Monday, August 31, 2015

Split Decision

A/N:  I wanted to try something a little differently, and wrote this split between Aleah and Aaron's views.  It has their name before each section they are narrating.  This won't happen often.  However, if you love it, let me know and I can try this in the future, or if you hated it, let me know that, too, and I'll stay far, far away from doing this ever again :)  ~A



I recognized Tito from when I spilled that girl's drink accidentally.  I knew that this was my time to shine.  I had to for Aaron.  Although, really, for my own sake and safety, too.

I shot Tito an embarrassed look, which was more or less the truth, and turned to give Aaron one last hasty look, hoping it appeared full of lust.

I heard Tito compliment Aaron, and the sound of hands smacking together.  "Niiiice, 'Zo!"  I blushed.

Aaron responded, but I couldn't hear what he said.



"Yeah.  Guess I just needed a good fucking," I responded to Tito, while I watched Aleah walk away.  She played it off good enough.  Hopefully Tito wouldn't question her as more than some girl I hooked up with.

He asked me something, but I was lost watching her turn the corner back into the bar.

"Pendejo!  I'm talking to you," Tito pushed my shoulder.  His way of getting my attention.  It wasn't violent, just not friendly.


"That piece of ass that good, huh?  I asked if you got her number."

"Oh, right."  I started to see red, hearing Aleah referred to that way.  I took a deep breath, knowing this was just work, nothing personal."  "Yeah, she's hot, but there's a million more like her."

Tito scoffed.  "You looked at her different than you have any other bitch we've been around."

"Nah, man.  Just haven't hit it that hard in awhile."  I gave him a half grin and walked off, to get a drink and head back into the VIP.



When I rounded the corner out of view of Aaron and Tito, I quickened my pace.  As much as I desired to be with Aaron and watch him, even from a distance, I had a bad feeling about Tito.  Based on that feeling and Aaron's warning, I needed to get out of there.  Especially, I needed to get Rosa and Quinn out of there before a chance run-in with Aaron.

When I got into the karaoke bar, Rosa and Quinn were belting out "Sweet Caroline" to the rest of the bar, everyone singing along loudly with their glasses raised.  Despite what had just happened, I smiled and laughed at their drunken singing.

I sought out Sarah.  I found her at a small round high top with several drinks on it, all at least half full.  The song was almost over.  I needed to hurry and I needed to have Sarah help me.  She had driven and was the least drunk of all of us.  "Sar, we need to get out of here."

"Why?" She looked at her phone.  "It's not even 1 yet."

I picked up one of the drinks, "Is this one of theirs?"

She nodded her head, looking at me strangely.  I started chugging the drink.  I finished it and put it on the table.  "We need to go.  Now."

She saw the look on my face and nodded her head, and started drinking her drink.  I picked up the other one and dumped a little bit of it into the now other 2 empty glasses, making them all next to empty.  Rosa and Quinn just got back to the table.

"Oh, we're out!  I'll get the next round," Rosa said excitedly. 

Sarah faked a yawn.  "Actually, we probably should get going.  I have to work in the morning and we still have an hour drive back to Lincoln."  Lie.  Not about the drive, but about her working.

"Oh yeah, I forgot about that, Sarah.  I'm sorry!"  I was way over-acting.

Quinn nodded, seemingly empathetic.  "Oh yeah.  Sorry we kept you ladies out so late!  And thank you for driving, Sarah."

Rosa chimed in, "Yes, thank you.  Let's go.  It was so much fun!"

Their words were slightly slurred, but hopefully mine and Sarah's abrupt need to leave wouldn't seem so weird with the alcohol dulling their BS radars.



I was back at the table and had been for a few minutes.  Gina was pulling her normal overly-flirty act with me, since Tito wasn't around.  I didn't fully understand their relationship.  He slept around with whoever he wanted, she seemed to know but didn't say anything.  I think she was content having whatever she wanted at her beck and call.  I was getting disgusted though, with her purposely rubbing her nipple over my arm.  Since her tiny shirt was see through.  Why the hell did she think that was attractive?  Even if I was looking for someone to hook up with, dressing like that only made me assume she was dripping with gonorrhea or the hiv.  Fucking nasty.

I sighed, exasperated.  "Where's your boyfriend, Gina."

"Eh, who cares.  He'll be back when he gets back," she said, as she turned, once again rubbing her chest against me. 

I stood up, done.  "Wait, where you going?" she asked.

I looked at her.  My mom would slap me if she heard me talk to a female the way I was about to.  "None of your fucking business, Gina.  I don't answer to you."

I walked out, in search of Tito.  Seeing Aleah, although it had initially made me happier than I've been since I said bye to her in Philadelphia, had just put me in a really bad mood.  I was angry, and I couldn't even pinpoint why.



We were all out the door, almost to Sarah's car when I heard a voice yell out behind me. 

"Hey!  Hey, girl!"

I turned, and saw Tito jogging after us.

Just, no.

I stopped and turned to walk back to him, not wanting for any of the other three to hear whatever conversation was about to ensue.

I pretended to be super confused. "Can I help you?"

He smiled, slyly.  It sent shivers, and not the good kind, down my spine.  "My boy, Lorenzo, back there.  I think he wants your number, but was too shy to ask."

Internally, I froze, not sure what to do.  I decided to play hardball, instead.  I folded my arms over my chest.  "Well, if he wanted it so bad, he sure is doing a piss-poor job of asking for it."  Tito started to talk, but I quickly cut him off.  "Plus, he didn't seem so shy in the bathroom."

