A week had passed since Riley last talked to Scott, avoiding his calls, she refused to return home if his car was in her parking lot. By the end of the week, she discovered that her grades had dropped drastically in the past two weeks. She prepared to go home for the weekend as the week came to a close. Not having had the luxury of being free from the reoccurring nightmares, Scott kept making appearances in her dreams, seeming to save the day.
The hundred and fifty mile journey had started out sunny and clear, but by the time she reached Chesterfield, the weather had completely changed. It had started snowing, just as it had that day she was kidnapped from the side of the road.
Finding herself torn between emotions, she thought of both the incident and of Scott, not understanding what she felt for this man who was suddenly cast into her life. Pulling into the driveway, she felt relieved to be at the comfort of home. Noah and Aleah were both home, waiting on her when she arrived. They immediately left to go out for dinner.
Talking about her mother mostly, Riley tried to avoid the subject of her trauma at the cabin and did not mention Scott’s name or relation. Although Riley tried to appear strong and in control on the outside, her family knew she held a different story on the inside. Riley felt she was safer, being this far away from those who harmed her. She was much closer to them when in Newport.
Starving by the time her food arrived, she seemed to eat better in the company of her family and hometown. Returning home for the evening, Riley joined Noah and Aleah in the living room to talk about recent happenings. Although Riley didn’t have much to contribute to the conversation.
It was merely ten when Riley found herself struggling to keep her eyes open. She said good night and went up to her room. Changing her clothes before laying down she was asleep in a matter of minutes.
At seven in the morning, she opened her eyes and stretched. She smiled, realizing she had evaded the dreams for a night and woke up feeling well rested. The nausea was still present, although it was very mild. She felt better than she had in a long time as she made her way to the bathroom.
Her father had already left and Aleah was getting ready for work when she made her way downstairs to the kitchen. The smell of bacon and eggs called out to her and she found that extra had been made. Before sitting down to eat, she poured a cup of coffee and made some toast.
Aleah sat down beside her to eat before leaving for the day, agreeing to do something together later. Riley spent the day relaxed and soaking up the comfort and safety of home. She felt content as she lounged around the house all day until Aleah returned after work to find Riley asleep on the couch. She woke her up and told her to get dressed.
Aleah took her to the movie theater where they watched a new release. It was a thriller and disturbed Riley as she nearly ran from the theater, crying. Aleah following close behind, trying to stop her. Standing in the middle of the parking lot, Riley turned to Aleah and almost yelled.
“It’s never going to let me go.” Riley cried and threw her arms around her younger sister.
Aleah stood with her in the dark, holding her, hoping it would comfort her at least in some degree. “What are you going to do, Riley?” Aleah said in a whisper in her ear.
“I have to kill them. They deserve no less.” Riley’s voice was flat and dull. Pulling back to look in Aleah’s eyes, Riley appeared completely serious and Aleah knew she was.
“Riley, please don’t do something stupid. I know your temper and I know what you’re capable of. Dad and I don’t want to see you go to jail.”
“Aleah, I am in jail, right now. You can’t possibly comprehend what I’ve been through and what I’m going through right now. Please don’t tell dad but my grades are dropping. I don’t know what to do, this thing haunts me and I can’t get any peace.”
“Come on, let’s get out of the roadway.” Aleah placed her hand on Riley’s back and nudged her as a car was coming towards them. They both got into Aleah’s car and she started the engine. “You know, Riley. I just turned twenty one on Wednesday. Dad took me to the bar, but I haven’t been out with you for a drink yet. What do you say?”
“Oh my God, Aleah. I’m sorry, I completely forgot. Yes, most definitely, I know I could go for a drink right about now.”
Aleah merely nodded her head as she put the car in gear and pulled out of the parking lot. Pulling up in front of a small building, they got out and walked inside the establishment. It was a hole in the wall kind of place with a small crowd for early Saturday evening. It seemed as if every man in the bar were looking at the sisters as they were the best looking women in the bar. After ordering and throwing back two shots of whiskey, Riley looked around the room. Seeing the dance floor, she thought of Scott and the night he tried to kiss her. It made a smile come to her face.
From the corner of her eye, she saw a tall figure coming towards her. As she looked at him, it was clear to her that he was drunk. With a closer look at his face, she realized it was Caleb. One of the seniors who tried to rape her on her sixteenth birthday. Apparently, he didn’t recognize her as he sat on the bar stool beside her, looking her over. Riley rolled her eyes and turned her back to him.
“Can I buy you pretty ladies a drink?” He slurred his words.
Riley drew in a deep breath before she stood to her feet and faced him. “Absolutely not, Caleb. You may not remember me, but I’ll never forget you.”
The man squinted his eyes at her as it dawned on him. “I don’t remember your name, but you do look familiar. We went to school together, didn’t we?”
“You don’t remember that day, with Jack, behind Carters grocery store. You tried to rape me. I was sixteen. But I made myself clear that day that you weren’t going to hurt me.”
His facial expression changed as he recalled the day. “Oh yeah. I’m sorry, I was just a stupid kid. I’m not really like that now.” He said and stood before her, nearly a foot taller.
“Now, if you don’t get away from me, I’ll knock your ass on the floor.” She made her threat clear.
He was still obnoxious as he reached for her hand. “I’m only asking for one dance.”
