A Bounty's love

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A bounty’s love

Chapter 8: Seattle

Imagine dragons ‘Whatever it takes’ hums through my ear buds as I pound my wrapped fists into the old hard leather bag. It’s been 5 months since I left Manhattan and every day, I find myself looking over my shoulder, but I refused to go back to the girl who was afraid of her own shadow, so every morning I jog to Uncle Mics gym and hit the bags.

Deep in thought as I pound combo after combo sweat stinging my eyes, I didn’t notice Uncle Mic on the other side till the bag went still. His gentle wrinkled face and graying hair and blue eyes popped out from behind the bag. At 57 he’s still as fit as any of the 20-30-year olds in this place.

I turned off the music from my phone yanking out the ear buds to acknowledge him. His look turns concerned.

Uncle Mic: Rough night.

Kylie: You could say that.

Uncle: You wanna give the bag a rest and come talk to an old man.

I nodded following him into his office in the back. A few whistles dragged out as we passed the men’s locker room followed by a voice belonging to Joseph a young up and coming boxer at the ripe age of 21. He’s cute, with his shaved dark hair, nice dark brown eyes, sun kissed skin, which is strange considering we live in Seattle.

Joseph: Looking good Page.

He grins while stretching his arms up to the door way flexing his pecs and abs. I give him a sexy wink and keep walking, but Mic as usual barks at him.

Uncle Mic: Keep it in your pants rookie.

Joseph throws his hands in defeat backing away further into the locker room. My uncle is very protective of me like Aron and Anthony.

Page Murphy was my new name. It was a name that didn’t venture far from the truth. Considering my dad was Connor Murphy and well Page I adapted from Gwen. It was her middle name and it’s the name I use to sign my art work because she was more of a mom to me then my own flesh.

The Murphy’s have all been so welcoming. It didn’t matter my past, my birth mom or the fact my dad had kept me a secret. In fact, Uncle Mic has done everything he can to make up for my father’s absence even though I’m a little old for some of the overprotective parenting. But I love it.

I drop down in the brown leather chair across from Uncle Mic unraveling my wraps. He pulls a bottle of Jameson off the shelf behind him and pours two small glasses. It was 8:30 in the morning but when your Irish?

Kylie: What’s the occasion?

Uncle Mic: Does there have to be one for an old man to have a drink with his niece.

Kylie: Not if he’s Irish.

We laugh at ourselves and clink glasses.

Uncle Mic: Truth is someone let it slip it was your birthday and Martha wants you to come for dinner. What do you say?

Kylie: How could I say no to a home cooked Irish meal.

I knock my drink back and we both slam the glasses on the desk at the same time. Then

he pulls out a small package from a drawer.

Uncle Mic: This came a few weeks ago.

I grab the package that has a small tag that reads “happy birthday Sis”. I wipe at my eyes and look up at my uncle.

Kylie: If you don’t mind, I think I’ll take this home to open it.

Uncle Mic: Of course not.

I got up to leave but uncle Mic stopped me with a hug.

Uncle Mic: You’ll be at the house by 6!

Kylie: I’ll be there.

I grab my black hoodie and baseball hat from the locker room making my way out past the arena where Joseph and Tank his coach were sparing. Tank was an insanely ripped 44-year-old Hawaiian covered in tribal tattoos and looked a lot like the Rock only with hair.

He was sexy as hell, if it weren’t for the age difference and the fact he was married. I giggle at myself as I walk past purposely swinging my hips out to catch Joseph off guard. It works. Tanks upper cut hits Joseph in the chin and he stumbles back.

Joseph: Damn it Page.

Tank erupts in laughter while I slip outside.

Putting my earbuds back in and turning on my U2 play list to “where the streets have no name” pausing when a chill runs through my spine. The feeling of someone watching me. A feeling I get more often than not but recently it’s gotten stronger. I scan the area while performing stretches to look casual and as always, I don’t see anyone suspicious so I turn up the song and jog the mile up the road to my apartment.

