This is the last part of my only romance in short form. It’s a bit longer than the other chapters but I didn’t want to break it up. I’ll have a note or two after the story but enjoy this now.
The Last Chapter
“This going to be awkward.” Ethan mumbled to himself as he entered the restaurant in the Dulles Airport.
“Sir?” the hostess looked at Ethan and he just waved her off as to say never mind.
“I’m here to meet someone and I’m a bit late. She hates it when I’m late.” and the hostess still stares at him with that ‘I-don’t-care’ look. Ethan reaches into his jacket for his glasses to see if can find…
K.C. is just twirling her straw around in what is now her 2nd diet cola thinking to herself, ‘Maybe he won’t come.’ and as if on cue she sees Ethan in the entrance and waves to him. He smiles and walks over and K.C. smiles back and between gritted teeth she says “This will be so awkward.”
After the initial greeting of hugs and cheek pecks they settle in and try to arduous task of “catching up”. K.C. starts with ‘you look good’ and Ethan returns the compliment but she would look good in a burlap sack, but today she was looking very put together with white pant’s and a scarlet cloak. Time does change people because when they met years ago he would have imagined her in this.
“Ethan, how long has it been? You know since I saw you?”
“Aaaahhh…I’m not sure.” he reaches for his water to try to cover his face and hide his lie. He read whole books on how to read the human face so he knows that the slightest twinge or eyebrow raise can and will give him away.
K.C. looked at him hard and fixed her mouth to call him out on it, thankfully the waiter came by to take their order. Before he left them alone he said to Ethan “I loved your book, sir. My boyfriend and I met at the bookstore and we’re in line and noticed we both had your book in hand and started to chat. We both say we fell in love because of you.”
“Thanks. It means a lot that you like my stuff.”
“Really? You guys met in a bookstore?” K.C. with that devilish grin that would probably get Ethan in trouble. “I bet you that you didn’t know that’s him and I met. He wasn’t even cool about. Kinda stalker-ish.” Then the waiter was regaled with Ethan’s lame attempt to impress the most beautiful woman he has seen. All he could do is watch the the waiter laugh at K.C. animated facial expressions. Take a sip, grin, fake laugh and repeat.
“But he did get my attention,” and her face turned serious, “and he stood by me through thick and thin. The best friend I ever had.” She reached across the table and looked Ethan in the eyed and smiled.
“That is the sweetest thing I heard all week. Wait until I tell Brad about this. Let me go put your order in right now.” and off went the server and his patrons were still holding hands.
“It was my wedding.”
“That was the last time I saw you.”
Picking up his drink and bringing it to lips before his glass is empty except for ice cubes. “Where is that damn waiter?” Looking around and then back to her “I guess it was the last time. What’s it been? 3 or 4 years?”
“Two.” K.C. knew she shouldn’t have brought it up but it’s too late to do anything about it now. “and a half.”
“Sorry, I’ve been busy, you know with book tours and my new one is coming out next month. Oh, I’ve got a copy for you right here in my bag. So are you still doing the fashion thing? Or are you a kept woman? What’s his name… Eric right? The real estate mogul. Where are you guys living now? The French Rivera or is it Belize this month.” He could not have said that without sounding spiteful.
“London if you really want to know, Ethan! To answer some of those other questions, I’m off to France because I have a fashion show to go see, because I’m a Goddamn buyer for one of the biggest stores in the world! I work and my money is mine and I will not feel badly for living well. Enrique is his name and you know that!” She slammed the table a few times and the utensils fell to the floor. The surrounding tables and staff looked over.
“Your food will be right out” the waiter said cautiously as he picked up the forks and replaced them with new ones. “I’ll be right back with a new drink, sir.”
Too ashamed to look at anyone, Ethan nodded his head. They sat in silence until the entrees arrived and even about until half way through. Ethan attempted a lame joke on how much food that K.C. had. She mumbled something.
“I said, I’m pregnant, dummy.”
Ethan was shocked. So shocked that K.C. reached across the table to close his mouth and she laughed. She stood up and walked over to the other side of the table and moved her cloak to the side to reveal a bump. Ethan could only touch her belly in awe, then he looked up at her and she mouthed ‘5 months’. He stood and embraced her for the first time in years. Best friends forever they would say when they were younger but at that moment it was quite obvious.
To anyone watching it must have seemed odd to watch because just 15 minutes ago they were making quite a different scene. They sat back down just smiling at each other. Ethan picked up his fork and leaned back into his chair and just moved his food around, not even thinking about another bite.
“What is it, Ethan? I want you to be happy for me. I NEED you to be happy for me.”
“I am; I just never thought… this.” he made a gesture to her stomach.
“I’m just a guy from the neighborhood…” and then nothing came from his lips.
Putting her fork down and listening and seeing how hard it was for Ethan to continue; K.C. retorted “And I’m just a girl from the same. What’s this about, E?” She knew what and this has been brewing for years. Things that should have been said but wasn’t. The tension was almost too tight like when a violin is strung incorrectly and just SNAPS!
