My Protector

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Chapter 2

“Man, I already told you I don’t know anything. I heard as I was walking into the abandoned building, the one next to the shop where I was watching Braelynn trying to take her life. I walked down the silent hallway and could hear conversation taking place as I inched closer to our interrogation room. I stopped outside the door and leaned in to listen to the exchange of words between a fellow colleague and our informate.

“Listen guys, I have been an informative for you for how many years now? Why would I start slipping now?” I open the door and walk into the room to see Kolby, he’s one of my most trusted sources. I hate to see him mixed up in stuff like this, he’s a really good kid but he has no family. “Rohnan! Man, tell them I don’t know anything. Even if I did, I made a deal with you, not these guys.” He says gesturing to the three men standing around him.

“He’s right guys, we did make a deal. He answers to me only.” The three men shake their heads and give Kolby go to hell looks before I gesture them towards the door. I make sure the men are out of ear shot and I start talking to Kolby. You see, I’m in a group, we don’t like to be called a gang but that’s what people label us as. We don’t necessarily see ourselves in that category. We’re a group of retired law enforcement officers, and military veterans and men who are trying to keep things solid and safe on the ground. We deal with the stuff the police don’t want to deal with. Me, I’m a Marine. I did four years active duty before I was hit by an IUD. I luckily survived the blast, but the same can’t be said for a couple of my brothers.

“Kolby, what have you gotten yourself into now?” I ask with concern and disappointment in my tone.

“Man, Rohnan. Your guys think I know about the shit that went down over on your street last night.”

“And do you?” I ask with humor now.

“Look man, all I know is that some dope head that lives down around my area has been seeing some girl over in your neighborhood and he beat the shit out of her.”

“Yeah, he did. I was there.”

“Okay, so tell your boys that. All I know is he’s a piece of shit and he moves from woman to woman getting what he wants.”

“You’re right, but I have a feeling that he won’t be messing with any other female anytime soon.” I said in a snarky, cocky voice.

“Listen Rohnan, I appreciate what you did and do for me. But I’m not sure I can keep giving you information. People are starting to suspect me and it’s not safe for me anymore. Questions are being asked and you know how much I can’t stand to lie.”

“Alright Kolby, I understand. You know I would never put you in any danger. Lay low for a bit. Keep an eye out and only contact me if you feel the information is vital. Also, Kolby if you ever need anything you know where to find me. I hate that a kid your age doesn’t have a family to go to. My guest bedroom is always open.”

“Man, you worry too much. I’m a free spirit Rohnan. You know I can’t be tamed.” He said stretching his arms back, leaning in his chair with a cheesy smile on his face. Kolby really is a good kid. I wish he could see the potential in himself that I see in him. I smile at him and hold the door open for him to leave.

“Oh Rohnan, one last thing. You look happier than usual. Are you seeing someone?” He asks in a snarky tone with a smirk on his face.

“Boy get out of here.” I say side kicking him out the door as he laughs and jogs off down the hall.

*******

BRAELYNN’S P.O.V.:

The cleaning men have come and gone, they did an amazing job at getting the blood out of the floor. I’m honestly surprised at how well they did. I look at my watch and see the time is 6:24 pm. My mom hasn’t called me to pick her up from the hospital yet. I go and switch the laundry out and hear the doorbell ring. I wasn’t expecting company so I was a little taken back, no one ever comes over without giving a heads up first. I stop what I’m doing and make my way through the house to the front door. I open the door to see Rohnan standing on the front porch.

“Hey Rohnan, what are you doing?” I say with a smile, trying not to show how excited his presence makes me.

“Do you mind if I come in?” He says with hesitation.

“Well of course you can come in. Rohnan you’re always welcome in my home.” I gesture to the inside of my home.

“What’s up Rohnan, are you alright?”

“Yeah, I’m fine. Have you heard anything from your mom today?”

“Actually yes, the Doctor called and is wanting her to stay another night just for observation. She said that her blood count is getting back to where it should be and the swelling on her face is going down. They are looking at letting her come home tomorrow.” I said with a hopeful smile on my face.

“That’s great, I’m glad she’s going to be okay. Braelynn?” He half asked, half sighed.

“Yeah Rohnan?” I looked at him with curiosity.

“Do you know what that man’s name is that your mother has been seeing?” He asked without making eye contact, just concentration on the floor.

