They were back from their weekend in Miami and Luna hadn’t seen or talked with Vin in almost a week. She was starting to wonder if he finally had become bored of her friendship.
Of course, that wasn’t true; he had been busy. Vin’s parents were visiting him and they were staying at his place for the whole week until Sunday.
Luna had been tempted to phone him on a couple of occasions to know how he was doing, but she had dismissed the idea as soon as it popped up in her mind.
She didn’t know the reason why but it seemed more natural if Vin was the one who called her and not the other way around. So, that way, Luna was sure that Vin wanted to see her in the first place.
It was torture, but she was determined to not let Vin lead her life almost 24/7, even though that was practically impossible.
On Monday Luna had received the descriptions of the characters of the new soap opera from HBO by email and she was already working on the script. It wasn’t a fascinating plot, but Luna had always loved those twisted stories with their endless chapters. It reminded Luna of her own fan fics as well as others from authors she had always respected and admired. So, Luna let her imagination fly free and started writing the script, using the past experiences in her life as she always had.
Vin phoned on Friday night and directly asked her to come to his place on Saturday night because he was hosting a party. Before Luna was able to say ‘no, thank you, but your parties suck’, Vin added that it wasn’t exactly a party; it was more a reunion for close friends.
Luna narrowed her eyes in suspicion, but accepted the invitation. She was curious about those other close friends aside from Valentino and Renee. Of course, Luna was oblivious to the fact that they were Vin’s parents, Delora and Irving.
Vin kept that small detail to himself and he didn’t tell Val and Renee that Luna would be there. He considered that there was no point in telling them in advance. Vin didn’t want Luna getting any ideas about their relationship, thinking that because he was going to introduce her to his mom that he was going to marry her, or Val and Renee trying to make a move behind his back just like the one they made at his last party.
However, the real reason was that he couldn’t bring some random chick to a family dinner with his parents and he wasn’t in the mood for spending the night without some female company at his side. At the end, Luna was his best friend, wasn’t she? And, apart from that, Vin suspected that both women were going to get along more than just fine.
Vin had mentioned Luna to his mom on several occasions during their phone conversations and Delora was more than just interested about that “exceptional woman”. According to his own words she wanted to meet her in person, especially after both of them had talked on the phone once, a couple of weeks ago.
Luna and Vin were together at Vin’s place playing billiards when Marcela phoned him on his cell phone. Vin excused himself and went to the terrace to speak with her. He didn’t want Luna listening to him while he was speaking with Marcela about her own career. In the meantime, the phone rang in the house and Vin asked Luna to answer it in his place, taking a message for him.
Luna almost fainted then and there when on the other side of the line Delora asked for her son. She felt her legs going weak and sat at the couch. Taking a deep breath and after introducing herself, Luna answered, trying to sound nonchalant, that Vin was talking with his agent on his cell phone and that she would tell him to call her back as soon as he was done. Luna told Delora that she wasn’t sure how much time it would take.
Delora liked Luna’s accent and decided that she would talk with her while waiting for her son to end the other conversation. Delora was more than just intrigued about Luna because of the fact that Vin allowed someone else other than Renee, Valentino or his bodyguards to answer his phone in his house was a novelty. There was another interesting question dancing inside of Delora’s mind. She was very aware of what the local time was in LA.
Around twenty minutes later, Vin came back to the salon and found Luna laughing softly, talking with someone on his phone. He knit a brow and asked in a cold hard voice who the hell was she talking to.
Luna looked at him, arching her brow, amused by the tone Vin had used with her, and answered, grinning, that if his mom would be able to listen to him right now, she wouldn’t have like it. Luna added that she was sure that his mom hadn’t taught him those rude manners.
At the other side of the line, Delora burst out laughing while listening to Luna teasing him and her son muttering obscenities, as he grabbed the phone not too gently, grunting as soon as he heard his mom’s laughter.
Oh, yes, Delora liked Luna, no matter who the woman was.
Vin introduced Luna to his parents saying that she was his scriptwriter and a very close and very special friend. As soon as Delora met Luna in person, she narrowed her eyes and laughed silently to herself.
She would never say it aloud, but Delora never liked any of those anorexic chicks who were always around her son. They all seemed the same, almost exact copies of the others and definitely too young.
Luna had nothing in common with any other woman she had seen her son with over the years; quite the opposite, and that fact pleased Delora endlessly. Luna was more on the side of Renee and herself. Strong independent women with balls and brains; sexy and beautiful, but not stunning like models. She wondered secretly if Mark was finally thinking seriously about settling down.
