Friday, June 27, 2014

Forever Friends

Monday was a blur.

Tuesday was a blur.

Wednesday, I rode a greyhound bus to Illinois for the Big Ten Championships for tennis.  I stared out the window watching the flat, not-yet-sprouting corn fields of Iowa flying by, lost in my thoughts, unsure of how to manage my emotions.  I had offered to not go to Illinois to be at home with my family but my dad had told me over the phone he didn't want me to stop living, because he sure hadn't. 

I hadn't cried since leaving my parent's house.  I was numb.  Sarah, Elena, and Maddie had all questioned me multiple times if I was alright, but I brushed them off, telling them I was fine.  I avoided them for the most part, because I wasn't ready to talk.  I was in bed by 9 p.m. (though not sleeping until much later), attended all my classes, and consumed my thoughts and time with studying, writing papers, and tennis practice.  Luke had also called and texted me multiple times, but I had giving him the exact amount of time and attention that I had my friends.  It's not that I wanted to avoid them, or pretend like everything was okay, but I wasn't okay, and I wasn't ready for the sympathetic questions and questioning glances, eyes shifting away when I look at them.  I had a friend from high school whose mother had passed away, and that's what she had told me it was like.  She had appreciated my ability to speak to her like a normal human being, not focusing on her pain or sadness.

But speaking of Luke, it had reminded me that I had a missed call from Detective Stratton's cell phone, and he had left me a voicemail Sunday evening, when I was at my parent's house.  I still hadn't checked it.  All else had faded away, except for thoughts of my family when I allowed myself to think.  I also was avoiding the stress of whatever Detective Stratton may have to say, because I didn't know how much more I could handle.  Or how much I wanted to even know at the moment.  I think I had subconsciously decided to wait until tennis was over, so it was one less thing on my plate.

I decided to listen to the message.  I didn't have anything else to do except watch bare cornfields and think.  Detective Stratton had stated that Monday wouldn't have worked for him, but Tuesday would have.  Clearly I missed that.  I didn't want to have a conversation with Detective Stratton where the rest of the team could hear me, so I shot him a text, hoping that wasn't too weird.

Hey Brad.  Sorry about not calling you back.  Had some things going on.  On my way to IL now.  Not sure when I'll be back.  Can we meet up next week sometime?

I hit send, satisfied that I had at least reached out to him.  I took a deep breath, pushing my shoulders back and down, aware of how tense I was, and holding all the stress in my shoulders and neck.  I reached up to the right back and side of my neck to start rubbing at the knot I could feel forming.  I closed my eyes to fully focus my eyes on the knot when I felt the seat bounce next to me.

I looked over to see Cara, my doubles partner, had plopped down.  She stared me right in the eyes.  "What's wrong."  She didn't ask, she demanded.

"Nothing." I closed my eyes to go back to focusing on the knot, willing Cara to leave.

Silence.  I counted to 30, waiting for her to say something.  When she didn't, I figured she had slipped away.  I sighed and opened my eyes to see Cara still sitting there staring right at me.  I jumped.

"Okay, creeper."  I tried to make it sound like I was joking, but my voice was flat.  Emotionless.

"Aleah, come on," she said softly.  "You can sit there and pretend like nothing is wrong to everyone else.  You can lie to your boyfriend, your best friend, your roommates, whoever.  But not to me.  I'm your DP.  We've experienced good and bad together for 2 years.  We traveled together, laughed, cried, fought, and carried each other.  We need to be in sync on the court and off.  If you shut me out, we can't."

I looked at her blankly.  I knew she was right.  Although Sarah was my bestest of best friends, Cara and I had a bond that I didn't have with anyone else because of being in that athletic partnership so intensely.  After our first school year playing together, we took that summer and traveled around the United States almost every weekend playing in tournaments, to become better tennis players, and better partners.  Living in hotels together every weekend for a couple of months made us dear friends, too. 

My face fell, and a tear slipped out, and I felt it trail slowly down my face, over my cheek bone, down the corner of my lip, to my chin.  I felt it coming on.  The ugly cry.  My face scrunched up and Cara quickly wrapped me in her arms and I silent-sobbed on her shoulder.  Snot and all.  But I kept it as quiet as possible, to not draw attention to myself.  I stayed like that for awhile.  I don't know how long.  When I finally sniffled and sat up, I saw out the window across the aisle that there were still flat cornfields and windmills.  Iowa.

Cara didn't ask me again what was wrong.  I hunched down in the seat, propping my knees up against the seat in front of me, leaning my head on her shoulder.  We started watching Orange is the New Black on my tablet, and stayed like that for several episodes.  The battery flashed 15%, and I shut it off.

I turned to Cara and spilled everything.  I backed all the way up to Zach and my trip to New York.  I gushed about how much I loved and missed him.  I told her how my heart felt like a piece of it was missing.  I expressed how much fun I had had with Luke, and how good he was treating me, but how several bizarre things happened.  I told her about finding the pills and taking them to Detective Stratton.  I admitted to feeling deceived.  I told Cara all about how I didn't know what route to take.  That I feared they wouldn't have evidence I was drugged, even if the pills did prove to be something illegal.  I expressed wanting to please everyone and not get anyone in trouble.  I told her about my dad.  The overwhelming thoughts and "what if's" that could happen.  I told her I felt weak and helpless, and unclear about how to handle each of these situations.

She sat there, not saying a word, listening to everything I had to say.  I didn't cry.  I told her everything matter-of-factly, but with more emotion than I had expressed since Sunday.

And when I was done, I felt empty.  Not in a drained, numb way, but rather, in a "I was on the brink of combustion" way.  I felt relieved.  I laughed.  And laughed for awhile.  At first Cara smiled at me politely, probably confused at my bizarre turn of emotions, but then laughed as well.  My laugh sparked hers.  And her laughing was like adding gasoline to my already out of control laughing fire.

Finally my laughing subsided to giggles, and I took a couple deep breaths, attempting to calm myself.  Cara pulled me into a side hug.  At that moment, the bus was coming to a stop at Wendy's.  Dinner time.  And we were in Illinois.  I turned to Cara before we exited the bus.  "Thank you."

She smiled knowingly.  "You're welcome."

