Cedars- Sinai Hospital (Cardiac Care Unit) Los Angeles
Renee knocked softly and entered Luna’s room, a shy smile gracing her lips.
“Vin is not here.” Luna said coldly, wiping way her tears with the back of her hands. In response, Renee sighed heavily.
“I know. I came to see you,” she whispered, closing the door at her back. “How are you feeling?” Hesitantly, Renee closed the distance between them.
Luna snorted. “Like you give a damn, sis.”
The sarcasm in Luna’s voice hurt Renee almost as much as Luna’s words did. Deep inside, Renee knew that Luna only resorted to sarcasm if she was hurting badly.
“Don’t be like that, Luna. You know I love you and I care for you.” Renee sighed hard as she took a seat on the chair next to the bed.
Luna chuckled sadly. “And that’s why you’ve been giving me the cold shoulder. Nice way to show me your love, Renee.” Luna met Renee’s eyes. “What are you doing here? I thought you were busy.”
Renee sighed heavily. Luna was right, she had to concede. “Touché.”
Over the last weeks, Renee had been using the same lame excuse so she didn’t have to spend time with Luna. No matter what Luna offered to do together, Renee’s answer was always the same, I’m very busy, even when they both knew that that was a fat lie.
Renee had used this very same line so often, causing Luna to feel more and more upset so that Vin ended up hiring another personal assistant in addition to Renee. Even though he knew that would solve nothing, his suspicions confirmed when not even then had Renee found time to spend with Luna. Quite the opposite, Renee came up with a whole new bunch of colourful excuses until Luna gave up, admitting that Renee didn’t want to be around her more than necessary.
“Maybe we could find a way to leave all that behind?” She asked warily.
Luna just shrugged her shoulders, looking away. “Not sure it’s worth it anymore, Renee,” she replied. “I considered you more than just my friend. You were my sister and you turned your back to me when I needed you most. You left me down. How am I supposed to forgive that, eh?”
“I made a mistake and I’m sorry. But I’m not perfect, Luna. I never said I was,” Renee whispered defensively.
“Neither did I.” Luna snapped bitterly.
“Listen, I’m sorry I hurt you, Luna,” Renee whispered, taking one of Luna’s hands in hers. Luna didn’t remove it and Renee thanked her silently for such a gesture. “I…I know there’s no excuses for my insensitive behavior. I was so consumed in my own sadness and frustration that I didn’t think about your pain or your feelings. And for that I feel ashamed.” Renee softly squeezed Luna’s hand and continued. “But now I’m here and I’m not going anywhere. I’m not letting you down again. I promise you.”
Luna’s lower lips quivered. Damn! If only Renee would have been able to show her a little bit of understanding, things would have been a lot easier for her. Feeling alone and abandoned by everybody was not anything Luna feel like going through again.
Renee’s betrayal had hurt Luna almost as much as Vin’s had. Luna couldn’t help but feel that trusting people was a luxury she shouldn’t allow herself to enjoy anymore. Not after seeing where it had led her. Still, Luna needed someone to lean on, especially after Vin had left his opinion regarding her pregnancy crystal clear.
Luna’s eyes brimmed with tears, blurring her vision.
What if Vin was right? What if she was risking too much just because she wanted to have a baby? Was she being selfish?
At the end they could adopt. It wouldn’t make any difference. They would be parents anyway. Blood ties didn’t mean anything at all, Luna knew better than that. Her own blood family had turned their backs to her, just as Vin’s biological father had turned his back to his own twins before they were born, not even sticking around long enough to meet them.
Hot, silent tears rolled down her cheeks and Luna wiped them away. She definitely hated to feel this vulnerable, crying all the time. This couldn’t be healthy for the baby and definitely wouldn’t be good for her heart.
Taking a slow deep breath, Luna did her best to calm down as soon as the monitor registered the sudden speed in her heart rate.
Luna felt Renee’s hand squeezing hers and, blinking, returned her attention to Renee. For a second she had even forgotten that she wasn’t alone anymore and that Renee had kept talking.