“I cried at your wedding.”
“I know. My family told me, and your mom. I could tell when we danced too, your eyes were red. You should have asked for Visine. I did. We both cried at the wedding.”
Sighing Ethan went on “I know I saw you, we all saw you walking down the aisle with that goofy grin on your face.” That was the old Ethan that K.C. knew and it made her smile.
“No! Well, maybe it was goofy but just a bit. I saw the video and had that edited out and photoshopped my old modeling headshot on top of my body.” They both laughed. “So what if I was 16 and it’s black and white? It was my damn wedding.” Picturing this made Ethan laugh even harder. After they stopped and caught their breath K.C. continued “ I had that look because I was trying not to break out and just bawl endlessly and run away.”
That turned the mood again and silence followed. The waiter cleared the table and asked if they want a desert menu and espresso? One cappuccino and one black and sweet coming right up..
“Why did you leave the way you did?” this was the question he needed to be answered.
“E, I really don’t know. After all this time I still can’t figure it out. I’m sorry. But we had those six great months.”
“It was more like three, K.C.”
Silence and then the drinks came. Ethan poured even more sugar in his coffee without even tasting it. More of a habit, he’s in cruise control at this point. He has so much to say her and pictured this very moment everyday for almost 3 years when she came back from ‘trying to figure out who she was’ her words in the letter she left in his mailbox. No other word from K.C. for five months but her father and mother would drop by to see him and just say that their daughter is fine and says hi.
Then one night she sends a text to meet at the bookstore, and he was early with her favorite tea waiting. She spoke about her world tour and took out a bunch of postcards addressed to Ethan but never sent. She barely took a breath but Ethan was happy to see her again and to hold her hand even though the kiss was a bit uncomfortable but all that mattered was that she was back. He was about to tell her that he had written a novella and it was being published but he never got to that part because mixed in within the postcards was her wedding invitation. K.C. didn’t even flinch or pause. She went on and told him how she met this rich guy, and then to Ethan, the world went all static. He doesn’t remember how he got home till this day.
“Was it because I have that memory issue? Sometimes I act all weird, I know but I haven’t had too many episodes in awhile.”
Shaking her head K.C. reached for his hands but he didn’t give them but she left them out there anyway, hoping he would. “ No, Ethan. You were a perfect gentleman even before we became romantic. You stood by me no matter what I did. I could see the love in your eyes ever since the first night we went to the gym and I pushed you away as long as I could but I loved you too and… and that scared me. I remember walking to the bookstore with you and you pulled me into that jewelry store to ask me which ring do I like? I was scared shitless. ‘Just for fun’ you kept on saying. At that very moment that I knew I was not ready for marriage but you were and I went home and booked my flight for the end of the week.” She was openly crying and then she felt Ethan take her hands.
Ethan wanted to berate her more on how is possible that she could marry this guy she only knew a few weeks before she agreed to marry him but he didn’t want to hurt his friend anymore than she already doing to herself. He asked for the bill and they left. The waiter got a hefty tip and a signed copy of Ethan’s new novel.
“What time is your flight?”
K.C. still sniffing grabs Ethan’s wrist and examines his watch. “Oh, in 5 minutes.”
“Geez, we better get…”
“Don’t worry. It’s private, it will wait for me.” Hearing her words and she thought ‘oh God, that sounded pretentious’.
“Well, la dee fuckin’ da.” Ethan smiled “Not the same girl from the ‘hood are ya?” Trying to sound like one the old men that never left the six blocks of the neighborhood.
“If I didn’t have this volleyball sitting on my bladder right now, I would race you to the gate and show you! But how about I split your lip for you instead?” She slapped Ethan in the back of his head.
They walked the rest of the way promising to never lose touch again and to meet up again soon. At the gate, they hugged and kissed maybe a little too long but nobody was complaining.
As she walked down the tunnel to her plane Ethan yelled, “I love you, Kaori Caleigh Blondin!”
She didn’t even turn around she just kept pace and raised her fist like that actor did in Breakfast Club. Corny but yet that was classic K.C.
Time has passed.
Horns blared and Ethan barely dodged the cab but he was not so lucky with the mini van in the next lane because it swiped him in the shoulder, hard enough to knock him down on the rain soaked street. The last thing he saw before he closed his eyes was a pair of headlights bearing down on him and all he could think was ‘I’m sorry, K.C.’
“Hello? Yeah, I’m awake I just got out of the shower. Now? But she’s…EARLY! No, I’m in DC, I have a thing in an hour. No, no. I’ll be there. Tell her to hold it, if she can.” Hanging up his cell Ethan realized how stupid he just sounded. He threw on a T-shirt and searched for underwear. ‘Oh forget it where are my jeans?’ After calling downstairs for immediate check out and ordering a cab to take him to the station. An express train leaves hourly to New York. ‘I can be there in Penn in three hours and then about another half hour to forty five minutes to Queens.’ Ethan looks at his watch and says “Hold on K.C. I’m on my way”.
