Cowboy Boots and Combat Boots

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Chapter Twenty One

After I dry off I pull on my sweat pants to wear to bed. I make my way into my bedroom and the sight I’m greeted with almost causes me to drop dead. Oh my Lord have mercy. My goddess is laying on my bed wearing nothing but black lace panties and a black lace bra. Her hair is spread out like and angelic halo around her beautiful face and my hands ache to touch every line and curve of her magnificent body.

She smiles her heart stopping smile at me and I pray silently for strength of will as I walk towards the bed. I lay down next to her on the bed careful not to make contact as I search her eyes with mine. She smiles again as she looks towards the far wall behind me.

“You really do have a poster of my bike on your wall.” She laughs. I smile.

“Did you think I was lying?” I ask coyly. She shakes her head. Her eyes suddenly fill with the same desire from the pontoon this afternoon and I swallow hard. Her hand comes up to rest on my chest and her eyes seem sad for a moment as her hands graze over my scars. I use it as an opening as I trail my finger over one of the scars on her hip.

She recoils sharply from the touch and her eyes flash with fear then anger. I don’t back off.

“What are these?” I ask pointing at her scars. All desire is extinguished from her eyes instantly. She rolls on to her back and fixes her gaze on the ceiling. Crossing her arms across her chest.

“You know what they are.” She snaps angrily. “You’ve got plenty of your own.” Her voice is venomous and I can tell this is a place she doesn’t want to go. I feel the same about my scars.

“How did they happen?” I ask her softly and I see tear fall from her eye. She swipes it away angrily. She doesn’t answer. “I understand.” I tell her soothingly. Her eyes snap to mine.

“What do you understand?” She demands. “You think you’ve gleamed some great insight about me in all the time you’ve known me.” She seethes angrily. I let out a deep breath.

“I understand it’s painful.” I say softly. She scoffs. “I still have nightmares every night about how I got every single one of my scars. Every blade that sliced the flesh from my body. Every bullet that barreled into me like pure lava burning me out from the inside. Every fragment of shrapnel that’s still there just underneath my skin that always feels colder than the rest of my skin. All serving as a constant reminder of the nightmares that haunt me.” I confess sadly.

Her face has turned from angry into pure anguish. She rolls her body back over to me and tuck her head against my chest as she cries. I caress her face and hold her gently folded into my arms. I want to soothe her so much. “Do you remember the other day at the diner when I was day dreaming and ended up running late?” I whisper sweetly in her ear. She nods against my chest as her tears continue to fall.

“I was day dreaming about what life would’ve been like had I met you at one of those college football games. I imagined the whole scenario of us meeting and falling in love. My whole life would’ve been different. I would never have been able to leave you for the army. I’d have no scars, no nightmares, just the happy memories of life with you.” I confess and her crying gets harder.

Her body starts to rack with silent sobs against me. “I wish that had happened too.” She whispers through her tears and I breathe out in relief. “You have no idea how much I wish that had happened.” Her pleas are desperate against my chest. “I want to tell you, you deserve to understand. It’s just difficult.” She breathes into my chest.

“I promise you there is nothing in this world you could tell me that would make me stop holding you right now.” I promise her sweetly and she lets out a deep breath.

“You’re wrong.” She says sadly and I hold her tighter to prove my point. She leaves her arms folded in front of her ready to push me off at any moment. If she tells me to let her go I would instantly. She takes a deep breath as her crying stops. “You have to promise not to react badly.” She pleads into my chest.

“I promise.” I swear it and I will hold myself against whatever nightmare she is about to confess to me. She exhales and keep her head buried in my chest.

“It’s a story.” She starts. “I was so excited when I got accepted into Notre Dame. My parents were so proud. I loved everything about college, the freedom, the excitement, the learning. Then I met him. He was two years older than me and I was so naïve. I thought he really liked me. He belonged to the elite of the school, he was rich and handsome and other girls would get so jealous whenever he paid me any attention. God I was so stupid.” She trails off and takes another breath.

“After seeing him for a little while I was still a virgin. I was raised to be really in love before giving that part of yourself to someone. We got a bit hot and heavy sometimes but I never let it get that far. He was sweet and understanding. Then one night I was walking back from the library to my dorm. I ran into him and his group of friends. He called me over to them to introduce me. I didn’t notice the danger right away. He was being so sweet. They had all been drinking and he asked me to come with them to have a drink.

“But all I wanted to do was go home. I was tired from studying. At my refusal he grabbed my arm and pulled me hard. I tried to break away but then he backhanded me hard. I blacked out.” Her breathing is ragged again as her tears start up. “When I came to, my face hurt so much. I looked around and found that he and his friends had pulled me into one of the lower level laboratory class rooms. I was laying on the lecturer’s bench while they stood around me.”

“They were laughing as I begged them to let me go home. I looked to my supposed sweet boyfriend who had a hunting knife in his hands. I shot up from the desk and tried to run. Someone grabbed my hair and pulled me to the ground. I started screaming for help but I was back handed again. The pain was the worse I’d ever experienced in my life. Up until that point at least.’

“It was the middle of the night there was no one who could help me. When I realized that I started to cry. They laughed harder as they through me back up on the desk. There were five of them. Each one held an arm and a leg pinning me down while he climbed on top of me with the knife in his hand.” She chokes on her tears and I feel the water burning in my own eyes. She breathes and continues. She leans back a little and looks down her body letting her finger rest on all the scars one after the other. “He cut my clothes off me with the knife. It was so sharp and there was so much blood.” She stutters and buries her head in my chest again.

