A New Beginning (Chapter 15)

30 03 2009

Jai and Carlotta were having the time of their lives decorating Grey and Bren’s new home. The five-bedroom house sat at the edge of town in a new development that Grey’s company had played a major role in. The girls had literally been given a blank check to turn the house into a home for the newlyweds and they were using every dime of it.  

Carlotta had been raving about some handmade furniture she had seen at a friend’s house and had commissioned the designer to create some original pieces for the couple. Jai could hear the squeals from inside her sister’s new walk-in closet and came out to investigate.

Men were bringing the frame of the bed into the master bedroom and assembling it as Carlotta instructed. Jai looked on, marveling at the craftsmanship of the four columns being erected.

“Wow, whoever did this must have very delicate hands,” she marveled out loud. 

“Thank you,” a voice boomed behind her.

Jai turned to see the source of the contradiction, which it was. Because there was no way the large man filling the door of the room could have such delicate fingers.

“Hello, I’m Mac. Glad you like my work,” he stretched his hands out for a greeting.

Jai paused a moment before accepting it. Yes, he was a contradiction, she thought, wondering if he could be as gentle with a heart as he was with wood.

Jai and Carlotta were in the corner of the master bedroom gawking at Mac assembling Bren and Grey’s customized bed, and they even giggled like schoolgirls.  Mac was enjoying the attention and flashed a big white smile, at Jai over his massive shoulder, while supposedly looking for a tool in his toolbox. 

Okay, okay, she was thoroughly embarrassed and quickly snapped back into work mode.  She and Carlotta, turned about face with girlish grins on their faces; still giggling, walking shoulder to shoulder down the grand staircase to the main entrance to meet the arriving crew of family and friends, anxious to make ready the home for the newlyweds.

For the next four hours, curtains and pictures were hung, area rugs were laid, furniture, vases and plants were placed and all of the large appliances were connected.  Every once in a while someone would break out in an R & B song and the whole house of people would chime in, with a doo-whap or too.  Jai got close enough to Carlotta to whisper,

“This is the kind of feeling I want my love to inspire.” 

They hugged one another, and Jai found herself overcome with emotions. 

“Lunch is ready,” Leah loudly called, from the base of the grand staircase. 

Jai pulled a couple of miracles getting Leah, Sabrina and Monica to come and help with the house.  Leah and Monica wanted to be responsible for preparing the food and Sabrina wanted to help in anyway she could. 

A warm orange-glaze was quickly blanketing the sky and the thirty plus family, friends and workmen were all nearing the completion of their labor of love.  Everyone was getting food wrapped, last minute hugs, wiping tears, taking pictures and handing out contact information, when Mac walked over to Jai and thanked her for involving him, and before she could tell him it was Carlotta, he leaned down, kissed her cheek, shook her hand and handed her his card. 

“I will be waiting and looking forward to our next meeting, and hopefully it’s not business,” he said.  He spoke so softly, Jai could barely believe he said it. 

On the ride to Jai and Carlotta’s, Leah let them all know she was planning to leave Hope House in the next two months and move to the Caribbean.  She had already hired a realtor, put together a business plan, and hired several of the women at Hope, to help her set up a bed and breakfast.  Jai was not surprised, because of all of what she had heard about Leah, she knew she was probably full of surprises. 

“What does Trish have to say about this,” Jai asked. 

“She doesn’t know, and I’ve asked that it be kept secret until my final plans were made,” Leah said.  “I’ve always wanted a business of my own, and with the right type of management, I think we will be better than okay. Besides one of my daughters and her children are moving there with me.” 

“I am reaching for the kind of life I dared not dream of, and I am feeling renewed.  I feel a new beginning coming on.”

When they pulled into the driveway, the five women shared hugs and tears.

 ……..

The next day, the train was on time and as Sabrina was boarding her train, Leah slipped an envelope into her bag and told her not to break the seal until the train pulled away.  Even though Leah extended invitations, she had an overwhelming feeling and she prayed this would not be the last time she saw Sabrina, and it made her more than a little sad.  They threw kisses until they could no longer see each other. 

Monica and Leah chatted it up as they sat in the back seat of Jai’s vehicle on the way to the airport, and then Monica turned her attention to Jai.

“I saw the big guy catching a glance at you more than once, you know?”

“Oh really, I was not aware of that, but I do know I was looking at him. He’s my kind of man,” Jai continued.  They all laughed. “He even called me today to say good morning.”

Jai looked in the rear view at Leah who was smiling like a proud mama. 

The plane ride was short and sweet for Leah, with a further ride for Monica, and after big hugs and kisses, and reassurances that all was well with the other they vowed they would keep in touch.  While they were in the terminal for Monica’s layover, Leah pulled an envelope from her bag, handed it to Monica, and asked that she not open it until she boarded her plane home to North Carolina. 

