Pg.2 Jennifer's Heart... Continued
Jennifer read slowly. All the questions she wanted to ask Trace, about his life, were now being answered in the letter. His troubled past, as a teen, his drinking, cursing, gang affiliation in Watts, and so much more. She found it all so hard to believe. Her head shook in disbelief. This wasn't the Trace she knew. The boy she met, the first day at boy who was so kind, compassionate, and loving, who would give the shirt off his back to help anyone. She folded the letter closed, and just sat silent for a moment, then opened it, and started reading again. The next few words almost forced her back on the sofa. They said" I know this is all a shock to you Jenny, and right now thinking it can't all be it is."
Trace knew her so well, better than she often knew herself. Tears began to roll, as he told her about Marisol, Hector, and himself being in a gang for more than 5 years, and some of the bad things they did. Then how Hector started going to church, and one day told him he was leaving the gangs, he had found Jesus, and wanted "Freedom"to live whatever life he had left for himself. And, how he, and Marisol disowned Hector, but stayed with the gangs. Marisol never spoke with her brother again.
Hector was born with a congenital heart problem, and as he got older, after many stays in the hospital, and growing weaker, and weaker, he was put on a list for a heart transplant, but none became available. He told me that the gangs would cause my death, if I didn't get get out soon. Just like his poor heart, would one day would cause his. I told him if that ever happened, he could have my heart.
Love was so free then Jenny, and Marisol and I had lots of it, but, didn't realize that, as the Bible says, there was a price to pay. My folks could see my life was heading downward, so they sent me to my aunt in Boston to finish high school, which I did. After lucky enough to get a wrestling scholarship to Boston State. That's where I met you, and my life changed because of love for me, and faith in me, like no one else had."
Jennifer stopped reading, and once more closed the letter, as tears flowed How could she read on? But she knew she had
"We married, and then I was drafted, but I did something stupid Jenny. I went back home to Watts to see my Mom and dad. Oh! I was happy that I did, because, it was the last time I saw them alive, before their deaths in a train wreck. I did. I went to see Hector. He was in the hospital again, undergoing test. He was skinny, and faille. He always wanted to join because of his heart, he was rejected. We had a wonderful talk, and he led me to the Lord.
But now, about that stupid thing I was talking about. He told me Marisol had finally come home, and had accepted Jesus. All I can say was so happy. We met, and ended up spending the night together, and Tomas was the result. Marisol died later, in a car accident, leaving Tomas for Hector to raise, since their parents were no longer living." She asked, Hector to not tell me that she got pregnant that night, she didn't want to ruin my life. But, Hector did, after her death, and I've taken care of him since. So many times, I've wanted to tell you all it. But, when ever you looked at me, I saw that faith, and trust, in your eyes, and I just couldn't do it. I pray, you will forgive me, by looking through your eyes, with your heart."
Jennifer breathed deeply, as she rested against the back of the sofa. She knew it all now. But could she accept it all.
Jennifer thanked Isabella for her help, as she escorted her to the room, where she would spend the night. She never noticed how beautiful the house was, as she followed Isabella up the winding It was spacious, and colorful. There were pictures of Matadors and bulls that lined the walls as they climbed.
"These are beautiful paintings," she said to Isabella as they reached the top.
"Yes, these Hectors very famous in Spain, before he Hector's and come to America."
She opened the bedroom door, and Jennifer stepped in. The room was elegant, like the rest of the house. She had been so caught up in herself, that she didn't even notice all the beauty that surrounded her.
Isabella sat her suitcase on the bed. "You want unpack for you?"
"Oh, no, she said embarked, I can do that, that's okay. Thank you for everything, especially that wonderful dinner. What did you call the meat we ate?"
Isabella smiled, happily Pibli"
Jennifer smiled, knowing she still didn't know what she had eaten.
Jennifer looked around. She the small boy since Hector sent him off to lunch earlier. She knew in her heart, that he was Trace's son, his name or think about that night, years ago that brought about his birth.
"Where's the boy?" She asked, pretending to start unpacking. She didn't want her eyes to meet Isabella's, they might reveal something.
