A Broken Woman Can Still Healby-Ripley-©
This is a much longer single story than most of mine. It is very much a story of pain and love so it takes a long time to get to the sex. I hope you enjoy it.
I need to give special thanks to Terry, my editor! I really appreciate the effort to help me improve the story!
It hurt so much. Shae lay against the headboard of her bed and tried to handle the pain. It was hard to breath. Her nose felt wrong and was all plugged up with blood. Her arm ached when she had fallen and landed on it. It had only finished healing from the break a couple of months ago. And her whole head rang from the successive slaps to her face. But most of all it was her belly.
Barely able to move and with the fogginess that comes from a concussion, Shae held her hands against her belly where her husband kicked her. Five weeks pregnant, the painful spasms in her womb and the blood slowly staining the bed clothes between her legs told her that she wasn't any more. She was too numb to even feel sorrow for that loss. That would come later. Right now Shae felt a merciful unconsciousness begin to take her.
A sound make her head jerk up. It took her a few moments to recognize it. Then Shae realized it was sirens. It reminded her that the phone was still off the hook making a busy signal since it fell over after calling 911. Shae looked down alongside her. The shotgun was lying there, cold barrel against her leg. The room still had the faint smell from when she pulled the trigger. Breathing in, Shae looked over by the broken door hanging from one hinge. Bob was there on the ground, chest a deep red from where the shotgun blast hit him. The baseball bat he was carrying when he finally kicked down the door was still clenched in his fist. Even with the confusion from the concussion, she remembered what happened. She would never be able to wipe this day from her memory. But for now the noise of the siren as the police car pulled up outside couldn't keep the blackness away.
Seven years before
Summer vacation was just around the corner. Shae was excited because her parents had a big trip planned to Europe as soon as school was out. For a change the June weather was nice and it made it all the harder to be inside waiting out the last few days of school. Shae was a slender 15 year old who was just starting to grow into her body. She had an almost elven face with almond shaped sky blue eyes and blonde hair that was the envy of all her friends. It was just curly enough to have wonderful body and shape without being difficult to manage. The attention her looks brought was still something that tended to embarrass her. She didn't really know what to do with it and she didn't feel quite ready for dating. But still she thought it was nicer to be noticed than feel invisible.
Every head turned as the door opened. Seeing the principal coming in was a surprise to all and the very serious look on his face made everyone nervous as they remembered every little rule violation they may have ever committed. He quickly walked to over to Mr. Bradford, the English teacher, and spoke to him in a very low voice. Involuntarily Mr. Bradford's head swiveled and he looked at Shae as the principal continued to talk. Then he nodded and turned to the class.
"Shae, Mr. Wilson needs to see you now. Would you please go with him?" As he spoke, Mr. Bradford's voice was unexpectedly hoarse compared with how he had been talking moments ago. "Take all your things, please Shae," he added.
As the principal followed Shae out the door, he turned his head back to look at Mr. Bradford.
"I know. I will talk to them," Mr. Bradford nodded at him.
Mr. Wilson put off all of Shae's questions, saying that he would explain once they were in his office. Shae couldn't imagine what was wrong. The infractions that came to her mind were mostly imaginary and wouldn't have merited any real notice, but naturally she grew more nervous. It wasn't until she walked into the principal's office and saw her school counselor there as well as her mother's best friend that she became scared.
"Ms. Martha? What are you doing here? What's going ..." Shae trailed off when she saw the tears rolling down Martha's face. "Oh my God, what's wrong?"
Moving across the room, Martha took Shae in her arms. She had known Shae since she was born. Her own son was the same age and going through pregnancy together had forged a tight bond between the two mothers. Shae felt almost like her own daughter.
After hugging her Martha said softly, "Shae sweetie, let's sit down. There was a couch and the two of them sat together. Mrs. Xu pulled a chair close while Mr. Wilson leaned against his desk.
"Sweetie, there isn't a good way to tell you this." Martha started, trying to push keep down the sobs that threated to burst out. "Your Mom and Dad, they were out doing some errands this morning and there was an accident. A truck ran a red light and hit the car." She paused for a second and took in a ragged breath. "Shae, I'm sorry but they were both killed instantly."
