A.N. I know it's been a year, but I thought it was finally time for an update. Hopefully, i've still got the feel of the story. Nevertheless, the story itself is still in my head, and yes, it does have an ending. In fact, we only have about three or four more chapters left.
A few notes...A) An old friend drops by, B) I just cannot stop thinking of the song Passenger Seat by Stephen Speaks, so for those of you the song, forgive the reference..and C) Things are just beginning to heat up people, so if you're still reading this, buckle your seatbelts and hang on for the ride. Major twists coming on, starting about...now.
Letty navigated through the thick crowd of people, looking for a familiar face. Her carry-on was digging on her shoulder, having been loaded with "a few" items that Mia had deemed important when she packed.
She couldn't believe that just an hour ago, she'd stood in another airport miles away, saying goodbye to the only family she ever knew. The look on their faces, Dom's especially, was one of trepidation. Her wariness to see her mother didn't take away his fear of her never coming back.
Each one had insisted that they stay until she boarded the plane, but she assured them that she'd be back in a week.
It was already a miracle that she'd agreed to stay a week, much less agree to stay at all.
She'd been hell to be around with; ignoring the letter, pretending that she didn't give a shit about her mom. It was for her—until the arrival of the letter—finished business. Considering what the hell her mother had done to her, she could have been dead for all she cared.
…But the problem was that she did. She did care, more than she wanted to admit. And no amount of bitching or hiding could change that. She hung onto the hatred as hard as she could, opening old wounds and reliving memories that she wished she could have forgotten.
But they were always there, waiting to come out. And it took one desperate phone call from a friend to get her out of her destructive funk, reminding her that there were people out there worrying for her, even when she seemed too preoccupied to even think about them.
So now here she was, about to close another chapter in her life…Hopefully.
Spotting a free table, she gratefully sank down and relieved her load. Damn if that Mia could pack.
After ordering for a cup of coffee, she watched the busy airport crowd mill out of the cramped terminal coffee shop.
She could still see their somber faces as they saw her off in front of the entrance. Leon biting hard into his toothpick, trying not to be emotional as Vince rattled off stuff he wanted her to buy simply because he couldn't shut up.
Brian shaking her hand goodluck, his hard grip exacting a promise that she wouldn't do anything even remotely stupid.
Dom had come up next.
Everyone, except for Mia, had walked back to their cars. It made for a shitty moment, but without Mia, she might never be able to go on that plane. If there was anyone else who knew just how important it was for her to go, it was her, and she'd dutifully stood on the side as Dom came up to say his goodbye.
She didn't know what to do at first, but Dom wasted no time in gathering her in his arms and giving her a bone crushing hug.
"Hey, hey" she'd tried to laugh "Another half inch and I won't be able to breath"
He loosened his grip on her somewhat but didn't let go.
"No running away this time, alright?"
Her breathe hitched and she smiled through her tears "I told you I'd be back in a week, maybe even sooner if she turns out to be a bitch"
"No, don't say that" he answered "She…You do what you have to do Let, but at least let her say…what she has to say…okay?"
She nodded, not really knowing what to say. The only conversations that she and Dom had these days usually involved tears or a hecka lotta yelling, though this time there was none of the anger involved.
"She'll love you Letty" Dom assured her "She already does, she's your mom…She'll always love you"
But what if she doesn't? After I tell her everything…what if she doesn't…
Letty tried not to let the doubt show, and instead gave him a brave, if not a bit lopsided, grin.
"I know, I'll try and…sort things out" she said "Though in the meantime, try not to kill any of the boys while I'm gone. And try to take it easy with Brian, remember that he'll be marrying your sister"
Mia let out a snort and got a hold of her elbow, allowing Dom one last squeeze before dragging her out to the departure portal.
"Who knows when you'll be able to leave with him there" she'd grumbled then turned to look her, releasing a deep sigh.
The lines on Mia's face stood out under the harsh white light, and Letty was instantly sorry for putting some of them there. For the past few days, no one had put up with her the most than her oldest friend.
"Well, this is it" she said, trying very hard to paste a smile on her face…
It came out as a grimace.
Mia just laughed. "Promise that you'll call once you get there?"
She rolled. "For the last, frigging time, I--"
She didn't get to finish her sentence as she felt herself enveloped in another hug.
"Forgive me for being paranoid, but the last time we let you out of our sights you didn't come back for six months"
"I'll be back" Letty reassured her "Sooner if you actually let me get on that plane"
The last boarding call for her flight was being announced on the PA, and the two of them reluctantly let go of each other.