"Him with Pastor Hector, play basketball. They be here soon." She smiled sweetly as she left the room, leaving Jennifer once more all alone. She stretched out on the bed, tired to even undress. Her mind was full of so many thoughts, after reading Trace's letter. The tears rolled uncontrollably from her eyes, down her cheeks, as she cried out Trace's name, over again, before sleep shushed
Jennifer awoke suddenly to the feeling of something pushing against her shoulder, and sat up quickly. Her eyes widened in surprise. It was Tomas. He was dressed in his pajamas. But what was he doing there beside her, was a mystery. She just stared at him. He was a beautiful little boy, creamy skin. A bit lighter than his uncle, with black curly hair. She gently reached over and lifted his other arm from beneath him, so he could rest more comfortably. She had often dreamed of having Trace's child, a son, to carry on Trace's name, but Marisol had already done that. She couldn't blame Tomas for didn't choose to be born out of wedlock, it just happened. Now he was here. She gently reached over and brushed his little brown face. With the sound of a knock on her door, she removed her hand quickly.
"Come in," up on the bed, trying to look a bit decent, after sleeping in the same clothes she had worn on the plane.
"Awe, I had a feeling he was in here."
Hector Hernandez walked to the other side of her bed, gently reaching down, and lifting Tomas into his arms.
Jennifer couldn't help notice his appearance. He had shaved, was wearing jeans, tennis shoes, and a sweatshirt that said, coach on the front. And, there was that wonderful scent again, that tickled her nostrils as he bent down, and picked up Tomas
He looked over at her, and smiled.
"Tomas thought you might be afraid, like he was when his mom died, and I came in, and slept beside him. He said he didn't want "the lady" to be scared, so when I found his bed empty, I naturally knew right where he was. Hope he didn't upset you there." He smiled again.
"No, Jennifer smiled back. Just surprised me a bit, that's all. "
"Oh, get dressed, we're lunching at "The Hat" this afternoon. Tomas favorite place to eat. He glanced down at his watch in an hour, okay?"
He didn't wait for her to answer, as he closed the door behind him with his free hand, and was gone.
She had wanted to leave today, now he was talking about going to lunch.
"An hour. What time was it then. She looked over at the clock by her bed. It was eleven o'clock. How long had she slept? It was ten when she hit the pillow after reading Trace's letter. She jumped up quickly, and rushed towards the bathroom, and was glad it was in the same room. She had never slept that long before, but then she had never been so exhausted before. She had Trace to thank for that. Her steps slowed, as she reached in and turned the shower, and stepped in. The warm water felt so good on her skin, as it washed over her, now if it could just wash away her memories of Trace's letter too, that would be wonderful.
It didn't really matter what she wore, she concluded, as she stepped into her jeans, and threw a blouse over her shoulders. It was just a lunch. After that she would ask him to bring her back, then she would pack and take her flight back to Boston.
As she walked down the winding there standing at the bottom was Hector but no Tomas. He was dressed in a black trousers, a blue silk shirt, and his hair was no longer in a ponytail, but hanging long against his shoulders. Jennifer looked away quickly feeling her heart begin to race. Why was she feeling like that. She scolded, herself. Trace had only been gone a little over a year, and she had no intentions of wanting anyone else in her life ever again.
"Where's Tomas," she asked, composing herself.
"I'm afraid, that video games with his friend Carlos won out over lunch with his uncle today. He looked at her a long moment. I'm sorry if that's a disappointment for you. You're stuck with me, and for that I apologize."
She was ashamed that he was reading her so well, like Trace often did, and sorry she hadn't dressed for the occasion He looked handsome, she had to admit.
"No, that's fine."
As they walked to the limo waiting outside, and they got in, she wondered how he could afford to live so lavishly, and have a chauffeured driver at his disposal, and a housekeeper, and a cook too!
He turned and looked at her, forcing her to look at him.
"Jennifer could feel her heart begin to race again, they were so close that she could feel his breath on her face.
"All those years as a gang member, "doing my own thing", robbing, fighting, ignoring my parents, while they were thinking of me and Marisol. He relaxed against the back of the leather seat. My dad was a lawyer here in the states, but a famous bullfighter in Spain who made lots of money, and invested it well when he came here, and then he went to school and became a lawyer, where he made lots of money too. My mother was a great dancer in Spain, famous, traveled all over Spain. Then she met my father and together they made more money, while Marisol and I, tried to waste as much, as we could get our hands on. He took a deep breath.
