Somehow hanging out with Jax and Opie, standing in-between them both. Stella had never seemed so tiny, so delicate. When in actual fact she was one of the toughest people he knew. Lyla walked over and took Stella's hand before dragging her over to the make shift dance floor. Tig stood at the bar, with a fresh beer in his hand and watched his princess dance in a corner of the clubhouse with a few of the sweetbutts including Ima, who would have thought that could ever happen. There was a smile on her face and she was having a good time. If he knew killing Darby would give her such peace, he would have done it a long time ago. Stella hadn't had a drink since and a few days ago quit smoking. He only had a few more days with her; she was leaving on Monday to go to Russia. It was only for two weeks but he always worried, like once she left, he would never see her again. Stella's cackle broke through the music and flowed through the clubhouse and some of the weight lifted off his shoulders.
"Been a while since we've heard that" Gemma said walking up behind him.
"Didn't realise how much I missed it. She's still in pain, Gem"
"Yeah but you can't have a love, like the one Stella lost and not be in pain. You of all people should know that. She's on her way and that's all that matters"
"I guess you're right"
"Does she know the truth about you and Savannah?" Gemma asked eyeing him suspiciously
"She knows what she needs to know"
"It wouldn't change anything and there's nothing really to tell. What a couple of drunken night when Rooster was away. Which Savannah always felt guilty about and always regretted"
"Not true, she loved you. The timing was just wrong"
"I wouldn't want to ruin Stella's memory of her mother"
Gemma disagreed but knew it was a waste of time and energy auguring with him. Once he had made his mind that was the end of it.
"Is she really going to put down roots here?"
"Stella says so but between you and me, I think two weeks in Russia will turn into two more weeks in Ireland and wherever else she goes. She'll never clip those wings"
Stella must have sensed that they were talking about her because she looked straight at them and playfully frowned, before continuing to dance with the girls.
Later that night she found him outside, on the swing set drinking a beer. She quietly walked up to him before asking.
"You and Gemma done talking shit about me?" she asked playfully
"We never talk shit about you. We discuss, there's a difference Princess. Although we did talk about dating soooo many club members. It's a little worrying" he joked as she sat down beside him and started to swing.
"Yeah, I was thinking maybe Juice could be next. I mean he's cute, right?"
"Please tell me you're joking" Stella couldn't contain her laughter any longer and started to giggle before nodding her head "Jesus, Sweetheart. What are you trying to do, give me a heart attack?"
This only made her laugh even more. Stella knew within her heart, she wouldn't date within the club ever again and maybe no one else, ever. Strangely enough she was okay when that. After she lost her husband, she had tried to move on. First with Liam, a man that loved her with all he had to give and then with Jax. Stella now saw that she couldn't force that type of happy ending because maybe, just maybe, she had already gotten her happily ever after and she loved him with all she had to give and that was more than some people experienced in their lives. No matter what had gone on in her life, she had always been loved and most of all by the man sitting next to her and she loved him just as much.
"Nah babe I think you're only crow for me, you and me against the world right? Despite some people thinking of you as a father figure in my life. Which creeps me out beyond words. It has become very clear to me. I've always been your girl, Tigger. I always have been, always will be. Sorry you didn't get the mother, but you got the daughter"
"I'm not complaining"
"Good because in two weeks, you will be stuck with me, forever. You'll get sick of me"
"You say that now"
"So, what's the plan"
"Girls night with Ellie, tomorrow, Sleep over"
"You think I should?"
"Baby, I always think you should"
She quickly hit him on the arm. She was excited to go to Russia; she was excited to go anywhere. It had been a long time since she wanted to be anywhere but Russia was one of her favorite places and she couldn't wait to get back
She found herself a little hazy on the porch of her old place in New Orleans. The heat was as she remembered. She looked around taking everything in.
"I asked you not to do that" he told her quietly. She could hear it in his voice, he was pissed at her. "You could have died Stella. Again"
Stella turned around and smiled at him
"Long time, no see"
"Doesn't mean I haven't been around"
"How's my daughter?"
"Looking more like you every day and don't change the subject. Everything that happened to me was my own fault, of my own making. I didn't need you to do that"
"I needed to do that, Baby. I needed to do that so I could move on and I'm torn because I want to move on, I want to be happy but I never want to let you go. I don't want to say goodbye. I don't want to forgot you"
"Baby you're thirty and you have a very long life ahead of you. I will not be the only love of your life. You'll find him or rather he is going to find you. Trust me. I'm not you're only but I am you're first"
"Do I know him already?"
"Well that's my Juice theory out the window"
"You're joking, right?"
She looked up at him with a cheeky look in her eyes that told him that she was. He remembered the last time they were standing on that porch together. First time that he had seen her, Stella had taken his breath away. Then again, she always had.
"Is this the last time I'm going to see you or will I have to keep doing things that piss you off, to get a visit"
"You keep pissing me off you'll know about it woman" Stella cackled at him and shook her head "I'll in pop in off time to time. Just like Savannah does for Tig, still."
"Mmm-hmm" Kozik gently took a hold of her hand and softly kissed her palm "It's okay to say goodbye. It's okay to move on, I won't disappear. I'll be here when you need me. I promise"
She softly nodded her head in agreement. He kissed her on the forehead. She knew he was getting ready to say goodbye. She wrapped her arms around his waist and closed her eyes.
"I don't want to go back"
"You're not going back. You're going forward. You're gotta wake up now, Baby. Okay?"
"Okay" she agreed
Her eyes opened slowly and she was back in her bedroom, peaceful in her own bed. She took a deep breath and rubbed her eyes. It was five o'clock in the morning and she really needed some coffee.