Chapter 1

Copyright© 2017 by StangStar06

Sex Drama: Chapter 1 - The girl of my dreams wasn't the woman I wanted and the town I loved turned its back on me when I needed them most.

Caution: This Sex Drama contains strong sexual content, including Ma/Fa   Blackmail   Coercion   Consensual   Drunk/Drugged   Romantic   Tear Jerker   Cheating   First   Big Breasts  

It always seems to happen on Sundays. Every time something major or bizarre happens to me it seems to happen on a Sunday morning.

My legs are trembling as I step out of my SUV. Every muscle in my lower body aches. My shoulders ache too.

I’ve been living here in Michigan for just over eighteen months now and I still can’t get over how suddenly the seasons change.

Only a week ago the temperatures were barely in the forties and I was doing most of my runs on my treadmill. Three days ago, we had snow and freezing rain. But today temperatures are in the mid sixties and the sun is beaming. I did my first long run of the year on the trails near our home.

It’s funny how life settles into comfortable patterns. Even as the people in our lives change we still enjoy the same passions and pursuits. But experience teaches us to stay on our guard and to be mindful of our feelings and of small details.

As I walked to my small porch, my heart began to beat faster. The same thing had happened the time before. My heartbeat wasn’t beating faster because of a medical condition; I was in very good physical shape.

My emotions on the other hand were very fragile. Just under two years ago, I’d had a similar feeling as I walked to a different home following a Sunday morning run.

The thumping in my chest reminded me of that never forgotten morning and its aftermath. Shit ... I was still dealing with the aftermath. I still had issues stemming from the events of that week. My entire life changed due to issues that I had nothing to do with.

I still have trust issues and other issues after all this time. It’s a miracle that I not only found love again, but maybe I’m even considering marriage again.

At twenty-six years old, I’ve already had a marriage destroyed and had my heart ripped still beating from my chest by a woman who had sworn in front of God and all our friends to love me forever.

I never want to feel that pain again. I’m not sure I could survive it twice.

So, as I reach for yet another front door, and find it open ... Again ... My rapidly beating heart increases its tempo even more. My palms are sweaty and my run-weakened legs suddenly have a full dose of adrenaline fueled strength.

I hear voices murmuring in the distance. I hear hers and another that sounds familiar although mearly forgotten. I take a deep breath and rush headlong into my kitchen.

As I enter the room I see her. But puzzlingly, she’s alone. She turns and sees me and smiles. That smile ... Shit ... Everything about her takes my breath away.

Aria McCurry is the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen. She’s tall and slender, with a truly incredible body. Unlike a lot of slender women, Aria has wide hips and a rounded booty that her shorts never seem to be capable of containing.

Her boobs are also slightly bigger than you’d expect on a woman as thin as she is, but neither her large soft breasts or her incredibly long kegs are her best features.

In my opinion, her best features are either her long beautiful red hair or her fiery and expressive green eyes.

I can still remember the first time I looked deeply into those eyes. I was hypnotized by their sheer beauty and how I could read her feelings just from those eyes.

I think that as afraid as I was of being hurt again, I was a little bit in love with her any way. And her words told me exactly how she felt.

“Stop pretending to look at my eyes, you perverted freak,” she yelled. “My tits are down here. Get a good look before the police get here and throw you into jail where you’ll spend the rest of your life as some huge black guy’s bitch.”

What can I say? It wasn’t the most romantic of first meetings but we got better.

“Kevin, Honey I have a surprise for you,” she begins. As always, she’s quicker than I am. She notices with only a glance at my face that something is wrong.

“So, what’s bothering my man on this fine sunny morning?” she smiles. “Did you have a bad run? Do you want Mama to give you a massage?”

“Where’s the guy you were talking to?” I asked.

“Oh, forget about your dad,” she said. “My job is to take care of you.”

“Okay, who the fuck are you cheating on me with?” I hissed.

She flinched from the fury of my question and tone. Then she started laughing. But it was a really pissy laugh. Her anger was as hard as mine.

“I knew this was too good to be true,” she spat. “Are you gonna start hitting me now?”

“Are you gonna start telling me the truth?” I asked.

“Look Doofus,” she said evenly. “Do you remember how hard it was for us to get together? Do you remember how long it took? Do you remember how hard it was for us to trust each other?”

I sighed and nodded. It had taken us months to even sit down together. And more months before our first date.