It was more anger than fear that took over her as she clenched her fist and landed it along side his jaw, knocking him to his knees. He rubbed his jaw as he looked up at her. Seeing him stand back up, she reached over and grabbed her beer bottle, swinging it towards him. He blocked it with his arm and returned a punch that connected with her eye. Then he grabbed her and threw her to the floor.
Aleah grabbed her beer bottle and smashed it over his head as Riley picked herself up off the floor. Suddenly another man stepped in, cussing at Caleb as he pulled him by his shirt off the floor and landed a couple of punches in his face.
Riley and Aleah both watched the man who removed the problem from them, throwing Caleb out the front door. Turning to reenter the bar, he merely tipped his hat and smiled at the two sisters sitting at the bar, before returning to his table. Riley was thankful for the hero but was also glad he didn’t try to join them.
For the next hour they stayed at the bar, Riley tired to drown out her sorrow with alcohol but discovered it wasn’t helping much. Riley and Aleah both occupied the dance floor, as Riley tried to release some of her anger and frustration again. As they walked out of the bar, Riley staggered to Aleah’s car. Caleb walked up from behind Riley and grabbed her around the waist.
“You got away from me once, you’ll not do it again.” His voice was clearer and she knew he had lost some of his buzz. But her buzz was now intense.
Trying to free herself from his grasp, she screamed. Aleah jumped on his back and punched him in the head, trying to do what she could to help her sister. Reaching over his shoulder, he grabbed Aleah by the hair and peeled her off of him, throwing her to the ground. Riley jabbed him in the rib cage with her elbow but it didn’t seem to phase him.
Bending her over the car, he pinned himself against her as he unbuttoned and unzipped his pants. Just as she was struggling with him to keep her pants on, she saw the police car drive by. She screamed at them, hoping they would hear her cry for help. She felt relieved when they suddenly slammed on their brakes and pulled into the parking lot.
Seeing the police, Caleb tried to run from them but Aleah tripped him, causing him to fall. Riley cried as she watched the police put him in handcuffs and assist him into the back of their car. Although intoxicated, she gave a statement the best she could before watching them pull away with Caleb in the back.
As Riley rode home, her anger only grew, now thinking of Caleb. She didn’t understand why men just seen her as an object that they could use as they pleased. She was tired of it. Tears fell from her eyes as Aleah pulled into the driveway. Without a word, Riley got out and went straight upstairs to her bedroom.
She gathered some pajamas and went into the bathroom to take a shower. The incident made her feel uncleanly and infringed upon. As the hot water poured down over her head, she cried and beat her fists into the wall. Soaking up the water until it turned cold, she finally got out and dressed. Returning to her room, she sat at her desk and turned on her computer.
Looking the subject of rape and rehabilitation up online, she clicked on the first site that brought her to a page about dealing with rape. As she read on, she cried, knowing that rape had become an epidemic. She somewhat felt less alone in the situation and a few comments made her feel better while others angered her more.
Feeling that she had had enough, she turned off the computer and wished she had something to help her go to sleep. It was nearly two in the morning when she turned off the light and laid down on her bed in complete darkness.
The feeling of fear came over her as she felt her heart racing and her chest tighten and throb. Her breathing became erratic and she could almost feel the blood racing through her body. Her hand was trembling uncontrollably as she reached over and turned on her light. Sitting up in bed, she tucked her knees into her chest and closed her eyes, trying to calm herself. She knew she was having a panic attack.
Trying to change her train of thought, she got up and walked to the window. In the shadows of the full moon, she could see three deer in the back yard. Sitting on the edge of the bench beside the window, she watched as they scratched through the snow, scavenging for food.
Her stomach began to turn and she got up and went towards the bathroom. Sitting on her knees in front of the toilet, she waited but never vomited. Rubbing her forehead, she felt the sweat as a hot feeling came over her. Reaching up to the sink, she grabbed the glass and poured some cold water into it. The cool liquid seemed to cool her off and it felt cold in her hot stomach. Drawing in a few deep breaths, she got up off the floor and quickly sat on the toilet as a feeling of dizziness came over her. It seemed to go away as quickly as it came on.
Returning to her bedroom, she laid on her bed with the light on. Knowing she needed to get some sleep, she seemed to not be able to close her eyes. Her thoughts traded between the incident on her sixteenth birthday and the incident tonight. Although unrelated, it brought back strong feelings from her weekend at the cabin.
She was in tears just as her thoughts shifted to Scott. Within moments, she noticed she had calmed down and stopped crying. His presence in her mind was like a bright ray of sunshine in a dark room. It made her smile and her tension seemed to melt away. Instantly confused by her feelings, she only knew she almost couldn’t wait to see him again.
Closing her eyes, she fell asleep with Scott fresh in her mind. Suddenly she found herself sitting in the passenger side of that white car. She looked around and seen Aaron driving, David behind him and Chuck behind her. The exact scenario replayed in her dream and she found herself screaming as they dragged her into the back seat. As a detour from the original scene, Chuck hit her with his elbow, knocking her out.
Waking up, she was being pulled out of the car by all three of them. Chuck had his arms under hers and David carried her feet as they took her into that dark, cold cabin. Looking around the room, she seen Caleb sitting at the table, laughing with his arms crossed before his chest. She was confused, fearing that he would succeed in his attempt to rape her this time.
