The start of Emma’s story begins in the middle. Her past is the beginning of it. Time is a fickle thing, it passes slowly, yet as time goes by, it feels too fast. Emma’s past created her demons, her present was spent evading them. Emma put distance between her and her past, as much as she could as fast as she could. Emma found she was good at evading the beginning of her story, a master of evasion. This brings us here and now, after six long years, she is now making her return and will have to face the very demons she worked so hard to get away from.
Emma’s heart raced. It’s been too long since she had been back, for good reason, at least to her. It had been racing the past three hours. She passed a sign on the interstate, only ninety more miles. For a split second, Emma contemplated turning around, but as thoughts of her father flooded her mind, she kept on towards her small hometown. No matter what had happened six years ago, the time to run was over. Emma knew she had to be there for her father. She watched as the trees sped past as she drove. The wind whipping through the leaves.
Emma’s father hadn’t been doing well for a couple of years now. He had a normal, healthy life. It started with minor headaches, that turned into migraines. The migraines lasted about a year and a half before Emma and her mother convinced him to visit the doctor. When the medicine worked for a few months they were sure all their worries were over. Then the migraines came back, with a vengeance. Her father would experience days where just getting out of bed and doing normal things caused him worse pain than a migraine. One week there were days in a row he wouldn’t leave the cold, quiet, and dark of the bedroom.
His doctor ordered an MRI to be done. The call Emma received after they had the results crushed her to her soul. She remembered the hopeless feeling that ripped through her as she fell to her knees with her mother’s news. Her father had two tumors on his brain, one was operable while the other was only possibly treatable. Emma had quickly felt as if her life was crumbling. Her father was her world. A true daddy’s girl. Emma had always been closer with her father than her mother, not for any specific reason, they just held more common interests. Emma cracked a slight smile as she thought of the many things she and her father had done while she was younger. They had even built their wrap around porch for her mother together. Well, more like her just handing him tools, nails, and boards as he built it. Being six though, she had felt accomplished as her mother gushed over the beautiful porch when it was finished.
Shaking, Emma read the next sign, fifty more miles. She had no idea what was going to happen when people realized she was home. Home at least long enough to see her father regain his health. Emma knew she couldn’t leave town until he made recovery from this. In her heart she felt like he would, he was strong. The distance she had put between herself and this small off the map town was not by accident. It was more the people, or well the person that was there and less the actual town with why she had stayed away so long. The reason she left in the first place. There used to be a time in her life she had pictured her whole life in her little hometown.
It was a beautiful small country living type town. The type of town you get stuck in. The kind of town where everyone knew everyone and everything. The kind of town that was littered with empty, long-forgotten haunted-looking buildings. One of those country places where there were more farms than there were stores. Now that Emma had a taste for the convenience of the city, she wasn’t sure how long she would be able to tolerate her little hometown, but she would as long as her father needed her there. Only twenty-five miles left to go.
The closer she got, the tighter her grip on the steering wheel got. Emma knew she could deal with everyone in town, all their gossip, and whatnot. Which she knew would come in an abundance. Emma knew she could, in her own way, handle seeing her father and caring for him. What she knew she could not handle was seeing him. Darren. The mere thought of him made her heart race. Just picturing his crooked smile brought butterflies to her stomach. Emma recalled a time in her life when he was her world. Only ten miles.
Darren Jonesy. Emma’s first and only love. She still remembered the summer his family moved to town. Emma had just turned 11, she was busy playing with friends as the Uhaul pulled in two doors down. Being curious and nosey as most kids are, Emma had wandered down to them and introduced herself quickly. Darren’s family settled in and fit in perfectly in their small little town. His mother was the new town vet, and his father owned a little Ma and Pa store around the corner from our block. Emma thought of the days they would run over to the little store and eat their fill of junk food, thinking they were getting away with it every time. In reality, their parents knew of all the candy and chips they had consumed and laughed at their children as they tried to sneak on the cameras.
Emma and Darren had become fast friends. When they hit sixteen, is when they slowly turned friendship into a relationship. Emma noticing Darren’s body going through changes as he went from lean to muscular, from short to tall and broad-shouldered, and as his face changed from its boyish features to those of a young, handsome man. Emma thought back on the simple times. The times when they would talk and laugh over everything while they devoured all the ice cream they wanted at her parent’s ice cream parlor. The times he kissed her goodnight on a hot summer night, lightning bugs lighting up the sky. All the whispered I love you’s late at night over the phone, as they tried not to get caught on a school night up at two in the morning.
