Dare Me Ch. 02byhoneywldcat©
*Sorry for the delay in getting this submitted. I really do appreciate and look forward to all of your feedback and comments on my stories. I hope you all enjoy this installment and the next one will be coming in a couple of days. The story is complete, just doing final edits. Don't forget to let me know what you think!!!*
What in the hell just happened??? Daren was lost. Stephanie just walked away and he was still standing there stunned beyond belief. Why did she just leave like that? Sure, he shouldn't have acted the way he did. He shouldn't have stalked up to her and demanded to know when they were leaving, but, hell, shouldn't he know? Why didn't she tell him? Because you never asked, jackass, Daren reminded himself.
Jake knocked him out of his stupor by punching him in the arm, "You are an idiot."
Jessica poked him in the chest, "You arrogant bastard! This is the first time we've gotten Stephanie on a vacation in two years and you go and ruin it!"
Daren finally focused on Jessica's words, "In two years?"
She threw her hands in the air, "Yes! Jeff did a number on her and she wouldn't go anywhere!"
He was beginning to feel like a damned parrot repeating everything she said, "Jeff?"
Jessica poked him in the chest again, "It's none of your damned business!"
Looking around for Chase, Daren realized he was gone and asked, "Where in the hell is Chase?"
Jake was the only one who would answer, the others turned their backs to him, "He followed Stephanie."
Stephanie didn't let the tears fall, she absolutely refused. Walking aimlessly, more or less towards the hotel, she fumed and cursed all men. Especially, sexy Navy Seals. What right did he have to talk to her like that? What was he so mad about anyway? It wasn't like he asked when she was leaving!
She was about to stop in a little tourist shop that sold key chains, mugs, and the like when she felt like someone was following her, watching her. Picking up a pair of sunglasses, she pretended to try them on; tilting her head one way then the other, taking the opportunity to look behind her and to her sides with the mirror. Finally, she saw him.
He was behind her with his back to her now, pretending interest in a t-shirt. Fed up with overbearing jerks, Stephanie whipped off the sunglasses and stormed towards him. She hit his arm and demanded, "Why are you following me?"
At least Chase had the decency to look ashamed, "I just wanted to make sure you were OK."
Stephanie narrowed her eyes at him, "Did he tell you to follow me?"
He shook his head no, "Last I saw, Jessica was giving him hell."
Even though she would swear against it, Daren not coming for her hurt, but at least Jessica had her back. As Stephanie turned to walk away, Chase grabbed her arm, "What happened back there?"
Stephanie felt her face flush and she feigned ignorance, "I don't know what you are talking about." She sighed when Chase arched an eyebrow at her, "It doesn't matter, Chase. I'm fine. Go back to your friends. I plan to go back to the hotel and stay in my room until we leave tomorrow afternoon."
Chase's voice was sincere and almost soothing, "I know he went about it wrong, Shorty, but he wasn't trying to upset you."
No, Stephanie didn't want to admit it, but she knew Chase was right. It was her fault that she overreacted. Then it dawned on her. What had she done? Like an idiot, she walked away from the only man she'd been interested in since Jeff.
Stephanie's eyes rounded as big as saucers and she knew it. She groaned, "Oh shit."
Playfully, Chase nudged her arm, "Don't worry about it. If I know him, he'll be calling me here shortly."
She groaned, "He'll hate me, Chase! After the way I acted back there...why would he even want to talk to me again? It's not like we really know each other!"
Chase shrugged his shoulders, "Why don't we go grab a drink somewhere until he calls?"
Without really thinking about it, she followed Chase mutely. The thoughts running through her head almost had her head spinning like Linda Blair's in the Exorcist. Though she kept telling herself that not all men were like Jeff, it was hard to trust again. She wanted to be able to, but it was almost impossible. Sometimes it was hard just to open her front door and not cringe. Stephanie loved her job and working with children and that was the only thing that kept her going most days.