“Kev ... Don’t mess this up. You’re my guy, Honey. You’re my only guy. You are my one and only chance at happily ever after. I love you Honey. You have no reason to be jealous of anyone. Especially not your own father, Stupid.”

“Aria, I love you too, but my father’s been dead since I was fifteen and my mom died before I turned twenty,” I said.

Her eyes got huge and the tiny brown flecks in those pools of green got bigger as they always did when she was angry. At the same time, the door that opened onto my deck opened.

I turned and saw him standing there. “Hey Kev,” he said. “We have to go back. Resa needs you. You may be her only chance.”

“Who the fuck are you?” spat Aria angrily. “You told me you were his father.”

“I said I was LIKE his father,” he said. “Actually, I’m his father in law. But he’s always been like a son to to me. Kevin does not belong here. This is all a misunderstanding. Kevin belongs back in Grace Lake with all of his freinds and family.”

“I belong here,” I said. “My life is here now.”

“I hate to have to do this Kevin,” he said. He reached into his pocket. I thought he was going to pull out a gun and apparently so did Aria. She stood in front of me.

He pulled out a phone and pushed one button. “He ain’t comin’ willingly.” he said, then put the phone away.

Aria drew her own phone and walked into the other room.

“Are ya sure you don’t want to come home?” he asked.

“Damned sure,” I said. “Have a nice trip!”

He shook his head and started walking towards the front door. “Shouldn’t a’ had ta be this way,” he grumbled. “The boy I knew would a’ come home. Wasn’t no murderer when he he lived in Grace Lake.”

“Who did he murder?” asked Aria in shock.

“My daughter, Theresa,” he grumbled. “He called her Resa. His wife. They were high school sweethearts.”

“When I left Grace Lake, she was still alive,” I said. “She had just gotten home from the hospital. So how did I murder her.”

“Kevin she’s just barely hangin’ on,” he said. “She keeps doing stupid things. You leaving her is killing her. You coming back is her only chance to make it. So, you gotta come back.”

“Bullshit!” said Aria. “He’s not go...”

“This is none of your business, Missy,” hissed Tom, my ex father in law. “As pretty as you are you can find another man. Ya don’t have to be messing around with one that’s already taken.”

“I know he’s already taken,” hissed Aria, right back. “I’m the one who took him. He legally divorced your daughter. I don’t know why and I have no idea what broke them up, but I’ve seen the divorce papers.”

“Divorce papers don’t mean shit,” said Tom. “Theresa never signed them. She tore them up as soon as that uppity yella haired witch gave em to her. And Kevin swore an oath in front of the whole town to love her for better or for worse til death do they part. Now I admit that things couldn’t have been much fuckin’ worse, but he promised.”

“I...” was all I got out before the front door pushed open. And a large figure stepped into my living room.

I was surprised to see a large, balding man push his way into my house. He wore the uniform of the Grace Lake sheriff’s department and he frowned when he saw me.

“Kevin, I hoped that you’d have come home on your own,” he began. “Dammit ... The whole town misses you. We’re all as sorry as hell for what you went through but you never even gave us the chance to make it up to ya. This was all just a cluster fuck ... Excuse my language ma’am. But we just reacted badly. We were all in shock.”

“Yeah ... I’ll bet,” I said.

“Kevin, we all watched Theresa grow up,” he said. “Everybody in the whole town loves her. She’s like everybody’s little girl.”

“So, what the fuck was I?” I asked. “I grew up there too. I lived there for my entire God damned life until I left. I raked leaves and shoveled snow for older people every fall and winter for free. I ran errands and never asked for a God damned thing.

I worked two jobs while going to the local community college and busted my ass taking care of Resa. I worked in the hospital while I was in X-ray school for free. There were nights when I worked in the emergency room alone. They had to have a judge sign off on me doing it because technically it was illegal for a student to...”

“And that’s just it Kevin,” said the Sheriff. “They had to allow it because you were all we had. Do you know that they send people almost a hundred miles to the nearest big city hospital just for X-rays that you used to do there in our hospital? You were supposed to work there Kevin.

I know we didn’t exactly treat you right Kevin. But we’re all sorry. Zack is especially sorry. Did you know that he ended up getting divorced and fired over all of this?”

“Sheriff, how would I know?” I asked. “And if I did know ... Why would I care?”

“We can talk about all of this later,” said Tom. “We need to get our asses on the road.”