"No, that's not possible. No, how could ..." Shae just looked confused. She couldn't grasp that this morning her Dad was teasing her and now he was gone? She hadn't even eaten the lunch her Mom made. The thermos full of tomato soup would still be hot from when she heated it up. But as Martha broke down into sobbing, Shae knew it had to be true. And feeling Martha's body shaking with the grief, Shae began to cry herself. The two other adults in the room just looked on in helplessness.
The next few weeks were a blur to her. Shae stayed with Martha's family while her aunt flew across the country from North Carolina to make all the arrangements. Her father's sister, she was the only sibling of either parent. In fact, she was one of the few relatives that Shae had. Her mother's parents had both passed away a few years ago. Her father had moved away from North Carolina when he became the first one in the family to go to college and never went back. He had lived on the West Coast ever since. Shae's aunt and grandparents still lived in the same rural town in North Carolina, content with the slower pace there.
There was a brief argument about what to do about Shae. Before they read the will, Martha expected that there be instructions that she was to raise her if anything happened. That was certainly what she had talked about with Shae's parents and how her own will read. But apparently they had forgotten to actually make the change to their own will. Martha tried convincing Aunt Billie to still let Shae stay where she was familiar. But Billie was firm. Family belonged with family. Her brother had been 8 years older and played a significant role in raising her. It was her obligation to take care of her big brother's child and there was no room for debate. Martha and her husband considered for a moment taking it to court, but in the end decided that wouldn't be best for Shae. It was bad enough dealing with the loss of her parents. A fight over custody wouldn't do anyone good.
Before leaving, Martha talked with Billie about coming back for part of the summers to stay with them. She didn't want to lose her connection with the one thing left of her best friend. Plus as she said to Billie, "With all of the heartache Shae has experienced, and probably will continue to feel, staying in touch with all her friends her would be very good for her. Martha felt like Billie agreed with her when she promised to try and make it work. Martha had no idea at that time she wouldn't see Shae again until Martha flew out for Shae's wedding five years later
The depression that Shae felt grew as she felt the airplane take off to start their trip to her new home. It reminded her of how she was supposed to have already flown to Europe with her parents. Glancing over at her aunt, she thought about how the three weeks that it had taken to get ready to move was about twice as much time as she had ever spent with her aunt during the rest of her life. It wasn't just that they were on different sides of the country. Her aunt was as different from her father as she could imagine.
Shae knew that her father wasn't always happy but he was a generally cheerful person who looked on the bright side of life. She could always count on him to cheer her up after a particularly tough day. He teased her without mercy, but always in a loving way and never mean. Over the last few months, she had started to open up to him about some of the things confusing her about growing up. She loved her mother dearly too but there were times when she was too direct. As a biomedical researcher, her mother hadn't always seen the emotional side to things. Shae sighed as she thought about how her father always "got" her.
It had particularly been clear that he understood her when she started to talk to him about her feelings about boys. Before all this happened, Shae always thought that maybe it wouldn't have been so easy if she wanted to talk about liking boys. Maybe her father would have struggled more if she wanted his advice on how to get the attention of a particular boy. Instead she wanted his help in understanding why it was other girls that seemed to attract her attention. And she was so clearly confused; her father didn't really have to worry about her acting on her attraction. It allowed him to listen more than would otherwise have been the case. And then when he did offer advice it was helpful in untangling the confusing mess.
Above all, he was unfailingly supportive. "Sweetie, I know you are still figuring things out. But if you decide you're gay, it doesn't change who you are and that your mother and I will love you," he told her at the end of their last talk.