Who could blame her though? Living in constant fear had that affect on a person. How many people had to check their brake lines before driving their car? How many people had to make sure there wasn't a snake in their mailbox? How many people had to make sure that someone wasn't going to try and run them off the road while driving?
When Chase nudged her arm, Stephanie looked up to see that they were outside of a bar, "Yeah?"
Chase watched her face intently for a moment, "I hope you can tell me about what has you pale as a ghost."
Clearing her throat, "I don't know. I guess it might not hurt to tell you?" She looked at him as they sat at a small table, "Why is it easy to talk to you?"
He winked at her, "It's my charm."
After she and Chase ordered a couple of drinks, she looked at Chase trying to read him. Stephanie knew she needed to talk to someone about all of the things going on, but really didn't know where to start. It was bad enough that the police treated her like she was making up the string of mishaps that Jeff had caused over the past few months. She only hoped Chase wouldn't feel the same way.
Taking a deep breath, she told him, "A couple of years ago, two now, I met a guy. At first he seemed great, but after about six months things started to change. He became extremely possessive to the point of picking out my clothes, telling me where to go and who I could be around." Stephanie took a drink of her Jack and Coke, "I thought I loved him. I wanted to make him happy, so I dumbly allowed it all to take place. I wanted to be in love and wanted to be loved so much, I would have done anything."
Chase gripped his beer, his voice was soft and soothing as he asked, "What happened when you couldn't take it anymore?"
Stephanie shrugged her shoulders, "It was after a school function, we'd been together for almost a year and a half. One of my student's parents came to me and hugged me, thanking me for helping his son improve. It was completely innocent, but Jeff didn't see it that way. I could see the look in his eyes, the rage and hatred." Stephanie shivered at the memory, "On the way home that night..." she paused, "he was cold. He told me how much of a whore I was to encourage another man to touch me." She heard Chase curse under his breath, but continued on, "When we finally got home, that was the night he hit me. Several times, he'd hit me over and over. I was in shock, I know that now. By the time he was done, I had three broken ribs and my wrist was broke as well."
Through gritted teeth he asked, "Did you file charges?"
"I...I tried. The police didn't believe me. He had already gone into the station and told them that someone had attacked us when we entered the house and filed a police report. He even convinced them that because I'd hit my head, I was confused and thought he'd done it." Stephanie felt the tears pool in her eyes and as they slipped down her face, "I moved out while he was at work. Installed an alarm system in the house that I rented and hoped he'd just leave me alone. After that, he'd show up at the school. He'd follow me and show up everywhere I went. It wasn't like I could stop him either. I went to the police to file a restraining order and they told me I didn't have sufficient grounds to get one."
Chase wrapped his arms around her, hugging her tight, "Damn, shorty. Has he stopped?"
Strangely enough, Stephanie felt some of the tension leave her, "No, not completely. I found a baby copperhead in my mailbox, but there was no proof that he'd put it there. Someone tampered with the brake lines on my car and I wrecked my car when the brakes went out. The latest was almost a month ago. Someone ran me off the road and into a ditch." She looked up at Chase, "Do you believe me? The police don't. They think I'm making it all up."
"Stephanie, I believe you. There is no way in hell that you'd make that up." Chase thought for a moment, "Have you thought of hiring someone to check into him, to get proof?"
She told Chase, "No one will do it. I've called three places and all three of them told me that they couldn't or wouldn't. He's the county attorney. Everyone is afraid to do anything or refuses to believe that he could do this stuff."
Chase's cell phone rang and he glanced down at it, "It's Dare. Let me answer it, ok?"
Stephanie didn't stick around while Chase was on the phone with Daren. She went to the restroom and splashed cold water on her face. She still couldn't believe that she told Chase everything, but was glad she did. The fact that he believed her, helped immensely; she didn't feel alone. As she walked back to where he was sitting, Chase stood and laid a few bills on the table.
"Are you ready to head to the hotel?"
Nodding, "Yeah, thank you for listening."
