CHAPTER TWENTY - ONE
“The countless ways you've touched my heart, is more than I can say
The beauty that you've shown to me, takes my breath away…
I've found a masterpiece in you, a work of art it's true
And I treasure you… ”
From “Masterpiece” by Atlantic Starr
Jack never asked for details about what took place in his garage. “I don’t even want to know,” he had said. He guaranteed he wouldn’t say anything to her parents, but he had given the two youngsters a brief lecture. In essence, he expressed his disappointment in both Odessa and The Boy. He told them he knew what is like to be a teenager engaging in frisky behaviour, but his giving The Boy access to his garage was not an invitation to convert it into a “sex pad.” Jack then specifically told The Boy, that he didn’t like the idea of him taking advantage of Odessa in his garage. Odessa, feeling extremely bad and guilty, steadfastly defended The Boy, stating that she was the one who coerced him into doing their act, and apologised to Jack. The Boy apologised as well, but instead of allowing Odessa to try and take full blame, he told Jack to ignore what she’d just said, saying she was covering for him and that he should’ve used more sense. As Jack and The Boy were very close to completing the Ducati restoration, The Boy had insisted that he make it up to Jack by him finishing up all night long, so that Jack wouldn’t have to worry about him coming by the garage anymore. Jack was alarmed at the suggestion. “I accept both you and Odessa’s apologies… but Tim, that’s a bit extreme… I may be busy with The Sun and all, but we still have a couple days left to finish up. It isn’t necessary to rush… and you are always welcome to my place, even after we finish with the motorcycle.”
“I appreciate it Jack, but I think it’s for the best that I don’t come by anymore after this,” The Boy said almost robotically. “Anyway, all that’s left won’t take long to do.” He immediately went over to the bike to start-up the completion. Both Jack and Odessa only looked at him, stunned. Odessa was about to say something to The Boy, but he didn’t give her a chance. “Odessa you’d better get going to the game. Sky’s waiting for you… I’ll see you later,” he said without looking at her, as his back was turned to them.
Odessa looked over at Jack, who was frowning and still watching The Boy. “Um, okay, I’ll see ya then… Bye Jack, and again I’m really sorry for upsetting you…”
Jack finally broke away from his gaze at The Boy and gave her a little squeeze on the shoulder. “Nevermind about it, ‘Dessa, just don’t let it happen again…”
Odessa hadn’t seen or heard from The Boy for the next couple of days after. She’d stopped by the auto shop to see if he’d been working, but his manager said he hadn’t been in. She also drove by The Angel Square Hotel to see if she could spot his motorcycle, but she hadn’t seen it. And none of their friends had seen him around either. Naturally, Odessa was worried. Sunday afternoon, Odessa was in her room taking a nap, when her mobile phone started ringing. “Hello?” she answered drowsily.
“Hi Odessa… did I call you at a bad time?” It was Starr.
“Oh hey Starr, not at all. I needed to get up anyway… So what’s up? Do you need me to baby-sit for Rosie?”
“No, it’s not that… As you know might know my family, including my father and Téa, along with Jamie and her father will be going away for a Christmas holiday ski trip in Vermont, and Tim had been talking about skiing in Switzerland when he was younger with my dad in one of their conversations, the day he came over to Dad’s, Thanksgiving afternoon. Jack won’t be going since he has deadlines to meet at The Sun, but he gave me Tim’s number. I can’t seem to get a hold of him on the phone, though, and apparently he’s not been working at the auto shop. Anyway, I wanted to know if you knew anything about his decision to take up on my father’s invitation.”
Odessa didn’t know what she was talking about. “Invitation? What invitation?”
Starr was quiet for a moment. “Hmmm… he didn’t tell you, I take it? Well, Dad asked Tim about a week or so ago, if he’d like to come with us to Vermont, if he’s not doing anything for the holiday season, all expenses paid.”
She was curious, knowing how The Boy felt about holidays with family. “No, he didn’t tell me about it… what did he tell your dad?”
“He told him that he wasn’t really a big fan of skiing and prefers snowboarding. Dad said that’s fine... snowboards are available at the resort we’re staying at. I guess he still rejected the offer. At any rate, Dad told him the offer would still stand up until the moment we leave. But since he hasn’t mentioned it to you, I guess that means he’s still not interested.”
