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Pump Two: Epilogue

Violet - Three Months Later

breath, unable to quell my nerves for my first art exhibition. This town is so small that a few members of the community recognized my contributions to the old gas station.

Now, it has its own section in the town’s new museum exhibition for public art.

Tonight is the opening night, and I’m standing with my parents who are back from their flight. Devon, having already met them, stands next to me engaged in a conversation with my brother. They both get on extremely well, of course.

“Oh, I remember you drawing on the kitchen wall years ago and now look,” Mom says, dabbing her eye with the sleeve of her blouse. My dad rubs her shoulder affectionately which prompts Ash to take out his phone and play a game on it.

“Several times,” Dad adds. I pat Mom’s back as we walk through the exhibit. The large space is filled with images of murals and graffiti along with the echoing hums of people appreciating the art.

My parents bump into another familiar face and engage in what will probably be another hour-long conversation. Ash obviously notices and lets out a loud sigh.

“Great,” he mutters, eyeing up the exit door next to him. Out of the corner of my eye, Devon uses his suited body to cover Ash who manages to slip outside undetected by everyone but me.

“I saw that,” I say as Devon and I break away from my parents to look at a huge picture of my mural. There’s a whole corner of the gallery designated to showcase pictures of my gas station art.

“Oops,” Devon replies, snatching a canapé off a tray held by one of the patrons. He notices Kas strolling up to us holding three glasses of champagne and gives him a swift nod.

“Hey guys, is this yours Violet?” Kas asks, gesturing to the mural with his full hands. Since being with Devon, Kas has opened up a lot more since he dismissed me in a state of panic at Micah’s party. I’m always hanging out at their place, mostly for Devon, but also for Kas’ cooking. We’ve even started calling their place a B&B—instead of Bed and Breakfast, it’s Baklava and Breakfast.

“Yeah, everything on this back wall is mine,” I explain. Devon takes two glasses out of Kas’ hands, allowing him to peruse the rest of the wall. The glass wobbles when Devon passes one to me and I gasp, thinking it might fall.

“Careful, Violet. I wouldn’t want to be the cause of another spilled drink on you again,” he says, flashing me a grin. I squint at him in confusion. Again? What is he talking about? “Micah’s party…your jeans,” Devon adds.

That’s when it hits me. Devon was the person who knocked Vince’s drink at the party.

“Oh, I thought it was you!” I laugh, giving him a playful jab to his hard abdomen.

“How else could I try and stop that guy from talking to you, if not by spilling his drink?” He shrugs.

“Ha-ha. Nice tactic. Who taught you that? A five-year-old?”

“This is nice,” Kas says very matter-of-factly when he returns to us, effectively interrupting our lighthearted verbal sparring. “I like cupcakes.”

“I did that one!” Devon says to him, dragging his eyes away from me to excitedly point at one of the cakes in the photo of the mural. He actually did paint that on the night when he visited me at work and was freaking out over the unsafe ladder.

“Good job, man,” Kas says in a tone similar to that of an uninterested parent reacting to their child’s pasta art.

“Oh, isn’t this just amazing,” Mari breathes with admiration as she and Freya emerge from a crowd of guests to stand beside Kas. Kas peers down at Mari and then does a double take, just as Mari looks at him. She turns her body to face him, and the wooden beads in her hair clatter with the movement.

“Hey, I’m Amari, but feel free to call me Mari,” she says, holding out her hand.

“Kacper, but you can call me Kas.” He places his hand in hers and I don’t even think he’s blinked once since laying his eyes on her. Mari doesn’t seem to notice because she instantly looks at me as Freya observes the two of them, a shit-eating grin plastered on her face.

“This is phenomenal,” Mari gushes and pulls me in for a hug. “Congrats, Violet.”

“Phenomenal,” Freya murmurs quietly as she watches Kas stare unapologetically at Mari, who is completely oblivious to his gaze. Devon shakes his head and tries not to laugh at Freya’s comment.

Freya then turns to face me, her smile still wide on her face. “When you said you’d add some color I never expected this masterpiece,” she says, clapping her hands together. “This is all my uncle has been talking about for the past month. He’s already asking if the outside can be done. I told him he should focus on getting an electrician to fix the light in the utility closet first.” I let out a laugh and Devon chuckles next to me, the dark closet bringing back a few memories.