“I think his name is Skip, that’s all I have ever heard my mother call him. Why, do you know him?”

“Braelynn, he’s a dangerous man. He’s not good for you and your mother. He won’t be in jail much longer and I don’t care for him to be around you.”

“How do you know this Rohnan?” I asked, beginning to get a little uncomfortable.

“I have my ways Brae, but promise me that if he ever comes near you or your mother that you call me as soon as possible okay?”

“Okay Rohnan.” I say making my way back into the laundry room to continue with the clothes.

“Hey Rohnan, would you mind if I stayed with you tonight again? If you don’t want me to, I completely understand. We’ve only known each other for less than 24 hours.” I ask never looking away from the clothes I’m pulling out of the dryer to fold.

“Actually, I was just going to ask if you wanted some company tonight. We can stay at my house if you’d like?”

“Yes I would. Let me just finish folding these clothes and putting them away.”

****

Rohnan’s House:

Rohnan’s P.O.V.:

I felt bad for the girl. I wanted to help her the best way I knew how. She’s sweet and deserved nothing but the best. I looked over at Braelynn sleeping on the couch, she was wearing one of my shirts and a pair of shorts she had brought with her. She looked peaceful lying there sleeping. I watch as the light from the TV dances across her face, and she scrunches her nose. I let a smile creep onto my face, and I start thinking how I wouldn’t mind waking up to her every morning, cooking breakfast for her on the weekends, and… Wait, I hardly know this girl. No way I should be having these thoughts right now. I shrug them off and turn the TV off. I carry Braelynn up the stairs and I place her in my bed this time. No way I’m sleeping on that futon again. I cover her up and make my way to the bathroom for a shower.

****

Next Day:

Braelynn’s P.O.V.:

The smell of bacon and sausage fills my nose, I take a deep breath in and smile. The warm morning sunlight is shining on my face and it feels amazing. I roll out of the bed and make my way into the bathroom to relieve myself before going down to stuff my face.

“Good Morning Rohnan, breakfast smells amazing.” I smiled at him and rubbed my eyes with a stretch.

“How did you sleep last night?” He asks popping some bacon into his mouth before turning back to flip the pancakes.

I eyed him up and down and said “I slept like a baby.” With a mischievous smile.

“I’m sure you did, you were sawing logs in your sleep, I was scared to wake you up.” he was laughing to himself thinking I couldn’t hear him. He turned around and handed me a plate “ Bone Apple Teeth.”

I looked at him like he had just grown two heads. “Bone Apple Teeth?” I said, trying hard not to laugh and spit my eggs all over the counter.

“Yeah, you know like Bon Appétit?” He had a smirk on his face and I was trying to keep myself collected.

“Really Rohnan? You’re just something else” I smile and continue on with my breakfast.

“So, Braelynn I was thinking maybe I can take you out for dinner if that’s okay with you? You know, as friends?”

I looked down at my plate pushing my food around with my fork. “Yeah, I have to get mom settled and we can go whenever you’d like.” I said with a smile.

“Sounds great, would you like for me to take up to pick her up?” He asked putting our dishes into the dishwasher.

“Look Rohnan. You really don’t have to do any of this. I know you’re trying to help me and I do appreciate all that you have done.”

“Braelynn, if I didn’t want to help I would have never offered my assistance.”

“Well, if you feel so inclined to help me you’re more than welcome to drive me to the hospital and help me get mom settled in.”

He smiled a warm and welcoming, safe smile at me that could steal anyone’s heart in an instant.

“Great, it’s settled then. Lets get around and go get your mother.”

************

“Mom, you have to remember what the nurses said. You need to take it easy okay?”

“Braelynn, please honey. I’m grown, I’m more than capable of caring for myself dear.”

I was staring at my mother as if I was about to scold a child. She hit me with a thankful smile and leaned in to say something to me.

“You know dear, I can tell he likes you.” She had an amused smile on her face as she tilted her head towards the kitchen indicating she was talking about Rohnan.

“Mom!” I said in a whisper yell tone. “He’s right there, don’t talk so loud.” I rolled my eyes and finished getting her bags onto the dining room table.

“So ladies, what have I missed? Did anyone miss me?” He looked between my mother and I waiting for a response when all we could both do was stare at this handsome muscular man in front of us. As I was getting ready to speak I was cut off by my mother.

