We Came as Romans- I Knew You Were Trouble
It’s been almost a week since what I will now call “the incident”. Josh has been nearly absent from the house. Purposely avoiding me. I am grateful. I have never had a one night stand or fooled around with someone I wasn’t dating so I am in no way prepared to deal with the fallout of “the incident”. Tonight is Saturday and I am at work at The Moon. The guys will go on in about a half hour.So I will have to see him tonight. There is a good deal going on to keep me distracted. My section is packed and I am keeping up pretty well. All the members of Grounded, except Josh, are seated at the bar getting a drink before the show starts. I stop by to get an order from Max and say hello to everyone. Jordan and Sammie offer me hugs as a greeting but I am interrupting a conversation between Charlie and Brando.
" I thought he was going to be here a little early tonight to go over the new set list.” Brando says while I weave my way out of the group.
“Yea, he had to pick up Jess on the way. He just text me he will be here shortly.”
“I thought she wasn’t putting out for him anymore since he sent her packing, for no apparent reason.” Charlie looks at me then back to Brando, checking my reaction I’m sure. He doesn't know exactly what "the incident” entailed but I am sure he has figured out something happened to keep Josh away.
I remove myself from the conversation and deliver the drinks I got from the bar. I see there is a larger group of guys that just sat down at one of my tables in the back. I walk over to get their order. Trying to push out of my mind thoughts of how I fucked up my living situation . My head is down and I am trying to get my order notebook from my pocket when I approach the table.
“Hi guys, I’m Ray I’ll be your waitress tonight .”
“Raychel, I didn’t know you work here.” I stop, my hands frozen and my pulse skyrockets at the sound of his voice. Mark. Son of a bitch. I take a deep breath and lift my eyes to the table of guys. Mark and five of his buddies, all my tormentors from the last year are there in front of me. These guys not only covered for Mark when he was cheating on me through our entire relationship but they are also some of the meanest guys I have ever met. Whenever I was around they were constantly cutting me down if front of him: calling me an amazon because I am so tall, asking if my scholarship paid my planned parenthood bills. Dillon in particular was always asking Mark about our sex life, how tight was I, was I a screamer, did I let him put it in my ass? All when I was sitting right there. Seriously some of the sickest shit you could think of they said, when I was in the room, and never once did Mark do anything about it. I realize now that they are basically a group of sexual deviants who get their kicks off of seducing and corrupting younger sheltered girls. Like I was.
“You know what, I will get you another server.” I say quickly and start to walk away, but Dillon, Mark’s roommate, the worst of all of them grabs my arm.
“Ray don’t be like that. We’re all friends here. We would like nothing more than for you to serve us.” The way he says serve makes me shutter. Just like that I am in Marks apartment last winter, him and Dillon taking turns feeling my chest. Holding me down and there is nothing I can do about it. I am stuck in place. Being violated with nobody to come to my rescue. I can feel my face drain of blood and I know my hands are shaking. The wall I put up to keep the memories out is crumbling and I have no way of stopping it.
I walk into The Moon with about ten minutes to go before our set. Jess is behind me. I didn’t want to pick her up, I really don’t want to spend any time what so ever alone with her. Since last weekend when I told her the arrangement we had was not working for me anymore she has been a pain. She did not take my honesty well. She has been texting me all week wanting me to come over or let her stop by on my lunch break at the store. Trying to get her talons back into me. Which only proves I was fucking her to far too long.
I scan the room because I know Ray is working tonight and although I have been avoiding her all week I am craving the sight of her. I see the guys at the bar first and walk over there. Then I spot Ray as she walks up to a table of guys to take their order. I greet everyone and Brando starts harping on me about the new set list but I am only half listening. My mind is more focused on keeping an eye on Ray. Her body language has changed dramatically since walking up to that table. She looks more uncomfortable for some reason. She starts to turn away from the table but one of the guys grabs her arm. I slap my hand on the bar and get Max’s attention. He comes over right away, my choice beer already in his hand.
“Whats up Josh? Ya need a drink?”
“No. Do you know the guy Ray is talking to right now?” I move slightly so Max can see to the corner of the bar where Ray is. The guys at the table do not look like The Moon's typical patrons. They are all dressed in button down shirts and slacks. Overly gelled hair and smarmy faces. The one has released Rays arm but she does not look okay. She's scared, what is really going on here?
“Holy Fuck!” Max slams down the beer he is holding and starts for the side of the bar where he can exit. Sensing something is seriously wrong. I beat him to the punch and head over to Ray. The guy who touched her (we’ll call him asshole #1) is smiling, but the one next to him (asshole #2) is talking to her now. I come up behind Ray and put my hand gently on her shoulder. With the contact she nearly jumps out of her skin. She turns to face me and she is pale, her eyes are huge and I can see tears in her eyes that haven't quiet fallen yet. I stare down the assholes, but I speak softly to Ray.