As Emma passed the Welcome to town sign her shaking was visible. After their last encounter, Emma could only hope and pray Darren Jonesy had left this godforsaken town. Driving through town, Emma noted not much had changed in the six years she had been gone. The only major change was the new Walmart. She knew everyone in town must have loved that. No more driving an hour for a grocery store. Sure they had the small locally owned businesses, but nothing as convenient as a Walmart. Emma drove slowly as she went through the main part of town, taking in the changes and the similarities. Linden trees growing in rows on either side of the road. Emma stopped a short distance from the square, the willow in the middle grew big and strong over the years, its branches and leaves giving shade to the benches below it. It was always her favorite place in the whole town. Some of her days, especially in the summer, spent climbing its long branches until she found a little comfortable nook where she could settle in and read a good book.
She also, took notice of an old remodeled building. Not knowing why she pulled into the parking lot. She sat there car off staring at the building. Growing up it was abandoned and falling to pieces, the roof caved in some places. As teens, they would hang out there and drink and smoke a little pot every now and then. Now it was a hardware store that also sold what the sign said was handmade wooden furniture. Whoever had remodeled the building had done it nicely, leaving the good bones and restoring the old crumbling brick walls.
Curiosity got the best of her and she went inside. She lost track of her thoughts as she aimlessly walked the aisles, letting her fingers trail down some of the finely done furniture. Rounding a corner sharper than she should have, Emma felt her body collide with another. As she went down, instincts took over and she grabbed a hold of the person making them fall with her. As they tumbled she felt a strong arm curl around her waist and as she was flipped away from the ground, she banged her head on a shelf, pain shooting to her toes as she landed in a heap on top of this man. Head aching, Emma slowly pushed herself into a straddle position, trying to gather her bearings she slowly opened her eyes and held her head where she had hit it. Rubbing the quickly growing bump, her heart skipped a beat as the face looking up at her was smiling.
“It’s been a while huh Em?” His voice was deeper. It caused a shiver to run through her body and tingles shoot through her all at once.
She was speechless. All Emma could do was sit there, mouth gaping, staring down at none other than Darren Jonesy. He was more muscular than when she left, then again he was twenty-four now. Everything about him was more defined and sharper, his jawline more square. All the words left her brain as he laid there underneath her. Her left hand resting on his chest, his hard, defined muscular chest, feeling his heart rate skip a few beats as they stared at one another.
“Not that I mind, being under you,” Darren smiled that smile at her, the one that always seemed to make her melt. “But, we will definitely be the talk of the town if you don’t get up.” As the words slowly hit her, Emma felt a slight bulge growing in between her legs, which caused an automatic reaction in her own body as warmth pooled in her lower stomach. Gathering her wits, Emma jumped up and almost had reached her car when she felt his hand on her shoulder.
“Em, please. Don’t run away from me again. It’s been six long years.” Emma let Darren slowly turn her around to face him. He was as handsome as she remembered, his hazel eyes boring into her own, the years were kind to him. Remembering the feeling of his slightly hard cock growing under her, shocks shot through her body and heat rose to her cheeks.
“You know why I left Darren. You know why I can’t do this.” Blocking the memories Emma turned away from him and got in her car. As she drove to her parent’s house she fought the memories. Why did he still have to be here, after all this time? And why after everything, did her body still respond to him the way it never did to any other man?
As Emma tried to shake the encounter off, she slowly pulled into her parent’s driveway. The house was still the same. It could probably use a little TLC but was still the beautiful house she grew up in. The winding sidewalk lined with tulips that led from the driveway to the porch. The morning glory’s that snaked around the railing on the porch, which always looked so beautiful in the early morning sun. Sure the porch, railing, and old fence around the house could use a new fresh coat of paint, but it would always be home in the end. The wonderful place she had grown from a child to a young woman.