"Aw, come on.  He's a good-looking dude.  You wouldn't want to see him again?"

I knew then how to get him to leave it.  I shrugged my shoulders.  "He wasn't that good." And I walked away, my knees weak, and my legs shaking.



I quick walked out to Tito, as I saw he and Aleah walking away from each other.  "Tito, wha's up?"

He grinned and nodded his head back at Aleah.  "I tried to get her number for you."

I clenched my fists.  "And?"

"She said you weren't any good!" he guffawed.  He kept walking back towards the bar, his back to me.

"That bitch," I said, though I was grinning like a proud parent having witnessed their child just score the winning touchdown.  I sent a silent "thank you" to Aleah, hoping if she somehow felt it, she would know it was for more than just this moment.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

This Could Ruin Everything: Aaron's perspective

And we froze.


What were mere seconds felt like hours. We said nothing, but everything.

Everything inside of me wanted to gather her in my arms and hold her close, but on the outside I had to remain cold and aloof.  I couldn't have Tito or his girl, Gina, turn around and catch any type of interaction.  At best, Tito would try to take her home, despite Gina's presence.  At worst... well, lets not talk about at worst. If he suspects I'm anyone other than who I'm portraying to be, everyone either of us knows will be in witness protection for the rest of our lives.

This could ruin everything.

Through her eyes I saw the whole spectrum of emotions:  joy, hurt, confusion, anger, fear, and lastly, realization.  I held her gaze just enough, but not anywhere near enough.  I quickly looked her up and down.  Damn, she looks gorgeous.  I want to touch every inch of her body with every inch of mine, but alas...

I was about to head back into the middle bar, when my eyes darted past her to see who she was with.  Well, fuck.  Just, fuck. 

My mother was there, too?  How in the hell, and why?

I closed my eyes and pushed through the door, praying that only Aleah saw me.  I also sent a silent message to her, that she would avert anyone she was with away from me.

As I stalked back to the bar to get Gina another drink, I grabbed a pen sitting on someone's receipt left on the bar, and a napkin, and scribbled a quick message.  I looked to see Aleah making her way through the bar, watching me closely, with Sarah, my mom, and Rosa following behind.  I turned my back to them, hoping they don't notice me.  Aleah was in front and I turned my head to the right to see her start to brush past me, and I stuffed the napkin into her hand, while she was next to me. 

I waited until her group made their way into the karaoke bar, and I went back to where Tito, Jose, and Gina were.  They were set up in VIP of course.  I couldn't even believe this place had a "VIP" section.  And they already had a harem of what Jose and I refer to as "vultures."  The girls that want to be part of what you are.  I didn't even want to be at this fucking place to begin with tonight.  Gina had made us food before we left, and every time she cooks I get sick.  Every.  Single.  Time.

The good news is, Tito and Gina both know it, so when I disappear in 10 minutes to meet Aleah, they won't come looking for me.

I know I look distracted, and I catch Tito watching me.  I nod a "what's up" at him.  He hollers over at me, "Selection here not good enough?" as he gestures to the 5 or 6 girls that have gathered.  I give him a half smile of approval, while inside my stomach is churning.  And this time, not from Gina's cooking.

My undercover orders are to act as "when in Rome."  In order for me to be trusted and get into the inner circle, I have to play and look the part.  So far, I'd managed to not fuck any girls.  I can't do it to Aleah.  I love her.  I constantly have girls surrounding me who aren't leaving much to the imagination in how they're dressed.  Some of them are really good looking, and if I was single, I would happily, and fully, be playing the part.  One of my earliest tests after meeting Tito, was trying to show I was not hiding anything and had no ties to anyone, so I could do his bidding as needed.  While Tito had a gun pointed at me, without flinching, I had to let some whore blow me.  I didn't finish.  I couldn't.  I had to block out my surroundings and think about Aleah only in order to even get it up. But finishing wasn't the point.  I had to prove to Tito that I had nothing to lose.  On the outside, I was fine.  On the inside I was crying, because I have one, who is my everything, to lose.  There would be a lot of questionable things I had to do or participate in while playing my role.  There were certain rules I couldn't break, others I could toe the line, and some my superiors would look the other way. 

I look at my burner phone.  One minute.  I break away from the two girls that are laying it on thick with me, and go over to Tito. I lean down so he can hear me and say, "Gina's cooking."  I stand back up and he laughs, and I head to the middle bar, where the bathroom is.

I don't know what architect built this joint, but they're an idiot.  However, I'm thanking them at that moment.  The bathrooms there were single bathrooms.  The girls' had a line, of course.

I push open the guys' bathroom door and look behind me to see Aleah taking quick steps in shoes that are ungodly high towards the bathroom. I can't hide the smile, though, at seeing her.

I check behind her and didn't see anyone I recognize.  I held the door open for her, and she entered.  I closed it, locked it, and immediately turned to her and pushed her against the wall, pressing my mouth hard against hers. 

I wanted to taste her, feel her, breath her in.  I needed to. 

She kissed me back, just as hungrily.  I grab her waist, having forgotten how perfectly it fits inside the grip of my hands.  The kissing lasts minutes.  Hell, I don't know, maybe hours.  Realistically, though, minutes.

I reluctantly pull away, but rest my forehead against hers.

"Aaron," she whispers.  I place a finger over her mouth, silencing her.

"I love you.  Please don't say my name."  I pause.  "I love you.  You look amazing.  I've missed you so much.  I love you."

