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In order for this story to make sense, it is advisable to read at least Part 5, as this is a continuation, set just a few months after the events told there. There isn’t a large amount of sex here, and there is a second part coming shortly, so please reserve your judgement until that second part appears. Of course, the more eagle-eyed may be able to deduce who Luna actually is from the clues in Chapter 5, but part 2 will make all clear, I promise you!
My thanks go to GrandTeton for once more editing, breaking me of my habit of writing long sentences that leave on gasping for air, and advising on the story-line and the continuity. My thanks also to Bonnie for liking this, and Alun S. for not actively hating it!
As usual, please remember this is not the real world, it’s my world, so the things that happen here are possible only because that’s how my world works. There’s no message, no acrostics or parables, no morality play, it’s just a story a lot of people asked me to write; please read and enjoy, I know I did writing this. If you liked it, please vote for it, if you didn’t, please tell me why.
Chapter 1: Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning – Psalm 30:5
The handful of dry soil rattled on the casket lid, a soft sound suddenly loud in the complete silence. Joey backed away and stood again between Robbie and Casey as, one by one, everyone else gathered around the grave followed suit. His eyes were hooded, distant, as the unreality of the whole situation once again threatened to overwhelm him.
A week ago she’d been shopping in Oakland with Casey, after leaving Joe Junior and young Robbie safely tucked away with Frank and Kat in Morgan Hill, promising to pick up a pizza on her way home. Now this was all that was left of her, a headstone and an open grave, disguised with artificial grass, in Colma, the Bay Area cemetery city. Joey looked over the heads of the gathered mourners, catching sight of the digger parked discreetly out of sight behind some trees, waiting for them to leave so her grave could be filled, underlining the fact of her death, the final act in her tragically short life.
It had all happened so fast; the guy had been driving well, safely under the limit, no drugs or alcohol in his system; how was he to know the union seal on the brake line had failed, and all his brake fluid had been dripping steadily as he drove, air bubbles forming inside the brake line? He’d not even noticed his brake warning light until too late, and when he’d tried to brake at the crosswalk, his spongy brake pedal hit the floor uselessly, his brakes dead.
He’d careened straight through, unable to stop, plowing into the knot of pedestrians on the crosswalk, finally crashing into the side of the cement truck crossing the intersection, to die impaled on the steering column. There had been several injuries among the people on the crosswalk, some serious, but only one fatality: Karen. Casey had just stepped onto the sidewalk, and was looking back to say something to her, not two feet away, when the old Dodge Shadow slammed into Karen, killing her instantly.
Joey stood numbly through the rest of the graveside rituals, accepting the murmured condolences without really seeing who was offering them as people slowly drifted away until only family remained: Robbie and Casey, her hands clasped around her swollen abdomen, with Roisian Dolan, theirs and Joey’s grandmother; Sarah and Steve with 2-year old Caitlin, Joey’s half sister, Sarah outwardly calm and composed, but shrieking with grief inside at the hurt done to her boy. Elio and Angie were also there, friends and family both, with their baby daughter Sally, and of course, Frank, Kat, and both their girls, Moira and Morag, their eyes swollen and red with grief at Joey’s loss, and theirs too.
Everyone else withdrew from the graveside, to leave Joey alone to say his last words to his beloved wife, best friend, school-friend, and only-ever girlfriend. The rest of the family waited back at the cars, Casey gently bouncing eight-month old Joe Jr. to try and settle him; even the baby seemed to know that everything had gone wrong in their world, and Casey wasn’t having much success in calming him.
Joey finally slipped his sunglasses on against the blazing sunshine and walked slowly back to the family, smiling bleakly at Casey before taking the baby from her. Junior immediately settled down, content to be in his father’s arms again, but his eyes still searched the familiar faces for the one face he’d never see again.
“Just you and me now, little man,” murmured Joey. “Mommy had to go away; she didn’t want to, but she had to, so it’s just you and me now, okay?”
Casey listened to her eldest brother talk half to himself as he patted the infant, tears rolling down her cheeks for his loss, and for the loss to all of them. Karen had been one of the first people to welcome her into their family circle, and had been her closest friend and confidante, and Casey was still şişli escort bayan numbly trying to come to terms with her sudden, shocking loss.