“Come on, Luna, tell me what’s wrong. You’re killing me here, woman.” Renee’s voice carried a deep concern. She had noticed that Luna had been lost in thought, crying silently. Her face showed a deep sadness weirdly mixed with fear.
Luna squeezed Renee’s hand back. Her heart was breaking, suspecting that Renee would wish to swallow her previous words. Luna didn’t even dare to think about Renee’s reaction when she found out that Luna was pregnant.
How was she going to tell her? There was nothing Luna could do to ease the blow and it wasn’t as if she could hide it forever. Sooner rather than later, Renee was going to find out. Would it be better if Luna told her directly?
She knew how much Renee wished to have a baby. It was killing Luna to have to tell her best friend she had gotten pregnant, again, without even looking for it. Damn! Life was so unfair.
Luna cleared her throat. “I’m pregnant.”
Renee’s eyes widened as she gasped, feeling as if someone had kicked her guts with such force that it had knocked the air out of her lungs. A deep sadness mixed with happiness grabbed a hold of her soul, painfully twisting her core at the unexpected news.
Renee was happy for Luna but she felt like dying inside. Here she was, trying to get pregnant and failing miserably and Luna had gotten pregnant without even trying. Renee thought life was so unfair that she wanted to yell but it wasn’t Luna’s fault.
Maybe Fate had other things reserved for Valentino and herself. Certainly it was the right time for Luna and Vin to have a second chance. God knew they both could use some happiness in their marriage and lives. Lately everything had been so shallow, dark and unhappy that even Luna was changing, turning into an unsociable person when she had always been a caring woman.
Renee was breaking inside but she was not going to let Luna down again. She felt too guilty after how she had been treating Luna lately. Definitely her best friend didn’t deserve such uncaring behavior on her part. Renee would show Luna her support and, later, when she was alone, she would break. But not now.
“Oh my…” She breathed, tears prickling her eyes. “Luna…that’s wonderful…”
“Is it?” Luna breathed, watching the play of contradictory emotions reflected in Renee’s gaze and features.
“Hell, yeah!” Renee answered, hugging Luna, doing her best to keep her emotions together.
Renee was happy for her, Luna knew, but she was also sad for herself. Luna understood the feeling but wished with everything in her that Renee didn’t turn her back on her again.
“I’m going to have this baby, Renee.” Luna smiled, pulling back a little to look at Renee’s face. “No matter what, I’m having this baby, sis.” She cupped Renee’s face and wiped away her tears.
“That’s a great decision, Luna.” Renee smiled as fresh tears fell down unrestrained. “I’ll be at your side, sis.”
“Thank you.” Luna whimpered and both women hugged each other again, crying together.
Absently, Vin sipped from his coffee, his gaze fixed on Luna’s picture flashing at him from the screen of his cell phone. It was a close up that he had taken, without Luna being aware, the first night they had slept in ‘Black Star’.
The picture showed Luna asleep, a soft smile playing on her lips. Her messy hair was spread all over the pillow and her cheek showed a few lines caused by the pleats of the pillowcase. Luna seemed so relaxed and at ease, as if she didn’t have a care in the world. Vin loved to look at this picture, thinking Luna was dreaming of him.
A soft sigh passed his lips. She looked damn beautiful.
“You sound like you’re madly in love, boy.”
Vin blinked, pulling himself out of his thoughts and, lifting his head, he found a man in his seventies sitting across the table. “Huh?” Vin mumbled.
The man grinned. “She must be special or is it a ‘he’?” His grin grew wider and Vin frowned, glancing around.
At that moment, there was nobody at the exclusive cafeteria within the cardiac care unit, not even Steve or Mike. Just the old man sitting in front of him, wearing dark sunglasses and pajamas.
“She’s my wife and yeah! She’s very special,” Vin answered wryly, not even sure why he had answered at all in first place.
He didn’t know this man and he definitely wasn’t the type of guy who walked around, talking about his life. Not after becoming a celebrity.
“Is she here?” The man asked, leaning backwards a little in his chair.
Vin narrowed his eyes in suspicion. “Why?” He replied, going on guard.
