It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon, the first real day of summer after a long rainy spring, and the wide concrete path that hugged the Chicago lakefront was packed with people enjoying the warm, sunny weather. Joggers, walkers, bikers, and rollerbladers, all fighting for position on the same crowded path, but everyone was in a good mood and having fun, including me. I was one of the rollerbladers, and not a very experienced one. After watching bladers shoot by me day after day while I was jogging, as if mocking my tortoise-like pace, I had finally gone ahead and bought a pair of the damn things, and now that I was getting the hang of it I had to admit it was a lot more fun than pounding the pavement.
This was actually only my second time on rollerblades, so I had taken it easy at first, just gliding along making sure I could keep my balance. But I'm pretty athletic, and in great shape, and it wasn't long before I was weaving in and out of the pedestrian traffic, scaring the hell out of people and making a nuisance of myself like an expert. I managed to get in a good workout despite the congested conditions, and now I was just gliding along taking in the scenery as I headed back towards my car.
By scenery I mean babes, of course, and there were plenty of them to look at. The two words that best describe the current trend in workout fashions are "tight" and "skimpy," which is fine with me. Most of the women were wearing lycra bra-tops and tight spandex shorts, and I was thoroughly enjoying the view. I'm not averse to showing a little skin myself, and I had noticed more than a few appreciative glances at my own well-muscled torso. It had been a long, cold, heavily-clothed winter, and I was looking forward to a hot summer. Last fall, shortly after moving to a new apartment near lake Michigan, I had discovered that this path along the lakefront was a great place to pick up. Unfortunately, this discovery had come only about two weeks before the snow had started to fly, and I had been waiting anxiously for the warm weather to return ever since.
I had just come to the top of a small rise leading into a sharp left turn, when I heard a commotion behind me. Then — Wham! Someone slammed into me from behind, knocking me off balance. I couldn't turn to follow the path, so I ended up doing a sort of tuck and roll off to the side into a patch of gravel. As I fell, I heard the unmistakable sound of a bicycle crashing to the ground, and when I sat up, somewhat stunned but unhurt, a girl was sitting right next to me on the gravel looking equally dazed.
"Nice riding," I said sarcastically. My heart was still pounding with the sudden shock, and I wasn't feeling too charitable.
"I'm really sorry," she said. "Some guy on a bike cut me off and I couldn't get out of the way. Are you all right?"
"Yeah, I think I am, actually." I took a closer look at her, and liked what I saw. Early twenties, which made her a few years younger than me, and a great little bod. She had long, dark hair pulled back in a ponytail, and a sexy, heart-shaped face. Something about her seemed vaguely exotic — maybe it was her smooth, evenly-tanned skin. Needless to say, I was more than ready to forgive her.
"How about you?" I asked, in a friendlier tone of voice. "You took sort of a nasty tumble, are you hurt?"
"I think I'm OK. My leg kind of hurts though." She straightened her right leg out, and we both noticed the patch of raw skin on the side of her thigh.
"Looks like you got some road rash there," I said. I found my water bottle, which had gone flying into a hedge, and poured a little water on the scrape. "You better let me clean this out right away so it doesn't get infected."
I gently picked the dirt and gravel out of her leg, using the opportunity to take a closer look at her. My first impression had been correct — she was very hot — and I started thinking that this might have been my lucky wipeout. Like I said, this is a great place to meet people.
"I'm Dave, by the way."
She smiled at me, revealing even, white teeth. "I'm Jennifer — it's nice to meet you, Dave. I'm really sorry I ran you over."
"That's OK, from what you said it wasn't even your fault." I finished tending to her tan, shapely leg and stood up. "Do you want to try to get up and see if you can walk?"
She took my hand and I pulled her to her feet, managing not to fall over on my rollerblades, and she gingerly took a few steps. Her ass, which was the only thing I hadn't checked out yet, was quite up to expectations — nice and round, but not too big.
