It's been too long. I've gotten so many e-mails and so many reviews in the last year. First off; thank you for the great reviews. Secondly, I truly apologize for the delay. This year has been chaotic to say the least. Writing clears my head, so hear goes. This is the final Chapter of Without You. Hopefully I will be able to start another story this summer since I am so in love with this movie and story line! So again sorry for the delay and have fun reading! My greatest wish is that you enjoy!
I drove around aimlessly for a few months stopping here and there. The places I laid my head were no where near good condition. But all I really needed was to sleep a couple of hours and then I was off again. By the end of the third month I found myself still lulling around Tempe, Arizona; so, I stayed. It was open and I could breathe. I bought myself a condo overlooking these breathtaking mountains and what looked like a bunch of desert. To some it may have looked horrible, but in this beautiful place, I was at peace. On the road I called in once a week, at first and only talked to Leon or Jesse. The Miami crew had left a week after I did, and I called Brian so that he knew I was okay. Once I got settled though and gave them a number to reach me if something was totally wrong, I disconnected myself. I turned on the cell once a week to check for messages from them, but that was it. If I kept talking to them, someone would try and coerce me into telling them where I am. As much as they knew I needed this I wouldn't put it past them. Leon knew what I was doing and why. He was the only one who had immediate access to me, and who knew exactly where I was. If anything happened to me he was my ICE, In Case of Emergency number, and all my stuff had his and Christina's name on it. So I was truly never alone.
That first month in Arizona I walked around and kept to myself, but I guess I'm a magnet for neediness. I found a puppy on my way home one day, a little beagle. He had one blue eye and one brown; very weird and endearing at the same time though. I named him Barstow, it just fit, plus he answered.
I found a job at a small local bookstore and tried to keep to myself. It didn't work because one of the college guys working there kept trying to take me out. Finally the old Letty came out and told him where to go. Needless to say he stopped talking to me and it's greatly appreciated.
Anyway I'm rambling. Let's get to the point shall we?
For two years I was gone; living a completely different life. I designed baby clothes! Go figure. I was just shopping for a few lounge clothes one day and my sketch book fell out of my bag. I just so happens that a clothes designer by the name of Miles Eldridge was standing next to me when it happened. Me not knowing who the hell he was and then when I finally figured it out almost went ballistic on him for not giving me back my sketch book. The saleslady wanted to kick me out for harassing her celebrity client; I gladly left and he followed me out. He was on vacation for a while and liked the atmosphere of Arizona. We sat at a café and he looked at my sketches, all of them; my car designs, clothes, furniture, the works. When I need to relax, I draw. He loved it all and gave me a business proposition right there that afternoon. I had only been living there about two months. I immediately declined him. He was a cool guy and I thanked him for the offer. But drawing relaxed me, that typed of job required more stress, and I had money didn't need anymore. He countered saying I could design when I felt like it and having too much money was never anyone's concern. That made me laugh; he reminded me of Leon a little.
For the remainder of his stay he stayed in contact and I let him look at the rest of my sketch books, something I only let Suki and Jesse do. For some reason I like the praise he bestowed on me and he wasn't trying to hit on me so we just hung out. He was a very private person and so was I, so whenever we both asked about each other's personal life, each of us clammed up. After a while we figured it out and just stopped asking. He had a look of pain in his eyes and anger so I left it alone. It also didn't ease my thoughts about his past or present by the appearance of his discreet body guards. It seemed he had a past that still troubled him and I didn't want to add anymore pain to myself. Unfortunately, he wouldn't allow it. As long as he was safe so was I. We got along well and after a month or so he had to go back to the real world. There was no chemistry or romance, just platonic friendship, something we both needed. He called once a week for a month til' I caved. He came back and stayed for two weeks and we worked out whatever has to be done for stuff like this. I let him do the business stuff; I just wanted to design baby clothes that's it. When he asked me, I gave him one of our looks. He gave me a sad smile and a peck on the cheek and kept working. And there it had started.