The rest of the trip went smoothly.  Well, except the team lost in the first round, so we headed back to Nebraska on Friday.  I had texted back and forth briefly with Detective Stratton, and we had decided to meet a week from the Friday I came back, because it was the last week of classes, and I could focus on finishing up final papers and such.

Seeing as how the next week was the last week of classes, Luke, my roommates, and everyone else I knew, was busy writing papers, attending class, buckling down for final exams the week after.  Of course in the class that Luke and I shared, he sat next to me, trying to playfully flirt with me.  I managed to act normal enough to keep him at bay, but I knew I would need to address everything soon enough.  We really hadn't spent any time together, either, so I knew that eventually he would ask me to hang out, and I would probably have to address a lot of my issues then.

The night before I was to meet with Detective Stratton, I was in the apartment writing a paper when Sarah, Maddie, and Elena marched in to the apartment, single file.  It was 9:45 p.m.  I was sitting on the couch with my legs folded under me, my laptop appropriately on my lap.  I looked up as they formed a half circle in front of me, looking down at me.  Sarah was in the middle.

She uttered two words.  "Friend intervention."

I groaned and closed my laptop as Maddie pulled out a 12 pack of Coca Cola, and Elena offered out chips and salsa.  Sarah had a pack of Phase 10 cards.  Elena asked, "Break?"

I couldn't hold back my grin.  "I was just proofreading for the second time, anyway."

I felt like I hadn't seen my dear friends in weeks.  I was reminded then, that Elena wouldn't be living with us the next school year.  I pushed that thought out of my mind, to enjoy the current moment;  I couldn't handle anymore sadness.  We sat around eating, drinking (Coke), and playing cards, sharing stories and memories, and just enjoying each others company in a way we hadn't in awhile. 

Somewhere around 3:00 a.m. I opened up and told them about my dad.  They immediately surrounded me in a 4-way hug and we tumbled over on the floor.  I knew at that moment I should have told them the night I found out.  They could be there in a way that no one else could.  We all laid on our backs on the floor with our heads touching, and took pictures, making funny faces.  Making memories with my forever friends.  They offered no advice.  They didn't ask questions.  I'm sure in time they would, but they knew that more than anything, I needed my friends to be just that:  friends.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Flood of Perfect Elusion

I sat frozen.  Tears were filling my eyes to the brim, but not spilling over.  Everything became blurry.  From tears flooding my vision.  From thoughts flooding my mind.  From pain flooding my heart.  My hands became clammy, sticking to the table.  Everything became a haze and I slowly turned my head to look at Tom.  I looked at him just in time to see him jump up and storm out of the room.  Perfect elusion.

I wanted to flee after him.  Not to convince him to come back.  Not to console him.  But to run away.  To go back to laughing and wrestling.  To pretend like this whole conversation hadn't existed.

I felt sick.  The delicious morsels that had just quenched my hunger, now were causing me to feel ill.  I felt sick in a way that I never had.  The flu and drunkenly throwing up combined couldn't have touched this feeling.  And I much rather would have preferred that combination.

I snapped back to reality as I focused for the first time in what felt like hours, to my mom lightly rubbing my back.  And my dad was looking at me concerned.  He was looking at me(!), when I should have been the one embracing him and looking upon him with concern.  I also noticed, looking down at my lap, that the light blue cloth napkins we were using for dinner-that was placed in my lap-had two massive wet marks from the tears that must have spilled over and run down my cheeks. 

"No," I whispered.  That's all I could say.  I slowly stood up, feeling as if I were fighting a dense barrier holding me back from moving.  I took the few strides to my dad and wrapped my arms around him.  Again, I whispered, "No."


I woke up in between my parents on the couch, my head resting on my dad's shoulder, my mom on the other side of me, knitting.  I blinked, feeling groggy, my eyes burning from the salt of crying.  My throat hurt and I felt like someone had taken a jackhammer to my head.

After sitting there at the table, holding my dad while I cried for a long while, we had moved to the living room.  We hadn't spoken, yet.  I think my parents were strong enough and smart enough to let Tom and I grieve in our own ways, and handle the initial shock how we needed to.  I had fallen asleep sitting between my parents as I cried.  Waking up, aside from my body feeling the sobbing-hangover, it appeared like that bombshell had never been dropped.  With my mom knitting, and my dad watching ESPN, it seemed like a normal Sunday afternoon.

I sat up then, excusing myself to go to the bathroom.  I splashed water on my face and took some to my mouth, slurping the drops out of my hand.  I went back into the living room and saw my mom had gotten a glass of water for me.  I weakly smiled at her, to show my appreciation and sat down in a recliner chair so I could look at them as I built up to approaching the subject I now dreaded most.

"Where's Tom?"

"Oh, he's out on Clover," my mom responded casually, continuing to look at the blanket she was knitting.  Clover is one of the family horses.  Since we grew up on land, we had always had a plethora of animals.  Although, admittedly, that was mainly due to me, being an avid animal lover.  Hearing that, I was jealous, as it had been since the previous summer that I'd last been riding.  I also wasn't surprised that's where Tom was, as that had been one common stress reliever he and I had both shared.  I frowned slightly, wishing that I had taken that escape.  I think that was more the cause of my current jealousy.

"How long was I asleep?"

"A couple of hours, honey," my dad smiled sweetly at me, offering me sympathy.  I still couldn't fathom how he was offering me sympathy when he was the one who had it.  I couldn't bring myself to think the word.  It made it too real if I did.

I finally looked outside and saw the sun was setting.  I sighed heavily, unmotivated to ask the next question; dreading the answer.  "What's going to happen?"

My mom kept knitting, alerting me to the fact that this conversation they had already had, and she seemed comfortable enough to not preemptively start offering me comfort.  I allowed my body to relax slightly;  I allowed myself to feel hope, even before hearing the response.

My dad looked at me directly.  "Although the tumor is decent sized, about the size of an almond, they are happy with how early they caught it.  Doctors want to start aggressive treatment immediately, so as to shrink or completely eliminate it.  They want to avoid surgery if at all possible right now, as surgery is so intrusive and there's always the risk of having to remove small parts of the brain in connection with it.  I'm beginning chemotherapy and radiation co-treatment May 5.  I will be temporarily living in Rochester for 6 weeks while this round of treatment commences."

"May 5?  Why so long?"