“Hey Ray, it’s Josh you okay? Are these guys bothering you?”
Asshole #2 pipes up first.
“Oh no, Ray and I are old friends aren’t we sweetheart?” By this time Max has caught up to me and brought Derrik, our bouncer, from his post by the front door.
Max storms right up to the table, Surprising because Max is not one to be confrontational. He is tall but skinny and his charm usually keeps him out of trouble. Right now the charm is gone and I have never seen him look so pissed.
“Don’t you fucking talk to her, Mark. Derrik these guys are 86′d. Get them out of here.” I have never seen Max this worked up. He has been working at The Moon for a couple years and he can handle his share of drunk assholes but he is ready for some blood.
“Oh don’t be like that Maxwell.” Asshole #1 says while he stands and gets in Max’s face. I pull Ray further into my side and slightly behind me. She doesn’t seem to notice what is going on, it’s like she’s sleeping but her eyes are open. I can see this going bad quickly. Derrik is on the other side of the table but I am going to need someone to take Ray if these guys decide to throw down. I give a head tilt to Charlie, Brando and Jordan who are watching the scene from their seats at the bar. In fact I look around and everyone in the bar is watching. Lude seems to sense the disturbance and comes out of his office at about the same time I signal the guys. He is going to be pissed if this turns into a fight. My friends get up from their spots and start walking over to us coming from different directions like a wolf pack.
Max puffs up he chest and gets right back in Asshole #1′s face.
“Leave Dillon. I am not asking I’m telling.” I never in a million years thought Max would be intimidating but shit he can hold his own. He doesn’t break eye contact once. I feel Sammie come up behind me and she takes Ray by the arms and leads her towards the room in back where the band hangs between sets. The door has a lock and I know Sammie will take care of her there. Now that Ray is out of the line of fire and I can see the guys from Grounded have taken their places around the table of assholes, I step up.
“That’s it guys, time to go.” I stand behind Max with my arms crossed. Asshole #2 I think Max called him Mark, speaks up.
“We paid our cover and we didn’t do anything wrong. Ray is obviously feeling a little sensitive tonight.” He shares a look with his buddies. Well that doesn’t look all kinds of fucking slimy. I take a step forward intending to beat this guys face in but am stopped by a firm hand on my left side. Uncle Lude is next to me, staring down the group too. I am big guy, 6′3” and my arms are a considerable size from playing guitar and the gym routine I do everyday. Lude is a whole other story. He is taller than me by a few inches and he still has the body of a professional hockey player. Even though he retired when I was still in high school. He is fucking scary, even to me and I am his blood.
"We choose who we serve here. If our bartender won’t serve you then I guess you are shit out of luck boys.” Lude meets Dillon’s eyes when he says boys, and the guy gulps. Fucking gulps. Serves you right dickweed.
It doesn’t take long for them to make their way to the door after that. Max seems to visibly relax when the door shuts behind them then he looks to me.
“Where’s our girl?”
“Sammie took her to the green room. What the fuck was that about Max?” He looks around and everyone is making their way back their seats. Lude is still next to me no doubt looking for answers on why we just kicked out six seemingly rich paying customers. Max waves down the other bartender and asks her to cover for him.
“I don't want to talk about this out here. Lude can we go in your office for a minute.”
Lude’s office is basically a closet but all three of us fit in there with the door closed. Lude sits behind his desk and I lean to the side of it. Both of us with eyes on Max looking for an explanation.
“Okay before I say anything. This can never be talked about again. Ray has only told me and Stace, because we had to take care of her afterward.” I jump to my feet.
“Take care of her after what Max?” I can hear the anger and fear in my voice, but he stays calm and looks at both Lude and I.
“That guy Mark was Ray’s boyfriend for about a year. He’s a real prick, cheated on her constantly. When she finally realized what he was doing behind her back she went over to his place to break up with him. Instead of letting her break it off and get out. He and his roommate Dillon held her down and... shit I can't even say it." My mind goes straight to the worst case scenario.
" Jesus Max did they...?" I can't say it either I don't even want to think it. My sweet Ray.
"No," he says shaking his head, but if grim expression does not change. " They did pretty much everything but rape her.”
I sit back down on the desk. Speechless. I want to do back out there and find those pricks. You can bet when I am finished with them they will never touch another woman especially Ray.
Max continues, "She called Stace when they finally let her go, it had been hours so I was at their apartment waiting for her too. We were so worried. When we picked her up about a block away from his apartment she was in her coat but her shirt and underwear had been ripped to shreds and she had bruises on her wrists and ankles from where they held her down. Her lip was bleeding too." I am churning on the inside. God after that what happened between us the other morning must have been terrifying for her. My breathing picks up and I am losing my shit the longer I sit there.