Just then we heard a siren and it seemed to stop right in front of my house. Aria smiled and took my arm.

“What the... ?” gushed the Sheriff.

“Shit ... Shit ... Shit!” said Tom. “Why the fuck are the PO lease comin’ here?”

“Probably because I called them,” smirked Aria.

At that moment, we heard a heavy knock at the front door. It was already open so it was obvious that there were people inside.

“Police,” yelled one of the men on the porch.

“Come in,” yelled Aria in her sexiest voice.

Three men came into the house. Two of them, wearing uniforms, had to be vying for the title of largest human being on Earth. The third was an older gray haired black guy wearing a suit.

The two in uniform seemed to be competing to see who could be the most menacing and take up the most space.

The black guy looked around the room in a quick scan. It seemed as if he catalogued every item in the room with one sweep of his eyes.

“Hi Ma’am,” he said. “I’m addressing you because our dispatcher said that the person who put in the call was a female. I’m detective Jackman.”

His voice was smooth with a slight crack to it. When he finished his introduction with his first name Samuel L, it was all I could do not to laugh. I had visions of him listening to John Travolta talking about hamburgers in Europe. If anyone said, “Royale with cheese,” they’d have to scrape me off of the floor.

Detective Jackman quickly homed in on the Sheriff.

“Why didn’t you handle the case, Sir?” he asked. “After all ... Jurisdictional limitations or not, you’re still a brother in blue. All you’d have to do was present yourself at the nearest PD and explain the situation...”

Aria started laughing then. “He can’t,” she laughed.

“You have a beautiful laugh,” said Detective Jackman. “Would you mind telling me why he couldn’t do exactly what I said he should do?”

“I’m not a lawyer,” smiled Aria. “But I’m pretty sure that this is a federal case. I’m also pretty sure it’s a felony. And the Sheriff ... Your uh ... Brother in blue is a part of it. If he went to the PD, he’d be arrested.”

Jackman’s head whipped around like it was mounted on a post. At the same time, the two uniformed cops drew their weapons.

“Officer Kreski, why the HELL are you pointing your weapon at the victims?” screamed Jackman.

One of the cops had his gun aimed at Tom. The other, the one that Samuel L. had called Kreski was aiming his gun at Aria and me.

“Uh ... We needed to cover the entire engagement zone ... SIR,” he screamed. His voice got really loud on the SIR. It made me wonder. Was he screaming,”Sir,” that loudly because he had a lot of respect for Jackman ... Or was it just hard for him to have a black guy as his supervisor so he had to practically spit the word out from between clenched teeth. He continued speaking then.

“Dumbrowski was covering the old gray-haired guy ... SIR. So, I had to cover the other two suspects in order to completely contain the situation ... SIR!”

“Why not cover ... Him?” asked Jackman pointing at the Sheriff.

“Because he’s wearing a uniform ... SIR,” he screamed even louder. “He can’t be a perp. He’s one of us.” Kreski beamed a smile and didn’t lower his gun a fraction of an inch. I was expecting him to click his heel together and yell Hail Hitler at any second.

“Son ... Put the gun down,” said Jackman quietly. Kreski complied reluctantly.

“That’s exactly why I don’t give these guys bullets,” said Jackman to us.

“So ... Sheriff,” he continued. “How much of what the little lady says is true?”

The Sheriff looked down at his boots. “Pretty much all of it,” he said. “But it was mostly a bluff. We was countin’ on Kevin’s inate goodness and compassion to convince him to come with us willingly. We didn’t even cuff him. Tom pretty much just asked him to come back with us. I never said anything along the lines of actually forcin’ him to come with us. We just figured he’d see me and being a law-abiding citizen, he’d come along.”

“And he would a’ too,” spat Tom. “If...”

“Oh, I know this part already,” said Jackman. “This is the part where you pull off your rubber head and start sayin’ shit like, “And he would a’ too ... If it wasn’t for them meddling kids.”

“What kids?” asked Tom. “I was gonna say, “That redheaded Hussy! She’s the one that called the cops on us. And none of this is her business anyway. We was just trying to prevent my son in law from murderin’ my daughter.”

At the sound of the word murder, Officer Kreski drew his weapon and shot at me at least eighteen times. Like Jackman had said ... It was a good thing he didn’t have any bullets.

