The house was dark and lonely when I got there. Considering it was full of people that was not what I expected. Somehow the loss of my parents had made it feel less like the home that it once was.
It's hard to have a funeral when there are no bodies. The crash had been so destructive that they were only able to bring us back the ashes. I couldn't face a big funeral anyway. My soul and heart were in too much turmoil to try and 'be strong' for a room full of people I didn't know that well. A quiet goodbye on the cliffs suited me and them.
My moments of reflection were spoiled by the presence of one I didn't invite. My eyes narrowed as I watched him wrap his arms around her and anger began to boil at their flaunting of the affair. Now wasn't the time, I knew that, but I had never been more angry in my entire life. It was like an unstoppable force and as I started towards them it grew and grew until I felt as if steam must be coming from my ears.
"Dad?" her voice and face overflowed with pain as she filled my vision. "Can Moon and I take Per and Lola to the park or something? I just…I don't want to go home now that...," she trailed off and her eyes filled with tears.
There is nothing more difficult for a parent to bare than to see their child hurting. Wrapped in my own emotions I hadn't thought about how the death of my parents would affect my kids. They had never known life without them, they had grown up with grandma and grandpa at their side all the time. To loose them so suddenly, their worlds must be turned upside down. Just as quickly as I had lost control it was back. I reached for her wishing I could protect her from ever being hurt again.
As I held my eldest daughter in my arms the tension drained out of me. I would talk to Patina, confront her, but I didn't need to do it now, not in front of the kids. "Of course you can sweetie." Sniffling and giving me a weak smile she walked off to join her sister. My little girls really were all grown up now.
Patina and I drove home in silence. There was a uncomfortable feel in the air. I could understand the reason I was tense but I couldn't explain what I felt from her. It was as if we were both trying to find words to say what was in our hearts. Eventually, after what seemed like an eternity we got to the front door and no sooner than we were there my phone rang. It was Azalea and I took it outside to try and escape the storm cloud I could feel building between Patina and I.
"Hey Azalea now's not really a good time."
"Is everything ok?"
I looked back towards the house almost feeling Patina's eyes watching my every movement. "Yeah, it's just a bit tense here right now."
"I'm so sorry about that Bondi. I shouldn't have told you and Patina and Mr. Bumble. He'll kill me if he finds out I'm the one who let it slip."
"I won't tell, but listen you gotta do me a favour."
"I need to sort things out here at home, no matter what that means. I can't go anywhere any time soon. I need you to make sure all my tour dates are cancelled for a while."
She was silent for a minute and I could hear the hesitation when she did speak. "I'll try Bondi, but Mr. Bumble's not going to be happy about it."
"I don't care about that. Just, just do it ok." I clicked off the phone before she could say anymore I didn't want to feel any more guilty than I did already.
"Which one was it?" she spat her voice hard and angry.
"Which of your little hussies was that on the phone? Was it HER? Was it Azalea?" Her hatred of Azalea's name was obvious and confusing.
"Um, yeah it was." I wasn't prepared for the force of her response and I recoiled as it hit me.
"For crying out loud Bondi we've only just got back from your parents' funeral. Can't you at least spend five minutes with your family before trotting after that little home wrecker."
I stood in shock not knowing where is was coming from or where it was going. My inability to answer didn't stop Patina though. She was going full steam ahead and there was no stopping her. "Don't stand there looking like you don't know what I'm talking about. I know all about you and Azalea." She spat the name as if it left a vile taste in her mouth. "I've seen the pictures and not just of her. Oh no. You weren't content running of to China on your little holiday with her you had to go and hook up with Lin there too. You can't try to deny it Bondi. Wayne has showed me everything!"
How did 'Wayne' know I almost kissed Azalea and what was all this about Lin? There was nothing with Lin, not anymore, nothing but a good friend who was trying to set me right. Thoughts swirled in my head and I tried to grasp hold of one of them to keep from spinning out of control myself.
Who was she to yell at me about other women when she was in the arms of another man not even an hour ago! The red haze that had drifted away at the funeral came crashing over me dragging me forward with unstoppable power of an avalanche. The words came rushing out and for once I didn't stop to think them through.
"Wayne is it? Well I don't know what your precious Wayne told you but I never got close to anyone else before I found about about the two of you. You're the one that can't deny it. I've heard the stories, I've seen what's been going on here at home. Our own son calls him daddy for Berry's sake. I haven't even kissed another person since we got together but you…you…" I sputtered and choked over the words unable to find one that would describe how much she had hurt me.
Her eyes narrowed shrewdly and she looked at me as if she could pierce my soul with her gaze. "What stories? And what is this about Per calling him daddy?"
I snorted, as if she didn't know. "Well from what I've heard your lover hasn't exactly been discrete about your exploits. Everyone at the studio knows about your little bedroom antics." I needed to stop the pictures that were forming in my head so I quickly changed the subject. "I'm surprised you didn't know about Per though, he told me himself the day I left for China."
She whirled around and stalked into the house returning before I could even gather my wits enough to follow her.
She regarded me with a fiery look and in a tone nearly as heated she thrust a folder under my nose. "Explain." With nothing more to go on than that one word I began to flip through the pictures. There were shots of me and Azalea at the beach the night that Lola was born, the night in China were we came so close to a moonlight kiss and more recent ones of me and Lin in China as we said goodbye. I looked at her brow furrowed.
"Where doesn't matter Bondi. What matters is what you are doing in the embrace of these two." She poked a the pictures with such emphasis it nearly knocked them out of my hand.
I looked at them again, this time trying to see them as she would. Out of context they were very damning. "I can see how this looks but these," I waved the ones taken in China towards her. "There were when I found out about you and Mr. Bumble. My heart was broken Patina and I was lucky to have a shoulder to cry on. What you see here though, that's all that happened."
