A Lesson In Love Ch. 03byvickivale©
What's he doing here?
Regina let the door of Espresso Cafe, her favorite coffee house in Fremont, fall shut behind her as she caught the sight of Evan Beck in one of the corner booths of the coffee shop. He sat across from Mindy Baxter, her counselor from the rape center. His hands were shaking pictures as he spoke. His green eyes sparkled with laughter. His dark hair shimmered in the light from the window beside him.
The green polo shirt he had on draped his shoulders and caressed his pectorals enhancing the color of his eyes, his lone diamond stud glistened as it trapped the color in its angles.
She looked at the floor and he had on his normal black old school converse and in spite of her emotions she had to smile. She was sure those were the only shoes he owned, his feet were layered over each other one foot turn on its side with the other resting on top of it while bouncing on the one on its side.
He always did that. When they first met about two years ago, she teased him about wearing his dad's shoes from the seventies with his jittery bounce.
She tried to rein in her errant heart, disappointed that after all this time he still could make her feel like a foolish, breathless teenage girl. He could still make her remember, too easily, how much he had meant to her, especially after the unforgettable night with Bradley.
She swallowed, her throat was dry and she could feel the lump in her chest growing. She stopped herself from reaching up to straighten her hair or readjusting her blouse or brushing her black pencil skirt straight. She wanted to stop trying to make herself look presentable in front of the only guy who made her feel something again after her innocence had been taken from her so brutally and from feeling like a hallowed shell.
I was broken and just a kid then she reminded herself. You're no longer that damsel in distress needing a knight on a white horse to save you.
And Evan Beck had let you down in the end too.
"Hey Regi, what can I get you?"
A bright, cheerful voice called out and Regina pulled her gaze away from Evan to the woman standing behind the counter, wiping her hands on her apron. Her graying hair was partially covered with a black scarf that was tied to the back at the nape of her neck combined with her wide smile that looked like a beacon of a welcome light.
Regina had found this place when she was trying to stay off the school grounds after the night with Bradley; she hadn't wanted to run into him or anyone else for that matter. Gladys and her then boyfriend, James, were the only ones who knew about it and all they knew were they found her lying on the floor. She could not bring herself to tell them or anyone else that Bradley, the love of her life, was the one that had left her there. Anyways, that's when she had found this place almost three years ago.
"Hey Mrs. C, I'll take my usual."
"Coming right up, you want the blueberry muffin too? They're fresh out of the oven."
"Oh great! Yes, I'll have one of those too." She said with a nod, trying to keep her focus on her as Evan's light laugh tugged at her attention.
"I suppose you are here for your weekly meeting with Mindy." Mrs. Carter said, grabbing a muffin and placing it in a bag to hand to Regina. "Regina?" She prompted when she didn't answer.
Regina gave herself a mental shake, turning back to Mrs. Carter. "Y-Yes Ma'am. Your daughter has been a lot of help to me," she replied pulling her wallet out of her book bag.
Mrs. Carter took her money, placing the bag with the muffin on the counter and as if sensing the reason for her distraction, gave her a wink along with her change. "It'll be a minute for the beverage; I'll call your name when it's ready. I know Mindy is anxious to get started."
She gave Mrs. Carter her full attention as she dropped the change in the tip cup. It was dangerous to be seen swooning over her ex in this venue. Facebook and Twitter had nothing on what she and Mindy jokingly called The Express Messaging Service. Anything spoken in the coffee shop traveled around the city quicker than a sneeze.
"Sounds good, Mrs. C." She said. Then she risked another glance at Evan and Mindy sitting across from each other. She wondered if Evan had missed her as much as she had missed him, even though she hadn't admitted it to herself, until now.
Regina brushed aside the pointless question, took a steady breath as she picked up the bag with the muffin in it. She walked with measured steps across the wooden floor to the table where Evan and Mindy sat.
"...so let me know how that works out," Mindy was saying. "We'll discuss it more next week." Evan nodded, his hair slipping over his face as he bent his head and scribbled some notes on the papers lying on the table in front of him.
Mindy sat back, glancing around as Regina approached.
