Velvet Roses Ch. 14byvirgofemme©
*I hope you guys this enjoy this chapter, and thanks for your continued interest!*
It was the ringing of her landline that woke Jeneda from her nap, and hoping that Dane was the caller, she reached out to lift the receiver, then placed it against her ear.
"We need to have a serious talk, Jeneda."
Recognizing the cold, stern voice as her fathers, Jeneda sat up in bed, then switched on the bedside table lamp. "Hello, Dad."
"Hello? Is that all you have to say to me?"
A sick feeling formed in the pit of her stomach, and she nervously bit her lip. "I'm sorry, dad, I really am. Please don't be angry with me."
Gary released a heavy breath before falling deathly silent, then let loose some angry words.
"Are you truly sorry, Jeneda? Or are you just saying that?"
"I really am. "I screwed up bigtime by not telling you, I know that," she lamely said. "But I never meant for you to find out like this."
"You didn't want me to find out at all."
"Well, no I didn't. But I knew that eventually I'd have to come clean. I was just working up to it."
"Right," he said. "I guess you were also working up to telling Adrian and Daniel."
Uncertain of what to say, all she could do was remain silent, and stare dumbly at the wall in front of her.
"What's going on with you, Jeneda? Why would you betray us like this?"
She shook her head slowly, then in a slightly shaky voice, said, "I don't know."
"Yes, you do." His already baritone voice seemed to become even deeper. "I want an answer, and I damn well deserve one, so start talking."
"Because I was scared, and I knew how you'd react," she blurted out.
"And you wanted to keep seeing Dane, so you figured that not telling me at all would be the best way of going about that."
"Actually I didn't want to keep seeing him. When he told me what he'd done, I was disgusted and angry and couldn't stand the sight of him. So I broke up with him and told him to stay away."
"But eventually you made up with him."
"Why?" His voice had risen, causing her shoulders to jump slightly. "You knew what he'd done, so why would you get back together with him?"
"Because I love him."
"Love?" He spat the word out, as if merely speaking it had left a bitter taste in his mouth. "Please tell me you just didn't just say that."
"I know it sounds wrong, but It's true. I can't lie to you about my feelings, Dad. Dane is my boyfriend, and I love him."
"I thought you had sense, Jeneda. You've never been the foolish type."
Too disgraced to say anything at all, Jeneda hung her head, focusing her attention on the floral pattern of her pajama bottoms.
"I don't blame Adrian and Daniel for what they did to him," he said. "In fact, I'm glad."
"Daniel tried to rape me. I guess you're glad about that as well."
"What?" Gary fell into stunned silence, then in a softened tone, he said, "Adrian didn't mention that."
"They also tied me up as well. I guess he didn't tell you that, either."
"No, he didn't, and I do not agree with them doing that. And as far as Daniel trying to rape you, I sure as hell am going to deal with him." His voice had risen with the latter half of his sentence. "But Dane got what he deserved, and I am *not* the slightest bit sorry for them beating him up."
"What if they'd gone through with killing him? Would you also think that was justly deserved?" Jeneda asked.
"Watch your tone with me, young lady. If anyone should be angry here, It's me." His voice was sharp as a whip, and the tone of his voice dared her to challenge him.
Having effectively been put back in her place, she visibly shrunk, and in a voice that was shaky with emotion, she said, "I'm sorry dad, I meant no disrespect, but I'm really going through a lot here."
"You think you know pain?" He snorted, then said, "At least Dane is still alive. I lost my best friend. Not only that, but I recently found out that his death was connected to my daughter's new boyfriend. And instead of doing the right thing and turning him in, you chose to keep it a secret. Why would you do that? What could ever possess you to betray Vincent like this?"
Gary's bellows were so intense that Jeneda could feel the vibration of his voice through the receiver, and with each passing moment, the shame she felt increased.
Never in her life had her father been so furious with her, and as she came to the realization that their relationship had been irrevocably damaged, the emotions which had been steadily building within her became too much to handle.
Tears stung her eyes, and her body began to shake. Then suddenly, before she even realized what was happening, she began to cry. "I'm sorry, dad," she blubbered. "I know what I did was horrible, but please forgive me."
"We're family, Jeneda. I'm supposed to come first."