I had officially become a registered company and renowned clothing designer and quit the bookstore. It wasn't as complicated as you might seem. I didn't like changes or add on's. I wanted it made the way I designed it, end of story. If you had a problem with it, tough shit. Miles let me do what ever, even though he backed it, I had full reign. He came here from L.A. twice a month and stayed at my condo with me, his body guards, James and David, were in a rented condo above us; again nothing happened between us.
My heart was still with Brian. I had a separate book where I just sketched him; lying down, at the beach, sleep, eating, or gazing out. I just had pictures of him in my head, my favorite memories of him.
The hardest part was when the twin's birthday came around. I was designing a beach dress for a little girl, and visions of Michaela and how she would look just popped into my head, and then right next to her, I saw Amy and Dom's daughter. I saw her eyes and I lost it. I was sitting at the kitchen counter and Miles was sleep on the balcony, fresh air he says. I dropped my pad and tears just streamed down my face. He was up in a flash and cradled me in his arms. He didn't need an explanation. There were things that hurt us both deeply that we had yet to open up about to each other. That night I didn't sleep. That night I pictured what both my children would look like and what they would be doing; walking running, talking a little. Those big beautiful Toretto eyes, my angels. The next day I had a full line of girls and boys clothes finished. They were outfits I envisioned for my kids. I had also created two signature pieces, entitled MAT and AMT; Michaela Antoinette Toretto and Anthony Michael Toretto. He never asked me what it meant just that they were special to me; I knew he would do whatever I asked, all I asked: "Make it special, that's all I want Miles. Just make it special."
When he left that weekend I flew out the next day to L.A. I rented a car and drove straight to the cemetery. When I got there I just sat at the site, speechless. There on their graves sat two single white roses, one for each. The graves were cleaned and instead of having two different headstones I had placed, there was one single one for both grave sites. Their names were in script across the top with two twin angels underneath them. Under the angels "Our Beautiful Angels" is inscribed. At the bottom of the headstone was a scripture.
"And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passes away." Revelation 23:4
Then and there I finally let them go. They weren't suffering anymore and it was God's will that I had the time with them that I had. It was his way of teaching me about life. I understand now; through all of my pain, it was something that he wanted me to learn. I understand now what my mother was always telling me about the Lord and that he had a plan for our lives. I didn't understand until now. I don't know who replaced the stones but I was ever so grateful; with a kiss to their headstone, I walked away. On the flight home that night I kept reciting this bible verse that my mother used to instill in me as a child, repeating over and over, one I hadn't spoken since her death.
"Porque de tal manera amo Dios al mundo, que ha dado a su Hijo unigénito, para que todo aquel que en el cree, no se pierda, mas tenga vida eterna."
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life."
I flew back that night and designed a new line of clothing for toddlers. Miles had called me the next week and told me a celeb saw my clothes in one of the L.A. boutiques and wanted to know if I could design something exclusive for her new baby boy. Before I would have said no immediately, instead I said yes. I sent him my new line plus sketches for her baby and told him I wasn't going to design for a few weeks.
He was more excited than I was and wasn't worried; or at least I thought. The next day James was at my front door with bag from the book store I used to work at and a suitcase. He walked around me, cause I wasn't letting him in without and explanation, set the bag down and put his case in the guest room. Then he came back out and grabbed a beer and leaned on the counter. I adored the big teddy bear but I was ready to clock him. He reminded me a lot of Vince; rough around the edges and but a real sweet heart. David was like Rome, hit first and ask questions later. My stare left nothing to be desired and he opened up. "First off Let, be happy he sent me and not David. Secondly, he'll be here by the end of the week, one of his clients started having a fit today. Thirdly, he said you sounded off on the phone, so I'm here. Don't give me that look, suck it up and I'll take you to that restaurant you like downtown."
He was definitely like Vince in so many ways. I sounded off because I just agreed and didn't put up a fight. That's new to them I guess, but I was fine. I don't need a babysitter! Barstow was full size now and loved when the guys visited, they were very good friends with each other. So when he started barking at the door I knew he smelled James. I had sent him to get groomed and they were bringing him back. I was so used to not doing anything for myself anymore, Miles always had somebody doing something for him when he felt lazy, which was half the time. So when he was here I didn't let him order anyone around, we did it ourselves; when he was gone though, I took advantage of his system, which is why James is giving me a look now. "Don't say a word James."