So, Delora took a seat opposite from Luna during the dinner, determined to find out more about her son’s very special and very close friend. Luna seemed really interesting though, at least to her. Nevertheless, Delora couldn’t help but wondered why a woman like Luna was around her son.
Valentino, Vin and his dad were sitting on the terrace, talking and laughing while Delora was with Renee and Luna in the kitchen.
“I tell you, that girl is going to drive me crazy,” Delora said, rolling her eyes. Renee and Luna laughed softly. “Sam needs my help for each and every single detail of her wedding. Sometimes, I can’t help but think that I’m the one who is getting married again.” She added, adjusting her small glasses on her nose a little, laughing with them.
“I think it’s nice that she is looking for your advice, Delora.” Luna said, taking a seat at the table, opening her can of diet coke. “I figure that she must be really nervous.” She added as she poured the liquid in a tall glass.
“I am nervous!” Delora replied, laughing as she poured the steamy coffee in her cup. “I can’t believe she’s getting married.” Renee grinned wickedly as Luna smiled. “It feels like yesterday that she asked me if she could use lipstick.”
“When you’re done with her, you could come here and help me with mine. That is if Valentino makes up his mind someday.” Renee teased, sipping from her Corona. “Sometimes that hot Latino doesn’t know what he wants, I swear.”
Delora laughed as she glanced at Luna from the corner of her eye and noticed how her hands were trembling slightly.
“Valentino loves you with all his big heart and soul, Renee. And I’m sure that one of these days, he’s going to surprise you.” Delora said, squeezing Renee’s hand. Renee frowned deeply as she looked at her.
“I think he’s not ready yet, Del.” Renee said, smiling. “However it’s not like we’re waiting to share the bed till after the wedding.” She added as she winked at her, grinning like a loony.
After a heartbeat, the three of them burst out laughing.
“What about you, Luna?” Delora asked when she caught her breath, sipping from her cup of coffee. “Have you found your perfect match just like my dear Renee here?” Delora added nonchalantly, smiling.
Luna tensed every muscle in her body, swallowing hard as Renee cleared her throat.
“I’m…I’m still waiting for him, I guess,” she answered, smiling shyly, feeling her cheeks turn red. “It’s not so easy. Not all men are ready to deal with a woman like me. However, I’m not too much of the marrying type.” Luna said, taking a sip from her drink, shrugging her shoulders.
Right now she could kill for a cigarette, but she knew that Delora didn’t like it. So, she and Renee were trying their best, to not smoke in front of her.
Renee narrowed her eyes as she glanced at Luna. You’re not the marrying type? My ass, sweetie. Renee thought silently, chuckling.
Delora frowned slightly and then looked at Renee. “Please, sweetheart. Would you be so kind and bring me my purse?” she said gently as she smiled broadly.
Renee knit a brow puzzled for a second until realization dawned. Delora wanted to speak with Luna alone and Renee wasn’t sure if she should leave both women alone, but after a heartbeat, she made up her mind. Luna was a grown woman; she would be able to deal with Vin’s mom.
“Sure,” Renee replied as she stood, winking at Delora while Luna was looking down, lost in thought about weddings and Vin.
“I think I left it in the bedroom.” Delora added, winking back as Renee nodded ‘yes’ and headed toward the guest room, leaving both women in the kitchen.
Lately, with the exception of Renee, Luna had been fooling everyone and sometimes even Valentino, pretending that she didn’t care about Vin more than a friend. But she was unable to fool his mom.
Delora thought that it probably wasn’t her business at all, but at the end it was her son’s life. There wasn’t anyone around the world who knew Vin better than she did, and her son had been acting weird since the first minute Luna crossed his path.
At that exact moment, Delora’s stomach clenched with a painful suspicion. Was Luna the woman who her son had hit?
That thought had been torturing her since the day Vin told her. She had always been really clear with people, not wanting to hide her real ideas or thoughts about anything. So without warning, Delora cleared her throat and plunged ahead.
“How much shit are you going to take from Mark before you realize that he doesn’t deserve, at least for now, a woman like you, Luna?”
Luna’s eyes opened wide as she gasped, swallowing hard, tightening her grip on her glass in a lame attempt to stop her hands from shaking uncontrollably.
