A Dash Of Him

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DUKE Chapter 4

I got home and stopped in the foyer. The silence of the house was eerie but after talking to Esmeralda I felt a sense of relief. I'm not saying I was fully healed but there was a residue of warmth in my heart. I went into the kitchen and put the leftover empanadas in the refrigerator. I moved my eyes around the kitchen and remembered how Emilio was the first one up making me coffee and breakfasts. He was also the last one down but he would always pull me on top of him and whispered in my ear 'tu eres todo para mi' (you are everything for me).

Now, I laid in bed without his charm and warmth. A tear came down my cheek but I quickly wiped it away. "You can do this, Duke," I challenged myself but my heart ached. I took a deep breath and went upstairs to our room. It was the end of summer and fall was approaching but the room was cold, the cold breeze grazed my face and emptiness lingered in the atmosphere.

I turned on the light of the closest and took out a box I buried deep in the dark corner. It was memories of Emilio if I was going to begin to let him go. I needed to remember why he made me happy. I know it's going to sting every vein in my heart but I needed to be happy again.

I pulled the heavy box out and put it on the edge of the bed. There was a bit of dust that had settled on top. I grabbed a cloth from the drawer and wiped some of the dust off. In big black marker, I had written EMILIO'S STUFF.

I slowly opened the flaps and the first item that appeared was his football jersey from high school. I lifted the shirt and I saw his last name in bold white letter, MICHELSON. He was number 7. He called me his lucky number 7. He was a beast on the football field, he told me I gave him life every time I was on the bench cheering him on. I never missed a game in senior year. I remembered he gave me his jersey that one night he kissed me in front of the whole school. We became the high school sensation senior year and I loved every bit of it.

********

*SENIOR YEAR*

It was winter and my fingers were frozen, even with gloves on. I sat in the front row next to Esmeralda and Brian. Emilio was concentrated and waiting to throw the ball but one of the players on the other team was almost on him. He calculated a quick throw and boom one of the wide receivers caught the ball, it was number 14, GRAYSTONE. Everyone screamed and he ran straight to get a touchdown. The crowd roared and we all shot up. Eastside Jaguars won the game.

Emilio took off his helmet and noticed me right away. God, he looked so good in his black and gold uniform. His hair was drenched in sweat. He lifted his hand and called me over.

"Go on sweetie," Esmeralda tapped my back. I made my way down to the football field. My heart was pounding with excitement and my hands were tingling from my nerves. The crowd was still cheering. I pushed through some students that had come onto the field and I finally got to him. He hovered in front of me with his mesmerizing grin.

"You saw that babe," his excitement was coming out of every pore. He grasped me by the waist as his eyes dilated. Everyone knew we were together but we tried to keep our public display of affection to a minimum at school. "You fill me with every spark of energy there is. I love you so much, babe, my lucky number 7," he leaned down and wrapped his lips with mine. Sweat came coming down his face. I tasted the salty beads of sweat but I didn't care. I was lost in his spell, it was only me and him.

There was a silence around us. He pulled away while his emerald eyes glowed like neon lights. We both glanced around and all eyes were on us. I saw a flash hit us from the side. And that's when everyone lost it and yelled. They started chanting our names.

"Duke and Emilio, Duke and Emilio."

His eyes aligned with mine once more and his lips latched on to mine again. "I love you, babe," he smiled while he kept kissing me.

"I love you, too."

Everyone screamed and cheered. It was a night to remember. He was my everything and nothing can change that.

We got to his house and we immediately went to his room. His parents took us to eat at a diner that was filled with most of the school. We were the power couple tonight and I loved every minute of it. Emilio took pictures with everyone that came up to him. He would always ask me if I was ok and the truth is I never envied his life. He was a star that outshined the brightest stars in the universe.

I sat on the edge of his bed as he leaned in and cupped my chin. He pressed his velvet lips on mine and smirked. "I have another gift for you," he didn't let me finish and went into his closet again. He came back with a black and gold jersey. My eyes widen when I saw his number 7 and his last name.

"You didn't," I jumped off the bed and ran into his arms.

"Fuck yeah I did, hermoso (beautiful)," I got a whiff of his clean aftershave as I pecked his neck.

"What did I do to deserve you?"

"You were just you, you never expected anything from me. You're my lucky 7 and always will be," he picked me up while I gripped the jersey in his hand. I wrapped my legs around his waist and took in his powerful kisses.

"Thank you for the jersey. I'm going to sleep in it all every night," I bit his bottom lip.

"Whenever I'm not around, wrap yourself in this jersey and I'll be there for you," I gazed into his emerald eyes and saw specks of yellow around his iris. I'm going to marry this man. He is the love of my life.

********

*PRESENT DAY*

I lifted the jersey to my nose and took in the faint scent of his cologne. After so many years it lingered on his jersey. Does it still fit me? I put it on and it still fit perfectly. I hugged myself and closed my eyes. I couldn't help but smile and remember how he made love to me. He scattered kisses all over my body, he would take me to another universe while our bodies got lost in lustful sin, and he was just perfect as a Greek sculpture. He was my sin, my everything.