Miles showed up that weekend as planned and I promptly chewed him out for sending James to rescue me. He had never had my wrath directed toward him so I didn't give him the hell I wanted to. It was his first time, so I had to take it easy. But he had that Leon charm and worked his way around it promising not to do it again and we went looking at cars, I wanted a new one. My poor car, I still loved it, but it had so many miles on it I thought it would fall apart; I still took excellent care of it don't get me wrong. But I wandered around for three months and she's not the beast she used to be. I'm keeping her, but it's time to retire her until I get home and get the genius to work his magic. What do I want……a Red Mazda RX-8. Yep, you heard me correctly.
So my line, A&M, is growing rapidly and my net-worth is expanding to the millions because of Miles and his guys. I paid him back in full the money he used to start the business and the money I had from the heist I donated to St. Judes Hospital in my children's names.
I was getting better by the day, the kids were on my mind constantly but in a different way; a way that I knew I wasn't still mourning them. I was just thinking about them; knowing that they were in heaving hanging out with the Car God. I thought about the team, but I knew they were good. I still check the messages every week, and each time Jesse has something hysterical to tell me. Brian is still in the back of my mind and his image keeps popping up in my head. I've got sketch books full of him now at least ten. Barstow almost ate one and I went ballistic on the poor dog, then I took him for a walk and let him do whatever the hell he wanted. Now I keep them on a shelf in my closet.
That's what I did for two years try something new with my life. First it was to just get away, be someone else, but then it grew on me and I loved it. The hard part and the easy part was realizing that I wasn't alone. There was a family waiting on me back home that loved me and would die for me as I would them.
So I stopped running away and decided to face my fears. First I had to talk to Miles. It was time I told him everything from top to bottom. He flew in from L.A. one afternoon and we went on a walk. "I've got a past. It's full of pain and sorrow and I tried to deal with it the best way I could but it didn't work. So I ran; I ran away from the reminders of it and my family. I'm telling you this because it's been two years and its time I went home, my real home." He stopped walking and looked at me, really looked at me. We sat down and let Barstow run around and I proceeded to tell him everything. By the time I was finished the sun was starting to set and my poor, exhausted dog was half asleep. He said nothing just enveloped me in a hug and we began walking back home.
When we got there I showered and changed for bed. He was sitting on the balcony just staring off in space and I could tell he was at war with himself. Sitting down next to him, I lay my head on his shoulder. "I'm not asking for you to tell me yours M. I just wanted to let you know who I really am, not the person you've met here. I treasure our friendship and I wanted you to know everything about me. I needed a fresh start and you gave it to me. You'll never know how much you helped these past two years; there is no way to repay you." He kissed my forehead. "All I need is your friendship, that's all I ask.
When are you going back to L.A.?" I shrug my shoulders. "Hopefully I can leave within the month. I'm keeping this place, but I'll probably ship both cars back to the city." He nodded, "What about Brian Let, when are you going to see him?"
I held my breath for a second. "I don't know, I'm scared and it's been two years. I'm no better than Dom right now, and that's what hurts. I only kept in touch with Leon this whole time just so he knew I was fine, and they could reach me if something was wrong, but I couldn't bring myself to talk to him. I miss him so much, but I'm scared." He kissed my forehead again and got up. "Everything will work itself out Let, don't worry. Nobody would leave you if they had the chance. Think about it, even Dom came back in the end. No one can just leave you, you're a drug." I laughed; it sounded so corny and so right at the same time.
So I packed up what I needed to go home with and hired a service to come dust my place once a month. All I really needed were my sketch pads and the essentials and I was off. When I got to L.A. I stayed with Miles for a week til' my cars got there and then I knew it was time to go home. Leaving the RX with him along with hugs and kisses until I see him next time which was a few weeks and then I went into his office, he just had to give me one of my own so I could design when I felt like it in peace. I drove off with David and James telling me to call if it got ugly.
