Mending of the Hearts
Back to: Packing, Baking, and Braiding Next: Just Evelyn
Chapter 21: Mending of the Hearts

She would have never expected that it was him. If she thought about it though, it was the second likeliest place in Kashmire he would be—his parents’ house. She thought he would have been halfway around the world. But no, he was standing right there in front of her. In sleepy, little, Isla Del Kashmire.

“Antoine,” Leona simply said his name, still in minor state of shock.

He picked up a suitcase at his feet and maneuvered past where she stood, “What a lovely coincidence you are here.”

Coincidence indeed. Leona shot a frown at the ceiling, just knowing Alarie had probably tipped him off on her whereabouts. Not that she was trying to hide from him but it was awfully perfect timing for them to be in the same place at the same time considering the last time that happened it was when they had broken up.

Leona had been the one to end it, she thought it better for her in the long run—not being distracted from worrying about a scarce boyfriend when she was trying to stay focused in school and more importantly her dream of being a professional singer. Antoine had taken it pretty hard, was utterly devastated and swore she was the only woman he’d ever love. Antoine was a romantic and it made it even harder to leave him. “What are you doing here?”

He didn’t seem any amount of torn up at seeing her once again, though it had been a year since she was face-to-face with him and they had both had time to heal. He laid his suitcase on the sofa and answered, “I’m taking a week off. I’ve been to ten different cities in the past two weeks at conventions and I’ve been put up in hotels the entire time so I’m kind of sick of them. I came home instead.”

Though that excuse didn’t make any sense. His room at home had been converted to a music room for Alarie’s drums after he’d left for college. So why come sleep on a couch at home when he could sleep in a real bed?

“Don’t you have your own apartment by now?” Leona asked.

“Yeah but the lease is up and I have everything in storage. I’ll be looking for a new place—another reason I took a week off. Though, it’s not like I’m in the area enough to justify having an apartment,” he seemed to grumble as he opened his case and started grabbing clothes out of it and then disappeared into the small bathroom connected to living room.

She thought he loved travelling but now saw how much wear and tear it did on him. She’d been happy for him that his new job would take him to new places but also afraid that it would lead him to meet new women–prettier, more sophisticated and intelligent than her in his industry. At least, that is what her father had told her. Her father had always had it out for Antoine, and never approved of them together.

He re-appeared, having changed into pajama pants. He looked tired, “You look well. I’m guessing you and Alarie are having a sleepover? Aren’t you a little old for that?”

She placed her hand on her hip with indignation, “One can never be too old for a sleepover. In fact, I was about to say earlier that the only thing we’re missing from the old times was you trying to sneak into the room and listen to our boy-talk. Now look at you, dressed for the occasion.”

He flashed a grin, “That’s because I was curious to know if you were talkin’ about me.”

Leona returned the smile. It was probably at one of these sleepovers that Antoine had overheard her tell Alarie how dreamy she thought he was. Probably around the time she was thirteen, full of hormones, and just noticing how handsome a 16-year-old Antoine seemed. In all actuality, he had acne, braces, and was kind of a lanky nerd who was into building little toy robots but she thought he was the finest thing on two legs.

Now he was 23 and the toast of the engineering community, and still pretty damn fine in her opinion. It was just a shame they couldn’t be together anymore.

She cleared her throat, realizing she was checking him out and looked at the wall behind him, “So when do you have to leave again?”

“The company I work for wants me back in the demonstration circuit after next weekend. I figure I can see if I can lease an apartment in Memosa Bay closer to headquarters,” He looked up at the ceiling with a doubtful frown, “Is everyone else asleep already?”

“Your parents might be. Alarie is upstairs waiting for me to braid her hair and Alanna is still out somewhere with Franz Schoulsburg.”

“She still friends with that guy?”

“I guess so,” Leona shrugged, it wasn’t really her business who Alanna decided to be friends with. Though most people thought it was strange for her to take up any sort of camaraderie with the Baker’s son. “But speaking of Alarie…did she tip you off that I was here tonight?”

Antoine only grinned, which was proof in itself that it was the truth. Alarie was such a devious friend sometimes and she could learn to mind her own business once and while! Leona couldn’t help but to make an expression of annoyance.

“How could I have passed up an opportunity to see you again?” he asked keeping the same grin.

“What are you hoping it accomplishes? We’re too ambitious and stubborn, and most of all busy to be dating anymore. The past year proves it. You never called me, or messaged,” it was hard to keep anger and dissapointment from leaking into her tone.

His gray eyes weren’t sad or discouraged but were rather the eyes of a man dying of thirst who had just seen a glass of water.

“Don’t look at me like that,” Leona snapped and moved away, she grabbed the stair rail to make her way back upstairs to Alarie but noticed his movement and paused. He followed her, stood behind her but didn’t reach out, just crossed his arms and considered her. She looked over her shoulder, his grin was gone.

“I didn’t contact you because you told me not to. I’m not going to be the sort of ex-boyfriend that disrespects your wishes. So you can’t be mad at me for doing what you wanted me to do. If I had it my way though I would have spent every day until now giving you reasons to take me back.”

His admission made something in her chest go tight and sad; she held in a pained gasp as she stared forward. She had thought his lack of contact was because he was over her. Could they have made long distance work?

“Antoine…” she turned around, and said his name on a sorrowful note while slightly shaking her head back and forth. She was sorry to have had broken his heart, but hers had been equally shattered. He reached out that time and she didn’t hesitate before falling into his arms to be squeezed into a heartfelt embrace. It felt so good after a year of nothing except for the fond memory of the times they’d had together.