Regina knew the precise moment Mindy caught her gaze.
Her dark blue eyes blinked then her glance flew first to Evan sitting across from her. Then the watch strapped to her wrist.
Yes, I'm early, Regina wanted to say. And she guessed Evan was supposed to have been gone before Regina had arrived.
Regina gave Mindy a tight smile freezing it in place when Evan looked up at Mindy, frowning at her expression. He followed the direction of Mindy's gaze.
As his eyes met hers, alarm swept across his masculine features and his pen clattered to the table.
However, Evan was truly a pro, so his expression reverted quickly to bland politeness. His smile reappeared, a shadow of its previous incarnation.
"Hello, Regina. Mindy said you were coming in today." He said his voice as neutral as his facial expression as he picked up his pen.
"I didn't expect you for another 15 minutes," Mindy added, her voice taking on an excessively hearty tone.
Regina gave Evan a curt nod, acknowledging his greeting, and then dragged her gaze away from the man who had once been the focus of her entire life and turned back to Mindy.
"Thought I'd enjoy a cup of coffee before our session," she said, pleased at how casual her voice sounded.
"Of course, that's great," Mindy said, twisting her watch on her wrist. "Glad you could make it since I know you had a job interview today." She got up and pulled a chair over to an empty end of the table.
Regina didn't know what to do. She did not relish in the idea of sitting with Evan, especially when it looked as if he and Mindy were in a session of their own. But to ignore the gesture would look rude.
Besides, the muffin in her hand and the book bag on her shoulder grew heavy all of a sudden.
"You go ahead and sit down," Evan said quietly, gathering up his papers and tapping them on the table. "I should get going anyway."
The coolness of his tone accompanied by his polite smile unsettled her, especially here in Espresso Cafe, the place where she and Evan spent so much time when they first starting dating. The place where he had first told her he loved her.
Then he looked up at her again and she caught the fleeting glow of anger in the depths of his green eyes.
Her back stiffened in response as she lowered her book bag to the floor.
Why did he have a right to be angry with her? He was the one who refused to stay in a 'relationship going nowhere' and chose to leave her.
Silence, rife with old emotions, rose up between them.
That fact disappointed and depressed her.
She thought she had moved on. She knew he had. His silence after they had broken up told her clearly he had made up his mind to move on.
He looked away, breaking the connection. "I've got to get some flowers for Mona, it's our six month anniversary today and then get back to school," Evan told Mindy, "will I see you in class later?"
Mindy shook her head no. "I'll have to get your notes, tomorrow."
Evan nodded, then bent over and picked up his backpack, slipping the papers inside, followed by his laptop he had sitting on the table, which had been covered by the papers.
He never went anywhere without that laptop, Regina thought, her mind slipping back to the nights they would watch DVD after DVD on it because she didn't want to be left alone. She looked at his arms that had held her all night as she lay crying herself to sleep. His hands that had rubbed her back assuring her that she was safe.
"Don't forget your power cord," she said, looking at the adapter in the wall outlet next to the window.
His cheeks flushed, without looking at her he pulled the cord out of the socket and shoved it in his backpack. He slung his backpack over his shoulder, picking up his cup of coffee and an empty plate that held the crumbs of a pastry on it. As he straightens, his eyes grazed hers but this time she saw nothing in their depths.
This bothered her more than the anger she saw previously.
"Good to see you again, Regina." He said his voice cool and composed. Then he turned to Mindy who was intently watching them both. "So I'll see you sometime tomorrow at school then."
"Meet me in the library at 11:30," she said.
He nodded and swept pass Regina, leaving behind the faintest hint of scent from his cologne.
The scent bought back another wave of memories. She and Evan sneaking down the back streets in Hayward to come here, hoping her sister, Renee or anyone else they knew wouldn't catch them. She and Evan sitting in this very booth --their spot-- sharing a scone, muffin or croissant, a few laughs, and a kiss.