“Oh someone missed you alright.” She smiled at me and looked back at Rohnan who was now looking at me with that same smile he had given me this morning. I took in his beautiful figure, his muscles bulging from his t-shirt, the way he smiled, everything. I wanted him. Wait, what? I want him? Oh God no.. this can’t be happening, it hasn’t even been a full 72 hours and i’m falling for this guy. Someone save me. I was snapped back to reality when I heard my name being called out from Rohnan’s lips. I blinked and turned to face him, he was standing at the door.

“Hey there sweet cheeks, you back to earth?”

“I never left boy, what do you want?”

“Ouch, that’s rude. I’m going home to get ready for dinner. Wear something nice. I’ll be back around 6 okay?

“Yeah. fine. I’ll see you then.” I half smiled at him, waving him off as I turned to face my mother.

“So, you do like him?”

“Mom, not now please? I don’t want to have this conversation.”

“Braelynn, we need to. We need to have this conversation right now.”

“Mom, please? Not right now. I can’t do this.”

“So we’re just not going to acknowledge the fact that you were in an abusive relationship? Or are we just going to shove that to the back of our minds and act as if nothing ever happened?”

“You’re one to talk mom. You would have died if it wasn’t for Rohnan coming in when he did. Let’s not be a hypocrite.”

“Braelynn! This is different, we don’t love each other. You loved him and he broke every inch of love and trust that you had for him.”

“Is it different? Is it? I really don’t see how our situations are different mom. Maybe you two don’t love each other, and maybe I did love Maddox with every inch of my being, but this is not any different. Both of them sucked every bit of life we had left. They both used and abused us. Mom, our situations are no different.”

“Brae, honey. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to peel that wound open. We needed to talk about it. I can tell you like this boy and I can tell he likes you. He’s a protector and I believe he will be good for you honey.”

“Mom, it hasn’t even been 72 hours yet. I can’t already like him, it’s too soon.”

“Honey, love doesn’t know time.”

“Love? I don’t love him mom. I don’t even know a single thing about him.”

“Why are you like this?” I said with a faint smile. “I have to go get ready mom, we’ll talk about this later okay?”

“As long as you promise okay?”

“Okay mom.”

******

“Braelynn, Rohnan is here!”

I looked over at the time to see my phone reading 5:30.

“Wow, he’s really all about punctuality.” I mumbled to myself as I finished putting the finishing touches of my make on. I smiled to myself and decided I would make him wait until right before 6. I played with a couple of different outfits until I decided on the black lace dress. I hadn’t worn this thing in a couple of years. It came just above my knees and showed my curves off. It lays just over my shoulders and drops into a V. I pull out some black wedge boots and look myself over one last time. I checked my makeup one last time, grabbed my black clutch and slid my phone in. I looked at myself in the body mirror and told myself I got this.

“Alright, you ready Rohnan?” I say walking down the stairs. I look up and see my mother’s mouth pulled up into a smile, and look over to make eye contact with Rohnan. He looks really handsome, like ruggedly handsome. He’s got on a black dri-fit shirt that shows off his muscles, a pair of nice jeans and a pair of black biker boots and a black leather jacket. I can’t help but eye him up and down. I stop just above the bottom step and realize Rohnan is stuck in a daze.

“Rohnan? You in there?” I say snapping my fingers in front of his face,

“Oh, yeah. I’m sorry Brae, just trying to get used to this version of you. You’re beautiful.” His eyes wide with lust in them, holding his hand out to help me down the last step. I smile and take his hand and step down onto the hardwood floor. I look over at my mom who has tears brimming in her eyes. I break away from Rohnan and wrap my mother into a hug.

“Mom, please don’t cry. This is just a friendly dinner date. Nothing serious.” I pull back from my mother, and hold her at arm’s length. She looks me up and down and pulls me back in with a strong, secure hug. She leans in closer than she already is and whispers into my ear.

“Baby, I know you may think this is just friends going to dinner. I assure you, that boy is going to make you a happy woman one day,”

She kisses my cheek and pulls away to stand in front of Rohnan and I. I look at my mother and give her a heartfelt smile. I turn back to Rohnan and walk over to his side,

“Well mom, it’s time for us to go. I’ll let you know when we get to wherever it is that he’s taking me.”

