Three Days After Revival 011
Craig stood outside of a restaurant, something that serves meat and seafood that you have to pay far too much money for, with a phone pressed against his ear.
“Listen—“ he tried to interject but failed to do so. His right hand disappeared into the pant pocket of his dark blue pants, and he wore a serious look on his face. A few moments passed, his head nodding alongside the seemingly one-sided conversation.
“Do I get to speak now?” he inquired, but moments of silence followed. He moved from nodding to shaking his head, and now his face showed how exasperated he truly was. He looked towards the restaurant’s front door and saw a woman standing there, her eyes on him, waiting for him. He flashed a smile, removed his right hand from his pant pocket, and held up one finger; one moment, sorry for this.
Finally, his anger got the best of him. “James, James, I’m going to have to cut you off because as much fun as I’m having getting yelled by you, I do have a date tonight— yes, a date, you heard me correctly. I understand what we talked about; I understand what you told me. I looked at them and agreed with you. It’s still going to happen.”
This was followed by a few more moments of silence. “I can’t help that the fool walked out as I was announcing it — yes, you’re right. It’s probably pride. Tell me something my daughter hasn’t told me. Look — Okay, James, let’s talk about this later. I’ve got to go.”
Without waiting for a response, he tapped the large red button on his phone and slipped his phone into his back pocket. He shook his head one more time, for good measure, and walked over to the restaurant’s front door with a smile on his face and his arms stretched out as the woman moved closer and hugged him.
“Isabella, good to see you,” he began.
“I’m just glad you finally asked me out.”
A chuckle escaped from his lips. “It’s been… awhile. Wasn’t quite certain how to do it anymore, you know.”
“That was obvious,” she responded coyly, a slight grin on her face, but as her eyes lock with his, she feels his nervous energy and rubs his arm before taking his hand in hers.
“It’s going to be okay, Craig. I promise you.”
He smiled as he grabbed the wooden door handle to the restaurant and pulled it open. In a matter of moments, they greeted the host, provided their reservation information, and were taken to a table in the back corner of the restaurant. As they sat down, a waiter walked over to the table.
“Evening, welcome to Il Mulino. Would you like some water or wine to start this evening?”
Craig looked over at his date and then at the waiter. “Let’s grab two glasses of water and two glasses of white wine. Your choice. Make it expensive.”
The waiter nodded and walked away as Craig sighed as he reached down and grabbed the menu.
Isabella reached over and rubbed the back of Craig’s hand. “No need to be nervous. I’ll walk you through how to date again, and we can talk. How does that sound?”
“That sounds like fun,” Craig confided as he leaned back in his chair and a smile came over him.
* * *
At the same time as her father was on his first date in many years, Rose found herself sitting in a place she shouldn’t be sitting at; a bar. She sat there, looking at the glass of water before her, and took a small sip. She looked down at the dark brown wood and ran her fingers against it, feeling the rough grain against her silk-like skin. Regrets for coming to this bar entered her mind, but it was almost like autopilot for her to come here.
She sat there and took another sip of the water while the bartender behind the bar mixed a drink and put it in front of her.
“Oh no, I didn’t order that,” she said as she pushed the drink away. Even touching the glass, though, made her want to drink it. She thought about pulling it back towards her but managed to fight that feeling back.
“The gentleman over there ordered it for you,” the bartender responded. Rose looked over and saw a handsome man in his early thirties sitting at a table. She smiled at him and turned back to her water.
“Please—“ she began to push the cocktail away again, but before she could finish, a hand appeared on her right shoulder, and she immediately knew it was the same man she had just smiled at. The simple touch of his skin against hers sent electricity through her body, and she had to fight off the shudder she felt, the warmness that threatened to take over her.
The man sat down next to her. “Evening. My name is Scott. I saw you sitting by yourself and thought I would at least buy you a drink. You’re not obligated to drink it, nor are you obligated to talk to me, but I thought I would take my chances.” He’d brought over his drink and took a sip from it. Rose desperately wanted to take his drink and the drink he’d bought for her but continued to resist the temptation.
“Thanks,” she smiled. “That was quite nice of you.”
He smiled back at her. “What brings you to a bar by yourself?”
“I don’t even know,” she responded honestly. “Before I knew it, I was here.”
“And drinking water?”
She nodded, taking another sip from her water. “Felt refreshing at the time.”
“Do you not drink?”