Peter Blondin, K.C.’s father ran into his daughter’s room to see his wife packing some of the things that K.C. might need in the hospital. “I, uh got him, sweetie.”
Breathing the way she was taught in Lamaze class K.C. spoke in between inhales “Is…he…going…to…meet…us…at…hospital?” It was obvious the pain was increasing and her temper was getting shorter.
“Right now he’s in DC. He had a thing, I’m not sure what that means, but he’s on his way.” She glared. “He says to hold it in if you can…” The words sort of faded from his mouth as he realized how stupid he just sounded.
K.C. waved him to come over and Peter did and bent over to hear her better. She grabbed him by his left ear and pulled him close to her face. She went into great detail.
“I”m about to expunge a human being from my vagina that is about the size as a watermelon with a cantaloupe for a head and chances are that it might come out sideways and spread-eagle because that is how it feels right now”.
“Let your father go. Men say things that are stupid. They don’t think. Come on, let’s get you to the car.” K.C.’s mother pries loose her daughter’s grip on her husband’s ear. She leans over and gives him a peck and says “C’mon dear, you can drive.”
“Where?!” was the only word that K.C. yelled into the phone.
“I’m coming. I swear!” Ethan said as he tried to pace in the bathroom on the train. It was futile and dangerous at the speed the whole train was traveling. “It’s pouring and that slows the train a little but I’m not that far out of the city and I’ll catch the next train to Queens. It will be faster than a cab. I promise you I’ll be there.”
In her delivery room K.C. lets out a grunt and a nurse wipes the sweat from her brow but that seemed pointless since she was soaked everywhere. “You need to push, sweetie.”
“NO! He’s coming, he promised.” through gritted teeth she spat.
“The baby’s father?”
“Ha!” this made K.C. smile. “I have no idea where that creepy, Spanish piece of a cretin is!” Did that even make sense she thought. “No, my best friend is coming because he said he would.”
Sympathetically the nurse looks into K.C.’s eyes and softly says “You need to push now.”
“Is the baby in danger?”
Looking over to the monitors the nurse shakes her head. K.C. closes her eyes, trying to focus pass the pain and then whispers back to the nurse “Then get the hell away from me. When Ethan gets here my baby and I will be ready.”
‘I’m still alive!?’ Ethan’s outstretched hand was touching the grill of the car that as bearing down him a few seconds ago. The driver got out to see about the man she just hit and braces for the worse, but instead Ethan pops up. “I’m fine. It was all my fault but thanks for not hitting me. You’re an excellent driver. I gotta go. Thanks again.” and he runs off leaving the poor woman in shock and in a downpour. His phone rings. “I’m here, well I’m really just crossing the street now, What? Meet you where?”
“AAAHHHH! It hurts! I can’t stop it!” K.C. was staring at a bunch of mask covered faces and they were looking right back at her but none of those eyes were the ones she wanted to see right now. She needed reassurance that…
“It’s OK. honey, I’m sorry, so sorry but I’m here now.” K.C. thought she was is hearing things until she saw a new body enter the room adjusting the mask and cap and then she saw those eyes. Ethan, her friend and her once lover. The man who will always be in her heart and she knows that she is in his. He leaned in and grabbed her hand and she could tell he was smiling under the mask.
She pushed and as she was she strained to say “You’re late!”
“You’re early.” and they laughed together. “Now push, K.C.
“You did good work, kiddo. Your baby is healthy and beautiful.” Peter said.
“You had a great coach.” added the nurse nodding at Ethan. She was cleaning the delivery room and took pictures of everyone. K.C.’s mom claimed that she is going to upload pictures right away to her FaceSpace account.
“Don’t you want to hold the baby, E? You won’t hurt him.”
Waving his hand and shaking his head no, Ethan takes a seat. “When I got here my adrenaline was pumpin’ into overdrive, but now I think I could really use a doctor. My arm might be dislocated and I think I’m gonna pass out now…” And that he did.
When he awoke he was with K.C. and the baby, special arrangements were made while he was unconscious to have them all in the same room. K.C. and the child were asleep and Ethan just watched them both memorizing everything about this moment. He never wants to forget this. K.C. opened her eyes briefly to look at the baby and then she saw Ethan standing close by, she mouthed ‘hi’ and reached out. When she could feel his hand in hers, she closed her eyelids and went back to sleep. All was well.
I did cry at a wedding of a dear friend once, she was beautiful and I drew on that experience to write this. If I remember correctly I made K.C. multi-racial. Mother was a Japanese-American and her father was Swede/Nigarian mix. Imagine what she must have looked like, so pretty to me anyway. That is why her name was was all over the place geographically. I also had plans for another ending for this where that they went back to Forrest Hills and bought their own mom & pop bookstore and still wrote and worked in fashion on a part time basis because they were raising a boy, but I will leave the ending as is and the readers can imagine what happens next. Now I have no idea what to write next.