I walked off the plane into the into the warm Ohio sun, squinting at the bright light and making my way to baggage claim.
"Destry!" I heard yelled in my direction. Laughing, I turned to see my sister, three years older than me and a professional woman, standing there in blue lounge capris and a cute tee, smiling and bouncing on her toes. I grabbed my bag and hurried over to her, pulling her into a tight hug that she returned. "Oh god, I haven't seen you so long!" She exclaimed, pulling away. "How have you been?"
"I've been…" The past two weeks flashed through my head and my 'good' doesn't make it past my lips, replaced by, "shitty."
"Aw, babe, I'm so sorry." My petite sister, who only stands to my shoulder, even if I'm only five six, has way blonde hair that hangs down her back in a loose ponytail, and heavy eyeliner on, framing her amazing blue eyes. My sister is definitely the better looking of us two, but I don't care; she deserves to be drop-dead gorgeous.
"Naw, don't be; I'll be ok…soon. Come on, let's get out of here." I give her a weak smile then follow her outside to her car, listening as she rambled on about her boyfriend, her job, and her house. "I'm sorry if it's messy; I didn't have much warning—" this is accompanied by a quick glare, "—but I think you'll live. Robbie will be coming over tomorrow, so you can meet him, but that's no big deal. I got today and tomorrow off of work, so we'll have plenty of time to spend together. How long are planning on staying?"
I looked away from the window I'd been staring out of her for her ten minute monologue, shaking my head a little. "Hmm? Oh, uh…a week?"
She thought for a second, her eyebrows creased, then said, "Sounds good." She was quiet after that, probably contemplating how we'd spend every second tomorrow (my sister's a little controlling/obsessed with organization, but we think that's so she can feel in control—understandable.) Anyways, all of the sudden, as we're turning onto the highway, she exclaimed, "You'll get to meet Lacey!"
Surprised, I asked, "Who?"
She looked at me, eyebrow raised, and said, "Lacey. Listen up, little bro."
"Ohh, right, Lacey. How could I have forgotten you're…best friend?" I tried, meekly hiding myself behind my seatbelt (really a horrible hiding place, I mean, it is only two inches wide.)
"She's my dog, Destry, god, keep up," she snapped.
"Oh! Well, can't wait to see the cutie."
She raised an eyebrow at me again and asked, "I told she's a pit bull rescue right?"
No, she hadn't happened to mention that.
"Home sweet home," Natalie says, kicking off her shoes and leading me into the small, suburban home. "Now, that's the kitchen, the living room is through it, down that hall is the bathroom on the left, my room on the right, the guest room at the end. You want to unpack or go grab some dinner?"
I considered the small overnight bag I'd thrown together or the idea of another hour with my sister, rambling. "Let's go eat."
"Sounds good!" We turned around and went right back through the door, but instead of getting in the car, she started walking.
"Um, where are you going?" I asked, following.
"Hello—to eat!" She shook her curly hair and added, "You're just as clueless as always, aren't you, Des?"
I missed a step, surprised she'd nailed the situation I was in on the head. "Um…yeah, I guess."
She sighed and turned to loop her arm through mine. "Babe, don't get all depressed on me yet, ok? Even if I am a therapist, I'm not working right now; don't make me."
I gave her a small smile. "I won't, don't worry, no overtime here."
She barked out a laugh. "Cause who would want to work extra!" I couldn't help but chuckle; Natalie, if nothing else, is a procrastinator.
"Now, where are we headed?" I asked again.
"Ok, well, there's this quaint little restaurant right outside the suburbs and I figured we could walk, you know, get fresh air and talk more." I nodded, agreeing. We get to the restaurant, are seated, and order our drinks before we start into the more important conversation.
"So," she said, taking a deep breath. "Explain to me what's going on."
I glanced around, unsure if I wanted to tell her I'd been dating her rapist in such a public place, but then I decided that maybe it'd be better this way—she wouldn't be able to make a scene.
"Ok, well…" And I told her. Calmly, quietly, in as steady a voice as I could with the tears pricking my eyes, I told her. And she listened, nodding and amazingly keeping it together. When I was does, she sat back, staring at the table, and mumbled, "Fuck, I was expecting…well, something less."
I sat back as well. "Yeah…me too." She glanced up at me and smiled. "Oh Destry, are you gonna be ok? I mean, I've moved on, I'm ok; but you're obviously completely beat up about this. Are you mad? Sad?"
The waiter brought our food and I picked up a fry, munching on it. "Mad, definitely; I mean, he fucking lied to me since we met! And…I don't know, sad, I guess, cause I really did love him, you know? He was an amazing part of my life, until…well."
She reached over and put her hand over mine for a second. "Babe, he still can be."
I jerked away, annoyed. "No he can't! God, Natalie, after everything this put you through you think I could go back out with him just like that?"
She calmly shook her head. "No, Des, I think you should let him explain everything to you, see things from his point of view, then pass judgment."
"But Natalie, he's with Zach right now; he obviously doesn't care."
"You never know, babe; you ran didn't you? Who says he just couldn't handle it and had to get away for a few days?" I considered her words for a second, eating a bite here or there.
