Excerpt from “The Hand That Gives The Rose”

 “The shore is fuming at the waves. Do you see the wisps of smoke that rise from the edge?” she said, not shifting her gaze from the ocean. Her hair was up in a bun on the nape of her neck, but a few shorter strands escaped and got caught in with her long sideswept bangs that moved with the sea breeze.
 
“Seriously. How do you know I’m there?” Aimee asked, stopping next to Lucy.
 
Lucy chuckled softly and replied, “I’ve told you before, beautiful one. Your presence becomes apparent before I can see you. You have a very unique spark in your aura.”
 
Aimee paused, narrowing her eyes suspiciously. “You know, a normal person would have said that it was my shoes on the sand or something.”
 
Lucy remained quiet for a few moments, but finally said, “I know you don’t believe in the supernatural like what I have. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have my powers. You should learn to accept what you don’t see instead of shutting it out. The more open you are, the more the supernatural can help you, bambina.”
 
“But that also leaves me open to the bad side of the supernatural, too. So I’d rather not. I’d rather just look out for myself. Thanks though, girl.”
 
“You Americans are so untrusting. That’s why you all hate each other.”
 
“We keep out of each other’s business.”
 
“Except when your government sends your military to other countries to help in their wars.”
 
Aimee winced, keeping quiet after her friend’s comment. She sat next to Lucy, close enough so their elbows touched.
 
“You need comfort again, beautiful one?” Lucy asked tenderly, reaching over to play with Aimee’s light brown hair.
 
“I don’t want to be a burden on you.”
 
“I will go to the ends of the earth to help you, bambina.”
 
“Jeff broke up with me,” Aimee said after a ragged sigh. Tears formed in her eyes, making them shine with the reflection of the ocean. “A month ago. I just haven’t been able to face it.”
 
“Face me,” Lucy gently instructed.
 
Aimee complied, sitting cross legged and instinctively held her hands out to her friend. Lucy took Aimee’s hands, squeezing them gently. Her lips moved, but no sound came out as she said a silent incantation. Thunder rolled form the dark clouds a few miles in the distance and mist floated over on the breeze. As Lucy’s incantation went on, Aimee shivered as the thunder rolled closer and the ocean’s waves seemed to chant Jeff’s name.
 
Suddenly, Lucy’s mocha brown eyes focused on Aimee’s face, holding her attention. “Do you wish him back? Or do you wish to find better?”
 
The American paused, and Lucy said, “Quickly.”
 
“Better.”
 
Lucy nodded and closed he eyes, finishing her incantation. Thunder rolled continuously now, from different parts of the sky, closing in on the two young women. She opened her eyes again, shifting both of Aimee’s hands into her left and cupping Aimee’s face in her right. As soon as the gentle contact was made, an enormous bolt of lightning ran across the sky directly above and between their bodies and Lucy smiled.
 
“”You will find love. The Almighty places His favor in you. You will not know when your love will come, but when you find him, you will feel the echo of that lightning strike in your heart and you will know that he is your beloved.”
 
When Lucy stopped speaking, the thunder stopped and the breeze stilled. Clouds remained overhead, warning of a storm yet to come. “Way to go, Lucy, that was the most generic reply you could have given me… I don’t really feel all that much better,” Aimee said, trying to still her quivering lip and fighting the tears that filled her eyes. One managed to escape, and Lucy wiped it away with her thumb.
 
“I know it sounds generic, beautiful one. But you have to trust me. If you like, I can simply give you a hug and be silent with you if it helps you grieve better?”
 
Aimee sniffled and nodded, moving to sit next to the slender Italian. “It’s hard to hug this way,” she commented with a quiet laugh.
 
“I can make it easier, if you like?”
 
When Aimee nodded, Lucy got up and sat behind her, positioning Aimee between her knees and wrapping her arms around her. Aimee stiffened, but Lucy said, “Just let go. You need this, beautiful one. I just want to make you feel better.”
 
The Italian’s words hit Aimee and she did let go, letting the tears fall down her cheeks and sobs tighten her body. She knew Lucy was saying things to her, because that soft accent comforted her, but all she knew was the tension in her body that eased with each breath that dragged into and out of her lungs. She finally forced herself to take slower, deeper breaths and mopped her face with the sleeves of her pullover. She looked over her shoulder, feeling Lucy’s head leaning against her an enjoying the gentle pull of her friend’s fingers running through her hair.
 
