A Rainbow of Regrets
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- ⭐ 7.5
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This is the second installment of my Colors of Love Series. The first book "Rhapsody in Violet" centers around Nova Jackson's romance with musician, Aldo Reed. This story centers around their Father Theo and his long-lost love. Theo Jackson is an army man. He joined at 18 years old. He married Ana in his early 20s and had two beautiful children with her, but she caught him cheating a few too many times and divorced him. His "son" Deshawn, is now Nova and dating a pretty man who plays guitar and sings. His father blames him for his child's sexuality and gender, but then again, the old man is always mean. Theo has felt the bite of his belt. plenty of times, especially when he was caught kissing his best friend, Deshawn, who he had named his child after. What happens when Theo meets up with Deshawn after nearly 30 years apart? Can a heart be glued back together and an old relationship be repaired? Deshawn Williams ran away from his homophobic small town and the abuse his father and uncle imparted to him to pursue his career as a Jazz musician in New Orleans. decades later, he owns a Jazz club that hosts a monthly drag brunch and employs many traumatized LGBTQAI individuals. He has had his share of lovers, but only one true love, his old friend Theo. Will their past haunt him forever? Will they get past all of the obstacles and finally be able to express their love openly?
Chapter 1: Brooklyn Is A Bust
Disclaimer: I am not a Voodoo practitioner and do not know its secrets. I do adhere to a system of beliefs that allows for belief in the supernatural and the power of mind over matter along with herbs and rituals and actions that can manifest changes. I do not know about Voodoo rituals or much more than one can find on the internet about the practices. However, I respect and admire those who do practice it and hope to do them justice even if all mentions of any workings are made up from a blend of my own beliefs and workings and what tidbits I have heard about Voodoo. This is a work of fiction even if it is based in a real-world setting. Many things need to be taken with a grain of salt.
In addition, I have decided to warn you that topics in this book may be triggering the main characters and some side characters have been through lots of trauma. There are mentions of past situations where they were beaten, abused, molested, raped, etc…I try to keep mentions of such things just that, mentions but will warn if a chapter has a flashback containing memories of an event.
For two years every time I get leave I go to one of two places. I either go home to see Mom and Pops. Pops is stern as ever despite having survived 2 heart attacks. Some people say I should hate that man, and part of me does. He beat the ever-living daylight out of me when I was 15 and I was caught kissing Deshawn. I guess we were kissing each other. We were best friends and I never liked anybody in that way before, but I had always thought he was good-looking. I thought everyone had a best friend that they thought was good-looking and that everyone practiced kissing their best friend, maybe even touching them intimately. We kissed for the first time while walking along the creek that we used to go fishin’ in and it felt really good. So good that we kissed again in the treehouse the next day and we went a little further, using tongues and caressing each other's bodies. For weeks we would meet nearly every day and go somewhere private and kiss and hold each other and talk about getting away from our small town. Deshawn wanted to go to someplace his musical talent would be appreciated more, just being in the marching band and jazz band at school wasn’t enough for him. He played piano and trombone and trumpet and he was in the church choir where his Uncle was the Pastor. I just wanted to be a man and get away from Pops, maybe help Mom get away as well. It was after church one Sunday in May. I remember it like it was yesterday.
Flashback to 30 and a half years ago:
“Deshawn, would you like to walk me home?” Celia Greene asked, she always liked Shawn and he always told her ‘no’ no matter how much she flirted.
“No, Celia! You are a pretty girl, but I have plans with Theo to go fishin’ this afternoon and we don’t back out of plans with our best friends even for a pretty face.” Deshawn always tried sweetening his rejections with compliments.
“Maybe, you could bring me to the movies next Saturday.” She tries while batting her lashes.
“Sorry, next week I got an out-of-town competition that the marching band is playing at, so I won’t be around, but a pretty girl like you can surely dig up a boy who isn’t so busy with music and stuff.” He replies.
“I guess I’ll have to wait for you to be free,” Celia sighs.
“Theo, I have somethin’ ta show you!” Shawn walks off and I follow, He reaches out and pulls me into a thicket of bushes that are tall enough and thick enough to hide us from prying eyes, but we didn’t know Celia followed. He grabs me and I feel one hand tangle into my thick curls and the other on my ass as his lips lock with mine in a heated kiss. “Today’s the day I want us to skinny dip in the creek and touch each other without clothes between us, Theo. I want to feel your muscled body without fabric covering it…I want to golf your dick in my hand and kiss it with my mouth.” Shawn says as he kisses and caresses me and I moan.
