John Francis - Chapter 177

Wednesday, October 1, 2008 at 6:43 AM
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It was 5:30 on the day of her wedding and Dot stood, held in the arms of the man she had loved since she was 17. She couldn’t recall how she came to be in his arms, but the feel of him against her was warm and comforting and so familiar.

Breathing in his scent, her mind traveled quickly through the years – the first time he had paid attention to her by asking to cheat off her paper – the first time she had ever made love and that it was with him – his dedication to the music that consumed his life – their breakup during the Slippery and New Jersey years until he had returned to her, asking her parents and then her to be his again – their trip to Vegas where they were married even as his “handlers” told him it would be disastrous for his career – the first time they realized she was pregnant and his utter joy at holding his newborn daughter in his arms – the ascent into superstardom he had experienced and all the joys and hardships that had brought – the births of their other children, Jon’s face always radiant at the sight of a new life.

It seemed as if Dot’s entire life flashed before her as she was held in his familiar arms.

Jon didn’t know how Dot had suddenly appeared in his arms, but his body remembered hers. He smelled her hair and skin and felt the curves that had always made him feel he was home. Every inch of her skin was known to him, from the freckles that graced her back, to the press of her breasts against his chest and their weight – both with and without the enlargement from carrying and nursing one of his children, to the stretch marks she wore almost as a badge of honor at bearing those children.

He remembered the first time he had made love to a seventeen year old virgin who had trusted him enough to let him be the first. He recalled the giddiness he had felt when she agreed to marry him and that he’d had it in his power to whisk her away, feeling an urgency to have one thing not dictated to him by the music machine that had taken over his life.

He remembered the look in her eyes when she had told him she was pregnant the first time and the sheer awe he had felt looking into his daughter’s face, knowing this small being was something he and Dot had created out of the love they felt for each other.

Arching back the tiniest bit, Jon raised Dorothea’s face with the tip of one finger until her eyes met his. For the longest moment they stared deeply at each other and then as if drawn by an unyielding force his lips took possession of hers. Her hands rose to intertwine themselves in the hair they had grasped thousands of times before as he slanted his mouth over hers, pressing his lips deeper against her softness.

They had never shared a kiss like this before. Never once had so much heartache, longing, anguish, and regret been shared between the two. Long remembered passion simmered beneath the surface of the kiss, but never flared to full life. It remained just out of reach, as might the fulfillment of a promise that was never to come.

As if both had heard a whisper in their ear, their lips finally parted and once again their eyes were locked. Jon spoke first.

“I’m so sorry, baby, I should have never let you get away. I should have never let us go.”

“I’m sorry too, Jonny. It wasn’t just you. I let us go too.” Dot’s eyes shimmered as she spoke.

An answering glimmer met hers as Jon shook his head.

“We waited until it was too late, didn’t we?”

He knew what her answer would be.

“Yeah, it’s been too late for a long time…” as tears fell softly she struggled to speak, “…I can’t live that life again, Jon. I’ll always love you, but…” she stopped, not wanting to hurt him.

“But you and I stopped being in love a long time ago and…we can’t go back.” He finished for her, but understood he was also speaking for himself.

Dot’s voice was a whisper. “No, we can’t go back.”

Jon drew a handkerchief from his suit pocket and dabbed at the tears beneath Dot’s closed eyes as he held her chin in his hand. She opened her eyes as he stopped the touch of the cloth and each gave the other a smile. Jon released her chin and they both stepped back, their bodies no longer touching.

Turning to leave the room, Jon stopped at the door and gave her a lingering look. His voice was hoarse as he said his final words.

“Be happy, baby.”

She nodded at him, her heart too full at the moment for her voice to work. Whether it was knowing her choice was now irrevocably made or the fact that this was the last time he would ever call her “baby”, she would never know. She turned away as the door softly closed.
~~~

At 5:45 Jon slipped down the stairs and headed immediately outside the back of the house. He wanted to avoid everyone for a few minutes and when he stepped out the side door and closed it without his name being called, he felt relief at his success.

He had thrown cigarettes into his jacket before leaving the house today, although he had been doing his best to quit. Somehow he had known he would require the crutch they provided and lighting up one, he drew in a deep breath and blew it out. A short cough accompanied his first drag, but the habit was not yet broken and he soon adjusted to the smoke. He was not sorry he had spoken to Dot. It seemed they both needed to confirm the decision to end their marriage and they both realized it was the right thing to do.

It seemed his mind was whirling in so many different directions, emotions coming and going, leaving him unsure of exactly what he was feeling. What he knew and what he felt were different things. He knew there was no going back into a relationship with Dot and yet he keenly felt the loss of the family he had known, the one he had always expected to have.

He had always dealt directly with Dot on matters concerning the kids, but now that she was to be married he knew Eric would play a part in those decisions. It was one of many things that would have to be re-learned or planned differently. One of many changes to come.

Glancing at his watch, Jon realized it was now 5:55 and he put out his cigarette. He looked once more around the backyard, his thoughts as scattered as the broken branches of the winter trees on the ground. He re-entered the house through the side door and moved into the living room.

