. He smiles. Cooper stood, hands in the front pockets of his jeans. He was saying something to Jason, but his eyes never divert from them.

“Hmm… you sure you’re the only one slower?”

Luna turns to follow his gaze. She shakes her head, one corner of her mouth turned up into a half-smile.

“Okay, stop being silly” she playfully slaps his chest, before hooking her arm around his.

“I need to be okay with this coz he has a shot at happiness, real happiness. And I need to walk away, so he can start this new chapter in his life. It’s no longer our time… maybe it’s come and gone… maybe it never was…”

“There is a theory, I forget where I saw it now… that everyone has a black spot on them where their soulmate will touch them, and this spot lights up with colors. When I first saw you together, you may as well have been wearing a halo by the way you glowed. Entrambi…you both did. It was a kaleidoscope of colors then. I am not a wealthy man… but I am willing to bet everything I own that you are soulmates and will always be… no matter how hard the universe works against it.”

They walk over to where the boys stood.

Cooper reaches out his hand to Leo, he pulls him in for a hug.

Cooper chuckles, “Good to have you back Leo!”

“Good to be back…” he takes his place next to Jason, pressing a kiss to his cheek, “… now if only this one will behave hmmm”

“I am taking a page from the big bro’s playbook…” Jason holds up his hands, “… besides, I don’t wanna be the lonely old guy still tryna pick up some tail at the gay bar”

Cooper runs a hand across his face, sighing “Genetics can only usher commonality so far”

“It doesn’t count as an insult if I don’t understand” Jason retorts.

“Sure, Jan”

“I got that reference”

The bickering has both Luna and Leo in stitches.

“I’ve kinda missed this” Luna says

Leo looks across at her, “Same”

“He’s just showing off for you guys actually” Jason starts walking toward the entrance, the others follow. “He’s been super nice to me, since asking me to be his best man”

Cooper checks Luna’s reaction. Her hair curtained her side profile, as she was looking down at her feet.

“Leo, Lu… you’re both coming to the engagement party, right?”

Cooper tilts his head, eyes shooting daggers in his brother’s direction.

Luna smiles, tucking her hair behind her ear.

Cooper nudges her arm with his elbow, “Hey, you…”

Luna chews at the side of her mouth.

“It would mean a lot if you did come… but only if you want…”

Tears shone in her eyes. His heart sank. He swallows hard.

“’Course I will”

He sticks his hands back in his jean’s pockets.

“I’m hoping it’s not gonna be a big ordeal… but I think she wants the whole rehearsal dinner thing, like Shan had… I don’t know”

“Remember, this is a big deal for her.”

He snorts, “Remember how we planned it?”

She nods, smiling.

“Well you wanted to get married here… at Foxboro… on the pitch… officiated by Bill Belichick”

He tosses his head back, letting out a hollering laugh.

“But no… the one we settled on…”

She knew the exact plans. She could sometimes still envision it vividly in her mind.

He continues, “…You wanted to drive all the way down to Cape Cod in the Summer, and get married on that beach… what was it again… at Harwich Port”

“Wychmere… but like on the beach, not their venues or the tent idea…”

He claps his hands once, “Yes! And the reception, everything on the beach. Epic!”

“Your mom would never have stood for that. Both your sisters got married in The Cathedral of the Holy Cross…” Luna smiles knowingly, “…so Hannah’s got the right idea… she’ll be great. You’ll be great. It would’ve been a train wreck of a beach wedding…”

“It would’ve been fun though.”

“Not if it rained, this is Massachusetts after all”

He laughs.

They walk down the passageway between the rows, looking for their seats.

“Ah here we go” Jason points out.

“Hey Jase, are we gonna get beers and food bud?” Cooper stops him before he sits.

“Oh, yeah… why can’t these two ever do it?” he jokes

“Of course, we can. Come on Leo, they’ll just have to eat and drink what we provide”

“Never mind” Jason shoots back up from the bucket seat. Rushing past Luna and Leo, heads back up the stairway.

Cooper shakes his head, chuckling. Follows Jason up top.

“So are you mad at me?”

Cooper looks up at his brother, “For what?”

“Inviting Lu to your engagement party”

He shrugs, “You could’ve ran it by me first before blurting it out… but it’s par for the course with you right”

Cooper nudges his arm, a smirk on his face.

Jason stops, turns to face Cooper.

“You still love this woman… can I ask…” his face is serious, his eyes vigilant “…are you sure about marrying Hannah? I mean, a couple days back to seeing Lu and you’re… different”

“Different how?”

“Dude, your entire face lights up when you see her. You always stare… way too long. You clock her reaction on everything…”

“Force of habit J… nothing to be read into”

“Okay, if you say so bro… but remember, this is someone else you’re bringing into this dynamic. This girl deserves all of you now. You can’t be half there, coz you’re still in love with Luna”

Cooper staggers backward, “Are we having a The Change-Up moment… where I am you and you’re me?”

