37 Chapter 37 Telling his dad about the dream
"Joseph, are you ready to talk about it?"
"What do you mean, father?" he asked, looking away. He knew exactly what he meant.
"Son, I've had slaves with trauma before. That's one of the reasons I insist on babies now. It helps if you can talk about it."
If anyone else had asked, Joseph would have refused flat out. He didn't want to remember almost dying. But he had been trying to move forward, and it was so hard.
Finally, he nodded. "I want you to hold me, while I tell you though, and I want Stella to hold my hand."
He glanced over at her, and she nodded her head.
His father finished his business for the day, and they headed over to his carriage. He informed all of the guards to make a perimeter.
Joseph started with a cold voice, emotionless. He wanted to distance himself from the feelings as much as possible.
"I was 6 when my parents died. I have a little sister, Emily. I remember promising my mom and dad that I would look after her and keep her safe, because I was the big brother. I couldn't even find her grave until I was 20 because a mistake in the paperwork."
Little tears are trailing down his cheek as he finished the dream. His dad had a neutral expression, obviously stunned and a little unsure of how to take the pain away from his young son.
"She was too young," Stella whispered, hauntedly.
Joseph glanced at her, suddenly angry. This was the first time he had ever been mad at her, but that was such a horrible comment! Then he noticed the lost and faraway look on her face, and paused. She was looking somewhere, or somewhen, else.
"Have you seen something like that before?" he asked softly.
She nodded, without a sound, and it broke his heart. He pulled her into a hug, and surprisingly, she didn't resist, so his dad ended up hugging the two of them for a moment.
"I had a teacher, Mr. Rumble, who saved me," Joseph continued, now that he had started, he felt a need to finish.
"He taught me math and science. He never treated my differently, like everyone else did. Only told me that it was my body that was broken, not my mind. That gave me hope. I came to realize that numbers never lied. Since every adult I had encountered until him had lied to me, I needed something to cling to. Some truth that wouldn't change.
"I did everything I could to be near him, and I stayed on my best behavior so that the family that was taking care of me wouldn't send me away. I was able to stay with them for two years. When he died, he was 78 years old. He should have retired before then, but he had loved us kids. One of the kids in my class made a comment that it was about time he died, and I beat him with my chair.
"I got moved to a new home, but was allowed to attend the funeral. I focused on math after that. A teacher was accused of stealing funds, but I was able to prove him not guilty by getting all the bills from the treasurer and finding where another teacher had gotten the money twice. They had just paid another teacher twice and blamed my teacher for it.
"The same week I heard about a drug lord having been arrested. They had gotten the warrant based on tax filings and then uncovered everything else during their search. I may not be strong or fast but I was smart. If I could do some accounting and get those bastards like the guy who murdered my sister then I could stop them.
"The first friends I ever had were in college. We were a terrible group of misfits but we stuck together. I never got married but most of them did. One of my buddies was even more messed up than I was but it was because he pushed his girlfriend out of the way of a car. They had been friends and neighbors as kids. She hunted him down in college and they got together. She was beautiful and they had 7 kids."
Joseph smiled at the memory. The kids had been adorable, and his friend had let him see them as often as he wanted. He had been very happy for his friend, even if he was jealous.
"I went on to become a criminal accountant. I testified in hundreds, maybe thousands, of cases. We put a lot of bad guys away. My assistant, Miranda, had a husband who was a cop. He died during a drug sting and we became close, but only as friends. I helped find the missing tax returns to get the entire gang indicted and the investigation turned up a host of other misdeeds.
"Twice I was shot. Several more times I was shot at. I had a gift for it. Miranda died of cancer at 48. Of her 3 children, only 1 showed up for the funeral, so per her request, I gave them the check for everything, instead of splitting it. My will had everything going to some charity's orphanages and foster programs that I had investigated as being clean. Miranda had left me a ticket for a cruise and a vacation. She wanted me to take some time off, out of the country. I had never taken her up on it, but figuring it was her last request, I figured I should."