I feel her muscles relax.  "I love you.  When are you coming home."  It was a statement.

I sighed.  "Not soon enough.  I'm not sure.  It could be awhile.  Unfortunately, a long time.  Did I mention I've missed you?"

She smiled.  I would do anything to make her smile, to keep her smiling, to be able to see her smile.

Before she could say anything, I continued.  "Aleah, you need to listen to me.  These people I'm working with... they're bad.  They're extremely dangerous.  I'm in deep and can't get out right now.  But they can have no knowledge of who you are, or who I am.  I'm not sure how long we'll be here tonight, but I need you to get out of here.  Get my mom out of here.  I can't risk Sarah, my mom, or Rosa seeing me and blowing my cover.  If you see me in here again, don't look at me.  Pretend I don't exist tonight."  The deep sadness that clouded her face caused a part of me to die right then.  "Please be strong.  There's so much I want to tell you, and so much I want to ask you, but I just don't have time right now.  If you ever think there's someone following you or watching you, or anything, let Brad know immediately.  There's another guy I'm undercover with, his name is Jose.  Well, his real name isn't, but that's a whole other story. I just want you to know I'm not alone, and we're looking out for each other."

She nodded her head, but I could see the fear etched across her forehead, and trailing through her eyes.  I kissed her gently, again, first on the forehead, then the tip of the nose, and finally on her lips. 

I stepped back to look her up and down and take her fully in, knowing that I may not see her for a long time.  I want the image of her burned into my brain.  I see a tear make its way slowly down her face.  I brushed it off with my thumb, letting my hand linger on her cheek.  "Babe, I know this is hard.  At least until you get home, I need you to be strong.  And especially walking out of this bathroom, I need you to act like everything is okay.  Or, rather, act like we just met and I fucked the life out of you.  If anyone is out there who knows me, I can't have them think I know you."

"I wish you would," she quietly said.

"You wish I would what?"

She smiled sadly at me, but there was a slightly mischievous look behind the sadness.  She shyly said, "You know... fuck the life out of me."

She blushed and I laughed, moving closer to her.  I love the innocent side of her.  The spontaneous, adventurous side, too.  I side nodded to our surroundings.  "Really?  In here?"

I saw her briefly look around the bathroom, and back at me.  "I mean, you want to make it look believable when we walk out of here, right?"

I studied her face closely.  She looked so innocent, yet truly like she wanted to help.  And beneath it all, she looked as if she really just wanted me with her for as long as possible. 

I didn't answer her.  I kiss her in response.  I'm already ready for her; I was the minute I laid eyes on her.  I unbutton my jeans, and unzip them, pushing them and my boxer briefs down to my knees.  She coils a hand around me and I moan into her mouth.  I roughly push her short things to the side, and feel she has no panties on.  I smile into our kiss, and let a finger feel her.  She's just as ready for me.  I push that finger into her and she intakes a breath, sharply.  I remove it, and she lets go of me, and I guide myself into her gently.  I know this isn't going to take long, for either of us.  I press my thumb against her as I thrust.

She presses her mouth into my shoulder and makes some muffled noises, or something.  I don't know, I can't focus on much other than her tightening around me, putting the cherry on top of this cake, as I quietly groan her name into her ear.  We stay like that for a time, me supporting her, and I can sense she's shaky.

After she feels stable, she loosens her grip on me.  She looks at me, shyly, again, and makes her way to the toilet.  She cleans herself off, and I get myself straightened back up. 

Before we walk out, I put my hands on her cheeks.  "I love you, sweet girl.  When it gets hard, or the nights seem long, remember that."

I unlock the bathroom door, taking one more long look at her.  Her hair is slightly disheveled looking, but I don't fix it.  When I open the door, I'm glad I hadn't.  Because standing there, was Tito.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Like Being in College Again

Sarah wrinkled her nose at me.  "Was it awkward?"

I shrugged my shoulders.  "Not really.  I was surprised, because Aaron never mentioned his mom was a lesbian.  I really liked her and her partner a lot."

I was straightening my hair, getting ready to meet Quinn and Rosa out at a bar.  They wanted to get drinks, and it was their last night in town.  They were flying out late afternoon the next day. 

Sarah was going along, too.  I had made sure they were okay with it.  I didn't want to feel like a third wheel.

"So, isn't it weird you never met or spoke with either of them, and his mom just randomly calls you?  Do you think it's really her?"  Sarah looked skeptical.

I laughed.  "This isn't some conspiracy theory, Sar.  Aaron told me his mom's name was Quinn.  He has a picture of his family at his house.  Like, an old family picture with his mom and dad in it.  Obviously it's really old, and in the picture her hair was darker, but I think it looked like her, from what I remember."

"Okay..." She still looked doubtful.

An hour and a half later we were at a "sophisticated" bar in Omaha, sipping martinis.  Since Rosa had never been to Nebraska, Quinn wanted her to see Omaha, since it was much bigger than Lincoln, and they were used to going out in Chicago, so Omaha was a bit more their speed.

I wasn't sure where the night was going to take us, so I was dressed to fit in (almost) anywhere in a romper and purple pumps.  Sarah was dressed similarly and Rosa and Quinn were in fitted tiny dresses.  I had a feeling they both always looked like they had just stepped out of a photo shoot.

We talked about Sarah's and my plans for the foreseeable future, what Quinn and Rosa do for a living (Quinn is a lawyer, Rosa is a podiatrist), and Quinn told us about Aaron's sisters.  She said they expressed wanting to meet me sometime, too, as she had called and told them about meeting me.  She said she didn't tell them before she left, as they would have tried to come along, and she didn't want to overwhelm me.

