tagRomanceBetween Two Friends

Between Two Friends

byGhostwalker©

(Edited by 'larryinseattle' without whom my stories would never be more than simple tales)

*****

Tyler and I had been friends from the moment we met. Actually, that's not quite true. The first time I met her I told her that Tyler was a boy's name not a girl's. Her answer was to hit me in the arm, telling me, "Tyler is too a girl's name and I should know because I'm a girl."

Her answer seemed logical to an 8 year-old and from that point on we were inseparable. My family had moved into the house next to theirs just a few days after they'd moved in as well. The neighborhood was 'in transition' my dad said since older people were moving out and younger couples with kids were moving in. Not that it meant a whole lot to either of us. Within a week we were going everywhere together; school, the store, the park, the library, even the movies. If you found one of us somewhere, the other wasn't far behind.

As we grew older, many people began to assume that we'd become 'a couple' and start dating but neither of us wanted to risk our friendship on something as unstable as a teenage romance. Instead, we continued to hang around together while asking for advice from a 'member of the opposite sex' about dating, relationships, and even sex. More years went by and after graduation, she left for college while I stayed behind to take over my father's jewelry store.

Three more years drifted by and then one day I saw her sitting on the front porch of her parent's house when I had stopped by to visit my parents. She was thin, her hair looked dirty and was blowing in the breeze, and her clothes looked like she'd been wearing them forever.

"HI," I yelled as I stepped from my car but she didn't answer, instead continuing to stare ahead as if nothing in the world mattered. I cut across her front yard and was within a few feet when I called out again, "Hey you."

She jumped and spun towards me. "Oh, hi," she replied in a low whisper, while she wrapped her arms across the front of her chest.

"How you been doing? I haven't heard anything from you for almost a year."

"I ... I," she started to answer but instead of finishing, she jumped to her feet as tears streamed down her face and ran inside her parent's house.

Confused, and more than a little concerned, I began to follow only to be stopped as her mother came to the door.

"Hey, Mrs. J. What's going on with Ty?"

"Shhhhhhh," she said, quietly. "Let's go outside."

My inner alarms instantly went off as we walked back to my car to get out of the cold, late Fall wind.

"I'm really sorry she treated you like that. It's just ..." she hesitated, tears forming in her eyes as well. "Well, things didn't go quite the way she'd hoped at school."

"What happened? Did she fail one of her courses or something?"

"No, it's not that."

"What then?"

"Her boyfriend ..."

"What about him? I thought everyone was saying what a great guy he was."

"I guess we were wrong."

"What did he do?" I growled as my protective instinct surged forward. "Did he hurt her?"

"Mmmmm, he ... mmmmm ... he wanted to ... ahhhhhh ... take things to the next level but Ty wasn't ready and he ..." she faltered.

"He WHAT?"

Mrs. J sat in silence, trying to decide just how much she could or should tell me, before continuing. "Since you're almost family, I'm sure you'll find out sooner or later but he ... he raped her," she finished, the last words almost in a whisper.

Instead of a whisper the words seemed as loud as if they'd been blasted through a huge set of speakers. "He ...?"

Her answer was a barely noticeable nod of her head.

"When?"

"Two weeks ago. Apparently they went out on a date and he gave her a ring. Not an engagement ring but something he called a 'commitment ring'. He said it meant they'd be together as long as they both wanted to and that now they could ... mmmmm ... you know. She said 'No' that she still wasn't ready and he got mad. She told me that the last thing she remembers is him pushing her onto the bed. After that, nothing, until she woke up the next morning. She was still on the bed and he was passed out next to her. Her clothes had been ripped off and were thrown all over the floor. She felt a terrible pain between her legs so she slid from the bed and went into the bathroom. When she checked, there was blood between her legs along with ..." again she left the words unsaid. "She left and went to the hospital and they called the police. In the meantime, they did all the tests and such they needed to do and then called us. When we got there, they released her and we brought her home."

"What happened to the son of a bitch that did this to her?"

"He insisted that she had agreed to having sex and things got carried away. We're still waiting to hear from the District Attorney to see if he's going to charge him with rape."

"Fuck," I whispered before thinking about who I was sitting with. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't be using that kind of language in front of a lady."

She laughed, softly, as she replied, "Don't be. I said a lot worse when I found out what he'd done."