"Well, because I wanted school to mainly be over for you, and within a month of finishing for your brother.  I didn't want to have added stress, which is why we waited so long to tell you both, as well.  However, I also didn't want to disappear for 6 weeks and come back with no hair!  That would've really been traumatic."  He smiled at me, trying to half joke.

I managed, at best, a grimace back to him.  I slowly spoke my next question, scared to not only hear the answer, but also not sure what the most appropriate way to ask it is.  "So, what are the odds of... the cancer being completely gone?"

At this my dad leaned forward, putting his elbows on his knees, and clasping his hands.  He smiled confidently at me and said, "Pretty damn good."

I smiled back at him, letting him know I appreciated that prognosis and his confidence, but beneath our smiles, we both could see the fear scrawled across each others faces, and the the worry of the unknown in our tense, faux relaxed postures.

After helping my mom clean the kitchen, I headed back to school:  driving the half hour in complete silence, consumed by my plaguing fears and thoughts.  As I drove east back towards Lincoln headfirst into the darkness, I could see the remnants of light fading behind me.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Safe and Sound

On Sunday after my match, I went home to my parents' for dinner and to spend time with them.  It was only my parents, my brother, and me.  I was expecting my brother's girlfriend, but she couldn't make it, apparently.  My family was expecting Luke, but I just didn't invite him.  I didn't give him a reason, and I didn't give my family a reason.  I just told him I was going to my family's for dinner and that was it.

My parents had come to my match, but they left immediately after and I had waited for the team to finish, of course, then gone to my apartment and showered and changed clothing.  My dad and brother were in the living room when I got home watching ESPN.  No surprises there.  There was no sign of my mom, so I figured she was in the kitchen cooking or something.  My dad turned and smiled at me, greeting me.  I walked over to him and kissed him on the top of the head.  "Hi pops!" 

My brother yelled, "What up?" as his greeting.  Charming.

Tom was lounged on the couch, facing the tv, not paying attention to me.  I lightly pranced over to my brother, to quickly sneak up on him and shout-sung "I CAME IN LIKE A WRECKING BALL" and I jumped on him.

"Oof," he grunted as I pushed the air out of him, landing on his stomach.  "Aleee-aaah."

I started laughing and bouncing up and down, trying to crush him with my love (aka my body).

"Get off!"  He whined and then heaved me up and dumped me on the floor.  I clung on to his arm and he rolled off the couch on top of me.  I started wrestling him, trying to get on top of him to pin him and he held me down.  His face was red from the struggle of picking me up, and he didn't look pleased.  "Just let me watch tv!"

"Oh Tommy, calm your panties down," I giggled and kept trying to wrestle him.  He pinned my arms on the floor, and I started kicking, trying to free myself. 

"Children!" My dad snapped.  We both immediately stop.  I saw Tom look at our dad, who was behind where I was, but in perfect sight line with Tom.  He slightly raised his eyebrows.  He appeared as shocked as I felt that dad had snapped like that.  It wasn't usual.  I frowned and got off the floor, smoothing my clothing down as I headed to find mom.  I exchanged a look with my brother before leaving the room. 

I found my mom in the kitchen slicing strips of kernels of corn off the cob.  I saw she had a bag on the counter next to her that still needed husking.  I pulled the trash can closer to me and started husking the corn so my mom could continue cutting off the kernels.  "What's for dinner?"

"Fried chicken.  Mashed potatoes.  Gravy.  Corn off the cob."  She turned her head to me and smiled, leaning over to kiss my forehead before going back to cutting.  "Welcome home, baby girl."

"Is everything okay with dad?"

"Oh, I'm sure, dear.  Why?"

"He seems grumpy.  Or something.  He snapped at Tommy and I when we were wrestling."

"Hmm."  My mom seemed to go back to her own world, distracted by something.  We kept working like that in silence, me husking corn, her slicing rows of kernels off the cob.  When I was husking the last piece, my mom looked over at me and said, almost as what seemed an afterthought, "So, what's been going on with you and Luke?"

I furrowed my eyebrows and focused extra carefully on the corn.  "Oh, I'm not sure.  We're just dating, you know?"

"No.  I don't.  Is it serious?"

"We're exclusive, if that's what you're asking."

"Sure, we'll go with that."  I looked over and saw she was smiling since the first time I had entered the kitchen.  I set the last piece of corn on the counter for her and asked what else I could help with.

I finished helping my mom make dinner and we all sat at the table, like we used to when I still lived at home.  It felt refreshing.  It tugged at a part of my inner being that made me realize what I didn't know I was missing.  I just felt safe and sound.

But as dinner ended, that sense of safety and security came crashing down.

"Kids, we need to talk to you about something," my dad seemed to hesitantly broaching a subject he clearly didn't want to discuss.  He was wringing his hands, and watching them intently, as if never seeing something so intricate.

I sat up a little taller and leaned forward, instantly concerned.  I saw my brother shift uncomfortably, in his seat.  He didn't appear to want to have this conversation.  The men in my family didn't like confrontation, whether it was good, bad, or uncomfortable.  I looked over and my mom and she was giving my dad a small smile, as if to encourage him to continue.  I glanced back over at dad, and he looked up at my mom, locking eyes.  He seemed to visibly relax slightly, and continued.

"In the past several months, I'd been having a lot of headaches and have been really exhausted.  I chalked it up to just getting older.  But as the time went on, and the headaches weren't eased by my trusty Advil, so I sought out other methods.  They were so intense at times it became hard to focus on a few of the surgeries I was doing."  He shifted his weight and sighed.  My brother was staring at a random, blank spot somewhere on the ceiling beyond my dad's head.  I was frozen, scared of what was coming.  Dad said, "Don't worry, I didn't botch anything and we aren't being sued."  He smiled weakly.  "But, nothing worked.  I finally went to the doctor at your mother's insistence, and ended up being referred to Mayo Clinic."

I immediately tensed up, knowing what Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota was.  I peered at Tom and saw he hadn't changed positions or facial expressions.  I stole another quick look at my mom and she was solemnly staring at her wedding band, playing with it.  In turn, it caused me to unintentionally start spinning the beautiful Aquamarine on my right hand ring finger. 