After a couple of martinis, they wanted to move on.  They said they wanted to go somewhere "interesting" and different from what they're used to, in order to people watch.  Sarah and I smirked at each other, because we knew just the place.  Quinn and Rosa said most of the places they go out to were high-class places, such as martini bars, jazz lounges, country clubs, etc.  Even though I (or rather, my parents) could afford to live like that, I didn't often.  I enjoyed those places, and would go with my parents or Zach and his family and sometimes my friends, but in recent years, I was more used to hanging out with my (financially challenged) college friends and going to honky-tonk dive bars for penny pitcher night.

Sarah and I laughed, reminiscing about such nights, and shared some stories with Quinn and Rosa as we drove to the next place.  Sarah and I had only been to the next bar twice.  Both times had turned into quite the experience.  The first time was when I was dating Derek, and we went with some of our friends and Derek.  Derek had gotten into a fight, because some guy didn't like the way I was looking at his girlfriend.  Or rather, she had called me some choice words in the bathroom because I had stumbled (thanks, alcohol!) into her when opening the door, and then when I got out, as soon as I was next to Derek, here comes her boyfriend threatening me, because I "looked at his girl wrong."  The second time, I was with Sarah and some girls from the track team, and a random girl sat down at our table, sobbing, and going through her phone showing us her "modeling" pictures.  AKA, her friend who was trying to start a photography business wanted to take modeling pictures because she was "so pretty she should be a model" and really they looked like a Wal-Mart studio had done them.  If Wal-Mart even had a photo studio.  But she didn't understand why none of agencies they were sent to weren't picking her up, and she wanted us to give her validation.  I guess.

I knew that I was way overdressed as we handed our ID's to the bouncer.  But hey, at least I wasn't alone.  This was one of the last bars in Omaha that allowed smoking inside, so we were all going to smell like an ashtray when we left, too.  I turned to see the looks on Rosa and Quinn's faces, and wasn't disappointed.  I laughed at the mixed expressions of awe and shock.  The bar is one floor, but three large rooms, doors separating them.  Karaoke takes place in the far right room and is usually an eclectic mix of people, the middle room (the one the door is attached to, so we had entered) was filled with people in their 50s, some wearing overalls, and playing country music.  The room to our left had a tiny dance floor completed with a "cage," tables, the lights down low, and played 90's and beyond rap music. 

It was only 10:50 p.m., so I knew the rap room wouldn't be super busy.  It wouldn't start filling up until closer to midnight.  I told them we could start in there.  We made our way to the bar.  I immediately ordered 4 shots of Goldschlager.  Quinn took it, thanking me, but Rosa seemed hesitant.  I shouted over the loud country music, "Trust me, you'll thank me later, and will make the night more enjoyable!"

We clinked shot glasses and downed it.  Then we got a couple of pitchers and made our way into the nearly empty rap room. 

When we sat, Quinn put her hand on my shoulder and said with a big smile on her face, "I didn't even know places like this existed!"

Rosa chimed in, saying that drinking like this and being around Sarah and I took her back in time and made her feel young again.  "It's like being in college again!."  She was grinning ear to ear, so I took it as a good thing.

Truthfully, I was a little concerned taking them to that bar that they really wouldn't have fun, but because they seemed "classier," I had gotten the impression from the conversations we'd had that they were wild in college and enjoyed stepping outside of their box every now and then.

Slowly, people started trickling in, and we watched and joked and talked.  Quinn and Rosa invited Sarah and I out to Chicago to visit sometime soon, and then I could meet Aaron's sisters.  About an hour later, we were a few pitchers in, and had done another round of shots.  We were all a little on the drunk side, and Quinn wanted to karaoke, so we stood to move to the karaoke room. I led the way through the now thickened crows.  I opened the door to the door to enter the country room.  I had my head turned facing behind me to tell Sarah to not lose the other two, and I ran hard into someone, stumbling back a couple steps, knocking into Sarah.  Her cup of beer spilled between us, sloshing us both with beer, her front and my back. 

The half-notdrunk side of me told me that it wasn't the person's fault I had run into, because I wasn't looking.  The half-intoxicated side of me said it was.

I whipped my head around, my eyes darting from the floor up the length of the person in front of me.  She was in sky high heels (not like my pumps, but think of platform stripper heels), a tiny skirt baring covering her vajay, and a crop top that was apparently see through in the black lights with her nipples half showing through.  Her icy glare let me know that as annoyed as I was with this situation, she was ready to take off her earrings and throw down.

She held up a hand at me and shouted, "Oh bitch, I can't even!"  And that's when I noticed the empty cup in her hand.  Well... no wonder why her crop top looked super see-through.  Not only was it white, but it was now very wet.

"Ummm..." I started.  The drunk part of me wanted to laugh, now.  The sober part was considering apologizing.

But before I could get out anything else, she turned to the man behind her.  "Tito, this bitch just dumped my drink all over me."

"Whoa, it was an accident-"

She acted like I hadn't even said a word.  "And THEN she laughed!"

My eyes widened.  I definitely did not laugh.  I may have been thinking about it.  I may have had a smile playing on my lips.  But I hadn't laughed.  Yet.

I looked at Tito.  He had on a lot of gold chains.  He was wearing a super tight shirt that was barely clinging together around his very defined muscles.  He sighed.  He looked me up and down.  Then rolled his eyes.  "I'll get you another one."

