Through All the Dust
Chapter Nine: You Will Always Be My Heart
“Oh my—” Margarete muttered excitedly. “Tom!”
She literally pulled me into the house, I dragged Brian in with me at the last second. She kicked the door closed and took off down the hall to the kitchen.
“Tom! Look who’s here!” she shouted happily to her husband, who was busy at the stove. “It’s Blair and Brian!”
Tom whipped around, a big ol’ grin plastered to his face.
“Do you ever use the phone?” he teased.
I smiled, “Carolyn said the same thing.”
“Get over here, ya brat,” he chuckled, meeting me halfway to pull me into a tight squeeze.
It felt a lot like home.
“So? What brings you to our neck of the woods?” Tom asked curiously, lifting whatever he’d been cooking off the element.
Marge pushed me into a chair and headed for Brian. He sat quickly before she could get the chance to assault him too. She gave him a little snicker.
They’d come out to visit us in California only six months prior. They were astounded by our home and had taken up a week-long residence in our guest room. It had been so nice to have them around while Brian was off parading around the world. It was almost like being young again, except I could eat brownies for breakfast without being scolded.
“Well,” I sighed nervously, “I thought that I should tell you in person—”
“You’re getting married!” Marge burst out.
I looked at her, stunned.
“Oh, honey,” she giggled. “It’s all over the magazines!”
“You couldn’t at least pretend you didn’t know?” I laughed sadly.
She smiled, “I tried. I did.”
“She did,” Tom agreed. “It took all of her strength not to call you right away—we thought you might show up.”
“Oh,” I frowned. “Well…that was anticlimactic.”
“Don’t be silly!” Marge beamed, hugging me from behind. “We’re so excited for you both. Let me see that damn ring!”
She grabbed my hand, pulling it within inches of her face. Brian was grinning at me like an idiot.
Okay, so maybe I didn’t get to tell them the big news—but it didn’t change the light feeling in my soul as they congratulated Brian and swooned over my jewelry.
“It’s stunning,” Marge smiled. “Perfectly suited.”
“I can’t believe you knew,” I groaned.
Tom laughed, pulling up a chair beside Brian, “You’re a big star now, Blair. This is just part of the price you have to pay, I guess.”
“It’s bullshit,” I smirked.
“I buy a copy of every magazine with your pretty face on it,” Marge told me happily.
“It seems like every magazine has her face on it,” Brian noted, giving me a lazy wink.
Tom nodded, “That’s our girl.”
“Okay, stop,” I laughed uncomfortably.
Marge slid into the seat beside me, her eyes still fixated on the ring.
“So? When’s the big day?” she asked curiously. “We’re invited, right?”
“Don’t be daft,” I smirked.
“We’re thinking August,” Brian replied happily.
Tom nodded, “August is a good month. I could probably book a few vacation days by then.”
It had been my goal since Tyler died to retire his parents. I wanted them to have a nice house and a comfortable life. I certainly hadn’t made enough money to do that as the frontwoman of Haven—and I still wasn’t quite making enough. But, with the amount of success that had come my way from my first album, I anticipated that eventually I’d be able to do it. Hearing Tom talk about booking days from work made me want to work that much harder.
“You better,” I warned him.
Marge giggled, slipping her hand onto mine, “We’ll be there with bells on, Blair. Don’t you worry.”
“It will be in California, right?” Tom clarified.
“Are you going to wear white?” Marge asked me hurriedly. “I know you’ll want to wear black—but it’s your wedding, Blair.”
“I haven’t even thought that far,” I smirked. “Things have been a little…hectic lately. I’m still trying to catch up.”
Marge and Tom exchanged quick glances, both looking grimly sympathetic.
“We heard about what happened,” Marge frowned. “It was all over the news.”
“Yeah…” I sighed.
I was watching Brian intently. He was a loose cannon when it came to all things Jimmy. Sometimes he was well equipped, and was completely capable of talking about his best friend…other times…
Well, other times he wasn’t so pleasant.
Most times, in fact.
He squirmed a little in his chair.
“We’re really sorry,” Marge sighed, reaching over to squeeze Brian’s shaking hand too.
He forced a smile. But Marge wasn’t stupid, and she’d suffered great loss too—she moved on quickly.
“Are your parents excited for the wedding?” Marge asked Brian specifically. “Do they like Blair? I know she can be a little much to handle sometimes.”
