After the divorce, Rachel pulled Santi out of school, hired a private tutor for him, and poured all that embodied her into her music. Byzantine Souls put out a new album and the track Broken & Torn charted to the top of every list applicable in America and Internationally.
Rachel rarely saw her daughter Serafina, who lived with Keith primarily. When Rachel and Santi were in town, and Serafina could spend time with Rachel, she chose not to.
Storm kept his distance from Rachel too. In the wake of the divorce, Storm learned that his biological father was his Skeeter Goodrich. He knew Keith wasn’t his biologically father, but learning a family friend, who was like an uncle to him was his father all along, infuriated him. Though he was upset with Keith for concealing the truth as well, when he did speak to one of his parents, he preferred to speak to Keith. Storm went to business college, and graduated college early with honors. He took a job at his Uncle Danny’s company and currently worked from the company’s office in Barcelona, Spain, where spent much time with his grandfather, step-grandmother, and his aunts, his aunts husbands, and his cousins.
Ending a Fall Tour, and taking the holidays to regroup, Rachel and Santi spent Christmas at home with just the two of them. Come Christmas Eve, they ate kettle corn, drank sparking apple cider, and waited to watch the call drop in New York City. Byzantine Souls was asked to perform, but Rachel didn’t want to spend the holiday in the cold.
Unexpectedly, the doorbell rang. Rachel left Santi on the couch to answer the door. To her wonderful surprise, it was Keith and Serafina… bearing presents…
“Oh Em Gee!” Rachel gasped. She reached and gently placed her hand on Serafina’s back and guided her inside to the foyer. Rachel helped Serafina set the gifts down on the round wood table in the middle of the foyer, all to quickly wrap her precious daughter in her arms.
Serafina was blossoming into a stunning young woman. She had long wavy brown hair, deep tan skin, and big, brown eyes like Keith, but she had Rachel’s dimpled cheeks and long face. She was a beautiful blend of Rachel and Keith…
“I love you so much!” Rachel whispered in Serafina’s ear.
“I love you too mom…” Serafina said back. “Can you let go now? I sort of can’t breathe…”
Remorseful for squeezing too tight, Rachel released her daughter from her arms. She looked at Keith and sincerely said, “Thank you for bringing her by.”
“No problem…” He smiled at Rachel, not breaking eye contact with her all while he still held onto jenga pile of gift boxes.
“Let me help you with those,” Rachel lunged forward to grab some of the boxes from him leaving Serafina alone to carry gifts. “We’ll take them to the living room. Santi is on the couch.”
The three of them laid the gifts out on the black coffee table. Santi leaped off the gray couch at the sight of his sister and his favorite dad, Keith. Franco was usually too busy at the label to spend time with Santi, when he was in town and not the road with Rachel. If Santi ever needed advice or male role model to turn to, he called Keith.
“Pops!” Santi exclaimed folding his arms around Keith. Their hug lingered for a bit.
When it came time to unwrap the gifts, Santi and Rachel mutually felt bad they didn’t have any new ones for Serafina and Keith. Rachel sent over plenty of gifts to Keith’s house for Christmas Day, so technically, there was no need to give more gifts…
“We don’t have more gifts for you.” Santi pointed out.
“We don’t need more gifts… please, just accept these from us… although… most of them are for you Santi.” Serafina explained. She was 13 going on 14 and was tall enough to be mistaken for an adult, and often was.
Rachel was relieved Santi and Serafina looked like siblings. Santi was a bit lighter, but still tan. He had wavy black hair like Storm and Rachel’s long face and dimpled cheeks. As Santi opened gift after gift, Serafina took pictures on her cell of the merriment and joy. She stayed the photographer as Rachel opened up her gifts.
Once all the gifts were opened, and wrapping paper littered the floor, Santi and Serafina explored the ordinary magic of some of the gadgets he got, while Rachel went to the kitchen to grab a garbage bag to pick up the living room. Keith followed her.
With paper garbage bag in hand, Keith stopped Rachel in her tracks by stepping in front of her.
“What’s up?” Rachel asked. Knowing he wanted to talk about something out of range for the kids to overhear.
“I heard your latest popular record- Broken & Torn…” Keith said avoiding eye contact. He did that when he was nervous and about to make a bold choice.
Anticipating something wild was about to happen, Rachel’s stomach flopped around from nerves. “And what did you think?”
“The bridge…We may be the Titanic, set to sink… All our issues were an iceberg, hidden below the surface, but I know this much is true, there’s no one else I love but you… And I’d gladly drown again… If that meant that we could drown one more time…” Tears swelled in his eyes, he stepped closer to Rachel and took her free hand cupping it inside both of his hands, “I feel the same way…”
Crying joyfully, Rachel leaned forward to kiss him, but she remembered he was engaged to Mirvina… she wasn’t going to be caught up in adultery again… She ripped her hand out of his clutch and backed away from him. Hurriedly, she dried her eyes.
“I guess, I should explain myself further…” Keith sniffled. “I heard the song the day it was released… on June 2nd… the anniversary of our divorce. That day, Mirvina and I were supposed to go wedding cake tasting, but instead of going to that I found myself telling her in the car that I still had feelings for you and that I wasn’t over you. We agreed to slowdown the wedding plans and push our wedding date back to give me more time to heal… But then September came… the month you and I got married and I remembered how much I loved you and how much more I fell in love with you… and even when I hated you… I couldn’t picture my life without. I ended it… I broke off the engagement and I have been waiting to tell you until you got back from tour…” Without giving him more time to keep rambling on, Rachel hugged him by the neck and was the first to kiss him.