Interesting… Why didn’t he mention this to me before? Odessa wondered. “Gee Starr, I don’t know what to tell you. All I know is that he’s not really keen about family holidays.”
“Must be hard for him, since he doesn’t have any family around… poor guy,” Starr sympathised. “Well if you see him around can you ask him to either give me or my father a call ASAP? I’d really appreciate it.”
“Sure thing, Starr, I’ll pass the message on.”
A few minutes later her phone rang again. This time it was Jack and she panicked. “Um… Hi Jack, what’s up?” Ever since his discovery at his garage, she still found it difficult to even look at him, much less speak to him, without feeling a huge sense of embarrassment and guilt. He called wanting to know if she’d seen The Boy around. “Since Tim and I finished up with the bike a few days ago, and my family is going away for the holidays, I wanted to go ahead and give my pops his present early. Tim played the biggest part in helping me restore the Ducati, there’s no way I’m giving it to Dad without him being present. I can’t get a hold of him for some reason, but if and when you see him can you ask him to stop by my father’s private garage tomorrow evening around 7:30pm? I think he knows where it is, since he’s seen the motorcycle collection.”
“Yep, no problem!”
“You can stop by too, if you like…” Odessa was hesitant at his suggestion. “’Dessa? You’re not still embarrassed about what happened in my garage are you?”
“Jack, if you were in my shoes you would be, too.”
He laughed, before turning serious. “’Dessa, don’t be silly… I don’t want you to ever be uncomfortable around me alright? You know I’ve known you since you were little. It’s bad enough Tim banned himself from being around me, but you feeling strange around me definitely isn’t cool. You’re my little buddy… Tim, as well. And I want you both -- strike that -- expect you both at my dad’s garage tomorrow evening, comprende?”
Odessa couldn’t help but grin. “Okay then, Jack, I accept. And I’ll see what I can do about Tim…”
At long last Odessa heard from The Boy some time after dinner that night, when he called her from his room. When asked where he’d been he told her that he had to go away for a short while to take care of some things. “You’re not in trouble or anything are you?” she asked.
“Hehe, nah… not at all.”
Odessa then went on to pass to him Starr and Jack’s messages. Regarding the ski trip, she was trying to encourage him to go along, citing it would be good for him. “They all obviously like you, though I don’t see what the big deal is,” she teased. “But why don’t you go with them? It’ll be fun!… Is it the whole ‘family thing’ again? It can’t be ‘the snowboard excuse’… because that’s just weak.”
She could hear him sighing. “I know it is, but I’d rather not go…”
“Does this have anything to do with Jack? He thinks you’re weirded out by him… Do you realise he thinks of you as one of his buddies?”
“Really?” he said quietly.
“Yes… and why did you take full blame like that when he started focusing on you?”
“Because, I have nothing to lose with Jack…”
There was brief silence. “You aren’t uncomfortable around him or something, are you?” Odessa asked.
“No, it’s nothing like that… Jack is cool people. It’s just that I’m not comfortable with the idea of being friends with him, or any of his family, at that.”
“Tim, how can you say that! They seem crazy about you! I know your deal with getting close to people because of what happened with other people in your life… but what about the friends you’ve made at school? You seem cool with them!” She stopped before continuing. “And… what about me?” she calmly asked.
“Odessa… you know you’re different! hell you’re the reason I haven’t left town, yet…”
She was flattered but a little unsettled. “What do you mean by ‘yet’?”
“Babes, come on…”
“Alright, alright… So where exactly did you go all this time?” Odessa asked, changing the subject.
He cleared his throat. “Oh, I’ve… been out by Route 11…”
“Route 11?? Tim, I thought you said you weren’t going up to the mountains for awhile?”
“I know, but I had to go… I couldn’t help it.”
“But where did you stay at night then?”
“That’s not important…”
“Look, if you’re in any trouble please tell me! I’ve been worried since I haven’t heard from you in a couple of days. I almost thought you were mad at me.”
“Hehe… Babes I’m not mad at you… and no I’m not in trouble. You’re starting to sound like you’re my mother now…”
“Hmph! Someone has to worry about you!” The Boy fell silent. Odessa feared she’d offended him. “Tim?”
