Chapter 1

I really wasn’t horny when I saw her. Well, no more or less horny than any other twenty year old male college student hanging around the campus watching the pretty girls walk by in the spring. I was without a steady girl. Actually, I didn’t even have a casual girl.

My girl had sent me a “dear john” email in early January two days after classes started. I wasn’t surprised. She had flunked out last May at the end of our first year. Things had been tense all summer and became worse in the fall with me back in school and her at home working for her dad.

I proved to be a good student in high school knowing that I was responsible for getting the grades. It took more effort in college but the results were worth the effort. That had been another issue with Lisa that separated us. She wanted to party. I had gone to parties with her many times though I knew studying was essential. I slowly developed the power to resist her wiles and my resistance grew stronger during that first year in college. Over the summer, it became clear that our time as a couple was going to end.

All that raced through my mind as I watched this girl walk in my direction. We had a required English class in common. There was no group or team project so it was only my stupid ego that gave me any idea that she was walking toward me.

She was an easy girl to notice. Her hair was long and dark red to just below her shoulders. She had a slender build but was, by no means, skinny. She was taller than average being five foot nine or ten. Her clothing was neat but not especially tight nor was her blouse low-cut. She was quite simply a very attractive person of the female persuasion. She was fifty feet away now and still headed in my direction.

Who am I? My name is Bradley Gillis. I have heard all the “Dobie Gillis” jokes that there might be. I’m just over six feet tall and medium build with decent shoulders and medium brown hair that I wore at a medium length. I was dressed conservatively in Dockers and a collared pull-over shirt. I wasn’t anything special to look at though had never found that women or small children ran from me screaming in terror.

She was less than twenty feet away and there was no one between us. I could see her eyes looking at me. I was suddenly nervous because I didn’t have any idea why she was looking at me so very directly.

She walked up to me, stopping just a little too close to be comfortable for an almost stranger. She was looking me directly in the eye. I waited and looked back into her eyes steadfastly waiting.

“Brad, you could say hello or something to acknowledge my presence.” She knew my name!

I said, “Hello. You have me at a disadvantage. I don’t know your name though I would like to know it. I also don’t know why you came up to me either. You know I saw you. Any male with even poor eyesight would see you and be glad.”

She didn’t smile. “My name is Karen Mason. You had left me a voice mail that it was vitally important for me to meet you here.”

“Well, Karen. I am very glad to meet you. Had I known your name and number, I would have been happy to have given you a call or left you a message.”

She looked at me strangely. She said, “Your voice sounds different, very different, from my voice mail. What was so important that I needed to meet you?”

“Karen, I didn’t call you. Like I said, I don’t know your number to be able to leave you a message. I would like to know your number and would be glad to call you any time. Look!” I reached into my pocket and flipped my phone open. I went to recent calls and showed the calls I had made over the last month. Her eyes went wide. She didn’t see her number on the list.

She pulled her phone out and flipped it open. She had my number on it in calls received. She said, “Listen.” She selected her voice mail and I heard a weird sounding voice say, “Karen, this is Brad Gillis. It is vitally important that you meet me in front of the student center tomorrow morning at ten o’clock.”

“Karen, did you know my name before that message?” She nodded her head slowly. “Did you know my last name?” She shook her head. “How did you know who I might be?”

“One of the girls in English told me your name.”

“This is a mystery. Would your roommate have arranged this?”

She shook her head. “I don’t have a roommate. She dropped out in the middle of the quarter. Why are you here?”

“That’s easy. I have an earlier class and come here for a cup of coffee or to just stand out here and relax in the sun for a while. It’s been a habit since the first of the year. Since today is so pretty and warm, I’m out here rather than inside.

“Karen, would you sit with me and talk this out?”

She smiled and I almost felt blinded. “Yes, I would like to do that, Brad.”

“Wow! You are very pretty but your smile is totally awesome!”

I got it again. “Thank you.” Her face still looked great even after she dialed that smile down some. I realized that I would do a lot to see that smile regularly. I reached out and gently took her hand and led her to a bench close to where we were standing.

We sat down together on the bench. I hadn’t released her hand. Her grip was firm and it was a very nice hand. I realized that I didn’t want to let it go. She wasn’t trying to escape my grip either. I said, “I’m not sure how to figure out this mystery though I’m not sorry we got to meet. How do you think that message appeared?”

She had a beautiful voice, low and melodious with a captivating essence to it. I guess I could describe it better if I thought about it more but I just wanted to hear her talk. Karen said, “It doesn’t make sense. I admit that I noticed you in our English class and asked your name but that was the end of it. I don’t give my number out at all. I’m on my parents’ plan and it’s an old style plan with limited minutes.

“Your phone doesn’t have my number in it. I was watching your face when you heard the message. You were mystified. Someone went to a fair amount of trouble to know your habits, get my number, and then call when I wouldn’t answer and have it go to voice mail. This wasn’t an accident. It was planned and that message shows your phone number yet your phone shows activity before and after the call I received without my call on it.”

