Bonnie spun the bottle on the ground and we all watched with curiosity as it stopped in front of Jacob first.
Before we could ask him ‘Truth or dare, he said. “Dare like always.”
“ Sing a song,” I said immediately. I knew how much he hated to sing.
His face fell. “What?”
“ Sing a song outside.”
He frowned at me but got up and we all followed him.
In the middle of the road, he started to sing an old-fashioned song in the ugliest voice that I had ever heard. Okay, I was at least habituated to it but Aaron was not. He looked at him with an odd expression and I fought a smile. The few people who were on the road looked at Jacob like crazy but he did not care.
Finally, when Aaron could not bear it anymore, he touched his shoulder and said. “Jacob, I am so glad that you can sing but please, I don’t want any stray dogs to roam here after hearing your voice. So please understand the situation a bit and stopped singing.”
When he finished his sentence, we all burst into laughter except Jacob and Aaron who were looking at each other. And finally they started to chuckle we returned
“Now who is the target?” Jacob said as he spun the bottle.
The game continued like that for some minutes. Bonnie had to show an item dance. I had to act a commercial act. Billy and Caroline had to confess their love to each other while Aaron recited a poem for me, staring at me intently.
“There is something in you that makes me think of us and the time that we spent together, that something that takes my breath away when I touch you, that something that with only your smile enlightens me, that something that fills my heart with you. Just to see you happy, I would give up anything, even my life. You have been the only one to delve inside me and I will love you always.”
We both got emotional as he finished the poem and for a few minutes, no one spoke. Aaron and I kept looking at each other and maybe if we did not have an audience, we would have hugged each other tightly.
Jacob broke the silence. “Hey guys, I think we should get to our second game, passing the pillows,” he smiled nervously.
Aaron and I stopped looking at each other and concentrated on the next game.
At about two thirty in the morning, we all went to sleep and Aaron had to carry me to bed considering that I was very tired. I again held him tight while he patted my head, making me sleep like a child and I soon fell into unconsciousness.
The bright beams of sunlight woke me up in the morning. As usual, I just stretched my arms and got up without opening my eyes.
I stumbled sleepily on my own feet probably, and a voice said. “Careful.”
A smile stretched on my face as he held my arms and I opened my eyes. Aaron was looking at me with a peculiar expression.
“I never noticed that you wake up like this every morning,” he teased.
I pressed my head in his chest and again closed my eyes. “That’s because I always wake up before you.”
He passed a hand through my messed hair and then kissed my head.
“Go and freshen up. I’ll prepare breakfast for you.”
I pulled back in surprise and frowned at him. “You will prepare breakfast? Where are the others?”
“ Caroline and Billy went with Bonnie to school. They needed to attend a PTA meeting. And Jacob went home.”
The crease was still between my eyes when I said. “What time is it?” Had I overslept? I quickly glanced at the clock. He followed my gaze. Holy cow! It was almost ten o’clock.
“Why didn’t you wake me up?” I almost shouted. Today we need to go home and I did not even say goodbye to Jacob.
“You were tired. Relax wife, it is not that late. Even Billy and Jacob told me to let you sleep.”
I relaxed and then looked at him intently. The first thing that I noticed was the deep dark black circles around his eyes.
“You did not sleep at all?” I exclaimed.
He frowned and started to speak. He was definitely about to lie but I glared at him and he said. “I was not sleepy.”
I took a deep breath. “Okay, I’ll just freshen up and you don’t need to prepare the breakfast. I will have something from the fridge. There is some food left from yesterday.”
He did not argue with me more and left me in the room.
After some minutes, we both were in the kitchen. I was eating while Aaron seemed to be looking for something.
“What are you searching for?” I asked, putting another spoonful food into my mouth.
“You are really in the mood of cooking today,” I noticed.
‘Where is it?” he said, ignoring my remark.
I pointed to the left. “It’s there. But I am sure you realize that there is a big difference in cooking and eating Aaron. I don’t want Billy and Caroline to get ill with burnt food,” I laughed.
He did not pay me any attention as he removed the eggs from the fridge and I watched in amazement as he whisked them with the electric mixer with pure professionalism.