“I nearly passed out from the pain but what they were doing to me wouldn’t let me black out. They each took turns raping me over and over for hours. They tortured me and beat me. I screamed so much but no one could hear it. Every time I screamed I was hit. I tried to fight so hard but they held me down. In the end all I could do was cry through the pain. They just laughed and laughed like it was all some drunken game to them. They left my violated broken and bloodied body on the desk—for dead— as the sun came up and they fled the scene.

“I had nearly bled out by the time I was found.” She whispers and I hope to God that there isn’t much more because I’m ready to kill some people slowly. “That was how I first met Damien.” She whispers. “He was early to his lab class that morning and he found me there on the desk in a pool of blood. He’d never met me before but he called an ambulance and threw his jacket over my body. Then he stayed with me in the hospital until I regained consciousness three days later.”

“He never left my side for a minute. He told the doctors he was my brother and refused to leave. They told me they even called security on him when he refused to leave, but he beat them off.” She exhales and I can hear the devotion in her tone for him. I’ve never been more grateful to Damien than I am right now. “The doctors knew what had happened and I told the police everything. My parents came down to the hospital, but they didn’t understand what had happened until they arrived. I had never seen my dad cry until then.”

“The way they looked at me when the doctors told them what happened. They looked at me like I died. In some way they were right, their daughter did die that night. I convinced my parents to go home. Well Damien convinced them actually. He became my family the day he found me. The police spoke to the monsters who attacked me and that’s when I saw how the world really was.

The schools elite legacy sons all had powerful alumni fathers and expensive lawyers. There story was that I was gold digging girl from the sticks who was trying to get an easy payday by claiming rape after a night of consensual fun. The police never filled formal charges at the schools request to not ruin the lives of five upstanding young men on the allegations of one girl. The doctors who had repaired me were disgusted with the school and the police, they hired a lawyer for me but the expensive lawyers afforded to the rich and powerful threatened to drag it through courts for years. They were going to make me take on each one individually forcing me to relive it over and over for years to come. ” She spits as the anger in her tone comes through.

“I dropped out of college because they ran me out of the school. My parents were heartbroken over the whole thing. I told them I was going to be okay. I refused to go home to them and be their broken baby bird forever so I decided to find my own way. Two years later I met Kane. I followed him here to pursue his dreams hoping to focus so much on his dreams I would forget about my nightmares.”

“I forgot who I was completely, he was sweet and sensitive and artistic. It was so long before I could even let a man touch me and he was the first one I trusted enough to do so. He was patient with me for a long time, but eventually he gave me an ultimatum. He said if I really loved him the way he did me I would sleep with him. I wasn’t ready, it was a mistake. I said as much afterwards and he became cold towards me. A month later he got his record deal and told me to go find some else to put up with me being a frigid bitch.” I take a sharp intake of breath desperate to control my anger.

Her head leans back from my chest and her eyes finally look up into mine and I stare at her with nothing but understanding and compassion. “Still want to hold on to the broken bird?” She tries to smile but it falters. I pull her tighter into my arms as my answer and she lets her arms wrap around my torso. I gently kiss the top of her head and she cries again. I choke down my own tears. I never imagined someone could go through so much pain and emerge the goddess I saw on the dancefloor the first night I laid eyes on her. I don’t think she’s broken at all. She’s so strong, she’s picked up her life and moved past the nightmares enough to trust me.

“What are you thinking?” She pleads desperately as she leans back and looks me in the eyes.

“I’m thinking how much stronger you are than I ever thought possible. I’m thinking how honored I am that you could trust me enough to share your heart with me like that.” I trail off choking on my words. Her hand caresses my face as she brings hers nose to nose with mine.

“I do trust you Link.” She affirms with no trace of fear in her. She’s incredible. “You won’t hurt me.” She declares. I fix her with a deathly serious glare.

“I would rather die.” I state clearly and boldly for her. She smiles a small smile and her lips caress mine in a gentle kiss. She breathes out against my lips as her eyes bore into mine again. They just contentment, no traces of fear or haunting nightmares linger at the edges of her eyes.

“I’m exhausted.” She exhales. I reach down to pull the blanket up over her. She snuggles underneath it responsively. I kiss her forehead lightly.

“Sleep now Lexi. Dream only sweet dreams, take mine. Do you remember how we met at that college ball game all those years ago?” I ask her sweetly. My eyes fill with tears as she smiles and nods. She rolls over to face away from me. She pulls my arm around her as she uses the other to prop up the pillow. I pull her against me securely to let her know she is nothing but safe and loved in my arms. I kiss her shoulder. “Remind me what you were wearing?” I whisper desperately in her ear.

Her smile on her face spreads.

“I was wearing Yale colors to annoy my friends.” She whispers sleepily and I smile against her shoulder as I plant a light kiss.

“That’s right. You had that white dress and the dark blue jacket.” I encourage the dream.

“Hmm and you thought I was there supporting your team.” She says dreamily. I kiss her shoulder again.

“You sure fooled me.” I smile into her back. She laughs a soft laugh. Her smile is still on her lips.

“You were staring at me from the field and you told your team you couldn’t celebrate your win with them because you had a hot date as you looked at me and smiled” Her voice is fading and I can barely hear her now.

“Not just hot. The most beautiful girl in the world and she was looking right at me like I was the only other person in the stadium. I’ll never forget that look.” I whisper.

“Hmmm.” Is the only response I get from her as her breathing evens out and she drops into a deep sleep.

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