***Part Fifteen***
Word Count: 2,024

The first thing he did when he got to his house was to call and change the return flight. A few days wasn’t going to give him any sort of real information about any of the setup. A good trainer and corner crew was great, but if the gym was shit it might give him pause. And just how much of a chance of getting actual fights did he have in Iowa?

Taylor wasn’t dumb; he knew Angela Petrelli had more up her sleeve than just getting him in the same city as Claire. She wanted her granddaughter safe, which would mean Taylor would be out there for a couple of years at least. Assuming Claire was willing to take him back. He wasn’t going to put it past her to get him there with promises that she had no real desire of seeing through. Not that she’d go back on her word exactly, but she’d probably turn it around and say she’d done him a favor or something.

As if he had any desire to leave New York.

Iowa? He wondered how she’d ended up there of all places. Her parents lived in California, but he imagined she got good enough grades that she got accepted to every college she’d applied to. Not knowing she wasn’t already in college until their last weekend together he’d never had the opportunity to find out where she’d applied. Or even what she wanted to major in.

The guy she was dating now probably knew those things and a lot of other things about her that Taylor didn’t know. And that led him to think about the things Taylor knew about her that few others did and wondered if the boyfriend knew them, too.

If he did, Taylor realized he might just have a fight on his hands. Not wanting to think about her letting anyone else know those things about her he focused on packing. What did one wear to a town in Iowa that was primarily a college town? He wasn’t fooling himself into thinking it was otherwise.

In his closet to get together things he’d need for the trip, his eyes caught sight of a box he’d put out of his mind long ago. He took it down and brought it over to his bed. He knew his mother would be sad to know he’d boxed these things away. Out of sight, out of mind. He’d embraced the lifestyle of his father and friends, there hadn’t been much room – or need – for the things in this box living as he had.

In it were the yarmulke he’d had as a small child, the one he’d worn to his Bar Mitzvah when he was thirteen, and the one his mother had given him when he turned twenty-one. His tallit was in here, too. He ran a finger along the strings of the prayer shawl, knowing he didn’t come close to remembering how to tie the strings into the tzitzit any longer. It’d been too many years; too much had happened.

Oh, he’d continued going to Synagogue after his Bar Mitzvah with his mother, but he got out of it as often as he could and as soon as he hit his eighteenth birthday he’d stopped going entirely. He knew the gift of a new, a grown man’s, yarmulke on his twenty-first birthday was his mother’s way of telling him it was time to return to the faith he was raised with.

There were other things in the box, other than the more recent kippah which he slipped out of the box without thinking about it, everything was from his childhood. He remembered the year of preparation for his Bar Mitzvah. While Matty and Chris and Johnny got to do things, there were many times Taylor was stuck. He’d hated his mother for that, because it was her fault that he was so very different than his friends. None of his Catholic friends were stuck at Synagogue; they’d done their first communions and confirmations as kids. Now, of course, he knew it was no more her fault than the color of his eyes or how tall he was.

He arranged for a car to take him to the airport rather than leave his ride in long-term parking. There was no telling how long he’d be. A phone call to Matty and Chris to let them both know he’d be out of town for a while and to reach him on his cell if they needed to was next. He didn’t tell either of them where he was going or why. No sense stirring things up just by making a trip.

He knew what both of his friends would say, both would have drastically opposing views on his flying out to Iowa for a woman. Matty would wish him well and ask him why it’d taken so long. Matty and Taylor had fewer secrets between them than Taylor and Chris did, and Matty knew – even if Taylor never spoke the words outright – that Taylor loved her.

Chris would tell him it was a long way to go for a piece of ass that’d already bailed on him once. Both friends were at very different places in their lives. There were times since leaving his job with the senator that Taylor felt caught in the middle in a way.

He’d gotten a glimpse of the way Matty’s life was now and had liked it, which scared the hell out of him. Her age aside, she was going to live for fucking ever. Looking as hot as she did now from what he could gather.

He knew the year hadn’t been overly kind to him. He’d had a few fights in a ring, but it was the ones outside the ring that had really done the damage. His fuse was quick to blow these days, put him with Chris and get some alcohol into him and it didn’t take much for him to start something. Or to finish something someone else had started.

