Four years later
It has been a while since we've been to the beach together last, and I love the beach.
The breeze of the sea is always making me feel at home and for me, that home has always been the island house.
How I've missed it!
We are all here for the summer, Mike and Tea, Eve and I.
Mom believed that spending some time together in here was all I needed to recharge my batteries. The past year was a constant run between home and the office, every day, all day.
I started going to the office two years ago and Downhill Inc. was productive again.
I shifted the business from road construction to the IT field and merged with the company we financed before and now, since Brad was more confident in himself to run a company I decided to step back, at least for the summer, and bring Eveline here, I knew she would love it.
And I was right. Her small tiny hands were cupping my face each morning, asking me to wake up and take her to the beach.
This morning was no different, except for the fact that I felt like staying on the beach, too.
It was the end of the summer, so the weather was not so hot anymore, but it didn't matter.
It was still warm enough to spend time on the golden sands.
We had a full basket of snacks prepared by mom but she was not with us today.
Marciano arrived last night and they needed time together.
"Mamma, can I go that side a little? There are better shells over there," Eve came to me running and squeezing my cheeks in her small palms, forcing my eyes to where she was asking permission to go.
With my lips popped out like a fish, I gave her a quick look then look to the pointed area.
"Just make sure you stay within my sight, sweetie," I said, with my lips still popped out. She curled the tiny arms around my neck, placing a wet kiss on my cheek.
And I was pretty sure I had some nice brown stains of chocolate on.
Giving birth to Eve was more difficult than I thought. It took her nine hours till she finally decided to pop up, and I was grateful in a mess of tears for that excruciating pain to be over. A pain that was all forgotten the moment I held her in my arms for the first time. She has been nothing but joy ever since.
She had Lucas's beautiful black curly hair and my green eyes, and every time she would look at me I was sinking in her angelic beauty, and the love I had for Lucas. My eyes were the only thing she had from me. Everything else was a perfect copy of Lucas.
She was my entire world, my life itself, she was a piece of himself that Lucas left to me.
I close my eyes to feel the breeze brushing against my cheeks and the voice of Lucas resounded in my head, telling me "you're so beautiful".
Tears form in my eyes, and I don't stop them.
I never did.
Lucas deserved my tears and my unconditional love and my tears forever because part of those tears was worshiping his love for me.
I will always cherish that love. It was possessive, it was carrying, it was infinite.
"Eve really enjoys it in here, doesn't she?" Tea says sitting on the sand next to me.
I smile, wiping my tears. I always enjoy her company.
She became my best friend after that dreadful day.
She was the one I could have had the longest and deepest cries at night, for as long as I needed, without questions or even trials to stop me.
She was the only one who understood that sometimes all I needed was a good blood-sucking cry and some arms to hold me.
Sometimes she would tear as well together with me, silently trying to hide it, but I knew she was crying.
"Yeah, she loves it in here," I say, glaring at my daughter's dance in the bright rays of the sun sparkling in her hair.
"Oh, hi aunty Tea," Eve greets without stopping her twists and spins.
Now imagine the shock on Mike's face when he heard Eve calling his fiancé "aunty Tea" the first time.
Oh, it was priceless!
Not every day you get to find an assassin called 'aunty' that enjoys it so much till eyes shine with tears.
"Hi sweetheart, what are you doing?" Tea asks.
"I am dancing. I am dancing for daddy. Mamma says he can see me and I want to dance for him, maybe he likes it," Eve answers, continuing her dance.
"Fuck," Tea whispers to herself while I sigh deeply, releasing my tears that I am trying to hold back, heartbroken for my cores.
"She has been driving everybody crazy this summer with her dance for her daddy. She keeps saying that she wants to get better and show her daddy the dance when he comes back. I swear, Marciano is spoiling her rotten," I say.
"He had his share of payment for what Salvatore did. I can't imagine how it is to lose your both sons at once," Tea replied. "Maybe this is why he gives Eve so much love."
"Yeah, I wonder where he has this much love with mom sucking it all," we laugh.
And it was true, she was insatiable.
None of them work anymore, and they spent their life traveling around the globe.
