I nodded, mid ugly-cry.
“Don’t cry, baby. We’re gonna be okay.”
I nodded some more and put my hands to his jaw, put my lips to his. “I love you. I’m going to try to be less selfish. I’m sorry.”
His eyes filled with pain. “You’re not being selfish. I brought you here and I can’t expect you to lay by the pool while I’m stuck in my misery and not wanna go out and see the island. I let you pick the spot, least I can do is let you see it.”
“In a snowsuit,” I added.
His shoulders jiggled with silent laughter. “Next vacation… Alaska.”
I put my arms around him and squeezed, letting out a giggle.
We stayed like that for a minute, and then I started to trace my name on his chest with my fingertip.
“I’m tryin’,” he whispered, his voice thick with emotion.
I swallowed and looked into his eyes. “I know.”
We stared at one another for a long time.
I put my lips to his jaw and then my mouth to his ear. “I’m sorry, honey. I wish I could just snap my fingers and take your pain away. I know I can’t. I know it’s not that simple. I keep just hoping and it’s just not realistic. I’ll try to be more patient,” I said, then climbed off.
“Where you goin’?” He grabbed my hand.
“Wash your back?” I offered.
I climbed behind him and filled the sponge with bodywash to scrub his back.
“That feels nice,” he told me, reaching back to rub my leg.
I rinsed his back off and put my arms around him from behind, my cheek against his back. “Take me to bed and make love to me, Tommy?”
“I can do that.”
He pulled the plug and we got out.
Slow and sweet vanilla missionary-position love was made (though he made me come twice) and then he was breathing deep and even. Our blinds were wide open so I lay there and looked at him in the moonlight.
Guilt worked its way through me. I was done being a spoiled brat, like this holiday was for me. It was supposed to be a break, but he was the one that lost his father. He was the one living with the guilt. My dad was sort of lost to me, his actions angering me. But, he was breathing.
Incarcerated, but breathing.
Tommy’s father wasn’t.
Both of our fathers had wronged us, but at least I hadn’t had to kill mine to save myself.
Tommy’s father had pointed a gun at us. I could still feel the steel pressed against my temple sometimes. He’d taken me with malicious intent. He’d also put his mouth on me in front of a lot of people and I knew Tommy worried that people believed he’d murdered his father because Tom died that same day.
One or both of us could’ve died if Tommy hadn’t done what he did. But yet, he had to live with himself after that, had to feel all that pain and still be strong. I could cry in bed for a week if I got down. It was something I’d done, more than once. But, he had to be a man. He had responsibilities that weighed on him. People expected things of him. It wasn’t fair. I had to be his solace, not a source of more stress.
We approached Tom’s funeral with sadness, of course. Tommy had lost his father and his siblings had, too. Lisa lost her husband and the loss of James, Tessa’s husband, was still fresh and raw.