I put the box to the side and laid on the bed. I think I had enough dosage of remembering the past. My legs still lingered off the corner of the bed. I closed my eyes and drifted into a deep sleep.

********

I was sitting on a bench while I was surrounded by thousands of flowers and trees. I glanced at the blue sky without one cloud in sight. Tiny orbs were floating in the air, it was like I was in some sort of fairytale book. A blue butterfly landed on my knee, it moved its wings gracefully as I smiled. A sudden warmth filled my heart, a magnetic pull that I knew far too well. I lifted my eyes and there he was standing in front of me with a huge smile. His teeth were the perfect white and his dimple tugged at my heart.

"Emilio?" my voice echoed.

"Si hermoso (yes beautiful)." His voice echoed beautifully. He walked closer and my heart pounded inside my heart, was he actually in front of me? Am I dreaming? He stretched his hand and helped me up from the bench. I threw my arms around his neck and I buried my face on the inside of his neck. His hands wrapped around my waist and he pecked me on my neck. His lips filled me with love again. I missed this, his love and affection.

"Are you real?" I asked.

"Baby, don't think about that. I'm here and as real as I'm going to get but I need you to do something for me," he pulled away as he aligned his beautiful emerald eyes with mine. He cupped my chin and smirked. "I need you to move on," his words cut deep into me.

"I can't. I miss you every day. How can you tell me this?" A tear fell down my cheek.

"My lucky 7, you made me the happiest man in the world but it was my time and you need to accept that."

"I can't," I could feel a giant knot form in my throat. I swallowed hard but the pressure lingered in my throat. "I never got to say goodbye to you."

"I'm here now. We can say goodbye but just know I'll always be watching you," his finger grazed my cheek. I closed my eyes and that's when his lips gently wrapped around mine. "Be happy, Duke."

"Baby, I can't. Who else is going to love me as you did? Our love was raw and real. How do I love someone else?"

He smirked. "You'll find him, sooner rather than later," his hand raked my hair back. "You need a haircut," I chuckled while my tears came pouring down my cheeks.

A white dove landed next to our feet. "It's my time to go," he said and my heart shattered again.

"No, please don't leave me," I gripped both his hands and he pulled me into a hug.

"Put on my jersey as I told you. It will keep you warm and safe. "Te amo (I love you)."

His body started to wither away. "No, no, no," I tried to hold on to his body but he slowly faded. A tear flew from his eyes but he kept his handsome smile on his face. He was gone again and I was alone once more.

I shot up from my bed. "Emilio!" beads of sweat came down my forehead. My body was trembling and my heart was beating forcefully in my chest. The lights were still on. I glanced down and I was in his jersey. I looked at my digital clock on top of my drawer and it was 2 in the morning. I must have knocked out.

I washed my face and mouth. I got into my comfortable shorts and put on his jersey. I turned off the light as the moonlight illuminated my room. I laid on my side and touched my lips. "Emilio," I whispered. I finally drifted into a deep sleep again but I didn't dream this time. I miss you, Emilio.

********

I called Sabrina and told her if I could take a free day from work. She let me take two days off so I went to the groceries and filled my refrigerator. It had no food whatsoever and if it did, it went all to waste. Then I went for a run. I wanted to give the grief group a try again. They were holding a meeting this afternoon but they also had some in the evenings, I use to go to the meetings after work but I got too emotional so I stopped going altogether. And I didn't want to deal with Emilio's death right away but I knew I had to accept that he was gone.

I pulled into the parking lot of the support group building. It wasn't only a support group for grieving, it had for substance abuse, alcoholism, and mental issues. It also had a gym that I use to come to. It was better when Emilio was around. My life was easier. I had a routine but his death broke everything in my path. I slowly needed to repair all aspects of my life, starting with accepting that Emilio was gone.

I walked into the room. There were a few people already sitting. All the chairs were placed in the middle of the room to form a circle. My heart started to beat faster. Did I want to talk about Emilio? No. But did I want to be happier? Yes.

"Hey, Duke," a young woman with dark hair and a sweet voice recognized me but I didn't.

"Hi," I was embarrassed I didn't know who she was.

She chuckled. "I know you don't remember who I am, you haven't come in a couple of months. I usually do the evening session but I'm here doing the afternoon session for a couple of weeks," her eyes twinkled like stars. She had a beautiful aura around her. "Abby," she took out her hand.

"I'm sorry, it's been a rough couple of months for me," my voice choked.

"Some people deal with death differently, that's why we have this group. You can speak freely or you can listen. Different perspectives can help you or someone else on how to deal with the pain of loss," she was so calm and gentle that she numb my pain for a bit.

Suddenly the tiny hairs lifted on my back. My hands tingled and I felt a presence behind me. I pivoted around and there he stood. He looked a little lost but it was Dashiell Mitchell, standing by the doorway.

He looked so much like Emilio, only he was a bit taller, had blue eyes, and broad arms. He had dark bags under his eyes. His eyes were slightly red and swollen, he must've been crying.

But what was he doing here?

******
A/N: Next chapter will be Dash's POV.
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