Mom refused to get back to him in the beginning, but when Marciano's wife decided to leave him and move to Italy, he left no air around her to breathe until she carved and threw herself back in his arms.
I knew she was dying for it.
"When will they be back?" Tea asks.
"Sometime next week, although I doubt. They've just left last night and their vacations have never been less than three weeks. Seems Italy still has places they didn't see," I mock about them.
"Or they didn't have a fuck in yet," she says.
We both laugh loudly then let sweet silence engulf us.
"Have you thought about the ceremony?" Tea breaks the silence and my body becomes rigid all at once.
Mike and she kept pushing me to hold the ceremony for Lucas' funeral and I just couldn't bring myself to that point.
I was not ready for that moment, I don't think I will ever be.
Marciano had Salvatore's ceremony two years back in Italy. He wanted his son to rest in peace in his home country, he said.
And he was right.
In the blast's aftermath, they found his body half burned. A wonder, they said, as everything else was brought to ashes and nothing else was found.
They didn't find Lucas, nor Enzo, or Gio.
They dug the place for six months until the investigation was decided to be brought to an end.
The area was too big and they gave up on searching DNA traces, declaring as missing everyone we stated to have been left inside.
The procedure was that first they were declared missing, then dead, in seven years from the event.
And that was the thing I let myself hanging on to. Lucas was not dead, he was missing.
You don't have a fucking funeral for missing people. You wait for the missing people, you wake up every morning, bright and early, and you stick to that hope which makes you go through the day.
I have never had enough of that hope. It was the one thing only holding me strong every day besides our daughter.
"No," I reply coldly.
She knew the subject was difficult for me. She tucks a few strands of hair behind my ear, tenderly.
"It's been over four years, sweetheart. You need to let go," she reasons, and I become even more rigid.
"No, I don't need to let go. I don't want to let go," I mumble with clenched jaws.
"Becca, it's not right to hang yourself on something that..." Tea tries one more time.
Yes, she calls me Becca. Tea and Lucas are the only ones allowed to. That's because she is the closest friend I have ever had and also because I miss being called Becca, and she is filling the gap Lucas left.
"Tea, I won't do it until someone drops his body at my feet," I interrupt her sharply.
She sighs in defeat and drops the subject, for now.
I know they will talk to me again about it and I know I will have to give in, but I am not ready yet.
Oh, I loved my daughter when she was preparing all sorts of childish things for when her father would be back, although I knew it was not healthy for her.
She was my corner of peace and my secret partner in crime.
We used to spend nights before she drifted to her sleep, talking to her about her father, showing her pictures of him and me, telling her what a wonderful man he was and how much he loved her when she was only a bean inside my belly.
She was worried though, wondering if he would find her beautiful since he never met her.
I used to tell her she looked exactly like him and he was the most handsome man I ever knew.
"Just let us know when you are ready, Becca. Mike and I will take care of everything," Tea says, and then she leans the head on the back to meet Mike's kiss.
"Hey, babe," he tells her, then leaned to me and placed a kiss on the crown of my head.
"Hey, Mike. How are you?" I ask him with a smile and shift my glare to spot Eve who was still spinning around further from us but still in my view.
She raised her arms, waving to Mike.
"Hi, uncle Mike!" she shouts.
Oh, yes, that was the second shock in Mike's life when Eve called him uncle Mike first time.
He mumbled and disagreed, telling everybody that she should stop calling him that. He was no uncle and no sweetie pie.
He was a mafia man, a killer with the gun glued to his hip till the day he died.
But then I heard him chatting with Eve when he used to visit us, telling her that uncle Mike will bring her the sweets she loved whenever he would come by.
I smiled and felt blessed for the wonderful people I had in my life.
"Will you be okay alone here, this weekend?" he asks me.
"Sure, Mike. Come on, just take your babe and go, I will be more than fine. I have my sweetie pie with me," I tell him reassuring, while wraps his arms around me in a quick hug.
"I will see you Sunday evening, okay? Do you want us to bring you something?" Tea asks me, hugging me, too.
"I am fine. I've promised Eve to take her to pizza today. I'll do some shopping as well."
"Okay, sweetheart. See you on Sunday evening," she greets and they leave, wrapping each other's waist.