Dad stated, "On April 8th we had an appointment at Mayo Clinic to get the results of the MRI, CAT Scans, and blood work, among other things."  At this point, he gravely looked up and he pointedly looked each of us in the eyes, before finishing.  "I have brain cancer.  A tumor."

Monday, June 16, 2014


"Your mom."

I scrunched up my face, turning my head to the side, causing some of the water to stream into my eye.  I blinked rapidly.  "What, Pablo?" I sputtered, water spitting off of my lips.

"Your mom is calling."  And then, it didn't sound like his voice anymore.

I blinked hard.  My eyes popped open.  I heard the annoying ringtone coming out of my phone:  Your mom is calling, pick up the phone, your mom is calling!  I felt my body was tensed up.  I took a deep breath, feeling worked up from my dream.  But it was just a dream.  I felt the waves of anxiety, invasion, and seduction all leaving my body. 

I missed the call from my mom, but figured I would call her back later.  I stretched out, putting my hands behind my head, staring at my ceiling.  How long had I slept?  I reached for my phone, and unlocked it, ignoring the missed call.  I saw I also had several missed texts.  8:55 p.m.  I had been asleep for awhile.  Hours.

I rolled onto my side, and stared blankly at Sarah's bed, still not fully awake.  I ran my fingers through my hair, them getting caught at my pony tail, which I hadn't taken out after practice.  I wasn't sure what to do with myself.  I wasn't used to not only being alone in the apartment for days, but just being by myself in general.  I didn't really like doing things by myself. 

I knew the next day I was meeting with Alberto around 10:30, and had practice at 2:00, but that's all I had to do.  I decided to just have a night relaxing.  I made a quick executive decision to go to the Racquet Club and sit in the hot tub.  I would be able to make it there by 9:30, and they were open until 10.  Even so, I had keys, but I didn't like sneaking in there after hours.  I wasn't sure who usually worked Friday nights.

I hopped in the shower to rinse the sweat off of my body, and threw my hair into a high bun.  I put on a simple black bikini and slipped on some Victoria Secret sweats and a t shirt and flip flops.  I leaned in close to the mirror to study my reflection, rubbing any last traces of eyeliner from my eyes.  I smiled at myself, happy with how clear my complexion was.  I had struggled with acne in high school, but since getting into college, my face had cleared up quite a bit.  And I was very blessed to not have scarring.

I got into my car to head to the club, and felt my stomach growling.  I went through the McDonald's drive-thru and picked up a cheeseburger and a Coke.  I ate quickly, wanting to finish before I arrived.

I got the Racquet Club and walked in, seeing James working the front desk.  As in, James my hitting partner with the unspoken mutual attraction.  I grinned to myself, thinking about our last interaction, how close and sexually charged it was.  I made my expression neutral as I walked past him.  "Aleah," he grinned.

"Oh, hello James."

"Come to visit me?"

"Actually, no.  I didn't even know you were working."

"I always work Fridays."

"Huh."  I shrugged.  "Anyway, I'm going to the hot tub."

"Maybe I'll join you after everyone's gone."  He smiled wickedly at me, winking.

I rolled my eyes and giggled, walking to the back of the club, where the men's and women's locker rooms are.  There is a hot tub in each one, gender specified.  I peeled my outer clothing off, and sunk into the steaming water.  I sunk down until only my face was out of the water, looking upwards.  I closed my eyes and sat like that, feeling the heat seep into my skin, until my innermost core was hot and beads of sweat were forming on my forehead.

I sat up just enough so that my whole head was exposed.  I lifted my hands out of the water and reached over to my towel and dried them off, then grabbed my phone.  I played a game for a few minutes on my phone, then started perusing Facebook.  I saw movement from the corner of my eye and saw James sauntering towards me.  He handed me an ice cold bottle of water. 

"Mmm, thanks James."

He smiled and continued walking past me out the back door of the locker room.  I knew he was going to grab the clean towels from the dryer to start folding them and putting them into each of the locker rooms so they were stocked and fresh for the next day.  I was too familiar with the requirements of the job.  I opened the water and took a long swig, feeling dehydrated.

I continued Facebook stalking when my phone started ringing.  Luke.  I ignored the call and went back to Facebook.  Shortly after, James came in.  "May I join you?" He asked, raising his eyebrows, giving me an innocent look.


He raised up his shirt, exposing his flat stomach, and chiseled pecs.  I looked away.  Although I may have been having serious doubts about my relationship with Luke, I was a person that believed in faithfulness to the end, and I wasn't going to tempt myself.  I did sneak one last look at James as he took his jeans off, and was only in his boxer briefs.

"Um, don't you have a swimsuit or something?"

 He looked up at me as he was lowering himself into the water and paused, "Nope.  Would you prefer I take these off, too?"

I blushed.  He laughed and dropped himself fully into the water.  "So how's Derek?"

I looked at him surprised, realizing that he and I hadn't spoken in months, since he thought I was still with Derek.  "Oh, we broke up awhile ago?"

He raised an eyebrow at me, "Really?"

"Yeah, but I'm kind of dating someone new..." I trailed off, not really wanting to rehash the details of what was happening.

"Is it serious?"

"Eh."  I wavered my hand back and forth.  I switched the conversation over to him, because I didn't want to talk about me.  "What about you?  Anyone new?"

"There's always someone new, but they've never you."  He was looking at me seriously.  I knew he wasn't joking.  I wanted to avoid that conversation, too.

"Oh, you couldn't handle this." I joked, hoping it would lighten the mood and we could eventually work our way away from the conversation.

He leaned back in the water, putting his arms out on the ledge, staring at me.  He deadpanned back at me, "I'd like to find out."

I giggled nervously, but glanced from his eyes that were trying to penetrate my secret thoughts, down to his slightly parted lips, only briefly imagining what it would be like to feel them lightly pressed against my own.  Then I looked away quickly, and asked.  "Do you have plans tonight?"

"No.  Tomorrow I'm going to Omaha with the kids to the zoo."  James has two kids with his ex-wife.  They are super cute.

"Oh, that'll be fun!  I haven't been to the zoo there in years.  Let me know how it is.  I love zoos.  I'd like to go again sometime."

We chatted for awhile, long after my fingers and toes were prune-like.  We both got out at the same time, and I made a specific point to not look at James as he was getting out, knowing his wet boxer briefs would be clinging to every curve and aspect of his body.