“I learned to cook when I was in boarding school. We had to do our own work there,” he said, still whisking the eggs.
He did not like to talk about this subject. But he continued as if it longer bothered him.
“Esme and Carl sent me there for one year. Only granny used to visit me and send me letters,” he smiled.
I almost felt the urge to comfort him but I let him talk; let him pour his feelings out.
“When I returned home, it was again granny who welcomed me. Esme and Carl did not acknowledge my existence then and slowly it stopped bothered me.”
He did not say anything for some minutes and to lighten the atmosphere, I said. “You did not go to office? Aaron Wright did not go to office. I am stunned. I hope that the clients don’t start to throw rotten tomatoes on you.”
He laughed. The distraction worked slightly though the pain still did not leave his eyes. And then he again became serious.
“You know, I used to crave to go to office so that I could keep myself busy and prevent the bad memories from haunting me again.”
When he spoke again, his tone turned to a happy one. “But since you, my personal guiding star came; there is no need for all those pretenses. Everything has become beautiful and lively now.”
I smiled at him and prompted him to continue.
“I never wanted all these things, this name, fame, fans, and money. It was just the mistake of that businessman who wanted to run from his past. It was a step that I took in anger, hatred, and loneliness. My childhood dream was just to become an artist. But now I do not feel like running anymore from this world because you exist here. You have made everything so beautiful and so good.”
He paused for some seconds and I remembered that he had said something similar at Mr. Bond’s party. He had murmured to himself that ‘This is never going to stop, is
it?’ and had a sad expression. Maybe now I understood the exact meaning of that sentence. He hated all these things. He never wanted this type of success.
And without second thoughts, I said something that I never thought that I would say to anyone. “Do you want us to go somewhere else, far away from everything, far away from the money, fame, name, and media?”
He stopped whisking the eggs and looked at me with painful eyes.
“You would do that for me?”
I touched his face and stared deep in his eyes. “I would do anything for you Aaron, anything for your happiness.”
He gazed at me for some seconds and then removed my hands from his cheek and pinned them to my side. “No, I want to give you things, not take away your family or world from you. I want your happiness.”
I again touched his face though he tried to remove my hand. “But my happiness lies in your happiness. And we will not go far from our loved ones. We will stay somewhere near and will visit them. But only one thing will change. We would be free from this fake world of business and money. We would leave everything.”
“Alicia,” he said, definitely about to refuse again.
But I said. “Tell me the truth Aaron. Do you want this?”
He stared away, not meeting my eyes and I put my hands around his shoulders. “Look at me. Do you want this?”
He nodded and then met my eyes.
“Then we will do exactly what you want. You could have simply asked me. Why didn’t you ask?” I demanded.
“I don’t want to be selfish with you. I want to keep you happy, not sad.”
“I can only be happy with you. And I would not have refused anything. I am ready to live a simple life with you. I am ready to go wherever you take me, whether it is on the mountains, on the road or the forests. I just want to be with you.”
He kissed me, his lips brushing with mine softly and after some seconds, he murmured. “Thank you so much.”
“Anytime,” I said breathless. But then I said. “But I want something from you.”
He pulled back and stared at me, wary. His smile wavered.
“It’s not a condition but I want you to do this before we leave.”
I knew that he had already guessed it but he still held me, looking into my eyes. A trace of pain touched his face.
“You want me to talk to my family before we leave,” he said slowly as if he wanted me to deny it.
I nodded with a deep breath and he muttered. “You know I can’t do that.”
“ I know that you can do it but you just feel hesitant to talk to them after so many years.”
He frowned and released my hand from his shoulders. He grabbed the electric mixer and was about to whisk the eggs again when I snatched it from him.
“Look Aaron, I am not really good at convincing people and you know that.”
I was still staring when his eyes flickered back to me but he did not say anything.
“But I am going to try anyway.”
I knew that the next words that I was going to say will hurt him a lot but I had to make him remove all the poison from his heart before we leave everything.