I watch them distancing from me, holding each other, Mike kissing her right temple.
They were a beautiful sight to see, and I was thrilled for them.
Mike barely made it from the blast and she was crushed for the entire period until he woke up from the induced coma when his body was finally healed.
I turn my head to check on Eve, but I can't see her around.
I stand up and glare along the shore, shading my eyes with my palm to see further, but my heart raced insanely, not having her in my view on either my right or left side.
My breath hastens, but I inhale deep, telling myself not to panic.
Nothing could have happened in just a few minutes.
I walk along the beach, not caring about the broken shells cutting my feet, and I search the area, hoping to see Eve.
I walked a few good minutes, panic growing at speed light.
I thought to call Mike to come back and help me find her, but I held that thought back.
I don't want to mess with their plans for the weekend and... I am sure I am going to find her.
A few minutes later, I spot Eve next to a palm tree and exhaled heavily, throwing the brick off my chest.
She is standing next to a man who is crouched beside her, one knee dug into the sand and the other one flexed, where Eve's back is leaned against.
They are both busy, talking something and looking down into a little box while I rush my steps, grateful and eager to thank the nice tourist who has held on Eve before she disappears even further.
I decide right here and now that a serious talk is in order, if that is even possible with a three-year-old kid, about this habit she has of disappearing on me.
But closing in, my legs feel weak and my chest heavy and damn tears stream out of my eyes.
The closer I am getting to them harder I am crying, staring at the man next to my daughter.
His black hair is a little shorter than I remember, with a tint of gray hair to his temples, barely visible but very obvious to me.
His wide shoulders are bent forward towards the little bundle of joy in front of him as she wraps her arms around his neck and gives him a thank-you kiss.
The tip of his nose, yes, that unique tip of his sharp nose, almost feminine, but still holding a manly prestige that gives him the dominant self, is pocking Eve's small cheek.
I stop myself at a fair distance because if that is the shape of my imagination, I never want it to disappear.
I try to speak, but my throat is dry, and the air is thick, blocked in my lungs.
I only mouth 'Eve' before she turns her sparkling eyes to me and her face brightens in the most amazing happiness.
"Look, mamma, daddy came! He said he would stay with us now," she shouts to me, and then my eyes shift to the man next to her, with his icy blue eyes piercing mine, his face holding thousands of feelings but the strongest was the warmth of his love, so well-known to me.
"I told you pumpkin, mamma always finds us," Lucas says standing up and I proudly take in the greatness of his sight.
He is in one piece, missing nothing, the same dominant height, with broad shoulders, brawny chest, and thick arms. His hair is curly and shorter now, a few rebel strands falling on his forehead, shadowing his left eye.
His face was shining with a bright, gorgeous smile that I missed so much.
Rooted to the ground, I can't move, although my heart is already racing towards him.
I see him closing in, our daughter walking beside him with her fingers curled around his big long index because that's all that she can fit in her tiny hand.
I feel the warmth of his body close, his chest pressed on mine while his left arm wraps around my waist, capturing my body to his chest.
He crushes his lips on mine in a passionate, toe-curling kiss, long and thirsty, and I give in to that kiss, sobbing passionately and hanging myself to his neck with my arms curled around it. I am mumbling something incoherent between the kisses and the sobs while Eve is pulling my skirt asking 'why mamma cry'.
I gasp for air and only then Lucas broke the kiss. I cup his face with my palms. I want to feel him, to make sure he is real.
A scar is lining down his forehead just above his left eyebrow, and I push back the hair covering it to take in his handsome face that I've missed so much.
"Why?" I whisper.
"Why what, baby girl?" he asks.
"Why it took you so long?"
"It took a while to patch me up," he replies and kisses me again.
I hugged him strongly, his arms lifting me above the ground.
"I missed you," I tell him.
"I missed you more."
"I love you."
"I love you more, baby girl," he says.
Over his shoulder I can see mom and Marciano leaned against their car, both waving back to me and next to them there is Enzo, with an enormous smile on his face.
My heart swells, barely fitting the happiness I feel, as I say to myself "I've finally gotten my life back".
Thank you for reading.
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