~~~

A knock on the bedroom door had Dot’s heart give an involuntary small leap and with a tremulous voice she called out for whoever was there to come in. The door opened and her daughter came into the room.

“Hi mom.” Stephanie smiled at her mother.

“Hey honey, how are you doing?”

A big sigh came from Stephanie and then she looked at her mother, beautiful in her wedding gown, and answered her with the thoughts that had been closing in on her as the day of her mother’s wedding drew near.

“Mom…you and dad…it’s still not too late…” Stephanie tried, unknowingly using words similar to those of Carol to Jon.

Opening her arms to enfold her oldest child within them, Stephanie moved to her mother and felt her mother hug her tightly. A small sob escaped Steph’s throat as she waited to hear what her mother had to say.

“Oh, baby, dad and I can’t go back. Too much has changed and we can’t make it work again.”

Dot’s voice and words were as caring as she herself was toward all her children. She felt a tear fall from her child’s eyes and hugged her tighter. Stephanie took the comfort her mother offered and hugged her back. She then pulled away, wiping her eyes.

“Ok mom, I just had to know…” Stephanie’s voice seemed older in just the few moments since she had entered the room.

“Dad and I just talked Stephie…we had to know too…but nothing has changed except that we both love all of you so much.”

Dot didn’t relay the actual words of their conversation, as it had been private between the two of them.

“It’s almost six, honey, will you go get Melissa for me and have her bring up my bouquet?” Dot asked softly, watching Stephanie gather herself together.

“Sure, mom…” She turned toward the door, “…I love you.” And then she was gone.

~~~

As he entered the living room, Jon saw that only Eric, his brother, and Melissa remained. He realized the other guests had moved out into the tent. In the corner, near the entry to the dining room, he saw Amanda and knew she had been waiting for him. Nodding as he passed the other three, he came quickly to her side and gave her a kiss on the cheek. She smelled a whiff of smoke.

“Ready hon?” He asked as he enfolded her hand in his.

Amanda nodded silently, her eyes searching his face. His smile was easy, but he seemed a bit distracted. She knew he had been talking to Dorothea and wondered what had been said. Had he asked her to take him back? Had she asked him? Were they still in love? Would he ever be able to let go of her enough? Why did he only kiss me on the cheek?

They made their way out to the tent and sat on the traditional bride’s side, near Richie, Tico, Alejandra, David, Hugh and Kelli. Smiles greeted them as they sat, all making small talk. Amanda saw Richie watching Jon closely, searching his friend’s face for something that he didn’t seem to find if the confusion in his eyes was any indication. Realizing Amanda was watching him, Richie gave her a smile and made himself respond to the conversations the others were having.

There seemed to be an underlying pressure within this group, an almost audible hum in the air as individual unvoiced thoughts flew through the minds of the men and women talking prior to the start of the ceremony.

Conversation ceased as the guests became aware of Eric and Michael entering and taking their places in front of the alter where the minister was already present.

A slight rustling at the back of the tent announced the arrival of Melissa. The guests turned and watched her walk down the aisle to take her position opposite Eric and Michael. She smiled as she walked, nodding her head a few times, and then standing in her place as matron of honor.

The traditional wedding march was then heard and the guests stood as Dorothea appeared at the entrance of the tent, looking beautiful in her gown and partial veil. Small gasps were heard and broad smiles seen as they viewed her elegantly simple gown and the smile on her face as she looked out at her family and friends.

As she started down the aisle, her eyes cut briefly to Jon, meeting eyes that were as expressive as always. She saw his regret and then acceptance. Drawing herself up, she moved her gaze forward and proceeded resolutely towards her new life.

4 comments

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Jon, you still have a chance to stop this - there's the "if anybody here has any reason ..." - c'mon Jon!

  2. Anonymous Says:

    What great closure for them.But I am hoping he'll stand up and say to stop the wedding. Please!!!! What a great shake up!

  3. Anonymous Says:

    No way, don't listen to them! Amanda doesn't deserve that!

    Let's get this over with already and send them on a honeymoon!

    Linda

  4. Shelly Says:

    Phew...

    Guess closure is what is needed for all to move on.

    This was a very good chapter Sun.

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