"Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass." Anton Chekhov


Sunday, December 22, 2013

Epilogue...8 Weeks Later

Lily wrapped a warm woolen scarf around her neck, then grabbed one of the many jackets hanging in the small mudroom beside the kitchen.  Shrugging into it, she slipped out the back door and stood for a moment in the clean, cold air of the French countryside.  As she walked the meandering paths of her mother’s flower and herb gardens, she smiled at the raucous sounds of the party that followed her up the gentle slope to a wooden bench under an ancient Sweet Chestnut tree.

     Leaning into a slight hollow in the gnarly, rough bark Lily looked out over the landscape.  The glow from a perfect half-moon made the night seem like a scene from a fairy tale.

     Hearing a soft footfall, she turned, then smiled at Katy, her elven beauty enhanced by the moonlight.  Tucking her hands in the crook of Lily’s elbow, Katy rested her head against the other woman’s shoulder and sighed happily.  “I’ve missed this place.”

     “Me, too.”  She lightly poked Katy with her elbow.  “I’ve missed you.  How’s it going with dissolving the Cantrell empire?”

     “Without your grandfather’s help, Dom would have just walked away from the whole thing.  If Taurin hadn’t returned his medallion I don’t know how we could’ve proved that Dom’s father wasn’t around anymore.”  She laughed softly.  “Bit hard to tell his corporate executives their CEO was a demon from Hell.”

     In a simple, well-planned maneuver, the figure of Jamieson Cantrell was seen boarding his private jet shortly after Halloween, leaving Seattle in the early morning hours for a quick flight back to San Francisco.  Tragically, over the Pacific, the plane had exploded with no survivors.  Dom and Mickey had planned it perfectly, using the medallion to escape after lighting the fuse.

     “There are dozens of lawyers handling sales and deals and all that financial stuff.”  She giggled. “Though most of the time Dom just wants to stay in bed.”

     Quietly Lily said, “I was wrong about him, Katy.  It’s so obvious he adores you.  I’m sorry I misjudged him.”

     “Don’t be sorry.  In the beginning it was all about revenge.”  She lifted her head and smiled at Lily.  “But it didn’t take long for me to turn him from the dark side.”

     They were laughing when the soft murmur of voices made them look over their shoulders.  The click of a shutter told them that Jean Michel, Lily’s father, had arrived with his camera.  “Ah, my princesses, how beautiful you are in the moonlight.”  He came around the tree and snapped several more shots, then cheerfully scolded Katy, “You were supposed to bring my girl back to the house, not stay out here with her.”

     Solemnly, Katy stood and faced Lily.  “Dearest Lily, your cher père wants to take group photos.  You must come back to the house immediately.”  Then her eyes went past Lily and she said softy, “My ride's here.  I’ll meet you at the house—”

     “Later,” growled a deep voice as Dom prowled up the slope.  Without taking his eyes off Katy, he smoothly lifted her into his arms and walked away, Katy’s muffled laughter wafting on the air as they melted into the darkness.

     Shaking his head, Jean Michel sat down next to his daughter.  “Her man might be rough around the edges, but no one could ever care for her more.  It’s good to see her so happy.”  He wrapped an arm around Lily’s shoulders and pulled her close.  “And you, mon ange, are you happy?”

     “Very happy.”

     “Daniel is the one, yes?”

Lily grinned and nestled against her father’s side, his large, comfortable presence warming her heart.  “Yes, Papa, he’s the one.  I hope you approve.”

     Jean Michel was quiet as he pondered her words.  His world revolved around his family, the sunflowers and his photographs.  As he sat in the cool night air, his mind raced with images of the woman beside him, from the first moments of her life, squalling and red-faced, to her scraped knees and gangly limbs, through her heartbreaks and triumphs.  She was strong and independent and he loved her unconditionally.  It would take a very special man to be worthy of her.

     Used to her father’s long, pensive silences, Lily let her thoughts wander in the quiet of the French countryside, the silvery glow from the moon adding a gentleness to the dips and rises of the familiar terrain.

     After Taurin had brought them back, Lily had insisted that Dom and Katy stay in the spare bedroom, at least for a few days.  On the second morning, Mickey had appeared in the kitchen and just in time for breakfast, he cheerfully explained between mouthfuls that his medallion had been returned to him.  Later, when Dom said he couldn’t figure out how to declare his father dead so he could unload his businesses, it was Mickey who came up with the plan.  Before leaving, Mickey had ordered the four of them to France for Christmas.  No excuses, no begging off, no exemptions.  Be there, or face the wrath of the family.

     Daniel spent a few days in San Francisco, packing things to ship, putting the house in the hands of a realtor, then had settled in at the bookstore, and into Lily’s life with no effort at all.  He was knowledgeable about the books, charming and friendly with the customers, and with Katy traipsing around the globe with Dom, it had been incredibly helpful to have him around.  For that and other reasons, Lily mused happily.

     Her apartment was messy and comfortable and warmer now, not her place anymore, but theirs.  She had even taken some photos of him on the sly, adding them to the wall in the kitchen.  Daniel had a habit of wandering over to the wall before dinner, lingering over the faces of her family as he quietly sipped his wine.  That night she held her breath as he perused the usual suspects, then choked on the wine when he saw himself mingled with her family.  It was one of her best moments: the look on his face, the realization that he had more than just his brother, that she had done such a wonderful thing for him.

     “Do you truly love him?”

     Startled out of her reverie, she smiled up at her father, then stretched to kiss his cheek.  “Truly.”

     With a sigh, her father slapped his hands on his knees, then stood up, his camera swinging from his neck.  “Your grandfather said you and Katy went to Hell and back for those two men.”  Lily widened her eyes at that revelation.  Jean Michel shrugged.  “Mickey and I have never kept secrets from each other.  That was one of his rules when I married his daughter and a promise I will have from your man as well.”

     “You have it, sir.”  Daniel’s voice was quiet and sure as he stepped around the tree.  Lily got to her feet.  Daniel smiled at her, then held out his hand to her father.  “I’ll promise anything you want, sir.  Well, except for go away and never come back.”  Jean Michel studied him for a moment, then he grinned and took Daniel’s hand in a firm grip, pounding him on the back for good measure.

     “You love her?”  Her father asked, not relinquishing Daniel’s hand.

      Daniel ignored the painful handshake and looked at Lily.  “Beyond reason and with all my heart.  It’s you Lily, it’s always been you.”

     “Then welcome to the family.” Jean Michel smiled broadly. “See you at the house in a few minutes.  I want to get some photos before Christmas Eve is over.”  He started down the slope, sure they hadn’t heard a word he’d just said.  When he reached the path, he turned back for a moment.

     Silhouetted against the night sky, their arms wrapped tightly around each other, the kiss was magical in the moonlight.  Smiling, Jean Michel raised his camera and took the shot.
** THE END ** 


  1. Well, that was about simpy and pink and muthafuckinglydisgustinglyromatic. Fucking sissy.

    Still, nice ending.

    You tell anyone I said that I'll take umbrage...

    1. I was going to kill everybody off in the end, but that didn't seem right...besides, I'm all about the love. And frigging hell, man, let's not get into your epic denial issues... ;D

    2. Well, I did notice a bit of an evolution in the character of Jude...whoops, I meant Dominic...over the course of the piece.

      Y'know, just because I have a life-long love affair with Africa does not mean I have fetish for one of its major rivers. And you can stop snickering now.

    3. The funny thing about writing--at least my writing--is how the characters sometimes do what they want regardless of what I think. This story sort of shifted from Lily/Daniel to Katy/Dom, and that was okay.

      Not snickering...laughing out loud...