Putting Ella’s carry-on in the over bin always gives me flashbacks of when I met her. The electricity traveled through our bodies, it never left; building our amazing connection. Her small hand fits perfectly into mine as I sit down next to her. The call that you never want to get came as I was about to leave Los Angeles. My mother was hysterical on the line barely able to manage the words out as she told me Robert, the man who has been like a father to me had passed. I took the flight to Montreal as planned to meet with Ella before getting on another one to London.
I envy Ella who has the ability to fall asleep as soon as a plane takes off. Her head rests on my chest, the props of getting first-class seats is feeling like you’re sitting on a sofa and being able to cuddle. The emotions I’ve been keeping inside rise as I scroll through pictures of my parents on my phone. Robert met my mother when I was just a child treating her the way she deserves to be treated. My biological father had neglected her leaving her to fend for two children. Although I’ve recently met with Ralph, my biological father who’s in jail, I never considered him a family member. Robert was and will always be my dad. I put my phone away when I feel the tears threatening to spill.
As soon as the plane gets close to London, my love wakes up. Her smile always takes my breath away. Even in the worst situations, her presence makes me feel better. I lean down to run my nose on hers tenderly. She loves it. Her hand goes to my cheek holding my face while she brushes her lips to mine, slowly. It stirs something inside of me, a warm feeling. She knows I’m sad but she also knows her touch is what I need to keep going. She and I are the same, our physical connection acts as a shield against whatever life wants to throw at us.
Max retrieves all luggage while Cooper guides us to the SUV that’s waiting. We then head to my mum’s house. Knowing how devastated she is, leaves me with a lump in my throat. My poor mother has been through so much with my biological father, he was always drunk and quick to put her in her place with his fists and horrible words. Even after they got the divorce; he killed someone while my sister had a stroke being left alone at his flat which caused her death, my mother felt guilty. She’s always been strong and my biggest fan. Ella is still holding my hand but now she’s the one drawing circles on my skin.
My mum hugs me tightly, crying, as soon as we walk in. “I’m so glad you’re here, son,” she sobs. I guide her to the living room where we sit together. She finally explains getting a call from Robert’s workplace telling her he had a heart attack. She rushed to the hospital but he was already gone, she didn’t get to say goodbye. Ella brings her tea hoping it’ll make her feel better. My wife has a big loving heart.
“You look tired, Ryan. You can go home and sleep, we’ll wait until tomorrow to talk about the funeral,” she starts weeping again. “Are you sure? We can stay here if you need us?” I offer, knowing Ella would agree. Relief is clear on my mother’s face. Cooper and Max were waiting for us; they brought our carry-ons before leaving to drop the suitcases at our flat.
Once we’re in our nightclothes, Ella hops in bed with me, the bed I used to sleep in when I lived here. I’m so tired I can barely keep my eyes open when she runs her hand in my hair. “Sleep. I know you’re exhausted,” her tone is calm. “But I’ve missed you, I want to kiss you,” I whine, we’ve spent a week apart, and the current event tainted our reunion. “You need to rest if you want to help your mother tomorrow,” she tells me. I know she has a good point and we’ve been trying to avoid solving our issues or worries with sex. But I can’t fight the urge to at least kiss her soft lips tenderly. Ella then turns on her side pulling on my arm for me to lay with her. With my arm around her, my face hiding in the crook of her neck, I fall asleep right away.