Authors: Nicki Rae
The Perfection Series: Part Two
Copyright © 2015 by Nicki Rae
All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof
may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever
without the express written permission of the publisher
except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are a product of the author’s imagination.
Please contact the author with any questions at: [email protected]
Published by: Nicki Rae
Cover Photo: Chasity Holt
Cover Models: Michael and Cassidy
Proofread by: Meshia Neely
For Timi. May your days be filled with as much beauty as you hold, both inside and out.
“Piper, put on your dress. We don’t have time to lollygag.”
“But momma, I hate wearing dresses.”
“I don’t care. You know your aunt wouldn’t appreciate it if you walked out in jeans and a t-shirt.”
“Why? She is welcome to come to my wedding wearing jeans. In fact, I’m going to wear jeans to my wedding. If my fiancé gets upset about it then I won’t marry him!”
“Just quit being so petulant and put on the dress!” her mother demands. After a few sighs and groans from the ten-year-old, she finally pulls the satin dress, with the green stripe at the top, over her head. She giggles at the soft crinkly noise the long skirt makes as it slides down her tights-clad legs. The dress stops just above her soft white kitten heels and she secretly admires how beautiful she looks in the mirror on the wall.
“There, see how beautiful you look?” her mother echoes her secret sentiment as she pulls the top of her dark hair back in a jewel filled clip.
“You look beautiful, Pipe! I just love my dress, mom!” Phoebe twirls, making the skirt of her white satin bridesmaid dress flare out. She steals Piper’s reflection in the mirror as she begins fixing her dark ringlets her mother pinned to the top of her head. She leaves a few loose tendrils and smiles at herself when she’s finished.
“Yes, baby, you look beautiful, as usual. I just wish your sister knew how beautiful she looks in her dress.”
Much to two of the three girls delight, they were treated to a spa day by the patriarch of the family. He loved to see his girls happy, and with his sister’s impending wedding, he felt it necessary to make them feel as beautiful as he saw all of them.
“Ladies, I have to be the luckiest guy in this world to have three beautiful women in my life.”
“Daddy!” his baby girl exclaimed with delight as she ran to him. He kneels down so they are eye level once she reaches him.
“Do you see this awful dress Aunt Priscilla is making me wear?”
“Baby, listen to your momma. You look beautiful.” The unconditional love he feels for his daughter is conveyed through the gleam in his eyes. He winks at his protégé, stands and surveys the other two loves of his life before returning to take his seat.
“Is everyone ready?” the stir crazy bride asks when she returns from her visit with the pastor.
“Piper doesn’t want to wear her dress,” Phoebe informs their aunt.
“Of course Piper doesn’t want to wear her dress. I can only imagine your wedding will take place out in the middle of a dirt pile, little miss,” Priscilla jokes as she brings young Piper’s curls to hang over her shoulders.
“That’s right! And everyone will be wearing jeans!”
“Ladies are you ready?” the wedding planner asks, while poking her head in the room. She smiles when she sees everyone is ready to begin.
“I don’t know why you have to have a silly ole wedding anyway, Aunt Prissy. Boys are stupid!”
The three elegantly dressed and beautifully made ladies laugh at young Piper’s observation, but are met with no more fuss from her. Her inquisition is piqued as she is being guided in all sorts of directions. Her innocent mind reminds her that one day this may be her and she wonders how people get to this point. Her mission from here on is to discover this object called love and hope it doesn’t make her sick.
“You should be proud. Once you pull that trigger, you’ve succeeded in taking the lives of your whole family.” Frank’s condescending words drown me in a torrential down-pour while leaving a sick cloud hanging over my head.
“I’ll admit that Danny’s death may have been my fault but how dare you continue to blame me for mom’s death. She was sick and you did nothing to help her. That is your fault you son of a bitch, not mine.”
“The only thing that would have made her better was having her baby back and we couldn’t give that to her, could we? No, we couldn’t. So you see, son, there was nothing anyone could do for her.”
“You could have gotten her help. You could have set her up with a psychologist, or hell, you could have talked to her yourself. But you couldn’t. You couldn’t be bothered. You had your woman on the side and mom could sit and rot for all you cared.”
“Son, you know that’s not true. I would’ve gotten your mother any help she needed but her heart was broken and that couldn’t be fixed.”
“How would you know, you never tried!” It’s true my mother’s heart was broken from losing her baby. I visited her every day and every day I watched her slip deeper into depression. I tried on more than one occasion to get her to talk to a doctor. I almost had her convinced but he fought us the whole way and she finally broke and began believing the lies he fed her. He was convinced nothing would help her and she slowly began believing it, too.
“You don’t know the depths I went through to help her. You were too busy with your drugs and street friends that you couldn’t be bothered with what your mother and I were doing.”
“I remember what I walked in on that day and I still have fucking nightmares about it.”
“I agree it was an awful day,” he says, completely void of emotion. Even to this day he can’t admit it’s his fault. I’m so tired of this same conversation.
