Fiction Series: Heaven's Dew - Part 10 (The Finale)
Big Pax has gathered us around the table in the dining area. Paxton has moved his chair close to mine and is stroking the back of my hand with his thumb. He refuses to look in his mother’s direction though she pleads to him with her eyes. My own eyes are planted firmly on Big Pax who stands at the head of the table, hands clenched around the back of the dining chair. His head is down but his demeanor says he’s doing everything he can to remain composed.
He clears his throat. “Much has transpired over the last few weeks. If we’re honest, the last couple of years.” He looks up at me when he says this. I feel uneasy. He unbuttons his blazer and slides it off. Mrs. Camren moves to take it from him.
“Don’t.” His voice is threatening. She quickly pulls her hands back. He folds the jacket in half and gently sets it on the back of his chair. He continues. “I’ve spent the last few days thinking about what I’ve built.” He turns his back to us and puts his hands in his pockets.
“The houses, the businesses, the partnerships…” He laughs. “I’ve worked a really long time.”
Big Pax turns and looks to Paxton. “Son, I couldn’t be more proud of who you’ve become. Every day you show me…” He stops and shakes his head. “I had no idea what I was saying as a young neighborhood kid claiming someday I would build a legacy that no one could take from me.” Suddenly, Big Pax is forcing back tears.
Paxton releases my hands and stands. He extends his hand to his father, “Thank you, sir.”
Big Pax takes his hand and pulls him so that they’re standing face to face. “Son, I haven’t been honest with you.” Paxton attempts to pull away and looks around confused. He looks to me and I shrug.
“Sir, Wha-What do you mean?”
Big Pax doesn’t let him go. “Forgive me, son.”
And as if on cue, the door separating the dining area from the kitchen is pushed open. Mrs. Camren gasps and my heart threatens to rip my chest open.
I whisper his name. “Cruz.”
I look to Mrs. Camren but she is also looking into the face of the ghost. Paxton pulls away from his father. “Sir, what is this? What is going on here?”
“Cruz, have a seat.” Cruz does as he’s told, taking the seat across from me at the table. Big Pax ignores Paxton’s questions. “Paxton, take your seat.” Paxton’s frustration builds. “What? No. Explain yourself!”
Big Pax chuckles. “Of the two of you, you’ve definitely always been the hot-headed one. No matter how controlled you attempt to make yourself appear.” I can tell Paxton wants to respond but he reluctantly takes his seat instead.
Mrs. Camren seemingly just as confused as the rest of us attempts to interject. “You need to---.”
“Oh, no. You don’t get the floor today, dear.” Big Pax pulls his chair out and finally takes a seat.
“Are you really attempting to keep me from speaking?” Mrs. Camren challenges him. He glares at her. His voice is low. “As I’ve said…” He looks directly at her. “Don’t.” She looks away, infuriated. Big Pax stares at her for a moment before his posture softens. He turns back towards Paxton. “Son, you know I would never do anything to hurt you, right?”
“I was certain of that before now, sir.” Paxton is holding my hand again. I don’t look towards Cruz even though I can feel his grey eyes piercing through me. I keep my focus on Paxton. Big Pax lets out a breath. “Son, Cruz is your brother.”
Paxton releases my hand and sits back in his chair. “No, our relationship was done the day he tried to steal from me, the day he fucked my fiancé.” I shrink into myself but bring my hands up over my mouth. My eyes are wide searching for a reaction from Big Pax. Mrs. Camren looks from Big Pax to Cruz and then to Paxton. “Is this some kind of joke? What are you saying to your son? To your wife?” Mrs. Camren’s eyes continue to dart back and forth between the men.
Big Pax ignores the emotions being thrown at him from his wife. His only concern is Paxton. “No, your actual brother, Junior.” Paxton shakes his head in disbelief. “No, no he isn’t. You would never do that to your family. No.”
Big Pax moves to the edge of his chair and leans toward his son. “I didn’t do that to our family. Your mother did.”
Mrs. Camren throws her head back in laughter. “What? Camren, what kind of lies are you telling my son?” She turns to face Cruz. “This is you. This is your doing. You and that ungrateful, devious bitch!” She points towards me. I sit back and cross my legs. “Not this time, Mrs. Camren. Not this time.” I look on in awe.
“I don’t understand.” Paxton’s face reflects his internal conflict.
“There’s nothing to understand Paxton. These are all lies. These leeches---“
“Mother, shut up!” Paxton clenches his fist and growls. His voice is barely audible. “My tolerance for you is nonexistent so I need you to be as still and as quiet as possible.” The hurt is clear on Mrs. Camren’s face. “Lani, more to drink?”
“Yes, Pax.” I rush to his secret stash and bring back the Old Fitzgerald. I make the drink in the room because I can’t afford to miss anything that is said. Big Pax raises his hand and nods towards me. I make him one, also. The men sip their drinks as I take my seat again next to Paxton. “So, he’s my brother…”
Big Pax nods to Cruz. Cruz clears his throat and adjusts his tie. “I am---your brother.” He looks at Mrs. Camren and then back to Paxton. “Your mother tried to get rid of me. Father---I mean… Big Pax---got to me before she could have me sent away.”
