"Meeting Tiffany" Chapter 9
Please forgive all my grammar and spelling errors. Yes my formatting too. I’ll revise it before posting it to AO3 but I wanted to get this up for onebuttscratcher and nebisbenedict
To read this evening. I love you both so much! *hugs*
A week had gone by without a word from management at “The Carpenters” and I was beginning to get discouraged. My phone stayed by my side constantly and anytime it vibrated or rang I picked it up right away.
Ben walked into the kitchen where I was fixing some tea for the two of us.
"Good morning. Sleep well?" I asked, not turning from the kettle.
"Very well, thanks. You?"
"Could have been better honestly." I sighed as I prepared our tea and and brought to to the table to enjoy together.
"Oh?" Ben took a seat and started to fix his tea the way he liked it. "What’s troubling you? You’ve been very quiet the last few days."
"Hmm." I took a seat opposite him and stared down into my cup, twirling the spoon slowly with my finger and watching the tea swirl around. "I worry that I won’t be able to get any work here. If I don’t get work then I’ll have to return home."
"Why don’t you call the pub and ask about the position again? It shows interest and gives you a little bit of a foot in the door." Ben encouraged and took a sip of his tea.
"Yeah you are right. I always sit back and let the wave pass over me." Something about his words could always spark something inside of me and lift my spirits. "Matter of fact, I’m going to give them a call right now."
I sprang up from the kitchen table and dashed into the reading room to make the call. As I dialed the number though my phone began to ring…it was my parents.
"Hey." I answered after taking a few breaths.
"Tiffany…" My mom paused, she sounded upset. "Tiffany, I’m sorry..Poppa Herman has passed."
My heart sank and I dropped my phone to the floor. Thoughts raced through my head and my breathing became erratic.
"Tiffany!" I could hear the faint sound of my moms voice coming from my phone on the floor. I quickly picked it up and pressed it to my ear.
"Sorry…I. I uh. I need to go. I’ll call you back later." I stuttered and hung the phone up, dropping it to the sofa and hanging my head trying to collect my thoughts.
The more I thought about my mother’s words the quicker my breathing got. My tears started to flow and soon I was sobbing on my knees. How could everything be going so right but now my world has come crashing down? I didn’t get it. I heard footsteps coming down the hall and then heard Ben come in the doorway.
"Tiff? Christ, what happened?"
Ben sounded panicked and sat down on the floor beside me quickly. I wept into my hands as he pulled me into his protective arms, arms that could make me feel so safe and comfortable.
"Shh. Tell me dear, what happened?"
Ben rubbed my back gently as I cried.
"My. Mom. Called." I breathed through my sobs.
"What did she say to make you so upset?"
"My. Grand…pa. Died." I stuttered and shook as I cried harder into Ben’s chest. My chest seized up and I could hardly breathe as my heart raced faster and faster.
"Oh god…Tiff, I’m so sorry." Ben was in shock. His voice was distant as he thought about what I said and what I was going through.
"You have to breathe, dear, breathe." Ben tried coaching me as I started to hyperventilate.
He held me and let me cry into his chest until I couldn’t cry anymore. No tears were left and I was exhausted from my episode.
"Ben, I have to leave. I have to go to the states. I need to leave today."
I got up quickly and headed towards my room to pack.
"Tiff, don’t you think you should wait till the morning to fly out? You are in no shape to fly right now."
Ben got up and rushed after me, his long strides catching up to me in quick order, taking my arm in his hand to stop me.
"I can’t wait, I have to go be with my family now. I’m sure my father is a wreak. I never told you this because I never had a reason to but my father would have never had my grandfather in his life if I hadn’t been born. The day I was born my father went to the art museum where my grandfather worked and found him to tell him of my birth. He said if he wanted to be a part of my life that he would welcome him and he could come to the hospital that evening of he wished. Well he and my step grandmother showed up and that was that. He’s been a part of our lives ever since."