"Thank God he didn't allow that to happen. We didn't know how well off we were, until they died and the lawyers informed us about our inheritance. It was to be split between the two of us, equally, after Marisol's death it all came to me. I've put up a trust for Tomas when he gets to be 21, for college and his future. All you see here, that I have, was left to me, I didn't work for any of it. The house, the staff, cook, but not the driver. Juan drives me around just because he wants to do it for the church. He takes no pay. I hope that answers all your questions?" He looked intently at her, making her lower her eyes away from his.
"Yes, it does," she said in almost a whisper. He was reading her so well, as Trace often did.
"So, you read all of Trace's letter" He asked, still looking at her
Jennifer nodded, but didn't answer.
"Then you know all about everything, even about me I assume"
He smiled, taking her hand, and giving it a squeeze.
They taught us in law school, to never assume anything."
"Spoken like a true lawyer."
As the limo moves up the highway, and she watches the scenery pass by, Jennifer wishes he'd let go of her hand, but he doesn't, and when the music comes over the limo speakers, she gets even more uncomfortable form the title of the song, " The Closer I Get To You" and the lyrics she knows so well from her early relationship with Trace. Why had he picked the exact song?
Where ever they were going, wasn't far. Jennifer sat still, Hector's hand still wrapped in hers.
"Its only a few more miles, he answered, as if he heard the question in her mind. It's a restaurant I go to a lot when I want to be alone, and think. The car slowed down to a stop, and Jennifer could see the tall beams gracing the outside, and she could also see an outdoor seating area on the side, in the back with people eating and talking.
"Awe!, here we are, he said with a smile, his hand finally releasing hers. He helped her out. Julienne, one of the best places to eat in St. San Marino."
Jennifer walked beside him slowly. Then he opened the door and she walked inside. It was a huge place, with a market of fresh foods, and tables that she could see plainly. There were counters with all types of foods, and more people eating inside. It reminded her of a local place she and Trace would often frequent named "Summer Shack" in Boston.
She smiled, as the hostess asked if they wanted a quiet spot, or if they preferred to eat outside. The outside looked inviting, as her eyes widen, as she looked out into the sunny backgrounds, but she said nothing. It was for Hector to decide, since he was treating her to lunch.
""The lady prefers the outdoors I think." He looked over at Jennifer. She nodded in agreement.
As they took the menu's and glanced through it, Jennifer could feel his eyes staring at her , even though the menu was covering her face.
She lowered it slowly, meeting his captivating brown eyes.
"I'll have the seafood salad, and coffee, black. She said, handing the menu back to the waitress. She hadn't seen Hector in the full light of daylight , until now. He was handsome, more than she had noticed before. She knew he wasn't a Priest, so he could marry. Why hadn't he? It would be the perfect answer to make his nephews future secure
"Steak, medium, and a bake potato , and a small dinner salad." His words brought her back to the present, as she watched the waitress take the menu's and walk quickly away.
"So, he said looking intently at her. How long will it have to be before I can stop calling you "The Lady?"
Jennifer looked at him. His slender fingers as they laid resting on the tablecloth, his hair neatly resting on his shoulder's ,and the way his lips curled up at the ends when he smiled.
"How long?" He reached over and touched her fingers, making her jump slightly.
"I'm sorry, what did you say?" She was so embarrassed. It was obvious by his tone, he had asked her something. What was the matter with her? She scolded herself. He was just a man, handsome, yes, but of no interest to her at all. It was Trace that she loved. and only Trace.
"I asked you, how long do I have to call you "The Lady?"
Jennifer knew he was right. "You can call me Jennifer."
He smiled, as he touched her finger again. "No, why don't I call you Jen. Jenny was for you and Trace only. Now I think its time for something different."
Jennifer looked at him. What did he mean by
"Its time for something different?"
She looked away, as she took a deep breath. For some reason his words made her feel angry, like she was just suppose to forget Trace, just like he never existed.
"I see I've made you angry Jen, didn't mean too." He smiled sweetly at her. Of course you'll never forget Trace, or your love for him, but it doesn't mean that you will never love again."
