Monday, April 27, 2015

I Need Him

“Oooh, what about him?” I pointed at a cute German Shepherd puppy, wagging its tail ferociously. 

Aaron cocked a skeptical eyebrow at me.  “Do you think you really have time for a puppy right now?”

I halfsies-pretend glared at him.  Ultimately, he was right.  I had decided as a graduation gift to myself, I was getting a dog.  But with working, and a little bit of school left, I really didn’t have time to potty train a puppy.  My gut reaction was that Maddie and Sarah were still living with me, but I knew I shouldn’t expect them to help with this.  Plus, Maddie was marrying Gavin in July, so she would be moving out then.  Sarah had gotten a job with Gallup, so she would still be living with me, but she and Matt were seemingly getting serious, and I assumed they would be talking about moving in together sooner or later.  Although, she had told me she planned on living with me at least through the summer, if I was okay with that (which of course I was!).

But, that’s how I ended up being at the shelter with Aaron.  “How about that one?” Aaron asked.  I looked to where he was pointing out an adult Chihuahua. 

I squinted my eyes at him.  “You’re joking, right?”

He busted out laughing.  “Aleah, you should never be a poker player.  Your face gives everything you’re thinking away.  Always.”

I scowled.  “You know how I feel about little dogs.”

“I know, I know.  You don’t.”


He wrapped his arm around my shoulders and we kept walking down the aisle of dogs.  It was a slow walk though, because every kennel we came to, I stuck my fingers inside to pet each dog.  “You know, I could never work here.  I would end up being a cat and dog lady spinster.”

“I know.  We’d have to live on a farm to house all the animals you’d bring home.”

I quickly gave Aaron a side-glance, trying to not let him see that I was acknowledging that he was talking about the future, no matter how simple, or playful, he was being.  It made my heart skip a beat, and a small smile played on my lips. 

We finally made it to the last two kennels, and I was disappointed, because I didn’t see one that just clicked with me.  The lady at the front desk had assured me before we came back that they get dogs in all the time.  But the last kennel on the left housed “the one.”  As lame as it sounded, as soon as I saw him, I knew I needed him to come home with me.

He was standing there, tongue hanging out to the side, wagging his tail slowly.  His eyes dark brown and hopeful.  His face was black and his body a fluffy golden brown.  “I.  Need.  Him.”

I stuck my fingers into the metal fencing and he licked them.  I heard Aaron said, “Looks like he feels the same way.”

I flagged down a worker so I could get him and take him outside to get to know him, aka play with him.  He ran around a lot, jumped on me, wouldn’t fetch the ball I threw, and attempted to pee on Aaron.  He was perfect.

After he was put back into the kennel, I promised to come back for him, and filled out the application, we left. 

On Sunday afternoon, Aaron and I were going running.  Sometimes we would run together, but usually we went to a park and ran separately.  We had figured out a path that was 3 miles out and back.  I ran 4 total, 2 out and back, and Aaron ran the 6.  When he was running on his own, he ran much faster than me, so sometimes he would catch me for the last mile and we would run it together.  We decided to start running together, and he stayed with me for the 2 miles, and said he’d see me soon.  I knew he would take about 8 minutes longer than me once I got back.

I plopped down in the grass after my part, to stretch and wait for Aaron.  I actually hate stretching, though.  So by stretching, I mean I laid back in the grass and was watching the clouds.  Until I heard my name. 

“Well, Aleah, fancy seeing you here.”

It took me a second to focus on the face that was approaching me, because of the sun. 


I sat upright, goose bumps immediately breaking out across my body.  My body was already drenched with sweat, but I could feel new beads of sweat breaking out on my hairline.

“Cat got your tongue?”

“You can’t be here,” was all I could think to say.

“Well, actually, now that I’m finally out of the pen, and that I believe this is a public park, I sure can be here.”

I shook my head quickly, standing up and squinting towards the tree line to see if Aaron was on his way.  “No.  You can’t be near me, Luke.  You know there’s a protective order in place.”

He took a step towards me, grabbing my upper arm.  He spoke calmly, but I could hear the threat in his voice, “You really think a piece of paper is going to keep me away from you?”  He casually looked around and laughed, as if we were old friends.  “We have to finish what we started before we were so rudely interrupted by your cop friend.”

I snapped my face towards him, unsure if he was just being an asshole, or if he was truly delusional.  Before I responded, I scanned the tree line again and saw Aaron just emerging on the path.  Luke followed my sight line. 

“Oh.”  He released my arm.  “I suppose now is not the time, then.”

“The time is really never.”

He started backing away from me, and smiled.  “Still playing hard to get, I see.”  And he winked.

