I got all I need when I got you and I
I look around me, and see a sweet life
I’m stuck in the dark but you’re my flashlight
~ Flashlight, Jessy J
B A R C E L O N A
“I don’t think I have woken up, yet.”
“I really think that you hit my head in Mum’s womb, Stephen..”
“I think the fatherhood thing with Bella has got me, Rihanna..”
“I think you should publish a book with my company on this and forget about these idiots there.” Rihanna laughed, hugging him in a warm embrace.
“I.. Well, okay. I believe you’re alive and everything but man, just a minute..” Stephen told him, nodding at Chris as he placed his spectacles on the table in Rihanna’s office and removed his coat.
“Am I going to be raped or something because I don’t think Scarlet will appreciate that-” Roman asked, but before he could finish, a fist was thrown on his face, silencing him.
“You little shit! Do you have any idea what we have been through?!” Chris spat as Roman fell down on the couch, laughing as they playfully punched him and Adrian joined in too.
“I THOUGHT WE WERE GRADUATING COLLEGE TOGETHER!” Adrian snapped at him, kicking his stomach.
“What happened to, I’ll always be there for you, brother?! I can’t believe you forgot me!” Stephan growled.
“My my, you have any idea how much I have wanted to go to these clubs here and get girls but no one would let me!” Chris shouted, and immediately Roman’s hand went up, in order to pause the three.
“Wait! How is that related to me?!” Roman asked him, stopping the three in between.
“Yeah, how’s that related to him!?” Stephen asked his twin brother, raising his eyebrows.
“Well, it is not related to him but still, IT’S STILL A REASON FOR MY FRUSTRATION!” He shrugged and they all nodded and went back to punching Rome.
“GUYS!” Rihanna yelled. “Not my new office couch, please.” She asked of them, politely.
“Now, what do you have planned for tonight, Maddie?” Roman asked her, sitting down as he folded his shirt as Maddie straightened herself in Rihanna’s office chair.
“Okay, so from the past three years I have been celebrating Christmas Eve with her and then on Christmas we have a dinner at Adrian’s place with Bella and all. But.. Christmas Eve is for both of us and.. I want you to come with me. Because, according to our little tradition, we exchange a major gift tonight over a good dinner together. I want you to be my gift to her, Rome.” She whispered, slowly.
“Never knew I was a priceless object but, oh.” He wiped fake tears and hugged his sister. “I was thinking, I could bake a cake and take it for-”
“NO COOKING FOR YOU!” They all yelled in unison.
“Isn’t she late?”
“Must be the traffic.” Maddie shrugged. “But she should be home, soon. Bella’s day care centre is downtown, so she would have found a little traffic there.” Maddie informed him, as his eyes remained fixed at the road behind them as he sat in Chris’s car, just beside Scarlet’s own driveway.
“Off the record, just two of us, you know?” Roman asked her. “How’s she, really?”
“Not good.” Maddie laughed without any emotions. “Initially, she was horrible, Rome. She would close the door after putting me to sleep and cry all night, thinking I wouldn’t know but I did, so after we settled here, I asked her to go to a therapist and talk to her.”
“And how is she after that?” He asked with a gulp. He couldn’t believe that he had pushed her to a such a limit where she needed to go to the therapist. A freaking therapist, lecturer in a University, handling a baby. What even happened to his old, carefree, bad girl Scar?
She grew up.
“Better. I would say, a lot better. She’s still not the same, but she threw herself into college, then work and volunteered to handle Bella till 6 in the evening because initially when Rihanna started working in the publishing firm after Adrian’s grandmother died, leaving it to them, Scar knew she wouldn’t have time, so as a godmother she volunteered to help. Adrian tries to help too but you cannot manage the house with no help and when Scarlet has only three classes a week, she doesn’t mind handling Bella.” Maddie shrugged. “But I must say, she’ll be a very good mom. She already is, I feel because the way she handled me and Bella and all her work.. I don’t think everyone can do that, Roman.” She chuckled, patting his shoulders.
“She’ll want to see me, right?” Roman asked, uncertain a little whether it was okay to go or not.
“Are you kidding me?” She snapped. “She would go hysterical if she didn’t and later realised that we kept you away from hers even after knowing.” She said, falling back on the car seat as a car rolled in.
Thanks to the tinted windows, Scarlet wouldn’t see them while they would have a clear view of hers. “Oh oh. She’s here.” Maddie held his arm, while he turned away from her in the driver’s seat to face the other side clearly. His head peaked ahead, searching for the only face he had wanted to see, for real from the past three years. From the trainings to negotiating with Carter’s men and to finding himself again in her room, all that kept him sane was her.
