Heavily he sighed and started up his car, pulling away from the curb and driving off towards the house. As he drove he tried to come up with a reason why this was happening. Why he was being plunged back into the darkness he was trying so hard to release himself from. He wondered how she had found out where he was. Who could have possibly told her? No one had ever met her.
The house came into view and for the first time in a long time it was quiet. Shannon’s was the only car in the driveway along with a rental that was parked along the curb. He managed to get his own car up beside Shannon’s before getting out and walking slowly to the door.
He rested his hand flat over his chest, the feel of his heart racing evident to his palm. He shut his eyes for a moment, telling himself that he could get through this because it was nothing at all. If he had been in a better mood that would have been somewhat amusing but standing there now all it was was desperate.
He reached his hand out and turned it with a clammy grasp. He pushed open the door and entered the place that was all too familiar. The thought that she was there made it hard for him to ease up. This was his personal space and having something from the past that still ached so terribly there was almost painful.
He heard the voices before he saw either of them. Shannon’s deep, and rare. Hers aged, quiet, almost hurt. He swallowed harshly, pushed his hand back through his neat hair and gave himself a look in one of the picture frames reflections.
His face wasn’t as tired as he had grown accustomed to but it was still there, making its mark of exhaustion. His eyes were somewhat clear and he looked a bit presentable. He had stopped by his nearly empty apartment and had gotten a shower before rushing over here. He was more than nervous, far more.
Finally he managed to open the door all the way, breathing in the scent of tea before he let his eyes adjust.
Shannon was standing his hands in his pockets and a look of uncertainty on his face. His eyes immediately went to Jared, looking to him for something and anything to say.
And then there she was. He remembered the smell of her powder the day he had spoken his vows to an Italian minister who had spoken broken English. Bianca’s mother. Her face had hardened somehow over the short amount of time since he had last seen her. He had met her a total of four times and he often wondered if she had approved of him or of the money he had given her, the place he had set her up in.
“Lourdes.” He spoke her name too grimly. He hadn’t wanted to leave the ice still frozen all around them. But how does one break the discomfort if the truth wouldn’t ever pass through his lips? He knew why she was here.
“Jared.” She attempted a smile but all it came out as was a slight twitch. She rose to her feet, setting her tea cup down and met him where he stood. “It’s good to see you.” Her words were as meaningless as the half embrace she gave him. He turned away from the smell of powder she still carried. Too many memories.
“What brings you here?” He figured asking how she had found him was too much, too forward. He didn’t really want her to know that he hadn’t wanted anyone to find him. Not from Italy, not someone who had been there.
Lourdes didn’t have time to answer. She became a crumpled heap on the chair she fell into. Her tears wrung out of her exhausting her thin body. She held her hand over her mouth to cover the silent cries that came from her lips.
Shannon looked to Jared. Jared simply nodded to him, giving him leave to exit the room. Once he had gone Jared walked slowly to the chair and knelt down beside it. He could see her face from where he was and noticed that she had nothing of Bianca’s features, not the same kind of woman at all.
“What’s the matter?” He nearly croaked out. He knew that the coldness of his attitude wasn’t doing much to calm her but he couldn’t help it.
“Why did you leave?” She questioned, her eyes large and beady once she looked at him. Her fit had subsided but the tears still fell.
He let out a sigh and lowered his gaze. He tried to find a fitting answer, tried to make her understand without giving away everything that happened. He didn’t want to tell her what Bianca had made him promise. The promise was much too heavy but how could he have denied her when that was what she had said would make her happy?
“We all needed you…” She covered her mouth again but this time to stifle a small cry that sounded helpless.
“We?” He asked.
Lourdes nodded, her hair bouncing a little on her shoulders when she did. “We.”
He didn’t make a reaction. He only stood to his feet and moved to where Shannon had been standing. He couldn’t bear to look at her, couldn’t bear to place his thoughts on anything other than the not too distant past. He couldn’t even bring Rowan to his thoughts. The one person he knew that could calm him seemed so far away suddenly. It didn’t matter how perfect the night before had been. Men held angels in their arms all the time but the demons of reality always broke through. That could never be prevented. He just thought that he could have gotten a longer time with that perfection. Time played tricks and he could feel it now.
“Why are you here?” He demanded again, his voice not harsh.
She lifted her eyes, meeting his. With her fingers she wiped at her tears and tried to calm a little. She wanted to be straight with him, wanted him to be able to understand her despite her thick accent. When she saw him she didn’t see the man Bianca had married. She didn’t see the man who had showered the entire family with gifts because of love for her daughter. She no longer saw the man who had been in that chapel, giving her daughter a chaste kiss and placing the ring on her finger. All she saw was a broken child somehow. A child who was lost amongst too much pain and found no escape.
“It’s about Bianca…”