Authors's Note: This is the second to last chapter. It is almost done folks. Hold onto your horses. It's going to be a bumpy chapter. -Marilyn

Chapter 23

Julie POV

The numbness of the situation hit me when I sat next to Peter and he took my hand. The whole day was turning into a huge roller coaster of emotions. I leaned over slightly just to see Jessica look at me from the other side of Peter's mother. Her scowl spoke volumes. Looks like I'd won this round. But I wasn't sure she was going to give up. I tried to focus on the pastor's words as he stared over the grave holding his bible. After awhile, I just concentrated on holding Peter's hand. He gripped back tighter. I felt the strength of his need through the way he held me. I was trying to be his life preserver in the wake of the hole we'd fallen down together.

I had to accept him for his baggage. He'd accepted mine. I sighed. I still had some tissue in my pocket from Jessica, and pulled it out just to have something to fiddle with. I was feeling anxious for this all to be over, but I knew Peter and his family needed the closure. I started to have a flash back to seeing Steve in his coffin. His little brother walking up to touch his chest, reaching inside at the viewing, just to make sure he really wasn't just going to wake up.

Everything started to fade, and I could see another funeral in my mind's eye. Steven's funeral. The moment when everyone was standing over his grave, throwing in notes of farewell, flowers tossed in after looking like a spilled bouquet. The tear spilled down my face before I could stop it along with a sniff. I was startled by Peter turning and touching my face, wiping the tear. I whispered back, "Thank you."

Everything returned to the present. The pastor still stood over Peter's father's grave uttering the last lines of the final rites. Everyone said together, "Amen". I felt the squeeze of Peter's hand as he kept his head bowed and eyes closed. I knew why when the Pastor spoke next.

"If I could have Mr. Mason's family join me in their final farewells."

Peter, his mother, and his sister Shelley, slowly got up. With each of her children on either side of her, Mrs. Mason walked up to the grave with a single red rose in her hand. She stood over the grave. Peter stood quietly beside her, hands folded in front of him. Shelley stood beside her mother holding her hand. With her other hand, Mrs. Mason tossed the rose into the grave. His sister produced a piece of paper from her purse, and tossed that in as well. Peter simply said quietly, "Good-bye Dad."

I could feel someone looking at me before they returned. I looked to see Jessica glaring at me from across their empty seats. If daggers could shoot out of her eyes, I'd be dead ten times over. They walked back solemnly, Peter catching his mother for a moment when she stumbled from her high heel sticking into the ground. Thank goodness for them returning to their seats. I didn't know how long I could deal with Jessica's stare.

Other people started to make their way up to the grave. Some threw flowers attached with cards. Others just took a moment to stand and look in. Many were much older, escorted or single, all wearing black and stylish clothes. It could have been a moment out of Forbes magazine with the look of everyone, but more morbid of course. The well-to-do of New York seemed to be in full attendance. Funerals were never a time to look unfabulous here.

The pastor stepped forward and made an announcement. "The Mason family would like to invite everyone to their house on Park West Ave. to celebrate the life of Peter Mason. If donations wish to be made, the family has requested to make them in the name of Theodore Mason to the National Preservation of Architecture Society. For the Mason family, I liked to thank you all for coming."

After speaking, the pastor made his way over to Mrs. Mason, giving his condolences. He turned to Peter. "You're father was such a giving man. He will be sorely missed."

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