It was right then and there that Luna realized that Delora hadn’t bought her performance and she cursed herself silently. But at the same time all the feelings that she had been hiding from the world crushed over Luna like a big wave. All at once, overwhelming her. She found herself answering that question before she was able to register her words.
“I’m in love with him, Delora, and I already know that he’s never going to look at me in that way, but… but I’m unable to get over my feelings for Vin.” Luna confessed, locking eyes with Delora. “I’m trapped inside of my own chaotic feelings and I have no idea, nor the strength, to find a way to release myself.” She added, smiling sadly.
Delora heaved a hard sigh, nodding in understanding, and after what seemed an eternity for Luna, she fixed Luna with a serious gaze and spoke.
“I’ll tell you something about me, Luna.” She said, lowering the tone of her voice. “When I was eighteen years old, I met a man and I fell in love with him.” Delora paused, taking a deep breath. “Nobody gave a damn about us though. All our friends were sure that we never would be able to be happy together because we were always fighting and we had nothing in common.”
An eternity had passed since that day, but it was a wound Delora knew would always be there. Luna sensed her sudden sadness and squeezed Delora’s hand. In response, she smiled broadly and continued talking.
“Then, he left me when I was three months pregnant with Paul and Mark….” Delora trailed off, sighing hard. “I felt my life going down so fast that I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t stop thinking how I was going to raise my kids alone. I felt betrayed and used like a dirty washcloth. But, he gave me the best gift ever, my twins.” Luna smiled a little. “Then, Irving came to my life and even though at the beginning it wasn’t easy, we get along great.” Delora grinned, thinking about Sam. “What I’m trying to tell you, Luna, is that no matter how many obstacles we might find in our way, at the end we’re going to reach the balance in our lives, honey. Each and every event is going to make us a little wiser and stronger. Even if those are painful.”
“May…may I ask you something?” Luna’s voice sounded tinted with concern.
Delora nodded ‘yes’ while taking a long sip of her coffee. Luna cleared her throat, frowning slightly. She didn’t want to upset Vin’s mom, digging in a memory that Luna suspected was still painful. But Luna wanted to use the opportunity to out find a little more about Vin’s past and feelings.
“Did he ever try to contact …” she trailed off, locking eyes with Delora. In response, her brow went up.
“You mean Mark’s biological father?” Delora asked as Luna nodded ‘yes’ slowly. “A few years ago when Mark became famous, he tried to contact him directly. When Mark just ignored him, he came looking for my help.” Delora chuckled, remembering that conversation with him. “He told me he wants to meet him and explain to him his version of events. He even said that he had the right to meet his son even if more than thirty years had passed since the day he abandoned us.” Luna knit a brow in amusement.
“What about Paul?” Luna asked as she made herself comfortable on the chair. She felt a little more relaxed now around Delora. “I mean he wasn’t interested in meeting him?” Delora chuckled sadly.
“Paul? Of course not. He’s not as famous as his twin brother.”
“What did you tell him?” Luna asked, narrowing her eyes. Delora grinned wickedly.
“I told him that he could go to the hell and that if he tried to contact me or any of my sons again, I would kick his sorry ass all over New York.” She said nonchalantly, winking. Luna laughed softly and sipped from her drink.
“I bet Irving loved Vin and Paul since the very first time he laid eyes on them.” Luna said after a moment, smiling broadly. Delora nodded, grinning.
“Even before, sweetheart. Irving has been the one who raised them. He was the one at their side, showing them how to ride a bicycle, to shave and had that man-to-man conversation about girls with them. He never made a difference between them and Sam. The three are his children.” Delora said, chuckling at her own words. Her voice full of pride and love. “Besides, if it wasn’t for Irving, Mark never would have shown interest in becoming an actor.” She added, smiling. Luna smiled as well and both women went silent for a long moment.
Listening to what Delora had said about Vin’s past confirmed Luna’s suspicions. Vin wasn’t sharing his deepest feelings with her and that was something that hurt her, because she had thought differently.
“I thought we were close friends, but Vin never talked to me about his biological father….or his feelings concerning him,” Luna said and her voice was tinted with sadness. “I guess he doesn’t trust me after all…” she trailed off, fighting back tears. Delora noticed them and grabbed Luna’s hand.
