Destiny, Roses & Romance
Part II: Chapter 48

“Come now, Rafe, there’s no need for your temper. I’m here to help you, my boy. To… right a few of my wrongs against you. Why else would it be me?”

“Because hell has a wicked sense of humor,” he muttered, thrusting his clenched fists into his pockets to avoid striking. “That’s how the elders amuse themselves. Throwing me here, giving me everything I’ve ever wanted and flashing it in front of me that I have to give it up before I can even have it. I’m sure they’re getting the biggest kick of all out of you being to one to offer me the deal.”

“You say that like you knew it was coming.”

“I did. You should realize by now that very few things take me by surprise.”<

“Oh, but Caleb did, didn’t he?”

“And who do I have to thank for that?” Rafe asked, offering a half a smile to the irony.

“Ela? She never did listen well, you know.”

“See? You don’t surprise me.” Shrugging his shoulders, he realized with a start that he wasn’t as angry anymore. There was just this almost overwhelming sense of disappointment. “You’ve never tried to apologize for what you’ve done, never felt regret like any decent soul would. You went on with your happy, twisted little life completely ignoring the fact that your wife would be alive if not for you. The woman who did nothing but keep her vows to you, who raised your children, your niece even, and smiled when it killed her to see us walk out that door. She stood by you and she loved you and you sold her out, you sold us all out, to save yourself a while longer.”

“Uk anya volt semi.”

Rafe shook his head, still amazed by the reasoning of his father. “You… You are the one that was nothing. You’re the one that is nothing. My mother… She was everything.”

“What did she ever do for you?” James asked, looking at the angel with mild surprise. “She babied your little sister like she was the greatest thing to walk to earth… She completely ignored the two of us whenever possible. You and I both know that there were times she couldn’t stand the site of you!”

“Ela felt shunned because of you, because you pushed her aside trying to protect her from the life a Kovich is supposed to lead. The one right thing you’ve ever done, Feltalál. Anya had to baby her, Ela was sick, she needed help and our mother knew the right thing to do. She knew to give her the love and attention she needed while you were pushing her away, blowing her off and wishing deep down inside that she’d always look at you with hero-worship in her eyes. Tell me, did it at least hurt when that light for you dimmed? When she saw you for what you really are? Nothing but a selfish man.”

“Every man has flaws, my boy. Didn’t you yourself just say that no one is perfect?”

Bitter laughter rang through the clear, crisp night air as Rafe leaned back against the building he’d shoved his father to only minutes before. “No one is perfect, but at least most people have a sense of good in them. You gave up the one person you ever may have actually loved, and almost cost her the children she was carrying, the two innocent lives that she loved more than anything. You did that to save yourself. Do you even realize what would have happened if Caleb had succeeded? Did you ever stop and think what it would do to your baby girl if she lost her babies?”

“I had complete faith in you to save them all.”

“You didn’t hesitate a second before telling him where they were hidden. You didn’t think of me trying to save them. You didn’t think of them, of your wife, of Nadia… None of it! You just thought it would be better to reign in hell than serve in heaven. What’s it like now, James? Was it worth your soul to serve on earth and then in hell?”

James smiled again, his smugness returning as his son’s efforts to leave ceased. “A soul is a funny thing, Rafe. See, it’s really not anything at all. You don’t use your soul… Lord knows I never used mine during my life, but now… Oh, now, my boy, I feel more powerful, more alive than I ever had before. And I can give that to you.”

“I don’t want power. I’ve never been the one that dreamed of it.”

“Oh, but you want to feel alive, don’t you?”

Rafe smirked, crossing his arms in front of himself, he lifted his shoulder in a shrug. “I have felt more alive in the past few days than ever before.”

“I know. And I know that I can make that feeling last forever. You know that I can.”

“I’d rather know what I have thank you. I can only appreciate the joy because I know sadness. The highs aren’t as high without the lows. Nevetés ideiglenes tákolmány nem értelem amíg önnek van sírt. I know that I have this feeling, and I know how special it is. And I know that I have my soul, and that’s not nothing.”

“And if nothing else, you’ve got Alison for… how many more days is it now before you’re snatched back up to heaven to rest on a cloud and either wish for your life or her death. Tell me, son, which would you chose? Oh, never mind. Why bother thinking about it? I can give you life now. The only deadline you’ll have is many, many years away. When I have more grandchildren, great grandchildren… When you and Alison have great grandchildren… Maybe after that if you’re careful. Don’t you owe it to that beautiful little girl you could have to at least consider my offer?”

Rafe shook his head again, a bitter, reflective smile gracing his lips for a second before it slipped back to hide behind a mask of indifference. “Still using women to get what you want, I see. Some things are never going to change are they? You’re always going to be vile, useless, and, obviously, completely clueless about your children. I’m not going to take the deal because you throw Alison’s name around with a lot of empty promises. And Alison wouldn’t want me to sell my soul to you anyway.”

“Oh, Rafe,” James said, an exasperated sigh added for good measure. “I am far from clueless about you, my boy. I know everything there is to know about you. I know that the women around you will always be your weakness. I know that you dream of a life, of children and little Miss Barrington as your wife. I know that how much you want her is etched into your soul, I mean, really, you might as well just have flashing neon letters! You wanted me to offer you this deal, Rafe, and I know that as surely as I know that selling my soul was the best thing I’ve ever done. I know that you told her, you promised, you swore to her that if you could change things and stay with her you would.”