The family congregated at Joey’s townhouse on Southgate in Daly City, together with Karen’s younger sister and her aunt, the only family she had left, to talk, be together, and stay with their son, brother and nephew for as long as he needed them.
It was Robbie who first started talking about Karen, reminiscing about their days in school, how she and Joey had seen each other the first day of 8th Grade, when she was newly-arrived in town from San Diego, and how they had been together ever since; he talked about how she’d become like a sister to him, the way she’d adopted him and defended him as fiercely as did Joey.
Gradually other family members joined in, sharing their own memories of Karen, remembering her to everyone else, making sure their memories of her remained keen and sharp. Joey held his son and said nothing, preferring to keep his memories to himself.
The following day, Robbie and Casey attended another funeral; that of the innocent man who’d also lost his life that terrible day. They went with Joey and Sarah’s full knowledge, to acknowledge that their family didn’t blame him for what had happened, that he was also a victim of the same mix of circumstance and fate. The sight of his young wife and two small children was almost too much for Casey, but she still found the strength to lay a single white rose on his casket, letting him know that he’d done no wrong in their eyes, and he wasn’t to blame for what had happened.
Life gradually levelled-off into a kind of normal for Joey as the weeks passed; GameStx had engaged a live-in house-keeper/childminder to assist him with this new phase of his life as a single-parent, and Mrs. Carrillo did indeed make a huge difference to his life. He’d initially considered requesting that he be placed on a part-time contract to enable him to work and care for Joe Jr, but Steve and Elio Vargas had both vetoed the idea; Joey was family, and too valuable to the company to allow him to drift away from them like that.
Instead, they arranged for childcare round the clock rather than lose him. In addition, Casey and Robbie were only five minutes away, so most of the day little Joe was under Casey’s watchful eye along with Robbie Jr.
Joey seemed to be happy with that arrangement. During the day Joe Jr. had Casey as a reasonable substitute mom. Joey played with his son in the evening and gave him his evening bottle, and Mrs. Carrillo took care of the night-time feeding and changing, leaving Joey free to continue to develop and grow with GameStx.
But it still wasn’t the same for him; it never could be. Coming home every evening was a heart-wrenching, soul-numbing experience. Walking in the door of the house he and Karen had fallen in love with, with the tubs of flowers she’d planted and so carefully nurtured, the subtle hint of her perfume on his suit jacket lapels, and the faint lingering traces of her hairspray and her floral body lotion every time he opened a closet door, all these were taking their toll on him.
Sarah watched helplessly as Joey grieved in silence, never revealing his pain and loss, his need to scream and rant at the universe for being so unjust, for taking away the one thing in the world he wanted and needed more than anything. His pain was her pain, and yet there was nothing she could do.
As the weeks passed, he’d gradually stopped seeing Robbie and Casey, the excuses becoming flimsier and flimsier, until he’d stopped even pretending; their happiness was a stark reminder of what he’d lost, and he was avoiding them. Even more troubling, he was becoming more and more disconnected from his little son as his grief intensified and spiralled down into depression.
Mrs. Carrillo had children Joey’s age, and she watched helplessly as he slowly, relentlessly fragmented, her motherly concerns mounting daily as Joey became ever more distant and disconnected even from his son. Mrs. Carrillo finally decided that Joey’s family needed to know what was going on with him, and voiced her concerns to Casey, who had more than a few concerns of her own regarding her oldest brother.
Mrs. Carrillo told her how Joey had stopped even pretending to care about Joe Jr; how he came in from the office and went into his room, and that was the last she’d see of him for the evening; in the morning his car would be gone, and where once he’d called every hour or so to check on Joe, that had now ceased altogether, and there would be silence from him, nothing except a murmured ‘Good evening, Mrs. Carrillo’ as he came in the door before he once again locked himself away in his bedroom.
Even the birth of Casey and Robbie’s daughter, Roisian, failed to stir him from his apathy.
Eventually, Sarah and Robbie decided this had gone on long enough; Joey needed his family, he needed his mom, he needed to find his way back to everyone who escort mecidiyeköy loved him, but most of all, he needed to find his way back to his son.
The following morning, as he opened the front door to leave for work, Sarah and Steve, his mother and step-father, were waiting for him. He stared listlessly at them, wondering distractedly what they wanted at such an early hour.
