Bill got into his car and texted Michael:
We need to talk Kid
I’m already at your condo waiting
Be there in 5
He seen Michael sitting on the stoop as soon as he pulled up. “Why are you here?” he asked.
“I thought we might need to talk, I was waiting for you.”
Bill opened the door, went in the kitchen, grabbed a dish towel and washed his face. He stood at the counter staring at his brother. “Kid, I need you to tell me, man.”
Michael walked over to him, put one arm around his shoulder and hugged him for a long while.
“You know I love you, bro, I didn’t know the girl you talked about was ...my Allison.”
“I know you didn’t.”
“I figured she’d have to tell you tonight.”
“I gave her the ring tonight, I couldn’t wait and then, she lost it, she just started crying and said I wouldn’t want to marry her, if I knew the truth...I never fucking imagined! I need you to tell me Kid, all of it.”
“You sure you want to know everything?”
“You want me to sugar coat it?”
Michael grabbed two beers from the fridge and sat down at the table. Bill came over and guzzled his and then grabbed another, he put his hands over his head as he fought back his tears.
“You know I was on this fucked up job, it was taking much longer than I ever imagined. About a year ago two assholes brought Allison up to the compound we were hanging out at, they’d grabbed her off the street, beat her up, brought her back to play with.”
Bill clenched his fists tight and tried to control his anger.
“They brought her in and would have gang raped her.” Tears filled Michaels eyes as well. “I stepped in, but the only way for me to protect her was if everyone thought she was for me. These guys Bill, you can’t imagine.”
“We spent the next few months, pretending. We slept in the same bed every night, we always put on a show for the others. She was really shaken up, it took a long time, she’s a fighter. I never dare told her who I was, I couldn’t. I tried to protect her, figured I’d get her out when the job was done. One day, we just stopped pretending. We needed each other. Life with them isn’t normal, I had to become one of them, I had to live it. She was the one thing that kept me sane. She was my reason as much as I was her reason. Understand?”
“Yeah, a get that. So why did you separate then?”
Michael let out a sigh, “One night, I was drugged, I lost control, I wasn’t there for her and...someone tried to take advantage of it.”
Bill watched as tears came down Michael’s face too.
“He had beat her bad, he tried to rape her, she fought and a friend stepped in for me, he stopped it. By this time, I had feelings for her. She wasn’t just part of the job anymore. We spent almost 24 hours a day for months, every day together. We had a relationship.”
“You love her?”
“Yeah, but not like you. I can’t give her normal. I thought I could try to. Maybe under different circumstances. I’m a constant reminder of the hell she went through.”
“How’d she get away?”
“I lost it, when I saw her face beat up, her body was all bruised. I went after the asshole and nearly killed him, with my bare hands. I would have, if this friend didn’t stop me. I have never felt such rage before, it scared me, still does. That’s part of the reason I came home and decided to take a break for awhile. I don’t know what I want anymore. But knowing now who she is to you, bro, you have to know, I would never...never touch her again.”
“I know, Kid. Get to last night.”
“Fuck...Bill you can’t possibly understand the connection we shared. I can’t explain it myself.”
“Keep trying, I need to hear it all.”
“Ok… After I lost it, I knew I had to get her out of that place. I loved her and couldn’t watch her get hurt again, so I took a chance and dropped her off at this store and left her. I called the FBI and arranged for them to pick her up and get her in the witness protection program. They staged my death to protect me and her. We couldn’t chance her telling someone about me, I wanted her to move on with her life and forget all about me and everything that went with that place. She thought I was part of them. But she is Lisa now, she’s happy and she loves you now.”
“Is that what she told you last night? Would that have been before or after she fucked you?”
Michael tried to stay calm, “It’s my fault, I wanted to see her. I wanted to take a chance, see if maybe I could do normal.”
“Why did they bring her here?” Bill asked.
“My idea, I love it here, you know that. I knew there’d be good people and surroundings for her here. I had a friend make a few arrangements and her new life was set up, all she had to do was live it, make a new start. Do you know she lost her parents?”
“Yes, she told me.”
“She’s had it tough and somehow, she is sweet, she is kind, she is…..”
“I know,” he interrupted.
“I went to her apartment last night. We cried, we talked, we laughed…”
“And you fucked her, or I should say you made love to her? I’m sorry, I know your not to blame in all of this. I’m trying to see all sides, really.”
“Bill, I’m gonna tell you exactly how it was last night...if you still want to hear it?”
“She was obviously shocked to see me alive, she was hysterical. I told her the truth about who I was and what I do. I blamed myself for her getting hurt and she had blamed herself for my ‘supposed’ death. There was a lot of emotions going on. We just picked up where we left off, it was normal, if I dare use that term, normal for me to touch her, for her to cling to me. It’s how we communicated for a long time before. So yes, we started to ...have sex, but shortly after, she lost it again and we just laid together for the night.”
Bill got up and got a dish towel for himself to wipe away his tears.
“Fuck, bro, this hurts to say to you, I know...I know how much you love her,” Michael said.
“Anything else Kid?”
“It was closure, it was are ending. We both needed it. I asked if she was happy with her new life and she told me she had met someone. I asked her if she loved him and she said, yes.”
“She told me she would always love you, but that she was in love with me.”
“I’d say that’s the truth,” Michael shrugged his shoulders.
“What about you, Kid, tell me how you feel about her, cause if you want me to step aside, you’ve got to be honest with me, no matter how much you think it’s gonna hurt us. You know how much I love you little brother, nothing you say can change that. We are family. I can see you love her too.”
“Bill, I’ve thought about it all day. If somehow, in all this fucked up irony with the three of us, If I made it possible for you and her to live happily ever after, then my part was all worth it, bro. We can’t change what happened, we can’t change the how, why or what if? Am I right?”
“Lisa, told me there could be someone waiting, just like her, that needed me to save them. She said that maybe someday I would be responsible for preventing the drugs on the street that might have gone to her kids, and that maybe I’ve changed the lives of more people than I realized before. She is right and in my heart I know that’s the real reason I needed to see her again. I needed to be reminded why I do what I do. So no, big brother, I don’t want you to step aside, I want you to jump right in. I know how much she means to you and I know you are the best choice for her. You are two of the most important people to me, I want you both happy. You know me, I will probably never marry, never have kids, don’t tell mom!” he laughed. “Your gonna have to share yours with me, bro. I’ll be a great uncle one day. Am I right?”
“Let it sink in,” he went over and put his hand on his brothers shoulder.
“Need another beer?”
“Can I crash here tonight?”
“I’m going to go shower,” Bill said and then heard his phone, it was a text from Lisa:
He didn’t respond.
Please talk to me
I’m just not ready to Lisa
“The thing that gets me most Kid, is that she hid it from me. I don’t know if she’d have told me she slept with someone, if you two hadn’t met up at Moms.”
“I don’t know for sure bro, but you’re forgetting that I had to go through the same dilemma today, after we did meet up at Moms. I ran out of there as fast as I could, partly for her, but mostly for me. How the hell was I supposed to explain this to you? And not in front of Mom and Dad! I needed time and maybe Lisa did too. I was waiting till you got home tonight to talk and she waited till you all got back to her place. What really matters is that she told, not that it wasn’t instantly, don’t you think? You know I am right! I’m always right!” Michael teased and grabbed more beers.
“You might be, So what the Fuck would we tell the grandkids?”