Having just lost Her brother, the last member of her family, Kate Shaw is grieving. She now finds herself alone and the only person she can trust is the best friend of her brother. She now finds herself alone and the only person she can trust is the best friend of her brother. Nathan though, has other ideas in mind ...
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"Get in the car."
The deep familiar voice barely penetrated her thoughts. Somewhere in the back of her mind, she did hear it beyond the haze of her own grief. In fact, out of all of the people there, his was probably the only one that she would hear.
It's going to rain, Kate thought tilting her head up and looking at the dark clouds forming overhead. It seemed fitting for a funeral; almost symbolic. If it was a reflection of her sorrow, it should have been a torrential downpour.
A slight fall breeze picked up and brushed over her upturned face causing her bangs to be pushed to one side of her forehead. How she wished this was just a dream, even a nightmare would be welcome about now. At least that would be something she could wake up from then everything would return to normal.
Normal. Kate hadn't known normal since her parents died years ago. Now this.
When she didn't respond to the masculine command she felt a large strong hand squeeze her shoulder gently followed by his concerned voice again, "Get in the car honey. I'll take care of the rest."
Kate heard the deep vibrating compassion in his voice and she was too upset to argue. Guiding her eyes up to him like she was in a trance, she slowly nodded. Then like a zombie she let him lead her through the throng of people dressed in black. She could feel their sympathetic looks and purposely avoided their gazes. It was much better for her to focus on other things, like the scenery.
Absently she stepped across the manicured grass and around headstones toward the sleek black stretched limousine with the gentle guidance of his hand against the small of her back. Oddly she found herself thinking of the weirdest things. Like, why do people wear black when they mourn? It's just more depressing.
The Chauffer dutifully opened the door for her severing her thoughts, and with assistance by a strong hand, she climbed into its luxurious interior not paying attention to the lush surroundings but instead choosing to look out the window over the variant combination of headstones, statues and crypts that scattered through the cemetery.
She heard him say he'd be a few minutes and she nodded but didn't say anything. Tears slipped from her emerald eyes and tided down her alabaster cheeks. Now she had no one. Her brother, the last of her family was killed overseas in a senseless war! He had been paying to put her through school, but all of that seemed menial in the face of this tragedy. Eric was dead. Everything that Eric had insisted that she do had ground to a halt. The house their parents left them had mortgage payments and Eric was taking care of all of it. It wasn't a great asset, because they never had much money, so it was small, but it was theirs. I need to get a job, she thought inattentively. Already she knew she wasn't thinking with a full deck, but she was in shock. Usually she was well grounded and responsible, but this, all of this, completely threw her world into chaos.
When her parents died, she remembered the funeral then and at twelve years old didn't understand why someone had to stand among a bunch of strangers and friends and cry. She wanted so bad to be alone with her grief, not weep in front of people. It was a horrible experience back then. Now that she was older, it was even worse. She was alone, horribly alone. Everyone kept looking at her like she was a pity case and because of it, she couldn't let go and cry like she wanted to. It was almost if everything was a dream, a ghastly dream that she couldn't wake up from.
There were more people here this time. Eric was well liked and everyone knew him. Like then the looks of pity were too much for her to bear. Except Nathan, his expression was unreadable and although she knew he shared her grief, you wouldn't know it from the steeled expression he wore. As odd as it seemed, she found that comforting.
Fifteen minutes later, the door opened and Nathan slid in across from her in the large interior placing the American flag on the leather seat beside him. She was actually holding it graveside when it was given to her. She must've dropped it numbly forgotten she even had it. Obviously he noticed and that's why he told her to go to the car. He didn't say anything else to her except lean forward and hand her his handkerchief. She mumbled a thank you but kept her gaze averted feeling his vibrant blue eyes on her as he rapped on the glass divider over his shoulder indicating to the driver to go. Shortly after she heard the engine start and the car began to move.
Nathan was her brother's best friend. They had gone to school and college together and when her parents had died in a tragic car accident, Eric quit college and took a job at the local hardware store while Nathan went on and became his father's prodigy son taking over the family empire and prospering while she and Eric struggled from pay check to pay check.
Yet through it all they somehow remained close, and although Kate never understood the connection between them, it was obviously quite strong. Nathan came from money and Eric didn't, nevertheless he never acted as though he was better than either one of them.
He looked it.
Every bit of him looked as though he was worth a million dollars when he was actually worth more, much more. Even in her grief, there was no mistaking the expensive crisp cut of his suit and the way he carried himself with utter and unbelievable confidence. However, she knew that underneath all of that was a man who was grieving and she was possibly the only one on the planet that knew that. Nathan didn't let many people close to him but he did with her and Eric. He loved Eric like a brother, and they'd known each other for almost twenty years. They had gone through school together.
It was odd really, because Nathan's family was very wealthy and yet he went to a public school. She overheard him explaining it to Eric that his mother was raised in a middle class family and thought that Nathan needed to understand that side
of life. She didn't believe in boarding schools or any other private school. She wanted her son to be normal. Apparently his father was so much in love with his wife that he would have granted her anything so Nathan went to public school as she wished.
Unfortunately his wonderful beautiful mother died and when his father remarried, she'd heard that this woman was nothing like her. It was then that Nathan and Eric became inseparable. Obviously his step mother wasn't as loving as his biological one. Apparently she wanted Nathan to quit hanging around with the lower class and start acting like a wealthy snob. She would throw lavish parties and expect him to play the part of a loving step son. One thing Nathan wasn't, was dishonest. He couldn't be asked to betray his own morals so he ignored her requests, didn't show up, or didn't act like the lovable doting step son when he did. She was furious but for some reason his father let him be. Maybe it had something to do with his first wife's wishes.
On the other hand, Eric had no social restrictions so Nathan could be more of himself when he was with him.
It was Eric that insisted she go to college as he struggled to make ends meet. When she turned eighteen she finally relented and decided on a degree in business administration. He joined the military when she left for college telling her he could make more money and when he was done they'd pay for his degree. He had it all planned out, but six months shy of graduating she got a phone call.
Killed overseas, is what the man on the other end said. That was all she heard before hung up the phone and did the only thing she knew and phoned Nathan. She had other friends, but Nathan was the only other person she would consider family and he was strong emotionally which she needed. Besides being Eric's best friend, he was reliable to the teeth and no other number came into her head at that devastating time. She dialed him without even remembering until she heard his voice.