“Yeah, I’m here. I was just thinking about a picture of Blair I saw at Jack’s house one time. It’s amazing how much he looks like her…”
“Your getting random, Tim…Who’s Blair?”
“Jack’s and Starr’s mom. I don’t what made me think about her,” he cleared his throat again.
“Oh… I don’t really know what she looks like. She left Llanview just before I was born… So if you’re not gonna go on the trip, you could always come to my place.”
The Boy chuckled. “Since your mom isn’t big on me anymore, I think I’ll pass. Maybe I’ll chill at my cab— I mean… Alec’s place, if I have to. But don’t worry about me. I’ve been fine on my own all this time…” he said. He was masking it but Odessa could sense sadness in his voice.
“Alright, Tim, but just know my invitation will always stand. And please… go to Mr. Manning’s private garage. It’s the very least you’d have to do, and I know Jack really wants you there, and I’ll come too.”
After some deliberation The Boy finally agreed. “Alright, I’ll go… but only because you’ll go.”
“Sweet! Oh, and don’t forget to call Starr or Mr. Manning about the trip!”
“Hehe, uh, sure…”
The next evening, Monday evening rolled around, and it was two days before Christmas Eve. A fresh coat of snow covered the grounds earlier that day, and Odessa elected to pick The Boy up from his room. As usual, his room phone wasn’t plugged in, but he informed Roxie, who was at the desk, that Odessa would be stopping by. When she came by and brushed off Roxie’s nosy questions, she went up to his room and knocked on his door. When he opened the door the sight of him made Odessa flushed. The Boy was shirtless, and his hair looked moistened and coated with a fresh shade of black, bringing out the electricity in his green eyes, despite the fact he was now wearing his glasses. She especially liked what she saw, regarding his lightly-tanned, upper body, as it was lean, toned, and lacking in body fat. “Hey, come on in! I was just about to put on a shirt on.”
Oh, please don’t! she wanted to say. When he turned around she discovered that The Boy had other tattoos on his back, in addition to the eagle tattooed on his right shoulder. On his left shoulder blade was a tattoo of a wing, outlined in black; inside the wing was a Chinese character, also coloured black. Running down the middle of his back was a large depiction of a dagger draped with vines of red roses, with the head of an eagle for its grip; on the blade itself was the word “Finzione,” written vertically in black, gothic letters vertical. Odessa, intrigued wanted to ask what they all meant, but got distracted when she saw a towel spread on his desk chair, with blots of black dye. After putting on a couple layers of shirts, he grabbed one of his coats, and told her he was ready to go.
She already called Jack to let him know they were on their way over to Todd’s garage and when they arrived, already gathered inside the property were Todd, Téa, Jack, Jamie, Starr and Rosie. Everyone exchanged greetings. Rosie was particularly happy to see The Boy. “You’re here!!” she said hugging him. Jack was also glad that The Boy and Odessa came, and told them so. When it came time to presenting the newly fiery red-polished and restored bike, Jack went out to bring in the Ducati, and when Todd saw it he was elated with his present, as the finished job was superb with the engine sounding flawless.
“This is excellent! I can’t believe it’s only been restored because it looks brand new!” Téa, on the other hand, was not happy at yet another addition to his motorcycle collection. Nevertheless, Jack informed his father that he and The Boy had been working on it for a few months, with The Boy doing the majority of the work. Todd thanked both of them, giving loads of them compliments especially to The Boy. “Your craft is superb, young man.” Then they all flipped the script and surprised The Boy with a brand-new black snowboard, designed with artwork of a fierce-looking eagle with its wings spread to the length of the board. “It’s from all of us,” Todd said.
The Boy was speechless and looked like he was about to be sick. Noticing long ago that he didn’t like accepting gifts, Odessa couldn’t tell if he was upset or if it was something else. “Thank you, everyone…” The Boy was barely audible,
Rosie then ran up to hug him again, speaking up. “So you can’t say ‘no’ again about coming with us!” and she giggled.
“Please join us, Tim. At least think of it as me making it up to you for saving my daughter… You can spare some time away from your girlfriend can’t you?” Starr teased.