The old man noticed the sudden tension in the younger man’s voice and smiled gently. “Excuse my manners. I’m Phil Stevens.” He offered his hand, friendly.
In response, Vin knit a brow and after a moment of hesitation, he shook it. “Vin.” He answered then added. “Diesel.”
The man chuckled. “Diesel? Now that’s an interesting last name, boy.” His smile turned into a grin.
Vin blinked, slightly shocked by the man’s words. “It’s my stage name,” he answered as a matter of fact.
“Your stage name?” Phil arched his brows. “Are you a musician or an actor by chance?”
Vin frowned. What? This guy didn’t know who he was talking to?
“Actually, an actor.”
“Hmmm.” Phil considered this piece of information for a moment. “Are you any good?”
Vin blinked. Was this guy kidding? It was then that Vin noticed the man’s cane in his right hand. He was blind. Well, that definitely explained why he didn’t know him.
“That’s what I’ve been told.” Vin relaxed a bit. It was always a little shock to find people that didn’t recognize him.
“What does your wife think?” Phil made himself comfortable in his chair as small grin graced his lips.
Vin snorted. Right now he knew what Luna thought about him, though he was not going to tell Phil that. Instead, Vin said what Luna used to say when she wasn’t mad at him. Which wasn’t happening lately.
“She says that I should stop shooting action movies.” Vin sighed, thinking about how Luna had created the perfect role for him and how the Studio had tore the role of ‘Seth’ into pieces. The fact that Vin had helped them didn’t cause him to feel better about such a fuckup.
“Then maybe she’s right.” Phil replied seriously.
Vin chuckled. “I know she’s right but it’s not that easy,” he sipped from his coffee, relaxing more.
Vin felt almost comfortable talking to Phil who didn’t know about Vin Diesel at all. It was definitely a new experience.
“Why not?” Phil asked as he played with the handle of the cane in his hand.
Vin rolled his eyes, slightly exasperated. It was hard to explain to someone who didn’t belong to the star system.
“Because I have to play by the rules.”
“Then why don’t you change the rules, boy?” Phil replied, not really understanding.
Vin snorted. “Cause I’m just a nobody within the business. I don’t have real power. I’m just a puppet and Luna doesn’t get that.”
“My wife. Her name’s Luna.” Vin clarified.
“Oh.” Phil grinned. “Is she from the states?”
Vin shook his head and then rolled his eyes. Phil was blind, he couldn’t see him. “She’s a Spaniard.”
“Ouch.” Phil screwed up his face. “Latina de sangre caliente, eh?” (Latina with hot blood, eh?) He teased Vin causing Vin to grin widely.
“You have no idea.” He smiled to himself.
“Well, I think I have a little idea, boy. I was married for fifty years to a Puerto Rican.” Phil snickered.
“You’re not married anymore?” Vin leaned forward, resting his elbows on the table.
“She died a couple of years ago. Cancer.” Phil’s smile vanished from his lips and Vin felt his chest tightening. “Rosa, that was her name. She fought like a lioness but eventually she lost the battle.”
“I’m sorry.” Vin whispered sincerely. Phil shook his head a little.
“Don’t be. We shared a life full of joy. Of course it was not always that way. There were almost as many happy moments as sadness, and we fought a lot too, but at the end we always loved each other,” Phil smiled sadly, “and that’s the only thing that matters. Rosa was the only woman I loved with everything in me and she knew it when she died.”
Both men went silent for a long moment until Phil cleared his throat a little.
“So, tell me, Vin, how many years have you been married with this special woman named Luna?”
Vin blinked, looking at the blind man sitting across from him. “We met almost a year ago but we married in July.”
“Just months?” Phil frowned a little. “Kids?”
Vin let out a heavy sigh. “We just found out that Luna’s pregnant, seven weeks more or less.”
“Hmmmm” Phil tilted his head to one side, looking in Vin’s direction. The younger man didn’t sound so excited about the prospect of being a father. “Is the kid yours?”
Vin blinked. What the hell…? “Fuck yeah! It’s mine!” He retorted fiercely.
Phil lifted his hands as if he was surrendering. “Don’t get me wrong, boy, but you don’t sound very happy,” he explained gently.