On the cab ride back to Hope House, Leah looked at the map of her new life over and over in her head and heart, until all she could say was “Thank you God.”

The driver looked at her suspiciously thru the rear-view mirror.  She smiled at the driver and said, “I’m fine, just fine,” and then she started humming Mary J’s “Just Fine.”

……..

The women of Hope wanted to see all of the pictures that Leah snapped and sat around the kitchen table listening to the details about Bren and Grey’s new house as well as Leah’s overall trip.  They wanted to know how Monica and Sabrina were, how they looked. What they were wearing?  They were all excited because Bren made it out, and found someone to love and respect her, as she learned to love and respect herself.  Many of the women voiced their feeling that if God could give Bren a new beginning, he could give them one too.

……..

Sabrina hid the fact that she was in a more abusive relationship than she was before.  She smiled and lied to her friends and told them all was well with her and her new life.  She didn’t even tell them that she had children that had been removed because of a severe beating the children witnessed when they were young.  How could she put a man before her and her children’s safety?  She was embarrassed and felt she let them down.  As happy as she was for Bren, she was a bit jealous too and confused as to why she could not have that kind of love and joy in her life.  

When Leah hugged her she was careful not to wince, because of her bruised ribs and sprained arm.  She was sure no one suspected.  As she made her way up to her apartment, she had totally forgotten the envelope Leah slipped to her, and right as she was reaching in her purse, the devil opened the door and invited her inside.

“So you’ve been hanging out with those snooty bitches huh? I bet you badmouthed me a whole hell of a lot didn’t ya?“ he sneered.  “Ya hear me.”

“Oh honey, you know I love you, and I won’t talk bad about you to no one,” Sabrina teased. She then asked him, “Did you miss me?”

He was now calm, and demanded to see her body, to make sure the bruises were still in tact.  It was almost like he got off seeing her broken and bruised, Sabrina thought as she slowly began removing her clothes. 

“Come here, and make daddy feel good,” he said.  “Show me how much you missed me.”

Sabrina cringed but moved as if she was enjoying his selfish lovemaking.  After he fell asleep, she crept to the bathroom and scalded herself as she did each time he violated her.  Why am I here?  Why can’t I leave?  Is this all I want for myself? She had asked herself the same questions over and over and didn’t feel any closer to finding the answers.

While putting away her toiletries from the trip, Sabrina ran across the envelope Leah gave her, and a smile and a tear that took forever to drop met up with each other.  When she opened the envelope, out fell $2,000 in cash, a letter, and an open-ended ticket to the Caribbean, where Leah was opening her Bed and Breakfast.  She smothered her own scream and quickly put the contents back in the envelope. 

The bathroom door swung open and she could see the devil was about to raise hell.  Sabrina only knew she was in for the fight of her life.  This time she was confident that she was not going to let Leah down, she was not going to let Trish down and she was certainly not going to let herself down.  She was not going to die today.  She knew what she had to do.  She had to fight. 

……..

Before she called 911 she read Leah’s letter.  “I know you are being abused again” and if you ever need a friend, you can always find one at Hope House.  If you don’t want to come to Hope, use the ticket, go to Harmony Bed and Breakfast, and let me know you are there.  I will have people to look out for you until I arrive.  Love yourself enough to go, and love yourself even more to live.  Love, Leah.” 

Sabrina knew she would go, but she didn’t know when.  She cried and called 911.

After the neighbors confirmed to the police that her boyfriend was always beating on her, and she showed them the old bruises, they arrested him. Sabrina was admitted to the hospital for treatment of her injuries, many of which she had never tended to.

She refused the nurse’s offer of painkillers wanting to feel and acknowledge the pain she had hidden from others but more so from herself. The tears flowed freely, despite that fact that there were other women in the room. She didn’t care. Finally it was time to let go and she didn’t plan to shed anymore tears over her choices and her past.

Sabrina awoke with puffy eyes but feeling quite rested. Her sleep had been a peaceful one as she realized she had options that seemed unavailable before. A few more days of formalities with the police and she began to map out a new life for herself. It filled her with hope and a confidence for the first time in forever it seemed. 

She decided not to dwell on the fact that she had lost permanent custody of her children. It filled her with shame and regret. Her one hope was that in the future she would see them again and show them how her life had turned around for the better. It would happen. Sabrina was sure of it.

……..

Monica opened the envelope and found open-ended tickets for her and the children, and she beamed with the thought of lying in the sun and playing with the children on the beaches.  It would be a nice break once school was out for the summer.

She would need that getaway as well. Both her catering and gift basket business had taken off and kept her and the kids busy. Who knew Aunt Maisie’s family recipes for cakes and jellies were unique enough for her to turn into a moneymaker? Leah’s gift was just the icing on the cake.