I spoke calmly as I was currently numb and couldn’t think about anything except packing and flying to Virginia.
"You understand I have to go. I need to be there."
"Go pack, I’m going to make a call. I’ll be right back."
Ben kissed my forehead and grabbed his phone as he headed to the kitchen.
When Ben returned a few minutes later he slipped his phone into his pocket.
"Okay, I’ve got you a flight." Ben said as he headed to take a seat on the bed while I finished packing.
"You didn’t have to do that, I was going to call the airline myself as soon as I finished."
"I didn’t call and airline. I arranged a jet to take you. You need some privacy in case you need to cry. As a matter of fact I’ve also rearranged my schedule a little so I can go with you. I can only stay two days but I can see that you arrive safe. When you are ready to return you can have the jet again."
I was speechless and I’m quite sure I appeared very stupid as I stared at Ben with my mouth open slightly. To arrange a jet and then to take a few days off to fly with me, it was all so much of him to do. Not thinking, I dropped my top to the floor and rushed to hug him, burying my face into Ben’s face.
"Thank you. Thank you so much. How can I ever repay you?"
My tears started again.
"Just continuing being you and following your dreams. Never give up on them."
Ben kissed my temple and pulled me close.
"We leave in a few hours so I better pack."
Ben stood and kissed my forehead then headed off to pack.
Two hours later we were in the air and on the way to Chesterfield, Virginia where I was born and raised.
"We have a few hotels where you can stay, there are some nice ones around town. You are welcome to stay with me at my grandmother’s house, if you don’t want to be seen then that is the best place to stay."
I spoke to Ben but stared out of the window at the ocean below. I had been crying again but I had gained my composure.
"I don’t want to impose."
"Nonsense, it’s no imposition. Don’t be silly. You’ll stay with us."
I turned to look at Ben sitting opposite from me. My eyes were red and puffy from a full day of crying.
"Please Ben, I don’t want to be alone. I’d like to have my friend with me."
I begged with my eyes and words, urging him to stay by me while he was here. The truth was that I had gotten so used to having him around that I couldn’t cope with the thought of not having him by my side, at least not tonight. Not when I was in such a state, a wreck, a hollow shell void of all feelings. All except one…the feeling of comfort when Ben was nearby.
"Alright, I’ll stay."
He stood and pulled me to a sofa seat that was on the other side of the plane, both of us sitting down.
"Come on, lay on my lap dear."
I laid down on his lap and looked up to him through sleepy eyes as he caressed my hair.
"Rest, I’ll wake you when we get closer." Ben’s deep soft voice would lull me to sleep quickly, his voice and his caresses would knock me out in a flash.
“Tiff, we are getting ready to land in a few minutes.”
Ben woke me up gently from my nap.
Sitting up slowly and rubbing my eyes, I turned around to look out the window as we passed over the Eastern shore of Virginia, then the Chesapeake bay and finally over the mainland and the city of Richmond. Chesterfield was right outside the city limits and the small airport would serve the jet. I had arranged for my parents to pick us up at the tiny terminal and take us to my grandmother’s house about ten minutes down the road.
Our jet landed and taxied to the main pad just outside the small terminal. Grabbing our luggage as we stepped off the plane. The wind blew gently around us fluttering my skirt in the wind and messing up Ben’s soft curls that he started to grow. We walked into the terminal and my parents were there to greet us.
There were no words, only tears between my father and I as we hugged tight. I held my arms around my fathers shoulders and cried into his neck. Instantly I felt like a little girl again that had come home from a bad day at school, or just gotten hurt. He held me tight just as he used to when I had a nightmare. Our cries mixed together as my mother and Ben hugged and looked on.
"Let’s go, we will chat on the way." I straightened myself out and Ben held my hand as we headed out to the car, our luggage in tow.
"Ben is going to stay with us." I sniffled as we got into the back seat.
Ben frowned and took his thumb to wipe my tears away while my father drove off. I took his hand and held it tight.
