(Previous post: Back at home)
Days and weeks passed and autumn took hold of Sunset Valley and still Zeke hadn’t heard from Marty. She texted him, that same night at the waterfall, the night she ran away from him and his bright plans for their future. I am sorry. She had said. Zeke wanted to reply, he really did but what could he have said? He was hurt. Deeply terribly hurt. He couldn’t make sense of anything any more… He had never felt so hopeless before.
Were he and Marty still together? He didn’t know. Did she realize she doesn’t want to marry him, or be with him at all? He didn’t know. Had she met someone during filming this summer? Was that it? Did she love someone else? He didn’t know…
Nothing made sense in this Marty-less world. He missed her every single day. He was used to talking to her, hearing her laugh, seeing her smile. It was weird to imagine that this could be his life now. A life without Martha Gradle in it… The thought was awful and painful.
In stead Zeke thought about the lovely moments he and Marty had… He thought about the day he proposed to her, how spontaneous and wonderful that had been…
He thought of the glint of happiness in her eyes as she saw the simple ring he had bought for her, the bright smile that lit up her face when she was out of her initial shock. It had all been so perfect and beautiful…
Sometimes Zeke would wonder… Was it real? Was any of it actually real? Was it all just a figment of Zeke’s overly optimistic imagination? He didn’t know what would be worse, if it was never real or if it was and now was gone forever…
He wished there was someone he could talk to, someone to distract him, someone to set him at ease but it seemed there was no one left… Mum was busy with her garden, and the new romance. Vanessa was back at school and if if she weren’t, the two of them were never that close anyway… And Lucky was the busiest of them all now that she had been elected in the town council along with Tori Kimura. And his father, the man who always had an advice for girl problems was gone… Dead…Zeke had never felt lonelier.
When he wasn’t at work he had been at home, cooking or baking or doing anything meaningful in the kitchen… And one afternoon he was out in the backyard eating some food he made thinking how he overdid it with salt this time when someone spoke to him.
“Nice day today. One of the last warm ones I would wager…” Zeke turned around to see his mother’s new ‘boyfriend’ or whatever people called it at their age. He was looking wistfully in the distance but it was obvious to Zeke he was speaking to him since there was no one else there.
“Probably.” He said not knowing what else to do. “Are you hungry, I could fetch up something there is plenty of food in the fridge?” He asked getting up.
“No, no. Sit please. I didn’t mean to interrupt you….”
“It’s okay, I overdid it with salt this time anyway… It’s practically inedible.” Zeke said.
“Nonsense, your mother says you are a great cook…” Zeke smiled weakly at the compliment.
“I’m still learning…” Zeke said. “And from the very best. Mum worked at a restaurant you know, and Krys, my big sister… I think she had been cooking since she could stand.” the older man smiled politely.
“Your mother says you have been feeling unwell.” Zeke frowned. Was he really that obvious? When he said nothing the man continued. “You have lost your father recently?”
“It’s been a while since that. I’m…It’s not that…It’s…” He suddenly felt very ashamed. There he was in front of this old, serious, though man as heartbroken as a teenager.
“Girl problems?” The older man asked understandingly. Zeke nodded and looked away. “Well that is a woe that gets us all…” He said calmly. “Come on. Let us have a drink.” He walked behind their outdoor bar and whisked out a glass.
“Behold my awesome mixing skills!” He yelled behind the bar making Zeke chuckle. They had one drink and then another, and another… And before he knew it Zeke was spilling his guts out to the older man who all the while listened patiently.
“To me it seems like a classic case of cold feet…” He said calmly when Zeke was done talking. “Maybe she feels the same way as you do now… You didn’t answer her text and maybe she thinks you are mad and that you haven’t forgiven her… A little communication might go a long way here.” Zeke nodded calmly. He heard the man’s voice but as if from far away, he was loosing focus… He tried staring right into the vortex deep in his dark blue eyes… But something was spinning… And then before he knew it everything was spinning… He barely had time to register what was happening when he gut up as quickly as he could and ran to the edge of the patio. He doubled down over the fence and threw up on the ground. He was still dizzy but the world was coming back to him and he felt extremely embarrassed by what just occurred.