We walked out together and said goodbye, and I purposefully kept my distance so there wouldn't be any lustful temptation  poking through.

When I got home, I actually did some school work.  I sent Luke a text telling him I had been at the Racquet Club and I'd talk to him the next day.


Saturday morning, I was unsurprisingly running late, and got to the library at 10:47 a.m.  I ran up to Pablo and Alberto, calling out, "I'm so sorry!  Lo siento!"

They spoke in Spanish to each other.  Pablo gave me one of his sexy smiles, and I blushed thinking about my dream the previous evening and looked away quickly.  Before he walked away he said, "Just bring Alberto to practice with you, and you hit with him."

"Okay, see you then."

I then turned to Alberto, not really sure what to say or where to go, or even how much he would understand if I talked to him.

Seeming to sense my hesitation, Alberto spoke, "My mother teach English in Mexico.  I know little.  But not very good."

"Oh, that's good," I said cheerfully, "and my talking to you will probably help!"

He chuckled, "I think, yes."

We walked around a large portion of campus, showing him all of the major places he would need to know (like the library, and dining commons, and a lot of the building that had general education classes in them).  Then we went to my car and drove him around to the different housing areas, and pointed out some of the other buildings.  By the time we got done, it was 1:15, and I told him I had to go back to my apartment to change.  He told me, in broken English, that Pablo had all of his tennis gear, and would be bringing it to the courts.  I told him I was also going to make something small to eat and asked if he wanted anything.  He agreed to join me to eat.  At home I quickly changed into some shorts and a tank top and my tennis shoes and grabbed my tennis bag and threw it by the door.  I made an egg sandwich for myself, and one for Alberto.  "Sorry I don't have anything more... fancy."

"No, no, this is good," he said, waving me off.  While eating, though we didn't have much time, I learned more about Alberto.  He told me about his family, and growing up in Mexico.  I reciprocated in telling about my family, telling him I had only been to Cozumel, and telling him about my vacation there I'd taken with my family.  He told me how he knew Pablo, that they were from the same home town in Monterrey.  He told me he knew a few other guys at UNL from his same home town who were on the soccer team.  We then had to leave to go to practice.

After practice, I looked at my phone and saw I had a missed call from an unknown number.  I had a voicemail and checked it, and heard it was from Detective Stratton.  He didn't give me any real information in the message, but told me he's like to meet with me next week sometime if I had time and asked him to call me back on his cell phone when I had a chance, and left his number.

I immediately called him, to no answer, but told him in a voice message that I could meet with him either Monday or Tuesday, because Wednesday I was leaving for Illinois with the tennis team and I was unsure when I would be back.  I immediately felt tense, anxiety creeping into my consciousness, anticipating as to what Detective Stratton had to say.

*Author's Note:  Hey everyone, I'm going to *attempt* to stick to a posting schedule of Tuesday and Friday nights.  I'm not going to give a specific time as I'm not exactly sure what time, but at some point during the evening/night on Tuesdays and Fridays, I will have posts up.  I will also try an extra one when/if I have time, but no promises there.  However, with that being said, THIS post will count as the Tuesday one (unless something happens when I can get another quality one done by tomorrow evening).

Also, I wanted to apologize for the quality of posts  recently.  Reading over them, and reading over some of my beginning ones, I realized I wasn't producing the same quality, probably because of some things going on in my life.  But that disappoints me, so I'm sorry if I also had let you all down!  Hopefully, from this one on out, the quality will consistently be better (at least in my opinion!). 

But thank you to all of my readers for feedback/comments/reading!  I read and appreciate each one of your comments, and hopefully will be able to start responding to them again, as well.


Friday, June 13, 2014

Hot Shower

Well, that went well.  You know, the meeting between Luke and my parents.

No, literally.  They loved him.  Unfortunately. 

The meeting between them was relatively uneventfully.  I saw them chatting during my match, and it seemed mainly smiles and laughs.  I had told them all I was hitting with a recruit after the match, and so I wouldn't be able to do anything.  I was planning on going home for dinner on Sunday after my match anyhow, so I didn't feel too bad about not going to eat with my parents afterwards.  Luke had made plans with the guys, which I was thankful for, so I didn't have to cater to him, either.

After my match, I was sweaty and pretty much everyone had left the tennis center.  I looked to see Pablo and Coach speaking to the other team's coach by the exit, and no one else around.  I decided to just hurry and change shirts there.  I dug through my bag and found a clean tank top, stripped my shirt off and pulled the tank top over my head.  I picked up my racquet and turned around to find Pablo and the new recruit standing right behind me.  "Oh!" I jumped slightly.  "Sorry."

Pablo gave me a sly smile, and I could see in his eyes he didn't think I needed to apologize.  I turned to size up the recruit.  He had a very athletic build, a few inches taller than me, black hair, dark brown eyes, and gorgeous brown skin.  He wasn't what I considered traditionally handsome, but he was cute and clearly confident and that made him more attractive than what he would be otherwise.  "Hola, me llamo Alberto."

From my minimal knowledge of Spanish, I knew what that meant.  "Buenos dias, Alberto!  Me llamo Aleah."

And then he started speaking very quickly to Pablo, and I was lost.  I half smiled and looked back and forth between them as they spoke, pretending like I understand, but I probably looked more stupid than anything, since they both knew I didn't speak Spanish.

Pablo then addressed me, "Beto doesn't speak good English yet.  I think he will end up coming here.  He said so before coming to visit, but he may need help with some English next year.  If he does, he will be here for most of the summer, probably helping out at the park lessons, too."

"Oh, right.  I'll be living on campus all summer, so I'd be happy to help him out."

They spoke back and forth a little more and then Alberto grabbed his racquet out of his bag and started heading to the other side of the court.   I started walking to the base line (back of the court) and Pablo grabbed my wrist to stop me.  "Ahlayah, que buena pinta hoy."

"Uh... what?"

He gave me a seductive smile and moved his eyes to look down at me.  "You played well."

I cocked my head at him, and narrowed my eyes suspiciously.  "Gracias."  I trotted out to the court and grabbed some tennis balls from the hopper (ball holder) and started hitting with Alberto.

Alberto ended up being amazing, and I reminded myself to tell Joe he was lucky he was graduating, or else he would've had a challenge keeping his number one spot next year.