Taking another peek at her Aunt, Shae already knew that couldn't be said about her aunt. It was clear that there was a right way and a wrong way with most things in her Aunt's mind. Shae tried to be charitable and accept her aunt with the same type of acceptance as her father. Aunt Billie had found a fundamentalist Christian church that was close enough to the brand she attended at home and made it clear that Shae would attend. Her parents had never made religion a significant part of her life but Shae had nothing left in her with which to resist. She hoped that maybe it would help her find a little bit of peace and reassurance. Instead she found it full of anger and fear of people who were different. After three weeks of that, Shae knew that she could never talk with her aunt about her feelings. She felt tears well up again as she thought again about how much there was to miss about her parents. She never even got a chance to talk to her mom about it.
Billie was by no means unkind. She heard sniffles and looked over to see tears running down Shae's cheeks. She put her arm around Shae and hugged her. "I know you miss them, Shae. I don't know how much I will be able to help but I will do everything I can to help. You will be a daughter to me, just like my two little boys. And with God's help, you will find happiness." She stroked Shae's head to try and comfort her. As Shae continue to silently weep, Billie leaned her head over and rested it against Shae's. "It's okay, darlin'. Nothing wrong with crying."
It took a while but at last Shae got her weeping under control. It felt comforting to have her aunt hold her like that. It wasn't the same as her mother, or even Martha, but she still felt the support and love that Billie was offering her. With the loss of everything else, she needed it. She reached her own arm around Billie and hugged her back.
"Thank, Aunt Billie. Sometimes it gets harder, you know?" Shae whispered.
"I understand. And that's what I'm here for and why I wanted you to come home with me. I hope that you will find comfort in a place with a slower pace; where you can get to know people." Billie smiled as she spoke. She had never lived anywhere else and she couldn't imagine anything else. It seemed like paradise for her. Nor could she imagine why a small, backwater town in the rural south wouldn't seem that way to anyone else.
Being reminded of where they were going brought back the worries that Shae had been trying to suppress. Without conscious thought, she slowly withdrew from Billie. She lifted the window shade to look out. They were passing over the Rockies. Looking down on the jagged peaks, Shae thought about how different it was going to be. She had spent her whole life on the southern edges of San Francisco where it was more suburban than urban. Still given all the high tech in the area, it was extremely ethnically diverse. Her school had students from 18 different countries and there were just barely a majority of kids who were white. Nor had that been much of a problem.
And while Shae was still figuring out her identity, she knew a number of people who were out. It wasn't always easy for them, but it seemed to Shae that there was a support system there for them. Shae remembered being worried still. Even her accepting father suggested that while she was still unsure that she be a little careful who she talked to about it. "Shae, things are better for gay people now. While a majority of people support gay equality, there are still a lot who don't. And kids can be cruel," he had said. It just echoed what her own mind said. Always a bit shy, she liked anonymity. She had a circle of friends and was liked by almost everyone, but she was never someone to standout. Her growing beauty had started to change that. It wasn't bad to be noticed, but not always. And to be different in her sexual orientation, that would just increase the attention. Shae thought that back home if she really decided she was lesbian, she wouldn't have a problem coming out. But until she knew, she would rather blend in with everyone else. Shae even kept it a secret from her best friend. She just wasn't sure how it would affect their friendship.
Luckily there were a couple of friends with whom she could share her thoughts. Both of them were gay and were friends since kindergarten. They weren't as close as they used to be but still when she needed someone, both of them were there for her. Shae found it harder to say goodbye to them than anyone else. They were the only confidants she had left and she feared that she wouldn't find anyone like them in her new home.
A few more tears escaped out of her eyes as Shae felt a wave of self-pity wash over her. She tried not to sniffle. Somehow she didn't want her aunt to know that she was crying again. It was okay when it was about her parents. She welcomed Billie's sympathy then. But she knew what Billie thought about homosexuality. It was clear at the church service. Billie cried out in affirmation every time the pastor talked about the corruption of society reflected in its acceptance of gays. Shae felt like it would be hypocritical of her to find comfort from Billie when that was what was bothering her.
Of course kids are more accepting everywhere, Shae thought. Even in a rural town in the South, surely she would find someone that could be close enough to talk about it. She clung to that thought and it helped her feel better.
