Hurricane Ch. 02byc8er2u©
"Of course I do Sean," he stated quietly. "It's what I've wanted my whole life. What we worked so hard for on that film."
He waited, once again for her to continue.
"I just..." she trailed off burying her face in her hands. Finding her voice again she continued.
"I saw you, doing an interview. You were on a talk show or something talking about Esperenza..." she trailed off frowning.
"You were different. Your body language, your tone was completely different. I remember, they asked you if you'd ever been....been in-in love like that. I remember I watched waiting and hoping. For what? I don't know. It ain't like I expected you to say my name or anything but I just... I-I guess I just hoped you'd say something good. Instead you said 'love like that does nothing but bring a world of hurt.' said you thought you loved someone like that but it turned out to be the opposite. Do you really believe that? You can't honestly think that. Because I know I have never, ever in my life loved anyone the way I-"
"So you flew across the country to make sure I was... adjusting to single life?"
"No! I flew out here because I can sense a change in you Alejandro. You have so much success in your life, so many doors open to you now but are you happy? That's.... kind of why I'm here, I just need to know that you don't regret leaving. That you're happy with the way your life turned out!"
"Are you fucking kidding me? You mean you're here to clear your guilty conscience! You have a lot of nerve coming here after you threw me away like trash! After my parents disowned me for being with you! You decide to add gasoline to the fucking flames and you leave me! Well look how well this trash bag has done for himself! All of this was without you! Without your money, without your support!"
She looked like she'd been slapped. Fresh tears filled her eyes and threatened to spill over. He felt his blood boil.
"I... I guess you're right; it is a bit of guilt. I mean I feel guilty over the way things ended. Because it was so... abrupt neither of us had a chance to come to terms with it. I just always hoped and prayed you'd know that I loved you. And what I did wasn't because I didn't... I mean I love you so much. Still."
Her words hung heavy in the air around them as he sat fuming. She was openly crying now, her sobs forcefully interrupting her.
"I just want you to be happy baby. I-I-I wanted your dreams to come true! I wanted you to have everything! Everything your heart desired and more! Everything I could never give you! I even-"
Her sentence was interrupted by her own sobs again and she wrapped her arms around herself in an attempt at self consolation.
"I wanted you to love again!" she cried. "I wanted you to find someone who was worthy of you! Someone who was right for you, better for you than me! Someone you could bring home to your family! Not a-a swamp rat!"
It's funny how things can change in an instant. Your life, and the way you live it can change at the drop of a dime. Everything can change in a split second. Her words, his father's words all of it was bouncing around in his head on a loop making him understand in an instant. None of this was due to any lack of love for him. Although he tried to convince himself otherwise, he knew innately that none of this was easy for her. It must have been hard for her hearing his father cut him off like that. It must have been hard to be the reason. But that wasn't true at all. He had never gotten along with his father and at that time she was just an excuse for his father to cut all ties. The man was an overbearing, controlling sadistic power hungry asshole. But that had nothing to do with Sean. How could she not know that? He'd called her a swamp rat that day. It was the only message he'd left in English and the meaning behind it wasn't lost on him. Except it was, up until today. He realized by leaving he gave his father exactly what he wanted.
He stood suddenly in the grass, feeling it beneath his bare feet as he stepped towards her and scooped her into his arms. She went willingly and it was as if something snapped inside of him. As soon as he touched her; as soon as she was in his arms he felt it. The feeling of smoking embers turning into a roaring inferno. It burned him from his heart outwards seemingly engulfing them both and he couldn't stop himself. He tilted her chin up to his and he kissed her as if his life depended on it. She faltered a bit, her knees giving out on her but he was there with a steady hand to catch her. He held her soft and pliant body tightly to his unabashedly pressing his apparent hardness against her stomach. His kiss was urgent and needy, passionately capturing her lips and stealing entry into her mouth with his tongue. Sean weakly returned his kiss and in the back of his mind he noted her trying to pull away from him. He wouldn't allow it, pulling her even closer if possible, never once pausing in his kiss. Her hands moved to his bare chest and he growled. It had been so damn long since she'd touched him like this. His hands moved from her back down her waist to the exaggerated flare of her hips to finally cup her full and very plump ass. Dear God. It took everything in him not to rip her dress off and make love to her there in his back yard.