"But I wanna dance," she whined.

I was quickly sobering up and even more quickly losing any humor I'd found in the situation.

"Fine.  Jose or Lorenzo can get it."  He looked at me, pointedly.  "Excuse us."

I stepped out of the doorway, pushing Sarah back with my hand.  I glanced at Rosa and Quinn and they were a few feet behind, chatting, seemingly oblivious to what had just happened.  As Tito and girl walked past us, Tito turned behind him and called out, "Jose, Zo, one of you go get my girl another drink."

Two guys were coming through the door, with a few girls dressed similarly to Tito's girl.  The first one turned to the second one, "Zo, get another drink for Tito's girl, you're last in."  When first guy (Jose?) was through the door, the second guy (Lorenzo?) stopped to turn back and head to the bar.  But before he did, we made eye contact.

And we froze.


Saturday, August 22, 2015

Meeting Quinn

I smoothed my skirt down, nervously.  My palms were sweaty.  I always got nervous meeting parents of significant others anyway, but now that it was happening alone?  My stomach was churning. 

Especially, because I tended to get along better with dads.  I grew up playing with the boys, and so I was good at talking about "boy subjects."  I was more girlie since going to college, but I still was more comfortable talking sports, food, and outdoors-y things.

Aaron's mom was coming into town to check on his place, since he'd left it in a hurry.  Luckily, he didn't have any animals.  I had a key and was stopping in twice a week to get his mail, but I guess she wanted to check in to make sure there wasn't anything major going on.  She blamed it on "mothering him" which she said he hated, but she couldn't help it.

We were meeting at an upscale organic bistro that was only open until early afternoon, serving breakfast and brunch items.  I had gotten us a table and was sipping water, as I wasn't sure how relaxed she would be, though really I wanted to be drinking a bloody instead, to calm my nerves.

I was smoothing my skirt down, once again, when I heard a soft, "Aleah?" from behind me.  I turned my head, to see a gorgeous older blonde standing there, smiling.  I stood up and bent slightly to greet her with a hug. 

"You must be Quinn," I smiled.  "I love your dress!"  She was wearing a Banana Republic dress that I had actually tried on when trying to find something to wear for my interview, but hadn't ended up buying.  Her long blonde hair was pulled back in a sleek, high pony, and she had on black pumps with a green clutch.  In her pumps, she was a couple inches shorter than me. Knowing Aaron is 28, his mom looked way younger than to have a 28 year old.  She reminded me of Heather Locklear.

"Oh, thank you, dear.  I see what my son sees in you, you are absolutely stunning."

I blushed, as we sat back down.  "Thank you... Aaron is an amazing guy."

She smiled, proudly.  "He is."  Her facial expression turned more serious.  "And growing up with a bunch of women, he better be treating you right, because he knows how.  And if he doesn't, let me know."  Then she laughed.

"Oh, I will, but he treats me very well."

She smiled, and looked like she was about to respond, but her eyes drifted past me, warming at whoever she saw.  She stood, and pulled out the chair next to her at our table.  I looked to see an equally as beautiful Hispanic woman approaching, and sit in the chair that was pulled out.  The woman smiled at me and stuck her hand out, which I grabbed and shook.  "Hi, I'm Rosa," she said.

Quinn jumped in, "Oh Aleah, I forgot to mention that Rosa, my girlfriend, would be joining us!"

I smiled and told them that was not a problem.  I was surprised, though, as Aaron had never mentioned that his mom was in a relationship, or in one with a woman.

Quinn spoke, "I was going to come alone, but Rosa wanted to meet you, too, so of course I couldn't say no!"

"And I'm so glad I was able to come along!  Aaron deserves a wonderful girl, and he's spoken so highly of you."

Again, I blushed.  "Oh, well, thank you.  I've really wanted to meet his family, but unfortunately, timing just was inconvenient, and then he left."

His mom looked troubled, then.  "Yes.  Do you know where he is, or have you spoken with Aaron?"

"No," I said, shaking my head.  "Not since shortly after leaving Philadelphia."

"Aaron didn't go into details, but he mentioned that you had a lot going on and he was worried about you." Quinn continued, jumping right in.  I could appreciate how direct she was.  "He said that he was considering not taking the job, but thought it was best in the long run."

I looked down at the table.  I didn't realize he was actually considering not taking the job because of  me.  I looked back, meeting each of their questioning eyes.  "There was a situation... I was assaulted.  And Aaron showed up and kept it from becoming more than it already was.  And the guy who... who almost really hurt me, he had been bonded out of jail and was running around loose when Aaron had to leave."

Rosa and Quinn's eyes were wide.  Quinn reached over and laid her hand on top of mine.  "I'm so sorry to hear that, Aleah.  I wish Aaron would've shared so I could've reached out sooner, but I understand why he didn't.  That's your story to tell."

"Thanks.  It was hard, but Aaron was my rock.  I know that sounds super corny.  But it's true.  So it's been really difficult not having him here, now."  I decided to quickly change the subject, though, because I didn't want to start crying the first time I meet his mom.  "Anyway, how is your visit going?"

Rosa smiled, knowingly.  "It's been good.  This is my first time even visiting Nebraska.  There's a lot of corn," she stated, matter-of-factly.

I laughed.  "It's true.  I swear there's more than corn here... like amazing steak houses!"

She and Quinn both laughed, then.  Quinn said, "I love a good steak, but Rosa here..." She shook her head and smiled at her.  "Rosa is a vegetarian."  And she rolled her eyes, playfully.

