Second Chance for Love(9)

By: Leona Jackson

All the emotions I’d managed to hold in over the last few days were swelling up, and I was sure I was going to hit the floor. I watched in agony as Mama leaned down into the coffin, kissed his cheek and told him how much he meant to her. The preacher had to help her walk away.

My sisters and their children said their goodbyes, and my little nephew yelled for his grandpa to wake up. Destiny held him close to her and walked on. My heart went out to him and my knees tried to buckle. I was the last in line of my family and when I stopped in front of his coffin I felt as if the air had been knocked right out of me. Tears flowed from my eyes and I tried to fight back the sobs that threatened to burst from my chest. Seeing him in the open casket was so much harder than I could’ve imagined.

I gripped the side of the coffin tight as I studied him. Only it wasn't him. He looked too peaceful to be my father. The man that was my father was gone, and all that was here before me was an empty shell. I fell to my knees as grief tore at my heart. I heard gasps from the onlookers and heard footsteps running towards me. I looked up to see my sister Keri.

“Come on, Jetta honey, it'll be okay,” she said, leaning down to try to help me up.

In my ear she whispered, “Don't you dare make a damn scene. You've already put Mama through enough.”

“I have every damn right to make a scene,” I shouted back at her. “Mama's not the only one that's been through hell! I'll make a damn scene if I want to. This is my Daddy too!”

Tears rolled down my cheeks and I was having trouble breathing. I stood my ground though. I wasn't going to let Keri make me feel bad about this. Maybe about leaving like I did, about not staying in contact, but not about my pain, not about my grief. I was hurting just as much as they were. And I had a right to grieve just the same too.

“It’s okay, Keri. I got her.” Chase's voice sounded from my other side.

“Get the hell away from her, you bastard!”

I turned to Chase and looked helplessly up at him. He reached out his hand and I took it gratefully. Keri shoved him then her husband was pulling her away. She kept yelling, but thankfully I couldn't make out what she was saying. My mind was blank as Chase pulled me into his strong arms.

I wanted to pull away, to run as quickly as I could, but my feet wouldn't move. I was already in much too deep. I wouldn't live through Chase tearing my heart out again. It would kill me. All I could do was pray that I wouldn't end up doing something I was going to regret in the morning.

Chase gently led me away so the rest of the guests could say their farewells. We sat in the corridor of the church against the wall. I clung to Chase, even though I wanted to hate him. I shoved my doubts to the back of my mind, and just cried, taking comfort from Chase's embrace.

Chapter 10: Chase

My hands shook as I led Jetta to the hallway. She was a mess and her family wasn't making it any better. Keri had always been a bitch and I’d hoped she would’ve toned it down for her own father's funeral. I held Jetta tightly as she sobbed into my chest. There was something about having her close that felt right, even if she was close to me for all the wrong reasons.

I ran my hand over her hair, trying to comfort her. I didn't say anything, because I didn't know what to say. There was nothing I could say that would bring her father back. I wanted to apologize for what happened in our past. It wasn’t the right time though, and the words “I’m sorry” wouldn’t erase heartache. It wouldn’t change the fact that I was such an asshole. Nothing could ever change the past.

I didn't want to move. Even though I knew Jetta was in pain, I selfishly didn't want the moment to end. For a few minutes I allowed myself to toy with what could have been. I imagined the world where Jetta and I were married. Where our fathers had been different men. A single tear rolled down my cheek and I quickly brushed it away.

It was almost time for me to pick up Abby from school, but I knew I couldn't leave Jetta alone.

“I have to pick up Abby from school,” I whispered against her hair.

“Okay,” she said, pulling away.

“You can come with me. I'm just going to drop her off at Mom's this evening. I don't want to leave you alone while you're upset,” I told her.

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