She screamed and struggled against them and could feel them ripping her clothes off. Throwing her on the bed, she closed her eyes and could feel as Chuck raped her first, then David, followed by Aaron. They let her go and left the room as Caleb entered, unbuttoning his pants. Although the three had left her naked, she was not taped to the bed and managed to fight Caleb off, never succeeding in his attempt.
Angered more than ever, she screamed to the top of her lungs as she sat straight up in bed. She was crying as Aleah and Noah both ran into her room. Surrounding her, they tried to calm her, knowing she was still having nightmares about the incident.
It didn’t take much effort for her to purposely think of Scott, hoping his thought would cheer her up. He seemed to be her new personal antidepressant. Although the thought of him didn’t indulge her enough to forget the dream, or the incident. It was fresh in her mind as if she had just escaped.
As soon as Noah knew she had calmed down, he asked about her eye. Suddenly remembering the incident, she reached her hand up and felt the soreness in her brow. After what she was still trying to overcome, she didn’t need this too.
“We went to the bar for a drink last night and she got into a bar fight. No big deal, she’s fine, just a black eye.” Aleah covered for her.
“A black eye?” Riley said and pulled herself out of bed to go to the mirror. She was instantly irritated as she knew she would have to explain it to Scott. “Yeah, just a bar fight.” Riley mumbled as she painfully poked at her eye.
“Well, get dressed, we’ll go for an early lunch.” Noah said as he left the room.
“What does he mean, an early lunch?” Riley said as she looked at the clock. It was just after ten. Shaking her head as she went to her closet to find something to wear, she was fighting the nausea, but still got dressed.
At the restaurant, she devoured her food, feeling overly hungry. She tried to keep the thought of Scott in her mind to try to ward off bad thoughts. After the restaurant, their father took them for a drive, twenty miles out of Crystal falls, in the direction of Chesterfield. He had been thinking of selling the large house and buying a smaller one, to where he could retire.
Pulling into the driveway, they looked around at the property of the house that was for sale. He had found it online and wanted to come to look at it further before contacting the real estate agent. Thinking it was a good idea to have both of his daughters with him to aid in his decision, Noah took the opportunity to show them too.
It was apparent that no one was living there at the time as they got out of the car and walked around the house, peeking into the windows. Riley couldn’t help but wonder if it could ever feel like home, when she needed to feel at home. She wasn’t sure about the idea, she had grown up in that big familiar house and it would always be home, to her.
Aleah and Noah seemed to like the idea and the property. It was a two bedroom house with a full basement sitting on five acres. It was more country than the suburb house they grew to love. As they got back into the car, he asked their opinion. Riley showed uncertainty by telling him it was his decision. She was quiet about the situation, but it gave her something else to think about for a while.
By the time they returned home, Riley was feeling ill and exhausted from the lack of sound sleep, and went to her room to lay on her bed for awhile. She felt disrupted and upset the entire day and still couldn’t get any sleep. Staying in bed, she waited until the last minute to leave for her return to Newport.
Putting her things into the back seat, she said her goodbye’s and pulled out of the driveway, already feeling homesick. The sun was setting just as she was leaving town but the moon was almost full and shining through a clear sky. Trying to relax for the long drive, she opened her window slightly to let in some cold, fresh air. Turning up the radio, she tried to concentrate on the road that contained heavy traffic for a Sunday evening.
Trying to control her anger and thoughts as she drove past the area of Chesterfield and the cabin, she knew she would never stop at that rest area again, only wanting to be in the area for the time it takes to drive through. Finding herself angry after passing the rest area, she rolled the window all the way down and stuck her face into the rush of cold air.
For the last twenty minutes of the drive, she was getting anxious. Entering the college town of Newport, she stopped at the hardware store just before it closed. Walking through the store, she saw a pair of heavy duty wire cutters. Picking them up and looking at them, the wheels in her head had set in motion the idea of her first revenge.
Purchasing the wire cutters, she laid them in the seat beside her. Sitting in her car in the parking lot, she stared out the windshield, trying to put together a plan. Without returning home, she drove to the town of Pendleton to kill some time. Feeling somewhat hungry, she stopped at a late fast food restaurant to grab something through the drive thru.
Sitting in the parking lot, she ate, waiting until midnight before leaving. Finding her way to Aaron’s house, she parked in the street, a few doors down. As time passed, she felt undeterred from her intentions while she waited until late, when there was silence throughout the neighborhood.
Getting out of her car with the wire cutters in hand, she crouched down as she snuck towards Aaron’s white car. Laying on the ground, she scooted herself beneath his car and located the brake line. It took all the strength in her hands to cut through the metal brake line, but she succeeded. Inspecting the cut for a mere few seconds, she scooted back out from beneath the car and pulled herself to her feet. Crouching down again, she snuck back to her car and jumped in.
Wide awake and anxious, she waited the long hours before the sun began to come up. Just after sunrise, she seen him come out of his house and get into his car. As he backed out and left, she followed him from a safe distance so she wouldn’t be noticed. Coming to a stop sign, he merely rolled through it, not using his brakes. She continued to follow him as he merged onto a busy highway.
Comparing against her speedometer, he was traveling at speeds in excess of sixty miles per hour. She kept behind him, hoping she was not close enough to be recognized. Seeing him merge into the left lane, he continued into the left turning lane. She continued to follow, merging with him. As he applied his brakes, they failed. Suddenly he was swerving to avoid oncoming traffic as he drove left of the center divider.