Lude is much more calm. Getting right to the obvious question.
“Did she tell anyone else, report it with campus police.” Lude asks but we both already know the answer. With a frown Max says, “No she called us to come and get her. We never really talked about it again. She didn’t want to report it because she knew it would be their words against hers. Without actual sex there would be little to no evidence to support her story. Mark's family has tons of money, even if he did get charged she figured he would get a slap on the wrist. Plus..."
"Plus what?" the growl that comes from my throat doesn't sound like me at all.
" I think they might have threatened her. She never really said, but I get the feeling she thought they would come after her if she reported it. Anyway they were easily avoidable for the rest of the year and they all graduated last week so I think Ray was hoping not to see them again." Max looks wrecked. I know he didn't want to reveal Ray's secret but he cares more about her than she will ever know.
Lude shakes his head and grabs a pen and paper from the desk. “I need the names of all six of those little shits so I can put them on the no entry list. Josh go make sure Sammie got her to the green room okay.”
I come back from the dark place in my memory when the door of the green door closes and Sammie throws the lock.
“Ray hun, are you okay?” Sammie approaches me slowly. I back up till my butt hits an amp in the far end of the room and I sit down on it.
“No...Yes.” I blink a couple times building back up my wall. “Yes Sammie, sorry I’m okay.”
Sammie sits next to me. “What happened Ray? You were gone there for a couple minutes.” She takes my hand gently in hers and I can feel how cold I am compared to her. Terror is bad for the circulation.
“That was my ex Mark, and his friends. They are not good guys.” That is the understatement of the century. They are my own personal boogeymen. I was hoping with them graduating last week I would never have to see them again. No such luck I guess. Sammie nods her head. She understands I don’t want to elaborate. Good I don’t want to talk about Mark and Dillon, they can stay behind the wall. She hugs me to her side and rubs my back until I stop shaking.
We are not in the green room long before there is a knock at the door.
“Sammie it’s me, open up.” Josh, god I must look like a wreck. Sammie gets up to open the door and I run my fingers under my eyes to make sure my mascara wasn’t all over my face. I don’t know when I cried but I can feel the tear trails down my cheeks.
Josh walks in slowly with Max and Lude not far behind him. I look into his eyes and I know he knows. My accusing glare turns to Max.
“You told them? How could you?” Max was sworn to secrecy, he promised that night we would never tell anyone. How could he tell, not only Josh, but our boss too. It’s nobody’s business. I didn’t want anyone to look at me like I am a victim, or worse as a slut who was abused by two men she trusted. Before I can go on my tirade Josh is holding me. He pulls me against his chest in a crushing hug. Then pulls me away and looks me over from head to toe. His calloused hands cup my face.
“We needed a reason to put them on the no entry list. Don’t be mad at Max. Are you okay Ray?” The sincere concern in his eyes, not pity, makes me start crying for real this time. Dammit I have to pull myself together and I can’t do that if he is being sweet.
“I’m okay they didn’t do anything tonight they just caught me by surprise." I take his hands from my face and give them a light squeeze before dropping them and meeting Lude’s eyes. “Sorry for the scene Lude I will get back to work now.” He shakes his head at me.
“Go home Ray, we’re okay for tonight.” He looks less scary to me now even with his impressive size and that big scar on his cheek.
“It’s packed out there Lude I can’t leave you short.” I really need the tip money from tonight.
“Sammie here are the keys to my truck. Will you take Ray home please.” Josh says and turns to me before I can argue. “You are going to be looking over your shoulder all night and the guys and I will be occupied. Please just go home and take the night to yourself.” He kisses me on the cheek and gives me a pleading look. For his sanity more than my necessity I agree to go home for the night. I promise Max we will talk later. I am still mad at him but I can see his reasoning.
Josh seems to relax significantly when I agree to go home. The one eighty he did tonight has my head spinning a little bit. Avoiding me all week and running to my rescue right along side my best friend? That man needs to come with a manual.
Sammie takes me out the back door. Lude walked us to the truck just in case Mark and his friends stuck around. Once we are safely inside and heading towards home Sammie speaks up.
"I know this is totally inappropriate, but really just want to get the sad look off your face, so I am going to go for it. It was super hot the way Max and Josh were like your knights in shining armor tonight!" She starts giggling and I can't help but join her.
"You were kind of out of it but Max was all like 'back away from my bitch you bitches' and in that guys face. Then Josh was behind him with his arms crossed all 'do something fucker'. If I didn't need to get you out of there so fast I kinda wanted to watch. It was like Fight Club and your ex was Meatloaf." That really gets me going and I am holding my side and now crying from laughing so hard.
"Thanks Sammie I needed that."