When they first got on the flight, Billie had talked to one of the main cabin flight attendants. She wanted at least one other person to know about Shae's loss just in case. If she was in the restroom and Shae was distressed, Billie felt like it was important that someone who understood could step in. Cheryl was an attractive woman in her mid to late thirties with a friendly face. She made sure to pay extra attention to Shae, stopping by often to see how she was doing.
The attention flustered Shae a little. Her aunt couldn't have known but Shae found Cheryl quite intriguing. Her uniform was one of those dresses that showed a little more cleavage and was just above her knees. Part of what started Shae thinking about her orientation had been her habit of getting a crush on her cute teachers. Cheryl fit that same mold of an attractive older woman with a lot of self-confidence that drew Shae's attention. When Cheryl stopped and leaned over to talk with her, Shae found it hard to not look down her dress.
Shae was looking out the window while her aunt read her bible when Cheryl stopped by and asked Shae if she would like to be shown around the galley. "I know it's kind of lame but still it will help fill the time before we get to Atlanta."
"Is it okay, Aunt Billie?" she asked.
"Of course, but don't be any bother to Cheryl," Billie replied.
As slender as Shae was, she just slipped past her aunt and followed Cheryl to the back of the plane. She admired the view of Cheryl from behind. Once back there, Cheryl started to explain how things were organized and what the various doors contained. Shae tried not to get too distracted by Cheryl and to pay attention. She was doing a relatively good job so that it caught Shae by surprise when Cheryl asked her a question.
"Is this your first time flying," Cheryl innocently asked.
It wasn't but thinking back to flying with her parents again reminded her of the trip to Europe and the gaping hole left by the loss of her parents. Shaking her head, Shae's eyes filled with tears. She tried to explain.
"I'm sorry. It's just that I'm supposed to be in Europe with my parents. I'm supposed to .... ″ Shae broke down and just cried.
"Oh sweetie!" Cheryl knew that she really shouldn't hug a passenger but a crying girl who just lost her parents seemed like a valid exception to the rule. She put her arms around Shae and gently squeezed her. After a few moments, she lightly patted Shae's back.
At first, Shae only felt the overwhelming sadness. Then she became aware that she was being held by the beautiful woman whom she had been admiring. Still sniffling, she reached her own arms around Cheryl and hugged her back. As she felt their bodies touch, Shae realized that her nipples were hardening. She blushed but didn't let go. It felt too good.
It didn't escape Cheryl's notice. The life of a flight attendant wasn't everything people thought, but she had her own wild moments with both men and women. She was married now and those days were behind her. But she could still tell the signs. Even in her wild days, she would never take advantage of someone Shae's age let alone a grief stricken one. Without acknowledging anything she loosened her arms and stepped back. She felt Shae's own embrace somewhat reluctantly end too.
Ignoring Shae's hard nipples jutting from under her t-shirt, Cheryl just asked, "Are you feeling better, sweetie?"
Shae nodded, not trusting her voice at that particular moment.
Cheryl reached out and touched Shae on the shoulder, hand squeezing it for a moment. She nodded with understanding but then let go and turned away to start getting things together for the next run of refreshments. It gave Shae a little break to get herself back together. Once she felt a little calmer, Shae started helping Cheryl, following her directions to refill the cart. By avoiding looking Cheryl in the eyes, Shae found that she could avoid thinking about the effect Cheryl's hug had on her.
As Cheryl and another flight attendant maneuvered the cart to start down the aisle, Cheryl looked over at Shae. The sympathy in her eyes let Shae know that she understood. "Thanks sweetie for your help. Enjoy the rest of the flight. I probably will be busy the rest of the flight." There was something of finality in her voice that doused any fantasies that Shae might be entertaining.
"Thanks for showing me around. I enjoyed it," Shae said as she slipped past Cheryl to head back to her seat before they blocked the aisle. After sitting down, Billie wanted to know what they had been doing and what she had seen. Shae felt embarrassed both about crying and her reaction to Cheryl. She thought to herself that she certainly couldn't tell her aunt about that so she just limited herself to a few vague generalities. After that Shae lapsed into a somewhat brooding silence. Not really knowing what to say, Billie just left her alone.