When I arrive to the beautiful modern three story building overlooking Salmon bay with only 9 apartments 3 on each floor, I notice a furniture van leaving. The feeling of being watched causes me to shiver. I dart inside making a beeline for the elevator waving at Jim the apartment manager behind the lobby desk as I pass by.

All the way to my door #7 on the third floor I couldn’t shake this creepy feeling. As I turned the key to my door, I heard the door across from me creaking open. My heart raced faster as I quickly opened and slammed the door locking each lock before peering out the peep hole.

#9 had been vacant since I moved in and #8 at the end of the hall was occupied by Stan an elderly man in his mid-70’s who kept to himself most of the time, so it kind of sent me into a panic when I heard the door. Jim never told me anyone was moving in. Out of curiosity I kept peering for a glance but nothing. No one ever came out.

I pull out the box Aron sent to Uncle Mic to give me. Today was my actual 28th birthday.

I pull out a shiny silver chain with a beautiful silver Phoenix holding a light blue perfectly round and smooth jewel in its talons.

Aron knew me too well.

I jump in the shower and get ready for work. I had the best job. I loved being the gallery coordinator at the Willow but a couple of months ago I started teaching art classes to a group of elderly women at the Blue bird yacht club which was actually a retirement center for the wealthy elderly of Seattle.

Not only was it fun partly due to the ladies dubbing most days wine and art day but it allowed me to break out of my cage and paint for the love of painting. I didn’t have to paint just during my dark days anymore, I was painting all the time now and loved it.

The first painting after starting this job was a re paint or a sequel you might say to the Dark Phoenix. A painting I did after Gwen had died It was of a fiery Phoenix flying over water in darkness with a pale blue Phoenix below the surface. It was inspired by something Gwen had said to me.

(Through the darkness there is always light even if you have to create it yourself).

In my new painting a big beautiful light blue Phoenix flew above the water lighting up the darkened sky with the firefly Phoenix below the surface.

Every day I wake up looking at it on the wall of my bedroom and am reminded of those words. It somehow has helped lesson the nightmares now that I no longer have Aron to help me get through them. Between the painting and the boxing, I have found a little bit of peace.

I grab my art bag and make a dash out the door avoiding looking at the new neighbor’s door while hiding my face with my oversized glasses and walk to Blue bird yacht club. It was within a mile of my apartment overlooking the Warf bay.

Once in the arts and crafts room with the large all wall window facing the bay, I dropped my things at my desk and began prepping for the day. This consisted of not just paint supplies but wine, cheese, bread and fruit all supplied by the club which the amazing staff stocks the mini fridge with in the mornings.

The ladies make their way in chatting up a storm. I greet each one as they grab their glasses of wine and small plates of snacks before siting at their tables.

Rose one of my favorite students in her late 60’s with short wavy pink hair and thick bottle glasses, stops to give me her usual air cheek kiss.

Rose: Page darling when are you going to let me set you up with my Daniel.

Rose is in beginning stages of Alzheimer’s and forgets things here and there.

Daniel her very good looking very gay 32-year-old son owns Cheeky’ s a popular cake and coffee shop on the Warf.

Rose had set us up once when I first started teaching. It was interesting to say the least. Daniel and I are friends now and I do venture in for a coffee usually after my morning runs on the way into the gym.

Kylie: Oh, Rose Daniel has a boyfriend.

Her eyes went wide for a second till her memory came back and she brushed it off like usual.

After the chit chat settles, I explain the days lesson going around each table and easel answering questions giving tips. Once everyone falls into their zones, I make my way to the edge of the window holding the pendant Aron gave me, and drift into a memory of a birthday years ago at De Vinci’s with Aron and Gwen.

Gwen had given me a new very expensive brush set, Aron got us tickets to a Broadway showing of Phantom of the Opera. Instead of cake the Marcelo’s brought out a plate with a variety of different flavored cannoli with a candle in each one. The flames flicker drowning out the sound of singing and restaurant noise.