“Thanks guys, I’m so happy you could make it,” I say appreciatively. Mari suddenly pulls out a gigantic camera from a bag.

“Okay guys, can I get a photo of you both?” Mari asks gently, motioning toward Devon and me. She hands her bag to Freya, whose arms now contain both her own bag and a huge camera case.

“Sure, how do you want us?” I throw up a peace sign and Mari drags my arm down, guiding me to stand closer to Devon. She shuffles back clumsily with her camera and bumps into Kas, who grabs her shoulders to steady her.

“Sorry Kas,” she apologizes quickly, and Kas says nothing, keeping his hands firmly on her.

“Okay, everybody say ‘congratulations Violet!’” Freya shouts, giggling from Mari’s side as she continues to watch her and Kas’ awkward interaction.

“Congratulations Violet!” I say, and Devon bends down to kiss me on the cheek as the camera clicks and flashes several times.

“Beautiful, guys.” Mari studies the images approvingly and Kas’ hands remain on her shoulders. When she steps away from him, he snaps out of whatever trance she put him in, gulps down his champagne in one go, and strides away to look at some artwork on the other side of the exhibition.

“Mari, what have you done to Kas?” Freya asks, her head shaking in disbelief. Mari purses her lips in confusion.

“What? Oh.” She turns in the direction Kas walked away in. “Did I upset him?”

“No!” Freya, Devon, and I say at the same time.

“You did the opposite of upset him,” Devon reassures her and Mari nods unconvinced, immediately changing the conversation.

“Shaved hair actually suits you, Devon. I barely recognized you when I came in,” she says. “You used to have it long, right?”

“Yeah, it was more comfortable under my helmet. I’ve been wearing it a lot more recently.” Mari looks at me with amusement and then scans the crowd for more people she can take photos of.

“Big chops for the win,” Freya says, running her fingers through her copper strands which have grown a decent amount over the past few months. After having a hate-filled relationship with her hair, I guess you could finally say she’s happier with it now.

“I’m gonna take some more pics around the gallery. See you soon!” Mari grabs another couple and starts positioning them for the camera. Freya follows her, flashing me a supportive smile. It’s the first time they’ve met and Mari’s gentle personality paired with Freya’s more outspoken ways have them getting on more than I had hoped.

“You cut your hair so you’d be more comfortable in your helmet because you had to constantly wear it around me?” I tease, nudging Devon. He wraps his arm around my waist, and I lean my head on his chest.

“Adaptation is key,” Devon says. “I also have something to show you.” He takes my hand and guides me out of the exhibition and down the hall into an unused room in the building. My stomach drops. I enjoy doing stuff with Devon, but at an exhibition? With family and friends outside? I don’t think so.

“Devon, not here!” I hiss, yanking my hand out of his as the door closes behind me.

“You’ve won a public art award and we both know that you’re a fan of public things in more ways than one.” My face heats furiously. “But that’s not why we’re in this empty room.” Now I’m confused.

“Then why are we in here?” I ask.

“I want to show you my tattoo, it’s healed now. I got it done the day you got yours when I said I was getting a drink. I didn’t want to freak you out, so I’ve put off showing you it for a while.”

Bile works its way up my throat. I know we moved quite fast and there’s no way anything huge would’ve taken the same amount of time as my own tattoo. If this man has a tattooed portrait of me on him, I will run for the hills.

He unbuttons his dress shirt and I see a tiny drawing on his ribs. It’s a tattoo that’s much smaller than my own, and it’s a similar design because it’s also a Violet flower. It’s beautiful. It reminds me of the way that I draw them…actually, that’s exactly how I draw Violets; a squiggle without my pencil leaving the paper. I have no idea how he got his hands on my work.

“How did you get—”

The clown sketch. I was practicing signatures on the back of it. He smiles at my reaction when I recognize where he got the design from.

He pulls out his wallet and slides out a folded piece of paper. When he unfolds it, it’s the sketch with various renditions of my signature on the back.

“You need to think before doing things,” I say, even though I feel downright giddy.

“You think too much.”

“But it’s so permanent.”

“I know, that’s the point,” he says, buttoning up his dress shirt.