Mrs. Camren looks as if the life is leaving her body. “This isn’t my son. This isn’t my son… my son is… my son---“
“Is dead? Your son is dead, Mrs. Camren?” Cruz questions her. She opens her mouth but nothing comes out. “Gavin is not your son. Gavin was my friend. Gavin was my father’s way of keeping you away from me.” You can see the pain and disconnect in Cruz’s posture.
Mrs. Camren grimaces. “If you are my son, Big Pax is not your father.”
Big Pax laughs. “I have loved you from the moment that I saw you. I didn’t care who you were---what you were. Your only shortcoming, in my eyes, was that you have always been quick to react. I guess that’s where my boy gets it from.” Big Pax is standing over Paxton with his hands on his shoulders now. Paxton seems to be searching for the words to say. Mrs. Camren sips from the glass of water sitting in front of her. “You didn’t even think he could be mine. You thought to kill a child without even knowing for sure if he was mine or not.”
Cruz looks to Paxton again, “I just wanted what belonged to me.”
“Noelani, never belonged to you.” Paxton’s anger is evident.
Cruz smiles. His grey eyes send a chill down my spine. For the first time, I realize it has never been lust or love. It has always been fear. “Noelani does---did---belong to me but she has clearly made her choice, hasn’t she?”
“Son.” Both Cruz and Paxton look towards Big Pax.
Cruz looks away. “All I want now is my name and what I’ve worked for.”
“Your name is Reyes. We built this together and you have tried to burn it down!”
“You have no idea what it feels like to exist in your shadow. I am your older brother. I am the junior. This legacy… this all belongs to me!”
“You are the byproduct of my mother’s sin and my father’s secret.” Paxton stands from his chair and grabs my hand. I stand with him.
“I am your brother!”
“Do---not----move.” Big Pax speaks to Paxton silencing the room. Paxton swallows hard but he doesn’t move. He holds onto my hand as if I am his only lifeline.
“Son, if you walk out of here I will be forced to give it all to Cruz.” Paxton thinks for a moment and sits back down. I remain standing next to him. My hand is on his shoulder.
“I want nothing to do with him.” Paxton states plainly.
“You don’t have to deal with him right, son. I know this will take time.” Big Pax relaxes. “He will go to Seoul. That’s it.”
“That’s it?” Paxton objects but it sounds more like a question.
“That’s it.” Cruz responds.
“This isn’t happening. Paxton has earned---.” Mrs. Camren attempts to defend the son she chose. “Quiet, dear.” Big Pax takes out his cell phone and dials. After a moment he says, “I’m ready.” He hangs up, stands, and pushes in his chair. He takes up his blazer and puts it on. “Family, today you’ll have to decide. I need to know… are you with me?”
His words are the same words Paxton said to me just weeks ago as I sat just steps away from Gavin’s lifeless body. I’m terrified of what’s about to happen. I wonder if I’m the weakest link this time?
Cruz stands. “I’m with you---father.”
Paxton looks up at me and then back to his father. He avoids Mrs. Camren but takes a quick glance towards Cruz before responding. “Father---I’m with you.”
Big Pax looks at me. “What choice are we making here?”
Mrs. Camren whispers. “Remember, Noelani. We do as we’re told.” Confusion runs through me and then I realize. I look at Big Pax, “I’ll do whatever you say.”
The entrance Cruz had entered just moments before opens again. This time it’s the same man that knocked Cruz out. The man Mrs. Camren sent in to take care of things.
Big Pax walks over to Mrs. Camren. He whispers loud enough for all of us to hear, “These men work for me.” He kisses her on the forehead and turns his back. “Family, we have a wedding to plan.” The gentleman in the doorway make room for him to pass nodding his head, “Mr. Camren.”
Cruz looks down at Mrs. Camren in disgust before he makes his way around the table and to the exit. The gentleman nods again, “Mr. Camren.” Cruz nods back.
Paxton stands never letting go of my hand. Mrs. Camren doesn’t speak but her eyes plead with him as tears begin to fall. His face is cold. He lets out a breath before walking towards the door and pulling me along with him. Once again, the gentleman nods, “Mr. Camren.”
I notice the syringe in the man’s hands as I move closer to him. I release Paxton and turn back towards Mrs. Camren.
I smile, “Mrs. Camren, you---are an arrogant opportunist, a mere morsel of what I will become.” I laugh. She doesn’t respond. “You, are going to die now. Say it. Make it real.” Mrs. Camren remains silent. I laugh. “It doesn’t matter because it is very real.”
I turn my back to her and nod to the gentleman at the entrance.
He nods in return, “Mrs. Camren.” He steps inside and closes the door behind him. I walk out into the foyer to see Big Pax, Cruz and Paxton standing with the wedding planner. Cruz and Paxton are laughing together.
Paxton loves appearances.