She shook her head as if to clear away the insidious webs of memories. She had to get a grip, she thought. She was bound to run into Evan again, since they shared many of the same friends. It wasn't like Bradley; none of their friends ran in the same circle. Other than the mental, emotional, and faded physical scars you would never know that their paths had cross. But Evan, who had been there to pick up the broken pieces, had left a thread in every part of her tapestry of life. No he couldn't be avoided.
Mindy stood up and hugged Regina.
"Are you okay?" She looked at her intently as if studying her for a test later.
"Y-yeah, it was bound to happen sooner or later." She said but her thoughts still on the man that just walked away. She glanced in his direction afraid he might be watching then turned back to Mindy.
She rubbed my shoulder and smiled. "Shall we get started?" Mindy said as she slid back into her seat.
This was her way of officially starting my session. "It was good to see you, Regina. The past several weeks with finals and work, we missed a few sessions."
Regina sat down in the chair Mindy had pulled out for her, settling in. She couldn't help a flutter of anticipation at what they were going to discuss and what might transpire from it. A few months ago, Regina had run into Bradley and he was with a girl named Cindy. Cindy was a playful young lady, much like she was before Bradley, anyway, she ran into them at the mall and Bradley came up to her and tried to be casual but his words cut her deep and caused a sickening feeling in her stomach. Cindy could sense something between them but she had no clue. When she left their presence, she went into the bathroom and vomited, she broke down and her sister Renée had to come and get her. She was so scared to leave the bathroom that the security guard offered to call Renee.
At her next session, Mindy asked why she thought she reacted to Bradley that way, but she did not have a clue. She just sat there crying while saying I thought I was over it. I thought I had it under control. It was then that Mindy said they would have to eventually talk about what had occurred on that night but more than the actions but the emotions and the transfer of power. This session was to be the first session of talking about it.
Mindy continued to study Regina and then she said, "Regina, I really didn't plan for you two to see each other. We have several classes together and decided to study together since it just makes sense. You were fifteen minutes early. However, if that caused you to be uncomfortable, I want to apologize."
"Thanks Mindy, but I' am not uncomfortable due to Evan. It's more due to the topic of discussion." She said unable to look at Mindy.
"Don't think about it. You know what happened and we are going to discuss the facts first then we will get around to the emotions." Mindy said patting her hand.
Regina looked up at Mindy. She trusts Mindy with her very life. Mindy and she had come a long way since that day she cowered in the bathroom at the Mall. Mindy's strategy was a lot of tough love with some practical advice and lots of reassurance. It seemed to work for Regina. Not to mention that Mindy had a knack for listening without judgment and took the confidentiality statement to heart. No one knew how Mindy and she became friends. A day she will never forget as long as I live.
Mindy was sure that this was going to give Regina her personal power back and she knew that Regina had to be ready for the emotional and mental roller coaster ahead of them.
"Regi we can just talk today and start the sessions at a later date. If you need more time"
Regina shook her head, "No, today is just as good as any day. If I don't do it now, I'm afraid I never will."
Mindy nodded her understanding, "Well, mom has made us some tuna sandwiches with her famous homemade sour cream and onion potato chips. Would you like me to grab you a soda?"
"Regi, sweetie your coffee's up," Mrs. C said rushing back into the kitchen area.
"Well I guess that settles that." They both laughed.
"We'll go back to my office and I grab us both a coke just in case."
"Regina, we have talked about the facts of the rape." Mindy was saying in her business like voice. "In our next session in two weeks, I want you to be ready to start in on the emotional side but I want it to be different from our past three sessions."
"What do you mean?" I was really afraid to ask. The past three weeks had started the nightmares back up but this time Evan wasn't there to rock me back to sleep. I woke up in cold sweets. All kinds of emotions were going through me. I was grocery shopping and just started crying for no reason; watching family feud and I just started balling. I could not manage my feelings no matter how hard I tried. I was irritated about the littlest things. I could not focus; Mindy was the recipient of most of it. I tried and failed to control it, however the more I tried the worst I got. Now she wants to open this door even wider? I was not sure I was ready for that or even wanted that.
