“Did universal charity prevail, earth would be a heaven, and hell a fable.”
– Charles Caleb Colton
Charity is home free: her degree under her belt and making a beeline, straight for sunny Ft. Royal, and her sisters, Hope and Faith. Excited to see them, yet having been warned by Hope to watch herself when it came to the disarmingly charming ways of The Kraken, Charity never expected to walk right into the one man to flip all of her switches to the ‘on’ position before she’d even taken a dozen steps into town.
Nothing was everything she liked. Tall, handsome, with a pair of eyes that any woman should swoon over. Just the right mix of tortured bad boy to pique all of her healer’s instincts. Charity knew that the men of The Kraken played for keeps; all except, it seemed, for this one. Too bad no one told The Kraken that she played for keeps, too.
I startled out of my reverie and looked to my right and right into a wall of muscular chest that was framed very nicely in black leather to either side. I let my eyes linger for a moment as I roamed the hills and valleys left by an absolutely superbly kept physique before my gaze slipped up over a shadowed jaw and came to rest on a pair of beautiful, deep gray eyes.
“Yeah, how did you know…” I left it open, voice dying off in hopes this handsome stranger would give me his name.
“Nothing?” I asked confused and he smiled.
“My name, it’s Nothing, and you look like Faith. Like a lot like Faith.” That made me smile, a weight lifting off my chest just a bit. I don’t know why I thought she’d look different. Probably because time and experience could change people irreparably and Faith had had both in abundance the last two years.
“Don’t suppose you know where they are, do you?” I asked and he smiled. It looked really good on him, if a touch tragic; the ghost of something indefinable there.
“Yeah, they’re this way,” he held out an arm, gallantly, a really old fashioned gesture by today’s standards and I smiled, taking it.
“Thank you, Nothing.”
“Don’t mention it.”
Only one time before had it happened; that feeling like I’d been punched in the gut, just from looking into a woman’s eyes. The first time it’d been my wife Corrine’s eyes. A strange shade of lavender as she’d beseeched me not to let her die. I scrubbed my face with my hands as I tried to banish the painful image of our first meeting out of my head before images of our last barged their way in.
Charity’s eyes weren’t lavender like Corrine’s had been, so it wasn’t that. I don’t know what it was about them, other than being a startling, pale, shade of blue. Like shadows on ice, crisp and refreshing under the heat of the baking Florida sun. I’d led her to her sisters, but as soon as I was able to, I put a little distance between us, but my gaze hadn’t exactly been sidelined from watching her.
Lightning dropped down next to me and knocked his shoulder into mine. “What ‘cha looking at?” he asked and I tore my gaze away from Faith-lite.
“Not a damn thing,” I grated.
“Bullshit,” he said grinning, “She’s single, according to Hope. You finally going to give it up and try something new?”
“Hadn’t planned on it and still don’t; I’m married.”
“Were married,” Radar said, dropping his ass into the sand on my other side. “At some point, man, you gotta give up carrying the torch for Corrine. She’s gone, and it’s been something like three years. You can’t punish yourself for somethin’ you didn’t do for forever.”
“What do you fuckin’ know about it?” I demanded, and shoved some food in my face, chewing automatically.
“I know Corrine’d be pissed lookin’ at you livin’ like this, day in and day out. Hell, you aren’t even living, you’re just down here grinding it out. That ain’t no way to be, my brother. That ain’t no way to be.”
“What would you fuckin’ know about it?” I demanded again, and it sounded petulant, Like something Katy would have said which just drove the knife that much deeper.
Text Copyright © 2016 A.J. Downey
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
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