“Seriously, Mrs. Chavez the tree incident is in the past now, so you don’t need to make anything up to me.”
“Nonsense! And will you please call me Starr!” Starr exclaimed.
“Pleeeeease come with us tomorrow, Tim! Pleeeaase!” Rosie begged.
The Boy looked down at the little girl, vast amounts of anticipation in her eyes. Odessa figured he wouldn’t be able to resist her. The Boy, turned around, took off his glasses and rubbed his temples. Whilst doing so he stole a quick glance over at Téa, which made her slightly distressed.
Odessa picked up on the brief exchange with her eyebrow raised. Interesting…
He turned around with his glasses back on. “Okay, I’ll go then…” he said giving a tiny smile.
“Yippee!” Rosie was elated.
Choosing not to dwell on Téa and The Boy’s odd exchange, Odessa commented. “Well you’d better get packing, eh? What are you gonna do for snowboard gear?”
“Already taken care of,” Starr said, as she handed The Boy a bag full of brand new snowboarding attire.
The Boy and Odessa exchanged surprised glances. “Geez, you guys don’t play around!” Odessa exclaimed…
The morning after he was leaving for the ski trip, The Boy went to Odessa’s house. As her mother was out doing some last minute Christmas shopping, Tyler was over there playing a football video game with her father in the den, when he answered the door. He greeted The Boy inside and called for Odessa, who was in her room. She came down went into the den, where The Boy was waiting with a big gift-wrapped box and a wrapped flat-package. Her father and Tyler were in the room engrossed in their game, but she motioned for The Boy to leave the room for more privacy.
“Boom!! In your face, Uncle John! I told you you couldn’t handle me!” Tyler boasted as they were leaving the room.
“Yeah keep it up that trash talk, nephew, because that’s the only game you’ll ever have against me…” John quipped back.
The Boy wanted to give his gift since the ski trip was going to last a few days, but they’d return a few days before New Year’s Eve. Looking at the bigger present. “Ooh I wonder what it could be!” She opened the gift with great excitement, and drew in her breath when she saw her gift. It was a beautifully modern-designed helmet, with two-toned colours of purple and black, equipped with a clear visor; small, silver words La Bella Fifi written in cursive were decorated curving down the right side. Odessa was awed. “Tim, this is so cool and pretty!” She threw her arms around him to give him a bug hug. “I absolutely love it… But this must have cost you some change! What are doing spending what you have saved up on me?!”
“Forget about all that, Babes, but I’m glad you like it. It’s really just for decoration… not necessarily for riding,” said The Boy. “And… I have one more thing for ya.” He handed her the flat paper-wrapped package.
“Two presents huh? I take it one is an early birthday present. But that’s not for another couple of weeks!”
“No, it’s just something I did at the last minute… Go on, open it.” Curious as to what it could be, she eagerly ripped into it. This time she was so stunned that she nearly dropped it at first glance. It was a black-framed hand-sketched portrait of her, sitting barefoot on what looked like The Boy’s bike; her exposed legs were resting forward towards the handlebars, and one of her hands was resting back at the bike’s end. The other hand appearing to tuck back her long wavy hair -- which also sported a red rose in it -- was flowing backwards, by way of the wind, presumably. She was wearing a long Carolina blue-coloured dress, some of it draping down the bike and flowing in the wind, as well. Her eyes had been tinted with blue and brown, adding to the effect of her physical splendour in the picture. The only pieces left completely uncoloured were her skin, The Boy’s motorcycle, and the mountain-filled background, which in turn, enhanced the overall majestic, mysterious, and tranquil elements of the picture. She was looked regal… gorgeous -- too gorgeous… and it disturbed Odessa, enough to make her teary-eyed.
“You used colours,” she whispered more to herself. “Tim, this is amazing, I…” she couldn’t even find words to say she was so overwhelmed. “You shouldn’t have done this.” They’d been sitting on her bed, until she got up and walked over to her window. “This is what you were really doing up at the mountains, wasn’t it? Drawing this…”
The Boy simply watched her. “Mostly, yes…” Then he rose up and stood behind Odessa, though not near her. “I thought a bit about what you said, about colours and all… and it made me think that if there’s anything, or anyone, more real in my life, it’s you…” said The Boy. Odessa turned around, touched by his words. “Babes, I’ve noticed whenever someone comments on your looks, you get uncomfortable, for the most part... Why?”