"Thanks ... I think I'm going to be fine. Oh damn — my bike!" The rim on the front wheel of her mountain bike had been dented when it hit the cement curb, and several of the spokes were badly bent. She picked up the bike and tried to roll it, but the front wheel wouldn't even turn.
I took a closer look and saw that the front brakes had been knocked out of alignment and were pressing on the rim. I managed to pry the brake calipers back into alignment with my fingers, and the front wheel turned easily. "There. Now you can walk it along, but you'll have to replace the front wheel before you can ride it."
She didn't look too pleased with this news. "OK. It's kind of a long way back to my apartment, though."
Perfect — and just when I was starting to wonder how I was going to keep the conversation going. "That's no problem. My car is parked just a little ways further — I can put your bike in the back and give you a ride home," I said magnanimously.
"Um, OK," she said after a few seconds. Not the grateful thanks I had expected; maybe she was shy.
We started along the path back to my car, she pushing her bike and me sort of half-walking, half-rolling next to her, and we continued to talk. I purposely set a slow pace so we would have time to get to know each other. She seemed to be a little shy, which was unusual in such a beautiful girl, but she was a good listener and I ended up doing most of the talking. Right off the bat, we discovered that we lived only a few blocks from each other in Lincoln Park, which seemed like a good omen.
By the time we reached the parking lot, I made sure she knew that I had gone to top schools back East and that I had a great job with a well-known brokerage firm in the city, and that I was single. I didn't learn much about her, but she seemed interested in me and everything seemed to be going pretty well. I figured my gleaming new four-wheel drive truck (complete with leather seats) would clinch the deal, and that I would have the chance to get to know her better over dinner.
"See, there's plenty of room in the back for your bike," I said, popping open the back glass with the remote-entry key. She had stopped a few feet away, and she had an odd, nervous look on her face.
"Listen, it's really nice of you to offer, Dave, but I don't want to be any more trouble."
This was taking politeness a bit far, I thought. "It's no trouble, really — it's not even out of my way. Besides, it would take you an hour to walk from here." I moved to take her bike, but she pulled it protectively towards her.
"No, really, I'll be OK — I'll call a taxi. It was nice meeting you."
I couldn't believe it — she was actually going to turn down my offer of a ride. I felt a surge of anger — what was I, an ax-murderer?
"OK, suit yourself," I said coldly, and got in my car. I saw my cell phone sitting on the passenger seat, and for some reason I decided to make a final gesture.
"Here, you can call a taxi from my cell phone. I don't think there are any pay phones around here." She had already started to walk away, and for a second I thought she was going to turn this offer down too. But she finally turned around and came back.
"Thanks," she said quietly, taking the phone. She dug around in the little carry bag behind her bike seat and pulled out a card, and then she started to dial. After a few digits she stopped, and I figured she didn't know how to use the cell phone.
"Hit the green power button first and then just..."
She was biting her lip, and tears were rolling down her face. I had never seen anyone look so sad, and I felt my anger melt away.
"What's the matter, Jennifer, is your leg hurting?" Somehow I knew that wasn't the problem, but I didn't know what else to say.
She took a deep breath and wiped her arm across her eyes. "I'm really sorry ... you are being so nice, and..." She started crying again, and I waited patiently.
"I haven't told very many people, but you deserve an explanation," she said finally. Her voice was quavering, but she seemed to have stopped the tears. "I was raped about two months ago, and I'm still getting over it. It's hard for me to talk to people, to trust anyone."
"Oh God, Jennifer, I'm so sorry." I was secretly relieved that it wasn't just that she didn't like me. "I'm glad you told me — now I understand about the ride."
"I know how ridiculous it is to turn down your ride," she said, still sniffling a bit. "That's what being raped does to you. I used to be outgoing, and now I'm terrified of everything. You're actually the first strange guy, I mean male stranger, that I've talked to since it happened."
"Well, I'm flattered to hear that," I said stupidly. This was very awkward for some reason. I wanted to ask her about the rape, but I thought that might be too personal. "I really enjoyed talking to you — I hope you don't give up on men completely."
.... There is more of this story ...