“Listen, Luna, Mark is really shy even if he acts like a shameless dork around people all the time. Concerning his feelings he simply has a hard time showing them.” She said as she squeezed her hand gently. “He likes to play the tough guy, but he’s just an immature kid trapped inside of a big man’s body. Unfortunately, Mark did inherit that from his biological father.” Delora sighed, stroking gently her hand. “It’s not about you, Luna. It’s about him and his current situation. There are a lot of people out there waiting to have a piece of him to sell it. I’ve seen it before with other women, sweetheart. They really hurt him and badly.”
Luna chuckled sadly as she realized that she had been blinder than she thought in the beginning. She didn’t know anything about Vin even though they had practically been inseparable during the last weeks.
“I’m not like other women, Delora, and after what happened between us…” Luna trailed off, recalling that weekend.
“I’m his mother, but I’m also a woman. I’ll always love him more than you do. But even I can see that he’s taking advantage of your feelings for him, using you.” Delora wanted to ask Luna about her suspicions and she couldn’t wait any longer to confirm them first hand. “Mark told me that he hit a woman. You are that woman, aren’t you?”
Luna gasped in shock as she released Delora’s hand like it was burning her skin, cursing herself silently. Delora might be thinking she was the most worthless woman in the world right now, loving a man who had slapped her, even if that man was her own son.
“Delora, I…I” Delora didn’t let her finish.
“It’s ok, Luna. I just needed to know it. I’m not judging you, sweetheart.” Delora explained, her voice full of understanding. She knew full well how a woman felt when she was in love with a man who was poison to her. Luna looked away, she felt ashamed in front of Vin’s mother.
Delora couldn’t help but she felt her blood boiling inside of her veins just trying to figure out how Luna had been able to suffer such humiliation and in spite of that, here she was with her son, hanging around together, being his best friend and meeting his parents.
“I must look pathetic to you, don’t I?” Luna asked in a murmur, pulling Delora out of her thoughts, her voice suddenly weak. In response, Delora shook her head ‘no’, a sweet smile gracing her lips as she grabbed again Luna’s hand, squeezing it gently.
“No, Luna. You’re not pathetic, honey. You’re in love with a very conflicted man.” In response, Luna sighed hard, shutting her eyes tightly.
She was having a hard time, fighting back her tears.
“I don’t know what to do with my feelings anymore.” Luna said honestly, swallowing the invisible knot in her throat. “Things are going out of control really fast when Vin is around me.”
Delora kept silent for a moment, thinking about what to say to this woman who was in love with her son and so lost that Delora felt like crying for her. She had been fighting the urge to go out and beat the shit out of her son for that.
Delora wanted to help her but she didn’t know exactly how to do that. The next words she said left Luna shocked beyond belief and lost in thought.
“The mother in me tells you to fight for my son’s love because something tells me that you are made for each other, Luna. But,” she paused, taking a deep breath and after a few seconds, she continued, “the woman in me tells you to run away as fast as you can from that man or he will drag you with him to a point of no return.” Delora finished and leaned in, kissing Luna’s forehead, sighing hard.
“So, tell me what is with you and Luna.” Irving said as he made himself comfortable in his armchair. Vin rolled his eyes, shaking his head.
“Come on, dad. You know me.” He replied, grinning as he pulled out a cigarette, lighting it up. “She’s just a good friend, that’s all. I’m not marrying her just because she had dinner with you and mom.” Vin added, taking a long puff of his cigarette. Irving narrowed his eyes as he pulled out a cigarette for himself.
“I though you had quit smoking, Irving.” Valentino said, sipping from his Corona. Irving chuckled as he lit up.
“Hey, that’s true, dad. You always give me shit for that.” Vin said, frowning deeply. “Mom’s gonna beat the shit out of you.” He added, grinning wickedly.
“Then we better keep our mouths shut, kids.” Irving retorted, winking at him and taking a long puff, inhaling deeply. In seconds, he screwed up his face. “It’s sucks after so much time.” Irving mumbled, putting his cigarette out, causing Vin and Val to laugh hard. “Now don’t you try and change the subject, Mark. Tell me about her.” He said, sipping from his Corona.
“Ok, what do you want to know?” Vin asked as he leaned back in his armchair, smoking. Irving cleared his throat.
“First of all, I would like to know why we met her. I mean, I never met any of your girlfriends before. Why Luna?”
Valentino got comfortable too; he was also interested in how Vin was going to answer to that question.
Vin frowned deeply, fixing his gaze on the bottom of his bottle of beer, thinking about what to say. Without a doubt that was a good question, but the problem was that he honestly had no idea. So, after a couple of seconds, Vin said something that didn’t leave him exposed in front of his father’s eyes.