That gave him pause. Not that he was hideously scarred, but there were things there now that hadn’t been last she saw him. Would that bother her? Monroe was a perfect looking guy. How could Taylor compete with that?

And these thoughts weren’t getting him anywhere. All he knew was Mrs. Petrelli had a point, whatever her purpose was. If the guy Claire was seeing didn’t know her secrets then she could potentially be at risk with the spotlight focused on her. He couldn’t quite understand why her grandmother would put her at risk, but he imagined she thought it was worth it. And the idea of someone using her for access to a name or the money that went with that name didn’t sit well with Taylor.

And he knew why he was an appealing choice to the Petrelli matriarch. He had his own money, his own stuff, and his own family name that carried a certain amount of power with it (even if he chose not to go by that name). So, she knew that Taylor wasn’t going to use her granddaughter to make his life better.

He headed out for something to eat and to grab a few things he’d need for the trip. On his way home, he stopped at a Synagogue not far from his house. He wasn’t sure what had led him there, though he must have had it in the back of his mind for a while because he knew it was a Reform temple. Maybe he hadn’t strayed so far from his upbringing as he liked to think because there was no way he’d try to set foot in an Orthodox temple.

So, why was he here tonight?

Finding the box? Maybe.

Too many ghosts in his house that he hadn’t quite yet put to rest? Possibly that, too.

All he knew was that he needed some place quiet to think for a while. No distractions. No thoughts of his father and what he might say to this situation. Teddy Deserve would never have flown to Iowa, or anywhere, for a woman, and he in no uncertain terms would have railed at his illegitimate son until he’d gotten it through his thick skull that a woman wasn’t worth that much trouble.

For the first time since he’d received it from his mother, he slid the yarmulke over his head as he entered and found a place to sit. He wasn’t really a praying man, he’d long since given up hope on anything he prayed for being answered. So, he wasn’t here for that really, but found himself praying just the same. The Hebrew was stilted even in his mind, rusty from lack of use, but he imagined God would know what he meant even stammering and stumbling through it as he was.

He didn’t believe he was thinking with his dick, but somewhere in his mind were doubts about the wisdom in doing this. She was eighteen, nineteen now he guessed, and should have lots of dating to do yet before settling down. And that made him see red because he remembered vividly everything about her. In and out of bed, and he knew that no guy in his right mind would let her go, especially once they found out who she was or rather who she was related to. The type of money and access to jobs that having those relatives brought with it.

And really his decision was made for him he guessed. No matter if she’d hear him out and talk to him or take him back; he’d at least do what Mrs. Petrelli wanted him to do. Protect her from hangers on once the news of who she was became common knowledge.

And then the question became how much did he tell her as to why he was there? The odds of their paths crossing in Iowa were pretty slim so she’d know he was there for a reason. He imagined he’d deal with that when the time came, see how much she was willing to talk to and see him.

He stayed for a while longer, taking in the inside of the temple for a while. He’d never understood his mom coming here when he was growing up. She’d been praying for him more than likely, not wanting to bury her son before he graduated from high school.

He didn’t feel as though he had the answers now any more than he had coming in here, but he could sort of feel a difference. He’d shared his thoughts with someone without having to actually say a word. Was he more at peace because of it? No, he wouldn’t say that he felt that, but he did feel a little better about taking this step than he had before walking in here. There was some clarity in his mind now.

He left, sliding the yarmulke from his head as he got to his car. It wasn’t far to his house from there where he locked himself in for the night. The finishing touches were placed on his packing before he walked out onto the balcony from his bedroom with a beer and a cigarette.

He was trying to cut down on both, but he was in no hurry to stop completely. The occasional beer wasn’t going to hurt him, though he could tell the difference in his stamina in the ring now that he was down to less than a pack of cigs a day.

This time tomorrow he’d be in the same town as her again. And as much as that in a way excited him he was a bit wary. She could react in all sorts of ways. He was hoping for the more positive ones being her choice but he knew it could go badly, too.

There was nothing more for him to do here tonight. The thought of calling or texting her occurred to him, but he wouldn’t even know what to say. So, he called it good for the moment, deciding it was time to hit the hay.

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