He hard the older man laugh behind him. “I think you might be a better cook then I am a bartender… I should have cut you off a while ago…”
Zeke was still embarrassed the next morning when he got up and headed for work with a splitting headache in tow. He should have told Mr. Targeryen he wasn’t much of a drinker… Hell he should have told himself but maybe all that happened last night was just what he needed? He sighed. He felt a long, agonizing day coming up…
He didn’t have much time to think about the conversation he had with the old man last night, he fought to answer some emails while drinking the third coffee of the day when his phone chirped. He picked it up quickly hoping it was Lucky asking him out for lunch, he would have used some food, and a good conversation with his sister but as he saw from who the text was his brain went blank.
Marty. The screen said. He stared in disbelief for a few minutes before he opened the text to see what it said. My folks are having another of their parties this weekend. I have to be there and I was hoping you would come. He felt a rush of affection for his loner girlfriend at one of the great parties her family threw at least once a month. Marty’s grandfather was a big rock star, famous all around the world and although he didn’t write any new stuff or perform outside of their small town anymore his fame still lived on. There were even people here in Sunset Valley who would kill to be close to him… And that meant who ever could get in one of those parties would do so, dragging along as many people as he or she could.
It was hard for Zeke to stay mad when his heart was beating like crazy and there was a rush of warmth spreading trough his body as he thought of seeing Marty again. Damn did he miss her… Of course I’ll be there. He replied quickly and leaned back in his crappy office chair. His head hurt less and he felt as the clouds hanging over his head were finally clearing up. He even managed to smile at the unanswered email staring back at him from his computer screen.
The night of the party Zeke was uncharacteristically anxious, he paced his room trying not to get there too early…. He climbed the hill alone but he could see other people in front of him and cars slowly pilling up. It would be a bit party alright. the electronic gate that usually protected the Gradle property was wide open tonight and people were pouring in from all sides. Zeke stopped and looked up, towards Marty’s room on the second floor. He spotted his cousin’s wife Hannah on the balcony but then he also saw Marty. His heart jumped from excitement and he hurried inside.
There were a lot of people inside and he pushed his way trough a mass of people, some of which he knew and some he didn’t. He was stopped on the stairs by Marty’s father, Benji.
“Zekeeey.” The old man said with a wide smile. He was a thin man with graying hair and a welcoming smile. He had a bottle of beer in one hand and used the other to grip Zeke’s shoulder. He had a strong arm, rather muscular Zeke noticed before remembering Marty saying how he had taken up exercising now that he had reached a certain age where health was a battle. “How have you been?” He asked loudly. “You still owe us a bachelor party.” He added with a wink before Zeke could reply.
When he finally found a way into Marty’s room he found that she wasn’t alone here either, the party goers had taken possession of the whole house it seemed. But like it happens in movies their eyes met over a crowded room and Zeke noticed a shy smile appear on his girlfriend’s lips, he smiled back at her and moved trough the crowd to reach her.
“Hi.” He said.
“Hi.” She responded and they just stared at each other looking awkward for a few seconds. “I’m so sorry Zeke… I had been awful to you…I…”
“I’m to blame too!” Zeke interrupted her. “I should have talked to you…. I should have said something instead of moping around thinking we have broken up…”
“You thought we had broken up?” Marty asked surprised. Zeke smiled and shrugged.
“I guess I did mess up running off on you like that…” Marty said sadly.
“Yeah, what was up with that?” Zeke asked trying to smile and Marty sighed looking down on her shoes. “I thought I was doing what you wanted… I…. You always said you hated an idea of a big wedding…”
“I do! What you did was wonderful… It was just…” Marty sighed again. “I wasn’t prepared for that I panicked… And also… I may not want a party, but… I couldn’t just get married behind my family’s back… It means a lot to all of them that they be there….” Zeke smiled.
“I guess I shouldn’t be making such big decisions without you…” Marty chuckled.
“And I guess I should talk to you more instead of just running away. “She added and they both smiled.
“Come on, let’s enjoy this party!” Zeke said taking his fiancee’s hand.
/*I feel that recently I am always apologizing, but I really have little free time so I don’t write or play. Plus Civ VI is out and I had to try that out 😛 I’ll do my best to finish with the Mayor story this week and then maybe take a short break before starting the Hoves-Santoro story line.
Thank you all for reading, liking and commenting. 🙂 */