“Hey,” I objected.
“They love her,” Brian smiled. “She and my dad are buddies.”
As Brian and Marge got into a deep conversation about his family, I took the opportunity to excuse myself. Once I was at the door, I nodded to Tom to come with me.
“Celebration cigarette,” I told him with a grin. “Like old times.”
Tom hadn’t been a smoker since I was still in high school. But every so often, when something really great would happen, he’d light up to celebrate.
The last time I’d seen him smoke was when Haven got signed.
Marge was a different breed—I’d only ever seen her smoke when things got really rough. It’s funny the way vices are used differently. For me, it was just a staple of my life.
I handed him a cigarette and we stood at the bottom of their deck, shivering from the Massachusetts cold. The temperature difference was almost enough to kill me.
“Are you happy?” Tom asked me.
I look him in the eyes, “I am.”
“Good,” he smiled quickly. “You of all people deserve to be happy.”
“What do you think?” I asked awkwardly. “Do you think I’ll be a good wife? Can you see me married?”
He snickered lightly, “I’ve been waiting for this since the very first time you brought that man home.”
“You’ll have to come stay with us before the wedding,” I told him seriously. “No excuses. You absolutely have to be there.”
“I’ll try my hardest, Blair,” he assured me. “But it’s sometimes tough to get the time off from work…We’re short-staffed, you know.”
“But you’re the most important factor of this whole shebang,” I objected. “We can’t do it without you.”
He scowled, “I think you might be exaggerating.”
“You can’t let me walk down the aisle alone, Tom,” I said, feeling the butterflies kicking into gear, “People will gossip.”
He looked at me weirdly. No expression, no reaction—he just looked at me.
I was starting to feel a little panicked.
Maybe I hadn’t been clear enough?
“You want me to…” he started but stopped himself.
“I want you to give me away,” I nodded. “That’s right.”
“Blair,” he choked.
I smiled, feeling just a little tiny bit emotional, “Who else would I have? It isn’t even a question.”
He was blinking now. I guessed that he was also feeling just a tiny bit emotional.
“Unless you don’t want to,” I laughed to keep from having an outburst.
He took me into his big burly arms, holding me tighter than I think I’ve ever been held in my life, “I’d be honored to.”
“I love you, ya know,” I smiled into his chest.
He sniffled—what a tough man.
We broke apart eventually. His eyes were beat red and I could tell he was holding a lot of it back. I wiped at the edges of my weepy eyes, trying to pull it together.
Eventually, when our lungs were as full as our hearts, we retreated back inside. Marge looked genuinely concerned at our puffy, red eyes.
“Were you two into the devil’s lettuce?” she asked seriously. “Or are we crying? What’s happening?”
Tom just shook his head, sinking back down into his chair.
“I asked your husband to walk me down the aisle,” I told Marge sappily, getting all emotional again. “And he said we would…so now we’re weepy.”
She gasped, throwing her hands over her mouth as her eyes welled up too. Without any warning, she bounded out of her chair and over to me, nearly tackling me to the floor with her excitement.
“This is the best day!” Marge shouted happily. “Our girl’s getting married!”
Although I was happy—like…really happy—as Brian took it upon himself to pull out the champagne and Marge got to pulling out the fancy glasses, I couldn’t help but wish Tyler was around for the celebration. I wished my best friend could be there to talk about wedding details with me, I wish that I could ask him if a dress made me look fat…because he’d tell me the truth.
I just wished so badly that I could tell him that I’d found my soul mate—and I was ready to settle down with him. I wondered what he’d say. If he would have been excited…if he would have been angry.
It didn’t matter the reaction—I just longed to tell him.
Tom, as usual, was reading my mind. He reached over, putting his big hand on my tiny shoulder. I looked at him, trying to hide my sorrow.
“He would have been so happy,” Tom assured me. “You know that, don’t you?”
I nodded weepily.
All I wanted was to hear that from the source. His mother shared his eyes, so I guess that would have to do.
Brian gave me an you okay? kind of look. I shrugged, tilting my head a little.
As Marge poured the glasses of obligatory champagne, Brian put himself in front of me. His beautiful brown eyes boring into my soul knowingly.
He recognized my pain. He knew what I was thinking—what I was feeling.
And as life continued around us, in celebration of us, we stood frozen in that moment—frozen in sorrow. But we stood, like always, together.