Her head tilted to the side slightly, knowing her answer but not wanting to give that answer a voice. Instead, she watched as he took another sip of his drink and knew it was a vodka and soda just looking at it. She knew her drink was the same. She could smell the vodka and found her hand moving towards the glass and watched as her fingers wrapped around the glass, pulling it closer to her.
“I do,” she responded. “Sometimes. Not all the time. I don’t think I thought about drinking tonight, so that’s probably just thrown me off a bit.”
He nodded his head. “You know, I don’t think I caught your name.”
“Rose,” she offered. “Thank you again for the drink. It was quite nice of you.”
“Not a problem. Not a problem at all. Do you mind if I sit here and drink with you?” He then lifted his glass, and she toasted with him. She watched as he took another sip and brought the glass close to her lips. The aroma of the vanilla vodka hit her nostrils, and she brought it a bit closer so that her lips were pressed against the glass.
The cold drink touched her skin, and she felt something come over her as she began to part her lips and the liquid slipped in between them.
Her phone began vibrating in her pant pocket, which snapped her back to reality. She placed the glass on the bar and pulled the phone out of her pocket. The caller ID screen read Brian.
Rose looked over at Scott. “Sorry, I have to go. My apologies.” She then moved away from the bar and placed the phone to her ear.
“Hey honey, I’m on my way home.”
Guilt and shame filled every inch of her body as she exited the bar.
* * *
Laughter rose like a thick blanket of smoke from Craig and Isabella’s table. With empty plates in front of them and a bottle of wine on ice on a stand next to the table, Craig coughed through the laughter as he took a sip of water.
“I was so far over my head with Rose,” he said. “She ran circles around me, and I couldn’t do anything to stop it.”
Isabella continued to laugh. “Obviously. Raising a girl by yourself is going to be tough for a single Dad.”
He nodded in agreement. “Without question. She fed me the worst lies, and I just fell for them, over and over again. What was I supposed to do? All I knew is teenagers were supposed to be rebellious. I knew I could at least keep an eye on her if I let her believe that I bought into her lies instead of pushing her further towards whatever she wasn’t doing.”
“Smart man. I don’t want to tell you the things I got into when I was sixteen and seventeen years old.”
He smiled back at her. “Hell, I was so naive at those ages.”
“Were you one of those good boys back in high school?”
Craig shrugged his shoulders. “Look, growing up in the foster system, you know what’s out there a bit more than anyone else. You know about the booze, drugs, sex, and everything between those areas. I’d seen kids I bunked with drinking alcohol until they were sick, girls I knew being pregnant at too young of an age. I didn’t want that life. I didn’t want to ruin my life before it got started.”
“Is that how you got to wrestling?”
He shook his head. “No, I stumbled from thing to thing until I figured out my fists were the best way to make some money. I would’ve kept doing cage fights if it hadn’t been for someone realizing I might have the size to do something else.”
“So you didn’t find wrestling? Wrestling found you.”
Craig nodded before taking a sip of his wine. A moment passed between them. “You know, this isn’t so bad.”
Isabella smiled as her eyes looked down. “Glad to know that I’m ‘not bad.’ That’s what every girl wants to hear.”
“That came out wrong. I haven’t allowed myself to have this moment in such a long time. It feels… nice.”
Her eyes locked with his. “I couldn’t agree more. I hope you will want to do it again.”
“Definitely,” he responded.
Her hand inched closer to his. “And it doesn’t have to be dinner. We can do a movie if you want.”
Craig smiled and then laughed. “That would be fun.”
“Good,” she responded as she grabbed her wine glass and took a sip; they continued to talk about whatever came to their minds, eventually getting to a point where they were the only two left in the restaurant, and they had to be told it was time to go.
* * *
Five Days After Revival 011
Two days after his date with Isabella and a second date secured, Craig pulled into his daughter’s driveway. He sat in his truck for a moment, the air conditioning feeling rather good considering the temperatures of the past few weeks, and then saw his granddaughter looking out the window; her eyes landed upon him.
A smile came across her face and one on his before he turned off the truck and stepped outside. The heat, sweltering as always, seemed like a momentary hiccup before he could see his family. He walked towards the door, and before he could put his hand on the doorknob, the door flew open as Adeline stood there with the biggest grin on her face.
“I’ve been waiting for you!” she eagerly spoke as she grabbed her grandfather’s hand.