“Don’t worry, I’ll take very good care of your daughter Mrs. McKee.”

“I know you will dear. I’m just happy to see Braelynn with a smile on her face, it’s been awhile. Not since Maddox”

I shoot my mother a warning glare and see Rohnan shifting his body out of my peripheral.

“Okay, well we should get going. I love you mom, i’ll let you know when we get there.” I say as I wrap her into one last hug before leaving.

*****

In Rohnan’s car:

I slide in, and Rohnan shuts the door behind me, I pull my seat belt on and check my makeup in the visor. I take in my surroundings and slouch back into the comfortable seat. I look over at Rohnan as he’s sliding into the driver’s seat and give him a friendly smile.

“So, are you going to tell me where you’re taking me or is this a guessing game?”

“More like a waiting game. I can’t ruin the surprise now can i?”

I giggle and roll my eyes, turning my attention to the scenery outside my window.

The drive wasn’t long, in all honesty I expected him to take me to a nice restaurant in the city, but instead we’re driving down a dirt road and though I feel like I can trust him I still get a gut feeling that he may be taking me off somewhere and I’ll never be found. Those are just stupid irrational feelings, I watch too much tv. This man wouldn’t hurt a hair on my head. The car comes to a stop in front of an orange gate. I look over at Rohnan who is unbuckling his seat belt and I can’t take this feeling anymore. I sigh and muster every ounce of courage I possibly can and look him straight in the eyes.

“Rohnan, did you bring me here to kill me? Answer me honestly.”

He looks at me with confusion and back to the orange rusted gate in front of his car, he glances back at me and gives me a wicked smile.

“You really think I brought you here to kill you?” He asks with a crooked smile on his lips.

“Well, you said dinner date. This is down some old dirt road in the middle of nowhere Rohnan. Please, did you bring me here to kill me?”

He lets a laugh and only then do I realize I have accused this man of murdering me. He throws his head back to the head rest and laughs even more. He has tears forming in the corners of his eyes and I immediately know that I have made a mistake.

“You didn’t bring me here to kill me did you Rohnan?”

Rohnan continues to laugh and shakes his head letting me know he wasn’t going to kill me.

“Well if you’re not going to kill me, why are we in the middle of nowhere? Where are we going to eat?”

“Just hold on now Braelynn, it’s still a surprise, but i’m glad you figured out I wasn’t planning on killing you.”

He shuts the car off and pushes the button to open the trunk of his car. I’m glad we got the whole idea of murder out of my head becasue this would have only heightened my suspicions.

Rohnan turns to me and with a sweet smile he says “This is property I own, I have a cabin out here for when living in town gets to be too much for me. I come here and clear my head. It’s peaceful here.”

“If you own this property, why don’t we just drive through the gate? You really expect me to walk in these shoes for God knows how long?”

He looks down into the floor board and back up to meet my face, you’re right. I didn’t really think about that. Here let me open the gate he says as he pulls the keys from the ignition. I watch as he fumbles with the lock and pushes the gate wide open. He makes his way to the trunk to close it before he settles back into his seat.

“Shall we?” He says look at me as he starts up his car again.

“We shall.” I give a half smile, half nod.

We drive about five minutes down a gravel driveway and come upon a beautiful log cabin sitting in the middle of two large oak trees with what looks to be a wrap around covered porch overlooking a pond that’s big enough it could be classified as a lake. I can’t take my eyes off of this breathtaking view laid out before me. I stare in awe at this place and a grin begins to form on my face as I take my eyes off of the picturesque view to gaze at my date.

“Rohnan, this…. This house, this place. How on earth did you manage to land this?

“Well, this land has been in my family for years and I recently acquired it from my parents after they passed away. Before my father passed away we built this cabin here for times when we need to slow down in life and take a breath.”

“I’m lost for words, thank you for sharing this place with me Rohnan, I love it.” Rohnan gives me a heartfelt smile and sets his hand on top of mine for a brief squeeze.

“I hope you like it, you’re one of the very few people I’ve shared this place with.”

I smile at his statement and unbuckle my seat belt to exit the car.

“Hold tight for a second Braeylnn, I have to do something before I take you in.” I set there with a confused expression playing on my face and he just gives me a reassuring smile as he exits the car himself. I stay seated, which doesn’t usually suit me. I’m not a patient person, but he is a new friend so i’ll try to be as patient as I can.