Suddenly a flash goes off. Startling me back from the window. Not from the candles in my memory but here now in front of me. I quickly scan the area, but see no one. Another flash quickens my already pounding heart this time followed by the sound of thunder. I laugh at the realization of the incoming storm. Though it does not ease my paranoia. The possibility of someone taking my photo.

That evening I call for an Uber for a lift to the Murphy’s home a couple miles just outside the city. A quant little cottage spruced up with lots of greenery and stone paths outside giving it an Irish vibe. It’s lovely and I love it here in Seattle with my new family but I miss Manhattan. I miss Aron.

The giant dark red wood door fly’s open before I knock and I am greeted by Aunt Martha. She’s a few years younger than Mic and looks a lot like an adult version of Merida with her vibrant red curly hair, sky blue eyes and as thick an accent as Mics.

Martha: Page Dear happy birthday.

She swoops me into a hug.

Kylie: Hi Aunt Martha.

Martha: Come Las let’s get you out the rain.

Mic walks out of the kitchen wiping his mouth in the back of flannel sleeve in a hurry to hide the evidence that had just snuck some food while greeting me with a peck on the cheek.

Martha: Mickey Murphy you stay out of that kitchen till I say or you’ll be having cold cabbage soup the rest of the week you scruffy mutt.

She slaps his arm and he grabs her swinging her into a dance peppering her neck with kisses before smacking her ass as she heads back into the kitchen.

Kylie: Can I help Martha.

I shout.

Martha: No dear it’s your birthday you go and have a visit. I follow Uncle Mic into the living room where U2 plays softly in the back ground. Near the bar area a familiar figure stands with his back turned.

The broad shoulders. The slick blond hair, the thousand-dollar suit. I drop my purse to the floor as he turns with the biggest grin, arms wide open.

Kylie: Aron

I squeal as I fly into his arms and he twirls me around.

Aron: Hey sis.

Joyous tears fill our eyes. We hold each other a moment in silence.

Kylie: How are you here.

Aron: Business, I have a meeting with the owner of The Phoenix tomorrow morning.

Kylie: Does that mean it’s safe.

Aron looks away.

Kylie: Aron?

He runs his hand through his hair with a sigh.

Aron: There’s a possibility that he knows. Not where you are but that you might be alive.

I nervously laugh. But his look was serious.

Kylie: How?

Aron: Shari! I think she was spying on me for him.

I drop to the couch stunned at his news. He sat down beside me taking my hand in his. Uncle Mic grabbed us all glasses of Jameson and sat across from us in a chair.

Aron: Remember the night of your memorial service when there was a commotion outside my door.

Kylie: Shari was just getting her purse.

Aron: Yeah well just after that I saw her talking to Max outside. I brushed it off at first but then Shari started acting strange, taking personal phone calls, disappearing at random times. I even caught her snooping in my desk so I decided to set her up.

I called an old female friend who lived in Vermont and arranged a secret get away. I left the information out on my desk while I went to lunch one day. Sure, enough when I got back, I could tell she had been in there. I called Anthony and Paul to follow Max and sure enough the day of my lunch with Kelly, Anthony spotted Max in his car with Shari. Watching us.

Needless to say, I fired Shari and I have Anthony and Paul watching Max.

I downed the drink Uncle Mic had poured us and stood up to pour another.

Kylie: But he doesn’t know for sure so it’s ok. Right?

Aron walks over taking me into his arms placing a gentle kiss on my head.

Aron: I don’t know Kylie.

Martha: Super is ready.

We gather in the dining room digging into the delicious brisket and potatoes and enjoy the rest of the evening catching up with Aron, listening to Uncle Mic and Martha’s child hood stories about Ireland and how they met. It was a nice distraction, and having Aron here even if only for a few hours is the best birthday present.

It almost felt like I was losing him all over again when he had to leave. It was a bit of a drive from Lawton wood to Capitol Hill, where he needed to be for his meeting with the owner of The Phoenix in the morning and I needed to get back across salmon bay into Adams.

Aron: I don’t know how yet but somehow; I will make things right and bring you home.

I give him a great full smile and hug him goodbye.

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