Emma walked inside and sat her bags down in her old room. Only briefly looking around at her surroundings, pictures, and posters littering the walls every which way you turned. Her old clothes long gone and donated to goodwill. Various metals and awards from the many different things Emma had tried through her teen years scattered about on her desk and dressers. Her eyes landed on her bed where her top five favorite stuffed animals still sat happily awaiting her return. Emma took a deep sigh and allowed herself to plop onto the bed her face in the stuffed animals. After a few moments, Emma’s stomach gave an angry growl, so she heaved herself up and went to the kitchen.
Her mother had warned her they wouldn’t be home for a few days. They had traveled a few towns over for one of her father’s treatments. She told Emma after the treatment the doctors wanted to observe her father for just a few days before him returning home. His migraines had become out of hand lately, coming more frequently and not at all treating him nicely. Just as she knew her mother would, there were already prepared meals ready to cook all nicely labeled and organized in the fridge. She pulled out one with a lasagna label and popped it in the oven.
While it cooked, Emma sat at the table relishing in the aroma of her mother’s cooking, replaying her run-in with Darren over and over again in her head. She hated how her body so readily accepted him back, but her heart didn’t quite agree. In her heart, she felt as if she would never be able to forgive him of his past sins. Emma picked at a crack in the large wooden table. Emma used to think she and Darren would be married one day with a house full of kids running all around, laughter and love filling their home that wouldn’t be too far from their parents.
It was all just a stupid childhood fantasy though. It would never become reality.
As soon as her father was better, she would make haste and high tail it out of town as fast as possible. All she wanted to do was avoid Darren Jonesy the rest of the time she spent here, thankfully they were both grown now and he wasn’t just two doors down any longer. If he was still that close there would be no way she could avoid him in the way she wanted.
Her heart raced even harder than it did when she was making her way here. His face filled her mind as she closed her eyes. Curse him and his genetics for him only getting more handsome than he already was. If he had gotten ugly then maybe this would be easier. Maybe he has a life now with someone else, married with kids. That was all Emma wanted, no drama and no Darren Jonesy. For it being a lifetime ago, it sure still ripped her heart in half as she thought of the past.
Emma ate alone in utter silence, listening to the weird sounds all old houses seem to make, the creaking and groaning of the old bones. After not being here for years, it felt odd being alone in the old house. Emma couldn’t help herself she turned on every light downstairs as it got darker.
She paced back and forth through the house, trying her hardest to think of anything but what her father was going threw and of course, she didn’t want to think of Darren Jonesy and his stupidly handsome face. Or his muscular chest and broad shoulders. His perfectly caramel-colored skin glowing in the sun. His short and soft curly black hair. His amazing kissable lips, just waiting for hers to crash to them. His hazel eyes staring intensely into her own filled with lust. The way his strong arms would feel wrapped around her waist.
Emma shivered and shook her head trying to clear her unwanted thoughts from her head. She stopped in front of the fireplace and let her eyes land on a picture in the middle of the mantle.
She took a deep shaky breath in as she stared at it. Taking in the wooden frame first before letting her eyes fall on the couple in the picture. It was them. Junior prom. In the picture, Darren had his arm securely in place around her waist and they were staring into each other’s eyes lovingly. Neither knew at the time her mother had captured the moment. Emma used to love gazing at the picture for hours, being able to fantasize about their whole future from just the way they looked at one another. It felt like a lifetime ago. With her hands still shaking, she sat the picture down but continued to stare at it. After a few more moments shakily she turned the picture to face down. She couldn’t bear to look at it any longer. It hurt too much.
Emma angrily wiped at her eyes. Willing the tears to stop before they could well over and spill down her face. It was a struggle, but eventually, she felt like she could breathe normally again, her hands more steady and her heart rate not half as fast as it was before.
She had no idea how long she had stayed pacing and silently flipping pictures over that reminded her even in the slightest of Darren. Why had her parents even kept the pictures up in the first place? They knew what he had done, why they had broken up, and why she had left for the city. Why would they memorialize the very relationship Emma had grown to regret and hate.
Emma paced a little faster now as she realized it was late in the evening and she felt not even an inkling of sleep wanting to take over. Her body felt more awake and alive right now than it had in years.
Emma easily lost track of the time as she paced and tried to empty her mind.
The rough knocks on the front door grabbed her attention quickly. She stole a glance at the clock, it was two in the morning. Who in the world could that even be at this hour?
When she opened the door, her heart dropped. Darren.