Joseph paused for a moment, looking down at Stella's hand in his. His voice continued as he started to recall further then the dreams had gone. He was willingly allowing himself to see further.
"The cruise was to an island. I couldn't find out much about it, but my God it was beautiful. The vines in the trees were all growing flowers without any kind of sense at all. There were golds, blues, pinks, reds, purples everywhere, and sometimes even from the same vine.
"The greatest thing about that place, was that my back didn't hurt as much. The bullet wound I had in my shoulder wasn't acting up either. At night, that place glowed under the moonlight. I refused to leave when the ship was ready to leave at the end of the week.
"The woman in charge was very polite, but I told her I didn't want to leave. She was just as beautiful as the island."
Joseph stiffened and looked at his dad in surprise. "It was Sylva! It was the same island! How is that possible? My two lives were from different worlds! How could the island be in both?"
His dad looked at him in confusion, but Stella was silent. Shavist! What was going on in his head? Concentrate!
"Sylva wasn't happy, but she was even sexier when she was mad. I was too old for her, 70 years old, and knew that it would never work out, but I had hurt everywhere before I was on that island. Every since I was a child. My dreams had been tormented by the things I'd seen over the years, and while I was on that island, they were gone."
"She told me that the island was only meant for rest, that it wasn't meant to be lived on. When I told her I didn't care, she told me that my life would be shortened."
Joseph chuckled at the memory of that.
"She wasn't sure what to do when I told her okay. And when I asked if she needed more money for me to stay, she said no, as if she didn't care about money. When she told me that I would die, all I could think about was how pretty she was. If only I had met her when I was younger." Joseph laughed at that.
"Of course, if I was younger, she would be too. It wouldn't have worked out. When I offered to let her throw my body into the lagoon to feed the fish, she said she couldn't do that. I understood that would probably freak out future guests, so I told her she could cremate me instead and use my ashes to fertilize the beautiful plants. I liked this place and was willing to stay."
He paused after that. The next part was interesting, as he remembered it. He wasn't sure he wanted to tell them about her next words.
She had said, "Mortal I am tired of..."
But he had interrupted her with, "I am more tired."
"But magic is involved, of which you cannot begin to comprehend."
It had been such a silly statement at the time, but having looked over the brilliant forest of the island, and back at her, it was only more important to him to stay. Before he had come to the island, he would have laughed at the thought of magic, but it wasn't just the flowers and the trees. Fresh air wouldn't have made his back stop hurting. Sleeping in a bed to the sound of wild birds wouldn't make the nightmares go away.
"That's fine, he had said.
She was taken aback. Supposedly, the concept of magic was supposed to dissuade him.
"Care to join me for a drink by the lagoon?" he asked, offering an arm.
Her cute little mouth opened and closed several times before she turned and stomped away. Even her butt was gorgeous.
He hadn't seen her again, but they stopped trying to get him to leave. He had died a week later, happier than he had ever been before.
Turning to his father with a happy grin, "Thank you father, you're right. I did need to talk about that."
Nodding, his father allowed him to slide out of his lap, confused at the end. There was more to the story, but he seemed content not to hear the rest. Joseph was no longer depressed and fearful. That was the goal he had, and it was accomplished.
Joseph was glad his father cared so much for him. This life was so much better than any other had been.
Stella followed behind Joseph as he all but skipped back to his carriage. She was a little curious about his retelling of the event. She remembered it in great detail, and Sylva was convinced there were far more lewd comments then the boy in front of them had shared. Perhaps he held back because he was in front of his dad?
The fact that he seemed so happy at having another memory with her, was a little disturbing. Sylva wasn't interested in having a love interest in a human, despite the fact that Stella was mostly human. The thought of having a relationship with him was so foreign it never occurred to her. He was the one who gave her hope, a reason to keep living, and someone who cared about her more than just a money maker, or piece of property to be controlled. Even Sylva grudgingly agreed that he was worth the effort in light of the life Stella had lived up to this point.