Angie’s story surprised Lyra. The more she heard, the more she understood why the girl had done what she’d done. Dante had fucked her, true but he treated her with respect even though he was pissed out of his head. It was the respect part that caused Angie to create all these illusions of something deeper with the tattooed fighter. He was the first man in her life to show her that, to not treat her like a quick hook up but like a woman who deserved more. She didn’t realize it was just ingrained in Dante to treat all women like that. It was a big part of what made him so amazing.
Angie spent her childhood in bliss for the most part but things changed when she hit puberty. She’d been a chubby child but it was never something she felt bad about. She was always told she’d grow out of her baby fat. When she started school, at first she loved it. She made friends because she was such a happy, bubbly little girl. As she grew, she didn’t slim down. Some of the boys took notice and began to tease her. It was harmless at first but over the years, it progressively got worse. Somewhere along the line, she developed eating disorders and was constantly dieting. Nothing worked.
Her parents spent a ton of money on therapy for her and while it helped her conquer her eating issues, she sank deeper into her own mental instability and began to obsess over her looks. She spent every spare moment exercising and watching every morsel of food that went into her mouth. She made sure to eat healthy so her parents wouldn’t worry but the habits of self-deprecation were already deeply rooted. She was her own worst critic. The first time a boy commented on how beautiful she was, she bathed in the praise. Her twisted mind associated her sense of worth with her physical appearance.
“Oh Angie, I’m so sorry,” Cherry said, wiping a stray tear from her cheek.
“I’m pretty fucked up,” Angie sniffed, taking a sip of her tea.
“We all are in our own way, Ang,” Lyra said. She reached across the table and squeezed the woman’s hand. “Our society puts way too much pressure on women. We have to be perfect all the fucking time. It’s annoying as hell.” The girls giggled. “And don’t get me started on how they view strong women. Just because I don’t need a man to take care of me does not make me defective. It actually makes me pretty fucking amazing.” Her big shit eating grin caused a round of loud laughter, the other café patrons looking at them with awkward glances.
“I still can’t believe you’ve forgiven me, Lyra,” Angie said, sitting back in her seat trying to catch her breath from all the laughter. “I would have never done that to the woman who tried to take my boyfriend. I guess I’m still trying to wrap my head around that.” Lyra shrugged, chuckling.
“You know, normally I wouldn’t but I sat down and analyzed everything that’s gone down with you. When I was through examining everything, my gut was telling me there was more to the story than what was on the surface. Turns out I was right.”
“How do you do that?” Angie had to admit, Lyra was an amazing woman. No wonder Dante fell head over heels in love with her. She wasn’t just gorgeous, she was kind and compassionate.
“What, the whole ‘listen to my gut’ thing?” Angie nodded. “Well Tio always said your gut will never steer you wrong. Every time I listen to it, everything works out. When I choose to ignore it, that’s when shit hits the fan. I’ve just learned over the years to trust my instincts. They’ve never failed me. Well, except for when I’m being a stubborn jackass. But we won’t talk about that.” She giggled with a wink. Angie returned her smile.
“You know, Angie it wouldn’t hurt for you to continue with therapy,” Cherry chimed in. “I took it for several years after my Uncle John took us away from our parents. I still do from time to time. Although, now I find my therapy in the ring. You don’t strike me as the kind of girl who would live for the thrill of the fight, though.” Angie shook her head.
“No, Cherry you’re right. I’m not. I’ve taken some self defense just to make my parents happy but I can’t say I have a desire to make a career of it. Not like you two. And I think you might be right about the therapy thing. I’ve still got some pretty large demons I need to conquer.” Looking between the two girls who were her enemies not long ago, her eyes shimmered again with unshed tears. “I can’t thank you enough for your kindness. No one has ever really wanted to listen to me but I guess that’s my fault. I was too busy being a delusional fruitcake.”
“No more negative talk, ok?” Cherry squeezed Angie’s hand. “That’s step number one. Step number two is calling your therapist and making an appointment.”
“I just made one,” she said with a smile. She turned her phone around and showed the appointment she’d just booked with Dr. Amadon, her favorite therapist.
“You’ll be just fine, Angie,” Lyra smiled. They spent the next hour at that little café, just talking and getting to know the girl who had tried to take Dante. On the way back to the gym, they sang along with the radio and acted like lifelong friends. Waving goodbye to Angie, Lyra and Cherry walked back into the gym. Cherry went off toward the changing rooms to get ready for her training session with Kate. Lyra headed back to Dante’s office. He looked up immediately, a beautiful smile on his handsome face. She walked in and plopped down in his lap.
“Hey love,” he said, giving her a long leisurely kiss. “How did it go with Angie? Was your gut right about her?” Lyra nodded, laying her head on his shoulder. She’d talked everything through with Dante because she planned on finding Angie. But Angie found her instead. She relayed the afternoon’s details to a shocked Dante. “It all makes perfect sense now. I guess I was too angry at her to want to fix the problem. I just thought the more I pushed her away, it would miraculously disappear or some stupid shit like that.”
“It’s easy to do that, babe.” She ran her fingers through his thick soft locks. “I love the way your hair feels when I run my hands through it.” She kissed his stubbled cheek, nuzzling his ear. Dante groaned and pulled her tighter against him. “You know, I can’t really blame her for being bonkers over you. You are pretty amazing.”
“Yeah I am, aren’t I?” he chuckled. Lyra giggled and continued to caress his hair. He took her chin in his fingers and turned her lips to his. In that moment, he kissed her with all the love he possessed in his heart. She answered his kiss, holding him as if he were the most precious thing to her. Pulling away, he rested his forehead against hers. “You’re the one who’s amazing, sweetheart. Thank you for loving me.”
“I do, big man. With everything I have, meu coração.”