The fire didn't go away, in fact it intensified. I braced myself for the next onslaught. "The ones on the beach?"
"I was her shoulder then. Her boyfriend just broke up with her and I was trying to be there for her." I didn't tell her the reason Azalea's boyfriend left, it seemed like that would just add fuel.
Quietly and with an odd catch in her throat she looked up at me and asked, "And the ones with Lin?" The look she gave me was a mixture of pain, anger and just the tiniest flicker of hope.
I let my arms fall to my sides as I sighed. "Lin was telling me to find a way to work things out with you." I half turned not able to meet her eyes as I continued. "I know I haven't been there for you Patina but I love you. I love you more than the day we met. I know I may be to late, you have moved on, but if you let me I'd like to try and win your heart again."
"That rotten little berry!" she seethed. "I've know he was more than interested but this?"
She lost me there. Was she so mad at me that she had started referring to me in the third person now? With more anger in my voice than I intended I asked, "Who?"
If she was fire before she was ice now. "Wayne," she hissed. "The pictures, the stories, the tours all of it." She let out an exclamation of disgust. "All this time he's been operating under a pretence of helpfulness but he's been scheming behind our backs." Her disgust became a growl. "I'm putting a stop to this right now!"
Buffeted between anger and confusion I just stood there watching her go wondering what just happened here.
What had started as anger was now pure rage. I stormed through the halls of the studio trying hard to ignore the looks from the people gathered in the hall.
The words lovers quarrel reached my ears and it send me over the edge. Turning I snarled at them as I slammed my weight into the door to the studio where I knew I would find Wayne.
"You!" I jabbed my finger as hard as I could into his chest. "I don't know why you did it and I don't care. You have tried your best to break up my marriage and you have failed. I will never leave Bondi and I could never, ever, love you." There was so much more that I had planned to say to him, to get off my chest but as I looked at him I realised he wasn't worth it. I didn't need to waste another ounce of oxygen on this sour apple.
As I reached the door I called without bothering to turn, "Oh, and you're fired."
I stiffened as I heard Azalea call my name. I didn't know her part in all this but I knew she was more than interested in Bondi and that put me on edge.
"Patina wait." She was out of breath and clearly had been running hard to catch up with me. "Jaffa told me everything. After you left he confronted Mr. Bumble and got the truth out of him."
I nodded satisfied with the result of my actions but still not prepared to speak to her.
Nervously she continued. "I guess this isn't the first time he broke up a family, just the first time he was caught. I...I didn't know he was planning this. He was so convincing and I believed him when he told me you and he were, well, um together. He told me I needed to be there for Bondi to keep him going on tour so the music didn't suffer."
I didn't know if I should believe her or not. She sounded innocent but from what I'd seen in those pictures she was anything but.
"I want you to know that nothing happened between Bondi and I. I know you know about China and yes I did try to seduce him but we never even kissed. I don't blame you for being angry at me but please don't take it out on him." She looked up at me from behind the hair that always seemed to be hiding her eyes from view as she turned to walk away. The words "I'm sorry" drifted back to me.
I wish I could say I called after her and told her it was ok but I didn't.
I was never entirely clear about what happened after Patina left that day. She came home looking particularly smug saying it was done and we wouldn't have to worry about it any more. It didn't help the tension between us though.
Jaffa called and told me about how Mr. Bumble had set up the whole thing in an effort to break us up. It made sense, I never did understand why my music was so popular. Turns out it was all an act.
We tried to put everything back to the way things were before for the kids sake but I could feel Patina was holding some part of herself back from me and I didn't know how to reach it. After weeks of the two of us acting like shy teenagers on the first date I decided it was time to act.
Hands shaking like they hadn't for a long time I stood before her and put my heart on my sleeve.
"Don't worry baby."
"You are the sun and moon to me."
"I'll never get over you. You'll never get over me."
The last words left my lips and I looked at her hoping against hope that they were true.
She rushed into my arms nearly knocking me over. "I love you," she breathed in my ear.
Holding her tight and heart nearly bursting I whispered back, "I love you too, forever."
"Bravo my boy, bravo! I think we have another hit on our hands."
I blushed as I separated myself from Patina's arms but still tyring to keep her close. "Jaffa, what are you doing here?"
Still smiling and laughing he sauntered closer. "Well I've just come to tell you the news. The tour is still on for whenever you're ready."
I shook my head unable to keep from smiling myself. "No Jaffa. There's not going to be a tour. I'm needed here, with my family. Besides I know full well that my popularity was all manufactured by Mr. Bumble. No point in doing a tour when no one will come to see me."
"Don't be ridiculous everyone loves Parfait. It's not going to be easy, mind, but I've found you an assistant and she will get this thing flying higher than ever. She's young by industry standards but the girl's got ideas in that head of hers that are going to blow your mind."
"NO!" I pulled away nearly wrenching my arm out in the process. "No records, no tours and most certainly no more young assistants! I'm done Jaffa." I moved away from him and back towards Patina but was stopped short by the sounds of his laughter, louder than ever.
"Now now Bondi don't you go saying no before you met her. She's a cute little thing and I have no doubt you're going to like her.
I rounded on him prepared to tell this girl she wasn't needed but the words never made it out of my mouth.
"Meet you're new assistant Bondi." The smile that was stretched across Jaffa's face was echoed on Mint's and Patina's. I whipped back and fourth between them as what they were trying to say sunk in.
Maybe they had done it for me, maybe I could have music and my family too.
We had found a way.
AUTHORS NOTE: The song that Bondi sings to Patina are the lyrics as I first thought they were to Above&Beyond's song Sun and Moon. Turns out I had the lyrics wrong but my first impression of them fit the story better than the real ones so I kept it that way.