"So what can I do to help?"

"I'm honestly not sure right now but if I think of anything, I'll let your mom know and she can get a hold of you."

"Here," I said, as I took out one of my business cards and wrote my personal cell phone number on the back. "This is my personal number. Call me anytime, day or night."

"Thank you. You always were there for Ty when she needed you."

"Hey, don't put any halo on my head. Ty was there more than a few times for me, too."

Afterwards, we hugged and she walked back to her house while I went inside and spent the evening with my parents.

By noon the following day I got a call from Mrs. J.

"Hello, this is Kevin."

"Hi, Kevin this is Mrs. J. Did you really mean it when you said you'd like to help Ty?"

"Of course. What can I do for you?"

"Well, Ty hasn't gone back to her apartment since the night this all happened. She's afraid her ex or one of his friends might try to make her change her version of what happened that night so she doesn't have anything to wear other than what they gave her at the hospital."

"So, you want me to go back to her apartment with her?"

"No, no, nothing like that. Who knows might happen if you and her ex ran into each other. I'd hate to see you land up in jail. Besides, his lawyer got some type of court order so no one can enter the apartment. Something about any disturbing evidence. Personally, I think it's just a cruel way to try and force Ty to do what they want."

"You're probably right," I replied. "I'd definitely like to get this guy in a dark alley somewhere."

"You and me both," she snickered before continuing. "But what I was wondering is if you'd mind taking her to one of the malls to get some clothes. I'll give you some money but the two of you decide which one. That way if 'Mr. Asshole' shows up, I can honestly say I don't know where Ty is."

Inwardly, I groaned at the idea of going shopping but I had offered. "No problem. I usually close the store at about 7 P.M. but if business is slow I could close up earlier."

"Actually, I was hoping you could do it on Saturday. Her father and I have some running to do and we really don't want to leave her alone."

"Deal. I'll be there at about 9 o'clock. I think the malls open at around 10 so it will give her and I a little time to talk and for her to get comfortable being with me again."

"That sounds fantastic. Thank you so much. See you Saturday morning."

Before I could say anything more, I heard the 'click' as she hung up the phone.

Not too surprising, I got more and more nervous as the week continued. 'What would we talk about? What things could I ask? Should I even let her know that I knew about what had happened or wait for her to say something? Worse yet, where do I even take her? The only times I've ever gone to the mall for women's clothing was when I went to the lingerie department to get 'a little something' for whatever women I was dating at the time.' The questions swirled around in my head to the point that I barely slept Friday night and woke up with a huge headache Saturday morning. The solution? Three extra-strength aspirin, a hot shower, and a hot cup of double-strength tea.

I got to her parent's house by 8:45 and spent the next 15 minutes slowly cruising around the neighborhood looking for anything or anyone 'unusual', not that I had any idea what I'd do if I did see anything. At exactly 9 o'clock I pulled into their driveway. I got out of the car and walked to the door, knocked, and waited ... and waited ... and waited. After what seemed like an eternity, I slowly opened the door and walked in. It wasn't as if it was something new. I had been there so often as a kid that Ty's parents occasionally joked that it felt like they had two children.

What I walked in to was anything but what I had hoped.

"I don't wanna go out."

"Listen to me young lady. You're not going to keep hiding in this house. What happened, happened. I'm not saying it was right or that you shouldn't feel the things you're feeling but even your counselor said you need to get back into some of your old routines."

"She doesn't know what it's like. She doesn't understand."

"Then why are you even bothering to go? In fact, why even bother to talk to the D.A. about this? Let 'Mr. Asshole' get away with it. Let him ruin your life. Let him walk around 'free and clear' while you hide in this room with the drapes closed. Besides, your father and I need to run some errands today and it's only Kev, after all."

Ty must have sensed me standing inside the doorway because she suddenly looked up, a startled look on her face.

"Sorry. I didn't mean to interfere. I knocked but no one answered so I kinda let myself in."

Mrs. J. looked over her shoulder at me. "It's okay, Kev. As you heard, Ty and I are having a bit of a difference of opinion about what she should be doing with her time."

"I'm sorry, Kev. I just don't feel like going to the mall. Too many people I guess."

I stood there for a moment thinking about options. "In that case, I have just the thing."

"But ..."

"No buts. Let's go," I insisted as I took her hand and pulled her from the couch.

