AN: Sorry that it took me so long to get this last chapter out. I was bouncing back and forth between ideas on what to do, but ended up doing this mini epilogue thing D:
Thanks so much to everyone who had shown their support throughout this entire series. I really, really appreciate it. You guys don't know how much, really. Loves you all~ Now, enjoy the last chapter!
Standing out in the middle of the garden he designed and helped to create, Kolya took a moment out from his task of adding outdoor lighting to mull over what had happened to him. He had hardly been back in Maui for a month, but so much has happened. He was still trying to get his own head around it, but in the long run, it didn't matter that much anymore. He was back in Maui.
And he was staying.
Two weeks had since passed since the secret of Catalonia's betrayal (and arrest) was revealed and the vandals that had been harassing Kolya had been arrested. The court date had been set for next month, and while the men Catalonia hired to attack him were languishing in jail, she had somehow managed to make bail and was holed up somewhere on Maui. Kolya didn't exactly know where, but Kale assured him that she wasn't going to be a bother to him or them anymore. And he hadn't seen her since.
Kolya didn't know what had transpired after Catalonia was outed and he and Kale left to mingle at the opening party. About an hour later Laini and Kale's mother joined, without Catalonia and it was then that Kolya learnt she had been arrest. He couldn't help but feel partly responsible for the brewing family feud.
Kale, however, was quick to remind him that it wasn't his fault. Catalonia had started it all, she was the one who broke them apart and kept that lie for six years without remorse. There was to be no blame placed on him at all.
Kolya still didn't know what to think of Catalonia. Or feel for that matter. He felt betrayed by her and a little bit guilty to have listened to her in the first place. But she had said all the right, or rather wrong, things to say to him, cutting him to the core.
At first, after he found out that she had manipulated him for the sake of money, he was bewildered and then angry. But now, well, he felt pity for her. Or maybe it was simply mercy, mercy toward someone who had none of her own. She was so hell-bent on getting everything she wanted that she lost everything she ever had, including the trust and respect of her family.
From now on she would be looked upon with trepidation and suspicion. Everyone. From her own family, to those whom Kale and Kolya associated themselves with. They knew, somehow, that she was the one who forced them apart and they felt angry at her on their behalf.
But Kolya could feel their gazes on him as well. They were worried about him, Kolya could tell. They were a little bit worried that they could say or do the wrong thing to make his self-esteem plummet once again. And, well, Kolya was a little bit worried about that as well.
For the past six years he had tried to be perfect and selfless, for that was what he was supposed to be. He was a man, someone who catered to everyone else's needs beside his own. Other people's ideas and happiness were far more important than his own. He tried to ignore the feelings of longing and hurt by covering them up with work. He hadn't realised that making himself unhappy was making those around him worried. Malcon had admitted, a few days ago actually, that he and Kolya's own father had been worried about him. He was good at what he did, but he wasn't happy.
He didn't realise how unhappy he was until he came back to Maui and saw Kale again. All that pain and longing came rushing back. The truth was right there, blatant and powerful; he loved Kale. He never stopped loving him.
Knowing that you had a low self-esteem was different to admitting it. He always knew, but never did anything about it as he wasn't worth the time nor effort. It was a rather vicious cycle, really.
But, just the other day Kolya finally admitted it. He told Kale straight up and to his face that he had self-esteem issues and that he wanted to change that. It had been nerve-wracking and downright scary to admit that, but at the same time, it felt good. If he was to be honest with Kale and his feelings for him he first had to be honest with himself. He didn't like his low self-worth. And with Kale's help, he was going to hold a healthier self-image.
For Kale and himself. He wasn't going to run away anymore.
Kolya almost jumped out of his skin when he felt a pair of arms wrap around him from behind, but he soon relaxed when he realised it was Kale. He had snuck up behind him, wrapped his arms around his middle and pulled him back against his chest.
"Hey," Kale muttered as he rested his chin on Kolya's shoulder.