“I want those things too, Shawn. I love you so much!” I wrap my arms around him and grind myself against him. We are still in our Sunday, best, but we have fishing clothes stashed at the treehouse.
Just then a deep voice echos “Boys! What are you doin’ behind my church? This is a sin and I will not have sinners corrupting my church and my family tree!”
That was the beginning of the end of my chance at love. My father was told as was his and we were both beaten and kept apart. We snuck and saw each other whenever we could for the next year until he ran away. Pops beat me that day, and any day he found me looking in Deshawn’s direction. He beat me and made me repeat bible verses if I was caught looking at any boy in a way he thought seemed lustful, so I avoided looking at boys around Pops. I even started dating Leticia Cook for the remainder of high school then I joined the army as soon as I could. I have never loved anyone like I loved Deshawn Williams. I named my child after him, but I never told my child or ex-wife about him which brings me to the last two years.
I fucked up. I fucked up real good. My child rejected the name I gave them, the name of my true love, to be something different, to be non-binary, and to dance on a stage in skimpy clothes and date a pretty, blond white boy. I admit that my kid has good taste, that white boy is mighty pretty. I am trying to get better about this shit because the last day I saw Nova I was angry, I was hurt but I hated myself. I had become a shadow of Pops. I spent a lot of time ruminating on stuff and if my leave doesn’t take me to visit Mom and Pops, I try to see Adia and Nova. Ana doesn’t block me from seeing Adia but won’t let me see Nova because Nova isn’t ready to forgive me. I don’t blame them. I was horrible, but I want to tell them my story and apologize in any way that I can, but I want to do it in person.
This time was another of those visits. I went to Brooklyn hoping to see Nova and Ana told me they were not around and that they were busy I told her I would be around for three days and asked how the kids were doing and she said that Nova was doing wonderful in College and Adia was now an assistant manager at the coffee shop with an associates degree in business and had a very small wedding when she married a man named Aiden who she has been dating for just over 2 years. Adia would have invited me except that Nova was the ‘Maid’ of Honor and Adia didn’t want to upset them or have drama. Holden Clearwater came into the apartment and kissed Ana, she had told me that they got together, but I didn’t realize it was serious, it looks really serious now that I noticed the ring on her finger. As I was leaving Adia was coming up the stairs and I noticed her baby bump! Why didn’t Ana tell me that my daughter was pregnant? “Daddy! What are you doing here?” She asked and I told her I would love to chat for a bit, so we went to a cafe nearby and she updated me on her and Aiden and their apartment and how she loves her job and her new Husband, they were going to wait to get married until spring, but when she found out she was pregnant decided to get married before she started showing so got married in September.
“Nova turns 20 tomorrow, right?” I asked her. “I was hoping to see them for their birthday.”
“Daddy, I am glad that you are respecting their name and pronoun preferences, now, but Nova might not be ready. They don’t even live with Mami anymore. They have a brownstone where they live with their fiance, Ambrose.” Adia said softly.
I spent the next day and a half in my hotel room thinking some more and wrote a letter for Nova that I met with Adia to have her deliver. In it, I gave them some cash and my phone number and I told them that I understand why they are upset with me and that I never wanted to be like that and hoped they could forgive me and I would have the chance to tell them my story and why I am so cold-hearted.
Now I am flying back to Luisana without having gotten to see my kid, again. At least I got to see Adia and we connected well, so it wasn’t a total bust, but Nova is the one I need forgiveness from, they are the one who I hurt and I can’t live with thinking that I was being so much like Pops.
I pull into the base in Lafayette and an MP smiles at me as I clear the gate “Sergent Jackson, Sergeant Major Addams would like to see you in his office.”
“Thank you! I will go directly there.” I am not afraid that I did anything wrong. The General is an old friend we go way back to boot camp.
I walk into the Addams’s office and after saluting him he tells me to shut th door. “Theo I don’t want to talk to you as your superior officer but as your friend. When you called this morning and were upset that yet, again that child of yours was not ready to talk I got to thinking. The next leave you take I want you to relax. Don’t go to Georgia, because your Pops always upsets you ranting about how he didn’t raise you to be a sinner and blaming you for your child’s sexuality and gender. And don’t go chasing some child who isn’t ready to forgive you, yet. I want you to take your next leave doing something that you enjoy.”