On the way back to the hotel, she and Chase talked about some of the antics him and the other guys had pulled over the years. Stephanie had laughed so hard at times that her ribs even hurt. He escorted her to her room and outside the door Chase told her, "I wish it had been me that you fell into today."
Stephanie could tell he meant it, but though she liked Chase, the chemistry wasn't there. She went on tip-toes and kissed his cheek, "I think you are great, but I..."
"I know, shorty. You are Daren's." His voice sounded resigned, "Here's my cell number, if you ever need anything...anything whatsoever, just call."
Stephanie went into her room, closed and locked the door. She decided that a long shower was called for, as she was getting out of the shower, her cell phone rang. She let it go to voicemail. After drying her hair and throwing on a robe, she settled in on the bed and picked up her cell phone. She had three messages. The first one was from Jessica. The second one was from Jeff.
It made her skin crawl that no matter how many times she changed her number, he managed to get it. His voice was cold and mean, filled with hatred, "Do you really think you can leave me? I know where you are and will be waiting when you get back!" She wanted to delete the call, but didn't. She needed proof of what he was doing and the threats he made.
The third message was from Daren. His raspy voice was filled with concern, "Stephanie, please call me back. I just need to know you are OK. I need to apologize...just call me, please."
So Chase was right. He doesn't hate me after all, she thought to herself. After returning Jessica's call and assuring her that they would meet for breakfast in the morning, she gathered up her courage.
Stephanie almost gave up when Daren's phone rang for the fifth time, "Stephanie?"
She bit her bottom lip at the sensations that went through her body from just his voice, clearing her throat, "Hi, Daren."
"I'm sorry, baby. I didn't mean..."
Stephanie cut him off, "Daren, its ok. I overreacted. I'm the one who's sorry."
Daren asked her, "Will you meet me somewhere? I just want to see you. I need to know you are really OK."
"Chase told you, didn't he?"
When he didn't answer right away, Stephanie knew he did, "Yes. Don't blame him. He just wanted to help somehow and we found a way we could, if you want us to."
"I'll think about it. What did you all have in mind?" Stephanie asked. She still had a hard time believing in the connection she felt to Daren from the beginning. Somehow, he'd gotten through all of her walls that she built around herself.
He dropped his voice even lower, "Meet me for dinner. We can talk about it then."
Stephanie took a leap of faith and suggested, "Why don't you just come to my room? We can order pizza or some take out."
"Baby, if we are anywhere close to a bed..."
She wanted to feel him close to her. She needed to feel his lips on hers again. Stephanie felt her heart beat speed up, "Room 217."
Stephanie had barely closed her phone and stood up when there was a knock on her door. She slowly walked towards the door and peeked out through the peep hole. Daren stood there looking sexy as hell even through the distorted view. She took a deep breath and opened the door.
Daren's voice died in his throat when he saw Stephanie. She opened the door wearing only a powder blue silk robe. It came to mid thigh and showed a good amount of cleavage. He felt like he was going to swallow his tongue just looking at her. No matter how much he willed it, his cock filled out and hardened behind his zipper. He clenched his fists and closed his eyes, trying not to reach for her.
"I didn't think you'd get here that quick."
Daren opened his eyes and looked into hers, "I was afraid you'd change your mind." He leaned against the door frame, "Add to the fact that my room is only three doors down the hall..."
Her surprised laugh about did him in, "I didn't realize."
Stephanie opened the door wider in silent invitation for him to enter. Daren walked in, "I missed you."
He watched as she closed the door and locked it. In a soft voice she admitted, "I missed you, too."
Daren wrapped his arms around her and hugged her tight. Without hesitation, her arms clutched him and she buried her face into his chest. When she pushed back slightly and her hands rubbed his chest, he groaned. He closed his eyes as he felt her hands run up his chest. When her hands settled on his shoulders, he looked down at her. She licked her lips and stared into his eyes, "Kiss me, Daren."