“Not this.”

“Last time I checked it fell under the category of anything…”

Casting his eyes downward, Rafe pulled his hands from his pockets to stretch them out before him. Clenching and unclenching his fists, he focused on the feeling of the cold against his exposed skin, a feeling he’d lost for so long. “You want to give me a life with Alison, Destiny and the rest of the bunch… The sensations and emotions, the love and the sheer happiness… And all you want is my soul, huh?”

“Just one tiny soul for decades of happiness. Of little blonde children with their mother’s smile and their father’s eyes running around, growing up, having children of their own. All the time you want to fix what was wrong between you and your sister, to get to know your nieces, to try and see if you can’t talk Nadia out of the funk your death put her in so she can move on and love a man like she loved him. So she can have the children that should have been hers in the first place. You can have your Destiny, Rafe, and you can give all the women you’ve ever loved theirs in return. Wouldn’t you say that was well worth the price?”

He swallowed hard, his eyes focus on the frozen ground as he mentally forced back the tears that were threatening to make themselves known. Everything. He could have everything, all he had to do was sign his name on the dotted line he knew could appear in an instant. Rafe groaned, dropping his head further. “No, no, no, no, no. I won’t do it.”

With an impatient huff, James asked, “Why not?”

“Because my soul isn’t nothing!” Rafe replied, his voice a little louder than he’d meant.

“So you’re saying that Alison is nothing? That all those promises you made her were nothing? That your twin sister and your cousins mean nothing to you? The nieces you’ve never met? The children you’ve never had? They mean nothing to you! Not enough to give your soul for. And yet, you call me selfish for the choices I’ve made?”

“It is not the same thing,” he growled, his voice ringing with the threat of an attack barely being held at bay. His fists went back into his pockets, and he’s eyes burned a hole into the evil soul standing before him with the fire of a passion he’d never fully felt before. “Alison is not nothing. If you even attempt to insinuate that again, you will regret it.”

“You know,” James said somewhat softly, the corners of his mouth turning up in a smile that held the tiniest bit of warmth. “You’re uncle was right about one thing, I am proud of you. I always have been, but never more so than right now.”

“I don’t want your pride. I don’t want your pity. I don’t want your twisted version of the past. And I sure as hell don’t want your goddamned deal.” Taking a deep breath he released it slowly before continuing. “Are we clear now, James? Do you feel like you’ve said what you felt you needed to say? I’m not taking the deal.”

“Because you’re a coward, Rafe! You always were a coward. You’re too scared to give up what your good old uncle Ed said was good and right. He’s wrong, Rafe! And you’re just too afraid to admit it. You always were afraid to admit that you were wrong! Always wanting the easy way out…”

“That is bullshit and we both know it!” he shouted finally, pushing himself away from the building with enough force to force his father back a step before he’d touched him. His hands went back to his pockets, and he firmed his resolve not to hit the demon before him. “You were the coward, you are the coward! You turned tail and ran whenever things got rough and obviously that hasn’t changed over the years. And we both know that me turning down that deal with you dangling a carrot of my hopes in front of my face is far from easy. This isn’t about you or Ed or who is right. This is about me knowing that to sell my soul would be to turn my back on everything that I know is right. This is about me not screwing up because you want to get one up on your big brother! This is about me making the right choice for the right reasons! It is not about Alison being nothing, or my feelings for her not being strong enough. It’s not about broken promises or broken hearts. In fact, you wanna know what this is, Feltalál? It’s about me not being you.”

“You know,” James said, his voice dropping to an unhappy grumble. “If not for the fact that you’re my son, and I do care about you, I’d get immense joy in telling you that you just passed up the best offer you’ll ever get. You don’t realize what you’re turning down yet, Rafe, but you will. Oh, yes, you will realize it. Maybe not right now, but when you walk into the restaurant where your love is waiting and see her beaming at you, so thrilled to see you, then you’ll feel the first little stab of doubt in your heart. And when you’re cuddled so close tonight that you don’t know where you end and she begins, then you’ll wonder. And before you’re time is up, Rafe, you’ll want this deal so bad you can taste it. You’ll want to stay with her more than you have ever wanted anything!”

“I already do want to stay with her more than I have ever wanted anything. But I’m not going to give my soul to you to get my wish. Alison may be worth it, but you aren’t.”

“Well, even though your words hurt me deeply, my boy, I’ll keep the offer open for you. For when… Oops, I mean, if, you change your mind.”

“Don’t bother.”

“Oh, I will. A father learns certain things when his children are growing, you do what you know is right for them no matter how much they may object at the time. Maybe someday you’ll learn that for yourself, my boy. But in the meantime, I’ll keep the deal on the table for you.” James smiled, smugness returning as his son slouched against the wall again. “But do remember what your dear cousin, Lucy, said would you? Sometimes, you’ve got to make your own destiny.”

“Son of a bitch,” Rafe groaned as his father quickly vanished. Now surrounded by nothing but the all too quiet night, he pushed himself away from the wall again before plowing his fist against the brick repeatedly.

For once, he found himself glad he couldn’t feel everything around him.

Translations for the chapter

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