Excerpt 3 from “The Hand That Gives The Rose”

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               “Anger suffers as grief withdraws,” Lucy said. “I don’t feel anything anymore. Not toward him.”

               “You’re always so cryptic, girl. What do you mean, ‘anger suffers as grief withdraws?’” Aimee whined.

               Lucy chuckled at her friend’s confusion. “I was grieving my relationship, so I was angry, bella. Anger is a part of the grieving process. As my grief withdraws, anger suffers as well. Anger wants to burn hot and bright but I’m over my grief now, so my anger is also dying.”

               “So why didn’t you just say that you’re over him so you’re not angry anymore?” Aimee said, giving her friend a playful shove. “Why do you have to be so confusing with your fancy words?”

               “Using eloquent words is a dying art, beautiful one. I choose to practice the art and differentiate myself from others who use colloquialisms.”

               “Well, it does make you sound smarter. And more caring, somehow. I don’t know why, but that’s how it feels to me,” Aimee said.

               “I do care about you. Despite the short time I’ve known you, I care about you very much.”

               “It doesn’t seem like it’s been long enough for us to get to like each other so much, but I care about you a lot, too. When you told me what happened with Angelo, it hurt me and angered me almost as much as it afffected Luca. How’s he doing now, by the way?”

               “My father has commissioned both Luca and Angelo to make a deal with a realty company to build a new hotel. It is a big project, so the men will be working together for several weeks. Luca is very much not happy with the situation, but he knws as well as our father does that he and Angelo can get the project finished in good time with great financial benefits.”

               “And do you know how Angelo feels about it?”

               “He knows that he has wronged me. And he knows that Luca now despises him. I believe he regrets his decision, but he has not made an attempt to assuage his guilt by apologizing to me. In fact, he does not even enter my hotel. And rightly so; the employees now know what happened and they would not respect the Almighty’s right to revenge as Luca and I believe. Angelo is not welcome in the hotel.”

               “So he feels bad but he knows no one around here is going to do anything—“ Aimee stopped before she finished her sentence. “Speak of the devil.”

               Angelo was walking toward them with one hand behind his back. Aimee got closer to Lucy, offering to let Lucy lean against her. When Angelo reached them, he stood in front of them, between them and the ocean. The three of tehm remained silent, just looking at each other. Angelo couldn’t seem to hold eye contact with Lucy for more than a second at a time. Lucy stared at him, waiting for him to say something. His hand was still behind his back, but he brought it in front of him, holding a bouquet of blue roses. He knelt down, holding it out to Lucy.

               Lucy raised her eyebrows, not accepting the bouquet.

               “I’m sorry, my love. I’m so very sorry,” he said, still holding out the bouquet.

               “You’re sorry I caught you,” Lucy said, her voice rough with irritation, her eyes steely with indignation.

               Angelo breathed faster, bringing the bouquet closer to his body. Now he looked at Lucy, not taking his eyes away from her. The longer he looked at her, the more pain twisted his handsome features, his eyes brimming with tears.

               “Your tears will not sway me, Angelo. I gave you everything you wanted and still it was not enough. You were all I wanted and more. But it is apparent that you wanted something I could not give you. And I believe this,” Lucy gestured toward the roses and Angelo’s now tear-stained face, “is all an act. I do not accept your apology. And I do not accept those roses that symbolize impossibility.”

               Without another word, Lucy got up and walked back toward her hotel, standing taller than she ever had before. Angelo shifted his weight from kneeling to resting his knees on the sand, breaking down into sobs and hyperventilating, but keeping the bouquet protected from the sand.

               Aimee stared at him as he cried, torn between following Lucy to comfort her and watching Angelo express the pain he deserved. She decided to follow her friend, leaving Angelo to cry alone.

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