RUBY Epilogue

 

*This is short addendum to my 2018 novel RUBY. You can purchase that by clicking here.)

 

New Year’s Eve-2005

 

It’s right that I watch her sleep. Back from the Honeymoon, I had done that alot. My head was clear. It was finally clear. I sat in the Master bedroom that we had done to her liking. I refused to bring my girl home to a house that Katherine’s claws had been all in. I remembered what my mother said about her once before she died. “Katherine wants everything so damn perfect. She doesn’t know how to make a life without sucking it out of other people.”

I sat in the mahogany recliner Michelle got for me for Christmas. I sat there, watching her sleep. I watched the sheet on her rise and fall with her breath. All those years out of my arms and she still was utterly damn beautiful. I sat there in my Washington University shirt and boxers, smoothing my face in my hands. I thought about the New Years Eve Party we had hours before.

I thought about how good she smelled, how sweet her mouth was. I thought how I could have ever thought living without her was an option. I saw her counting down the end of 2004 with Babs–as if no time had passed. I saw the balloons and streamers from Maeghan, Brian and Carolyn. I went to the kitchen, now warmer with her presence. She wrapped her arms around my back, squeezing me. “Happy New Year, babe.”

I moved her hands from around me, and looked at her. Radiant, slightly drunk, red hair shimmering almost. That same smile from our wedding day on her pretty mouth. I gave in and kissed her. Then kissed her again, cupping her face. I opened my eyes, relieved once more that I hadn’t dreamed her. She giggled. “Why they call you Keys?” I chuckled, kissed the top of her head. “Because I get in an out of anywhere I want. Just like a set of keys.” We laughed, and kissed again. Forgetting the company we had in the house. Ethylene always had the ability to make the world stop and start. A raucous chorus of ‘happy new years’ from the living room, before I heard cameras clicking.  “Happy New Year!” Babs came in with her new blonde hair and new left knee, as she took our picture. I kissed Ethylene again, and saw the flash of light with my eyes closed.

Katherine could never be what she is to me.

I had one more year with her. I prayed the night before to give me thirty years with her to at least match the amount of years I had without her. My father told me that my mother was the only woman for him. I sat there and thought how I could ever have fallen for Katherine. I thought about how sweet she was and could be. I thought about the Washington University mixer I met her at through a friend of a friend of Babs. I thought about how I tried to forget Ethylene, my girl. Always my girl. I remember my first time with Katherine, I whispered Ruby’s name. I was grateful to God that the lights were off. It was bad enough I was with this strict Catholic girl, the last thing I needed was for her to know I wasn’t even thinking of her.

I shook my head free of those thoughts. I went over to the King sized bed that Babs had gotten for us, that Brian and Maurice had put together while we were in Hawaii. While I was showing her the ocean, they were redoing the house for us. I laid next to her, touching her chin, her eyelids and her left ear. I kissed her shoulders, feeling her warmth, needing it. The fire, she called it. This connection sustained by whatever magic God gave us, this second chance to be hers. For her to be mine. I wanted more of her, I had to have more of her.

I pulled the white sheets back, finding her as God made her all caramel and perfect. I let kisses trace from the right side of her neck that always made her whisper my name, to roll her on her back. “Babe.” I whispered, almost a growl. Her eyes opened, blinking fast as if she couldn’t see me at first. “Hey babe.” she grinned and wrapped her arms around me, and I felt her thighs shift to open under me. “Happy New Year, Mrs. Lewis.” She kissed me, her tongue finding mine. “Happy New Year, Mr. Lewis.” I smirked, feeling her hands pull at my shirt. With some quick shifting, I was just as she was. “Let me stay where life is, Ruby. Let me come home.”

I pushed into her, sweeter than ever before. My hands were everywhere, drinking all of her skin and body and the beauty of all of it. I had my girl back, I had her all to myself. How could I have thought I would or could forget her? Life was here with her, and all that we had together.

She was home.

Snippet-The Gypsy Hand

It was her first night singing. The Gypsy Hand was one of the most popular clubs in Gaslight Square. She smoothed the blue dress, the prettiest thing she had ever worn. She looked in the foggy mirror, stomach fluttering. She had no idea how to she could get from this room to the stage downstairs. Yet, she knew she would.

In some of the movies that she and her friend Deborah sneaked into, there was someone to come and get the star. In the clubs down the street, there were people that came and reminded someone where they were. How much time was left. She took a deep breath, thinking. Thinking of everything that could be, would be ahead of her. She opened her eyes, looking at the papers next to her. Doc had run in her room, and dropped of the crumpled papers as he dashed away. She heard a thunderclap, and smiled.
The music swelled downstairs, filling the room she rented with piano sounds. She thought about her grandmother, and the rhyme she spoke of when she was scared in the time of bad storms. “Sugarbaby,” she would say, leaning close to her ear. “You just sing this song, just like this here:

Miss Mary Mack,
All dressed in black.
With silver buttons
All down her back.

She clapped the correct rhythm for her to follow, wrapping her hands in hers. The callouses on her hands, rubbing the smoothness on the backs of her hands. She remembered the stories her grandmother told about farming, cotton picking and being the daughter of ones not born free. “Whenever I got real good and scared at that ol’ rain and thunder,” she’d tell her. “My grandmama, yo great- great Nana, Oleander, told me this lil ole rhyme.” She had smile, opening her eyes again. The little girl gone, the woman with the new hair and borrowed dress looking back at her from the foggy mirror.
She looked down at her hands, heard the thunder again. She closed her eyes , willing her hands from their resting place on the bed. The bed was hard and too small, but it was all Levi had. The room was all he could spare, and it was a way not to be home with Aunt Linda. She began to clap, “Miss Mary Mack, All dressed in black,” She continued the rhyme, willing the tears and ache for family away.

There was a knock at the door, quick and loud. “Miss Ethylene!” It was Doc, remembering his manners of not going through her door when it was closed. “Here me!” she answered. “Miss Carolyn sent me upstairs to go and get you so you can come downstairs!” He sounded out of breath. It was time. Carolyn, whom she only met last week, with the song he just gave her, was waiting downstairs. Everything was downstairs. “Tell her,” she exhaled. “tell her here I come.”
Doc’s footsteps mimicked the thunder outside. She stood, smoothed the dress borrowed from Levi’s wife, Naomi. It was a relic of her former life in New Orleans as a debutant. At least, that’s what she told her when she dropped the gorgeous gown off the day before. She turned in the mirror, examining the lines and the babydoll pumps next to her moisturized feet. They were unwilling to go into those hard shoes, or she was unwilling to give away that last bastion of self—the little girl who ran bare foot in delta clay and dust.

She reached down, picking up the shoes, icy blue like the dress. She grinned, remembering Ms. Naomi had said she had those ordered through the Sears clasping the doorknob which looked like a big diamond, she bit her bottom lip. She looked over her shoulder, her red hair shimmering in the dim light. “Okay, Ruby. Getcha ass downstairs.”

[The Gypsy Hand is a fictional bar set in St. Louis, Missouri during the heyday of The Gaslight District. The Gypsy Hand is also to a pivotal setting in my novel, RUBY. The Gypsy Hand will be a prequel to this novel. It will be released March 2019. If you want to know more about Ethylene and The Gypsy Hand, get a copy of RUBY by clicking here.]