“Frank, give me one good reason why I should keep you alive?” I’m anxious to hear his answer because I damn well can’t think of one.
“You want to stand there and spew venom at me about not helping your mother but when I throw it back to you, you don’t want to hear it. The truth is she did die from a broken heart. She essentially lost both of her children and there wasn’t a thing she could do about it, but you wouldn’t know that.”
“You really believe that bullshit, don’t you?” Raising the steel to his head isn’t giving me the relief I was hoping for. So many times I would stand in the gym and beat the bag while my sub-conscious replaced it with his photo. And so many times I would feel guilty about feeling that way about him. That is until I would get to work the next day and he started his shit again. Then, the process would begin all over. It’s exhausting. I’ve waited so long for this moment and now that it’s here, I don’t know why I’m hesitating, or giving him the opportunity to beg. I know damn well if our roles were reversed, I wouldn’t have been given a choice. Hell, he would have shot me as soon as the gun was pulled. I’ve always been told I am so much like him and in some ways I can see how. But in most ways, I’m not. Regardless of what people believe of me, I do have compassion and as much as I hate Frank, if he were to give me a sincere reason for keeping him alive, I would probably take it. However, before either of us can make another move, someone steps in. She places her hand on my shoulder and even with the amount of hatred pumping through me, her soft hand is soothing.
“Fenton, you don’t want to do this, you will never forgive yourself if you do,” Piper pleads. “Please, let’s just go.” Her sweet voice floats around me, trying to pull my dark soul to the light. I wish I could comply. She doesn’t understand what it has been like having this man as a father. She doesn’t understand what it has been like to carry around this guilt for the last fifteen years and not have one single soul care.
“Young lady, if you think I am going to let him get away with this you are mistaken.” His threats confuse her as she is only trying to save both our lives. His lack of understanding makes me want to pull the trigger even more. But for her sake, I to want throw the gun down and hold her. She doesn’t need to be a part of this or witness his antics up close. And it pisses me off I had a moment of weakness for this son of a bitch!
“Why can’t the two of you let the past be just that?” The tears that are falling from her eyes are my fault. I knew this would happen and I knew I should have stayed away from her. But I am too selfish. I saw this beautiful angel and couldn’t help myself. Even though I want to continue to be selfish, I can’t put her through what I put everyone else. She deserves better.
For once in my life, I feel the need to do something for someone other than myself and it is scaring the hell out of me. This woman, who has given me more in just the few weeks that I have known her, the only woman that I have ever worked hard to make smile and I am just going to walk away from her.
“I can’t…” I pull away from her, drop the gun on the ground and begin walking to the door. I want to turn to her and apologize for what I have put her through. But for the first time in my life, I am too much of a coward. I selfishly brought her into my life knowing it would overtake her and now when all she wants is some semblance of an explanation, I can’t give it to her.
When I reach the door, it takes everything in me to not look back at her. I’m afraid if I do, I won’t do the right thing and walk away. FUCK! I want to turn back to her. A part of me wants to believe we can work through this without any hurt or resentment on her part. But the rational part of me knows that can never happen. I have too many skeletons in my closet. I’ve hurt too many people and have too many issues within myself to work through.
Before I finally decide to pull on the knob, I feel cool steel being pressed to the back of my head. My eyes close and the last fifteen years comes rushing back to me; all of the sadness, all of the drugs and all of the pain that I have been through. All of that bullshit has led to this moment. I face him and drop to my knees, exhausted from the pain we have caused each other.
“I have nothing left to give. You win…” My head and shoulders slump as I realize I can take no more from this man. “Just do it,” I add, as I kneel, beaten by the last fifteen years of my life. The tears begin flowing as the words I never thought I‘d say, float over my lips
“You’ve caused so much misery in my life. Why couldn’t it have been you? That’s the question I ask myself every day. Sometimes I remember when we would all have a picnic at the dock at Pappy’s. Your mother was so happy watching you and Danny swim. She was so beautiful and loved you boys so much. I would sit on the blanket, watch her smile and relish in the cherry smell of her shampoo the wind would send my way. I would give anything to see that smile on her face again, to see Danny graduate high school. You don’t know what you’ve taken from me. Danny was so sweet and loving and you let him die. How could you do that to my precious boy?”
“I didn’t know he was there. Do you think I would have just let that shit happen? You probably don’t like to think this but I wasn’t that bad before everything happened. I loved Danny, too!”
His eyes close and a part of me wants to believe he’s remembering some of the good times we used to have. The fishing trips we used to take, him teaching me how to mow the grass and when he taught me the one tool that I love more than anything in my life: how to work with my hands. But I know he isn’t. He’s probably trying to demonize me even more in his mind to justify everything that has happened. Sometimes I don’t blame him.
He finally opens his eyes and moves the gun to the middle of my fore head.
“FENT!” Piper cries out but I can’t look at her. The vibration in her voice warns of the panic that is on her face. I can’t go out with that as my last image of her. I want to meet my maker while remembering her beautiful smile and those brown eyes that can make me do anything.