"Oh!  I'm sorry for..."

Rosa cut me off, "Oh, don't apologize.  It's not because I think there's anything wrong with it.  It's purely for health reasons."

"How long have you two been together?" I asked.

Rosa nudged Quinn with her shoulder, "It's your turn to tell our tale!"

Quinn smiled back at her.  "You're so ridiculous, sometimes.  Rosa and I were best friends in high school.  We each got married in college and lost touch.  We ran into each other a few years after we each had been divorced after she moved back to Aurora."  She must have seen a blank look on my face, so she clarified.  "Aurora is where we live.  It's a suburb outside of Chicago.  It's our hometown.  So it was like we'd never lost touch, and we picked back up where we left off... well, and a little more.  I always knew I loved her and wanted her friendship.  I just didn't know that she was what I needed in my life, too."  Rosa lightly touched her arm, and they smiled at each other.

Rosa jumped in, then.  "But, what she didn't know then," she nodded her head towards Quinn, "was that I had always been in love with her, and was just waiting, and hoping, that she'd eventually feel the same way for me!  And to answer your question, we've been together for 10 years."

"So, do you have any kids?" I asked Rosa.

She shook her head.  "No.  I always knew who I really was.  When I saw Quinn move on with a husband, I tried to convince myself that I could be happy with a husband, too.  How foolish was my thinking back then?  Anyway, my marriage didn't last long, and there weren't any kids."

The rest of brunch went by smoothly, and they shared a lot of stories from Aaron as a child and growing up.  As we were parting ways and saying goodbye, Quinn said they weren't flying out for another few days, and she'd like to get together again before then, if I'd be up for it.

"Of course!" I replied.  I felt like this may be the first boyfriend's mother, since Zach's mom, that I could actually get along with and like.

She hugged me goodbye, and told me she'd touch base the next day so we could set up plans.

Monday, August 17, 2015

No News Is Good News

I gave Victoria a hug, and we parted ways.  It was a few days after her confession to me, and we had just left the police station.  We gave Detective Stratton everything that each of us had, and told him everything we knew. 

Luke's trial was scheduled for October, and they were going to be pressing charges on Nate, too.  Detective Stratton said he would be talking to the prosecutor the next day and putting out a warrant to search his apartment and seize his computer, and also for his arrest for accessory, premeditation, and possession charges.  Detective Stratton said they may add other charges, but this was the preliminary plan. 

I wait until Victoria rounded the corner and then I went back into the station.  I asked the front desk again to speak with Detective Stratton.  One of his fellow Detectives saw me sitting there and took me up to him. 

"Hey, Aleah, did you remember something else?"

I bashfully looked at my feet.  "No... I just wanted to check in..." I trailed off.

Detective Stratton sighed.  But his voice softened.  "Aleah, you already know that I couldn't tell you anything even if I knew."

"I know," I said sadly, staring at my hands.

"Hey," he put his finger under my chin to move my head up, making my eyes meet his.  "This is what you need to remember.  No news, really is good news."


I was curled up on my couch eating some Almond Butter balls.  It was a recipe I had discovered/altered when I was at home late one night and craving something sweet, and healthy-ish, that I could make with some random ingredients.  They hit the spot, perfectly.  I was catching up on So You Think You Can Dance, when my phone started ringing.  It was a number I didn't recognize with an out of state area code.

I frowned at my phone.  I normally don't answer numbers I don't recognize, however, I was hoping it was Aaron, calling from where ever he was.


There was a brief pause on the other end of the phone.  Then a tentative female voice.  "Uh, hello.  Is Aleah available?"

"This is she."

"Hi, Aleah.  This is Quinn, Aaron's mom."

My eyes widened.  I definitely didn't know how she got my number.  I also had definitely never met her or spoken to her.  Aaron had told me a little bit about his family.  I knew they lived in Illinois, specifically a suburb of Chicago.  I knew he had 4 sisters and his parents are divorced.  He had said he was relatively close with his family, but didn't see them often because of the distance.  He had also told me he wanted me to meet them, but with my last semester being crazy, and then him being in Philadelphia, and then who knows where, it just hadn't happened.

I cleared my throat, completely aware of my awkward silence.  "Oh, um, hi!"  I really didn't know what to say, and knew I was making this even more uncomfortable with my inability to hold a conversation at the moment.

There was gentle laughter coming through.  "I'm so sorry to call you out of the blue like this.  Aaron had given me your number, before he went AWOL, in case of an emergency."

"Oh my..."

She must have heard the terror in my voice and cut me off.  "Oh, no no no.  I'm sorry.  There's not an emergency!  Aaron spoke very highly of you, and he also seemed very worried about you the last time I talked to him.  I wanted to check in... on his behalf.  But, also, I'd really like to meet the woman who my son is so enamored with."

Monday, August 10, 2015

Because I'm Sorry

 If you haven't read it, yet, make sure you don't miss the bonus from Saturday, Impressions.


"Well, isn't THAT a force to be reckoned with," bellowed Nate.  He sneered at Victoria and I.  I saw her jerk her head up and shift her weight backwards, away from him approaching us.

Nate was Luke's roommate.  The dirty one, who was also on the basketball team.  The one who also happened to have had a conversation on Facebook with Luke about their dirty, horrific plan of what they were going to do to me.

I bristled, but didn't say anything.  Victoria almost seemed to cower.  He stopped within feet of us, just appraising each of us.  I crossed my arms.  I wasn't going to let him win this battle.  We were in public, so nothing was going to happen.