Fifteen minutes in and I’m getting antsy, I open the car door and exit the vehicle shutting the door loud enough in hopes that Rohnan hears I’m growing more impatient by the second. Just when I decide to make my way up to the cabin the door opens and a handsome Rohnan steps out onto the deck looking down onto me. I look up shielding my eyes from the seating sun and give back a friendly smile.

“I was beginning to think that you may never come back for me.” I say with a playful tone.

“Oh girl, I would have come back for you. I will always come back for you.”

“You will always come back for me? Boy you don’t even know me.” We stare at each other for a brief period of time before he makes his way down the deck steps to stand in front of me.

“Braelynn, are you ready for dinner?” His deep voice and southern accent have me pulled into a trance, and at this particular moment in my life I don’t think I’m ready to come out of it. I stand there staring into his eyes having an inner battle with myself

Kiss him Braelynn, you’re into him he looks like he’s into you. This is your chance!

Don’t do it Brae, you’ve only known him a short while, No way someone that has witnessed your almost suicide, bloody mother and watched you ugly cry more times than none can like this mess.

Kiss him girl! Kiss him now!

“Shall we?”

“What?” I shake my head and bring myself back into reality as Rohnan nudges me with his shoulder. He’s much taller than I am, and God is he gorgeous.

“Yeah, sorry. Let’s go, I’m hungry.” I say as I push past him and make my way up the steps onto the deck of the cabin.

“Whoa, whoa hang on a sec, let me get the door for you.” Rohnan says as he rushes past me to grab the door handle before I can. He takes in a long deep breath and with an exhale opens the door to usher my inside from the Oklahoma heat.

“After you Braelynn.” I make my way inside the cabin and I’m instantly taken back at the beauty and craftsmanship. It’s a beautiful two story dream. The orange hues of the wood give off a cozy feeling. It’s decorated in rustic chic, it’s beautiful and I can’t understand why he lives in town rather than here, where it’s quiet and secluded from the public eye.

“If you’re done gushing over my cabin I would like to eat.”

“Wow, you sure know how to make a girl feel welcome.” I say smiling with sarcasm.

“Come on, I’ll show you to the back deck.” He walks across the cabin floor over to a set of wooden french doors and opens them up to the back deck. I smile and shake my head as I follow in his step. I make my way through the french doors and step out onto the wooden deck. It overlooks the personal lake with a beautiful sunset view. This can’t be real, this has to be a dream. Noone gets to have these kinds of moments, right?

“Rohnan, this view… It’s beautiful. Am I dreaming?” I look over to see Rohnan’s face glowing from the setting sun. The pink and oranges from the sky dance across his face giving him a certain look I’ve never seen before.

“Yeah, sometimes I think to myself how did I get so lucky to have this cabin and get to witness this view. I’ll never get used to it.” I just stare at him as he looks out across the water at the setting sun. I take my position at his side and I find myself lost in the essence this place gives off. Time feels as if it has stopped and no one in this world matters except for us.

“Okay Braelynn, it’s time to eat.” I look over at him and give him a heartfelt smile.

“Yes it is, my stomach is rumbling.” Rohnan motions me towards a table and pulls out a chair for me to sit. The table is set with a cute rustic lantern in the center of the table. It’s beautiful, it’s simple, it’s perfect. I love it.

“Sit tight here, I’ll run in and get our food prepared.” I smile at him and watch as he retreats back into the cabin. I take my phone out to check for any missed calls or messages and find that there is no service here in the middle of isolation. I roll my eyes and place my phone back into my clutch and start to fidget in my seat. I can’t get the picture of Rohnan’s face lit up by the setting sun out of my head. This man is amazing, he said this was a dinner as friends but I feel like this is more of a first date rather than just friends. I look out over the railing of the deck and think back onto the past few days. He literally witnessed my attempted suicide, saved my mothers life and held me while I cried. He has seen all the ugly in a short span of time, maybe I should show him a different side of me. One that’s not so sad and depressing. I hear the door open and turn to see Rohnan bringing out two covered plates, he smiles at me and places my plate onto the table first then places his infront of his chair and disappears back into the cabin. I’m very tempted to take the lid off of my plate, the food smells amazing and my mouth is starting to water. God I wish he would hurry up, I’m going to start eating like a pig if he doesn’t come back.