With one last look, and one last wave, she'd gotten onto that ramp, all thoughts suddenly focused on the meeting that was about to occur.
She'd thought of nothing else for the last hour, now here it was.
Staring down the porcelain cup, she wondered for a moment if it was possible to see your future in coffee, before realizing that she had a phone call to make.
Whipping out her cell phone, she punched in a series of numbers that she knew by heart, then waiting as he finally answered on the third ring.
"Hey" he said as soon as he came on
She smiled, gaining comfort from their usual greeting "Hey"
"How was your flight?"
"Not nearly long enough…" she truthfully answered "I was actually hoping that it would last for a couple more hours"
There was a pause from the other end, widening the unsettling pit in her stomach, before at last his voice came up again.
"You okay, Letty?"
She let out a deep shuddering breath, burying her head in hand as she tried to keep herself from breaking.
"I'm scared, Jim"
The hot summer sun was blazing high as Dom made his way through the streets, not really going anywhere.
This had been the first year that he was out with dad's street team, and on some days he wondered if his dad had been right. Watching from the sidelines, he thought the work done by the pit crew was exciting and fun, kind of like an afternoon spent souping up his car with the radio on.
Nothing had prepared him for the demands of the job; the time away from home, the late nights and early mornings, the countless practice runs that the pit crew had to do. All of it done under the watchful eyes of his father, who turned into his boss the moment they stepped onto the tarmac.
Still, he wouldn't have it any other way.
He smiled as he drove through the familiar houses, reacquainting himself with his neighbors. It had only been a year, but being away so much made it feel more like five.
He remembered how he and Vince used to ride their bikes here and raise hell on the neighbors. They weren't exactly on most parents favored lists, but they'd mellowed down soon enough. He'd gone to high school with most of their kids, and now…well now most of them were in college.
He sighed, remembering how he and his father had argued about his decision to forego college. He'd sat on the fence for a long time before telling his father about his decision, but deep down he knew what he did was the right thing.
He wouldn't have fit in. For one, Vince was here, his family was here. He didn't want to move to some shitty dorm and deal with strangers. Plus, his grades weren't exactly college material. Unlike Mia, he didn't like studying, and only did what he can to get through the class with the least amount of effort.
He sighed, turning on another familiar corner and coming across something—or someone—that he hadn't seen for a very long time.
Grinning, he slowed down the car and lowered the windows right next to a skulking girl wearing the same plaid skirted uniform that he'd come love, only this time her sweater was tied to her waist and was carrying a shit load of books in her hand and inside her bag.
"Need a lift?"
Letty startled, nearly dropping her books before recovering, scowl immediately sinking back into place.
"Dom" she said
"Letty" he answered comically, opening the passenger door "I would have thought that you'd be hecka lot more grateful to see me, considering that we haven't seen each other in months and you've got, like, a ton of knowledge in your hands"
She rolled her eyes, throwing the books to the back seat, where one nearly poked his eyes out. He'd just avoided getting beaned in the head by her bag when she settled in next to him with a loud slump.
"o-kay" he said "Careful in closing the (loud whump) door"
He pulled back onto the road and sneaked a look at Letty, who was sticking her face in front of the air-conditioner.
"You alright?" he asked, trying hard not to notice how wonderful her sweat made her shirt stick to her chest
"Yeah" she sighed, fluffing her shirt to get in some cool air "Just hot is all. Today was the last day of school, and I had to bring home a couple of books to study over the summer"
"Study?" he smirked "Whatcha doin' hitting the books over the summer chica. You just got done with Junior High, you should be celebrating"
"Graduations not 'til next week" she explained "And these are some High School credit bullshit. I'm sure Mia's told you that I'm going back to that pansy ass school next year"
He snorted. He knew Letty didn't much like school, but having been in private school for so long, he doubted if the kid could even last in public school. The teachers weren't very accommodating, and you fucking needed to pay tuition money if you had to deal with shit like her temper.
"So…am I gonna be there when you get your diploma from this pansy ass school?"
He turned his head for a moment to look at her, and was immediately struck by how much…older she'd become. She was still technically a kid, not quite past thirteen, but the beginnings of womanhood was already there…
"When the hell did she grow up?" he asked himself, shaking his head to clear his thoughts
"Sure, Dom" she answered "I'll send you an invite"
Settling down the passenger seat, she smiled at him through the side mirror.
And somehow, Dom was finding it hard to keep his eyes on the road.
"This isn't like you" Jim's voice
"I just wanna be home" Letty muttered, closing her eyes and massaging the bridge of her nose "I can't do this?"