"I like it when you cross your arms like that," he calmly said, staring at my chest. 

I finally spoke.  "We are busy.  Is there something you need?"

Wrong question.

"Actually, yes.  I need a good fucking.  I think you two could more than help me with that."  He squinted his eyes at each of us, challenging either of us to cross him.

My heart was pounding, but I wasn't giving in.  "Literally, over my dead body.  Now please leave."

He glanced at me one more time then turned his attention to Victoria.  He reached out and grabbed one of her curls, pulling at it.  "Oh, Vic, you know how good I can make you hurt."

She was quickly turning red, and looked like she wanted to melt into a pile of death.

I reached out and slapped his hand downward, hard, knocking it away from her.  I grabbed Victoria by the arm and dragged her away.

"Well, shit, ladies, I hate to see you go, but really do love to watch you leave."

Neither of us turned around.

Once we were outside and a few blocks away, I stopped at a bench and sat down, hard.  Victoria slowly sat beside me.  "He's just as bad as Luke.  Maybe worse," I started.

She shook her head, silencing me.  I looked at her, and saw she was crying.  I watched her, quizzically, but didn't say anything.

She eventually broke her silence. "He's way worse."

I questioned, doubting her.  "Is that even possible?"

"It is."  She looked at me out of the corner of her eye, and sighed.  "Luke was always crass and at times rude, but he was always straightforward with me.  When he came to school here, he changed pretty quickly.  He was short on the phone, evasive, and I caught him in a few small lies.  I didn't know how bad it was until you entered the picture.  No offense.  But, Nate was who he was placed with to room with when he came here."

"But are you sure Nate corrupted Luke and it wasn't the other way around?"

"I came to visit Luke on a weekend, which later I found out you were gone for tennis, which is how he got away with it.  But I went to a party with him, and they were pill popping.  He said Nate did them all the time and introduced him.  He said they helped keep him alert in classes with drinking a lot."  She shook her head, her curls bouncing around her face.  "So I was still here visiting when you came back from your tennis trip.  I was supposed to leave the next day in the afternoon.  Well, apparently Luke wanted to see you when you got back, so he told me he had a school project he was meeting with a group and then they were going out for beers after to celebrate the completion.  I was hanging out at their house waiting for him to come back when Nate got home.  He said he'd keep me company so we were playing some Wii games.  We both had a drink anyway, so we turned it into a drinking game.  After mine was gone, he offered to get me another.  That's the last thing about that night I remember until I woke up in his bed that morning, naked."

"Oh, no..." I gasped.

She rolled her eyes, then brushed away the tears.  "Yeah, that's not even the worst part, if you can believe it."  She took a deep breath and let it out slowly.  "Turns out that to help Luke get away with being with you for as long as he wanted or needed that night, he had made a deal with him that Nate could do whatever he wanted with me, as long as he used protection."  She scoffed, clearly still disgusted.  "Luke betrayed me, and sold me out," she said, sadly.

I widened my eyes in disbelief.  "No!"

"Yeah.  And it was Nate's idea.  I mean, don't get me wrong.  Luke is a piece of shit, too.  I just think Nate is the king shit."  Her face then fell, and she just sat there, staring miserably at the sidewalk.

I saw Victoria, then, for what she was really was.  Hurt and damaged.  As horribly scarred as I was from Luke in the brief amount of time I'd known him, she had dealt with him and his crap for far longer than I.

I didn't realize I was crying, until Victoria asked me why I was.  "Because I'm sorry.  I'm sorry for the way Luke and Nate treated you.  I'm sorry you had to go through that."

She shook her head.  "It isn't your fault."

"No, but I really am still sorry."  And I reached over and grabbed her hand, and we sat like that in silence, letting the reality of how deep this mess really was, wash over us.

Saturday, August 8, 2015


"Hey!" I walked up to the table where James was sitting, waiting for me.  Our schedules at work usually conflicted now, so we didn't see each other often.

He stood up and enveloped me in a hug, kissing my cheek.  Then he pulled my chair out for me before sitting back down in his seat.  "Aleah, such a sight for sore eyes."  I rolled mine.

We briefly caught up, acknowledging that while I was in a relationship, James was once again single.  Never were we single at the same time.  We each ordered food and he dove right in for what to expect for the interview, what they were hiring for, and details about the actual position.  As we concluded our food, he finished with, "And please, for the love of all that is holy, if you truly do not know the answer to a question, do not ramble pointlessly.  It's painful.  That's a great moment for you to admit you don't know everything but that you're a quick learner."

I chuckled, "Got it.  Admit I'm not perfect."

"Close, but not quite."  He grinned.

He picked up lunch.  We were waiting for the waitress to return with his credit card, when I heard my name being softly called behind me.

I turned and saw Victoria standing there.  She shyly looked past me at James, then met my eyes.  Sheepishly, she said, "I'm a little early, sorry."

I had made plans with Victoria to go shopping/walk around downtown after lunch with James, and told her where I'd be and about when I'd be done.  I quickly looked at my phone, seeing that she was actually on time, our lunch was just going a little late.

"It's okay.  We were just finishing up."  The waitress dropped off the book then, and James filled out the receipt.  I stood up.  "Oh, and Victoria, this is my friend James, James, this is Victoria."

James stood and clasped Victoria's hand.  "It's a pleasure to meet you, Victoria.  Aleah never mentioned she had such a beautiful friend."