After hitting, I made plans to meet Alberto in the late morning at the library.  Pablo agreed to make sure he made it there, and we would go from there.  I headed home and dropped onto my bed to rest for a moment before I decided to shower.

I hopped up and went into the bathroom, leaving the door open.  Maddie was in California and Sarah was in Kansas for track.  Elena was staying at her parents all weekend to do wedding planning, so I knew I had the apartment to myself.  The water was so hot, the mirror was already steamed up and sweating.  I smiled, anticipating the hot water pelting my body, washing away the sweat and thoughts about Luke.

I stepped into the shower and stood with my eyes closed facing the water, letting the water penetrate and flatten my hair, washing down my face, tracing water trails down my body.  I lifted my face, feeling the water directly hitting my face.  I opened my mouth, taking a little water in and swishing it around, before spitting it  out.  All of a sudden, I felt hands on my hips sliding around to my stomach and pulling me back into a body.  I jumped and gasped, trying to think of the most painful thing I could grab to start hitting someone with.  I started to reach for the shower back scratcher that Elena kept hanging in the shower, thinking the wood handle would be the most damaging when I felt lips against my ear.


I stiffened and snapped my head to see Pablo.  "Pablo?  What... How did you?  What are you doing?" I couldn't even form complete sentences.  My mind was racing with question after question of how he got in there, how he knew where I lived, and what he thought he was doing.

He put his finger over his lips and gently guided me back against the shower wall.  He pushed his body flush to mine, and I could feel his hardness against my stomach.  My mouth slightly gaped open and he bent his head down and his lips parted, sealing the moment as they touched mine.  My head started screaming no, immediately, but my nether region was pulsating yes.  As his hands slid up my naked, wet body, and met my breasts, he cupped them and I let the sensation take away all my hesitation and any thoughts of Luke.  I kissed into his mouth harder, while the water streamed over our now entwined bodies.  He started kissing my neck, nibbling my ear lobes, and I felt him slip a hand between my legs.  I exhaled sharply, craving even more.  I thrusted my hips forward, into his hand, encouraging him to keep going. He straightened up completely, and then lowered himself slightly.  When he raised back up, I felt his hard member between my legs, rubbing me.  Teasing me.  He picked up one of my legs and wrapped it around his back.  Right as I felt the tip start to enter me he stopped.

He pulled his face back and looked at me.  What he said next, I definitely wasn't expecting.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Excuse me, Mr. Officer

The whole day Thursday, I was anxious.  I felt a knot in my stomach, and couldn't eat.  All I could think about was my impending visit with Detective Stratton.  I cut out of my last class of the day early so I would have time to make it to the police station before practice.  When I asked for Detective Stratton, they told me they would call him to see if he was available.

"And who are you?  So I can let him know," the desk Sergeant curtly asked.

"Aleah.  Aleah Lange."  I realized in that moment, how timid and meek I sounded.  I spoke louder and more confidently then, "Please inform Detective Stratton that Dean Lange's daughter is here."  I hoped I sounded like a big deal.

I stepped to the side, and looked around.  It was very bland and sterile looking.  Hard plastic chairs and a couple of presumably fake plants.  "Aleah?"  I jumped.

"Yes?"  I raised an eyebrow, as if I was bored.

"You may have a seat;  he'll be down shortly."

I walked over and sat on the very edge of one of the hard plastic seats, feeling the cold of the chair penetrating my thin tennis skirt.  I had dressed for practice before I came, in case I was running late.  I played with the Ziploc baggie in my purse with one hand, tightly gripping the straps with my other.  I heard a loud click, and looked towards a door with a metal detector around it to see Detective Stratton opening it.

I smiled meekly at him as he gave me an inviting beam, and extended one hand to shake mine.  When I was younger, I had a school girl's crush on Detective Stratton.  Because he and my father had been so close throughout the years, I usually called him Brad, but I felt since I was in his place of employment, I should refer to him in his professional title.  He was a tall, muscular man.  He was built athletically, and kept himself in top shape.  Through the years I had come to realize that Brad loved women just as much as they loved to look at him.  Although it was never explicitly stated, I assumed he had fidelity issues, because his girlfriends never seemed to stick around very long.  I also heard him tell my mom once, who wanted to set him up with a divorcee friend of hers, that there are so many fish in the sea, he wanted to try all the flavors.  It took me a few years to realize exactly what he meant by that.

I grabbed his hand back and shook it firmly.  Then he pulled me into a hug and told me to follow him through the metal detectors.  It beeped when I went through.  He turned and looked at me suspiciously, "You aren't trying to blow the place up, are you?"

"Uh, no."

He laughed and kept walking.  "So what do I owe the pleasure of your presence today, Miss Aleah?"

As we walked through the halls, he made comments in passing, or said his hello's to his fellow officers.

"Oh, I just had something I wanted to talk to you about."  I tried to sound nonchalant, hoping he wouldn't press the issue until we were in his office.

He walked through a door into a room, which is when I realized he didn't have an office.  He shared an oversized room with 4 or 5 other detectives, and they had desks and partitions scattered throughout.  "EVERYBODY LISTEN UP!"  He announced.

I stopped in my tracks, unsure of what was happening.  Two other detectives popped their heads up above their partitions.  "This here is Aleah!  She is not a criminal yet, that I know of, and I intend on keeping it that way.  If you ever see her in a bad part of town or situation, immediately send her to me!"

I turned red and stammered, "I don't do bad things."

The two other detectives snickered and sat back down.  Brad slapped me on the back in a friendly way.  "I'm just messin' with ya."  He led me to his desk and had me sit down, and he took a seat on the other side across from me.  Just then one of the other detectives came over.  He appeared to be a few years older than me.  Dark hair, slender, cute.

He side-glanced at me and then said to Brad, "This your daughter?"

Brad leaned back and put his hands behind his head.  "Oh hell naw.  You know I don't have kids."

Detective Unknown then fully turned his attention to me, interrogating me with his eyes.  "How old are you?"

Brad quickly sat forward and snapped, "Get back to your desk, junior.  She's too young and too good for you!"

Another detective quipped, "Thought she wasn't your daughter?"

"She's not.  But she might as well be."  He half-smiled at me.  "So what can I do ya for?"

