Excerpt #2 from “The Hand That Gives The Rose”

Lucy could sense that something was wrong. She didn’t get feelings like that very often. Her heart felt heavy, her breathing didn’t come as easily as normal, and she had an overall feeling of dread. She put down her coffee and moved from her chair to the floor, crossing her legs and resting her palms on her knees. She focused on the dread that filled her chest, searching for a name or a face of someone she needed to help or whatever the issue may be. It took several minutes for her to calm her mind enough to search for a clear name or face. But when the name came up, she almost jumped hard enough to make her lose her poised position. She rose, immediately gong to change her clothes and set out to find Angelo. She held his name in her mind, letting it guide her to him. She was led to the beach, close to where he had taken her on their first date. She started to rush to the quiet cavern, but she stopped when she saw him. She knew it was him– she would know those broad shoulders and that strange American-style haircut anywhere. When the breeze picked up, it carried the scent of his cologne to her. It also carried the sounds of pleasure the woman made as he moved on top of her.

Lucy steeled her nerves and moved closer to them, making sure to stay close to the trees that would provide cover. Pulling her cellular phone from her pocket, she prepared it to take a picture and tossed a rock toward them, hoping to make enough noise to capture their attention. The maneuver succeeded, and they both brought their heads up and looked around, and Lucy was able to capture a photograph of them that clearly showed both of their faces, as well as the woman’s state of undress. Lucy remained still after she took the photo, allowing them time to get back to what they were doing so she could quietly retreat back to the hotel.

When she was safely back in her bedroom, she allowed herself to succumb to grief, curling up on her bed and feeling her body shake as she sobbed. Before five minutes had passed, Luca appeared in her doorway, back from his run. “My sister,” he said softly as he approached her, “What is the matter?” Rather than explaining it with words, Lucy simply presented the photo to her brother. Luca didn’t say a word in reply; he simply sat and held his sister as she continued to cry, reaching over to the nightstand and pulling a few facial tissues from the box to hand to her. When her breathing calmed, Lucy pulled away from her brother and wiped the remaining wetness from her face. She started a new SMS message, telling Angelo that she was breaking up their relationship and that she hoped never to speak to him again. The message was sent immediately, and she switched her phone off in case he called. “I’ll return in a few minutes, sorella mia. Stay here, per favore,” Luca requested, kissing Lucy’s forehead as he got up. Lucy walked to the window and saw Luca walking out the hotel front doors toward the ocean. Despite the occasional beach-goer sprawled out on the sand, Luca picked up rocks he passed and threw them toward the ocean, as if he wanted to throw and break many other things, but all he could truly manage were those rocks. He came close to hitting a runner with one of those rocks, but Lucy knew that Luca did not care, and the runner did not notice due the an oblivious nature, as many beach-goers in the area were guilty of. The Almighty deity Lucy and her brother believed in did not condone revenge against one’s enemies or those who had done wrong against another. The offender would receive what he or she deserved. But Lucy knew that it would be hard for Luca not to go to Angelo and make him regret being intimate with another woman while he was dating Lucy. Luca would be even more angry that he didn’t immediately see Angelo’s negative side.

If someone had enough evil in them that would lead them to do something negative like Angelo had done, Luca could sense it. He had saved Lucy from a broken heart several times thanks to that sense. But he didn’t sense it in Angelo. He saw all the roses Angelo presented to Lucy, all the gifts, all the love, and fell for the ruse just as hard as Lucy had.

Lucy felt her cheeks become wet with tears again as she remembered all the sweet things Angelo had said to and done for her. The moment she realized she had fallen in love with him had been right after he had given her a rose that matched the color of the sky. They had been dating for a year by then. They had taken a walk, and he had led her to a spot they had never been to before. He asked her to look out at the ocean and picture the stars rising off the ocean’s surface, as if they retreated into the sea when the sun rose and found their places in the heavens as the sun set. She had been delighted at his imagery, and had turned to face the ocean to picture the stars rising. After a few seconds, he had tapped her on the shoulder and was holding a single sky blue rose out to her. She was again delighted, taking the stem between her fingers, commenting on his consideration of removing the thorns. “Blue in a rose signifies mystery or impossibility. I chose it because you are mysterious to everyone around you. I also chose it because we have an impossible love between us,” he had told her, caressing her shoulder with his fingertips. When she had tried to ask for an explanation of why their love was impossible, he smiled and kissed her, seeming sweet at the time. Now she guessed that he had not wanted to explain to her what he meant. Had he always believed that they did not belong together?

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