Lucy lifted her head, but kept caressing Aimee’s hair as Aimee’s breathing slowed. Their eyes met, the hazel and mocha focusing on each other. Although there was no more thunder, a sudden lightning bolt sliced the sky, right over the two young women. Lucy smiled gently and Aimee gasped quietly, breathing faster. Lucy could feel the thumps of Aimee’s hard as the beating sped up, but remained quiet.
 
Taking three fast breaths, Aimee steeled her nerves and jumped in– she kissed Lucy’s lips, letting a few seconds pass before she broke the contact. She regained eye contact, surprised at her action.
 
“As I said before, bambina, I’m here to e whatever you need,” Lucy said, kissing Aimee’s shoulder.
 
“I felt the lightning,” Aimee said, feeling like a child stating the obvious. “It was inside, right when the lightning flashed overhead. Did you do it?”
 
“All I can do is pray that you find love, beautiful one. I sense things, I don’t create or change them. If you felt lightning, that’s the doing of your heart and of the Almighty.”
 
“But you said it would be when I saw him. You said ‘him’.”
 
“I said ‘him’ because you told me you are heterosexual. I did now know you could feel teh lightning for a female.”
 
“So I’m bisexual?”
 
“You may be. How do you feel?”
 
“All these things are running through my head, starring you and me… and I like them. I’m tryinig to replace you with a male, but you keep coming back.”
 
“Then you are bisexual. And the lighting was for me.”
 
“How do you feel about it?” Aimee asked, turning her body slightly so she could see Lucy’s expression.
 
“I believed I would be with a male, as well. But when you kissed me, I felt clean inside. My element is water, as I’ve told you before. I feel water where you feel lightning.”
 
“So we just fell in love with each other?”
 
Lucy chuckled. “Not in love. but we formed a bond that could lead to love, depending on how we treat it.”
 
“And if we don’t treat it like romance?”
 
“Our friendship will grow stronger.”
 
“What do you want to treat it as?”
 
“That is your choice, bambina. I have embraced the possibility of being bisexual. It is new to you.”
 
Aimee turned her head to the ocean, bot did not move her body away from Lucy’s. She thought for a few minutes and finally asked, “Would you be open to letting me try? With you?”
 
“I would lvoe to try with you, beautiful one. In fact, I was hoping that you would want to try.”
 
Settling back against Lucy adn putting her head back on Lucy’s shoulder, Aimee said, “I wouldn’t want to start it with anyone but you.” After a pause, she resumed, “I just realized something.”
 
“What’s that, bella?”
 
“When I first met you, I really wanted you to like me. Do you think that was a crush starting, and I thought it was just a thought becaust I didn’t know I’m bi?”
 
“It may have been. I know I felt a spark when I met you, as well. That may also be why I feel a particular spark in your aura. We can certainly find out.”
 
“So are we in a relationship now?”
 
“I leave the decision to you.”
 
“Well I know it’s not a rebound, because it’s been a month since Jeff. And we know a lot about each other. I think it would be good.”
 
“Aimee.”
 
“Yeah?” Aimee said, suddenly feeling dread, as if Lucy was about to tell her bad news.
 
“I would be honored if you would accept me as your romantic partner.”
 
Aimee’s heart beat fast again, and she took a deep breath to try to calm it. She nodded and said, “I would like to be your girlfriend.”
 
Lucy wrapped her arms around Aimee, bringing their bodies even closer. “I’ll treat you as nothing less than a goddess, bella.”
 
“All I ask is that you’re patient with me. This is a first for me.”
 
“I know. I’ll let you tell me what you need and I will do everything I can to meet those needs.”
 
“I need to feel sure.”
 
“Well, I can’t help you to be sure.”
 
“Yes, you can.”
 
“How, love? Tell me and I will do it.”
 
“Love me.”
 
“I already have feelings for you.”
 
“That’s not what I mean.”
 
“You need physical affection?”
 
Aimee paused. “Yes.”
 
“Then let us go back to my room and I will love you.” And remember, if at any point you feel that we are moving too fast, you may tell me no.”
 
“No, I want this. I want to be with you.”
 
Lucy put her hands on Aimee’s ribs and guided her forward to give herself room to stand. She held Aimee’s hand, waiting to help her up. Aimee stood up, tightinging her grip when lucy tried to let go of her hand. “I like holding hands with my significant other.”
 
Smiling, Lucy re-tightened her grip and brought their hands up to kiss Aimee’s knuckles.
 
“I’ve never been to your room before,” Aimee observed as they walked the short distance to the beach-front property. “You’ve always come to mine.”
 
“My room is even more splendid than yours.”
 