“Well…I mean…” I stumble over my words.

Devon rubs his hand over his head uncomfortably. “Do you hate it?”

“I don’t hate it,” I reply truthfully. “It’s just a little extreme, I mean, we haven’t even been together a year yet.”

“I’m an extreme guy,” he retorts. He really is, everything I’ve experienced with him has been extreme.

“It’s caught me off guard, but I love it.” I reach out to touch his hand tenderly.

Devon’s smile widens and he encases my hand in his. “Nothing’s changed then,” he says, his voice laced with humor.

“Catching me off guard and going to the extreme? I’d be worried if you didn’t do that.” It’s true. I would be worried because it wouldn’t be Devon at all.

I loop my arms around his neck and bring him down so that our lips meet. His arm circles my waist and I sink into our kiss completely. He playfully nips my lips when he pulls away and then runs his finger over my swollen mouth.

“As much as I want to add a museum to our list of public spots, you have guests waiting for you,” he says, patting down the straying hairs on my head and smoothing my dress down for me.

When we return to the exhibition, I notice my parents still talking to the person they bumped into earlier when Ash made his great escape. I can’t see Kas anywhere, but I spot Freya and Mari talking amongst themselves in front of my art.

“I’m going to go and chat with the girls,” I say, pulling away from Devon.

“Alright, I’m going to catch up with Kas.” Devon jerks his head toward the other side of the room where Kas stands in front of someone else’s art, his eyes unusually focused on the empty champagne glass in his hand. “He looks…troubled.” We split up and as soon as I approach the girls, I realize I’ve ended up walking in on a conversation about Devon and me.

“Party? They met at Violet’s workplace,” Mari says, turning to address me. “It appears Freya and I have had a miscommunication about you and Devon.” Mari covers up a giggle with her hand at Freya’s reaction.

“Violet! I thought you met Devon at that party,” Freya hisses, her voice a silenced shout.

“Wait, does Freya know the whole story?” I ask Mari.

“What story?” Freya turns to me. Her eyes brim with eagerness, like we’re withholding vital information from her.

I’ve mellowed out a lot since admitting this all to Mari months ago. If faced with this question back then, I would’ve definitely panicked. Now, Freya’s obvious impatience with wanting to know the entire story is hilarious.

“You know, the fact that for the first month of meeting, Violet didn’t know who Devon was until they went for brunch because he wouldn’t take off his bike helmet or ski mask at the gas station,” Mari explains.

“I did know who he was, I just never saw his face.” Mari gives me a doubtful look paired with a subtle shake of her head.

“She has a mask kink,” Mari adds.

Freya’s head bounces between us before responding with an overdramatic gasp. “Are you joking?” she asks Mari, her eyes darting to me. “Is that why you and Devon were dying with laughter at the diner?”

“Listen guys, it’s old news. I don’t have a mask kink and Devon and I have come a very long way since those days.”

As if on cue, Kas and Devon join our little conversation corner and Freya eyes up Devon, obviously itching to ask more questions. Devon notices Freya’s inquisitive scowl and looks at me, confused and scared.

“Right kids, picture time!” I spin around to find my parents walking up to us with one of the gallery workers who is holding up my dad’s phone horizontally, the worn leather case flapping open.

Ash appears out of nowhere, and Mom instantly drags him to her side. She’s ready to position them both in front of the lens. Mari scoots closer to Kas, and I can see him physically tense up out of the corner of my eye. He totally has a thing for Mari.

Once we’re all lined up, the staff member begins to back up, ensuring we’re all in frame.

“I’m not beating the mask kink accusations, by the way,” I whisper to Devon.

“It’s hard to beat accusations when the accusation is a stone cold fact. Now, smile.”

The camera flashes and just as we can even begin to think about walking away, my mother speaks, “Right…” She walks in front of us, my father one large stride behind her. “Now just you lot.” She nudges her head to the side, signaling Ash to move. He scoots beside my parents and flashes a humorous pose next to them, causing us all to laugh.

We pose for the photo and I relish in the comfort I feel with Devon.

A feeling that is no longer foreign, but one of unspoken reassurance that the person I hope will stick around for a long, long time undoubtedly feels the same way about me too.

The End.


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