Falling
Destiny, Roses & Romance
Part II: Chapter 39

Alison groaned as she turned her head to see who it was that had entered the diner just in time to hear her mention the sort of proposal. She could feel her face heating and she turned to Rafe only to find him shaking his head in disbelief. “Um… hi,” she finally whispered meekly, giving the newcomers to the conversation a weak smile.

Sensing her discomfort, Rafe was next to her again in a heartbeat, though the sweetness of the gesture was ruined by the twitching at the corners of his mouth as he fought the urge to either smile or laugh. Wrapping his arm around her waist once more, he nodded. “I try not to, Jack, it’s never a good idea to waste time. Each moment is a gift.”

Even though the other two didn’t understand the true meaning behind his words, Livvie did. A sad smile played on her lips as she caught the look that Rafe and Alison shared out of the corner of her eye. Her attention turned back to the other two, half to give them some sort of privacy and half to try and gauge what kind of reaction her boyfriend and his best friend would have once the surprise wore off. Something told her it wasn’t going to be good.

Disbelief seemed to be the theme as Jamal shook his head and looked at his friend with wide eyes as if begging for the man he’d entered with to deny the words he’d just heard. “You… You two are getting…” The word ‘married’ couldn’t be forced from his mouth as he looked instead to the woman he loved. “He proposed? W-When did this happen?”

“You two only broke up… What? Not even forty-eight hours ago?” Jack said, his voice raising with each word. “In not even two days, he’s managed to worm his way in enough for marriage to pop into the equation? How does this happen? I mean, Livvie and I have been together a lot longer than that, and we aren’t talking about marriage. And really, Alison, how long were you with Jamal? Did you ever think of marriage with him?”

“No. And that’s-”

“Jack,” Livvie said, stepping to block the path to the couple that was happy only moments before just in case either of the shocked men in the doorway decided to try and rush them. “You don’t know the whole story… You have no idea what’s going on-”

“Yes! Yes, Livvie, I do know what’s going on! Rafe asked Alison, who broke up with Jamal less than two days ago for some stupid mistake he made, to marry him! This guy went after her knowing she was in love with Jamal! And then he saw an opening and took it and if you were any kind of a friend to her you wouldn’t let her marry someone else on the rebound from your other good friend Jamal.”

“Actually,” Alison whispered softly, her objections not reaching the ears of anyone but the man that pulled her closer her him and dropped a kiss into her hair that went almost unnoticed by everyone but the two of them. “That’s not what-”

“A week ago Alison was all about loving Jamal! She was about getting rid of Valerie, who has suddenly turned into part of the group, so that she could get back on track with the man she loves! She’s hurt right now and trying to lash out and hurt Jamal like he hurt her by flirting with Valerie. You know that don’t you, Rafe? Just because you laid on the charm doesn’t mean that she’s in love with you. It doesn’t mean she’s really ready to become your wife. It doesn’t even mean that she’s over Jamal!”

“Jack,” Livvie hissed. “Don’t be like this! You heard one little sentence and you’re assuming that you know what’s really going on. Just-”

“I know that she isn’t ready to become my wife, Jack,” the angel said simply, gently, a claim in his tone that made the woman he loved look at him in wonder as he interrupted Livvie’s defense of them. “Unlike you and your good pal Jamal, I listen to her and don’t jump to conclusions. I’m very aware of exactly how it is that she feels, and if I don’t know for sure, I’ll ask her. Believe me when I say that if I actually thought she was ready to become my wife we wouldn’t be standing here discussing it with you. So why don’t you just drop it now before you say something that you will regret and you lose a friend.”

“What do you mean if you actually thought I was ready to become your wife we wouldn’t be standing here? Where would we be? Some church outside of town? I’m the one that-”

“Don’t threaten me with Alison, alright?” Jack said, his words clipped as he approached them. “We were friends long before you came into the picture, Rafe, and we’ll be friends long after. Just like she was in love with Jamal before you came around and she still is and she still will be after you are long gone. Do you get that, Rafe? She doesn’t love you!”

“Yes, I do too, Jack!”

“How, Alison? How can you love Jamal one minute them Rafe the next, huh?”

“It wasn’t like that, Jack,” Rafe interjected, keeping a hold on Alison as she slid from the barstool to stand beside him. “You only have Jamal’s side of things, don’t think that-”

“That what? That my best friend is telling the truth?”

“Alison is our friend too, Jack,” Livvie said, her voice loud enough to be heard over whatever else he was thinking of saying. “Alison is our friend too,” she repeated, lowering her voice to a more normal tone as she looked over to see Victor entering. Waving him away, she looked back at her boyfriend sadly. “You don’t tell Jamal how he feels about anything, please, don’t do that to Alison. She’s been just as good of a friend to you and to me. Try and understand what is going on before-”

“Before what, Livvie,” he snapped finally. “Calling it like it is? Because that’s what I’m doing! Rafe came in talking about love and gifts and not giving up, and he set out to ruin Jamal and Alison so that he could have her! Were you not listening to what Jamal said he saw time after time after time? He saw this clown all over his girl! He saw good old Rafe here spending every moment he could with a woman that he knew was in a relationship!”