“Joey, we need to talk; we all need to talk. Forget about work right now. This is important.”
So saying, Sarah took him gently but firmly by the arm and piloted him back through the house, Joey unresisting as she led him into the living room and sat him down, her arm still linked in his.
“Baby, this can’t go on. Your son needs you, we all need you. I know how you feel; I went through this as well; your father meant the whole world to me, and when I lost him, I honestly thought my world had ended. It hadn’t; I still had you. Now you have that little boy asleep in there, and he needs you more than ever; he’s nearly a year old, baby, and he needs you to be his world now. I feel so bad for you baby, but truly, if you let it, this too will pass, I promise you.”
Joey looked into her eyes for the first time.
“She’s gone, Ma, all the plans we made, all the children we were going to have, the life we were going to live, they’re all gone as well. How can I live when the only life I ever wanted is gone forever? I dream about her, Ma, and I dream about the kids we’ll never have, and the places we’ll never go, and I wake up and it’s just me and junior alone in an empty house; everyone else we were supposed to have with us, they’re all gone, they’ll never be here, and we’ll always be alone. How is that right, Ma?”
Sarah’s heart broke for the loss and pain in her son’s voice, in his eyes, in his defeated posture, and she pulled him close, tears on her cheeks as the depth and intensity of his loss and grief hit her again.
“Let it go, baby, you have to; that little boy needs his daddy!” she murmured, and felt him stiffen.
“He needs his mom, and she’s gone, and I can’t…I can’t do this without her…!” he stuttered, “Mom, she’s gone, and I’m alone, and I need her so bad…!”
Joey’s words ended in a sob as he broke down, all the pain and loss and fear finally breaking out of him. Sarah hugged him tight as he cried silently against her, weeks of bottling it all up inside him finally taking its toll.
Sarah rocked him as she had when he was small, comforting her son as best she could, a little frightened at his outpouring of grief, but instinctively recognizing it as the best thing for him right now.
“You’re not alone baby. You have me, you have Robbie and Casey, there’s Steve and Elio, but most of all there’s that little boy in there, and he still needs his daddy.”
Out in the hall, there came a light tapping on the front door, and Steve went to open it. Robbie and Casey slipped inside with quick questioning looks at him. Steve bit his lip and gently shook his head, squeezing Casey’s hand at the look of alarm on her face. Robbie grimaced, as though psyching himself up for an unpleasant task, then nodded resolutely at Steve.
“Let me go talk to him, Steve; I know what he needs right now.”
Steve shrugged and nodded in the direction of the sitting room.
“At this point I’m ready to try anything, Rob; Joey’s a mess and Sarah’s really scared; hell, even Caitlin knows something’s badly wrong with her brother; if you think you can get through to him…”
“‘Course I can, he’s my brother; I know what makes him tick. Just leave this to me…and keep mom out!”
As he went to open the door, Casey put her hand on his arm, concern for her oldest brother plainly written on her face. Robbie looked at her questioningly.
“Baby, I know what you’re going to have to do; just go easy on him, please?” she murmured, and Robbie smiled back at her worried expression.
“Always, baby. Don’t worry about Joey, I know him, he’ll listen to what I have to say.”
Sarah looked up at Robbie as he slipped into the room, her face lined and scared, her eyes two pits of fear and sorrow for her son.
“Mom, can you leave us alone please?” he murmured.
Sarah glanced at Joey, once again sunk in apathy now that the spasm of grief had passed, and nodded, unable to discern if she’d even gotten through to him. She patted his arm and smoothed his hair away from his forehead, a gesture that had always irritated him, but now he ignored it, staring listlessly ahead.
“Help him Robbie, do something, please!” she murmured urgently, “he needs you more than ever now, help your brother, please!”
Robbie held her briefly.
“Don’t worry Mom; I think I know what to do; just leave us alone, okay? I’ve got some things to say that you don’t want to hear, and I don’t think you want to be here for that!”
Sarah nodded. She knew how much Robbie loved and idolized his big brother; she knew with an iron-clad certainty merter escort that he could never hurt him, but she was intrigued nevertheless.
“I’d like to stay, baby, I promise, not a word!” as Robbie opened his mouth to object. Robbie shook his head.
“No, Mom, we’ve got to do this alone, just Joey and me; just leave us alone for a few minutes, please. I got this, I swear!”