"Yeah…I guess you're right. As always. I'll talk to him, ok?"
She smiled. "Ok, thank you."
And that was that.
We didn't stay there much longer; we each got a large piece of delicious cheesecake—which I swear is the best dessert on earth—and then walked home in the dusk, enjoying the stars that were just appearing.
At her house, she let me meet Lacey who was actually a sweet little dog once she realized you were a friend, not the guy trying to attack. Natalie was so excited I was visiting, she didn't stop talking the whole entire time she gave me a tour of her house, helped me unpack, and said goodnight. As she headed out of the room, she added, "Robbie will be here around three, so I thought I could take you to my office tomorrow morning? Show you what it's like? Then we can do whatever you want; I've got nothing else planned."
I grinned a tired smile and walked towards her, pulling her into a loose hug. "You know, Natalie, I'm really glad I came here. I almost didn't, but I'm glad I decided against that and came."
"Aw, babe, I'm glad you came to! I miss you when we have a year between visits, you know?" I nodded. "Anyways, goodnight."
"'Night." She headed out and I changed into pajamas before collapsing into bed, exhausted. I slept well—the first time in two weeks—and woke up with the sun shining in the small window on the far wall. Yawning and reaching over my head to stretch, I tried to think of what Tyler might be doing right this moment. Had I know he was bored all day while Zach went to work, I might have been a bit happier, but all I could envision was Zach and him going at it. God.
Shaking my head, I grabbed some clothes and headed to the bathroom, taking a quick shower before meeting Natalie in the kitchen. "Hello, dear."
"Mornin', Nat." She smiled at me from the stove where she was flipping pancakes. I noticed she was wearing a pair of low cut jeans and a tank-top with big earrings and flip-flops. "Are you ever going to grow up?" I asked lightly as I pulled the orange juice out of the fridge.
"Never! Why should I?"
"I guess there is no good reason, but I have to know—what do you wear to work?" She glanced up, surprised, then took in her clothes and flushed.
"Oh…well, not this obviously. Um, pant suits, skirts, blazers, sometimes jeans, but only on, like, Fridays."
"Ok, thank you." She chuckled and handed me a plate, sitting down across from me a second later. "So, where's your office?"
"About twenty minutes away, in the city." I nodded, taking a bite of the sweet, syrupy pancakes; the one thing odd about my family was that we always ate one pancake with half the bottle of syrup, in fact, we said the reason for the pancake was to get the syrup. Despite how unappetizing it may have seemed to my friends, I'd always pour it on when I was served; Natalie respected this now by handing me the bottle.
Forty minutes later, we were standing in front of her office, enjoying cups of coffee. She showed me hers, with its nice wood floors, comfy sofa, and desk with flowers on the corner. "So what if they don't want to sit on the couch? How awkward is that."
"Well, we can switch seats, or I can pull another chair in, whatever they want; usually if they don't sit on the couch, they peruse the shelves." The shelves lined the back of the room and were covered in books and pictures; I noticed a few of me and the family, along with a couple of a guy I'd never met before.
"Robbie?" I asked, pointing. She nodded and we moved on. Afterwards, we decided to just walk around the city, since we didn't have anything better to do. We went into a few stores, but nothing much, mostly just walking and talking. It amazed me how she could keep up such a steady stream, when the last time I talked to her she'd barely added anything to the conversation. I assumed it changed with her moods, but didn't comment on it.
At three, we met up with Robbie, who I actually liked a lot. He was taller than me by about an inch, with short brown hair and big brown eyes; he actually reminded me a lot of Tyler. He had a great sense of humor, but was super sweet, especially to my sister; I couldn't have asked for anyone better for her.
We got a bite to eat for supper, then headed back to Natalie's house. She had to work tomorrow, so we made it an early night. After that, the next five days were filled with relaxing, sleeping in, and eating—sadly enough. When Natalie would finally get home, we'd discuss (as much as we could) the patients she'd had that day. Sometimes Robbie would eat with us, sometimes he'd spend the night; other times, we went out or went shopping or whatever. We talked a lot, not only about Tyler, but about how my job and schooling was going, or how our parents were. Amazingly, the week ended up passing fast and before I knew it, I was standing in the airport, Natalie's teary eyes staring at me.
"I'm so glad you came, Des, please visit me soon."
"I will," I say, pulling her into a quick but tight hug. "I'll call you later this week, ok?"
She nodded, stepping back. "Love ya."
"Love ya." And with a wave, I walked away, boarding the plane. The flight wasn't too long and before dark we were landing. I followed everyone to baggage claim, then outside to the parking lot. One man, maybe three or four years older than me, caught up to me as I made my way to Dawn's car I'd borrowed to drive myself to and from the airport. "Excuse me," he said before preceding to ask me where to find where he was going. I was about to give him direction when I caught someone coming towards us from the corner of my eye. Glancing over, I was surprised to see Tyler standing there, his hair a little longer than before and his skin darker, but the same as always.
Jumping to the point, he declared, "I need a ride."
A/N: Well, hope that it was good. Please reviewing and let me know what you thought! And thanks to everyone who reviewed the last chapter :)