Odessa was hushed and went to sit on her bed. After a moment she finally answered. “I don’t know. Maybe, it’s the photographer in me, or something else. With photography I’m just so used to finding the beauty in other people and things, that it’s just weird as hell for me to do that for myself. But then… Ah, forget it, it’s stupid.”
“No, go on, please… It’s okay; I won’t laugh at you, if that’s what you’re worried about.” The Boy urged sitting next to her.
Odessa exhaled deeply. “Alright then, you asked for it,” she laughed nervously. “Tim… there are people out there like my parents who are totally phenomenal. Not only are they beautifully amazing on the outside, but they’re amazing on the inside, also. I hear stories from other people about all the things they’ve accomplished, including overcoming so many things in her life, helping others the lives of others big time…” She got quiet and looked at The Boy, shyly. He urged her to continue. “And then there’s you. I can’t even describe all the ways you’re beautiful. I mean look at all the people that are drawn to you. Hell, you attract females of all ages or saving lives somewhere! You have all these skills you can do that I’m completely amazed by. Not to mention the fact that you are an amazing artist… I still don’t think you give yourself enough credit by not sharing your work… Tim, we may be young but I’ve never met anyone as mature and humble as you, and that adds to your inner and outer beauty. I don’t want you to get any ideas or anything… but you could have almost any girl you want, and sometimes I wonder why you’re even with me.” She sighed “Anyway, who knows if I’ll ever come to terms with how I look, but I do feel that being beautiful as a whole, is more than just physical appearance, and I guess when someone compliments me, I feel like a fraud because I haven’t earned the right. All I can freaking do best is play around with computers or just capture life through the lens of a camera…”
She finished and The Boy sat there, completely stunned at Odessa’s personal admission. “Unbelievable…” he said.
“See I knew you’d think it was stupid!” She tried to get up, but The Boy held her tight.
He got off the bed, kneeled in front of her and looked directly into her eyes. “You listen to me, Odessa McBain! The only thing that is stupid is you thinking that you aren’t a phenomenal person. I can definitely believe your parents are stand-up people. And as for me, I’m no prince, believe me on that, I’m just another person… But regardless, Babes, people are different; people have their own kind of inner or outer beauty. You talk about me not giving myself credit by not sharing my drawings with others, but that’s complete bullshit because you don’t give yourself enough credit by selling yourself short the way you did, just now. I see the way people are when they’re around you, like you make the room light up or something, and it’s not because of your looks. I’m with you because you are smart, full of life and compassion, and most of all, you are an amazing person. That to me is beautiful. I’ll admit your physical appearance caught my attention, but when I first saw you up close in the garage, what I saw in you was a person I know I can learn from, and help me become someone way better than I could ever be on my own… I’ve never even seen that in another girl before.” He gave her an appreciative smile and caressed her face. “I think it’s great that you can what you see the beauty in things, whether it’s through your eyes or through your lens, but… do you ever stop to see yourself from within? Of course you’re gorgeous, but you are much, much more than that, I can’t stress that enough… I’m not saying you should get all arrogant, but I think you have so much to offer the world in terms of what and who you are. So let people appreciate you, Bella, because God knows I already do.” He wiped away the tear that fell from her face. “Please don’t cry… I hate seeing you do that,” he whispered before giving her a soft but caring kiss. Afterwards, he spoke again, his smile playful but affectionate. “Now promise you won’t sell yourself short around me, ever again.”
Odessa returned to him a small goofy, smile. “Okay, I promise…” After a moments time Odessa spoke, “Well, I think it’s only fair I give my present to you now.” She went to her bedroom closet and reached for a small, long box. She presented it to The Boy to open.
He frowned. “I think I should be the one to tell you that you shouldn’t have gotten me anything.”
“Uh-uh, baby, don’t do that to me… I know you don’t like taking gifts from people, but please accept this from me… It may not be much, but it’d mean a lot to me.” She gave it to him, and he obliged. When he opened it her gift to him was a silver necklace with a pendant of an eagle. Across the eagle’s spread wings was an engraving on a strip written in Latin: Subvolo Supernus Et Fortis Liber.