“Okay, I have different types but I can get you water or tea if you don’t care for wine?” Rohnan says as he closes the door with his foot and makes his way to the table carrying four different bottles of wine.

“Wine is fine, I’m not a very big fan. I usually drink the cheap stuff if I do drink wine. Like Stella Rosa or Cupcake Vineyards wine.” He laughs at my little statement and sets the bottles of wine on the railing of the deck.

“Well, lucky for you I have this bottle of Moscato D’Asti by Stella Rosa.” He says as he pops the cork out pouring two glasses of wine, one for each of us.

“Thank you Rohnan, this is very sweet of you.” I say as I bring the glass to my lips.

“So, tonight I have prepared for you a nice steak dinner, with steamed vegetables and a baked potato. Your mother told me this was your favorite meal.” A smile played onto his lips as he took the lid off of my plate. My stomach started to growl as I took in the delicious scents of the food in front of me.

“Rohnan, when did you speak with my mother?” As I take my silverware from my napkin and lay it across my lap.

“Do you remember when you left to go speak with the nurse when we brought her home? I asked her as soon as you left her room, told her to keep it a secret.”

“This steak is amazing Rohnan, where did you learn to cook like this?” Stuffing my mouth with another piece of steak.

“So here’s the deal girl, we’re going to play fifty questions. I ask you a question and you have to answer honestly, and vise versa. Okay?”

“Rohnan, if I didn’t know any better I would say you were trying to get to know me.” As I cut another piece of steak shoving it into my mouth.

“Maybe, maybe not. I guess we’ll see won’t we?” I smile at him and roll my eyes while taking a drink of wine.

“Okay, but I already asked my first question. Now you have to answer it. Where did you learn to cook like this?” He took another bit of his steak and set up a little straighter.

“I used to grill out with my dad when I was younger, he taught me how to grill with the more manly forms of cookware I guess you could say, and my mother taught me how to bake also.”

I just smiled a big goofy smile at him and sipped on my wine.

“Okay, fair enough. Your turn to ask me a question.” He nodded and dabbed the napkin over his lips.

“Okay, tell me why you tried to kill yourself?” His eyes were locked on me with seriousness as he picked up his glass of wine.

“That’s not a question Rohnan, you’ve already asked me that before.”

“Mmm, I want the truth Brae. I know what you said that day on the steps, why did you try to take all those pills?” I sat my napkin on the table and set back into the chair. Looking into Rohnan’s eyes I took a long and deep breath.