“Have you ever looked at your parents? Have you ever asked if they were fine? Everyone makes mistakes, Aaron. You also made and you do realize them. You even apologized for them and you got the forgiveness. Then why can’t you forgive them?”
He continued to look away but I was not going to stop. I was determined to remove all the pain, hatred, poison, and loneliness from him.
“Then with what rights are you punishing them? Parents are like god Aaron. It’s only lucky ones that have them,” I said sadly and Aaron understood.
I never received the affection from my real parents. I knew the importance of them. Aaron simply touched my cheeks and I shook my head.
“But I am not talking about me right now. I am talking about you. I am sure, when you made mistakes in your childhood, they must have forgiven you. Then why can’t you do the same? Won’t you talk to them until they die? Is that what you are waiting for? I know that you miss them Aaron. Then why are you hiding it? Why do you have the habit to hide everything?”
“ Alicia. I-” he said painfully and then stopped.
“Yes Aaron. I am listening. Talk to me. Give me an answer.”
But he did not say anything more and I continued my brainwash and while I spoke, the tears fell. I was hurt that I had to cause him so much pain .But I was not going to back out now. I continued to talk while he wiped my tears with agonized eyes. He looked more pained with my tears than my words.
I removed his hands and said. “And what was the fault of Jack? That he fell in love with Rose. Did he know that she was your girlfriend? Your brother loves you a lot Aaron. I’ve seen him worrying for you. But you can’t see anything. You are blind. You are punishing him for the mistake of Rose. And who is Rose anyway? What is she? Just a cheat who played with your heart. You can’t analyze all relationships on the basis on that one fake relation. No. Never. Then please forgive them for me. I would be happy to know that at least I could do something good before going.”
“You always do everything good. It’s me who could not.”
“ Then forgive them.”
He looked down for some seconds in distress and finally his eyes bored into mine. I knew then that the decision has been made. “I will Alicia. I will.”
I smiled at him. Finally, I succeeded. I fulfilled my promise.
When Billy and Caroline came back, I served them the lunch that Aaron made. It was delicious and I teased him that when we leave, I was going to make him cook.
He grinned and told me that he cooks better than I do and he had absolutely no problem with it.
Later on, we announced to them that we were going to get married in two weeks.
Billy sat in his chair and looked at both of us, wary. “Didn’t you marry?”
Aaron looked at me and I said. “Yes, we did but it was a court marriage and we want to have a church wedding now which will be in two weeks.”
Billy and Caroline beamed at us and hugged both of us.
“I am so happy for you both,” Caroline said.
“Thank you mom,” Aaron said, stunning me with the way he called Caroline. I simply smiled at him and knew that today everything was going to be fine.
We were holding hands as usual when we returned to Aaron’s Mansion in the afternoon. He looked at all his family members who were in the hall and took a deep breath. I pressed his hand gently and he looked at me, definitely hesitating.
“You can do it Aaron.”
He nodded at me, his eyebrows pulling together and we entered the hall. Everyone’s eyes flickered to us and Esme smiled at me widely. But before she could say anything, Aaron sucked in a deep breath again and spoke softly. “Hi mom.”
Esme stopped right there and looked at him shocked. The others rose up from their respective seats and watched him with intense surprise.
Aaron looked at everyone and then approached Esme. The latter was still in complete shock.
He released my hand and took hers. “Will you please forgive me mom for everything?” he said, looking down.
Esme eyes welled in tears and I smiled at the immense happiness that was on her face. The others approached them who were very happy except Rose who looked confused. Not a surprise apparently.
“Aaron, my son,” she said.
They both hugged each other and Carl touched the shoulder of Aaron. He hugged him too and I knew that a burden has been removed from the heart of Aaron.
I breathed and Jack still hesitated but Aaron also hugged him and I knew that everything was perfect now.
I simply went to my bedroom, letting them enjoy this moment alone. I stared at the portrait of Aaron and smiled at him. Finally, he did everything that was right.
More than one hour had been elapsed and finally I heard him entering the bedroom. I did not turn but continued to look at his portrait on the wall. He hugged me from behind and kissed my neck.
“Thank you so much love,” he murmured in my ears in an emotional voice and I smiled.
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