“Luna has arrhythmia and she wants to have the baby.” Vin’s deep concern caught Phil’s attention. “I’m not sure it’s a wise decision but she doesn’t even want to consider any other option.”
“What do you want her to do, boy?”
In response Vin shrugged his shoulder. He himself didn’t even know anymore.
“I’d love to have a family but I love my wife even more. I’m scared of losing Luna.”
“Did you tell her that?”
“Yeah, but somehow we ended up fighting, again.” Vin sighed heavily and sipped from his coffee. “Lately we’re always fighting…we seem unable to have a conversation without yelling at each other.”
Phil shook his head in disapproval. “You’re not the brightest crayon in the box, eh, Vin?” He chuckled causing Vin to growl. Phil elaborated. “You should know there’s no way you’re going to win an argument against a woman, much less if she’s your wife. You’ll lose not only your time but the argument. It took me years to realize that universal truth.” He grinned and then continued. “The sooner you get that your wife is stronger and wiser than you are, the better your marriage will go, believe me.”
“What if she’s not right?” Vin asked, narrowing his eyes.
Phil snorted. “And who gives a fuck, boy! She’s right no matter what you’re arguing with her, especially if she’s pregnant,” Phil explained as a matter of fact. “There are two words you have to engrave in your head as if they were your credo. ‘Yes, dear.’ No matter what she says, asks or does. No matter if she gets on your nerves. You say those two words along with ‘I’m sorry’ and everything will go smoothly.” He smiled widely.
“Just like that, huh?” Vin knit a brow.
“Yeah, just like that.” Phil snapped his fingers, grinning.
Vin sighed, shaking his head. He liked this man, a lot actually. “Do you have a cardiac problem too, right?”
“I had, not anymore.” Phil answered, showing Vin a scar at his heart level. “I got a pacemaker a couple of months ago.”
Vin frowned. “And you’re here for a routine checkup or something?” In response Phil nodded.
“Yeah, Dr. Williams, my cardiologist wants to make sure I’m completely okay before she discharges me.” Phil grinned. “But I think she likes to have me around.” He joked.
Vin grinned. “I’ve been told she’s one of the best.”
“Oh, she is, with no doubt.” Phil nodded as he got to his feet. “Well, Vin, it has been a pleasure to meet you and I wish you and your wife the best of luck.” He offered his hand once again and Vin didn’t hesitate this time.
“Same here, Phil. Maybe we could talk again?” Vin asked, shaking Phil’s hand.
“Yeah, I’ll see you around.” He teased Vin, that gentle smile on his lips, causing Vin to smiled widely.
“Oh, wait, let me help you,” Vin said as he took Phil’s elbow and guided him until they both reached the door of the cafeteria.
“Thank you, Vin. Have a nice life.” Phil grinned, shook Vin’s hand one last time and made his way along the hallway until he turned the far corner, disappearing from view.
Vin smiled widely and headed towards Luna’s room.
Chapter 55 Part II
Luna stirred in her sleep when she felt soft lips, kissing her hand. She opened her eyes, blinking and found Vin sitting in the chair that Renee had occupied a couple of hours before.
Dr. Williams had given Luna a light sedative to keep her relaxed and she had fallen asleep. Her heart rate was normal, her breath even.
“Hi.” Luna smiled weakly.
“I’m sorry.” Vin whispered, kissing Luna’s hand, lingering on his caresses.
“I’m not gonna change my mind, Vin.” Luna replied, her smile faltering.
“Good, ‘cause I don’t want you changing your mind,” he replied, remembering Phil’s words.
Luna blinked, staring at Vin as if he had grown a second head. “But…you said…”
Vin didn’t let her finish. “I know what I said, Luna, and now I also know I was wrong,” he whispered, squeezing her hand. “You were right, we’ve been given a second chance to have a family and I don’t want to lose it again.”
His sincerity caught Luna off guard and she felt a lump closing her throat.
“You sure?” She breathed as tears started to blur her vision.
