Home > Come What May

Come What May
Author: L.K. Farlow

 

Dedication

 

 

To my Phoobs, for always being here for me, come what may.

And to Tania, thank you for all of your help with this book. You’re a lifesaver!

 

 

Chapter One

 

 

Seraphine

 

 

I crumple the note for the hundredth time. I don’t know why I’m clutching it like a lifeline—I have the stupid thing memorized. The words are etched into my heart at this point, each sloppily scrawled letter pumping through my veins like the worst kind of poison.

He said he loved me. Over and over, he said that. And not to blame myself… that his choice was as much for me as it was him. But how? Actions over words, and at the end of it all, he left me. By choice.

Deep down—like marrow deep—I know I’m being unfair. But life’s not fair, and now, I’m alone. Completely and totally alone.

Tears fall freely, running unchecked down my cheeks as the minister drones on about the wonders of life after death. Which is bullshit, because there’s no wonder for those of us the dead leave behind, just a whole lot of fucking heartache.

“You okay?” My cousin’s whispered concern jars me.

I shake my head in lieu of an actual reply. I’m pretty sure I’m not capable of more than gut-wrenching sobs right now.

“Sweet girl.” She clasps my hand in hers, and while I want to pull away, I let her hold on to me, knowing she needs the comfort, too. He left us both, after all. “Do you want to stay with us tonight?”

I’m tempted to take her up on the offer—the thought of being alone in the house we shared is honestly crippling. But Magnolia and Simon don’t need me intruding, so again, I shake my head.

“It’s not good for you to be alone,” she says, tightening her grip on my hand.

Alone. The word fills me with bitterness, coating my insides with an inky darkness as it wraps around my heart.

“I’m fine.” I force my lips up into what I hope is a smile. “Promise.”

Magnolia sighs. “If you say so.”

“I do.”

She sighs again, and we both tune back in just in time to hear the minister ask me to come to the podium to say a few words. I don’t know what I was thinking when I agreed to this. Clearly, I wasn’t—because I’d rather eat glass than go up to the pulpit and tell all these people who didn’t give a single shit about my father while he was living how great he was. Because if they’d have spent even five minutes with him, they’d already know.

Sure, there’s a handful of people here who truly loved him—but these fools probably couldn’t tell you a single authentic thing about him. Yet they have the audacity to sniffle and cry into their tissues.

I shove my growing ire down as I make my way to the front. My knees wobble as I step onto the raised platform. On a shuddering exhale, I turn and face the crowd. “Y’all knew him as Dave, but to me, he was Dad. Those three letters were more than a title, more than a name. To him, it was a badge of honor.”

A tear-soaked laugh slips past my lips as I struggle to maintain my composure. “His two favorite things to talk about were cars and—” I slap a hand over my mouth as a sob overtakes my words. My shoulders shake as my grief barrels into me like a runaway train.

After a few moments, I wipe my eyes and continue, keeping my eyes cast downward—the last thing I need right now is to see any of these people feeling sorry for me.

“And me. He… he left us before his time, and in his illness, he left a lot of things unfinished, but through it all, he never once allowed me to question his love for me. Even when he was bedridden and too weak to talk, he’d hold my hand and I could just… feel… his love.”

I swallow hard and finally dare to look up. A shiver runs through me when my eyes lock with those of Mateo Reyes. His stare is intense and sorrowful all at once, and for reasons unknown, it makes me feel a little more at peace.

“Dad had a kind word for everyone, and he’d give you the shirt off his back. He believed in honesty and hard work. He was a blue-collar man, through and through. He is—was—” I shrug and sniffle at the same time, existing in that weird space between laughter and tears. “A good man. The kind who put others first and believed time was more valuable than money.”

As I near the end of my poorly planned speech, self-doubt creeps in uninvited and smothers any bit of confidence I was feeling. God, these people probably think I’m a blathering idiot.

Swiping angrily at my tear-stained cheeks, I power on, ignoring what feels like an elephant sitting on my chest. “He always said, ‘It’s what you do while you’re alive that matters.’ Honor him—” My voice breaks and my breath saws in and out of my lungs. I’m milliseconds from losing it. “Honor him by making the most of each and every day.”

I rush down from the platform, forgoing the steps altogether in my haste to escape. With tears streaming, I race down the aisle and through the parlor doors into the parking lot. The service isn’t finished, but I can’t bear to spend another second inside of the chapel.

The humidity outside is thick, as if the loss coating my insides is so great that even the air feels weighted with it. I wrap my arms tightly around my middle as I suck in a greedy lungful of air, trying with all my might to exhale even a fraction of my pain.

It’s no use, though.

My cries turn to heaving sobs as I break down in the middle of the funeral home parking lot, for God and everyone who might happen by to see. Uncaring of the show I may be putting on, I purge myself of the anger, sadness, uncertainty, and fear until all that’s left is a heaping pile of sorrowful resentment.

I’m so caught up in my grief that when a strong hand comes down on my shoulder, I nearly fall over.

“Seraphine.”

Mateo Reyes.

As it always has, the way my name rolls off of his tongue sends a little jolt of inappropriate excitement through me. As a friend of my father and sixteen years my senior, he’s well off-limits. Regardless, my heart never got the memo and always beats a little harder anytime he’s near.

“Turn around.” The barest amount of pressure to my shoulder accompanies the command, and I pivot to face him, inwardly cringing at the picture I must paint after breaking down so thoroughly.

I try to keep my eyes low, but Mateo’s not having it. “Look at me,” he says, skimming the knuckle of his index finger down the line of my jaw to lift my gaze to his. “Keep your chin up, mariposita. He wouldn’t like to see your tears.”

“Then maybe he should be here.” I sound like a little snot, but I can’t bring myself to care. Because I mean it—if my dad didn’t want my tears, maybe he shouldn’t have killed himself.

He gives me a long look, his deep chocolate eyes twinkling with the kind of knowledge that only comes with experience and age. “Death hurts. Like a motherfucker. You can either let the pain cripple you or you can own it.” He skims his knuckles back up my jaw and whispers, “Te esperan dias mejores.” He drags his eyes over me once more before abruptly turning and walking away.

My eyes stay glued to him as he retreats back into the funeral home, all the while wondering what made him come after me and what the hell he just said.

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