The Cece & Juan Vignettes: Chapter 12 - Him
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The Cece & Juan Vignettes
Chapter 12 – Him
20 years old …
Nervous did not begin to describe how Juan felt as he moved to stand beside Cross Donati in the man’s backyard. He’d decided he would ask Cross for his daughter’s hand the next time he had the chance which just happened to be a month after he’d spoken to his own father about it.
With the backyard Donati party long over that evening, Juan decided now or never when he noticed Cross outside alone.
“I have something to ask,” Juan said.
Cross smirked, giving him a look from the side. “Oh?”
“Not used to having people ask questions, or …?”
“Cute—watch that tone, huh? No, everyone always has something to ask—rarely you, though.”
It wasn’t a lie.
“I don’t have a choice. I have to ask this one. And it has to be you that answers it.”
Silence covered the dark yard.
Cross stiffened beside him. “Please tell me you’re not going to ask that?”
“Depends on what that is.”
The man gave him a burning glance. “You know. Don’t play stupid. There’s only one thing you have to ask me for Cece.”
“Would it be such a bad thing if I did?”
“Yes and no.”
Juan didn’t plan on asking the man to elaborate on that. “I’ll take those odds, Cross. And since you couldn’t let me work into it the way I wanted to, I’ll just ask. I want to marry your daughter—do I or do I not have your blessing?”
Cross’s jaw tightened. If his line of view shot fire, the trees would have been burnt to a crisp.
“I do like you, Juan, I hope you know that,” Cross said, shaking his head.
“Sometimes, I do wonder.”
“Sometimes, you make it hard to remember why I like you.”
Yeah, well …
“Same,” Juan returned.
“You gotta lot of nerve asking me that when she’s only eighteen,” Cross muttered, eyeing the dark surroundings of the backyard, then up at the sky before coming back down to the treeline. Looking literally anywhere but at Juan. “And you know why?”
Juan didn’t get a chance to offer a reason.
Cross continued on just as sharply with, “Because I know how much you fucking love her—because we already did this thing once where I threatened you with what would happen if she wasn’t treated with the utmost care, and never once—not one goddamn time—did you break that promise, and you still let her live her life while you did it. You’ve not given me a single reason to say no to you, Juan, but you ask now—when she’s still young, and for that, you’ve got a lot of nerve here.”
“I didn’t think I was putting you in a bad position.”
“Of course, you are. I’d feel like a fuck for asking you to wait—no one should have to wait when it’s something they love and adore. I know that better than anyone.”
“And half the goddamn time, none of us even know if the two of you are on or fucking off—it tends to be a clear, obvious thing, you know? Not with the two of you.”
He swallowed hard, considering that.
It didn’t take him long to formulate a response and when he did, he hoped it made more than just one thing clear to Cross. All the nerves he felt earlier slipped away because out of everything in his life, there was one thing he was most sure of: Cece. And he wanted everyone else to know it, too. Including her father.
“I grew up with Cece,” Juan said, “and she was my one best friend that was constant. And the only thing between her and I that’s not really changed even when we got older and the shit we did when we were kids turned into something different … I still had my best friend. So, next week I’m taking her to Mumbai—you know about that trip—and we’re gonna have a week of just her and I. But last week she spent partying in the Hills and didn’t call me until Friday when we were flying back to New York for this thing. I’m not dying about it. I don’t need to worry about it when I know what I know. It’s not an on or off thing for me and her—we’re us, and maybe we don’t look like somebody else’s thing, but how can it? Everybody else didn’t grow up like we did … they’re not like we are. It’s how we want it. And maybe someday it’ll change again and we’ll turn into something different.”
Juan nodded when Cross’s gaze landed back on him again. “So, that’s why I’m here. Someday, because I have always known where I wanted to be at the end, if it does change, I have done what I needed to do for that, too. I want to marry your daughter—do I or do I not have your blessing?”
He said it the same way.
Posed it no different.
Juan didn’t give a time frame of when he might ask—because if they changed tomorrow or next week or in three years, he would be happy and ready all the same—how, or otherwise. There was nothing that had changed from the first time he asked Cross that night to the second except that he hoped the two men understood each other now when it came to Cece.
See, he’d always understood Cross.
And the man’s position.
It was his turn now.
“Is the threat of your worst possible death for her safety and care still well understood between the two of us?” Cross asked gruffly.
Juan nodded. “Of course.”
Cross sniffed, shoved his hands in his pockets, and turned to face the treeline of his back property again. “Then, you have my blessing.”
“That’s all you have to say?”
“Someday, I’ll be your father-in-law, Juan. I reserve my right to say anything I want whenever I want during the duration of your marriage to my daughter. Which we both know will be forever—Catholics don’t do divorce but for the exceptional few. So, yeah, that’s all I have to say.”
Yet, Juan respected it.
Because that was him—Cross.
And he made her.