“Understandable, your family owns the hotel,” Aimee said with a laugh. “What about your brother?”
 
“He is out of town today through the end of the week.”
 
“With Angelo?”
 
“I believe so. Purely business, however. Luca does not favor Angelo any longer.”
 
“I wouldn’t either. I’m surprised Luca hasn’t killed him in his sleep.”
 
“He has considered taking revenge on my account. But the Almighty frowns upon revenge. We trust that the Almighty will give Angelo ‘his just desserts’ as you Americans say.”
 
“Well, I’m here to help you get over Angelo, too, you know. Now that we’re… in a relationship.”
 
“Thank you, bambina. I believe we will be good for each other. We have both been scalded by the heat of romance recently.”
 
“I love how eloquent you are with words.”
 
“It is the difference in the words Italians choose versus the words Americans choose. Italians have slang words, too, of course, but Americans are always looking for new colloquial ways to speak to eaach other. I am simply more comfortable speaking in a proper manner.”
 
“When I go back home, I hope I will have picked up that habit from you. It’s a big difference compared to how people at home talk.”
 
“When do you go back home?”
 
Aimee stumbled, as if the realization that she wasnt’ staying in Italy forever had become a stone for her to trip over. “I’m supposed to be back in January.”
 
Lucy let her eyes drift to the path they walked on, dismayed at the thought.
 
“Well, you never know. I really do love Italy. I might decide to stay. January is still eight months away, Luce.”
 
“I know, bella. And I will enjoy every moment I have with you whether you stay or go back home.”
 
Aimee stepped closer to Lucy, putting her arm around the Italian’s waist and caressing her ribs. “It’ll be alright. I’m going to put a lot of thought into it, and we’ll see how things end up. For now, you’re right, we need to enjoy every moment we have. Okay?”
 
Lucy smiled , nodded, and reached across herself to cup Aimee’s cheek in her hand again.
 
They reached the hotel just in time before the rain started, fat drops of water falling from the ash-gray clouds and spotting the sand until there were no dry spots. It continued, as if the goal was to create new rivers among the beachside buildings. Lucy’s and Luca’s room was on the top floormore secure than the other rooms in the hotel.
 
“I love hearing the rain here. It’s like it echoes on all the buildings even though the ocean is out there to grab the sound away,” Aimee said, waiting for Lucy to unlock the door and let them in.
 
Holding the door open, Lucy gestured to Aimee to enter the room first, and Aimee smiled shyly and looked at the floor as she walked past her new partner.
 
“I told you, beautiful one, nothing less than a goddess.”
 
Aimee let her feet carry her around the room, noticing the personal effects stored throughout the room, indicating that this truly was their residence instead of a temporary room. Without knowing why, she suddenly missed her dog and wished that furry baby would bound up to her out of nowhere, ready to welcome her home.
 
“I can take you back to your apartment, beautiful one, if you wish to see your dog?”
 
“No, Luce, I’m alright, I can see her later. But how did you know that that’s what I was thinking?”
 
“I felt a change in your aura that indicated missing someone close to you, and I took a peek into your thoughts and saw the face of your dog.”
 
“You can read my thoughts?”
 
“Only sometimes, and only voluntarily. It is a new ability that I discovered only recently, about two weeks ago. I would never do it frequently, love.”
 
“I didn’t think you would. I was just surprised that you can. What else can you do?”
 
“”There are many things I can do that do not come to mind at the moment, and I’m not sure that you are ready to hear them. I think it would be best to let you find out as we go along, so that you are not overwhelmed. Does that make sense?”
 
“Yeah, it does. I think that’s a good idea. Um, so I was just thinking, now that we’re in a relationship, I was wondering if we’re going to use pet names or… whatever. I mean, I know you call me ‘beautiful one’ and things like that, but more intimate things like ‘honey’ or ‘sweetheart’ or whatever.”
 
“You may call me whatever you like, love. Is there something you would prefer that I call you?”
 
“Actually, I’ve always wanted someone to call me ‘querida.’ I know it’s Spanish, but it’s always been a fantasy of mine. Other than that, it’s whatever you like, and I’ll tell you if I don’t like something?”
 
“I can do that, querida. Italian and Spanish share many phonemes, so it isn’t a problem. In fact, I like that word.”
 
“Is there something you would love for me to call you?”
 
“Whatever you are comfortable with, as well, precious one. I don’t want to rush you or make any requests as of yet.”
 
“Okay. Thank you… honey.”
 
Lucy smiled in response.
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