Angel

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Chapter 15. Mess

When I made it home, I noticed there were a bunch of vehicles in my driveway, and some parked in the grass. Jesse and I shared a look of confusion.

“What the fuck is going on?” I wondered.

“Is it somebody’s birthday?” Jesse asked.

“Not to my knowledge,” I muttered.

We parked the Corvette in the garage and headed into the mansion. The living room was vacant, and so was the foyer. I threw open the large wooden double doors that led to the dining room.

Everyone and I do mean everyone was here. I’ve met all of the current members of the Latin Kings. We are, after all, like one big family. What surprised me was that even the wives were here. The wives don’t normally attend Latin King meetings.

“Holy shit,” I muttered. “A family reunion. Who died?”

Everyone turned to look at me. They all seemed surprised to see me as if I didn’t live here or wasn’t invited. Nobody spoke. You could have heard a pin drop.

Jesse peeked around me. “Damn,” he grunted.

“Yes, ’Tis I,” I said as I placed a hand to my chest in a dramatic way. “The boy who lives upstairs. Heir to the throne,” I said in the most proper way I could manage as I bowed. It came out sounding practically British. “What the fuck is happening?” I asked more seriously this time.

“Jesse and Angel, have a seat,” Mom said.

Andersen moved away from the wall, placing two extra chairs at the table beside my parents.

Jesse and I shared a confused glance once again but did as we were told.

“We all know why we are here today apart from the two of you,” Mom said as she looked at Jesse and me. “We’re thinking about creating a new council that would consist of most of us. Your father and I just feel like you could use the help. Of course, if you take it over and give it a chance and decide it isn’t what you want, you can end it. I really think this is the best thing for you,” Mom said softly.

“You don’t think I can do it?” I asked in irritation.

“That’s not what we are saying, Angel,” Dad answered. “We just thought it would make things easier for you, at least, until you get adjusted. Your mother had all of us, that is what got her through,” Dad said.

“The council has a strong influence, but no power, Angel,” Mom said. “It’s there to help you deal with paperwork, the IRS, money, sales, and contacts. We just want to help.”

“Um, sure, whatever,” I said and shrugged. What could I really say? They were only trying to help me. “This is all good, but um I’d really like to speak with you and Dad alone,” I said to Mom.

Now it was my parents sharing a confused expression.

Everyone started to leave. Mom, Dad, and I headed for the study. I led the way in and sat down on the couch. My parents stood across from me.

“It’s two weeks to graduation, and I just feel like there is something you two should know,” I started.

“Okay?” Mom asked, confused.

“I want Jesse as my right hand,” I said.

Dad raised his eyebrows in surprise. “Angel, we talked about this. It is supposed to follow the bloodline. You said you would pick a Garcia.”

“I know what I said,” I sighed. I buried my face in my hands and rubbed my face fiercely. I knew they would be upset. “You said yourself,” I looked at Dad. “You and Mom have broken nearly every damn rule in the book. I’m not saying it has to follow Jesse’s bloodline. You should pick the one person who would take a bullet for you because that is what a right-hand does. That person is Jesse. It shouldn’t have to be about blood,” I said.

Dad and Mom both stood in front of me, speechless.

Mom smiled. “You’re absolutely right. I think Jesse could do it.”

Dad stared at me for a long moment and started to nod slowly. “Well, if it would get handed to anyone outside of the family, it might as well be Jesse. I think Jesse would do a damn good job.”

“Look, I know it’s a hard pill to swallow, but thank you. I mean, that is assuming he wants it because I didn’t ask him, but if I know Jesse like I think I do...” I trailed off.

“He won’t turn it down.” Mom finished my sentence.

“Exactly,” I agreed.

“Only one way to find out,” Dad said.

I stood up and dashed out of the study. I scoured the mansion for Jesse. Just as I was sprinting from the kitchen, I stopped dead in front of Andersen and Rosa.

“Hey guys, sorry,” I said.

“You’re in a hurry, sweetie,” Rosa said.

“I’m looking for Jesse,” I told them.

“I believe I saw him head upstairs,” Andersen gestured toward the stairs.

“Thanks,” I said and dashed past them.

Normally, I’m polite enough to knock, but I was excited to see what Jesse would say. I was really hoping he wouldn’t shoot it down. Jesse was my best friend, and I wanted him to take the position over anyone else. I threw his door open. I stopped.

Jesse was on the phone. “Are you fucking kidding me, Em? We’ve been together for years! And it’s over just like that?”

My jaw dropped wide open. Talk about walking in at the worst possible time.