“Absolutely,” Vin replied seriously. “We’re gonna have our baby and nothing is gonna stop us this time.” He paused for a second and cupped Luna’s face in his hands. “I love you more than my life, Luna, and if you’re ready for the challenge then so I am. I’m not losing you or the baby. So we’ll make it possible, together, working as the team we are.”
Vin put as much reassurance as he could into his words, making sure that Luna knew he was not kidding.
“Fuck, Vin…” Luna hugged Vin so tightly that he groaned a little, feeling the air being knocked out of his lungs.
The monitor registered the sudden change in her heart rate and Vin glanced at it, praying silently for everything to go great.
“What got into you to change your mind?” Luna released him, kissing his lips softly. Vin grinned against her lips, brushing them.
“I realized that my wife is stronger and wiser than me.” Vin’s grin widened, thinking about Phil’s words.
Luna giggled. “About damned time you realized that, mister.”
“Yes, dear.” Vin replied, capturing Luna’s lips in a slow gentle kiss.
Phil sure as hell had been dead right. Vin made a mental note to find the old, blind man later. He wanted to thank him the best way. Maybe Phil would like to have lunch or dinner with them when he was discharged from the hospital.
Montgomery (Alabama) Shooting set of ‘SETH’
“Great!” Niko cheered. “One more time, Val,” he added, turning around and giving some instructions.
Val smiled and got ready to repeat the current scene for second time. He had been shooting part of his scenes with Joe over the afternoon. The Dominican felt a little sad because he would have loved to play these scenes with Vin himself, but he wasn’t complaining. Val was having a blast, playing his role in the movie.
Luna had written Val’s character, making sure that no one was able to cut his scenes during post-production. And she had done a damn fine job.
Val played the role of ‘Miguel’, the prison guard that ended up being Seth’s friend. Vin and Val both had a bunch of wonderful scenes together, full of dialogue in which the two characters, Seth and Miguel, were developing what had to become a very deep friendship without even being aware.
Val wasn’t supposed to shoot these scenes yet, but since the schedule had been changed so that Vin could be with Luna, Niko had started shooting them, using Joe to read Vin’s lines.
Unlike Sheila, Val concentrated deeply and Joe had found himself blinking silent tears, watching Val playing the role of ‘Miguel’ with such devotion. In fact, half the shooting crew was watching Val’s performance with bated breath, sharing every single one of ‘Miguel’s’ emotions and feelings.
Niko couldn’t believe what a revelation Valentino Morales had turned out to be, not only as an actor, but also as a drama actor. The young director knew that not even the most ruthless critic would be able to find Val’s performance less than brilliant. Niko wouldn’t be surprised if Valentino Morales was nominated for an Oscar as the best supporting male role.
In fact, Niko was making Val repeat his scenes out of habit more than need. He was more than satisfied with the first take, but he wanted to give Val a chance to improvise a little, seeing if Val came up with some new perception of his role. So far, Val had done a fabulous job.
Of course nobody knew that Val was giving free reign to his frustration and anger, using both to play his role.
Inside, Val was dying because he couldn’t give Renee what she wanted the most. He couldn’t help it but Val felt guilty for using some of the chemical substances that he had taken when he was younger and training to become a professional boxer. Val wanted to beat the shit out of himself for acting in such an irresponsible way. Now Renee was paying the consequences. What kind of man was he? He couldn’t even impregnate his own wife.
Val sighed hard and, shaking his head, he stretched his uniform, forcing a smile when Joe met his sad gaze.
“You’re doing wonderful, Gorgeous,” Joe whispered, winking.
In response, a small smile tugged the corner of Val’s mouth. He was already used to the innocent jokes that Vin’s stunt double was always playing.
“Thank you, Joe.” Val’s grin grew a little as he adjusted his blue cap.
Joe had baptized Val as ‘Gorgeous’ and Vin as ‘Handsome’. They didn’t care because Joe was like a gust of fresh air, always ready and able to put a smile on everybody’s faces. And he didn’t fail in his mission. Not to mention that Joe was the best stunt double Vin had had in years.
Joe had played some of Vin’s action scenes in more than one movie and nobody gave a damn if Joe wasn’t straight or if, sometimes, he was a little too flashy.