She was so angry, she wanted to tell him so, but instead she would intrude into his life, as he was now intruding into hers.
"Well, why haven't you married?' She words were harsh, as she shot daggers from her eyes across the table from him. Being in a gang, I'm sure you got a lot of free love from your girls there."
No sooner then she had spoken those words, she cupped her hand over her mouth. She so desperately wanted to take them back, but she couldn't. She had broken her mothers cardinal rule, that she always quoted to her as a child from the Bible, about saying nice words to help others, and build them up. Never words to tear down a person. Proverbs Chapter 18:8
"The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly"
Hector looked at her a long time, then sat back in his seat.
"I see, maybe you know more about me than I thought. He swallowed hard.
"Yes, free sex, but not real love Jen." They both just sat silent, as the waitress puts their meals on the table, and they begin to eat in silence. She feels tears beginning to form at the corner of her eyes. She was hurting so bad, since Trace's death, she just wanted some one else to hurt too., and Hector was the only one there at the moment. She was so sorry for it all. Somehow she had to find the right words to make it all right.
Jennifer has lashed out at Hector. Still in pain, not learning how to forgive, and forget the past, and the mistakes of others. Now, she has made one herself. Is there a way she can correct it? She knew Trace, like her mother, would be disappointed in her, if he were looking down on her now
Jennifer found it hard to eat. Every swallow seemed to stick in her throat. She had to apologize, and she had to do it now, she could wait a second longer.
" I'm so sorry Pastor, she looked across at him, as she stopped eating.
I had no right to say what I said. she brushed away a falling tear. I have no right to judge you, or bring up your past. I'm so, so, sorry."
The tears were rolling faster now, and people were beginning to notice.
But she couldn't make them stop. Through her tears she could see him get up from his seat, and move it next to hers. Then his arms went around her shoulders.
"I forgive you Jen, it's okay. You were only speaking the truth. He touched her face gently, as he wiped her tears away with the napkin from the table. The good book says..."And the truth shall set you free.
And I am free, Jesus set me free of the past, so I could look to the future and never look back to the past again.
Jennifer looked at him.
"Then you don't hate me?"He laughed softly.
"No, the feelings I have for you are far from hate Jen, far from hate."
Jennifer knew enough to know when a man was going to kiss her, and that's exactly what she saw in Hectors eyes,
as his face came closer, then his lips pressed against hers. She couldn't slap him, not there in front of everyone, how would that look. She would just close her eyes and bare it, that was all she could do, she decided. But as his lips pressed softly against hers, she discovered that she didn't want to slap him at all. She wanted to respond, and that surprised her totally!
They didn't talk about the kiss, as they left the restaurant, and she was happy for that. It was all to confusing. Tomas became the major topic. of conversation on the drive home. Learning how smart he was, and how he wanted to have a mother like the other boys his age. She also learned something else. Trace had told him on his last visit, that he would have a mother soon. That there was a "Special Lady" he was going to bring, that would love him always.
"That's why he calls you "The Lady." Hector turned, facing her. He ask if you were that lady."
Jennifer's eyes got wide. "And what did you say...you didn't tell him I was Trace's wife did you?"
Hector was quiet a moment. "I couldn't lie to him Jen, I couldn't. I told him yes."
Jennifer felt anger rise in her again, as the limo stopped and she rushed out, up the walk and to the door, swinging it open.
"I have my own life, Pastor, I'm not Tomas's mother, nor will ever be."
She twirled around quickly, to rush inside. only to look into the eyes of Trace's son Tomas. He had heard everything. Before she could say another word, he bolted pass her , running to his uncle Hector, crying. Jennifer knew it was time to go. She had to get back to Boston. She sees Hector cradling Tomas in his arms. She knew her words had hurt Tomas, just like her words hurt Hector. Tomorrow she would leave before she could cause anymore hurt.