Driving up to the fort was scary to say the least. I didn't tell Leon that I was coming back. My phone was back on but it hadn't rang so I was relieved. I pulled up outside of the fort and sat for a minute. It was a Sunday so they should be home in the backyard about to barbecue. I had to calm down I was about to hyperventilate. We were family, they were family, so I got to suck it up and walk my ass back there. So I did; I got to the edge of the house and heard the guys playing basketball. Chris was beating V as usual and he was whining, as usual. I leaned against the house taking it all in. They looked the same as always Jesse kept moving his beanie around. I hadn't gone back to the cemetery after the last time. He left me a message telling me that they didn't know who changed the headstone but if I was okay it was cool. He got their first initials tattooed on his wrist. I could see it from here, I liked it. Leon and Mia came out of the house with plates of food. Leon telling Jesse to make himself useful, and Mia telling V to quit whining and get the chicken. Everything was the same, well there was no Dom. He left about a week after I did. He had finally broken Mia's heart. Leon said she wouldn't stop crying and Vince didn't know what do. He's with Amy and his daughter now, her name is Anna; Anna Toretto.
I was startled out of my revere by Jesse saying grace. "Uhh…..Dear Car God, thanks for the food, good cars, beautiful women, the twins…….. and keep Let out of trouble please. Amen." Tears sprang to my eyes, he was never one for finesse, but he could get the job right. Blinking away the excess wetness, I composes myself. I stepped away from the house and into the light. Rounding the corner I clear my throat. "What makes you think I would get into any trouble Jess?"
The only thing my brain registered is Mia's squeal as she ran to me and enveloped me in the tightest hug possible. "I missed you too Mia." Her tears wet my shirt but I didn't care, I had missed my sister greatly. "I'm so sorry about everything Letty."
Nothing mattered anymore, now that I was home. "Don't you apologize for anything this is the first time I have heard your voice in two years girl, all because I'm stubborn and bull headed. Just hug me girl, I missed you." I looked over her shoulder and saw Christina and Leon just standing there together wrapped up in each other, smiling. Jesse was hopping up and down waiting his turn. Mia released me and Vince wrapped me in big bear hug and a kiss on the cheek. "Don't ever leave again chica." I nodded, "Never again V, never again."
When he let me go I looked at Jesse and he barreled toward me. We almost fell over, but I endured it. "I missed you so much little brother. But I got every message. I even got you a project to work on. We can start whenever you want, I'm all yours."
I had missed them so much; it hurt now to look at them, knowing that even thought they had moved on, they had also waited for me. During dinner and for hours after that we just sat and talked catching up on everything I had missed since I had been gone. I told them about what I had been doing, about Miles and the company. Mia was super excited because she always went to look at baby clothes, for some strange reason, that's Mia, and she loved the line. I left Barstow at Miles until I talked with them. Jesse couldn't wait to see him; Perrot needed a friend he said. He also told me he met a chick but wanted me to meet her soon so he could bring her home. He had waited til I came back to bring her to the fort, now that touched my heart.
We talked til I was exhausted and Jesse had fallen asleep with his head on my lap. Mia and Vince went to bed after I promised her I would take her to the office tomorrow and meet Miles. Le and Chris stayed a little while longer. She was just happy I was home, she spoke few words but it was always her nature and that's what I loved about her. Le on the other hand had something on his mind and was waiting to share it with me. "Did you do what you needed to do?" I nodded.
"I learned about myself and I let them go Le. I can think about them now without tears. I can see Anna in my mind and imagine my kids playing with her and not feel pain in my heart. They were put here for a reason; they were my gift even if for a little while. I'll cherish that always. Dom is not a factor he just helped to grow stronger, tougher. Not talking to you guys it hurt everyday, but I knew hearing your voice would make me want to come home. By the time I had done what I had come to do I was so relaxed and felt so safe it became my safety net. I stayed another six months, but I knew it was time."
