DUKE Chapter 17
I know that deep inside I have to get over Emilio. He wouldn't want this for me, he would want me to be happy and Dash brings warmth into my shield heart. After throwing the marigold into the ocean last night, I felt a sense of relief. My heart didn't crumble into pieces. I was finally gluing back the pieces that were once shattered.
It was hard to say goodbye to Dash. I knew it was only for a day but it felt like an eternity today at the hotel. I spent most of the day eating and watching Spanish soap operas. I finally took a shower and got ready for my late flight. I bought some souvenirs for Sabrina and the team. I even got Dash a blessed necklace. I know hockey means a lot to him and he has some stuff to get through so I hope this necklace brings him luck.
I got a cab to the airport and looked back at the majestic hotel. It was nice to get out of the same routine but I still had this whole week to relax which I'm not sure what I'm going to do. I'm usually always bombarding myself with work that I lost what to do with my life. I lost my partner and a part of me as well. So this week I can start by picking up the pieces of the life I use to enjoy.
I checked into my flight then soon after I boarded the plane. I sat by the window and gazed at the workers putting the luggage into the plane. I heard someone trying to shove a carry-on on the top compartment. "Hi, sweetie. Do you think you can help me with this?" I heard an older woman's sweet voice. I glanced up and saw a cozy older woman with a carry-on twice her size. I quickly got up and helped her. "Thank you. You're so sweet."
She sat next to me as I went back to gazing at the workers. My phone pinged and it was a notification that my flight was about to take off in 15 minutes. My wallpaper was of me and Emilio posing for our wedding. My heart ached just gazing at his beautiful face. I opened my photo album and went to our wedding pictures. My eyes filled with water as the pictures got blurry. I rubbed my thumb over his charming face. A teardrop fell on the screen as I quickly wiped it away.
"Those are beautiful pictures, a fairytale comes true," I heard the sweet woman's voice. I sniffled and wiped my tears.
"Thank you. We wanted a fairytale wedding. It was the most fun I ever had. I'll never forget that night," my words choked in my throat. I thought I was over this but I'm not.
"Then why are you crying? You should be happy," her hand fell on top of mine. I noticed the fine wrinkles and the blue veins on her hand.
"He passed away a year ago. He was in a car accident and died on impact," I swallowed hard as I closed my phone.
"Oh my goodness. I'm so sorry. I lost my husband a couple of years ago as well. My heart still breaks when I talk about him but it will get better, dear. You'll always have that ache deep inside but you'll survive. I did."
I glanced at her and studied her face. She had the bluest eyes just like the ocean. Her hair was completely white and held in a bun. She had porcelain skin with a few red spots, maybe from the sun. She had minimal wrinkles around her eyes and forehead but enough to show she was elderly. She sat up strong but her eyes softened when she saw my tears. "I'm Dolores Hernandez."
"I'm Duke Michelson, nice to meet you."
She continued to hold my hand. I didn't think much of it. I thought it was a sweet gesture. She reminded me of my mom. "Well, Duke. You're young and have so much to look forward to. I know it hurts to lose someone that meant so much to you but you'll find someone else. Give them the same love you gave your husband," I immediately thought of Dash but I was nowhere near loving him. I liked him a lot but I'm not sure where we go from here. He has a career to build again and I have to heal my shattered heart.
"Did you find someone else to love?"
She simply smirked at me. "My dear boy. I was married to Fernando for 30 years. He was my soulmate. I have two daughters and three grandkids so my plate is full. I didn't want to find love again but like I said you're young and so handsome," she pinched my cheek and that made me chuckle. "And a wonderful laugh. Duke, I know it hurts but life is precious. You only get one chance to live your life to the fullest. What would your husband want you to do?"
My lips trembled. "He would want me to be happy and move on."
"Then you should do that, dear. Mourn his death but don't mourn yourself. It's not healthy or you'll bury yourself in a hole so deep that you won't be able to get out. Love again my dear," I took a deep breath and inhaled her blessed words. It was good to hear a stranger's perspective. Finally, the plane started backing up. We finally lifted off and are now back to my old life where a new beginning starts.
I slept a few hours then I chatted with Dolores a bit more. She told me she comes to visit her husband in Cancun. He was from there and that's where he wanted to be buried. She told me how he met him when she was 20. She was on spring break and immediately fell in love. She came to visit him every month because he didn't have papers. They finally got married and she fixed his legal documentations.