It was then that he realized that Sean was forcefully pulling away from him, pushing against his chest in earnest. He slid one hand up her back to pull her back in close to him. The other stayed firmly planted on her backside, palming and squeezing. He couldn't let her go. His mouth continued to plunder hers as he held her in his vice like embrace. It wasn't until she kicked him hard in the shin that his grip faltered and as soon as it did she wriggled from his grasp and slapped him soundly across the face.
He could hear her gasping for breath and sputtering, could still feel the ghost of her handprint on his cheek. He couldn't meet her eyes, didn't have an explanation.
"Rosalinda? Your girlfriend? You forget about her? Because I sure ain't!"
"She means nothing to me," he practically whispered.
"Well she sure as shit feels something for you. And as much as I want you... just let myself go, I can't."
"Yes!" he cried holding her gaze. "Yes you can!" He couldn't believe the words coming out his mouth.
"No, Alejandro I can't. Just look at this place!" She cried gesturing towards the house.
"Look at your life! Everything is beautiful restaurants, beautiful cars, beautiful home and an even more beautiful woman. An ex girlfriend from Louisiana doesn't fit this picture, how can I compete with that? You're supposed to have a tall gorgeous model as your girlfriend; you're an up and coming actor with his shit together. You're not supposed to be with a Creole legal aid from New Orleans! You're supposed to find someone and love her more!"
She held him briefly with her stare then went up on her toes and kissed him softly.
"I just don't fit into your new life," she whispered softly against his lips.
"Then I'll make room."
She sighed, releasing him and wiping the tears from her cheeks. "My flight leaves in two hours, I have to pick up my bags, drop this car off and then it's back to reality for me. Back to my real life."
She stared off into the distance again, lost in her own mind.
"Been living on memories Lee. Memories of what used to be, what was, who I thought you were, who I thought you'd become. Everything has changed, even New Orleans has changed. Transformed. There's this new liveliness, not quite what it was and it won't ever be the same again but... there's this feeling of hope. Change, everything is different but the same. I know it don't make sense, and it won't unless you see it for yourself. I'm just trying to change with it. That's what all this," she gestured to her hair and clothing, "is about. I realized I can't mourn anymore for a city that ain't dead! Can't cry no more for folk dead and gone. And most importantly I can't sit on pause waiting to feel for someone else what I feel for you. I... gotta learn how to release you."
And with that he watched her walk out of his life for the second time.
Alejandro couldn't believe the way things had turned from being completely black and white to a fuzzy grey. As soon as he watched Sean pull out of his driveway he felt choked. He turned back into his home which before felt modern and sleek now felt cold, sterile and lifeless. It stood as metaphor of sorts for what his life had become. He was going through the motions, doing the things expected of him but there was no heart in it. It seemed in taking steps to become someone better he'd actually gone backwards into someone worse. Someone who led a woman on for close to a year. The first thing he did was call Winston and let him know he'd be out of town for a few days.
"You do realize that we're on the verge of building a legacy! It would be crazy to just disappear right now! No! It would be career suicide to just disappear right now! When will you be back? Cause the media blitz I have planned will have you on the tips of every tongue in America, from my 80 year old grandmother to my 6 year old niece. Everyone and their granny will know your name. You do not want to miss this opportunity my friend so you have your ass back in sunny California by Friday capiche?"
"Understood, and Win? Thanks for not asking questions on this one."
"I have a strict don't ask don't tell policy. You wanna run off and bang German hookers? That's your prerogative. You wanna go off on a cocaine binge for a week? Dive into a mountain of it like scrooge Mc. Duck? Go right ahead. As long as you've checked into Promises Rehab Facility and have been discharged by Friday I don't give a flying fuck. Just... you know... take care of yourself."
It was as close to caring as Winston Montgomery was going to get. It was almost touching.
The next thing he did was book two flights. The first, a flight to Paris. Which would be 22 hours long with an hour long layover in Moscow. A small price to pay for not handling his business sooner. Once he finally landed in France he hailed a cab and told them to take him to the Hotel Shangri-La where Rosalinda was both staying and working. She was about to hit the runway for Alexis Mabille and he wanted to catch her beforehand. As the taxi navigated the streets of Paris he thought of his parents whom he hadn't spoken to since leaving Louisiana. As the car pulled up to the grand hotel he was at once filled with a sense of dread and purpose. It isn't often that one is put in the predicament where you have to break someone's heart. She didn't take it easily either.