“It was all you, Scarlet.” He whispered as she stopped his breath, the car rolling into the driveway, with a woman, he knew all too well but didn’t, inside. He couldn’t believe how the time had dropped in front of his eyes as within seconds, she was feet away from him, opening her door. Her black, short hair were long gone. They reached below her shoulder now, in brunette curls in the end and then straight up ahead. They flew past her familiar green eyes which had aged a little, as had her face almost as if she had grown into a proper woman within a few seconds. She seemed like.. A family woman?
“She’s 21 now, so are you. I know she’s aged a little.” Maddie commented while Scarlet, unknown to everything walked to the other side other car, adjusting her jeans while she wore, white camisole with a brown leather jacket on top, which she had paired with brown boots. She actually looked like a mom, Roman’s mind remarked when he saw her opening the door to a three year old girl, Bella, with green eyes like her father and aunt, Scarlet and blonde hair like her mother. Bella looked behind at the car, while Scarlet talked to her, holding her in her arms.
“Bella’s a perfect copy of her parents.” Roman smiled, waving his hand, even though she won’t see him.
“It’s Isabella Rome Winters.” Maddie told him a small smile as she saw his expressions change from shocked to emotional.
“You’re still her godfather, you know?” Maddie remarked.
“I can’t wait.. I really can’t, Maddie.” He said, opening the door.
“You don’t have to, Rome. Just let me enter first so that she doesn’t drop something and has nothing in her hands.” Maddie laughed.
“GO!” Roman yelled as Maddie ran, holding her bag, and breathing out before running inside the back door.
Inside the house, Scarlet placed little Bella in her feeding chair and turned to put the chicken in the oven for the dinner later. According to Maddie’s call, she had reached the airport half an hour ago. So, she would be back anytime soon but she didn’t realize that Maddie came at ten in the morning, with a big surprise for her waiting for Scarlet and Bella on their porch. She hummed to a random tune before texting her therapist that they would have to cancel her monthly meeting because she had more lectures lined up after winter break and a few extra classes for her students.
“SCARLET!” She heard Maddie yell as Bella began to yell on her own.
“Mad mad mad!” She called her out but Maddie only kissed her forehead and ran inside to Scar.
“Hello, Maddie-” Before she could compete, Maddie tackled her into a hug.
“Oh God. Oh God. How do I even?! OKAY YOUR PRESENT IS STANDING OUTSIDE!”
“Standing?” Scarlet asked, confused, combing Maddie’s flicks back.
“YES YES YES.” She said desperately. “I’ll handle Bella. Go to the garden!” She said, pushing her.
“Is everything alright-”
“Get out!” Maddie yelled. “Please.” She added softly, to make it polite.
“Idiot.” Scarlet mumbled, throwing her gloves away asking Maddie not to burn the kitchen and take care of Bella, which was obviously ignored because she picked Bella up and followed her outside, remaining on the door frame, whereas Scarlet looked down, adjusting her jacket as she walked ahead, not realizing who stood a few meters away from her, walking slowly towards her, mesmerised by how she walked to him.
He missed this. Her walking to him, and shaking her head in a smile. This was it. Within seconds her eyes would look up and see him and then-
“Watch where you’re going!” Maddie said, slapping her forehead as Scarlet stumbled on a pebble.
“Scar!” As a reflex, he shouted at her, beginning to run to her, but when Scarlet looked up at the familiar voice she actually stumbled again.
“No.. I..” She meant to say that she would be fine but as the physique of the man become clearer, she started to place his features well. Different, yes, he was a lot different now. His hair were longer than how he kept him and not even blonde anymore but a dark brown with black highlights. His body wasn’t the same anymore, too. Even below the simple blue t-shirt, anyone could make out the defined muscles which he had before too, but they seemed so different and.. Perfect now.
“Scar.” He whispered again, beginning to walk to her until he stood in front of her, lost in her eyes. She enthralled every cell of his being, because it was impossible for him to think that he would forget her, ever.
But he hadn’t. He never forgot her. She was always nagging in the back of his head, whispering him to come back. She was always there for him, even when he wasn’t there for her.
“R-Rome. No..” She shook her head. “No. No. No. This isn’t good. MADDIE!” She shouted hysterically as her body shook from denial.