He got an education and studied business where they both opened their bakery. "It's called Lovely Cakes," she said so sweetly, a hint of sadness came out when she remembered her husband. Maybe I'll always have this hollow inside me but if she survived so can I.
"Please come and visit, anything in the bakery is on the house," she told me it's in downtown Los Angeles so I'll visit the bakery when I can.
"Of course, I'll take some time to go," maybe Dash would like to join me.
The monitor turned on that we were about to land at LAX. I looked at my watch and it was almost 7 in the morning. My eyes burned from how tired I was but I'll go home and take a long nap then I'll see what to do this whole week.
The plane finally parked as everyone stood up. Dolores and I stayed seated to let all the chaos go out. I helped her with her carry-on and we exited the plane. We waited for our luggage to come out through the conveyor. I yawned as Dolores giggled. "I'm twice your age and I'm wired," I chuckled as she was wide awake.
"I'm just tired of being in the sun. It was relaxing but I need a good nap."
I grabbed her luggage and we walked to the arrivals pickup line. I heard a honk and a woman quickly ran over to us. "Mama," she waved and Dolores's eyes widened with joy.
"My beautiful Rose," they hugged as this woman averted her chocolate eyes at me. She had Dolores skin toned, long shiny dark hair, and a sweet smile just like her mother. "This is Duke Michelson, he gave me company and is a sweet man."
"Thank you so much for helping my mother," she shook my hand.
"It was no trouble at all. We had a great conversation," Dolores winked at me. I helped them with the luggage when I heard my name being called out.
"Duke," I turned around and saw his tall figure coming towards me. He had a gray hoodie with matching sweatpants. He held a coffee cup in his hand as his deep blue eyes gazed at me and his handsome smile made my heart thump inside the cavity of my chest. "Hey, handsome."
My stomach swirled with so many emotions. How did he know I was going to be here?
Then I felt soft hands grab mine. Dolores pulled me towards her and whispered in my ear. "He's a keeper, that's Dash Mitchell," she averted her eyes at him. His smirk never left as he nodded to her. "Let yourself be happy and you'll find peace," she squeezed my cheek and went into her daughter's minivan. The van disappeared into the airport traffic.
"What a sweet lady," Dash said.
"She was the best. Now how did you know I'll be arriving today?" he handed me the cup of coffee and grabbed my luggage.
"A little birdie told me," he joked. "I may have looked at your ticket in your room," he winked at me.
"I have to be more careful with you," I joked.
"Come on let's get you home."
The sun was slowly coming up on the horizon as my eyes were closing inside his truck. He put the address to my house in his GPS. I wrapped myself with the leather jacket he had inside his truck. It was nice and cozy that I just wanted to fall asleep. Fall was here. I felt someone moving me and that's when I saw my house in front of me. I flickered my eyes open as Dash was already coming around to open the door for me. "Wake up sleeping head, you're finally home. It's a nice house by the way," he studied the moderate size house.
The bushes needed trimming and the roses were dying. The grass had weed that I neglected to cut. My house was me. Emilio and I would maintain everything so clean and organized but I let it die just like me. Maybe that should be on my list, fixing the house and bringing it back to life. "It's a mess," I joked.
"Ok it's kind of fuzzy but it has a cozy feel to it."
He went to grab my luggage. The coffee he got me didn't work. All I wanted was to take a long nap. I opened the door and walked into the silence of my house. The sun's rays were coming through the nude curtains as dust particles danced in the air. I glanced at the kitchen where Emilio use to cook and I simply smiled. I heard big footsteps behind me as I dropped the luggage by the entrance.
"Nice place, very cozy," I turned to him as I gazed into his beautiful deep blue eyes. He had tiny orbs of molten diamonds that swirled with desire. He kicked closed the door as he never stopped staring at me. "Duke, I really like you?"
His words made my hands tremble and my heart thump loudly. I slowly lifted my hand and interlocked my fingers with his giant hands. "Stay with me then," a faint smirk formed on his lips.
"I would love to," I pulled him into the hallway and then into my bedroom. All I did is bury my face into his chest as he wrapped his arms around me. I was slowly feeling what I once lost. I just hope I'm making the right decision.