"Please don't tell my dad I was here."  Brad raised an eyebrow at me.  "It's not bad... I mean, I didn't do anything wrong... I just... Please just keep this between us for now?"  I asked, but my tone was begging.

He nodded once, so I continued.  "I... I think I may have been drugged."  I pulled the baggie out of my purse and placed it on his desk gingerly, pushing it towards him.  He placed his hand on his chin, leaning back in his chair.  He glanced down at the baggie and then up at me and waited for me to continue.  So then I told him everything.  Well, everything pertinent.  I definitely left out anything that I wouldn't want my parents finding out about eventually (like Thor).

When I finished talking, Brad sat there for a moment, just staring at me.  I shifted uncomfortably in my seat, praying he wouldn't dad-lecture me.  He leaned forward, linking his fingers on his desk in front of him.  "You need to file a police report, for starters."  He was being direct, but I had always appreciated that about him.

"I'm not really comfortable with that right now.  I don't even know if those pills are anything.  Plus, I don't want to cause problems for them, yet.  I just really want to know what those pills are, and then I want to make a decision on what to do.  I don't want to risk their futures.  They have scholarships and stuff."

He squinted his eyes at me, slightly.  "You know I'm a homicide Detective, right?"

I blushed, realizing that I didn't know that, and also that probably meant he wouldn't necessarily be able to tell me what those pills are.  "No."

He smiled then.  "Well, it's your lucky day!  One of my buddies who was in the academy with me is in the Narc Unit."



"Right.  So you think he might help out?"

"Me?  Nah.  But if I tell him there's a damsel in distress?  I'm sure."  His face then became serious and he leaned forward and his voice got low.  "Aleah, am I gonna have to come beat some guy's ass?  Please be careful and don't go out with those guys again until I can get back to you.  I'm serious.  I'll keep this between us right now, but you're going to have to tell your parents about this eventually."

"Yes, sir."

"It shouldn't be too long, but my buddy is working thirds predominantly right now, so I'll try to catch him and get these to him tomorrow morning at shift change."

"Thank you so much, Detective Stratton."  We stood up and started walking out.

Detective Unknown hopped up and started following us out the door of the room.  "I can walk her out, Brad."

Brad didn't even turn around as he said, "Go sit yo' ass down, boy."  Then he mumbled under his breath, "You'd think he'd never seen an attractive female before."

"How old is he?" I inquired.


"Isn't that young for a Detective?"

"Yep.  He was a great road officer.  He's moving up quickly."

I thanked him for his time again, and left, heading to practice quickly.  I knew I wouldn't be seeing Luke until the next night, at my match.  My parents were coming to these last two matches, so I knew they'd be meeting Luke.  I was feeling anxious, because I didn't know how I felt about Luke, and I didn't really want him meeting my parents, but I couldn't prevent that from happening at this point.

As I lay in bed, feeling anxious about the next day, I mindlessly spun my ring from Zach around my finger.  When I realized what I was doing, I held it up in the light of the moon peeking through the blinds.  I stared blankly at the stone;  it was catching the moonlight perfectly and twinkling.  I blinked rapidly, as a tear rolled down my cheek.

Sunday, June 1, 2014


I spoke with Luke briefly on the phone that night, but told him I was tired and just wanted to go to bed early.  That wasn't a complete lie.  I was exhausted.  Partially from traveling, and partially from mentally feeling drained.  I finished up some homework and went to bed with a plan.  My father's college roommate was a detective in Lincoln, and I decided the next day after classes I was going to go to the police station and speak with him.

The next day, I hesitantly walked into the police station, hoping that Detective Stratton was working.  I had the two pills in a Ziploc baggie, tucked into my purse.  I approached the main desk and asked to speak with him.  After some phone calls the front desk officer informed me that Detective Stratton had the day off, and the next, but would be back on Thursday.  I sighed dejectedly and left.  I had already decided that I was going to pretend like everything was okay until I spoke with Detective Stratton and confirmed I was right about the pills.  I mean, I didn't know if I could keep quiet about the picture I saw on Facebook, but at least I could about the pills.

Luke had asked me if I could get together tonight, since it'd been awhile since we'd seen each other, and I had obliged.  I mean, technically he was my boyfriend, so I couldn't just keep blowing him off, even if he did deserve it.  However, I'd also already planned an exit for me, as I told him since classes were winding down in the next few weeks, I had papers to write.  We had decided to grab dinner at a wing place after my practice.

As I walked towards his car, he made no effort to hide his smile as he looked me up and down.  Due to my anger, I really had to work to not roll my eyes, but gave him a tight smile back and avoided eye contact.  When I slid into the seat he leaned over to kiss me, but I pretended like I didn't notice and turned to give extra attention to grab the seat belt over my shoulder, and then clicking it into place.  We made small talk as he drove the 10 minutes to the restaurant.  We elected to sit at a high rise in the bar.

When I climbed onto the stool, he walked over and placed his hands on my hips and leaned down to give me a deep, almost public-inappropriate, kiss.  As he backed away from me, grinning, I couldn't help my natural reaction of checking him out, and lusting over him, before I remembered why I was upset with him.  We talked about his weekend and my matches in Illinois.  He told me that Charlie had informed him I stopped by.

"Oh, yeah, I was going to surprise you," I responded with zero enthusiasm.  Then as an afterthought, added, "Where were you?"

"In the library."  He sighed deeply.  "I have a 20 plus page research paper I need to write, and have really put off doing the work needed."

"Mmm, so you'll be really busy coming up?"  I attempted to hide the relief in my voice, though I don't know how well I masked it.

He shrugged, "Yeah, I probably will.  But of course I'll make time for you!"  Then he winked at me.

I wanted to gag.  But yet, at the same time, I couldn't hide my attraction to him, and blushed.  I thought to myself: it is too dang bad he couldn't have just been a one and done.  I then widened my eyes at myself, thinking how bad that sounded.  I had never done that before, and didn't know that I ever would or could. 


I snapped my attention back to Luke, realizing I had been lost in my own thoughts.  He appeared as though he had been talking to me.  "Sorry.  I was lost in thought.  What were you saying?"

"I asked if everything is okay.  You seem... weird."

I kept my face neutral.  "How?"

He furrowed his brows at me and said, "Well, you just seem distant.  Distracted, maybe?  Like you don't want me touching you or near you."