Driving off the road, he went through the ditch that sent him airborne, directly into a large tree that stopped him instantly. Pulling off to the side of the road, she rolled her window down to hear the horn sounding and saw him slumped over the steering wheel. Without getting out of her vehicle, she watched as other witnesses ran towards the car to assist him. He was non responsive.
She sat still, staring at the accident, knowing he was dead. Overwhelmed with mixed emotions, she felt somewhat gratified, but also felt guilty for what she had done. She felt sorrow for his family, knowing it wasn’t their fault. But they would suffer his consequences.
Hearing the sirens, she looked to see the ambulance and police cars coming towards the scene with their lights flashing. She wanted to stay and watch but thought she had better leave. Turning her car around, she drove back towards Newport. Stopping alongside a scrap yard that was still closed, she rolled down her window and threw the wire cutters over the metal fence, then pulled away. She had just enough time to change her clothes and grab her book bag before being considered late for class.
Between the exhaustion from no sleep, and the constant thoughts of the accident, she could not concentrate the entire day. She forced herself to continue, awaiting the end of the last class. Feeling relieved her school day had come to a close, she got into her car and drove straight home to her apartment, regardless of whether she would run into Scott or not.
He was nowhere to be seen as she parked her car and went through the glass doors to her apartment. Unlocking the door, she went inside, threw her things on the table and collapsed on the couch. Merely twenty minutes went by as she had just fallen asleep, she heard a knock on her door. Opening her eyes and listening, she heard the knock again and knew it wasn’t a dream.
“Riley?” She heard Scott’s voice through the door.
Drawing in a deep breath, she exhaled fully as she got off the couch, not sure if she wanted to respond to him. She stood still and quiet just beyond the closed door as he knocked again.
“Riley, I know you’re in there, please talk to me.” His voice was soft with a hint of concern.
She drew in another deep breath as she reached to unlock the door. Slowly she opened it and looked into his eyes as he smiled at her. Without being invited in, he walked past her, entering her apartment. Gently pushing on the door, it swung shut as she turned towards him.
“Riley, what happened to your eye?” He reached up to almost touch the bruising.
“I was in a bar fight Saturday night. It’s no big deal, I’m fine.”
“Where have you been? I’ve been trying to contact you.” He asked, dismissing her injured eye.
“I went home for the weekend, to Crystal Falls. Why, is there anything else you need to know?” She suddenly felt sorry for being harsh to him.
“Yes, actually. Tell me why you were in the hospital in Chesterfield. The same weekend your car was impounded.”
Feeling as if she shrunk into the carpet, she turned away from him. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Riley, please talk to me. Don’t you remember being in the emergency room? They did a rape kit on you. It was positive for three separate samples. The doctor who treated you told me that you stated you had been kidnapped and held captive. Please tell me what happened.” Grasping her by the shoulders, he gently turned her around to face him.
“Damnit, Scott, you weren’t supposed to know about that.” She said with tears in her eyes.
“Riley, I’m a cop, what makes you think I wouldn’t find out?” He seen the anguish on her face and tried to pull her against him. But she was beyond angry as she hit him with her fists and resisted his embrace. He only pulled her harder against him until she was unable to hit him. He held her tight as she broke down and cried against his shoulder.
Nearly hyperventilating, she tried to catch her breath as she realized what just happened. She had to tell him something, just not the truth. Pulling away from him, she turned away as she tried to gather her thoughts.
Sitting on the couch, she started talking without looking up at him. “I was on my way home when my car broke down on the side of the freeway. I couldn’t get cell phone service so I walked to the rest area to make a call. That’s where I was attacked, by three older men.”
“Riley, your car was towed on Saturday afternoon. It has to sit there for twenty four hours before they tow it, so that means your car broke down on Friday. But you didn’t come into the emergency room until Sunday night. What happened all weekend?”
“I guess you could say they kidnapped me as well. They left me on the side of the road, Scott, they tried to kill me.” Tears were filling her eyes again.
“Who were they, had you ever seen them before?” He questioned her.
“No, I don’t know, Scott, you’re the cop, you tell me who they were.” She returned, aggravated by the conversation.
“They ran the samples against the data base but came up with no matches. I can’t do anything about it unless you tell me everything, Riley.”
“Look, Scott, I don’t remember that weekend. I don’t want to remember that weekend. Please don’t pry about it, just leave me alone. Please don’t ever ask me about it again.” She felt somewhat relieved that he knew something about it, but at the same time, felt violated all over again. She knew she could never tell him the truth without revealing her plans for revenge. “Why are you checking up on me anyways, I haven’t done anything wrong.”
“No, Riley. It’s not like that. I’ve only done it because I’m interested in you. I want to know everything about you, even if you won’t tell me openly. Please don’t be mad at me.”
She looked up at him as she stood up to face him. “I still don’t understand why you’re so interested in me.”
He reached up and grasped a lock of her blonde hair, running it through his closed hand until he pulled down on its entire length. “Riley, the first time I ever laid eyes on you, I was drawn to you. Maybe I don’t know myself what makes me so interested, but I can’t stop thinking about you. Everywhere I look, I hope to see your face. Every time I close my eyes, I do see your face. I don’t know how you do what you do to me. All I know, is that I really want to kiss you right now.”
Looking into his dark eyes, she allowed his lips to touch hers. She kept her eyes open in attempt to remind herself that it was him, not a bad thought trying to push through. His kiss was soft but firm on her lips as he wrapped his arms around her. He pulled back to look down at her, reading her facial expression.