Jennifer feels she must leave, but Goodbyes are to hard to embrace, so tomorrow, she will slip away, while Hector and Tomas are gone. This song speaks the feelings in Jennifer heart....listen
Jennifer pretended to be asleep, when she heard the knock on the door, until finally it stopped. Getting up quickly, she dressed, put what little clothes she had worn into her suitcase, then called for a cab to take her to the airport. Looking at her ticket, she saw that her flight wasn't leaving until later that afternoon. It meant she would have to sit hours waiting in the terminal. She had to get out of Hectors house. She just couldn't bare to face Tomas, after he heard what she said.
She quietly, opened the door. She had requested that the taxi call her cell when it arrived. She didn't want Isabella to see her leaving. She tipped down thestairs as softly as her bare feet could carry her. She would put her heels on once she was outside. Once outside, she slipped on her heels, and waited for the taxi. Seeing the cell light up she knew it was just around the curve. She hoped she could get away without being noticed, as she saw the taxi approaching. Gathering her suitcase in her arms, she walked as fast as she could, opened the door and rushed in.
Jennifer heard the voice. It was Isabella, but she motioned the driver to go quickly, and he did. She could see Isabella standing in the background, still looking surprised. Her hands up in the air. She took a deep breath, then relaxed back against the seat for the drive to the airport.
Boston, was still Boston, and after three weeks she slowly settled into her old familiar routine, pushing her thoughts about Pasadena, Hector, and Tomas on the back burner. At least while she was at work, but home alone was another matter entirely. She thought about them constantly. She knew Isabella had told Hector how she left that morning. She seemed a bit strange that he hadn't called to ask why. But then why should he, after all the pain and heartache she had brought to them during her stay.
She pushed the thought out of her mind, trying to concentrate on the
case she was working n. A lucrative case that would push the law firm into a higher bracket. Her eyes saw the light from her cell phone. She had put it on mute, so she wouldn't be distracted. Glancing over, it wasn't a number she was familiar with, so she ignored it and went back to work on the papers before her. But then it lit up again, and again, so she answered it.
"Davis Law Firm, Jennifer Davis speaking."
For a moment there was only silence.
It annoyed her a bit, so she slammed it close, only to have it light up again.
"Hello, she practically shouted, who there's?"
"I love you Jen, the voice said, I'm here at the airport. If you love me too, then come to me If not, I'll be leaving on the next flight out to L.A at 5:30." Then there was silence, and the line went dead .
It was Hector. How did he get her number. She laughed hysterically, how stupid could she be, the firm was listed in the directory, and he could read.
She frantically dialed her mothers number.
"Mother, Hector just called, he's here in Boston, at the airport.."
She had told her mother everything when she got home. She knew it all.
"He wants me to meet him. What should I do mom, what should I do?"
Jennifer only heard silence.
"Mom, did you hear me, she said in a louder voice. He want me to come to him."
"I heard you dear, her mother finally replied.
"Well, what should I do?"
"Do what Jennifer's heart wants to do."
Jennifer looked at her watch. It was almost 4:30.
She quickly flipped her phone closed, grabbed her jacket, ran pass inquiring eyes, out of her office, and to her car, and drove swiftly to the airport.
Tears were running down her cheeks, but they weren't tears of sadness, but tears of joy. It was okay to love again, just like Hector had said, that day at the restaurant. She wanted to love again with Hector. She wasn't sure she believed all he had told her about Trace, and the dreams, or the visions. Perhaps it was Trace that had drawn them together, for themselves, and for Tomas, she wasn't sure. But she was sure of one thing. The sound of Hectors voice, and how she felt when he said "I love you Jen." She knew he meant it. She knew then that she loved him too. His past didn't matter. That's what Trace had been trying to show her. How to look beyond the outer surface into the heart of a person.
Pulling into the airport terminal, she quickly got out, and ran as fast as her legs could carry her. There stood Hector standing alone in the middle of the terminal. They ran to each other. His arms holding her tightly, their lips kissing .
"I wasn't sure you'd come Jen, I prayed you would." He looked deeply into her eyes.
Jennifer touched his face, then kissed his cheek softly.
" How could I not come, I love you too Hector!
They stood holding each other. Both crying in each others arms. Suddenly, it seemed out of no where , a crowd appeared, clapping, cheering, but neither of them noticed. Jennifer's Heart had a new home. All she had to do was, "Look through her eyes with her heart!
The Beginning !
Paperback version of the story to be available at Amazon starting Aug 18th/2017