The Boy smiled. “Fly up high, both strong and free…”
Odessa was relieved. “Whew! I’m glad it makes sense to you because I had to use a Latin dictionary, since I don’t know the language. I wasn’t sure if I got the words right and all that.”
He went for a hug. “I can understand it. It’s fine and I love it… Thank you...”
Soon enough, The Boy left to meet the Manning and Chavez clans, as well as Jamie and her father, Antonio. The young couple were out on the porch. As they were embracing, Odessa told The Boy to be careful and have fun. “I will… Starr says she’s still wicked in snowboarding, so I’m looking forward to seeing if she can really kick-ass on the half-pipe… It’ll be weird not seeing you for the next few days; I’ve kind of gotten use to being around you,” he joked, before turning solemn. “I…um…” The Boy stopped, appearing to struggle with his words.
She didn’t know why but all of a sudden, she felt her heart aflutter. “What is it, Tim?” she asked, holding her breath.
He was blinking rapidly. “I… I hope you have a good time with your family… And Merry Christmas,” he managed to say.
“Oh…” Odessa couldn’t help but feel a nudge disappointment. “Well, I’m looking forward to seeing you in time for New Year’s Eve,” she responded.
He gave her a peck on the lips. “Definitely… I’ll see you soon…”
Soon enough Christmas had arrived and dinner was hosted at Odessa house, with her Uncle Michael and his family present, as well as her Grandmother Eve, who’d come down to stay at Michael’s house. Shannon and her twin sons, Connor-Luis and Declan-Ramon, also came down as well, staying in the guest room at her parent’s house. Her Aunt Layla had phoned from Australia, wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and wishing she could be with them all, but the shooting schedule of the adventure movie she was starring in was tight. Nevertheless, Odessa was extremely happy to hear from her. Presents had been exchanged, holiday films and music had been playing all throughout, and dinner had filled with chatter and laughter. It had been a good time for Odessa and her family, but she’d also been wondering how The Boy was faring. She told him not to contact her except for Christmas Day, as she wanted him to concentrate on having fun out there. The night was winding down and her twin cousins had gone off to bed, whilst the adults and Skyler were in the living room. Before leaving with his parents and Skyler, Tyler was in the kitchen with Odessa, him snacking on some leftover apple pie.
“Pig.” Odessa commented and Tyler snorted like one in response.
“So what did ‘Biker Boy’ get you anyway?” he asked. Odessa happily ran to her room to show-off her custom-designed helmet. “Very nice… I think helmets like that go from $170 and up. Why would any guy spend dough like that on you though?” he cracked. Odessa gave him a hard punch and told him to shut up. “Ow! Fiona, you know I’m kidding! Geez… Anyway, I wonder how Uncle John would feel about somebody else calling his little girl ‘Fifi’,” he said referring to the helmet’s inscription. Odessa merely shrugged it off.
“I think he loves you, you know…”
“Duh, genius, he’s my dad.”
Tyler slyly chuckled. “I’m not talking about Uncle John.” His comment caught her off-guard, peaking her interest.
“Ty, are you ready to go?” Michael called out.
“Yeah, Dad, I’m on my way!” he said, giving Odessa another crafty smile “Welp, I’ve been beckoned. Laters, Fee!”
“Hold up, wait! Who do you think ‘loves me?’ Tim?” she curiously demanded. Tyler, however, was pretended like he didn’t hear her. “Tyler, stop playing games! Answer me!”
“Bye Fi-feee! And Merry Christmas!” he tormented as he kissed her on the cheek before running out the door.
Whilst lying in bed that night she couldn’t help think about what Tyler had said; his alleged conclusion left her giddy. Maybe that’s what he was really going to say to me before he left… she speculated. But she had to remind herself to get ahead of things. She remembered her mother’s advice when it came to love whilst being in a relationship. The main point she recalled was always wait until the man tells you he loves you, first… because then you’re less likely to get hurt. Odessa sighed as looked over at the framed picture The Boy had drawn of her, hanging above her desk. He loves me…he loves me not… “Merry Christmas, Tim…” she sighed, switching off her nightstand lamp and drifting off to sleep.