With a slight smile, he leaned down and kissed her again. Accepting his affection, she reached up and closed her arms around his neck, drawing him closer. Extremely nervous at first, her anxiety faded away as the kiss grew. Somehow he had found his way into her comfort zone. And she realized that she was enjoying the moment.
She felt hot and cold at the same time and didn’t understand the pleasurable sensation. It was a sensation she had never felt before and it felt like a good change from the horrible things in her life. She tried to savor the moment. Suddenly he pulled back and looked at her with concern in his eyes.
“I’m sorry, Riley. I don’t want to go too far. I don’t ever want you to feel scared or uncomfortable around me. Please believe me when I tell you that I will never hurt you.” He said with the feeling that she was insecure, knowing the hell she must have went through very recently.
He now understood, why she had rejected him initially and he understood her inability to trust. “Maybe I should go now.” He loosened his grasp on her and pulled away.
“Scott, please, don’t go. Stay with me for a while. I’ll cook us something for dinner.” She wanted his company.
“Trust me, Riley, there is definitely nowhere I’d rather be right now than by your side, but I don’t want to overstay my welcome either. If you’re sure you want me to stay, I’d love to.”
Through all the turmoil, she realized she had learned how to start trusting. At least this man. Something she had lacked for a long time. She just gazed up at the man who had went from a stranger to someone she felt she had known forever. He was an important turning point in her life and she hoped her feelings were not in vain.
Turning away from him, she went towards the kitchen to look for something for dinner. Finding a couple of thick steaks in the freezer, she took them out and searched for a pan to cook them in. He joined her in the kitchen, asking if she needed help.
“No, just have a seat and make yourself at home. Give me a minute and I’ll make some coffee.”
Taking a seat at the small kitchen table, he watched her as she moved around the kitchen, preparing dinner for both of them. Leaning with her back against the counter, she closed her eyes and rubbed her forehead as a feeling of weakness shot through her. He observed her as the color in her face seemed to vanish and she became pale.
Scott stood to his feet and gently pulled her to the chair, knowing she needed to sit down. “Are you feeling alright?” He said as he stroked her face.
“I’m just overly tired. I haven’t been sleeping well lately.” She said as she heeded his suggestion to rest for a minute.
Taking the utensils from her hand, he took over dinner for a moment, long enough for her to grasp her bearings. Sitting for only a moment, she got up to make coffee. Standing beside him, she closed her eyes for a moment, absorbing this new, different sense of trust. He placed his hands on her shoulders and began to massage her.
“Wow. You’re really tense.” He said as he continued to squeeze and rub just hard enough to make it hurt slightly. “I’m sorry, Riley, I don’t mean to bring up any bad happenings, but I have to tell you that a seventeen year old lost his life this morning in a bad car accident. It happened in Pendleton.”
“Really. What happened?”
“We’re not sure yet, the accident is under investigation. But the strange thing is who it happened to. It was Aaron Fielding. The kid whose parents owned the cabin that burned down in Chesterfield.”
“Hmmm. What a coincidence, don’t you think?”
“Yes. In fact, I think it was more than a coincidence. The investigators are saying that his brake line was cut with some sort of tool.” He said as he continued to rub her shoulders.
Suddenly feeling ill, she pulled away from his hands and went towards the bathroom without saying a word to him. Entering the bathroom, she shut the door and turned on the water to drown out the sound of her vomiting.
Waiting a few minutes before exiting the bathroom, she was sure she had finished. He looked at her as she walked into the kitchen and sat down, knowing she wasn’t feeling well. Kneeling down in front of her, he brushed his hand across her cheek, feeling for fever. “Are you sure you’re feeling up to my company? You look like you need rest.”
“Yes, Scott. Please just bear with me, with the stress I’ve been under lately, I really haven’t been feeling well. But I still would like you to stay, for a little while.” Knowing the thought of him would make her feel better, she wrapped her arms around him and pulled him in for a hug.
As she felt herself relax, the tears came to her eyes again. She wasn’t sure what she was feeling but she knew she just wanted to be in his arms for the moment. Silently, she cried with her face buried in his neck.
“Everything will be alright, you’ll see.” He whispered to her as he stroked her hair, knowing she was crying.
She pulled back to look into his eyes as he reached up to wipe the tears from hers. “Riley, please go see that counselor, I think she could really do you some good.” His voice was soft and understanding.
She merely shook her head as she agreed. Looking into her green eyes, he kissed her lightly then stood to his feet and turned to attend to their dinner. Riley stood up and came up beside him, reaching to pull the utensils from his hands. “I’m supposed to be cooking this.” She said, forcing a slight smile.
Relinquishing them to her, he moved out of the way. “Ok.” Reaching up, he opened the cupboard to find plates. The next cupboard, he found cups and glasses. She watched as he pulled two cups from the cupboard and set them in front of the coffee pot.
“Do you want anything in your coffee?” He asked her.
“No, black is fine, thank you.” She answered him.
Pouring two cups, he placed them on the table as she turned off the burners. Pulling plates from the cupboard, she dished out both of their plates and set them on the table. Then retrieved the ketchup from the refrigerator.
They sat down together at the small table in the kitchen to eat. He watched as she drowned her fried potatoes in malt vinegar and ketchup, thinking that was an odd combination. He merely smiled and shook his head as she took her first bite.
