Chapter 23: Life after
After news spread about Clives death more women came forward. At least those still alive. Many big shot judges and politicians were arrested for their involvement. Most of Clives assets where frozen and properties seized. All but one. Thanks to Clives scheming ways it was discovered by a close friend of mine that he had created an off shore account under my name.
Some of the money was used to give Frank a proper burial. He didn’t have any family or many friends, so with Sams help we located the same waterfall Frank had spread his wife’s ashes. The guilt of his death weighed heavy on me, but when I released his ashes over the same waterfall, I felt much of that weight lifted.
A large portion of the money was donated to Johns organization, providing more safe houses and help to women and children across the country. Which also provided more jobs for vets.
After my recovery, I began an organization of my own in my mother’s name in efforts to provide more help to Vets and victims suffering from PTSD.
The two organizations go hand in hand and have already doubled in size over the past 4 months. Both of which along with my online psychology courses where a great distraction.
Living with John and dealing with a couple of old vets and two amazing German Shepard’s helped too.
I returned from my evening jog with the boys Gadsen and Gunner to that familiar amazing smell of Italian cooking. This could only mean one thing. I walk in the kitchen to the welcoming sight of Sam who has been out on recon for two weeks. Cooking of course my favorite recipe.
Page: Mmm...Smells delicious.
He turns from the stove and scoops me into a bear hug.
Sam: Hey Kid. Missed you the last time I was in.
Page: Yeah it took a little longer then expected to get the San Diego property signed over to VPAS and Luna.
Sam: You ok.
Page: Yeah, I didn’t have to go inside. Just signed the deal in court handed the keys to Shawn and that was that.
Sam: That’s not what I meant Page.
Page: I’m fine Sam.
John, Sam, and Thomas the blond blue eyed marine vet from here in Spokane who looked more like a California surfer than a marine. Sat down to dinner as we’ve done many times chatting and laughing about this and that.
At some point John got up and came back handing me an envelope.
Page: What is this? My birthdays not for another two weeks.
John: I know but....well the three of us decided you need a break.
All three men gave me the same he’s right look.
I tear open the envelope to find a one way ticket to Hawaii, with directions to a secluded beach house in Kauai. I look up at the men raising a brow.
Sam: Page, it’s a done deal.
He gets up to clear the empty dishes. Thomas gets up to help. John reaches over placing his large rough hand over mine.
John: You have been working non stop for months. You need a break before you become a workaholic and an old has been like us.
Sam: Speak for your self old timer I’m still in my prime.
Thomas: Says who the ladies at blue bird retirement center.
Sam flicks Thomas with a kitchen towel as everyone has a laugh.
John: Page you deserve some time for your self. Everything is all taken care of. All you need to do is get on that plain in two days and relax.
I try hard to resist the tears forming, but as memories begin to flood the tears begin to flow.
Page: Thank you really.
I manage to whisper as I stand and head out the back door out onto the deck. Greeted by Gadsen who always knows when I need him.
I sit on the top step while he lays with his big head on my lap. When a single tear hits his nose he makes a whimper looking up with his big brown sad eyes and attempts to lick my sadness away.
A minute later John comes out and takes a seat next to me. Gadsen protested at first but quickly became distracted and joined Gunner out in the field chasing fireflies.
I attempt to hide my tears in the sleeve of my black hoodie.
Page: I’m sorry John I didn’t mean to seem ungrateful. It’s a wonderful gift. It’s just.
I choke on my words unable to wipe the tears fast enough. He rubs my back.
John: If you really don’t want to go you don’t have to. but Page you deserve it.
Page: I miss him so much John. We might not have had long but what we had felt like a life time. Before Canada on our drive here Zander came up with this game where he would ask a question and on the count of three we would both give an answer at the same time. His last question he asked was, where would we want to go after this is all over.
I suck in a sharp breath barely able to speak with out my voice cracking.
Page: At the exact same time we both said a private beach on an island.
I could no longer hold back the tears and sobs.
Page: How am I suppose to do this with out him?
John reaches his arm around pulling me into his side like a loving father would.
John: Then you do it for him.
My sleeves are drenched but I wipe my face with what dry parts there are as John holds me. When there’s finally no more tears, I sit up in attempt to compose my self.
John: You are as beautiful and as smart as your mother. But you are as stubborn if not more than your father ever was. Both of which are good traits to have but your stubbornness can kick you in the ass from time to time.
He chuckles as he stands up to go back in the house.
Page: Why a one way ticket?
John: You never know what you’ll find there?
I turn to see him attempting to hide a smile as he slips inside avoiding any more questions. To this day I question what happened to Zanders body. Not getting to say goodbye was probably the hardest part. John said Zander had his own team of people who took care of situations like the one we were in. People like Johns who can erase people.
I stare up at the moon to find it too smiling down on me like the Cheshire Cat. Is this suppose to be some kind of joke. I yell at the moon. As if on cue the skies reply with a thunderous roar. Both dogs come charging up the stairs to their houses as the rains pour from the heavens.
Page: Real funny.
Two days later and I’m all packed and ready to go. Sam grabs my bags and waits by his Jeep for me.
John walks me out onto the porch acting a little off.
Page: What’s with you lately. You wanted me to go now your acting like I’m not coming back?
He chuckles under his breath.
John: It’s not that.
He rubs his hand along the back of his neck taking in a breath. Then reaches in his front pocket to retrieve a small jewelry bag.
John: I had this cleaned up and I...
I open the small bag and dump out the content in my palm. With a gasp I look to John in shock.
John: My guys found it at the crash site.
Page: You’ve had this the whole time and decide to give it to me now.
I snap at him.
John: I’m sorry Page I just....
He placed a gentle hand on my shoulder with the hint of sadness in his eyes.
John: You were hurting so much at first I didn’t think it was the right time and then I forgot about it to be honest. I’m sorry I didn’t mean to keep anything from you. I was trying to do what I thought was best.
Looking back down at the train bracelet Zander gave me, my heart swelled as if gaining a little piece of him back.
I stand on my toes giving him a big hug trying hard not to cry.
Page: Thank you.
I turn running down the steps quickly. Gadsen, and Gunner see me off as if to ensure I get in the car.
John: Have a safe flight. And call me when you land.
Page: Yes dad
I shout from the window as Sam pulls out of the drive way.