“Em?!” Jesse roared. He pulled his phone away from his ear and looked at it. “Fuck!” He whipped his phone across the room. He spun around and stopped when he saw me in the doorway.

“Woah,” I breathed. “What the fuck just happened?”

Jesse’s eyes were filled with tears. “I just got dumped?” He meant to state it, but he was in such shock it came out like a question.

“Why?”

“She just said she wasn’t sure if she felt that way for me anymore and that she wanted us to start seeing other people,” Jesse murmured. His gaze dropped to the floor.

“Holy shit, man, I’m sorry. I don’t even know what the fuck to say,” I murmured.

“I should have known, she has been acting off for months,” Jesse snorted. He sank onto his bed. He grabbed a joint from his ashtray.

I sat down beside him as he lit it. He attempted to hand it to me, but I shook my head. He exhaled as he coughed.

We sat there silently for a long time. Jesse and Emily had been together for three years.

“So, um, did you want something? I mean, you came in here,” Jesse said, looking at me through squinted eyes. He was blitzed out of his mind.

“Um, it’s not important,” I said and shook my head. “You want to go out? There is a party tonight,” I said.

“Are you kidding?” He asked. “The last thing I want is to run into her. She’ll probably wind up going. God knows that girl loves a good party. You go,” he said.

“I can stay here with you,” I said.

“No, don’t worry about it. I know you told Mia you would take her,” he muttered.

“Okay, well, I better head out then. Hit me up if you need to,” I said.

“Yeah.”

I felt guilty for leaving him home alone. However, I did promise Mia I would take her. I grabbed the keys to the Corvette and headed for the garage.

***

Mia stayed silent as I drove her back toward her place. Mia and I had a pretty good time, but she knew I was worried about Jesse. Mia knew about Emily and Jesse.

We both saw Emily, she was hanging all over some other guy, but there was no way in hell I would tell Jesse. Mia informed me that she had no idea that Jesse and Emily were having problems. Mia is a bit upset with Emily for hurting Jesse, but I told Mia to just stay out of it.

I mean, sure Jesse was my best friend, but Emily was also her cousin, and they were close. The last thing I wanted was for the two of them to fight.

“You’re quiet,” Mia murmured.

“Just worried about Jesse,” I admitted.

“Text me later and let me know how he is doing,” she said as I pulled up a block from her house.

“I will, mami,” I said softly.

Mia grabbed my chin and forced me to look at her. “I don’t want you thinking that what happened between Emily and Jesse is going to change things with us. I don’t like what she did to him any more than you do.”

“We don’t even know that she did anything,” I sighed.

Mia and I talked about the possibility that Emily was cheating on Jesse. Jesse had said that she had been acting differently. Mia thought she was too. Mia said she had hardly seen much of Emily lately.

“It’s a pretty good assumption, though,” Mia said. “I would never do that.”

“Come on, mami. I know that,” I said softly. I leaned toward her and pressed my lips to hers.

Mia tangled her fingers in my hair and pressed herself closer to me. If she were any closer, she would be in my lap. It was as if she was trying to reassure me with the kiss, but I didn’t need it.

I knew she wouldn’t cheat on me, but in two weeks, when push came to shove, I did wonder if I would still have a girlfriend. I broke the kiss but didn’t pull away from her. I kept my forehead pressed to hers, and my eyes closed, just listening to the sound of our ragged breathing.

“I love you,” I murmured. As soon as the words left my mouth, my eyes flew open. It had finally slipped out, after all the times I had managed to stop myself in the past.

Mia’s eyes pierced mine. “What?”

I don’t dare take it back. If I take it back or laugh about it, she will punch me in the balls. “You heard me,” I said softly.

“Do you mean it?” She asked.

“Of course, I mean it,” I said and rolled my eyes.

She smiled and pressed her lips to mine. This time she broke the kiss. “I love you,” she mumbled.

My gaze met hers, and I could see it in her eyes. I could tell that she meant it, but I wondered if that would be enough.

“Don’t worry; I’m sure Jesse will be okay. Maybe it’s for the better. Maybe they weren’t meant to be,” Mia said.

“Maybe we weren’t either,” I said. My lips parted in shock. You dumb ass why the fuck would you say that out loud?!

“But you just said-”

“I know what I said,” I groaned and rubbed my face fiercely as I pulled away from her. I gripped tightly onto the steering wheel. “It just seems like sometimes no matter how much you care about someone, it isn’t always enough.”

“Where is this coming from?” Mia asked. “Is this about telling my dad? We can’t keep it from him forever, Angel,” she said. “I can’t believe we got away with it for this long.”

“No, it isn’t about your god damn dad!” I boomed.