"Are you breaking up with me?" she asked staring at him incredulously.
"Yes," he whispered.
"I think you know why Rosalinda."
She collapsed from where she stood onto the bed behind her.
"Because you don't love me? Not like you love her?"
Her voice was so small and broken betraying the strong and confident front she put on. Finally he saw the flawed and vulnerable girl inside the woman. He could now see what others couldn't in her narcissism; she needed to make others see her as the person she portrayed so she could believe it too. It was sad, but not as sad as the fact that he'd taken advantage of it, manipulated it and hid behind it too as a way for him to hide from his true feelings, his true self. If he hadn't put off this break up for as long as he did, he wouldn't be here, now. Quite possibly ruining her career by breaking up with her before some of the most prestigious shows of her career.
"This is all my fault and I can't begin to tell you how sorry I am to do this to you now. I do care for you Rosalinda and I wish nothing but the best for you. I just cannot keep up this charade any longer."
She yelled at him then screamed. Called him names he deserved to be called. Yelled in English, Spanish and Italian, which he had no idea she could speak. He stayed and took it all. Only leaving her suite when she asked him to in a defeated voice gripped with emotion. It was one of the hardest things he ever had to do but as soon as it was over he felt a weight lift off his shoulders. He was free now, to do and love as he pleased and it was with this new sense of rejuvenation that he boarded a one way flight to New Orleans.
It wasn't until he was sitting in the '99 Ford driving the streets of N.O. that he fully understood what Sean was trying to say. Everything had changed. It wasn't so much in the appearance of the city because even when he'd left enough time had passed to repair the damages Katrina had left. No, the change was in the city itself. It was as if everyone had come of the same collective understanding that they could survive anything and the resiliency had breathed new life into every aspect of the city.
He decided to take his time getting to the French quarter again and tour the city he once called home. He knew her parents had a home on Governor Nichols Street but he decided to take his time getting there, it was still early and he wanted to explore. He took a trip through Audubon park, sitting for a while and people watching. He drove through the garden district, taking in the classic architecture that was unique to this city, the archways and balconies overlooking beautiful lush gardens. It was June and it seemed everywhere he looked he saw green.
It was early afternoon when he stopped in Café Beignet and had, you guessed it; beignet's. He hadn't planned on staying long but the mixture of the music, the atmosphere, the food it held him captive for hours. By the time he was back in his car the sun was just going down over the horizon and he felt a magnetisizm pulling him to the house. As he parked in front he could faintly hear music drifting from the open windows and through the screen door. As he approached the door he could hear soft voices singing in unison. He almost didn't want to knock and interrupt them but he wanted to be invited in. Wanted to witness the music himself so he knocked on the door and waited.
"One sec!" he heard someone call.
He watched as a huddled figure slowly made its way down the hall. As the figure came closer he recognized him as Sean's father. He approached the screen door and went to open it but hesitated with his hand on the handle.
"Hello Mr. Wright?"
"Yeah?" he repeated still not allowing him access.
"My name is Alejandro; I'm a friend of Sean's? I was wondering if you could tell me wher-"
"Jes a minute," the said elderly man said interrupting him. He turned around and yelled up the stairs.
"Sean! Yo boyfrien at the door!"
He watched as the hunched figure shuffled back down the hallway and listened to the faint sounds of the house. He could hear a child fussing, saw her sister cross the hall, and heard a woman's voice trying to soothe the child. He watched Sean's figure approach with the child on her hip. He knew the moment she recognized him, her body froze just feet from the screen door. He still couldn't see her clearly; the sunlight continued to beam directly on him, causing everything within the house to fall into shadows. She moved forward again to the door and peered out at him.
"Alejandro?" she asked her voice uncertain.
He smiled at her, shielding his eyes from the setting sun. She placed her hand on the screen door handle and hesitated. The child, a little boy dressed in a cowboy onesie had his face hidden in her neck.
"Aren't you going to invite me in? Who is this handsome young ma-"
His words died in his throat as the boy turned his head to look at Alejandro. His throat went completely dry and he moved slowly up the two steps and pulled the door open to look directly at the mirror image of himself.
"It's... He's your son."