“Okay, alright I’ll talk. I lived in Georgia with my ex-boyfriend Maddox. I thought it was love at first sight, the real kind of love you only find in movies and books. He was a biker, part of a motorcycle club. I was bartending in a club just trying to pay for college. He came in with some of his brothers one night and he noticed a guy giving me a hard time. After I had told the guy several times to stop following me around the club and to stop touching me I guess he had enough and beat the guy to almost a pulp. So anyways, the club closes up for the night and when I’m leaving I see he is outside leaned against his bike. I didn’t think anything of it and started walking towards my apartment. So I’m walking and I hear a motorcycle approaching behind me, I turn and notice it looks familiar. It’s him, Maddox. The guy I thought was my knight in shining armour. So to make it a long story short, he gives me a ride home and the next night he is there to take me to work. This goes on for about a month until one night he isn’t there to take me home. I didn’t think anything of it so I walked home. I’m walking home and a car comes up behind me and a man gets out and yells at me, it’s the guy that had given me hassle the first night we met. I’m assuming he didn’t like the embarrassment so he was there to get his revenge. Anyways he gets his revenge and the next day when Maddox shows up to pick me up for work I don’t come down from my apartment, he comes up to check on me and I’m not home. I guess he had a bad feeling and when he came to the club looking for me one of the dancers had told him he had seen some guy following me, he instantly knew who it was and where to find me. Maddox finds me, kills the guy and takes me to the MC clubhouse to be seen by the club doctor. Doc treats me and I stay at the clubhouse a couple of days with Maddox. Time goes on and eventually Maddox starts staying with me at my apartment and over time we start to become fond of each other I guess you could say. So one night Maddox doesn’t come home, he’s gone for days. I’m really not even sure how long he was gone. Wouldn’t return my calls or texts, wasn’t showing up at the clubhouse and wasn’t there to take me to and from work. Time goes on, months slip by and I begin to learn to live without him. I was coming into my last semester of college and it was actually a week before graduation, he showed up to the club while i’m working. He looked rough, I knew immediately he had gone off the deep end. He wasn’t himself, but I thought I was in love. I took him back to my apartment and that’s when things had gotten bad. He had disappeared from my life for months, he smelled awful. I noticed track marks on his arms and he had the stench of alcohol on his breath. He wanted to have sex with me but I just couldn’t, I was mad at him for leaving and I couldn’t have his body against mine. Not while he was in the state he was in. I couldn’t do it. So he beats me, breaks a couple of ribs, fractured my wrist, bloodies my face. He really did a number on me. I didn’t have anyone to save me, he was supposed to be my saviour and he ended up being my abuser. He raped me that night, I wasn’t willing to have sex with him because he had hurt me, broke my heart. I didn’t get to walk across the stage with my friends when graduation came. I was too banged up, I tried to stay in my apartment but I couldn’t. I had terrible nightmares of the attack for months. So I moved in with a friend and began putting my degree to use, I started helping rape victims. I got my nursing degree and became a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner. One night I had a girl come in and when I asked her if she knew the man she told me his name and the memories came back. Maddox was at it again. I had to leave Georgia. That’s when I came back here. I tried to kill myself becasue if i’m not haveing nightmares of my fathers death, I’m having nightmares of my attack from Maddox. I help women and even men who have been in my position, yet I can’t even seem to help myself Rohnan. I was tired having to see his face every night. It’s been too long to keep having these dreams and I just couldn’t handle it. I had to end it all. And that’s why i tried to kill myself, to end the dreams.”

I was now crying, leaning against the deck railing staring at the moon shining on the lake. I didn’t hear Rohnan, I wasn’t even sure if he was here anymore. I just relieved a traumatic experience and I felt alone. I looked over to see that Rohnan’s eyes weren’t on me, but staring at the table. He was gripping his wine glass with such force I assumed it would shatter at any moment.

“Rohnan, are you okay?” I say as I choke back tears and clear my throat.

“Brae” He started to say, but trailed off looking over the lake.

“Braelynn, I’m so sorry I made you relive that. I’m sorry that happened to you.” His voice was serious, he sounded hurt and furious. I didn’t know if he needed consoling or I did. I sat at the table with my hands in my lap and started at the last bit of steamed vegetables on my plate.

“Rohnan, you don’t have to feel sorry for me. There was no way I could have prevented that from happening. It happened and there’s nothing I can do about it. Hating him won’t make anything better, and it won’t take my pain away. I have learned not to trust people and I have learned not to love. I’m sorry, I didn’t want for you to find out about Maddox this way.”

“Braelynn, he hurt you. He abused you and took advantage of you. I will never let anyone ever again lay a finger on you. As long as you are with me, you will always be protected.”

Rohnan was now standing over the table looking at me with sadness and rage in his eyes. I knew he was serious, but I have learned not to depend on anyone except for myself. I sat at the table silently staring into Rohnan’ eyes fidgeting with my hands. Rohnan was the first to break away, he cleared his throat and with that he took our plates back into the cabin leaving me alone to replay what had just taken place. I looked at the bottle of wine across the table and reaching for it I heard the door open to the cabin. I sat back down turning my head to meet Rohnan’s cold gaze.

“Is everything alright Rohnan?” I ask in a small intimidated voice.

“Braelynn, I think we should go. One of the guys I work with called me and they need me back at the base.” He had no emotion on his face, I was hoping the story I had told him about Maddox hadn’t given him this cold disposition. I looked back over the moon lit lake and with that pushed my chair back leaving it where it now sat. I gathered my things and with that walked passed Rohnan straight through the cabin and down the steps into his car. I was mad at myself for sharing this information too soon, and mad for the coldness Rohnan had taken on. I sat in the car waiting on Rohnan to put away whatever it was that needed to be put away so we could leave. Soon I heard the door to the cabin shut and Rohnan making his way towards the car. I buckled my seatbelt and set silently as he started his car and we drove away from the cabin. It was peaceful, I would give anything to have this peacefulness everyday of my life.

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