I said, “I agree with your points and I’m glad you don’t think I did it.” I grinned. “It’s not that I mind in the least that it happened and we met. But I have no more idea than you how all this happened or why.” I thought for a second. “Has anything else odd happened to you?”

She said slowly, “No. I haven’t met any new people other than you just now. I don’t know of anything happening in my family. My roommate leaving was the end to an on-going family issue where she lives. We’re in touch and she hopes to return for next year. She’s a nice person. I hope she comes back.”

I said, “We are in agreement that this is a mysterious incident. It’s Thursday. Would you meet me for supper tonight in the cafeteria. If things are agreeable, I would like to go out with you Friday. First, I want you to get to know me and have a chance to make sure I’m not too weird.”

She chuckled. “I don’t think you’re ‘too’ weird. You’re just trying to make the best of an uncomfortable situation. You don’t have to keep seeing me.”

I could listen to her voice for a month and not get tired of hearing it! “I know I don’t ‘have’ to keep seeing you. I ‘want’ to keep seeing you.” I stopped and then added, “And hearing you.”

She looked surprised. I continued, “You have a beautiful voice and a lovely laugh. I feel good just listening to you talk and laugh.” Now, she really looked surprised.

She looked at me very directly. She had beautiful green eyes. I quickly realized that I could get lost in those eyes. I didn’t look away. The sight was much too pleasant. She gave me a few hundred watts of smile and said, “We could do that. Actually, I would like to do that.” She had never looked away from me. I realized that our heads were moving closer. I could smell her perfume and liked it.

I said, “When is your next class?”

She said, “I have one right now that I’m now cutting and it’s my last for today. What about you?”

“I have one at eleven but I’m going to cut it, too. I think we need to investigate this mystery further.” I realized as I said that last because I wanted to be around her as much as she would permit.

She smiled slowly. “I also think we should stay together today and thoroughly investigate this mystery.” She grinned. “Do you want to investigate the mystery or get to know me?”

I said, “Both, but in reverse order.”

She laughed again. “I like an honest man.”

I decided that I would always be honest with this girl. I wanted her to like me. I said, “I will always be honest with you. I usually am anyway. I want you to like me, too.” I felt cheesy saying that but, if I am going to be honest, I have to admit that.

She leaned forward and lightly kissed my lips! “Thank you.” I became suddenly really aware of her body. My lips felt pleasantly hot and I realized that I was still holding her hand.

I gave it a gentle squeeze. I said, “Tell me what I have to do for you to do that again and I will do it.”

She smiled at me and gave a little chuckle. She said, “My dorm is close. Let’s leave our books there. We could go by the lake.” The lake was a campus feature that was popular for couples.

I looked back at her and smiled. “There is nothing I would rather do though we could be in a desert and I wouldn’t care if I can listen to you and look at you.”

She smiled and stood. My hand was still holding hers. “You say nice things. Let’s go!” I grabbed our books from the bench and got them under one arm and reached for her hand. She entwined our fingers and gave me a light squeeze. She led off.

We got to her dorm that was only a couple hundred feet away. As we walked, I noticed guys giving me jealous looks. I didn’t blame them because Karen is truly gorgeous. They saw me holding her hand as we walked. I felt proud to hold her hand.

We entered her dorm and I walked with her to her door. She released my hand to reach into her purse for her keys and open the door. I hesitated but she pulled me inside and closed the door behind us.

“Put the books there.” I laid them down. I turned around and almost bumped into her. She put her arms around my neck and pulled me close. She kissed me again. This time, it was more passionate though still light in nature. I tried to give as good as I got with my arms going around her waist and holding her tightly to me. About two or three years later, we came up for air and before it became too impassioned.

She said, “That wasn’t bad at all. Let’s go for that walk.” She released me and stepped away. “Here, carry this.” She pulled an old, thick blanket from a shelf and handed it to me. I put it under one arm and we left her room. She left her purse after putting her keys and id in a pocket. She took my free hand. We left her dorm for the lake area.

It wasn’t far and the day was truly warmed by the sun. Many people were probably going to be out there but I decided that I was with the best looking girl. The only disadvantage in holding hands with her as we walked is that I couldn’t watch her rear or her face full on. What I had seen and could see convinced me that both would be very much worth watching! We walked a good part of the way around to an area not as used as much as other areas though in easy sight since people could look across the lake. There was a beautiful small meadow. It would be private for talking but public for people being able to see us. She stopped and motioned to the blanket. I spread it out with her help.

She sat on the blanket and patted the space next to her. I quickly lay down facing her.

Once there, she looked me in the eye and said, “Brad, I like you. I want to get to know you better and your plan that we will have supper together and go out tomorrow will work if you remain interested.”

“Karen, if I stay alive, I will remain interested. You are wonderful.”