I dry heaved.

“See you around, sexy.”  And he turned and started jogging away from me, although to where I wasn’t sure, as my knees buckled and I collapsed into the grass, hyperventilating and crying.  My body shaking uncontrollably. 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Riding in Truck with Boy

It turns out that Aaron didn’t know that Luke was being released, because he had been in a training that whole day, along with Brad.  However, as soon as I spoke with him, he had rushed over and stayed the night with me, keeping me close.  He gave the reassurance I needed but refused to ask for.

Even though I had an underlying feeling of dread clouding my mood, the weather outside had been gorgeous, and when I wasn’t in classes or at practice/matches, I was spending every second outside.

On Tuesday, I was walking out of practice, and had just slung my tennis bag into my trunk when I heard a loud buzzing from inside my car.  I slammed the trunk closed and opened my driver’s door, to see my phone, which I’d left in the cup holder, lit up with a notification of a text.

I opened it up to see a message from Aaron:  Picking you up at 1.  Dress for the outdoors and walking.

I smiled and started my car.  Aaron had been busy at work recently.  There had been a double homicide he was the lead on, and it was taking up a lot of his time.  However, no matter how crazy either of our schedules were, we had agreed that on Tuesdays, everything would be put aside for date night.  Usually we planned something together, or just ordered in and watched Netflix or grabbed some movies from Redbox.  But he also knew I loved surprises.  I giggled giddily to myself, excited to see what he had planned.

We had decided on Tuesdays mainly because that was my “early day.”  Practice was a relaxed day of a mile run and open hitting for a half hour.  We signed up for a time with a designated partner, so coaches could check in if they wanted.  And since it was my last semester, I only had 12 credit hours, and most of them were “easy” classes, because I’d scheduled it that way on purpose.  I only had 1 class on Tuesdays, and it was in the morning, so I was done for the day.  However, I was surprised Aaron was leaving work early. 

I showered quickly and elected to wear my grey Sperry’s, pale green skinny jeans, a flowing white shirt and a grey cardigan.  I threw my hair into a low side pony, and swiped on minimal makeup.

At 12:58 I heard a knock on my door.  I ran downstairs and flung open the door.  Aaron was holding a single red rose out towards me.  I raised my eyebrows in surprise.  “Special occasion?”

He grinned and wrapped one arm around my waist, pulling me against him.  I inhaled his cologne deeply, kissing him lightly.  He pulled away, “Just because.”

“I’ll take it,” I grinned, and took the rose from his hand and quickly put it in water.  “Thank you,” I called from the kitchen.


“Yep!” I skipped over to him, my hand magnetically finding his, and he escorted me out to his real car (truck), opening the door for me.  He can only drive his squad car inside county lines, so I had an idea we were leaving the county.  Compared to my tiny sports car, I loved riding around in his massive recent year Toyota Tundra.

After he pulled onto the highway, Aaron tentatively said, “Hey, Aleah, I need to talk to you about something.”

I turned to him, and looked at him suspiciously.  “Well, this doesn’t sound good.”

He sighed.  “No, sorry.  It’s nothing terrible.  I just know right now is kind of a... trying time for you with everything going on.”  I knew he was referring to Luke’s release.  He looked over at me, quickly studying my facial expression, and continued.  “The first three weeks of June, I was offered to go to and was approved to attend Crash Reconstruction Training in Philadelphia.  It’s going to be an awesome training and so cool to learn all of that.  It involves a lot of math like trigonometry and algebra and will really stretch me.  I’ll be the only detective in the office who will have that training because the other one is retiring in August!”  He was so animated and excited, his hand that wasn’t on the steering wheel moving rapidly in front of him.  When he finished talking, he was looking at me expectantly.

I busted out laughing.

He furrowed his brows at me.  “What?”

“It’s just,” I took a deep breath, to collect myself, “it’s so adorable how nerdy you are getting excited about math.”  He chuckled.  “But, you’re right, that’s so amazing, and I’m so happy for you!”

“Well, you don’t have a job yet, do you?

It was my turn to sigh.  I hadn’t been over-actively searching for a full time job.  As spoiled as it sounded, I knew that I technically wouldn’t need to work right away financially.  My parents had told me when I started college that they would fully support my living needs throughout my school career and 3 months after graduating, but then I better be prepared to help myself, or they wouldn’t be helping me anymore.  I was going to be working at the city park again teaching tennis lessons, and continue working at the racquet club, but unless I wanted to become certified and start teaching full time at the racquet club (which the manager had offered, or rather was begging, me to do), I couldn’t afford to work part time there and live.  I really didn’t know what I wanted to do, and had already decided I would substitute teach, if push came to shove, while I got certified to teach tennis lessons. 

