Warning: This post contains content that may not be appropriate for younger readers. It includes mild language. Consider the rating PG.
The silence was unbearable as we drove down the hill to Gage’s family home. I couldn’t think straight. My best friend’s mother had drowned?!? and the man I thought I loved slept with a prostitute?!? I didn’t want to be anywhere near Davis, but he was my only way of getting across town.
“Can you drive any faster?” I urged.
“We’re here,” Davis said quietly.
A fire truck and several police cars were parked at odd angles in the driveway and on the lawn. I suspected the worst when I didn’t see an ambulance.
Shameka was standing outside, still in her work uniform, arguing with a man. She looked extremely distraught.
“Where’s Gage?” I asked coolly as I approached.
“Oh Kass,” she lifted her head to meet my gaze, her eyes brimming with tears. “You’re here?” she looked bewildered. “He’s…” she sniffled. “…he’s inside.”
“Detective Trumble,” the man introduced himself. “I’m sorry, but I need to ask who you are and what you’re doing here.”
“It’s okay, Detective,” Shameka sighed heavily. “She’s a friend of the family.”
“I still need to see some identification,” the detective said seriously.
“My purse,” I waved back toward Davis and the car.
He approached stiffly and handed it to me.
“Here,” I shoved my ID in the hands of the detective.
“Go on,” Shameka urged me. “Gage will want you here.”
I didn’t wait for Davis as I ran in the house. It was swarming with police officers and firefighters. Pablo Martinez, Gage’s foster father, was the fire captain for the local downtown station. I found Gage in the living room. Pablo stood near him, still in his uniform. Both father and son stared into space as if in shock.
“Mr. Martinez, we need to ask you some questions privately,” one of the police officers was saying.
Pablo nodded tiredly and motioned that the officers follow him into another room. I approached Gage timidly, dread filling my heart.
He turned around, staring like a zombie.
“Gage?” I grabbed his arms gently. “What happened?”
“Mom’s dead?” he said as more of a question than an answer.
“Jennifer?” I repeated. “Your foster mom.”
“The only mom to love me,” Gage said, his shoulders drooping.
“What? How?” my eyes grew wide.
“She got home from a shift at the pool…” he said, as if he were faraway. “And she was taking a shower and she slipped…” his voice broke.
“Oh my llamas!” I exclaimed.
“…and fell…” he continued hollowly. “She hit her head… they’re investigating…I found her…”
I stood in horrified silence. Gage stumbled forward as if about to fall. I wrapped my arms around him tightly as he plunged into my shoulder, the tears falling hard and fast.
“Kass, she’s gone… she’s gone… she didn’t make it…” Gage sobbed. “It was too late. It was too late. She’s gone. She’s gone.”
Gage stayed in my arms for a few minutes. I felt helpless. What could I do? I could hold him for an eternity and still not be able to comfort him over the loss of the only mother-figure Gage ever loved, and who loved him back. Of all the foster moms Gage had in Sunset Valley, Jennifer was, by far, the best.
I started remembering how wonderful she really was. She had quit her full-time job in politics, and took a part-time job at a law office so she could be home when Gage got home from school. She always had yummy snacks waiting for us when we’d head over there. For the last six years, he had lived with the Martinez family, and they had hoped desperately to adopt before he turned eighteen.
Jennifer had taken a job working as a lifeguard at the community pool just a few weeks ago now that Gage had graduated. She was going to work there until she could go to work full time with the law office in the fall. I remembered her saying that it was a good way to meet people and network.
I remember on Gage’s birthday last year, he had talked about changing his name to Martinez legally, even though the adoption had never gone through. That talk had stopped though once he found his biological relatives, but still Jennifer and Pablo loved Gage… the child they had never been able to have, but always considered their son. She was gone? It seemed unbelievable. She was only a little bit older than my mother.
“What’s he doing here?” Gage grunted angrily over my shoulder.
“What?” I replied, dazed.
“That… that… how could you bring him here?” Gage snapped, jerking back from my arms.
Davis? I had completely forgotten all about him. He had stood silently behind us for who knows how long, still holding my purse and watching sympathetically. I turned and met his eyes briefly, the frustration and anger from his confession still flaring inside hotly, but muted by the grief of Gage’s loss. Davis set down my purse and approached cautiously.
“I’m so sorry for your loss,” he said meekly.
“MY LOSS?!? MY LOSS? You llama’s ass! You steal my girl and then you have the nerve to come in here and comfort me on the loss of my mom?!?” Gage roared.
“Whoa! Whoa!” Davis waved his arms wildly. “Calm down, Gage, I’m sorry. I… just brought Kassiopeia… we were on a date when we got the news.”
“GET OUT! YOU BASTARD SON OF A LLAMA! I DON’T EVER WANT TO SEE YOU IN MY HOME AGAIN!” Gage thundered, and then dropped his head as if it took everything in him.
Several of the emergency personnel in the house looked over at us. One of the detectives began moving in our direction.
Davis turned to me. “We should go,” he said quietly.
“No, you should go,” I corrected. “I’m staying.”
“But…” Davis started to protest, but thought better of it. “Are you going to be alright?”
“Yes,” I replied, standing absolutely still.
The silence stretching between Davis and I was excruciatingly awkward. Gage was sobbing uncontrollably, and I pulled him into a soothing embrace, rubbing circles on his back and pleading with my eyes at Davis to leave.
“I’ll go,” he whispered hoarsely. “Is there anything I can do?”
“Just go,” I pulled my gaze away.
Wordlessly, Davis turned on his heel and walked out through the front door. For a fleeting moment, I wondered if I was ever going to see him again, but right now, I had to be here for Gage… more than I needed to work out my own relationship dramas. Jennifer is gone. Gage is all that matters now.
Chapter 26 Coming Soon!
- What will happen to Kass and Davis’ relationship?
- Will Kass be able to comfort Gage?
Author Changes: What’s different?
- Minor formatting changes.
- Picture size was edited.
- The lines about Jennifer working for the law office were added.