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Ryan’s POV
3 days later

Ella put on a black dress that has long sleeves and is longer than her usual style for the occasion. Her hair is in a bun, her makeup subtle. I have on the traditional black suit. We’re holding hands in the SUV, I haven’t been able to speak much from the moment we got up. My throat feels tight, my heart breaks knowing I’m going to say goodbye to my dad. Ella talked about being my rock in her letter that she had sent to the rehab center and today she’s doing a great job.

We meet my mum as soon as we arrive. No one else is here yet. With a hug, Ella offers her support to my mother. I then follow mum to meet with the owner of the place before we get to see my dad. I order Ella to have Max follow her when she mentions needing to use the restroom, I’m well aware I’m being extra careful but she doesn’t question my motive. Mum and I talk to the man, Mr. Jones about the last-minute preparations. He then leads us to the room where my dad is. I wrap my arm around my mum’s shoulders as she walks to the table where flowers were set up. I suspect she’s trying to build the courage to face my father’s coffin. I read some of the cards with her until I see one that makes me very angry. My biological donor, Ralph, sent flowers with a card to offer his sympathy. “How the hell does he know my dad passed?” I yell, startling my mum. “I’m not sure but it’s nice of him, don’t get upset!” I know she’s trying to calm me down but it’s not working in her favor. “Nice? What would be nice is if HE was the one who would have died instead of Robert. What would have been even nicer is if he had died instead of Mindy or that man he killed for the heck of it!” I bark getting angrier. I start pacing around. Mum stays by the table sobbing while Cooper attempts to walk to me but I put my hand up warning him to stay back. I grab the vase with the monster’s flowers and throw it across the room. The echo of my mum’s plea to stop resonates as I stand facing the wall with my hands to my side, fisting them, breathing hard. Then I feel her. One of her hands forcing my right hand to open so she can intertwine her fingers with mine. A warm feeling wraps around me. Her calming wave is keeping my anger at bay. I grab a chair and pull Ella to sit with me burying my face into her neck almost using her as an invisible cloak trying to hide from it all.

“I understand it’s hard, babe. Your mum is hurting too,” Her voice feels like a soft touch. I know she’s right, mum didn’t deserve to hear such harsh words, especially not today. “Mum, I’m sorry. I just…” I can’t find the right words to make the situation better yet my mum nods granted me forgiveness.

Cooper and Max work on cleaning the mess before gesturing for me to go with Ella and mum. I put my arms around them. The realization that my father is gone suddenly hits me. I knew he was. But seeing his lifeless body makes me shudder though his face looks peaceful with his eyes closed. My mum says her goodbyes, weeping. I remain silent when she offers I say a few words honoring my dad. Ella suggests she could leave me alone with him thinking it might help, I hold her closer begging her not. Her brown eyes look into mine reassuring me. We all stand quietly for one more minute before family members and friends gather around us. Ella holds my arm as they come to me offering their sympathies. My experience as an actor allows me to put on a poker face for the rest of the day.

We ended up at my mum’s house later at night. She’s exhausted from crying all day. Ella being the kind-hearted woman she is works on getting tea and biscuits for us. Cooper and Max were invited to come in by my mum. Who knew I’d warm up to Max but he’s doing a great job and seems to respect my wishes when it comes to Ella. I’m still angry thinking about the flowers and card but I won’t talk about it here out of respect for my mum.
“I guess I’ll have to sell the house,” my mum’s voice distracts me from my thinking.
“What? Why?” My heart is racing at the thought.
“I don’t want to live here alone, too many memories. I can find a smaller one or even a flat,”
“Mum, I know it’s tough but take some time to think about it. If that’s what you want, I’ll help you find a new house,” I hold her hand across the table.
“I love you, son. I love you, Ella! You’ve been brilliant today. We needed you,” She turns to my wife who’s sporting a nice blush.

“Thank you…” I trail off thinking about today’s events after we’ve settled in bed.
“What for?”
“Earlier… you being calm when I was so mad helped. I felt your energy, it was soothing.”
“I get why you were mad, Max tried to stand in my way when I heard you throw the vase but I knew you needed me. It’s different but you were there when my dad died,” she hugs me.
“I’m sorry…” I trail off again, holding her. She looks up. “I’ve done some messed up stuff and caused you pain when I was drinking. I don’t know what made you stay and put up with it but I’m sorry. I promise I’m stronger now. I love you. Forever.”
“Ryan, I cannot imagine my life without you. I wanted to kick your ass a few times. But I would never leave you… unless…” she doesn’t complete her sentence.
“Unless what?”
“If you ever cheated on me, it would be over,” her eyes pierce through mine.
“I would never!” I promise her, surprised she would even bring it up. Her past experiences with men have left some scars but she should know she’s the one for me, the one I will love until the day I die, even beyond.
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