“Well, you know what, Jack? Jamal isn’t exactly an unbiased source. He’s had it out for Rafe from the beginning because he was always jealous of me spending time with a man that cared about me and respected me while he was off playing hero to Valerie!”

“And I should take your word for it over his, Alison? Why? Rafe probably has some sort of hold on you… What, is it like the hold that Caleb had on Livvie? Did he get inside your head to twist the way you view the world and make you think you love him?”

“Oh, get off of it, Jack! I’m nothing like that and you know it! I spent my entire life fighting against Caleb and his family and the things that a man like that can do to women! The things he could do to any person that just happened to have the misfortune of crossing his path or registering on his radar. The idea of you comparing me to him…”

“It’s wrong,” Livvie growled. “It’s insulting to the both of us, Rafe, and it’s wrong. Caleb had a hold on my mind, and I hate the things that I did, but to bring it up now… Just because Alison isn't acting the way you think she should and throwing herself at Jamal’s feet while begging forgiveness… Get over it, Jack, Caleb’s gone, Rafe is a good guy, and you’re going to have to learn to live with that! What he and Alison have is special and it has nothing to do with you, or Jamal, or me, or Caleb, or mind control! I know that neither of you may want to admit this, but they are in love! Just like you and me, Jack.”

“Why are you defending them, Livvie? How can you turn your back on Jamal that way?”

“How can you turn your back on me because my feelings changed?” Alison shot back.

“How fickle do you have to be to have your feelings change overnight, Alison?”

“How about if you watch how you talk to her, Jack?” Rafe said, his eyes narrowing as he felt Alison take a hold of his hand. “You don’t know what is happening, what has happened or what will happen, and I suggest that you keep that in mind while you speak to the woman that offered her blood to keep you alive. She’s the best kind of friend that you can have, and if you keep talking to her that way, then chances are you’ll lose her.”

“Don’t threaten me-”

“Jack,” Livvie snapped, grabbing onto his coat sleeve to keep him from trying to brush past her. “He’s right. You don’t want to lose Alison because you’re taking sides without knowing the full story. Now stop it before you hurt her any more than you already have!”

“She does NOT love him!” he cried, stepping back and throwing up his arms in frustration only to feel two hands grip his shoulders.

“Jack, man, calm down.” Jamal tightened his hands around his friend’s shoulders and pulled him back until he was sitting down. “She does.”

“What?”

“She loves him. And he loves her. Just… Let it go, man. Just let it go. They… Livvie and Rafe are right. You don’t want to lose Alison as a friend because you’re taking my side.”

Rafe looked at Alison in question, but she simply shrugged unknowingly. “Jack, you don’t have to like it, alright? You don’t have to hang around if you don’t want to. But I’m not letting go of Rafe before I have to. I love him. And you can either learn to understand that, or get over it, or just stay away from us both. Don’t you ever speak to me that way again, or it’ll happen just like they said. You will lose me as a friend because I don’t deserve to be called names because I’m not with the man that you think I should be.”

“Fine,” Jack groaned. “Fine! I’m sorry that I… overreacted. But don’t you think it’s too soon for you to even think of marrying this guy, Ally? I mean… Just because you love him doesn’t mean that you should become his wife right away! I’m just trying to-”

“Look after me? Yeah… I actually think that you are. But-”

“So why are you going to marry him?”

“She’s not,” Rafe answered, feeling her grip on his hand tighten. Looking back at Alison, he smiled slightly at the pout she wore. “It’s like I said, she’s not ready and I know that. If things were different, we’d probably be on our honeymoon right now. But I won’t hurt her. And right now, getting married would do just that.”

“If you know that she isn’t ready then why did you propose?” Jamal asked, the words rushing out of him before he could stop them. The second that they registered to his ears on a hateful tone, he looked as if he would do anything to take them back.

Livvie glared at Jack, and adjusted the strap on her purse in an attempt to look casual. “You’re going to feel like such an ass, Jack,” she muttered under her breath, knowing he caught every single syllable.

Biting her thumb, Alison fought a smile as she caught Rafe looking down at the floor in an attempt to hide his grin. The situation was almost laughable, but he squeezed her hand reassuringly, and tried to discreetly pull her closer.

“I don’t know,” Rafe answered after a pause.

Alison felt her jaw fall as she dropped her hand. “Don’t you even do that to me, Rafe Kovich.”

“Do what?”

“Try and protect me from the truth just in case… You’re trying to save my relationship with Jamal even now aren’t you?”

“Why would I do that?” he asked, the innocence and mock hurt in his tone forcing her to bite back a smile. “You made me promise not to, remember?”

“I’m the one that asked you to marry me.” Nodding once at him, she swiveled her head to look at Jack who was doing an great impression of a goldfish as he opened and closed his mouth unable to form words in his state of shock. “I’m the one that proposed to Rafe. If you can even call it a proposal. It was just sort of a blurted out, ‘marry me’ to which he politely said no way in hell. Ok?”

Jamal dropped into a chair he pulled up beside Jack’s. And Livvie smirked. “I told you you’d feel like an ass.”


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