“I got here as fast I could,” he joked as she dragged him into the kitchen where Rose and Brian were, cooking and talking. As he edged into the kitchen, he heard tension from Rose and Brian, immediately disappearing as they saw Adeline enter the kitchen.
“Evening,” Craig spoke as he patted Brian on the back and hugged his only daughter. Her embrace seemed fraught, tight. He looked at her, but she refused to meet his eyes and returned to grabbing some plates from the cabinet.
“Hey,” Brian offered with a drink in his hand. Craig graciously accepted it and leaned against the counter. He watched as Rose grabbed Adeline’s hand, and the two walked outside to a large gazebo in their backyard.
“The heat hasn’t put you two off on eating outside yet?” he inquired, and Brian laughed.
“We were just talking about that when you came in.”
Craig looked over at him. “You don’t have to lie to me.”
Brian smiled before he took a sip of the beer in his hand.
“You doing okay?” Brian inquired. “Rose has been talking my ear off all week about you. I think she was relieved at the thought of you retiring.”
He nodded his head. “She just—“
“She worries, that’s all.” Brian’s eyes locked with his father-in-law’s. “She doesn’t get it, though, on the other end. The pride. I can’t believe that prick interrupted your retirement announcement.”
“Yeah,” Craig sighed, the sigh covering for quite a bit of emotion that was tied into the retirement, emotions, and feelings that were being pushed upon him before he was ready to, but he’d made the promise.
Now he’d broken that promise.
“Enough about me,” he began. “How are things going with you? It sounded pretty tense when I came in here. I don’t think it had anything to do with the heat outside.”
Brian shook his head. “You know, I thought it would get easier once she confided that she had a drinking problem and wanted to get the better of it. I thought things would be happier here, but they… haven’t.”
Craig took a sip from the beer and looked at Brian. “It’s going to be a long and difficult road for her, and even admitting that she has a problem, for someone as headstrong as she is, that in and of itself is going to create some issues. She’s lived her entire life trying to be perfect and never had a good role model for what not being perfect truly looks like. Not from a woman’s perspective.”
“Then what do I do?”
Craig chuckled. “That is an enigma wrapped in a puzzle that I’ve been trying to solve all my life. You think you’re meeting her where she needs you to be and realize you’re not even in the same city as she is. She will respect you more if you’re direct with her and tell her that for you to help her, she needs to help you understand what she needs. Don’t try to guess, and don’t let her play games with it. She will want to do it on her own and can’t. No matter how hard she tries.”
“You know,” Brian started as he shook his head. “I thought all this time that you liked me, and now you’re telling me to go get kicked in the nuts by my wife.”
As the words left Brian’s mouth, the two howled with laughter so hard that Craig felt tears in his eyes.
“Oh man,” Craig finally responded after taking a sip of his drink. “I warned you from the day I met you that marrying my daughter would be a roller coaster ride that you’ll never forget. As long as you still love her, never stop fighting or trying. Understand me?”
Brian put his hand on Craig’s shoulder. “Never. I’m never going to stop.”
“Good,” he responded.
“So, what are you going to do about your problem?”
As the words left Brian’s mouth, Craig felt his phone vibrating in his pocket. Slowly, he began to pull it out.
“Look, I’m going to wrestle these last few matches, starting with Colton, put my boot down Tact’s throat, and walk away once and for all. That’s my promise to Rose, and I plan on keeping it.”
“Well, good, because that would make my life easier,” Brian responded.
Craig smiled as he looked at his phone and saw a text message from James.
YOU CAN NOT WRESTLE. DO YOU UNDERSTAND ME?
Craig shook his head and returned his phone to his pocket.
“Shall we go eat?” Brian inquired, and Craig didn’t respond at first. Brian looked at him as if Craig was in a different universe. “Craig?”
Finally, Craig snapped out of it and looked over at Brian. “Yeah, yeah. Let’s go eat.” The two began to make their way to the back patio when Craig stopped.
“I’ll meet you out there. I need to go wash my hands.”
Brian smiled and exited as Craig turned around and removed his phone once again. He tapped a few buttons on his phone and pressed it against his ear. It rang three times before the call was answered.
“James,” Craig began. “I don’t have long. I came to you as a friend, and you’ve always treated me as such. Back off on this, do you understand me? I will walk away, but the more you push me, the more problems we will have. You got it?”
Then Craig ended the call, placed the phone back in his pocket, and walked towards the door. He took a deep breath in and then walked out, determined to have a smile on his face.