“He’s no good, Piper. It’s good you’re seeing this now,” Frank says to her over his shoulder.
“So what? You’re just going to shoot your own son, Frank?” she asks in astonished anger. As often as I’ve told her how much of a bastard he truly is, you really can’t fully understand until you experience him. Ice water runs through his veins. He has no empathy or compassion for anyone. He will take his last breath trying to bring me to my knees. She has a good heart and I wish he wasn’t trying to taint it with his cruel words and lies.
“He deserves nothing from me. He’s taken everything I’ve ever loved.”
“I loved them too you son of a bitch! You act as though what happened to Danny was intentional. Listen to yourself, acting so self righteous. You know what happened with mom was your fault. I don’t care how much you deny it. You will never change my mind.”
“Piper, my wife is gone because of Fenton. Her grief overtook her and nothing I would’ve done would’ve changed that!”
“Now, tell her the truth!” I demand.
“You killed her baby so you in turn, you killed her.”
My eyes close in exasperation.
“We will never agree on this. Time and time again we have this conversation but you are too full of yourself to see the picture how it was truly painted.” Somehow, I find courage from deep within and I stand, with the gun still trained on my head, so I can look him in the eyes. “You are too much of a coward to shoot me. I had a moment of weakness and you should have taken advantage of it because now you will never have the opportunity again.” With the electricity still flowing, I grab the gun out of his hand and walk through the door.
I take the stairs two at a time, trying to put as much distance between us as quickly as I can. I’m still not sure I will leave without her if she catches up with me and I’m not entirely convinced that’s what I really want to happen. I want to take it all back. I wish things didn’t happen the way they did but Frank never makes anything easy. She was very quiet, no doubt absorbing all the information I should’ve already shared with her. I know she has a million questions. I probably should have stayed to answer them but it doesn’t matter now. Once I decided to leave her standing with Frank on the roof, I lost my chance at redemption.
I’ve never been so happy to see the bottom of a stairwell. The guilt that was surrounding me was about to make me choke.
“What did you do to them?” Jane asks as I am making my way through the lobby.
My response isn’t appropriate, so I will keep quiet. However, I’m sure she will run upstairs to kiss Frank’s ass and listen to more of his lies, so anything I say won’t matter anyway. I know she is worried about them but her words are like venom in my veins. Just one time in my life I would like for someone to be worried about what I’m going through. It’s all good, though. I’ve grown thick skin and grown accustomed to people accusing first and asking questions later. It’s become my norm.
“I am talking to you Fenton James!” she screams and that stops me immediately. Who does she think she is? Such condescending words coming from a woman who doesn’t think twice about telling me her thoughts on my life and the decisions I make. The same woman who somehow loves Frank and pretends she understands what we have been through. So why she feels she can speak to me in such a derogatory fashion is beyond me and it’s going to stop right now.
“There is only one person who is allowed to speak to me that way and she is no longer on this earth. I know you are fucking Frank and for some reason you feel that gives you some type of power over me but you are sadly mistaken. I answer to no one. Not Frank and especially not you. I have been nice to you because we worked together but that stops now. I owe you nothing and I’m for damn sure not going to listen to talk down to me. So please, do not speak to me like that ever again.” Her mouth drops to the floor in shock as I’ve never spoken to her this way. “You would find that shocking. Someone delusional enough to believe the lies Frank throws at you must be delusional enough to believe I would lie down and let you speak to me that way. You’ve got the wrong guy, babe.”
I turn to the door but guilt washes over me. Fuck! I shouldn’t have been so harsh with her. It isn’t her fault Frank lies to her. My eyes roll to the ceiling and I take a breath before turning back to her.
“Listen, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have been so harsh but for the life of me I don’t know what you see in that man. Has he ever mentioned what happened to my mother?” Confusion and embarrassment cloud her eyes. I can tell by that reaction she doesn’t want to mention what he told her which means I know what he told her.
“H-he said that you killed her, along with your brother,” she stutters. That was difficult for her to admit but not as difficult as they were for me to hear. There aren’t many people who know about Frank and my past, usually it’s only my subconscious that reminds me of the demon I am.
“Yeah, of course that’s what he told you. See you later, Jane. I hope you and Frank have a good life.”
Pulling my sunglasses down as not to show how miserable I feel, I jog to my bike, throw on my helmet and fire her up. I look to the roof top one last time before taking off to find Piper staring down at me. The pain I’ve felt for the last fifteen years is nothing compared to walking away from the one good thing that has ever happened to me. Piper is beautiful in so many ways. Some of the best architecture I’ve seen is created from her brilliance. She is so funny and can make me laugh when all I want to do is cry. Her heart is pure and she is willing to share it with anyone who will allow her. She is Aphrodite pulled from the Island of Cypress and as much as I want to be her Hephaestus, I have to let her go. This isn’t about me. She deserves someone who can match her beauty, someone who she can be with without living in fear. It’s been a great few weeks but I’ve learned I can’t be that someone for her. After cementing her face to memory, I take off; leaving all of the hurt she and I are both feeling behind.