"Hey yourself," Kolya murmured in reply as he settled himself against Kale, his hand rising to knead his fingers through Kale's blond hair.
"Almost done?" Kale asked him, indicating to the lights he had just installed.
Kolya grinned and nodded. "Yep. They're solar powered as well, so as soon as it gets dark enough, they'll come on."
"Hmm, let's wait and see, then."
Kolya's smile became warmer as he nestled himself in Kale's embrace. He never thought that he would be here again, wrapped up in Kale's arms, so warm and loving. Or feel his lips, heated and passionate against his ever again. Six years was a long time. He never wanted to leave this again. Never. It had been so painful.
But now…It was almost as if it was all nothing but a dream. Those six years were gone, over now. He was back, in Kale's arms, back in his life.
And whenever he felt the weight of his engagement ring on his finger (which he made sure to touch every day to make sure it was real), it brought home the realisation that it was all so very real. He was going to be married, to Kale, the man he loved with all his heart.
He felt safe with Kale, safe as in giving him his love and content with receiving it. And he was free to openly express it, too. He didn't care who knew now and neither did Kale. Kale was a bit more bold in his acts of affection while Kolya was still a little bit timid. He wasn't all that good at initiating them, but if Kale kissed him he was most certainly going to kiss back.
So, it wasn't hard to believe that they were going to get married in a week's time.
Even so, Laini made sure he never forgot that fact that he was getting married as well. The slightly older woman was busily planning the wedding, which Kale, not all that surprisingly, didn't have much say in the matter. So, he just let her go. Besides, it was what she loved to do and it allowed him not to worry about the minor details and simply spend time with Kolya instead.
One thing Kolya did manage to request from the busy woman, though, was that they get married on the part of the private beach of the Pink Hibiscus. Laini swoon about it being so romantic and quickly agreed. What else she had planned, no one knew. Or was willing to tell them.
It was probably going to be a surprised wedding! Kolya had to admit, he was a little amused that he had no say in his own wedding plans.
But then Kale pointed out that it proved that his family, that his sister and parents, loved him. He was a lovable person; not perfect. Lovable. That was all that mattered to them. This was their way of showing their support of them, of him.
Kolya had to surprise him with a kiss after that, just so he couldn't see the tears that were welling in his eyes. He now truly understood and appreciated the support and love that the Karlton's had always shown him.
Kolya wasn't aware of how much time had passed until the solar lights around them flickered on, lightening up the darkness that had descended. The lights lined the walk ways and little fairy lights hung in the trees. It was beautiful. The lights were soft, not too overpowering, enough to cast a celestial glow over the garden.
"How could anyone who creates such beauty possibly think they are worthless?" Kale muttered as he ran his fingers through Kolya's hair, taking in the sight around them.
Kolya nuzzled his cheek into Kale's shoulder, his hands gripping at his back. "Sorry."
"I told you not to apologise anymore," Kale quickly and gently chided him, his arms tight and reassuring around him.
"I'll try," Kolya said around a small smile.
He was starting to realise that he did have people around him that loved him for who he truly was. Kale loved him despite all his flaws and low to nil self-esteem. Although, there were still moments where he felt overwhelmed, that he didn't deserve to be loved at all, but they were coming less frequent.
He wasn't becoming selfish. Some people, like himself for example, think that thinking about yourself and doing what your heart tells you was selfish. It truly wasn't.
Kolya pulled back from Kale, only so he could lift his arms and wrap them around his neck, pulling his head down so that he could kiss him on the lips. Kale was slightly surprised with him making the first move, but he soon had his arms around him again, returning the kiss with equal passion.
Slowly, they pulled away and Kale raised a questioning eyebrow. "What?"
"Nothing," Kolya said as he kept his arms around his neck, their bodies pressed tightly together. "I love you."
And Kale simply smiled. "I know," he said. "I love you too."
This was his second chance at happiness and he was going to take it, no matter what. After all, there was nothing wrong with being in love, was there?