I rolled my eyes behind his back.  But Victoria was feeding right into it and giggled like a high schooler.  I noted she was blushing.  "Oh thank you.  But the pleasure is all mine!"

We walked out of the restaurant.  James pulled me into a tight hug, saying bye.  He told Victoria it had been nice meeting her, and he left.

Victoria and I started walking, in awkward silence, down the sidewalk, looking for a shop to go browse in.

"Sooo..." she started.  "Are you and James good friends?"

I glanced at her and saw her staring straight ahead, but blushing.  "Sometimes."

I saw her steal a quick glance at me, and she laughed.  "What does that even mean?"

I sighed.  "Well, we go in waves of talking and not talking.  We work together at the Racquet Club, but we've been friends since I started there.  Sometimes we are closer than others."

She then made eye contact at me.  "Did you two ever date?"

"Uh, no."  I raised an eyebrow at her.  "Why?"

She tried to hide her smile, but couldn't.  "Because he's hot!  And I'm single now... but, you know... given our history I don't want to immediately start off by stepping on your toes by maybe developing a slight crush on someone you may have dated."

"That's a very valid point."  I laughed out loud, but internally felt torn.  "I have no claim on him. Besides, I'm dating someone and am very happy."

She seemed to get even more excited.  "Oh, yeah! That detective guy, right?"

I grinned.  "Yeah, that detective guy."

We went in and out of several small shops downtown.  Our conversation actually flowed pretty naturally, and after the first awkward silence, we didn't have any.  I could see why Luke actually liked being around each of us.  We were pretty similar, after you got past Victoria's rough edges.  We liked a lot of the same music and types of movies and books.  Plus, we enjoyed a lot of similar activities.

"Oh, lets stop in at the bookstore," Victoria said.  "I've had quite a bit of down time and want to find a new series to read."

I shrugged.  "Okay."

We entered and browsed around.  She was reading the back of a book and I was glancing at titles, to see if anything struck my interest when I saw someone come down the aisle towards us.

I looked up, and froze, in surprise.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Phone Time

The phone was ringing.  My stomach was churning.  Even though this was something I wanted to do, it still made me nervous, knowing Victoria's connection to Luke.


I hung up quickly, not wanting to leave a message, yet.  If I didn't hear back from her, I would send her a text message the next day.

I set my phone down, and as soon as my hand left it, it started ringing.  I quickly snatched it up, expecting to see Victoria's number, but saw it was from a number I didn't recognize.

"Hello?"  I answered tentatively.  Ever since the second Luke incident, I was scared I was going to answer and he would somehow be on the other end.

"Hi, is this Aleah Lange?"  It was a kind sounding female.

"Yes, this is she."

"Hello, Aleah.  My name is Wendy.  I work for the Department of Health and Human Services.  I was calling about a job application you had submitted through our website?"

I brightened up.  I had forgotten in all of the issues with Luke, and my worry about Aaron, that I had applied for a job working as an investigator for the child protective services.

"Oh, yes!  Thank you for calling."

"We'd like to schedule an interview with you here at the office.  Would you be available sometime at the beginning of next week?"

"I would." I didn't want to sound too available. Like I wasn't doing anything with my life.  Which, I kinda wasn't.  "I could do anytime Tuesday afternoon, if that would work, and if not I could rearrange some things to make a different day and time available?"

"Yes, that'll be perfect.  How does 2 p.m. sound?"

"That will work and I'll put it on my calendar!"

After we ended the call I stood up and did a little happy dance.  Unfortunately, Sarah wasn't home.  My mom and dad were both at work.  Who I really wanted to tell first was Aaron, but I had no way of getting a hold of him.  I sighed, loudly.  I pulled up Facebook on my phone.  I figured I would just send him a message on there, and hopefully he'd check it.  I went to my search bar and started typing in his name, but it wasn't pulling up.  "That's weird," I muttered to myself.  I went to the "About" section of my profile and scrolled to my relationship status and saw that it said "In a Relationship" but Aaron's name was gone.  I frowned.  I tried actually searching for Aaron, but there were no matches.

My temper flared up and I threw my phone against the back of the padded chair that was sitting close to the couch and watched my phone bounce off, hit the seat of the chair and slide onto the floor.

I sat back hard against the couch, not moving to get my phone.  I stayed like that for about 10 minutes, having a mini pity party and pouting.

It was at that moment that an imaginary light bulb went off above my head.  I stood up and retrieved my phone and pulled up a new text to James.  Yes, the same James who works with me at the Racquet Club and that we've had a secret attraction to each other forever.  Also, turns out, for his "real" job, James is a supervisor for the child protective services, which is how I found out about the job.  I had told him one night that I wasn't sure what I was going to do, or even where to begin searching for jobs.  He had suggested applying.  So I did. 

Guess who has an interview at your workplace next week!!!!! :)

Immediately he responded back:  You mean there's a possibility I could see your sexy face almost every day of the week?

Don't get ahead of yourself, there, James.
But yes!  haha

Meet for lunch on Friday and I can give you some pointers?


Awesome.  I'll let you know Friday morning what time and where.

I smiled to myself, but then remembered Aaron's missing Facebook.  I pulled it up again and tried searching for him.  No results.

I sighed again and decided to call Detective Stratton.  I wanted to check in on where the case with Luke was.  Plus, hopefully he could at least let me know Aaron was alive.

As I was scrolling through my contacts to find Detective Stratton's number, an incoming call popped up on my screen.  Victoria.