"I saw the picture."

"What picture?" He asked, cocking his head to the side.

"Before I left, I saw a picture of you and an attractive female on Facebook.  You looked cozy.  And she had an engagement ring on."

"What'd she look like?"

"Well, I didn't get a very good look, but I think she had red hair."

He grinned broadly at me.  "Oh, that's my cousin, Victoria.  She had gotten engaged last fall.  I haven't seen her since Christmas break."

"Oh."  I felt stupid and didn't know what to say.  "Well, why is the picture deleted now?"

"Is it?"  He asked it thoughtfully, looking past me, popping a french fry in his mouth.  Our food had arrived, and we were wasting no time indulging.  "I guess I didn't realize there were any pictures up on Facebook of her and I, to begin with.  I don't get on there very often, and I don't really like pictures of me put on there.  You know, because I like to monitor what's on there for my future professional image.  So if it was deleted, I don't know why."

"I see."  I dropped the subject then, because I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt. 

We finished up eating pretty quickly, and he drove me back to the courts, where my car was parked.  He leaned over and kissed me, pushing hard against my mouth.  I immediately felt his hand rest on my upper thigh, and he started sliding it up, under my short tennis skirt.  I involuntarily felt my body reacting.  He moved his hand up until he had a finger rubbing against the outside of my bloomers.  I shifted my weight to the left side of my body and slightly parted my legs, to give him easier access.  I felt him take another finger and pull my bloomers and panties aside, and he slipped a finger inside of me.  I sighed deeply into his kisses.   He stopped kissing me long enough to reach his other hand over and pull the lever to allow my seat to drop backwards into the "laying" position.  He began kissing me again, moving to my neck, and my ear, as his fingers magically moved on and in me.  He quickly brought me to climax and I moaned softly, as my body stiffened and I arched my back.  He whispered into my ear, "Just think, if I can do that with my fingers, what else I can do with other parts of me."

Just the thought of that made me start tingling again, and I groaned lightly.  "Not tonight," I murmured back.  Or maybe ever, I thought. 

After we said our goodbyes, (and by goodbyes I mean making out like high school-ers with some heavy petting mixed in) I climbed in my car and drove home.  I frowned at myself in the rear view mirror, disappointed that I could give in to him so easily sexually, but be so unsure of our relationship, and scared to find out the truth about those pills.  However, I did feel more relaxed.  And that made me smile.

The next day after practice, I was getting ready to leave when I was approached by Pablo and Matt, who asked me to stay for a bit and chat with them. 

"Alayah.  You have muy talent.  Me and Coach Matt are running city tennis lessons.  We want you to come teach this summer.  Si?"

I momentarily melted at his accent with his mixture of Spanish and English.  My heart be still.

"Of course!  I would love to.  I'm so honored you two would ask me!"

Matt added, "We're also going to see if Emily and Cara would like to, as well.  There will probably be the usual high school kids that apply and teach, but for the older experienced classes, we want you to lead or be the assistant, depending on when they are during the day, and if Pablo or I can't do it."

"That sounds amazing.  You know I love teaching the kid classes at the Racquet Club.  I'll talk to them to make sure I can accommodate working there, too."  Matt also taught lessons at the Racquet Club, so I knew that he knew my schedule.  "When will you guys know the hours you'll want me out there?"

"Expect to be there Monday through Fridays every morning, and Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays in the afternoons.  We'll also have tournaments ran out there, so we may want your help with those, and those are just depending on the days.  I'm sure James will cover for you, though, anytime you need him.  Isn't that who covers your Sunday shifts when you have matches?""

"Yeah, it is.  And that sounds good.  I'll just keep my Sunday desk shift and let them know I can teach any classes they want on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons."

"Also, Aleah.  This upcoming Friday, after the match, could you possibly stay late and hit with a new men's team recruit?  The guys will all be in Pennsylvania, and since you're the strongest female hitter, I'd like you to hit with him, as I'm going to check him out for their coach.  He's from Mexico.  Pablo is recruiting him and trying to bring him here.  They're from the same hometown.  He's here this weekend.  Also, if you have any time on Saturday to show him around, that would be great."

"I can do that on Friday, and I should have time Saturday.  Aside from practice, I don't think I have anything planned."


I turned to start walking out, and turned around to say bye and caught Pablo giving me a once over.  I raised an eyebrow at him, and he grinned and turned around, talking to Matt.  Aleah, you have a boyfriend, I mentally reminded myself.  I was trying hard to not prematurely check out.  However, I knew from experience that when I felt like something bad was going to happen in a relationship, I tended to check out emotionally.  I never seemed to have that problem with Zach, but with Derek I had done that pretty consistently. 

I threw my tennis bag into the trunk and opened my door to get in, when I heard my name called.  I turned to see Joe jogging towards me.  He lightly slammed his body into me, wrapping me in a hug.  I laughed.  "Hey, Joe," I said, though it was muffled by his shoulder in my face.

He pulled back.  "How's the boyfriend?"

"Alright, you ask out T.C. yet?"  We had decided to refer to his secret crush on the girl's team as T.C., for tennis crush.

He grinned and rolled his eyes.  "Yeah."


"We're going out Monday night."

"Nice!  Why so long?"

"Well, we have that match in Pennsylvania Friday, and so we won't be back until later on Saturday, and then you guys have a match on Sunday, so I'm going to come watch you... I mean, all of you guys, but we didn't want to have her to rush to get ready, plus with the end of school, we both have a lot of work to do."

"Right.  Well, good!  I hope it goes well."

He chuckled, "Me, too.  Are you parents going to be there Sunday?"

"Yep!  And I'm going home after my match for dinner with the family."

"Awesome, you know I love Mr. and Mrs. Lange.  Especially Mrs.," he teased.

I playfully punched his arm.  "Okay, well, I need to get going.  I'm going to grab some fast food on the way home and then I have studying to do.  Dinner next week after your date to recap?"

"I wouldn't miss it."  He leaned in to give me a hug, and paused.  He looked intently into my eyes, looking thoughtful, and opened his mouth like he was going to say something, then closed it again and hugged me tightly.  He pulled away and smiled, all hints of any previous feelings and thoughts gone.  "Bye, A."

"Bye bye, J!"