"Benedict, thank you very much for being so kind to our daughter on her new adventure. My name is Sandy, Tiffany’s mother."
My mother turned around to shake Ben’s hand.
"Hello Sandy, please call me Ben and it’s my pleasure, your daughter has been wonderful to me. I’m very happy to have met her." Ben replied and smiled to me.
"Yes, thank you so much for watching out for her while she’s been in London. My name is Buck." My father glanced in the rear view mirror.
"I’m sorry we have to meet under these circumstances, my deepest sympathies for your loss."
After arriving at my grandmother’s house I introduced Ben to my family and chatted briefly before standing to excuse myself to bed.
"We’ll talk more in the morning everyone but for now, I’m very tired and I need to sleep." I stretched and then hugged everyone goodnight.
"I’m going to head to bed as well. I’m sorry for meeting like this but it was nice to meet you." Ben stood and followed me to the tiny guest bedroom that as children we used to call the toy room. Just a small double bed was in there now with a wardrobe and dresser but it was just enough space for us to crash.
Once changing and getting into bed I started to tear up again, crying into my pillow. I felt the bed dip behind me as Ben got in under the sheets. He turned me over to rest my head on his chest. His arm wrapped around me and rubbed my back gently.
"Shhh…it’s alright." Ben whispered.
"Ben, I’m going to miss him so much though. He used to take me to the park and take me on day trips. He was so funny and could make us all laugh. God I’m going to miss him so much."
My ear pressed to his chest and I listened to his soft breaths and heartbeat. After such a long and emotionally draining day we both fell asleep in short order.
A day had passed since we arrived and today was the memorial service for my grandfather. He had been cremated and we were only having a small gathering of the close family.
He wasn’t a religious man so it was a simple ceremony, laughs were shared instead of tears, just like he would have wanted. We finished the day with a dinner and mingling.
"Tiff.." Ben pulled me to the side around 7 that evening.
"I have to leave, I have work starting up again. Will you be alright?"
"I’ll be fine. I just need to hang back a few days and sort things out. Perhaps visit St. Louis with my parents when the return home. Pack a few of my things so I can store them until I find a place in London. I don’t know, it’s all so fast." I began to ramble and think about all that needed to be done.
"When will you be coming back to London?"
"Hmm. I’m not sure. Soon though. I hope." Tears threatened to spill onto my cheeks any moment. I could see Ben’s eyes well up too and he looked so sad.
"I’m coming back..don’t worry about me not coming back. London is my home now and my dreams lie there waiting for me. I’m going to be back, I just need time here. Give me a few weeks and I’ll be back." My tears overflowed onto my cheeks and Ben’s overflowed onto his. My thumbs wiped them away as I looked into his beautiful gentle eyes.
"I’m going to miss you so bad." He choked a little.
"I’m going to miss you more. I’ll be back soon. Until then, we’ll Skype everyday and we will make it through." I said between my sniffles.
"My flight is leaving soon, I have a car outside to take me. I have to go." Ben cried.
Ben rested his forehead on mine and kissed my nose.
"I’ll be back soon." I promised.
"I love you Tiffany…goodbye darling." Ben whispered. The three little words shocked me. I love you is such a simple phrase and one that friends say all the time but it had been something more between Ben and I for weeks. Would it go anywhere? That I didn’t know but of those three words had any clue to what the future held then we were in for quite a journey.
Shaking my head I snapped myself from my thoughts and rushed to the door to grab Ben’s arm and turn him back to me. Wrapping my arms around him and pulling him down to me I kissed him tenderly and our tears met at our cheeks.
"I love you…" I said into Ben’s ear and kissed his earlobe once before letting him go.
"Goodbye" we whispered in unison and like that Ben was out the door.
I stood outside as I watched the car pull out of the drive way and down the street. I watched until I could to see the car anymore and then I walked after it a little until I realized it was time to let go. Ben would be in London waiting for me when I returned but letting go of his touch and sweet cuddles would be so hard for me…for us.