That was all Chris needed to hear; she came and gave me a hug. "I'm glad you're okay Let. I'm glad you found yourself, but you're still missing that one thing. Go get him girl. Bring me that smile that lights up your whole face that shines and reaches your eyes." I give her a teary smile and hug and she kisses Le before going to bed.
"Marry her Le." He laughs and sits with me, placing me in his lap like he used to when it was just us way back when. He laughs a shaky laugh. "Not until you're back for good, besides she won't if you're not here. She already told me not to ask until you're here." I turn to face him and my breath is caught in my throat. He's taken all the load since that day three and a half years ago and I can finally see how it's stressing him.
"I'm tired Let. I want to marry her and have babies and just be like it used to be, working in the garage and coming back to the fort. No more tears, no fights, no stress." With tears in my eyes I hug my brother because I know it hasn't been easy. I finally feel him break down and it hurts deep to my soul that it's all been on him. Nobody has asked how he was doing, or if he was okay. I never once in all of my selfishness took the time to see if he needed me. We sat there for what seemed like hours, finally he got up and we turned out the lights in the house and locked up. Standing at the foot of the stairs he grabbed my hand. "Welcome home Letty girl."
In the morning it seemed like everything went back to normal and life started over like I had never left. Once a month for a week I worked at the office with Miles and designing things. Mostly I stayed in the garage and Jesse helped my fix my baby back up. His surprise was the RX. I gave him the power to do whatever he wanted. To say he was excited is an understatement. I placed the key to the nursery in the lock and left it. Whenever I wanted to or one of the guys wanted to go in we could. It doesn't hurt anymore. Mia was taken with Miles and he fit in with the guys well. My first weekend back somebody saw my car and an impromptu party was thrown in my honor. Things will never change. The third month I was back Le proposed and she said yes. I was happy and sad at the same time; then I knew, I needed Brian. Christina knew too. She drug me outside after they told the team and we sat on the table reminiscing for a bit, before she laid it out for me.
"He's still in Miami with the team. He tries to keep in touch. Stop moping and go get your man, cause I can't wait another two years to marry mine. Hear me?" I laughed and gave her a hug before running in the house to find everyone in the den. "I gotta go out of town for a while, not long, but I have to do something. I'm coming back, just so you know." They all smile like they know where I'm going and I run upstairs to grab the essentials. Within the hour I have a flight to Miami and was being dropped off at the airport by Leon. "Don't come back without him."
For some reason people in Miami didn't rent out regular cars and I managed to snag a Porsche. Rolling up to Tej's was like entering a carnival or circus. He had so many things going on at once and the chaos was inviting. I walked around girls clad in nothing but bikinis and guys in nothing but swim trunks. There was a break in the crowd and I see Suki sketching something sitting in Tej's lap and he's yelling at somebody all the while his arm wrapped around her. Its nice seeing them still together. Next to them was the object of my affection. His body still beautiful, toned and tan. His hair cut shorter but still sexy, but it was his eyes that always left me breathless. That beautiful blue never one shade but gorgeous all the same. He had girls calling out to him and surrounding him, while he was leaning on a chair next to Tej that sat a hungry Rome devouring food as usual, but he just gave that charming smile and ignored them. I devoured him with my eyes taking in everything that had changed over the past two years. I tried to blend in as much as possible with a bikini, board shorts, and some flip flops and maneuvered through the crowd until I was in front of him and just a little out of site.
It was Rome who noticed me first, he dropped his pizza slice. This brought everyone's attention to me, especially Brian who was next to him. Our gazes met and for the first time since I left L.A. that night I breathed a deep breath.
Nothing could stop me as I made my way to him and practically jumped in his arms knowing he would catch me. He still smelled like the ocean and I was glad. He held me tight and I didn't want him to let me go. He put me down and kissed me like he had that night; it brought tears to my eyes. "Please don't leave me again." He smiled those blues looking into my browns. "Never."
I was finally complete. My heart was full of love and I had my family back. We had our ups and downs but we worked together and helped each other past our struggles to start fresh and new. We learned to cope, live, and love………..Without Him.