There was a snort on the other end.
"Since when did you ever back out of anything?
"C'mon Jim, don't do this" she pleaded
"Don't do what?" he cried out from his end "You're the one who called me"
"Now isn't the time…I just need some support-"
"And you're getting it" he cut in firmly, pausing for a moment before continuing "Two years ago, walked out of my life to give me a second chance…a better chance. I didn't realize what it meant then, but now I know it's because I deserved it. You deserved it. Something better, something…more."
She took a deep breath and leaned her head onto the wall, suddenly feeling very tired.
"But is this the same thing?" she asked "This life…it was fucking over for me, Jimmy. It's done and gone."
"Is it? If it was…then why is all this happening." he answered "Letty, everyone deserves a second chance."
"Do they?" she smacked back "Are you sure? Because from what I know some things can never be forgiven."
"Well, that's for God decide and not you Letty girl"
There was another long pause before a slight buzzing sound came from the other end, then the sound of a young girl's voice in the background, before Jimmy's gravelly voice came up again.
"I gotta go get that"
"Okay" she answered, her voice trembling
"You'll be okay, Letty" he reassured her "She just wants to know you, and we can all pretty much vouch that you're great."
She smiled a bit at that. "Alright"
"Call me after, okay? Let me know how it goes?"
She nodded, only to realize that he couldn't hear her. "Sure."
"Good. Take care, Letty girl"
She heard the faint click of the phone even before she could answer.
Taking a moment to gather her thoughts, she put her cellphone back in her bag before getting up to collect her things.
Hauling the large carry-on, she wondered again why she hadn't stopped Mia from packing her bags. After all, she might not even stay for more than a day.
Heck, considering what she was going to tell her mother, she might not even last until the evening.
Jim released a heavy sigh before finally putting down the phone.
He hated being short with her, but she needed the push. Still, he couldn't blame her.
When she'd first told him what happened, she was devastated…and drunk. She didn't make much sense and he thought she was joking. He thought about forgetting about it until later, much later in their relationship, the subject came up again.
And he'd listened to her and talked to her, offering her advice, and whatever support he felt she needed. He was, after all, in a field where regrets were plenty. Where decisions were made on a split second but whose ramifications lasted for the rest of his life.
He'd lived with some of them, and was still living with some of them. He'd managed, he'd survived.
He just didn't think Letty needed to go through that too.
Looking up, he realized that he could no longer hear Eliza's voice yelling for him to come out of the kitchen.
"Eliza?" he called out, only to be met by silence
"Eliza?" he tried again, this time harder. Still no answer.
Panic welled up to his throat as he ran to the front door, one hand palming his gun while he kept calling her name.
"Eliza honey, where are you!"
"I'm right here!" he finally heard.
A wave of relief washed over him as he walked over to the living room, only to find Eliza talking to someone on their front porch.
"I like your car" she was saying "My mommy has an SUV. Jimmy has a small car too, but I like yours better. My favorite color's red, what about you?"
"Eliza" he scolded her before the visitor could answer "What did your mom and I tell you about answering the door?"
Eliza merely rolled her eyes at him. Lately, it seemed that she was doing more and more to assert her independence, which made them nuts.
"Relax, Papi, he's a good guy" she told him "I know"
His eyebrow shot up. "How would you know?"
"My instincts says so" she answered cheekily "Even if he is kinda scary looking."
She turned back to face the door and looked up at the visitor "How'd did you get big anyway"
Jim finally got to where she was standing, opening the door wider so he could take a better look at their guest.
What he saw, or rather who he saw, was rather surprising, but considering the circumstances was not quite unexpected.
"Go to your room, Eliza" he told the young girl
Eliza frowned, looking back up at their guest. "You always make me leave when the exciting things happen…I don't even know your name!"
The tall man chuckled, though in her ears it probably sounded like a roar.
"I'll introduce you later" Jim promised "Now go"
He waited until he heard a door slammed upstairs, followed by a sudden blast of music.
Jim just shook his head, stepping back into the house in order to admit their guest.
"Kids" he told him "Come on in, I hope she didn't bother you that much"
"Nah" the man answered "She's cute. Niece?"
"I'd like to say mine, but it's all still complicated, so I'm just gonna say 'my girlfriends'"
The man just nodded, smiling a bit. His eyes held a nervous fear as he shifted and looked around, and Jim had nothing but sympathy at what he must be feeling.
Best to just start killing that fear.
"So" he started "Can I get you a beer, Dom? Believe it or not, my girlfriend is another Corona girl"