"I don't ..."

"Yeah, yeah, yeah. I heard it all but this is me you're talkin' to. Have you EVER known me to quit once I set my mind to somethin?"

"Well, there was that time you wanted to ask Stacy for a date and then the time ..."

"Okay, okay, but those don't count. They were when I was younger. NOW, I'm old 'Mr. Get-It-Done'," I finished as I bent my arm at the elbow to pop up the slightly larger than normal muscle.

For the first time since I'd seen her, I saw the corners of her lips turn up in a small smile. "Okay, I give up," she replied as she stopped resisting.

When we got to the car, I held the passenger's side door open and bowed, jokingly. "Your chariot awaits, Madam."

"Thank you, Jeezes," she replied, as we jokingly replayed the roles we'd had since high school when I'd pick her up for school.

I slipped into the driver's seat, saying, "Okay beautiful. Where to?"

The mood instantly changed and I knew I'd made a mistake as I'd continued with our old 'role play'.

"I'm not beautiful," she whispered, tears starting to form in the corners of her eyes. "Not anymore."

"HEY, hey, hey. None of that bullshit in my car. It's too hard to clean up," I tried to joke. "Besides, you'll always be beautiful as far as I'm concerned, even when you're a couple of hundred years old." My response must have worked because when she turned and looked at me, a smile and the barest glimmer of her old self had appeared.

"I don't know. It's been three years since I've spent any real time around here. Where should we go?"

"Hmmmmmm," I replied as I thought. "Do you trust me?"

"Yeah."

"I mean really, REALLY trust me?"

"Why?"

"Just answer 'Yes' or 'No'."

"Yes."

"Then lean back and relax. We've got a bit of a drive ahead of us."

"What about my mom and dad?"

"I'll let them know," I said as I slid out of my car and walked back into the house. I returned less than a minute later with her mother's approval of my idea.

"Okay, all set," I said as I got back in the driver's seat and pulled from the driveway.

Ty's eyes and head were constantly in motion, looking and double-checking, every corner and car we passed.

"Relax."

"I can't. Everywhere I look I think I see 'him'."

"Maybe this will help," I said as I popped in a CD, the song 'Cruisin' flowing from the speakers.

"I haven't heard this in years," she sighed as she leaned back in her seat. 'Sittin' By the Dock of the Bay' was followed by a multitude of Motown songs from my collection as time and distance slid by. After about an hour, I pulled over, stopping at an A&W for lunch.

"Hey, I think I recognize this place," she said as she got out of the car.

"Could be," replied.

We had a couple of burgers, some fries, and Root Beer while sitting at a picnic table enjoying the warm, sun. I watched as the tension in her shoulders slowly slipped away.

"Just one more stop," I said, still leaving the destination unknown as we drove away from the restaurant. Fifteen minutes later I pulled over again.

"Now I know where we're heading," she said, as she exited the car in front of 'The General Store'.

"Where's that?"

"Your Grandparent's cottage."

"Well, actually, it's my cottage now. After my grandpa died, grandma decided the place was too much for her to take care of so she gave it to me."

"Wow. That's really nice. I remember how much you loved it. I even remember being envious when you'd come back from a couple of weeks up here during the Summer."

"Why didn't you say anything? I'm sure my parents and grandparents would've loved to have you come up here, too."

"I thought about it but my parents always sent me to 'camp' and then later I was dating," she paused trying to remember the name of the guy she'd been seeing, "I think it was Terry. Anyway, it just never seemed to work out except for the weekend when the whole group from school came up here."

"Yeah, we barely got a chance to see each other that weekend. You were always with ... uuummmm, who was it then? Jeff? And I was dating Carrie."

"That's right! Say, whatever happened to her? The two of you were getting pretty serious and then 'WHAM', she was gone."

"It seems I wasn't the only guy she was seeing. She was dating some guy from the university and he got her pregnant."

"Ahhhh," she replied, suddenly quiet again.

"So what do ya say? Should we go inside and get you somethin' to wear for the weekend?"

"Weekend?" she said in surprise.

"Yep. That's what I talked to your mom about. At first she wasn't quite sure but then I reminded her I was 'only Kev' so what could she say but yes."

She laughed as she realized I'd used her mother's words against her. "Yep, nothing she could really say."

