Raylon and I went back up to Connie’s flat. When we entered, I saw Connie standing by the window.
She spun to look at me and when she saw the blood on my hand, she ran over, “What happened?”
“She was attacked in the store. Bob informed me, but I didn’t want to disturb you.”
“Oh my God, Ash are you okay?” she asked as she examined my hand.
“I’m fine. Just a bit shook up. The shop is trashed, but I guess it doesn’t matter now.”
“Who did this?”
“That little shit from the club. The bald guy that wanted to get into your pants.”
Connie shook her head and met my eyes, “Do you want to call the police?”
I let out a short laugh, “No. There’s no point.”
Glancing up at Raylon, who had taken a seat on the sofa, I said, “Thank you for helping me. And I’m sorry about how I reacted, it wasn’t you.” I said.
He met my eyes, “You do not need to thank me. He deserved more than what he got.”
“Yeah, but still. You didn’t have to get involved.”
He frowned at me, “Of course I did. You are a dear friend of the woman I love, and therefore a friend to me.”
I met Connie’s eyes again and she gave me a smile. I smiled back and she whispered, “He’s pretty awesome like that.”
“He’s amazing, you should have seen him kick that guy’s ass,” I said, and for a moment I thought about letting Raylon loose on Dave.
He would probably kill him. If that’s what he did to Kev, who only shoved me, he would destroy Dave if he knew.
I pushed the thoughts to the back of my head, into the little box I kept them in and followed Connie to the bathroom. I washed my hand and let her treat the cut.
“Hey Con,” I asked as she worked.
“Yeah?” She said without looking up at me.
“You found a real-life prince charming, you know that.”
She met my eyes with a smile, “Yeah, I know. I still can’t believe he came for me.”
My smile faltered and she frowned, “Are you okay? What’s up?”
“Nothing,” I said with a shake of my head, “it’s just nice to know that there are still good guys like that out there, somewhere.”
“You will find someone who treats you the way you deserve. Don’t let what Dave did to you, put you off from being happy again.”
“It’s hard to forget. Every time I meet a guy, all I can think of is that he will turn out to be just like Dave. They all start out charming, and fun but it doesn’t take long until they turn. I don’t think I could handle another round at the fists of a man who claims he loves me.”
My eyes stung from tears and I tried to hold them back but failed. Connie pulled me into a hug without a word and held me as I sobbed.
She stroked my back and said, “I can’t imagine what you went through. All those years with him would have broken anyone, but look at you,” she said and moved to look at my face, “You are beautiful, you’re smart, and you don’t take shit from anyone. You are fun and loyal and the kindest soul I have ever met. I mean, you gave me a job, so you should be a saint.”
I laughed as I wiped the tears from my cheeks, “Thanks, Connie. But what people see of me, and what’s inside are two very different things.”
“I’m here for you. You can show me the ugly, the bad and the scared if you want. I could never love you any less.”
Her words brought so much comfort to my shattered soul. I haven’t had anyone who wanted to dig past the pretty picture I put on until now. And I knew I could trust Connie. I knew she would stick by me. From the moment I met her, I could see she had a true soul. A love for people that was unconditional. Even for someone like me.
I partied, and drank and did stupid stuff all the time, but she never judged me. She never treated me less. I could tell her anything, and it never once changed the way she looked at me, or how she treated me. She accepted me with all my faults, and there is nothing else I could want in a woman I called my best friend.
We left the bathroom and went back to the lounge. As we entered, Raylon stood and let Connie and I sit. He took a perch on the chair in front of Connie.
“May I ask you a personal question?” He asked me.
I nodded, “You can ask, doesn’t mean I will answer,” I said with a smile.
He smiled, “Why were you so frightened?”
I lowered my eyes, It’s nothing to be ashamed of Ash. Like your therapist said, it was done to you, not by you.
“My ex-husband used to beat me,” I said in a quiet voice.
When Raylon didn’t say anything, I looked up to see a furious look on his face.
Yip, he would rip Dave a new one, for sure.
I felt Connie’s hand on my knee and I grabbed it.
“You don’t have to talk about it if you don’t want to,” Connie said to me.
“I do want to. If there is one thing I want to leave behind on this shithole of a planet, it’s those memories and feelings.”
Rein moved from his post at the door, “My lord, if I may?” He said and waited. Raylon nodded and he said, “I believe this conversation will need a drink with it,” He looked at me, “May I go to your store and bring something up?”
I smiled at the kid, “You, my friend, are a wise young man. Grab the bottles on the first shelf, the ones that say Tequila on the label.”