“So, how come you don’t have any pets?”
“I’m not allowed to have pets here. What about you, any pets?”
“Actually, yes. I have a German shepherd. He was my police dog when I was on beat, but he retired and I kept him. He really is a good dog and I know he would love you.”
“Maybe I’ll get to meet him someday.”
“Yes. Maybe tomorrow night, we can have dinner at my house. I’ll cook.” He offered.
She thought the offer was safe enough and agreed. “You’ll have to tell me how to get to your house.”
He smiled at her, happy that she agreed. “I can come and pick you up and take you there. Or you can follow me, which ever you prefer.”
“Ok.” She simply said.
As they finished eating, Scott helped her clean up and load the dishwasher. She turned it on and turned off the light as they went towards the living room. Scott sat at the edge of the couch, expecting her to sit beside him. Riley laid down on the couch and rested her head in his lap, pulling her hair out from beneath her and looking up at him for acceptance. Looking down at her, he smiled and stroked her hair.
Riley reached for the TV remote and gave it to Scott, giving him the choice of viewing the TV. He turned it on and flipped through the channels, finding something that would hopefully satisfy both of them. Half an hour had passed when he glanced down at Riley and saw she was asleep. He looked her over for long moments, smiling, then gently pulled himself from beneath her and stood to his feet. Turning off the TV, he put the remote on the coffee table.
With his hands on his hips, he looked her over again before reaching down to pick her up off the couch. Not sure what was happening as she woke up, her body tensed and she opened her eyes. She looked up at Scott as he was looking back at her.
“What are you doing?” She slightly began to struggle as he carried her towards the only bedroom.
“Relax, Riley. I just wanted to lay you in your bed before I left to go home.” He said as he entered the dark bedroom.
Reaching over, she flicked on the light as he walked through the doorway. He laid her on the bed then sat on the edge of it, looking down at her. “I’ll see you tomorrow.” He said before he leaned down and planted his lips hard against hers.
She responded to his kiss by sliding her arms under his and around his back. Her eyes were closed. As he pulled back, she opened her eyes and looked up at him. He hesitated before standing to his feet and walking to the bedroom doorway. With his hand on the light switch, he looked back at her. “Good night.” He said and cleared his throat as he turned off the light and walked out of her sight. “Don’t worry, I’ll lock your door as I go out it.” She heard him say, then heard the door shut.
Relaxing, she closed her eyes, thinking of the events of the night. Again, she struggled with mixed feelings. Different feelings. She felt horrified that he had learned about that weekend, but the reality is much different than the story she told him. She felt guilty that she lied to him. She felt guilty that she had taken Aaron’s life. But she still felt that he deserved it for his part in her horror.
With her mind shifting between the events of the cabin, Aaron’s death, and Scott, she tossed and turned, finding it difficult to fall back to sleep. She got out of bed and walked out to the dining room to locate the card Scott had given her for the counselor. Finding it still on the dining room table, she picked it up and laid it beside the phone. Glancing towards the kitchen, she seen the red light from the coffee pot and realized she had forgot to turn it off. She walked to it and switched it off.
Standing in the dark room, she leaned with her back against the counter and just closed her eyes. It was just after midnight but she felt the urge to get away from the apartment. Still fully dressed, she sat down and put on her shoes. Then her coat. Grabbing her purse and keys, she locked the door as she left the apartment.
Sitting in her car for a moment before starting it, she thought about where she would go. Reaching up, she started the car and drove out of the parking lot. Stopping at a twenty four hour gas station, she filled her gas tank up and went inside. Looking through the coolers, she reached for a pint of whole milk and a twenty ounce root beer.
Walking through the snack isle, she picked up some snacks then went to the cashier. Looking at all the alcohol behind the counter, she thought about it but decided against it. Leaving the store, she got into her car and opened the milk, drinking the entire contents. It seemed to calm her stomach as she started the car and pulled out of the gas station.
Locating the city park, she turned into the driveway and drove to the furthest end of the park. Parking her car, she shut it off and sat in the silence while she nibbled on her snacks. Pulling her keys out of the ignition, she grabbed her purse and got out of the car. Looking around, she followed the foot prints towards the two mile hiking trail.
The half moon produced just enough light for her to see her way down the trail as she walked slowly, trying to clear her mind in the clear, fresh air. Stopping along the trail, she leaned out over the railing to feel the cold wind on her face. She closed her eyes and drew in a deep breath. Continuing down the trail, she seemed to feel somewhat better.
Returning to her car, she sat in the drivers seat and laid her seat back. Laying her hands across her stomach she stared out the windows through the faint orange glow from the city lights to focus on the few bright stars in the night sky. Closing her eyes, she felt relaxed and content for the time being.
Next thing she knew, she heard a tap on her window. She opened her eyes as the sun began to approach the horizon. Blinking her eyes, she seen the police standing outside her car. She sat up and opened her door.
“Are you alright, ma’am? Are you homeless?” The police officer said as he shone his flashlight through her windows to see the contents of the car.
“No, I’m sorry, I was just trying to get my mind off my ghosts. I guess I fell asleep.” She said as she pulled her seat back into a sitting position.
“Can I see your license and registration, proof of insurance?” The officer asked, still flashing his light through the car. “Have you been drinking?”
“No. Not last night.” She answered as she dug out the required paperwork.