“Well, first of all, she’s not my girlfriend and it was mom who wanted to get to know her, not the other way around, dad. She’s just a friend. So…” Irving cut Vin off.
“Have you taken a look at that woman?” He asked, fixing his son with a serious gaze. Vin knit a brow puzzled and so did Val.
“Meaning?” Vin asked innocently.
Irving rolled his eyes. He knew full well when his son was playing dumb and he definitely was now. He also knew that Vin was hiding something, but for now he was going to play dumb too.
“Listen, Mark. She has nothing to do with all those chicks you’re dating all the time. Have you realized that she’s like your mom?” Vin’s brow went up, chuckling, rolling his eyes. “No…no I’m serious, kid. Balls and brains. Just like Renee. No wonder Valentino is in love with that sexy blonde.” He added as he winked, grinning at Val who laughed hard, thinking about his woman.
“Who’s like mom?” Delora asked from the doorframe.
Vin turned his head in one fast move, narrowing his eyes. His mother was grinning wickedly and he knew that she had been talking to Luna alone. Vin had seen Renee crossing on her way to their parent’s room a few minutes earlier and she hadn’t come back.
Delora moved forward and stopped at Vin’s side. She then bent her head and kissed his temple, lingering on her caress. “I like her.” She murmured against his head, grinning. Vin growled softly as he locked eyes with his mom.
“Well, you better not get too excited, lady, ‘cause we’re just friends.” Vin retorted as he stood. Delora laughed as she took a seat at Irving’s side grabbing his hand.
“Sure, Mark. Whatever you say, sweetheart.” She replied as Irving lifted his wife’s hand, kissing it.
“I like Luna too.” Irving said, grinning. Vin rolled his eyes, groaning as he turned around and headed back inside of the house.
Renee was on the way to the terrace when she heard Valentino, Irving and Delora burst out laughing hard.
“Thank God, they’re leaving tomorrow.” Vin muttered under his breath, looking down and he almost ran into Renee who chuckled.
“Why are they laughing like that, big guy? Are they making fun of you again?” Renee mocked. Vin snapped his head up.
“Did you leave Luna and my mom alone in the kitchen?” He asked her, fixing Renee with a serious gaze. Renee knit a brow and nodded ‘yes’, locking eyes with him. “Why?” Vin asked, narrowing his eyes in suspicion.
“Your mom wanted to talk with her alone.” Renee answered, stroking his arm up and down friendly. “I had no other choice. Besides who cares? I mean they like each other a lot, Vin.” Renee explained, noticing all of sudden how Vin was lost in thought for a second. She then squeezed his hand gently to get his attention. “Hey, what’s the matter, sweetie?” her voice tinted with concern. In response, Vin shook his head, blinking a couple of times.
“Nothing.” Was all he replied, squeezing Renee’s hand and continued walking to the kitchen.
Vin didn’t know why, but he didn’t like the fact that his mom and Luna had been talking alone. Renee followed him with her eyes, grinning and continued walking to the terrace.
Luna was so deeply lost in thought about Vin that she didn’t realize that he had entered the kitchen and was talking to her. After a moment, Vin frowned as he watched how she had her gaze fixed on a spot only she could see. Her mind seemed far away and her eyes were brimming with unshed tears. He then crouched in front of her and rested a hand on her knee.
“Hey, Luna. Are you ok?” Vin squeezed her knee softly, pulling her out of her little world. Luna shook her head, blinking and looked at him. Vin was in front of her, a serious expression on his face.
“Where are you, N?” He asked, his voice tinted with concern.
“Um…oh, just thinking…” Luna cleared her throat as she glanced at his hand, resting gently on her knee. “What were you saying?” She asked as she pushed his hand softly from her knee. Vin narrowed his eyes in suspicion, but he answered.
“I was telling you that my parents are leaving tomorrow morning and I was wondering if you want to do something with me. I can come and pick you up around twelve. We can hang around. What do you say?”
Luna nodded ‘yes’ absently and stood. Vin got to his feet and fixed her with a serious gaze.
“Are you sure you are ok?” He asked, looking directly at her eyes.
“Yeah, why?” Luna replied as she looked away, still feeling his intense gaze on her as she turned around, heading outside without waiting for his answer.
Vin knit a brow and after a moment, he followed her. He wasn’t sure anymore if it had been a good idea to introduce Luna to his parents.