Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Chapter 340: No Regrets, No Pain*

*I know, I know! I said use your imagination to fill in the rest, but if you had a good imagination you wouldnt be here!

Before you go, Simon said, resting his cheek on Cassandras curly head. I want you to really think about what youre doing.

Why? You arent really jealous of Ronnie, are you? Cassandra said looking up at him. Hes been a good friend to me, and for a long time, he was my only friend.

Oh, come on, Simon said. What about Sophie?

Cassandra made a derisive sound. Get real. Sophie never was there for me when she was in Miami, rarely called or even texted, but Ronnie did. He called just to see how I was and he didnt have to. So, I trust him, Simon as you should. Its so nice of him to offer to help me.

Its not thatnot all Im concerned about anyway, he said. Its about you running away from home. Kind of childish move, dont you think?

Childish? she said, pushing out of his arms. Are you kidding me? After all theyve done to me, Im the one being childish?

No, I mean…” He sighed and shook his head. Cassandra, you may not have thought of the consequences of you leaving without a word of explanation to your family.

Why should I explain anything? Pretty sure they can guess that Im uber pissed! she said. No explanation required.

Yes, you may be right about that, he said slowly. But youve told me about your about Mr. Bellarosas grave condition and how youve cared for him for months now and...

Thats Frankies problem now. Hes NOT my father after all, remember? she said angrily.

Yes, but until today you thought he was and you loved himpretty sure you still do. I know youre hurt and angry and you have every right to be, but regardless of that you still do love them and they love you. Do you see what I mean? he asked, gently taking her hand.

They lied to me, Simon, she said, bitter tears welling in her bloodshot eyes. Im done being a nurse maid to someone who looks down on me cuz Im Im illegitimate, and sin of all sins, Im only half Italian. How stupid is that?

Extremely stupid, but that is neither here nor there, he said. Every one of us have our own prejudices and…”

Why are you taking their side in this? I thought you would want me to leave, she said. What was this scholarship for then?

I will always and forever be on your side, Cassandra, Simon said. I certainly want freedom for you, especially in regard to your education and dream of being a doctor, but not like this. This way the one who may get hurt is you, not them, he said.

Im not hurting them, she insisted. They dont care about me, or they wouldnt have lied to me all my life.

You know thats not true, Cassandra, Simon said, taking a deep breath before continuing. They love you, perhaps too much and obviously shown in the wrong way, but still its love. They did what they did to protect you, Im sure, because truth has a tendency of being very painful, as you well know.

So, Im just supposed to act as if everything is fine and dandy, nothings changed? she said, near hysterics. Be a good little girl and suck it up??? So what that they ruined my life and stole my mother away from me?

That is NOT what I said, not at all, but I worry you are cutting your nose to spite your face, he quickly said, seeing by her furious expression that she was about to blow a gasket. Listen to me, please, and honestly think of the answer to this next question. How will you feel if Mr. Bellarosas condition worsens while youre gone from home? What will you feel if the man you thought was your fathernow your grandfather-- dies and you have not reconciled with him?

She turned her back on him and stared out the window, a long minute passing before she spoke so low he could barely hear it. Relief, if you want to know the truth, she said fiercely. Then she burst out in tears, covering her face with her hands and added, And horrible.

Simon wrapped his arms around her and let her cry.


Ronnie didnt have to search long for Morris Kramer. The man was waiting for him at the door with his overcoat in hand.

Where ya been, Boy? Morris said. Thought ya left without me.

Wouldnt do that, Ronnie said. Just was talking to Cassie and stuff. Real nice of you to get her the full schalorship, Grampa. Shes so happy she cant stop smiling.

Glad to hear it, Morris replied, grinning at Sophie. So, is our piano girl coming along for the ride?

No, I thought it was about time I got to know my grandmother, if I can ever get her away from my mom, Sophie said.

Oh, you better come with us then, Girlie, Morris said. Theyre having a serious powwow.

Come on, Sophie, Ronnie said, shoving her coat at her. Ill try not to make ya car sickyou dont get car sick, right?

She laughed at his nervous expression and slipped on her coat. Depends how fast you go. Im okay at twenty miles per hour.

I hope youre kidding, he said, just as he felt a tug on his coat. Hey, Jules, whats shaking, Buddy?

Can I come for a ride in your new car, please, Ronnie? Julian asked, his huge hazel eyes pleading. Ill be good.

Youre always good. Get your coat, Ronnie said, digging the keys out of his pocket.

Sophie sighed. How do you start a relationship with someone you thought was dead all this time? I mean, its pretty late to only just now get to know my grandmother, she said.

Now you know how Cassies feeling, Ronnie said just as he opened the door to find someone there. Mom! Whatcha doing here?” She stared at him until he remembered. "Merry Christmas, Mom!" he said, kissing her cheek.

I think I was invited, wasnt I? Catherine said, holding out the carrier containing her baby. Would you, Ronald, shes getting rather heavy? Hello, Morris. Merry Christmas.

Well, isnt this nice! Morris said. Your mother will be happy to see ya. Andy couldnt make it, huh?

On call and on the way to a wreck on the highway, she said with a careless shrug. Sophie, I see youre here toonever too far from my son.

Yeah, Sophie said, grinning. Were like Siamese twins or something.

The correct term is conjoined, but enough hospital talk. Am I too late for a mimosa? Catherine asked, removing her full length fox coat.

Nope, even some food left over if youre hungry, Morris said. Just follow the sound of clinking glasses, theres a good lassie. Well be back soon.

Where are you going? Catherine looked from her son to her step-father and then to Sophie and Julian, a seemingly odd mix of people to her way of thinking.

For a ride in Ronnies new car! Julian said, apparently even more excited than Morris.

Your father gave you a new car for Christmas? she shrieked. Ill murder him!

A-hemI gave him the car and you better not kill me or your mother might be a bit put out about becoming a widow again, Morris said, giving her a pinch on the cheek.

OhI see, Catherine said, grinding her teeth in irritation. What did you give Simon? His on private island?

Morris grinned. Nope, all he wanted was a wee favora full scholarship for his little girlfriend. Rather nice of him to bypass the condo I was thinking of getting him for the favor, dontcha think, Cathy?

Oh, shit, muttered Ronnie who caught the dangerous look on his mothers face and literally pulled Sophie and Julian out of harms way.

Catherine narrowed her eyes so they looked like blue chips of ice. Then she looked down at her fussing baby and her features softened once more. Hes never been a selfish boy, she said. Id like that drink right now.
They all watched her turn on her heels and head straight to the liquor cabinet.

Da-yam, Ronnie said, breathing a sigh of relief. I dunno how you do it, Grampa, but I really want you to teach me.
Morris chuckled as they all went outside for the virgin ride in Ronnies new car.

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