"What I mean is this. You have recited the facts and showed very little emotion while doing so. I mean, yes, your eyes filled with tears and many times we had to stop and continue after a few moments. However, your emotions outside of these sessions have been out of control. Am I right?" She paused for an answer from me.
"Yes," I nodded ashamedly.
"So, why is that? Besides the obvious that you were raped and felt violated. Why are you not able to deal with the emotional aspect of moving on with your life and you pushing those who truly love you away?"
"Hell, it's apparent to me. Mindy, I loved Bradley and I thought he loved me, how could someone that loved me cause such havoc in my life? How could he take something so precious from me so viciously?"
"First of all, we can't control others, Regina. They are going to do and say whatever they want. That is not something you should punish yourself for. People will be people, good, bad, ugly and indifferent. Second, you did not give him permission to have your gift. If someone steals an item in the store, it doesn't make it theirs and the same is true with your virginity. Yes, the physical act of him being the first to penetrate you is there, but the gift is still yours to give to someone you are in love with. Do you understand that?" Her eyes were searching mines intently.
I logically understood what she was saying but instinctively, physically and emotionally, well it just did not register. Plus, who would want me now, knowing that I was damaged goods. I mean I heard other girls talk about their baggage but what I had was more than baggage.
My trust had been broken. My heart stomped into pieces like it was some rag to be discarded. The truth of the matter, I was afraid to allow a man, any man, that kind of access to me. When the bruises faded and the tears finally had stopped, I vowed never to be that exposed to anyone again. I meant it.
Evan, as sweet and thoughtful as he was, he was still a man. Hell, Bradley had been sweet and thoughtful too. He was so sweet and thoughtful; I did not think he was capable of being so evil. However, what he did to me that night was just the beginning of his torment. He spread rumors about me, how easy I was, how I liked to do oral and anal sex and the most trifling thing he said about me was I did it without needing a commitment.
That began the late night calls, the pats on the ass, the notes and name calling. Even my English instructor tried to corner me. I was so depressed and mortified, especially when my mother called to remind me that I was there to get an education and not have men running in and out of my dorm. My parents had heard the rumors from other parents that overheard things. I couldn't go home, I could barely go to school, and I could not find a place of solace.
Evan had been my only lifeline during that time. Evan, Mindy and the coffee shop, that's what kept me going.
Now Mindy wanted to know what my emotional state was then. She wants me to revisit those thoughts and face those demons? How could she?
"Regina?" Mindy was calling my name. How many times had she called me? I just stared at her. I did not know what she wanted me to say.
"Regina. It's your decision. I think we need to do this so you can come to grips with your anger, your fear and most importantly, the bitterness and resentment you are holding so you can release it." She paused and then continued, "It will not be easy but I know it will be helpful."
"How do you know?" I said finally finding my voice again.
"When we go through traumatic experiences, it alters us. We can make one of three choices: first option, we can choose to let it run our lives, having it always living in the shadow of who we truly are. Being afraid, bitter, and unforgiving while always blaming our unhappiness on people, situations and circumstance...sadly this where many of us choose to hang out. The second option, we can pretend like nothing happen and try to make choices without allowing the past to taint them. However that is just a delayed and prolonged course to ending up as our first choice. Which I might add, will cause devastating results, including leading up to suicide. Then there is option three, we face our demons, learn our lesson, take back the power we gave away, forgive and accept our responsibility for what happened. It really..."
I held my hand up and looked at her with menacing eyes, "Are you trying to sit there and tell me I did something to cause that bastard to rape me? Do you know how fucking judgmental you sound right now?"
Mindy's eyes flashed and she leaned forward to add emphasis to what she was about to say. "You know that I would never imply that you deserved or did something that would cause him to do what he did to you. That is his issue, not yours. It is however, your responsibility to heal from it and not allow it to shape who you become. The point that I am trying to make is this." She paused to calm her rising temper. "I was approached by the Assistant DA about a case they are preparing against Bradley."
"What did you just say?" I said in a soft whisper.
"Yes, Regina, a girl has pressed charges against Bradley, and because I am a rape counselor, they wanted to know if I had other girls that had been raped by him in the past 5 years. Which I found out is the statute of limitations."