The officer returned to his car with her information and reported to dispatch. A few minutes later, he returned to her car and handed her items back to her. “Just to remind you that this park closes at dark. You shouldn’t be here until dawn. There are reasons for these rules. Please obey them.” He said and walked away from her car.
Riley put the items away and put on her seat belt, watching the police car drive away. Starting it up, she drove straight to her apartment. Feeling somewhat nauseated, she made some dry toast and nibbled on it as she gathered her clothes for the day. The hot shower offered slight relief as she cleaned herself and washed her hair.
She had decided to skip her first class, giving her time to call the councilor and make an appointment. She ran into some luck when the receptionist told her they could squeeze her in at four this afternoon. Riley quickly agreed to fill the time slot.
After the phone call, she grabbed her book bag and left the apartment. Her walk in the park seemed to help when she was more able to pay attention in class. Being unable to turn in her incomplete homework, as she left the last class, the professor pulled her aside and spoke with her about her falling grades. He suggested she see the school counselor but she informed him of her appointment with the other therapist. He was satisfied with that.
She had just enough time after leaving school to find the building where she was supposed to be. Walking into the small office, she announced her presence and sat to wait to be called in. She suddenly felt nervous and wanted to run out the door. But she didn’t, she continued to wait.
Looking up, she seen the door open and an older woman walked past her and out the other door. “She will see you now.” The receptionist said and stood to hold the door open for her.
Riley stood up and hesitated before walking into the room, seeming to feel the blood rush to her extremities, her fingers and toes were tingling. The woman behind the desk appeared to be in her sixties and was smiling at her. She pointed to the chair opposite to her, inviting her to sit down. Riley sat down and looked around the room.
“I’m Dr. Watson. What’s your name?”
“I’m Riley. Riley St. Claire. I’ve never been here before.”
“What brings you in today?” The woman said in a soft voice.
“Well, I’m trying to deal with some deep trauma and everyone seems to think I need help.”
“Ok, I’ll see what I can do. But you have to tell me what happened.”
Riley looked down at her hands as she was wringing them. “Nothing I say will leave this office?”
“Absolutely not. I am not at liberty to discuss this with anyone, including law enforcement. Unless, of course, you tell me you feel like hurting yourself or someone else.”
She knew she had to be careful what she said because she did, in fact, feel like hurting someone else. Again. “This happened the same weekend my mother died in a bad car accident. Because of this incident, I was unable to be by her side when she died.” Riley paused before continuing. “I was kidnapped and contained for a weekend by three high school boys. They kept me naked, raped me, and did unspeakable things to me. They beat me, and when the weekend was over, they attempted to kill me, leaving me naked and unconscious in the cold snow. But I found the strength to save my life when I crawled to the road and was rescued by an unknown woman.” Riley suddenly wished she hadn’t told her the truth.
“Ok. How long ago did this happen?”
“It was Friday, January thirteenth. I’ll never forget the day.”
Dr. Watson asked Riley about her support system but only one name came to mind. Scott. He was the one she thought about to ease her mind. Her family lived so far away and couldn’t help as much as they would all like. Scott seemed to always be there when she needed him, whether in person or in thought.
As Riley talked to her for the remainder of her hour, Dr. Watson kept asking her how she felt about certain aspects. She seemed to bring the anger and the depression to the surface and Riley expressed her emotions with tears. Dr. Watson was inclined to think Riley was emotionally unstable.
As the appointment came to a close, Dr. Watson requested she come back and Riley wondered if the session had actually done her any good. Obtaining a card for the next appointment, she left the office and returned to her apartment. She had merely forty five minutes before she knew Scott would show up. She snacked on a yogurt cup trying to curb her hunger until dinnertime. For the first time in a long time, she applied a touch of makeup and pulled her hair back. She changed into something nice but somewhat sexy, with a skirt that hung just above her knees. It was also the first time she had wore a dress in a long time.
Scott had seemed to be a knight in shining armor and she wanted to look nice for him. As she waited for his arrival, she poured a small glass of milk and left lipstick residue on the glass. At that moment, she heard his knock on the door. Walking over, she swung it open to see him standing there. He looked her up and down and smiled.
“Wow, Riley. You’re so beautiful.” He said and with a giant step, he was against her, pressing his lips to hers with the door wide open. His kiss was more passionate than ever as he wrapped his arms around her and held her tightly, tasting the lipstick on her lips.
She closed her eyes and melted into his kiss until he suddenly pulled back and looked at her. “Are you ready?”
She nodded her head as she reached with one hand to grab her purse and coat. After locking the door, she put her coat on as they walked down the hallway. She went directly to her car, quietly stating that she would follow him.
He lived in a nice neighborhood on the other side of town, away from the college. Pulling in the driveway, she followed him to the door. Immediately, she was greeted by Cosmo, Scott’s dog. She reached down to pet him as he sniffed her here and there. Kneeling down to him, she scratched around the dog’s neck.
“He’s beautiful.” She commented.
“Yes, Cosmo’s a good dog.” He said as he stood beside her.
Standing back up, she looked around the room. “Come on, I’ll show you around.” Scott said as he walked towards the kitchen. As he walked her throughout the rooms, she familiarized herself with her surroundings. Upstairs, he showed her three bedrooms and a bathroom. Then the full basement.
“This is a really nice house. You rent this?” She asked as they made their way back to the kitchen.