He had left her, he was probably dead for the world. Carters would have.. No, should have killed him. He couldn’t come back because she never thought he would. No, she thought he would. She always knew he was alive and someday get back to her but.. No, she didn’t expect this.
“C-Call Claire, please.” She told Maddie, referring to her therapist. “I am getting the hallucinations back or something! ASK HER TO CALL DR RAMIREZ, THIS IS NOT GOOD. NO NO NO.” She shouted holding her head in her hands as Bella started crying in Maddie’s arms.
“Aunt Mum!” Bella yelled.
“Scarlet!” Roman yelled, getting out of his tense trance. He couldn’t see her this crazy anymore, crying like a mad woman and losing it in front of him within a few seconds. He had done this. He was capable of doing this, he reminded himself as he caught her arm, shutting her up because she realized be wasn’t any hallucination anymore but began to doubt her sanity soon until he pulled her to him and pressed their lips together. Scarlet tried to push him away at first but when Roman won’t let her go, she relaxed in his arms as realization hit her and she remained shocked in her arms. “It’s really me, baby.” He said, breaking apart but soon kissing her back. Scarlet, on the other hand felt his lips demand a kiss out of her.
She couldn’t believe this no matter how much she wanted to. It won’t get into her head that it was all him, from top to bottom. His kiss, his touch, everything was similar.
The familiar warm feeling returned in her heart after three long years as she felt her lockets go cold against her chest in contrast.
The warm feeling.
It was all here.
And yet, she stood there in denial. What was she denying when everything was in front of her. So she clutched to it, before it would leave her again and disappear into thin air like before.
“Guys! My daughter is not seeing that!” Adria shouted, running to them just as Scarlet began to kiss him back.
“Shut up!” Rihanna snapped, walking past them in a chuckle and holding her daughter.
“Mommy. Who?” They heard Bella ask.
“That’s your uncle dad.” Adrian answered.
“Uncle Daddy?” Bella asked, confused.
“Yeah, like you have an aunt mom, he’s your uncle dad.” Her mother told her. “Godfather, like a Godmommy.”
“Where was he?”
“He was lost, honey. But.. He found home.” Rihanna told her daughter with a smile.
“What’s he name?” She asked, her grammar flattering everyone.
“Like my name?”
“Like your name, Darling.” Stephen commented, coming behind them.
“Such a lovely evening.” Chris pointed out. “We have a beautiful family looking at two sexually frustrated twenty one year olds make out while one of us holds her daughter.” He said dreamily.
“Move inside, God!” Rome shouted.
“Shouldn’t you?!” Chris snapped at him as Scarlet laughed into Rome’s chest.
“Laughing, are we?” Roman asked her, wiggling his eyebrows.
“After a.. Long time. But, how did you-”
“I’ll tell you everything, but can we really take this to your room? The house seems pretty homely to narrate a long story.”
“I have all the time for a three year long story.”
“Wow... I did not expect that.” He chuckled nervously.
“It was impossible to believe you as Ryder Hunt too.” She commented. “But yeah, you’re back, James is dead. That’s all I want.”
“I can’t believe they fired at the whole ship and killed them before they could set foot on American soil.” Roman chuckled, shaking his head. “I can’t believe that two days back, I was going to execute this plan with them.”
“I can’t imagine you as Ryder too.”
“I can’t believe you kissed that psycho and shot him. How savage is that?!” Roman laughed, shaking his head. “Though I am not happy with the kiss part, but okay!” He said, with mock sternness.
“Oh god, I thought she had actually changed into a devil when she laughed. That night..” Stephan remembered, shaking his head.
“Was a horror movie.” Chris finished for Stephen as they gulped their cold coffee down, and Scarlet adjusted herself on Roman’s lap. Nothing, nothing had changed as she breathed into his chest, smelling the familiar scent of his.
“I love you, little devil.” He whispered into her ears. Even though it had been four hours since he was here, and everyone had warmed up to him, including Bella, Scarlet still couldn’t believe be was here. He was present right beside her but she was scared he would disappear again.
“I love you too, Rome.” She chuckled, zipping her jacket down.
“GO UPSTAIRS!” Chris shouted.
“Oh, shut up.” Scarlet snapped. “I wanted to show him the locket.” She mouthed at them, and they went back to their business.
“Locket.” She nodded, pulling her lockets out with his name and hers on it. “Remember your-”
“18th birthday gift, yes.” He nodded, holding the metal piece in his hand. “Oh lord, I should have worn it. Perhaps, my memory would have come back faster then.” He chuckled. “But.. It was all you, Scar.”