We entered the store and while I wandered through the Sporting Goods and Grocery areas, she went through the women's clothing area, such as it was. By time we were done, I had two small bags; one filled with groceries and the other with a new set of liners for my snow boots. She, on the other hand, had four bags, stuffed with jeans, sweaters, tops, a pair of tennis shoes, a pair of hiking boots, a Winter coat and a woolen hat, as well as a backpack stuffed with what she called her 'intimate girlie things'. I was just glad that I had my 'get-away bag' with enough clothes and other necessities in the trunk of my car.

We drove for another hour and the scenery slowly changed from gently rolling farmland to forests of pine, birch, oak, and hazel.

"Gawd," she sighed. "This smells so good."

"That's part of the reason I love it up here. That, and the fact that I can get away from all the stress and other crap going on back at home."

"Lucky you," she said, the underlying tone of anger and depression I'd heard earlier in the day all but gone.

When we got to the cottage, we sat in the car giving Ty a chance to look it over. It really wasn't anything all that special. A 60-foot by 10-foot mobile home parked on a 3-acre piece of wooded land with a boat landing close enough that we could see it through the woods during the Winter yet far enough away that we didn't hear most of the noise during the Summer.

"So what do you think?"

"Right now, I thinks it's the most beautiful place in the world," she sighed.

"Glad to hear it," I called over my shoulder as I got out and walked to the front door. I quickly unlocked it and then headed behind the trailer. "I haven't been here in a couple of weeks so there's a few things I need to take care of. I'll meet you inside. If you want to grab some of the stuff you got, just take it and throw it in the back bedroom."

"I thought that was the main bedroom?"

"It is."

"So, didn't you move into that room when the place became yours?"

"It may sound kinda funny but I've been livin' in the smaller room all my life so I just never got around to movin' anything."

"Oh."

"But hey, if you want the smaller room and that squeaky old bed in there maybe now would be a good time for me to move to the bigger room," I teased.

"Not on your life, buster. I still remember that bed from the last time I was here. I think the futon in the living room was probably more comfortable."

"Hey!! Watch how you talk about my humble abode. It just happens that the bed and mattress have been 'broken in' over the years so they fit me just prefect."

"Well then. You can have your 'prefect' bed and I'll take your grandparent's bed."

"Okay, be that way," I teased, stomping the ground as I walked away to turn on the water pump and propane gas. It only took a few moments but by time I got back, Ty had emptied the car of her stuff, my stuff, and the groceries.

She was rummaging through the cabinets when I came in to light the pilot light on the furnace. As soon as I was done, I came back into the kitchen.

"Where's the pots and pans?" she asked without even looking over her shoulder.

"What for?"

"Well, duhhhh. Unless you plan on eating that roast you bought raw, I need to start thawing and seasoning it."

"Actually, I had thought maybe we'd take a walk down to the boat landing tonight. There's a small bar and restaurant there that usually has a local band on Saturday nights."

"I'm not sure," she hesitated. "It was ... we were ... 'THAT' night was a Saturday and we'd gone out to a bar and restaurant to listen to a band a friend of his was in."

"Ahhhhh," I replied. "Sorry. I didn't know."

She gave me a quizzical look, when she looked over her shoulder. Then, placing the roast in the fridge, she turned towards me. "You're right. You don't know a lot about what happened. Why's that?"

"What do you mean?"

"Why haven't you asked about what happened?"

"I just kinda figured that when the time was right you'd tell me."

"I think now might be a good time," she whispered as she took a seat.

I sat in a chair on the other side of the kitchen table and waited.

After taking a deep breath, she began. "Dale, that's my ex's name ..."

"Yeah, I know."

"Anyway, he and I met the last semester of my sophomore year at the university. We had a lot of mutual friends and it just seemed that we were always paired up together. Eventually, we started to date outside the group and got closer until we made it 'official' as a couple. After that, things went kinda quick and by the beginning of this last year, he wanted us to move in together. I told him I wasn't ready and even though he said he was okay with that, I could tell he wasn't happy about it. Each time we went out, he got more and more 'familiar' with me; kissing me more passionately, running his hands over my body, grabbing a little here and touching a little there but I never let him go 'all the way'. To tell you the truth it wasn't that I didn't want to ... gawd, he'd got me so worked up a couple of times I thought I was about to scream. It was just ..." she faltered. "Just that I'd never ..."

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