“No. I bought this house when I was twenty one. With a substantial down payment, I had it paid off in only five years. It’s mine. I owe nothing. Although I had to work two jobs for a long time to do it.”
She enjoyed the fact that he owned the house. He appeared to be doing well for himself, by himself. The dog seemed to follow her everywhere, pining for her affection, like Scott, she assumed. He sat at her feet as she sat at the table. Scott looked at his dog, observing his strange behavior with her. Disregarding it, he gathered the items needed to start dinner.
She assisted him by cutting up vegetables as he made chicken fajitas, cooking the chicken outside on the grill that was on the back porch. With the glass of wine he poured her, she joined him outside, in the cold, for a moment while he attended to the chicken. The backyard was large with a tall privacy fence. There was a kennel in the back corner for Cosmo. She seemed to feel comfortable in the large, old house.
As they sat down at the dining room table to eat, he sat across from her. She slipped off her shoes and felt the plush carpet beneath her feet through her nylon hose. Cosmo laid on the floor beside her chair. As they finished eating, she helped him clean up, washing dishes in her nearly bare feet. The dog seemed to stay at her side.
“Well, what would you like to do? Would you like to go do something or just hang out here for the evening?” Scott asked as he came up behind her in the kitchen and spread his arms across her stomach.
Covering his arms with her own, she responded. “It’s still kinda early. Why don’t we go to the video store, pick out a movie and bring it back here. We can stop and get some snacks.”
“That sounds like a great idea.” He whispered as he rubbed his lips across her neck. She could feel the warmth of his breath, breathing against her, raising the goose bumps on the back of her neck.
“Come on.” She said and pulled away from him. “I’m parked behind you so I’ll drive.” Cosmo followed her out the door but Scott hollered at him. “It’s ok, he can come along, I don’t mind.” Riley said as she opened the car door and he jumped in.
Walking through the video store for approximately ten minutes, they agreed on a new release. Riley insisted on paying for it, feeling it was her turn. Stopping at the grocery store, they went in for drinks and snacks. Seeing the pineapple in the fruit section, she suddenly had a strong craving for fresh pineapple. Putting it in the cart, Scott looked at her and she shrugged her shoulders at him. Then she added a block of cheddar cheese to the cart.
Without him telling her directions, she found her way back to his house. Before sitting down to begin the movie, she stood in the kitchen and prepared the pineapple, putting it on a plate. Then she cut a block of cheddar cheese into cubes and laid them along the edge of the plate.
Riley walked out to the living room and set the plate on the coffee table. Scott looked at it, then at her as she sat down beside him. “Pineapple and cheese? You’re very strange.” He smiled.
“I know, right? It just sounded good.” She said as Cosmo climbed onto the couch, forcing himself between Scott and Riley.
Scott looked at the dog for a moment, confused with his behavior. “Cosmo. What are you doing? Get down.” Scott took him by the collar and pulled him off the couch. “Crazy dog, what’s gotten into you?”
Scott scooted closer to her and picked up the remote then put is arm around her shoulders. Skipping through the advertisements, he started the movie. Cosmo was sitting in front of them, whining. Riley patted the cushion beside her and he jumped up and laid his head on her lap. Scott watching, just shook his head then looked at the TV.
Before the movie was half way over with, Riley had finished the entire plate of pineapple and cheese, except for the small amount that Scott nibbled on. Feeling content and relaxed, she leaned her head on Scott’s shoulder for the rest of the movie.
Thinking she was asleep at the end of the movie, he softly spoke her name. “Riley?” She looked up at him. “I was just checking to see if you were asleep.”
Looking back at the TV, she answered him. “No, I was watching the movie. It was pretty good. Didn’t you think so?”
“Yes, I would have to agree.” He said as he reached for the remote. Flipping through a few channels, he turned off the TV. Standing to his feet, he walked to the radio and turned on soft rock music. “You don’t have to go right away, do you? It’s only ten o’clock.” He said as he walked over and dimmed the light.
Walking back towards the couch, he held his hand out to her. “Dance with me.”
She looked at his hand, then up at him. Reaching up, she took his hand and stood to her feet. He led her away from the coffee table to the middle of the room. Looking into her eyes, he pulled her against him and wrapped his arms around her. As they swayed to the music, he looked over her face for long moments, studying her.
She saw a certain seriousness in his eyes just before he leaned down to kiss her. Watching him as his lips touched hers, she then closed her eyes, finding herself enjoying his affection, at first. But as his kiss grew deeper and his hands began to roam across her back, the passion overwhelmed her. She pulled herself away and stepped back, looking into his eyes.
“Riley, I’m…” It was all he could say before she stepped back towards him and kissed him again.
He returned the kiss with a deeper passion then ever before. His arms were firm as they slid across her back. Reaching down, he squeezed her buttocks and pulled her closer to him. Suddenly feeling overwhelmed again, she stepped back away from him, this time with tears in her eyes. She was instantly angry, longing to get closer to Scott, but the incident at the cabin retained it’s strong hold over her that she couldn’t yet shake.
He stepped towards her just to embrace her but she walked away from him. “I can’t, Scott, I’m sorry.”
She grabbed her coat and purse and walked out his door without another word. She was crying harder as she opened her car door. Looking back at the house, she saw his shadow standing in the window, watching her. She got into her car and drove away, leaving him feeling guilty and worried that he would never see her again.