"I know, dad. I messed up, and I'm sorry. I should have just come clean with you, but I knew you'd be devastated, and I-"
"Stop. Just *stop*."
The words he spoke were sharp, digging into her like a knife, but what he said next destroyed her even further.
"The more you talk, the more angry I get, so I have to get off the phone. I don't want to see your face or talk to you, so don't call or stop by."
"Dad, *please*. Her voice shook, and a thick lump formed in her throat. "I know I can't take back what I did, but I truly am very deeply sorry."
"Your sorry's mean nothing to me. I'm disgusted and ashamed of you, and I don't even know who you are anymore. You're a stranger to me."
Her heart tore at the pain in his voice, and she opened her mouth to give a response, but before she could, he spoke again.
"I hope he was worth it, Jeneda. I really do."
The line went dead as he hung up, and even after the off-hook tone signaled that the connection had been lost, she continued to hold the receiver in her hand.
For a few moments, all she did was stare down at it, as if expecting her father to come back on the line. Then finally she placed the receiver back in its cradle, and after twenty solid minutes of being alone with her thoughts, she picked the phone back up and dialed Luna's number. To her relief, it only rang twice before Luna picked up, and with a trembling voice, Jeneda spoke.
"Please come over. I don't want to be alone right now, and I really need someone to talk to."
"Jeneda, what's wrong? You sound terrible."
"Everything's wrong, my life is completely screwed." She drew in a deep breath, then shakily let it out before adding, "I don't know what to do, Luna."
"Just hang tight, I'm on my way," Luna said, and without another word, she ended the call.
Jeneda hung up as well, then drew her knees to her chest and tightly hugged them.
* * * *
"Wow." An extended silence followed Luna's words, and staring intently at Jeneda, she asked, "So what are you going to do?"
"Are you going to stay with Dane, or break up with him?" Ethan took a sip from his mug, then leaned slightly forward in anticipation of her answer.
For the past half hour, Jeneda had been updating Luna and Ethan on her unfortunate turn of events, and they were now both fully aware not only of Dane's involvement in Vincent's death, but the brutal physical attack that Adrian and Daniel had carried out, as well as Dane being arrested.
Now seated at Jeneda's kitchen table with mugs of tea in hand, Ethan and Luna waited for her to give a response. Uncertain of how to answer Luna's question, Jeneda left it hanging in the air. But she didn't allow a moment of hesitation in responding to Ethan's inquiry.
"I'm staying with him."
"Really?" Luna asked. "But he's in jail, and probably not getting out anytime soon."
"I'm not turning my back on him. I love him, and I'm sticking with him."
"I know you're emotionally invested, but you have to be smart about this. Because of Dane, you're now estranged from your father, not to mention that Adrian and Daniel are still pissed off, and could come after you again. And now you're deciding to keep this relationship going while he's in jail?" She shook her head, and with brows furrowed in puzzlement, she asked, "Is he really worth all of this?"
"Yes, he is. And I'd really appreciate it if you'd stop being so damn judgmental."
"I'm *worried*, Jeneda. You don't have to agree with me, but I have to voice my opinion. And if I think you're being a dumb ass, then I'm going to come out and say it."
"So now I'm stupid?"
"Your choices are stupid."
"Then that's what you should have said."
"Luna wasn't trying to insult you, Jeneda." Ethan gently placed his hand on Jeneda's arm. "She's just concerned, that's all. And probably worried that you're getting yourself in deeper."
"Things are as bad as they could possibly get. Dane and I have come this far, and stuck it out this long, so what would be the point of breaking up?"
"You need to distance yourself from him," Luna said. "You deserve a good life, and It's clear that he can't give you one, so It's time to move on. Be smart, and end this."
"I don't want to end it. I've put my time and energy into this relationship, and I'm not just going to dump him."
Luna made a sound of disgust, then slammed her mug down on the table. "You asked me to come over and talk with you. Now do you want my help, or not?"
"I never asked for your help, and I don't want advice, either. I just want you to be here and support me."
"How can I do that, when you knowingly keep making bad decisions?"
"You're my friend. You're supposed to be there for me, regardless of your personal opinion."
"No. I don't support self-destructive behavior, and I can't just sit back and watch you fuck up your life. It's a drain on me, and I'm not going to do it. And if that means you don't want to be my friend anymore, then so be it."