Sarah looked doubtful, but ultimately her trust in Robbie asserted itself.
“Okay, you do what you have to do for your brother; just don’t hurt him, baby, he’s been through enough already!”
Robbie grinned at her.
“As if I would! Now, please…” he nodded meaningfully at the door, and waited until she’d slipped out and closed the door behind her before he sat on the couch next to Joey and nudged him.
“So this is where you spend your time feeling sorry for yourself! I knew you were a fucking meathead, but a cry-baby as well? I ought to drag you outside and beat the man back into you; you’re a disgrace, snivelling like a little girl in here. What the fuck is your major malfunction?”
Joey slowly swivelled to look directly at hm.
“What the hell did you just say?” he asked, animation in his voice and expression for the first time in who knew how long.
“You heard me; I called you a snivelling meathead! What are you going to do about it?” sneered Robbie, watching Joey’s face carefully as the jibe sank in.
Joey looked at him in shock.
“Rob, what’s got into you? You can’t talk to me like that!”
Robbie sneered at him again, a lip-curl of derision.
“No-one else in here crying like a girl! What the hell would Karen think of you if she saw you right now? I know what she’d say; she’d say you were fucking pathetic, that’s what! What’s the matter, Joey, cat got your balls?”
A flush crept up Joey’s face as his fists clenched.
“How fucking dare you say her name! You’re not fit to say her name out loud! You better get out before I forget you’re my brother and kick your ass!”
Robbie looked him up and down, and grinned tauntingly at him.
“How you gonna do that, Joey? Gonna cry at me some more? Gonna blubber about how lonely you are? News Flash; we fucking know, so what? What the fuck makes you think I give a shit for a sorry-ass, cry-baby quitter like you? Act like a man, fuck-tard, or have you forgotten how to be one?”
With a low, feral growl Joey launched himself at Robbie, hands reaching for his throat as his face twisted into a mask of rage. This was what Robbie’d been waiting for. As Joey crashed into him, he leaned aside, the two of them landing on the carpet where they rolled back and forth, Joey trying to hit, choke, punch, slap, anything to make Robbie take back those things he’d said.
Robbie easily dodged Joey’s rage-blinded attempts to hit him, and so they rolled back and forth on the carpet, Joey trying to gain the upper hand, his fists crashing against Robbie’s biceps and forearms as he tried in vain to land one telling punch, something to hurt Robbie and make him pay for what he’d said.
Robbie’s solid, powerful arms formed an impenetrable barrier, raising Joey’s fury to new heights as he forgot everything he and Robbie had ever been to each other; all he wanted to do was smash that grinning face, to hurt him for saying those things, to pound him senseless for daring to speak to him like that. Robbie’s taunting grin ensured Joey kept up his furious attacks, his rage powering his fists as they battered repeatedly against his younger brother, trying to find a way through.
At last, though, the fires of rage burned out, and Joey slumped forward, too tired to even raise his fists again. He rolled onto his back, lying passively next to Robbie on the floor, his chest heaving and his breath hissing in the sudden silence of the room.
Sarah had heard the ruckus inside, and realised that, for the first time in their lives, her boys were fighting; no matter what she’d promised Robbie, she had to put a stop to this. As she tried to open the door, Steve and Casey both pulled her back, Steve blocking her way as she tried to push past him.
“No Sarah!” he hissed. “Leave them be, they’ve got to work this out themselves; no, leave it!”
They listened in silence until the sounds of scuffling died away. Sarah looked at Steve and raised an eyebrow in query. He grinned and took her hand.
“Give them a few more minutes, babe, then you go on in. I think it’s just about over now.”
Back in the sitting room the two brothers lay silently side by side on the floor, Joey’s eyes closed as he fought to regain his breath, his heaving chest finally slowing to something approaching normal. Robbie had been waiting for that, and nudged him as he grinned up at the ceiling.
“You done now, meathead? You ready to talk?” he asked, and smiled as Joey nudged him back harder.
“Just lemme get my breath, and I’ll show you who’s done, you butthead geek!” Joey retorted, a faint smile twitching his lips. A shadow fell on them and they both looked up to see Sarah standing over them.
“I may not know exactly what happened in here, but I know what I heard, and I never want to hear anything like that again! That goes for both of you! Now what the hell just happened in here?”
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