She leaned as far from me as the car would allow. She stared at me in shock. “Then what is it about?” Her voice was barely above a whisper.

“Nothing,” I huffed. “I have to go.” My voice and expression grew cold as ice.

Mia stared at me in confusion, which grew to irritation. Without a word, she jumped out of the car and dashed up the sidewalk.

I wanted to go after her, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. The car peeled away from the curb. Mia stopped on the sidewalk and stared after me. I watched her until she disappeared from my rearview mirror. She didn’t move. It was like she was frozen to the ground.

When I got home, I went to Jesse’s bedroom. Jesse was fast asleep.

I closed his bedroom door softly and headed down the hallway. I stopped when I heard another door open.

“Angel?” My sister Adelina was standing across the hall in the frame of her door. She looked like she was worried.

“Hey,” I said. “What’s wrong?”

“Is Jesse okay? He didn’t come downstairs for dinner tonight. I saw him in the kitchen, grabbing a glass of water a couple of hours ago. He looked...” Adelina trailed off. “Rough?”

“Come here,” I nodded toward my room as I opened the door.

Adelina tip-toed across the hallway and into my bedroom. She turned to face me as she shut the door. “What’s wrong?

“Don’t say anything,” I said.

“Okay?”

“Emily broke up with Jesse,” I said softly.

Adelina’s eyes looked as if they were about to pop out of their sockets. “W-what?” She choked. “Why?”

“Shh,” I hushed her.

“Sorry,” she murmured, but her eyes burned with curiosity.

“Emily said she wanted to see other people. Jesse said something had been up with her for a while, I guess,” I said.

“Wow,” Adelina murmured.

“Just take it easy on him if you talk to him and don’t bring it up,” I said sternly.

“I won’t,” Adelina promised. She turned and left my bedroom.

After Adelina left my room, I decided to get in the shower. I was never the type to take a long shower, but I stood in there for what seemed like a long time. I kept thinking about everything I said to Mia. I told her I loved her and then basically told her we weren’t going to work out. What kind of asshole does that?

I climbed out of the shower, got dressed, and laid in bed. I considered texting Mia but fought against the urge. I tossed and turned more than most nights. It felt as if I had rolled a mile around my bed. After all the rolling, I must have been tired enough because I finally slipped into unconsciousness.

***

Mia hadn’t spoken to me in over a week. She hadn’t even been at school. We were on the last Monday of school. It was strange to think of it that way. It was the last Monday I would ever walk into this place. I had school up until Friday. Saturday was graduation day.

I was at school a little earlier than usual. I was walking down the hallway and came to a sudden stop.

Mia was standing at her locker, talking to Emily. Emily hugged her tightly and turned away. Mia had been ignoring me for so long that I wasn’t even sure we were together anymore.

She was in her locker, digging out books as I reached her. I stood silently behind her locker and waited for her to close it. When she closed the locker, she stumbled backward in surprise and dropped the book and notebook she was holding.

“Angel?” She gasped.

“Hi,” I said. My throat was thick with emotion. I hated the way I sounded. I sounded desperate, and I was. I was desperate for her to talk to me.

“Hi,” she murmured.

“You’ve been ignoring me?” I asked. I arched an eyebrow and gazed up at her from beneath my eyelashes. My lips felt as if they would stay in a permanent frown at this point. I hadn’t smiled in such a long time there was nothing to smile about.

“I don’t know what you want me to say or do, Angel?”

“Anything is better than nothing at all,” I growled.

She grimaced at the hostility in my voice. “You said that you loved me, and then you just freaked out. What am I supposed to think? It’s like you know something that I don’t. It’s almost like you don’t even want it to work out.”

I closed the distance between us. I grabbed her face between my hands.

Mia gasped, and her eyes widened in shock. “What-”

My lips crashed against hers, cutting off whatever she was about to say. I pushed her against the lockers. My lips moved against hers. I wanted her to forget everything I said the other night.

I wanted her to forgive me for fucking things up between us. I wished I could go back and just tell her the truth when she asked for it, but life didn’t have a rewind button. I broke the kiss but kept her face in my hands. I waited for her to open her eyes.

Her eyes fluttered open. Different emotions clouded her eyes. Her breathing was as erratic as mine.

“I meant everything that I said,” I said. “I want it to work out. You have no idea how bad I want it to. We have had such a rough relationship from the start, though. I almost don’t think it will, no matter how bad I want it to.”

She stared at me, speechless.

I pressed my lips softly to hers once more before I turned and headed down the hallway. I wasn’t sure how to fix any of this. It would be the hardest mess I ever had to clean up, that was for damn sure.

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