"I'm not asking you to condone my decisions, and I don't want you to shoulder my burden. Just be a friend to me, Luna. That's all I'm asking."
Luna crossed her arms, breathed deeply through her nose, and stared intently at Jeneda. "Think about the road you're heading down. Besides phone calls, heavily monitored visits, and letters, you won't have any contact. And he's going to expect you to remain faithful to him."
"And I will, so that won't be an issue for me."
"What if he gets a long sentence?"
"I've gone years without sex before. It's not that big of a deal," Jeneda firmly said."
"Think about the changes he'll go through. When he gets out, he won't be the same man he was before. Not to mention, he'll probably contract all sorts of STD's while he's in there."
Although Jeneda hated to admit it, she knew Luna was speaking the truth, and a raw feeling seared in her stomach.
"Do you really want to be that woman with a locked up man?" Luna asked. "Will you be able to handle not having someone kiss you goodnight, take you out to dinner, or give you emotional and physical attention? Because if you're honestly okay with everything I just mentioned, then I wish you good luck, because It'll be a hell of a challenge."
Her friend's words definitely gave Jeneda a lot to think about, and although she'd already been aware of the difficulties which would arise, Luna had also brought up a few additional concerns that hadn't even crossed her mind. But her decision was solidly made.
"I know I've got a lot to figure out, and clearly It's going to take a toll on our relationship," Jeneda said. "But I'm sticking with Dane."
Luna shrugged, as if to convey nonchalance, but her face conveyed disappointment. "Suit yourself." She then grabbed her mug, rose to her feet, and headed for the kitchen.
Once she was out of hearing range, Ethan said, "She's not really upset with you. You know that, right?"
Jeneda nodded, then absentmindedly traced the rim of her cup. "It's just she can be so judgmental."
"It comes from a caring place. She's afraid for you, that's all."
"There's no need for her to be. I can take care of myself."
"Just a week ago, Adrian tied you up, and Daniel almost raped you. And Dane was here when they did it." The look Ethan gave her only strengthened his words. "Now Dane's in jail, you're all alone, and more vulnerable than before. "I'm sorry, but I really don't think you're in the position to protect yourself."
"I have a gun, Ethan. Dane gave it me a few days ago."
"I own a gun."
"You're joking, right?" He blinked a few times before adding, "Please tell me you aren't serious."
"Weren't you just mentioning how I was a woman living alone, with no way to defend myself?"
"Yes, but that doesn't mean I want you to own a firearm."
"Then what do you suggest, because clearly I'm short on options, here."
It seemed that Ethan was uncertain of how to answer, because a long moment of silence foreshadowed his words. "Alright, so maybe a gun isn't such a bad idea. But do you know how to handle it?"
She nodded. "Dane taught me, so I'm not entirely clueless."
"But have you actually practiced shooting it?"
"No. But if it came down to it, I know I could."
Ethan gave her a long, hard look, as if doubting her words, but before he could voice his concern, the sound of footsteps alerted them that Luna was approaching.
"Please don't tell Luna," Jeneda said. "She'll freak."
"I won't. You have my word."
With a refill of tea in hand, Luna retook her seat, and after taking a long sip of the beverage, she glanced at Jeneda. "What did you guys talk about while I was gone?"
"The same thing we talked about before you left."
Luna shifted her gaze to Ethan, who only nibbled on a Milano cookie. It was clear from the expression on Luna's face that she sensed they weren't being completely truthful with her, but instead of making an issue out of it, she only sat back in her chair and took another sip of the hot liquid.
"So Jeneda, I was thinking it might be good for me to stay here with you. Not forever, but just for a little while."
"I don't like the idea of you being alone."
"I doubt Adrian and Daniel will come after me again."
"What about that other guy? The one that Dane was going to pull the heist for?"
"Slade?" She shook her head, then said, "I'm not worried about him, either."
"Why should I be? I already have enough things on my mind, as it is."
"But Isn't Dane still indebted to him? That was the whole reason he was forced into planning the robbery, right?"
"Well now that Dane is in jail, this Slade guy is really free to come after you. He might even try to use you to settle Dane's debt."
"And you think moving here with me is going to discourage him?"
"Forget I asked."