It was more than comforting being encased into that hug. He’d always had such a calming effect on her, whenever she was troubled it all just seemed to melt away when she was in his arms. She squeezed him tightly wanting to never let go.

“My hair isn’t gonna braid itself you know,” their blissful embrace was interrupted by a voice from above. Leona and Antoine broke apart and looked up to see Alarie with a knowing smirk on her face.

Antoine averted his eyes, “Jeez Al, put on some shorts or something.”

“You should be one to talk AB-toine. You aren’t impressing anyone except Leona,” Alarie sassed and made her way down the stairs. Leona seemed to blush a bit and didn’t argue the point. “Put your washboards away, no one is doing any laundry at this hour.”

They all heard the front door handle rattle and soon enough Alanna came through it pausing to greet everyone, especially surprised and delighted to find that their elder brother was at home and then took in the scene with a puzzled curiosity, “Antoine, did you started lifting?”

Fine, I’ll put a shirt on,” was his grumbled response and he sounded slightly annoyed. It put all three of the girls into a fit of giggles while Antoine marched back to his suitcase to find a shirt to sleep in. It was reminiscent of the old sleepovers when Alarie told her brother to go away when he was trying to do something impressive to show off in front of Leona like explain how his toy robots worked, treading on imperative time where the girls could be discussing school gossip or taking love quizzes the latest teen magazines. Leona never minded Antoine’s demonstrations; she actually enjoyed them and once he even let her have one of his little toy robots. She still had it; it was sitting on a table in her apartment at that very moment.

Alanna had moved into the kitchen and Alarie followed as did Leona. Alarie looked like she was fishing for information, nosy as usual, “So what were you doing with Franz?”

The younger sister was packing up some of the last baked goods that had spotted the kitchen when they had first arrived, “Well he suggested we go to the bookstore; it has been awhile since we checked out the new arrivals. After the bookstore closed, we parted ways and he went back to the community college.”

Alanna didn’t seem to notice how Alarie crossed her arms and rolled her eyes. She must have been hoping for a juicier answer. It was Alanna though–she was like the sweetest, most innocent person in the world–so Leona didn’t know what sordid information Alarie was looking for from her sister.

“By the way, that was kind of rude of you earlier,” Alanna looked up from the muffins she was packing into a tupperware and frowned, “to stop in and not even acknowledge Franz was in the room with us. He’s not just some piece of furniture.”

“Could have fooled me,” Alarie matched the frown, “He doesn’t talk. He might as well be an inanimate object. It’s creepy, the way he stares at you…”

“Stop,” Alanna snapped, “You have no right to make fun of him. You don’t even know what he’s going through right now…” She suddenly pressed her lips together and held her head like a sudden ache had formed in her frontal lobe. Leona put her arm around Alanna and shot Alarie a look that told her she was being overtly obnoxious.

“You give people too much credit. When are you going to learn that not everyone is full of rainbows and butterflies?” Alarie scoffed and then left the kitchen, gesturing for Leona to follow. She still had to braid Alarie’s hair and that would take awhile. So much for trying to go to sleep early. She watched Alarie climb the stairs and then noticed Antoine was quietly standing near the kitchen entrance, leaning on the wall of the threshold, and waiting for her to be alone again.

“You okay?” Leona asked Alanna, who still was holding her head.

“Yeah,” Alanna sighed and let the pressure off while slightly shaking her head, “I’m just tired.”

Alanna gave Antoine a quick hug, and Leona overheard him promise to come to Alanna’s bakesale the next day. Then she too, went upstairs. Leaving just the two of them.

“I should probably go to bed too,” Leona nodded up the stairs.

“Come tuck me in,” Antoine requested and she held in a laugh at it. He must have found another sleeping bag while they were in the kitchen because one was rolled out on the living room floor. She followed him over to his humble bed. He was probably going to be like this for a few days while he looked for a new apartment.

“Well, I hope you have a good night,” she smiled.

He took a step closer and ran his fingers through her curly hair before tucking a peice behind her ear; the strands of hair refused to be put into place and immediately popped back into its original position with defiance.

“You know I will when you are sleeping in the same place,” he whispered and she held in her breath because his lips were so close. She braced herself for a kiss. She felt him peck the tip of her nose like he used to. It was chaste and left her feeling torn on whether to swoon or be frustrated because he didn’t go for something more intimate. But maybe she was moving too fast, hoping for such a thing—after all, she probably didn’t even deserve a kiss like that considering she was the one who had stopped them entirely in the first place.

She just simply nodded with a weak sigh, her smile faded, and she made a move to leave.

“What are you doing next week?” his question halted her in her tracks.

“I don’t know,” she replied and turned to face him, “why?”

He looked a bit unsure, which wasn’t the norm for someone as confidant as Antoine. He beat his fists together and looked at the ground, “Would you want to come with me to look at apartments? I’d figure you might want to have a say considering…” Her heartbeat accelerated, wondering what he was implying. “Well, it’s just that I’m sure you’ll be auditioning a bunch around Memosa Bay in the future and will need a place to crash.”

She felt her face tear into a smile from cheek to cheek and she nodded "I’ll give you a call when I return from Pandora.“

Click Next: Just Evelyn to continue...

Back to: Packing, Baking, and Braiding Next: Just Evelyn
Reply With Quote

Click here to view comments, or to add your own.