The sound of the gun clicking over a dozen times with the firing pin hitting only empty chambers still scared the shit out of me.

“Kreski ... What the fuck are you doing?” Shrieked Jackman.

“I’m protecting and serving ... SIR!” yelled Kreski.

“Give me the weapon Kreski ... Now!” said Jackman. He pocketed Kreski’s firearm. Kreski just stood there on the verge of tears, looking at his empty holster.

Jackman looked at Tom and then back at me. “Who did he muder?” he asked.

“He ain’t exactly done it yet,” mumbled Tom. “But he may as well have. He’s a lyin’ weasel with evil intentions. He needs to get that fuckin’ chip off a his shoulder and stop playing the fuckin’ victim.”

“Hmm,” said Jackman. “Lying isn’t actually a crime. If it was I could go straight to Washington and arrest the president and more than half of congress.”

“But,” said Tom. “What about...”

“No Buts,” snapped Jackman. “I’ve got enough to book you two on attempted kidnapping, intimidation, coercion and attempting to transport an individual across state lines. Like that little girl said, that’s a felony.”

“But,” whined the Sheriff. “If I get arrested my career...”

“Again, no buts,” said Jackman. “As a peace officer, you should have thought about that before you allowed this guy to convince you to do something illegal. I don’t know how the law works in Bug Tussle...”

“Grace Lake,” said Tom.

“Wherever,” said Jackman.

“But you don’t,” began Tom.

“Did I not say no buts several times!” asked Jackman angrily. “I don’t want to hear any buts. The next MotherFucker that says but is gettin’ kicked in his. Now let’s all go down to the station and you two can explain all of this to the DA. We’ll let her decide if she wants to prosecute this after somebody tells her what all of this shit is about.”

He turned back to Aria and me. “I need you two to come down to the station with us so if the DA decides to move ahead with the case you can sign the forms to press charges against these two,” he said.

“But I can’t go back to the station without my gun AGAIN,” whined Kreski.

“Somebody tell me that this Son of a bitch didn’t just say But!” screamed Jackman.

About an hour later Aria and I, along with Detective Samuel L Jackman, and the local District Attorney, a striking woman named Elizabeth Morales, sat at a very long table in a conference room.

As we watched Tom and the Sheriff were brought into the room. They both wore leg chains and handcuffs.

“This is bullshit,” screamed Tom. “They had me in a cell with a bunch of fuckin’ criminals.”

The Sheriff seemed to be too embarrassed to speak. He could barely raise his head.

“Okay...” began Ms. Morales. Her voice was rich and sexy sounding with a barely noticeable but extremely attractive accent. Apparently, I wasn’t the only person affected by it. Detective Jackman’s face broke out in a smile for the first time since we met him. It looked almost like his face cracked.

Unfortunately, Aria picked up on the fact that I had noticed it too. “That bitch is old enough to be your mother,” she whispered in my ear. “Is the sound of her crusty old voice really worth you sleeping alone for the next year and a half?”

“No ma’am,” I croaked.

“Mr. Brady, why don’t you begin by telling us your side of the story,” said Ms. Morales. Aria kicked me under the table and gestured with her head towards Detective Jackman.

That was when I noticed it. Ms. Morales, even though she was speaking to my ex father in law, seemed to be directing her words towards Detective Jackman. There was clearly something going on between the two of them.

“This is all just a misunderstandin’. It just got out of hand. It weren’t meant ta’ be this way at all,” said Tom. “I thought I was coming here as a mission of mercy. I had no evil intentions. I really believed that Kev would have wanted to help my daughter. I figured enough time had passed and maybe took the sting out of what he went through.”

“That’s all true!” said the Sheriff.

“So, you didn’t try to coerce Mr. Foster into leaving the state with you?” asked Ms. Morales.

“Coerce is such a nasty word,” smiled Tom. “Let’s use “convince,” instead. Are you a parent ma’am?” he asked.

Aria elbowed me in the ribs as Ms. Morales nervously shook her head. She looked straight at Samuel L as if trying to reassure him.

“That’s a shame,” continued Tom. “Cause if you was, you’d know what I’m going through. I’m having to watch my daughter slowly trying to kill herself over this. So okay ... Maybe I tried to intimidate Kevin into coming back. Maybe I brought the Sheriff along too. But it was with the best of intentions. I’m trying to save a life, a marriage, and the future of my family. So, sue me.”