“Joe, I don’t know what I enjoy anymore! I like playing cards and listening to music, maybe having a beer or doing some fishing, but most everything holds pain and memories for me, especially fishing and Jazz music…those hold some of the most heartache that I can imagine.” I sigh.
“Well I think there is a story there and if you want I can listen, but I suggest that you make some new memories around those things. There is plenty of both fishing and music and plenty of drink and cards as well if you spend a few days in New Orleans. You won’t be far from the Base and you can maybe relax. So, that is what I suggest for you next leave.” Joe Addams says and offers me a glass of Tennessee whisky. He grew up in Chicago on the South Side and saw his older brothers go different routes. Drugs and gangs got them into lots of trouble, but he kept his nose clean enough to join the army at 18 and kept working hard to move up in the ranks. I know he sends his mother money and got her into a better apartment. She raised three boys and two girls all by herself after their father ran out on them when Joe was 2 years old and she was pregnant with the twins, Joe’s sisters. As far as I know ,Joe has no relationships other than a few friends and his mother and sisters. He has never been married and never talks about women he has dated, but he likes good whiskey and cigars and plays billiards and cards like he grew up hustling, maybe he did.
“I’m not in the headspace to even face those stories myself right now, but maybe one day I could tell you. Do you have any suggestions on where in New Orleans to go and relax, Joe?” I have always wanted to have some time to relax and enjoy The Big Easy, but I have been so tightly wound between my past and my military career. Who has time to relax and enjoy anything? I have too many skeletons in my closet, too many secrets to hide behind, and too many people I have wronged, the worst of whom are the ones I love the most, my best friend from childhood and my children.
“Theo, I see you hurtin’ all the time and I see that pain in your eyes, did you ever think of forgiving yourself for your own past mistakes, maybe others could forgive you better if you start with forgiving yourself. You didn’t know then what you do now. Your kid may come around someday and your Pops ain'tchanging any time soon. I’ll write you up a list of my favorite restaurants, jazz clubs, dance clubs, and hotels in New Orleans, but I’ll tell you that if you figure out the pattern to the locations that I tell you about then you and I need to have some other discussions and I don’t want you sharing that list with anyone else. There is more to life than serving your country and proving your worth to your asshole of a father who always makes you feel like a piece of shit.” Joe puts his feet up. maybe he is more relaxed with me because we go back over 20 years, maybe it’s something else, but Joe scares the shit out of most people on base, yet still seems like that 18-year-old recruit I played cards with in the barracks all through boot camp. Now, I am the ass-hole drill sergeant getting the recruits in line and he is the hard-ass general giving the orders as far as everyone else knows us, but we remember those days when we were the recruits. “Before you go, Theo, Why did you marry Ana and why did you cheat all the time? I haven’t seen you chase a woman in two years, yet for all that time you were married you were always chasing after young women, even during the divorce procedings and shortly after you were first stationed here. Then that Trip to Brooklyn just under two years ago, when you came back you seemed so down, then you got withdrawn and then obsessed with getting your kid to forgive you. But I never did know why you married Ana when you obviously didn’t love her.”
“I loved her in a way, I was never in love with her. I have only been in love once, and there is no chance of that being fixed. What pops didn’t go and break, I broke myself and I don’t think that even if I knew where to look I would ever be able to fix what I broke.” I sigh. “Ana is with Holden Clearwater, now. They are happy together and I am happy for them. I bet Nova is thrilled to have their best friend around all the time. I don’t see a future like that for myself. I have made too much of a mess of things, best I can do is maybe find myself a nice piece of ass for a night when on leave, but even that I haven’t been lookin’ for. I don’t deserve love after what I have done.”
Chapter 2: Jazzy Halloween
“Honey, It’s about to be Halloween Up in Here! What are you doing with that shit? It looks like big box store decorations! We live in New Orleans, not small town U.S.A. in some podunk backwater county somewhere! We do it up right in NOLA!” I love this child, they are a sweet little bartender newly moved here from Boykin, Alabama, but they do not understand how we do Halloween here in New Orleans.
“You told me to get some new decorations, and I thought that I …Oh, I messed up again, didn’t I?” The 22-year-old bartender looks at the floor, pink hair falls in front of their pretty eyes. I knew a boy with pretty eyes when I was a boy, and I would do anything for him if he’d batt those pretty eyes at me. Anything, except for staying in that small town in Georgia where I left him. I couldn’t take the abuse and I couldn’t deny the truth of who I am and who I loved, and still love. That boy has always had my heart. I have had many lovers since Theo, but none have h
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