“That Leah is something special,” Monica said to herself, clutching the envelope against her breast.

……..

Bren woke from an unintended nap and instinctively reached for Grey. She looked over to admire his chocolateness glistening under the Mediterranean sun. She loved Spain! She loved the entire past several days! She loved her husband! She loved that God knew when she was ready before she did and He made it happen in His time. 

Grey… he could be considered physically imposing… intimidating even but he was her gentle giant. He was the perfect mix of God-fearing MAN/lover/protector/provider… the epitome of strength yet; he’d massaged her heart, caressed her soul and so gently – melted her heart.

And now, lying on the deck of a luxury liner cruising through the Straits of Gibraltar… she was happy! Just yesterday they were on the beach in Majorca, the week before that they were riding mopeds through the hills of Rhodes, Greece and before that… Before that they began their honeymoon in London, England. 

Grey, as silly as ever had taken a client-friend up on his offer to use his jet for their honeymoon — during the flight Grey did his rain dance, in hopes the first leg of their trip would keep them rained in and free to enjoy each other without feeling as if they were missing out on all the touristy attractions. He was just silly like that.

As they landed in London and waited on the tarmac for their ground transportation Bren remarked that the weather seemed great and his dance hadn’t worked…. As Grey opened the car door for Bren she raised her face to the sky once more and her nose was met with one fat raindrop. She felt mildly taunted.

It was rainy and overcast the first four of their five-day trip… by the fourth day of all day bed neither wanted to be the first to give. Bren slyly offered that even our great Father took a break on the seventh day – surely they could take a break halfway through – Grey sighed and laughed.

“I was wondering when you’d had enough!”

Bren laughed and hit back, “I’m just trying to do you a favor – you are older, you know. Be glad I didn’t pack a pole or you would really be begging.”

They took a romantic ride on the River of Thames, visited the Tower of London, held hands, kissed and enjoyed being husband and wife. Their next four days were spent in Greece ingesting an unnatural amount of Greek cuisine, especially, baklava (she had a murderous sweet tooth) and their last few days were in Majorca, Spain – Bren loved Spanish culture and food – she absolutely fell in love with Majorcan ensaimada pastry! 

Bren never imagined her mindless daydreaming at the wedding would sneak into her reality so soon. Grey did good! He’d insisted on planning the honeymoon and Bren was only too willing to give up what would have, undoubtedly, been another million details. He kept her in the dark nearly the entire time… that is, until she started receiving random handwritten love notes written on the back of large puzzle pieces. She was thoroughly intrigued and had to restrain herself on several occasions from going through Grey’s things in search of more clues.

She had to admit that his approach was great — typical… fun. She received three puzzle-piece/love notes at a time– via flower delivery, at restaurants, on her car windshield, on her pillow, at breakfast – each of the seven deliveries were enclosed within a red envelope with a swath of ivory vertically down the middle to form a bow at the seal point. She was always excited to read –-his proposal poem…. always one stanza per puzzle piece, always romantic, always smelled of Grey’s signature Tom Ford scent … always wonderful memories…always…weepy.

Grey had instructed Bren to resist the temptation to put the puzzle together—until the night of the honeymoon so her anticipation was unmatched…. She was not disappointed in the least — quite the opposite… she was overwhelmed and sometimes had to shake herself from the thought that she didn’t deserve this kind of love. Oh, but she did….

Grey stirred next to her — with tears in her eyes she thanked him for being the love of her life. He woke up and looked at her — “You are the love of my life… if God saw fit to take me today, I have to be grateful he allowed me happiness through you. You have completed and complimented that which I didn’t know existed. I love that in you. I love you for that. God blessed us — he blesses us — his hands are forever upon us and I want to show him I appreciate his Grace and Favor everyday. If that means putting a smile on your face every waking day — it will be my pleasure. He loves us and I’m glad about it.”

Bren took Grey’s hand to her face and kissed his palm — “I have known a joy unlike anything I’ve felt since we met and you do put a smile on my face and joy in my heart… every waking day. You are my frog prince, my dream, I couldn’t have predicted a better you. You have touched my soul.”

The water before them was as a sheet of glass all the way to the horizon where the water met the sun, sky, and they became one.

Bren and Grey smiled as if their thoughts were one…. Books are written and movies are made — on lesser acts of love. This was Love… realized! They sighed and settled into their chairs — this must be what “the life” feels like… and they drifted into the sunset.

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One response

10 04 2009
Treasure Hunter

This is one of my favorite chapters, because of so many reasons, but one in particular: Sabrina fought back, and no one knows what was the outcome other than she stood up, in a big way.

“The bathroom door swung open and she could see the devil was about to raise hell”.

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