“All me?” She asked, in confusion.
“Yea. I.. I told you that they killed Matt later, but, before he went he told me to not believe anything they said but I was still injured and I believed it all. Now that I look back, why would they keep their own son in a prison?”
“Jerks. I can’t believe Matt was their spy or something.” Rihanna scowled.
“Yea, who planned to defy them and run to New York. Sucker got kidnapped there because of Ryder recognizing him.” Roman chuckled. “But.. Before he left, he said, I gave you every information on Scarlet from Port Angeles.”
“So..?” Chris trailed.
“So, I remembered that name and that place even though everyone else told me I had never been to West Coast or known anyone named Scarlet.” He shrugged.
“Sure, you don’t.” She slapped his chest.
“I can’t believe that you, taking a washroom break after gym, realized all of this and that, became the reason why we are all here and the family back there in Port Angeles is alive.” Stephen chuckled.
“Bless his bladders.” Chris commented, raining his glass as Stephen and Adrian Chocked on their drinks.
“You’re impossible.” Scarlet and Roman said in unison.
2 months later.
“Yeah, I’ll get that done, Sir.” Roman said into the phone, eyeing Scarlet who snored beside him. “The shipments are coming from Morocco next Monday. Our company will handle that, don’t worry. Good day.”
“Rome...” A groggy voice called him, as he shifted sideways to get up from the bed.
“Good Morning, honey.” Roman chuckled, kissing her forehead for a brief moment, as she stretched her arms, yawning.
“Good Morning. What’s the time?” She asked, turning around to see her bedside clock which read ten in the morning. Scarlet stumbled and immediately got up from her bed. “OH SHIT, MADDIE AND I ARE LATE FOR UNI-”
“Scarlet!” Roman yelled, silencing her. “Winter break starts from today, baby.” He said, slowly, trying to control his laughter.
“Oh.” Scarlet shut her mouth and got back into the bed. “Okay.”
“Sit here, please. I have something for you.” He told her, pressing his lips together tightly as he walked out and Scarlet remained there, checking her phone briefly.
Monthly salary taken. Keeping eyes open on company finances. Checked on the doctor from Brazil. Roman isn’t faking. Said a text message from a private number, which was Richard’s as she let out a breath. Roman cod hate her for this but it still seemed impossible for her to know that he had come back after surviving a memory loss.
Handle Mr Martinez from my second year batch. Nuisance. She texted him back, basically asking Richard to get that sexually frustrated kid out of her class who won’t stop touching girls and eyeing Scarlet during lectures.
“Baby! Here.” Roman squealed like a little girl as the door opened, with a.. Cake in his hands?
“A cake? I thought my birthday and Christmas are long gone.” She chuckled, deleting the messages.
“Read it. I made it.” Roman smiled, but Scarlet’s eyes enlarged.
“YOU DID WHAT!?” She snapped, getting up but Roman pushed her down, gently.
“I haven’t burned down the kitchen. Read it, I said. Leave the eating part to the twins.” He instructed her as her eyes travelled down.
Merry me by Christmas 2018?
“What?” She asked, lifting her eyes from the pain chocolate cake after reading its icing. “Merry me by Christmas 2018?”
“Urgh.” Roman slapped his forehead. “My Life is a tragedy.” He mumbled, getting down on one knee as Scarlet threw him a confused expression.
“Okay.. What?” She asked, as she saw him touching his butt?
“Scarlet Taylor Winters.” He spoke, making Scarlet’s words get swallowed in her throat. “I know you’re an English major, but I think we need to get you a good pair of reading glasses.” He chuckled nervously as he pulled out a small blue velvet box. “I know it’s too soon, seeing I just returned, but.. I want you to know that I want to spend my life with you because all through my past life, you have kept me sane. I want to be part of your every stupid plan and I want to gun down men with you. I want to be whoever I am, with you. I won’t be here if it wasn’t your name, and I want to keep that name with me till I die. Till we die. So, will you marry me by next Christmas?” He asked, stressing on the marry word.
“Oh.” Her mouth closed, as she eyed the cake, read it again and then looked into his gray eyes. “Oh.. You meant marry.. I read merry.” She chuckled awkwardly but then reminded silent as the grin spread on Roman’s face slowly faded.
Seriously! After five years of loving this guy, you’re thinking! THINKING?! WOMAN, NO. She said, screaming at herself.
“YES YES YES. OH MY GOD. YES.”