Luna got to her feet, walked to the door, and grabbed her jacket from the coat rack. Ethan exchanged a glance with Jeneda, then made his way to the door and put on his pea coat. Jeneda barely had time to reach the threshold before Luna opened the door, but before she could go any further, Jeneda gently grabbed her arm.
"You don't have to leave."
"I want to."
"It's not that I don't want you to move in with me," Jeneda said. "I just don't think It'd be the best idea."
"You're right, being alone is better."
"If something happened to you while you were here, I'd never be able to forgive myself."
"It's okay. I understand, and I'm not angry with you."
Her expression softened, and her lips tugged into a soft smile. "Yeah."
The two women hugged, and after parting, Ethan pulled Jeneda into his own embrace.
"Be safe, and keep us updated, okay?"
Jeneda felt the tickle of Ethan's breath as he positioned his lips next to her ear, and in a whisper, he said two words.
She nodded, then watched as he crossed the threshold and followed Luna out of the apartment.
* * * *
The feel of wet clay beneath her hands provided Jeneda with a calming effect, and as she manipulated the huge block of clay into the shape of a female in a seductive pose, the knot in her stomach began to untwist.
Ever since Dane had been arrested six hours ago, her nerves had been on edge, but now that she was in her art studio, with hands and arms covered in clay, she was beginning to feel just a little less sorrowful.
Nothing had more of a tranquilizing effect on her than creating sculptures, and as she maneuvered her fingers against the squishy, earthy material, she found that her troubles were pushed to the back of her mind.
It took the ringing of her cell phone to break her trance-like state, and after wiping her hands off with a damp washcloth, she retrieved her mobile from a stool.
"This is a collect call from an inmate at San Francisco County Jail," a muffled recording relayed. "Press one to accept, or two to deny the charges."
Jeneda pressed the number on her keypad to accept, and after a few seconds of silence, Dane's voice came onto the line.
"Hi, sweetie. How's it going?"
"Better, now that I'm talking to you." He gave brief pause before continuing. "Sorry it took me so long to call you, but it took awhile for me to get through the booking process."
"It's okay, I'm just glad to hear from you."
"I'm so sorry about the way things turned out. You seeing me get arrested had to be the most unromantic thing ever."
"Hey, It's alright. It's not like either of us was expecting that to happen."
"No, It's not alright. Ever since you started dating me, It's been one thing after another. And now, just when things were starting to get a little better, this happens." He blew out a heavy breath, then said, "I haven't been much of a boyfriend to you at all."
"You've done the best that you can, considering your situation," Jeneda said. "Don't beat yourself up for things that were out of your control."
"I know I shouldn't, but I can't help it." He exhaled deeply through his nose. "Listen, I don't know how long It'll be before I go to trial, but I'm gonna need you to take care of some things for me."
"You're not posting bail?"
"I deserve to be here, Jeneda. I committed a crime."
"You were forced into it, Dane. You don't deserve to be jailed."
"Yes, I *do*. I'm paying for what I did."
Although he didn't go into detail, Jeneda could tell by the tone of his voice that he was referring to Vincent's death, and as she came to the realization that a prison sentence was inevitable for him, a sickness spread in the pit of her stomach.
Her legs buckled, and she slowly sank to her knees on the cold cement floor. Her breathing came quicker, and she reached up to cradle her forehead in her hands.
"Jeneda?" Dane's voice was laced with concern.
"What's wrong? Why aren't you talking?"
"I'm sorry, I'm just a little shocked. I thought you were going to fight this."
"I can't fight it. I'm here for a reason, and you know that."
"So you're just going to accept whatever sentence they give you?"
"I never said I wasn't getting an attorney. I'm just not posting bail."
"So where does this leave us?"
"I want you to continue being my girlfriend, Jeneda, but this isn't my decision to make. The choice is in your hands."
Still stunned, she waited a few moments before speaking, then in a voice husky with emotion, she said, "I'm not giving up on you, Dane. We've been through too much to just throw our relationship away."
"So you'll wait for me?"
"I've given my heart to you, how could I not?"
Dane blew out a deep breath, and in a voice that conveyed relief, he said, "You don't know how good that makes me feel."
"I'm not just saying it, I really mean it."
"Yeah, I know you do, babe." Yet as quickly as his spirits lifted, he once again fell into a distressed state. "I don't know how I'm gonna get through this. I already miss you so much."
"I miss you, too."