“Most people would say Freaky Friday, but I get where you’re going…” Jason rolls his eyes, “… and I’m trying to… I don’t know Coop… I love you; I love Luna… and if you want Hannah as your life companion, I’ll learn to love her. I’ve just learned… from you, no less… that we need to be careful with people’s hearts.”

“That’s fair…” Cooper runs his hand through his hair, squeezing his eyes shut before looking back at his brother again.

“Luna is like a lightning storm. Powerful… beautiful… immaculate… but once it strikes you down, it incapacitates you. Renders you useless.” He rubs at his jaw “I’ll always have love for her. She’ll always have this giant chunk of my heart… and I think it would be unfair of anyone to make me feel guilty for that. I’ve loved her since I was 16… we’ve shared things, endured things…”

He shakes his head, taking in a labored breath.

“…but…”

“You want predictable weather”

Cooper’s laughs with his entire face.

“I want to be happy again…”

Jason nods, “Okay”

*****

After the game, Leo and Jason invite Luna and Cooper over for a nightcap.

On the balcony of Jason’s apartment, Luna leans with her back against the balustrade. Cooper next to her, facing the view.

The glistening of the gold pendant on his chain catches her eye. She reaches out and runs her thumb across the engravement.

“You’re happy now, right?”

Cooper smiles, “Lu… I was happy when I was with you…”

“No, I know… but just… toward the end…” she lowers her gaze “I know I’m difficult to love”

“Hey, you…” he whispers, but then says loud enough to be clear “You were never difficult to love… the only struggle was getting you to love yourself”

She bites down nervously on her bottom lip, looks up to find his pure blue eyes never left her.

“What we had… sheesh, what was it… 18 years and change… it’s an embarrassment of riches… we were pretty amazing!”

“I read this thing, on Tumblr or something stupid…” she grips the top rail tighter, her knuckles discoloring “Things are as they are, we suffer because we imagined different…”

He reaches out, clasps his hand around hers. “Things won’t always be this way Lu… I know in my heart you’ll be happy again too.”

Her lip trembles, she turns to face away. Tears threatening. She clears her throat.

“Just promise me something please…”

She turns to face him again. “What?”

“However hopeless or dark it gets, promise that you won’t accept that as norm and mistake it for light. Don’t let anyone love you less than you deserve. Because you deserve… everything good, the entire universe! And I wish I could’ve given you… I would’ve given all I have…”

“You did… you were great. I think I lucked out having you as my first real boyfriend.”

“Ha! I think I borderline stalked you and tried to commit myself to memory by just pitching up everywhere you were, tricking you to go out with me”

“You’re silly”

For the first time, Luna has a genuine and complete smile on her face.

“I mean, you walked into Rubenstein’s class and my mind was blown!”

“Your mind was on WTF Fun Fact!”

Cooper hoots, wheezing as he raps his palm across his chest.

“You said something about beer… right after I almost flatlined at just the color of your eyes… and I swear, in my mind, I was like… I’m gonna marry this girl. Random facts, gorgeous eyes and beer… where do I sign up”

“Full disclosure… I thought you were weird, but your eyes kinda sealed the deal for me too…”

“Yeah?”

“Those eyelashes… God… I didn’t know to be jealous or obsessed”

“So, Lu… there’s something else I need to tell you…”

Her eyes narrow, expecting the worst.

“Shan…” he swallows hard, “She’s pregnant… found out right after we… she’s in her 3rd trimester.”

Luna wanted to be happy, but her heart was heavy. She forces a smile.

“That’s good news… great news!”

“She wanted to tell you sooner… but I didn’t… well…”

“It’s okay Cooper. I am happy for her, for both of them. Shan will be a good mom.”

His jaw becomes clenched.

“Guess a lot can change in 8 months, right?” she mentions rhetorically.

“I don’t want you to feel like an outsider Luna. My family loves you… and certain stuff, if they wanna loop you in… I’m not gonna stand in the way.”

“You’ve always been too kind for your own good Cooper Thindrel.”

She spins around, looking out at the city lights.

“I can’t be hindering your new story, your new life. I need to respect that you have someone new now… who’ll be Mrs. Cooper Thindrel. Jase is cool… coz we’re friends and all…”

“You’re friends with Rach and Shan too though…”

She struggles to find the words, letting out an almost inaudible grunt.

She looks across at him. He knitted his brow in concentration.

“Coop, it’s okay” she shrugs, “I know we’re history…”

He wanted to respond, wanted to dissuade the acquiescence. But he knew that it would only stir further sorrow, and Luna had had more than her fair share.

So, he stood in silence alongside her, as they both stare out at the night sky.

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