“I got an idea, Gorgeous. How about we go have some fun once we’re done here?” Joe brushed off some white little fluffs that had stuck on Val’s jacket.
“Are you making advances on me, Joe?” Val teased him, narrowing his eyes a little. Joe snickered.
“Hell, yeah!” He batted his eyelashes. “Is it working?”
“You gotta get me pretty drunk for that.” Val grinned, following Joe’s joke.
“I can arrange that, Gorgeous.” Joe winked at him. Val snorted.
“I’d love to go have a couple of drinks with you, Joe, but I’m flying to LA tonight,” he said, his smile faltering a little. “Renee is ovulating.”
“Oh, that’s so cool!” Joe bounced a little, excited at the news. Val had gotten wasted the night before, after Renee had gone to LA, and had poured his heart out to Joe.
That was another good thing that Joe had. He was a grave, keeping secrets, and he hated gossip, even though sometimes he was the one spreading them. But only the real juicy ones. Such as Sheila had gotten the role of ‘Leah’ by blowing the ugly, old dicks of the administrative council of the Studio or that she slept with a teddy bear, sucking her thumb.
“Yeah.” Val whispered not so excited.
Sex had lost half the fun since Renee and he had to schedule their encounters. There was nothing loving or exciting about having to have sex just on certain days. They had to do it missionary style and then Renee had to be laying there with a pillow under her ass for about half an hour. And that was not all.
Val had switched to boxers weeks ago, as soon as their doctor told them that tight underwear wasn’t helping him to keep his spermatozoids alive. Renee had changed their diet, making Val take vitamins and other stuff.
However, both of them had agreed that they would try one more time and after that they were going to try intrauterine insemination, with every single new thing they will have to do. It was becoming a real test for their marriage because some days they felt like killing the other before losing their minds.
Still, it was worthwhile because they really wanted to have a family and a numerous one. The good thing was that there were a lot of possibilities of having twins or even triplets with intrauterine insemination.
“Ok, guys, let’s roll!” Niko said aloud, catching everybody’s attention. “Val, you ready, man?” He added.
Val took a deep breath and, stretching his back, he nodded ‘yes’.
Cedars- Sinai Hospital (Cardiac Care Unit) Los Angeles (Later that night)
Vin headed towards the counter where one of the night shift nurses was checking some medical reports. “Excuse me,” Vin cleared his throat, causing the women to look at him, smiling.
“Yes, Mr. Vincent. May I help you?”
“That’s what I’m hoping for.” Vin flashed her with his most charming smile and the nurse almost wet her pants. “I’m looking for Mr. Stevens, Phil Stevens. I’d like to know his room number.”
The nurse nodded ‘yes’ and, taking a seat in front of the computer, she typed the name searching within their database. Vin leaned forward, against the counter, patiently waiting.
Luna was going to be discharged from the hospital the following morning and Vin wanted to invite Phil to have lunch or dinner with them at ‘Black Star’. He really liked that man and, after asking Luna, she had said that it would be great.
The nurse frowned deeply. “Um…there’s no one with that name, sir.”
Vin blinked. “Oh, maybe he was already discharged?” He asked, silently regretting not asking Phil which room number he was staying in; now he wouldn’t be able to find the man and Vin would have loved to thank Phil properly for his wise advice. “We met this morning in the cafeteria and I forgot to ask him how long he was going to be here.”
The nurse didn’t hear the last words that Vin said because she was checking the patients database.
“Are you sure you got the name correctly?” The nurse asked, still typing at the keyboard.
“Yeah, he’s one of Dr. William’s patients.” Vin answered as his brows furrowed slightly.
The nurse nodded and after a moment her eyes widened. “Oh, I found him. Stevens, Phillip,” she said, silently reading whatever the screen was showing.
“Yep, that’s him.” Vin smiled in gratitude. “Would you be so kind as to tell me his room number, please?”
The nurse looked up, meeting Vin’s gaze. “I’m sorry, sir, but Mr. Phillips Stevens died last night after a cardiac arrest.”
Vin felt a shiver running up his spine and his skin turned to goose bumps. What the fuck…?