“Not aside from teaching tennis all summer.”

“Why don’t you come with me?  I’ll be in training during the days, but we would have the evenings to explore and go out, and you could do whatever you wanted during the days, too.  And if not for the full time, maybe either the first or last week that I’m there?”

I contemplated that briefly.  “I may take you up on that,” I said, nodding my head, thinking that I could probably swing that.  “Can I think about it, look at my schedule, and make sure I could get some time off for that?”

He reached his hand over and grabbed mine and squeezed.  “Of course.”

I hadn’t even realized how much time had gone by during the drive, and sat up excitedly, when Aaron pulled into Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium.

I gasped.  “Aaron!  I love the zoo!”

He laughed.  “We have a lot to see, so we better get going, then!”

He opened up his car door and started to get out but I grabbed his forearm, to stop him.  I pulled him back and leaned in, pushing my lips hard against his.  “Thank you,” I whispered against his lips.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015


I ran my fingers through my hair, as it cascaded down over the text book I was trying to read.  Graduation was a month away, and I was trying to get caught up on reading to finish the semester strong.  We’d been traveling a lot for tennis, and so I’d missed a lot of class.  There were only 3 weekends left of tennis matches before my college tennis career was over.  I was already in mourning.

My hair had lightened because of the sun, and I was inspecting my brittle ends, seemingly just realizing that I hadn’t gotten my hair cut since before “the incident.”  I made a mental note to call my stylist in the morning to get an appointment.

I looked up from my book to look at the framed picture of Aaron and I that I had mounted on my desk.  I unwillingly smiled.  It’d been almost 2 months since we became “official” and I couldn’t imagine having any other male involved in my life like that.  He was more supportive than anyone else had been able to be, though I’m sure that was due to his experience and his career.

My phone started vibrating angrily on the desk, causing me to jump and snap out of my daydreaming.  I looked at the display and saw it was from “Unknown Number.”

I answered, curious as to whom it might be.  “Hello?”

“Is Aleah Lange available?”

“Yes, this is she.  May I ask who is calling?”  My mom had taught me polite phone skills growing up.

“This is Officer Porter at the Lancaster County Correctional Facility.  I’m calling to alert you that Lucas Hammond’s bail has been posted and he is set to be released at 6:12 a.m. tomorrow morning, April 8th, 2015.”

I froze, the phone slipping from my hand and crashing loudly onto my desk and then dropping to the floor.   
My palms began sweating, my hands shaking.  The ticking of my clock became a loud cymbal in contrast to the deafening silence of everything else, closing in around me.

I blinked a few times then hurriedly snatched my phone back up, to hear Officer Porter calling out hello and my name over and over.

“Yes, yes sorry.  I’m here,” I rushed.  “I’m sorry, I dropped my phone.  Did you... did you say Luke is getting bailed out?”

“I did, and we had orders stating to notify you if and when that happened.”

“Right, who bailed him out?”

“Ma’am, I can’t answer that.  I just needed to let you know he’s being released.  If you have any other questions, you can contact the detective assigned to your case.”

I couldn’t speak.  I heard him say bye, but words wouldn’t form.  Why hadn’t Brad called me, since he was assigned detective?  Why hadn’t Aaron told me, I’m sure he knew, too.  Wouldn’t they know?

I sat there stunned.  I had lifelessly dropped my phone onto the desk, and sat there slumped over, staring blankly at the picture that had just given me cause to smile only minutes earlier.

A thought played at the edges of my mind, teasing me, but not quite coming to fruition.

But then it did.  Where is it?

My eyes widened.  I needed to find it immediately.  I stood up quickly, knocking my desk chair over backwards, and went running to my purse across my bedroom.  I dumped it out on my bed, contents spilling out haphazardly.  Old receipts, chapstick, my wallet, an extra phone charger: all being spread out by my sweeping hand action.  I opened my wallet and quickly looked in the pockets, not seeing what I was frantically searching for.

I saw the stack of “papers to go through” that were on the floor next to my desk.  I dropped to my knees and flipped through them.  Not there, either.

I put my finger tips on my temples and closed my eyes, willing myself to retrace my steps the day I got it.  I know I put it somewhere safe.  My eyes flew open.

I stood up and ran to my closet, pushing clothing out of the way.  I knelt to the ground and turned the key I kept in the lock of my fireproof lockbox.  I flipped through papers to the very back, and carefully pulled out the green paperwork.  I clutched it to my chest.

I turned off the lights in my bedroom and climbed into bed, curling into a ball.  My safety blanket-the court ordered restraining order- tucked underneath my pillow.