She looked troubled. “I’m not so sure and you may change your mind after you get to know me. My life up until a few years ago wasn’t good. I will tell you on two conditions.” I nodded. “First, you must never tell another person without my permission.” I nodded again. “Second, if my past bothers you, you will be honest enough to just say so. Then we’ll go back to my room, you can retrieve your books, and we’ll part. Is that a deal?”

“Yes, Karen. I promised to be honest and I will. I promise to abide by your conditions.”

She sat up straighter. I joined her in that position and then took her hand while looking directly at her. “Go ahead. Fire away.”

Suddenly, her eyes had tears in them. She said, “I came from an abusive household. From my earliest memories, I saw and felt abuse of all kinds. When he decided I was old enough, my father began to sexually abuse me. It started before I was twelve.

“I didn’t know what to do. I really didn’t know what was happening except that it hurt and seemed nasty. When I was fourteen, I tried to stop my father from doing the same to my sister and he beat me badly. When I went to school the next day, my homeroom teacher took me to the counselor’s office and the two women talked to me. It took a while but they finally got the full story from me.

“The police raided the house that afternoon and found my sister had bled to death when he used things on her body. He was taken into custody along with my mother and I was placed in foster care. That was only marginally better. The first set of foster care parents just wanted a maid but they took me to a church full of nice people including making me go to Sunday school. The teachers were a childless couple. I came in tired from being worked one Saturday and Mom got the story out. I call her Mom because that’s who she became. Dad had to take the class while she talked to me in a corner.

“She managed to get my caseworker’s name. She got in touch and started the process of getting me away from those first foster parents. It took a few weeks but they became my foster parents.

They had the entire story by then and had checked on my birth parents. Both were in jail then and will be for many more years. I had lived with them for three months when they talked to me at supper one night. They told me that they wanted to adopt me as their daughter. I cried. They both came around the table to me and comforted me. They told me that they had prayed for years for a child and they wanted me to be their child. They told me I was beautiful and that they were proud of me.

“I told them that I wasn’t beautiful but was ugly and stupid. For the first and, so far, only time, Dad spoke to me with anything other than love in his voice. He said, ‘You have heard an untrue message for too long. You are a beautiful person inside and out and are very smart.’ I shook my head but he continued that he knew I was pretty and my mind and heart were beautiful. He said that he knew I was smart because I was taking advanced courses and making straight A’s in all of them.

“It took them a while but I finally became able to appreciate what they saw in me that made them love me. I love them both very much. I got through high school without incident and started here. The hardest thing has been being separated from them. Mom and Dad are so good to me. They aren’t rich but they are making up what my scholarship doesn’t cover. You have to realize, Brad, that I’m damaged goods.”

I started. I took her other hand. I said, “First, I will keep my promises. Second, you aren’t damaged goods. You aren’t damaged or goods. You are a fantastic, beautiful, wonderful, delightful lady. I am proud to be seen with you. Any guy would.

“You say your parents are churchgoers?” She nodded. I said “Mine are, too. My dad says that God doesn’t make junk. My mom says that we are all made in the image of God.” I smiled. “It’s people like you who give God a good name for having done really good work.” I stopped talking because she was crying. I said, “What? Did I say something wrong? I don’t want to hurt you!”

She pulled me close and then down to our sides. She kissed me soundly. “I just met you and you say the most wonderful things. You said nothing wrong and you haven’t hurt me. I don’t think you ever would.

“Brad, I don’t know how this came to be but I’m glad it did. Would you hold me for a while?”

“I will hold you for as long as you want me to. I can’t think of much anything more enjoyable.”

She said, “There’s a little more but it’s just housekeeping. I am Mason now. When I was actually adopted, I took my parents’ last name, of course. When they adopted me, I asked if I could have a new first name, too. They told me that I could. I asked Mom and Dad what name they would have given a daughter if they had one and had to choose a name. They told me Karen and that’s been my name ever since. I finished growing up in a very happy place with wonderful parents.”

I said, “I would like to meet them. They sound like wonderful people. I can’t testify to your smarts other than in English and you seem to do quite well there but I can state that you are beautiful. Not only is that my opinion but the opinion of every guy who has seen us together today. I have seen some jealous looks in my life but every guy that we passed saw you, saw that we were holding hands, and then gave me an evil look for being next to you. I can’t ever remember being more proud than today to walk alongside a girl. That’s true, too.” It also got me kissed again. I reached for my handkerchief and gently dried her eyes by dabbing at them.

She said, “I must look a fright.”

I smiled and said, “No.” I drew the word out. I smiled at her. She returned it with one of her thousand watt ones that dazzled me and lit up everything around us. I lay back with her in the crook of my arm. She had a hand across my chest and one leg partly on top of mine. My spare hand and arm was under my head. We lay together like that for a long time just enjoying each other’s presence and the peaceful time.

Chapter 2 »