I could tell Ms. Morales was curious. She looked at me with those huge brown eyes and I could see why Samuel L was so smitten with her. No matter how old she was, she was an extremely pretty woman. But I had an extremely pretty woman of my own and at that moment she was digging her fingernails into my forearm.

“Okay... “ I said. “I’ll tell you the whole story. Aria, Honey ... you don’t have to stay for this...”

Her eyes told me that there was no way she was leaving. I sighed. Maybe it was time she knew anyway. We were very close to getting married anyway so she might as well know. But just as I took a breath to begin my story something odd happened.

Aria’s eyes grew huge and seemed to roll back in her head. She screamed and grabbed both sides of her head. I got up and ran to her. Aria has always been plagued by mind numbing headaches that seemd to strike at random.

I rubbed her temples and got her to calm down. After a few moments, the pain was more manageable. I told Detective Jackson that I needed an hour. He gave it to me. I drove Aria home and gave her a pill so she could sleep until the worst of the pain was over. I got our neighbor Marge to watch over her until I got back.

Then I drove back to the police headquarters. Everyone was waiting for me when I got back. I sat down and began my story as if nothing had happened.

“Like Tom said, I grew up in Grace Lake. It’s a small beautiful town in South Carolina. I loved it there and never planned on leaving.

As a kid, I saw all of the big cities and famous places on TV, but I never dreamed of living anywhere else. Grace Lake was home. I felt as if everyone in the city was one huge family.

Let me give you an example ... Growing up, I played baseball in the summer and ran track in the spring and fall. The track team was a part of the school I attended but the baseball league was part of a regional organization that was independently operated.

My dad died in a car wreck the year I turned fifteen. A job in the local school somehow opened up for my mom who hadn’t taught in years. And that summer, a part time job that paid me enough to pay my baseball fees AND have enough left over to give me some pocket money appeared out of nowhere.

Grace Lake had everything. Beside the generosity of the people there was a beautiful lake and I don’t think there was ever a crime committed there.

Anyway, I’ve known Resa for my whole life. I mean there aren’t that many people in the town so everybody there knows everybody else.

I was always the shy type. But Theresa ... Ho boy she was a firecracker. She was Miss everything. From the first grade, all the way through high school she was probably the most popular girl in the school.

She was in most of the clubs. She participated in every event and contest. She was a cheerleader. She was the Homecoming Queen not once but twice. She could have done it a third time but in our senior year the teachers figured that someone else should have a chance so they made up a rule that the Homecoming Queen and the Prom Queen had to be different people.

And Resa decided that she wanted to be the Prom Queen. Naturally she got it. And even more naturally everyone in town was happy about it. Even the girls she competed with were happy that Resa had won.

Resa went to the prom with not one but two dates. One guy, Morris Hazelnut was the captain of the football team. The other guy Richie Cunningham was the captain of the basketball team. I went to the prom with Rhoda Morgenstern.

The thing I remember most about the prom was that I literally bumped into Resa during a dance. I was dancing with Rhoda and not paying much attention to where I was going.

My left hip, hit Theresa’s left hip and when I turned to see who I’d bumped so I could apologize I realized it was her.

“I’m really sorry Theresa,” I spat quickly. “I wasn’t paying any attention to where I was going.”

“Jeezus, Kevin,” she smiled. “It’s just a dance. I’m fine ... you’re fine. It’s okay.”

I just stood there with my mouth open. As she turned to start dancing again she looked at me and something passed between us when our eyes met. She stopped dancing and turned back to me again.

“What?” she smiled.

“Nothing...” I mumbled. She tilted her head and looked at me. She didn’t have to say another word. I was putty in her hands.

“I’m just surprised that you even knew my name,” I said quietly. She laughed and just kept laughing, like it was the funniest thing she’d ever heard.

“Kevin, we’ve been in the same class from kindergarten through high school,” she laughed. “How could I not know your name.” She danced away still laughing.

Even Rhoda was laughing at that. “Kevin, Theresa isn’t like that,” she said. “She’s not uppity or stuck up. That’s why everybody likes her. All of the boys like her because she’s friendly and welcoming, but she’s also nice looking. The girls like her because she’s supportive of everyone and she’s not so pretty that she makes them feel threatened.”

She was right about that. Theresa was short at about five foot one. She had that gymnast’s type of body. She was very curvy with big boobs and a really nice butt. When Theresa did her cheers, even the other team stopped to watch.

