CHAPTER TEN: MOVING DAY AND MOVING FORWARD
ISAIAH’S POINT OF VIEW
“I thought that our place was big when we moved in for college. Salim’s condo is glorious.”
That’s the first thing that left Natasha’s mouth after she helped me unpack our belongings in the contemporary-styled and Art Deco-themed condo that sits on the edge of Malibu. Tucked away in a private subdivision, Salim’s place had the right kind of amenities: two swimming pools in the backyard, a fitness room, three home offices (one for him, one for myself, and one for Natasha), a private art studio made just for me, a industrial kitchen for the personal chefs (who all heard about me and were hastily making the two of us a light lunch), and five bedrooms (Natasha insisted that I get my own room, saying that she wanted Salim and I to remain in our own rooms until the wedding day) with one for a guest bedroom and the other one…as his private room known as the Ivory Suite.
I could only imagine what’s in there.
But back to the matter at hand. After a light shift working at the diner with my last day being tomorrow complete with a private party with friends and the queens, two of Salim’s bodyguards helped carried our paced belongings while Natasha and I paid our last rent (with extra interest) to the kind and thoughtful Vinsons before accepting Mrs. Vinson’s homemade lemon cookies and taking off.
And now, here we were settling in the main living room of the condo just taking in the big move as I was set to begin working at the House of Suez the day after tomorrow.
“I’ll say,” I breathed out as I was escorted to a leather chair and gently sat down. “No way in hell would Shadie believe that this is how I imagine the best for my new home. Then again, who can really say?”
“I’ll bet,” Natasha agreed as she sat down next to me in the chair on my left. “This is all decorated in a minimalist-theme. Nothing screams gaudy or over-luxurious. Just a few knick-knacks and the walls painted a rich shade of gold and the ceiling in red. The panels are done in eggshell. Very nice.”
I heard footsteps approach as I smell the rich scent of garlic and cilantro with a hint of jalapeño. “I take it that we’re having Mexican,” I murmured.
“You’re good,” I heard a female voice say in a light New England accent as she comes to our area. “It’s nothing too heavy, just some of my famous quesadillas. Name’s Jocelyn Camden, one of the head personal chefs here for Salim. And from what I’ve been hearing from the culinary world, you’re the one who caught his eye, right?”
“I’m basically his fiancée,” I said. “Name’s Isaiah Van Blackwell and this is my friend Natasha Allman, who also moved in here. She’s basically my guardian from Salim’s wicked ways.”
“I can tell,” Jocelyn replied. “Listen, the food’s almost ready, but if you guys need anything just let me know and I wanted to be the first to welcome you on board-“
My cellphone rang, interrupting her speech. “Call from unknown,” the voice assistant said. “Answer or ignore?”
“Answer,” I said. “Hello?”
And then came the voice I never thought I wanted to hear again. “Isaiah, is that you?”
“Who is it?!” Natasha whisper-hissed.
My heart dropped low as I turned to her, my voice slightly a whisper. “It’s Ryan,” I whimpered.
“Oh, hell no,” she grumbled, snatching the phone from my hands before putting it on speakerphone. “How the hell did you get his number, you fuckwad?! I thought we changed the number and had you blocked.”
“Ah, Natasha, you know that I have my ways,” I heard my fucking ex say on the other line. “But this is between my ex-boyfriend and I. Isaiah, are you listening?”
I gulped, taking a deep breath. “Yeah,” I said.
“Look, I know that I done you wrong and I really feel bad for you. Still, me breaking up with you was what needed to be done, what I had to do for me and my cousin and her family. She said that we’d never last long and that I had to treat you like that all because she hates anyone that she thinks is beneath her and her goals. I did went too far, but she forced me to do it. She hated you then as she hates you now.”
Wait a minute. Is he talking about who I think he’s talking about. To Natasha, “You don’t think that my ex was forced to break up with who I think could be his cousin, do you?” I asked softly.
“Only one way to find out,” she replied softly. “Ask away.”
I took a deep breath and asked the million-dollar question. “Ryan, I forgive you, but you owe me one answer to this question. I was attacked by none other than Caylee Amerson, the extremist-minded reality star,” I began. “Is she-“
“If your question is whether or not that she is my cousin alongside Natasha and Clarissa, then the answer is no,” he said in a somber tone. “But she is on my mom’s friend’s side of the family and even that woman can’t stand her because Caylee is too much of a racist diva. She attacked her personal shopper when she found out that he was gay, had him ran out of town by her goons. And unfortunately, she’s out for your blood as well as Natasha’s and Clarissa’s. My dad wanted me to break up with her, but I’m in too deep with her and I have to marry her, for her father’s sake as well as my mom’s friend’s. My parents already threaten to disown me for treating you like that but I had no choice. It was either go by her rules or be killed by Amerson. Her parents hate her and so do mine. But I have to marry her as well as ditch you.
“But what I heard, you got a lucky man on your side, that Saint Croix dude,” he said. “He’s blessed to make you his husband and his business partner. And if anything can help you, I think that he’s the one to help you get over me.”
I was floored. Ryan Callaway, the bastard that shattered my heart, was seeking for forgiveness and gave me his blessing to marry Salim. “Thank you,” was all I could say. “That means a lot to me.”
“Listen, man, Caylee should be here in a minute, so I gotta bounce,” Ryan replied. “But I mean it, Caylee is out for revenge because you stole her thunder and she wants it back and wants you dead.”
“I’ll tell Salim,” I heard Jocelyn reply in a harsh tone. “I have a personal score to settle with your fiancée anyway.”
“Why?” the rest of us asked in unison, myself more so because I couldn’t understand on how Jocelyn was out for her vendetta against Hollywood’s worst-known diva.
“Because she’s my half sister and she not only killed my mom and step-father but also killed my boyfriend,” the young chef replied grimly. “And I want to know why she hates me so and wanted me dead. She’s got to go.”
Well, damn! Talk about a small world we all live in. Salim is never going to believe this!
My eyes only see white, a pure and unfiltered world of white that reminds me of the visions of heaven and divine beauty that is beyond compare. And then, from out of nowhere, dark and ominous clouds of black and angry shades of grey billow in slowly yet gradually, blooming into mushroom-shaped dusts as they surround and dance around each other in a sensual and elemental tango of danger and depression that’s sure to follow. Soon, I see another cloud join into the mix, this one a playful and teasing shade of pink that’s followed by a dusty and cunning shade of purple that interweave through the dark black-grey mixture in a way that’s showing me laughter and friendships that outshine through the darkness.
A gigantic river of deep blue that’s mixed with a free-falling shade of light blue comes into the mix, covering the floor beneath me as a blanket of emerald green makes the formation of the land which all of mankind walks upon.
And then, from out of nowhere, a final billowing cloud comes in a mix of molten-honey gold, a deep orange, and a fiery red that swiftly covers and eliminates the mix of the dark clouds. The ominous shades are obliterated by that final red-gold mix that takes in the form of three gigantic dragons and the playful mix of pink and purple turns into the form of three phoenixes.
From out of nowhere, I hear the familiar voice of Aria Melody as she comes out of nowhere, wearing an all-white gown that billows in the hidden wind. “And the dragons and phoenixes will find love in each other, the dragons showing power yet compassion white the fiery birds being submissive yet symbolizing power and rebound. They will need each other and they will need to love themselves to overcome the storms that will come their way…”
I snap out of my daydream revelry as I sat down my art brushes at the mystified voices of Salim and Isaiah. “Oh, sorry. I needed a moment to collect my thoughts while painting away something that’s been on my mind,” I replied softly, letting my feet turn in in embarrassment.
“Are you kidding? This is a really wild piece,” my best friend said as I hear step to my ride. “Was this been on your mind or was this something that you just envisioned?”
I felt my breath get caught in my throat, coughing slightly as I couldn’t form the words in my mouth. “I really can’t answer that at the moment,” I replied. “But what do you see?”
“It’s a wild and electrifying painting,” I heard Salim reply as he joined me on the left. “It’s a mix of this dark gray and ominous black clouds, but it’s dominated by these red, gold, and orange, shaped dragons- three of them- that hover over the shapes of purple and pink phoenixes. All of them are sitting by the edge of this river and the grass itself is an emerald green, the kind that’s the shade of Natasha’s eyes. I’m amazed on how you did all of that, love. I’d definitely want to have this piece sold and hung in my room.”
I was floored. Never in my mind did I paint something like this before and I usually take a moment to think of what I want to work on. But this is all so improvised, like it was a vision that came to mind. The strange thing about it was when I was in my subspace, I was thinking about the same thing, and Aria’s prophetic voice was ringing in my ears. “I guess you can say that it’s all a bit of this vision,” I murmured, keeping my voice low.
“Wait, you actually saw this in a daydream while in subspace?” I heard Natasha gasp in surprise. “Was it about this piece?”
I nodded, deciding to tell them about this vision and how Aria was involved, repeating what she said ad verbatim and leaving nothing out. “It all sounds so real,” I finished, feeling a stray tear fall down my face. “Salim, I’m actually-“
“Don’t let her win,” I heard him growl in frustration as he pulled me into his arms closer, me feeling his anger at Caylee in waves. “And as for Ryan Callaway, I know that he called you and that he’s marrying her. They deserve each other and I do not want to hear anymore sadness in your voice and I don’t want you shedding any more tears for the fool that let you get away. He’s a fool for letting you slip out of his hands. And so, he deserves that harlot. You have me and you deserve nothing but the best. You got it?”
“Yes, sir,” I breathed softly, my voice slightly hitched.
“Salim, I think that Izzy needs to see a trusted therapist. You still have Zoe DuSable’s number?” Natasha asked me as I smelled the faint scent of Earl Grey tea as I heard Jocelyn come in.
“Of course. And Isaiah, you will need to talk to someone about this pronto. Zoe has worked wonders with Jarvis while he was dealing with his engagement to my brother and his sister’s abuse. She’s very modern and no-nonsense. But she’s also a Wattpad fujishoshi and I have to warn you, she loves gay novels and now a writer of great guy-on-guy fiction herself. I’m making you an appointment to see her tomorrow during your lunch break from your final shift at Mariah’s and it’ll also continue during your new workday at Suez. She can help you out with everything you’re dealing with, okay?”
I nodded. “Okay, Salim,” I replied, accepting the warm tea. To Jocelyn, “You added lemon and honey, right?”
“Yep,” I heard her chirp.
“Milk in first or last like the Queen?”
“Last like the Queen does. And I got dinner at the ready in ten. Better get back to work.” I heard her leave, leaving the three of us to our thoughts.
“And don’t worry about Caylee Amerson,” Natasha assured me, rubbing my tense shoulders. “Aria said that she sent her boys from Blue Bayou over and they can’t wait to meet you themselves.”
“Thank y’all,” I replied, letting the Ozark drawl in slip in my voice. “I just hope I can get through all of this.”
“I’m sure you will, my love,” Salim assured me, though I can easily hear an edge to his voice as his aura of deep red and black interwove with my dusty rose gold and navy blue. And from where I stood, it felt like we both have issues to deal with before we say our vows.