Rhoda told me that she was very down to earth and almost never said no to anything. That was why she was on so many committees and clubs. The teachers even used her popularity to get students to sign up for events and activities. They knew that Theresa would volunteer if they asked her, and if Theresa signed up a lot of other students would sign up as well.

I remembered that night forever. It wasn’t so much the prom, or going out with Rhoda; it was speaking to Resa and that look that passed between us.

During the summer following our graduation, I never saw Theresa. It had been three years since my dad had passed. My mom had gotten sick and all I had time to do was work and take care of her.

I did hear about Theresa going to several parties during the summer, but that was a world away from me. I thought about her often, but she too, was a world away.

I guess I was sure that the next thing I’d hear was that Theresa had gotten on the cheer team at some college, or that she’d been seen cheering for some football team on TV.

I was equally sure that in a few years I would hear that Theresa had gotten married or that she’d been part of the team that had discovered the cure for cancer.

So, I moved on with my life. Theresa was a dream, nothing more. We all have them, but they rarely affect our lives. Like I said, from the first second that high school ended, most of our classmates went off to relax and have fun for the summer before going off to college. A few of them were going off to the military or moving away to bigger cities with more opportunities.

And like I said, I didn’t think about Theresa much. I wished her well but I had things to do. Luckily, my mom was off for the summer because she was really sick and gettting worse.

I had several jobs and through them was able to keep the bills paid ... barely, and food on the table. But there wasn’t much money left at the end of the month. My mom’s insurance took care of her medical bills but toward the end of the summer she wasn’t doing any better. In fact, she was getting worse.

She ended up being hospitalized in our town’s small but well-appointed hospital. I spent most of my lunch hours, and free time in her hospital room. They brought in several specialists from larger hospitals but they couldn’t put a finger on exactly what the cause of her illness was.

While at the hospital visiting her one day, I noticed that there were several small repairs that needed to be made and that the trash in the rear of the building was piling up.

One of the nurses told me that Bill Proctor, the hospital’s maintenance man was sick and had been off for a few days. I checked in on my mom, who was sleeping peacefully and then started from the upper floors emptying the trash.

When I finished that, I borrowed a few tools from Bill’s workshop and started fixing some of the small things like door handles that were loose or didn’t work and a supply room door that was jammed shut.

I had just gotten the supply room door open when someone tapped me on the shoulder.

I looked up and saw Martin Richards, the director of the hospital. Standing next to him was our town’s mayor, Richard Martin.

“Kevin, what are you doing?” asked the mayor.

“I’m just pitching in while my Mom is asleep,” I said.

“Son, you’ve done more than just pitched in,” said Mr. Richards. “I’m just trying to figure out why. Your mom’s insurance has all of her bills covered.”

“It’s what we do here,” I said. “We all pitch and help when we can.”

They both smiled at me and nodded their heads.

“So, Kevin, which school did you pick?” asked the mayor.

“Oh, I’m not going to school,” I said. “We don’t hav the money for that. But I have jobs to keep the bills paid. And I’m not in a hurry to leave town. I love it here.”

“Kevin can you come and see me when you have time?” asked Mr. Richards.

“Yes sir,” I told him. I went back to work on the supply room door.

It was a couple of days later that I went to see him. We were in his office and I was nervous.

“I didn’t realize at the time that I was doing anything wrong,” I said. “I didn’t know that there were so many different types of trash. But I sorted them and made sure all of the bio-waste and recycleable things were disposed of properly. I also...”

“Kevin do you realize that you had the fourth highest GPA in your graduating class?” he asked. “That’s not considering just this year. Your average was actually down this year. I’m pretty sure that’s due to all of those part time jobs you’ve been working in addition to taking care of your mom.”

“I always try to do my best,” I said, shrugging my shoulders.

“Kevin the three guys ahead of you ... One was accepted by Stanford, another is starting at MIT and the last one is going to West Point,” he said. “You didn’t apply to a single college ... why?”

I was beginning to become angry. “My dad passed three years ago,” I said evenly. “Since then there’s only been my mom and me. College is very expensive. We don’t have the money for it and even if we did, I have no idea what I want to do with my life.”

“So, what do you intend to do, with that life while you figure it out?” he asked.

“Keep the bills paid, my mom taken care of and let the rest just happen as it does,” I said.”

What it all boiled down to was that the hospital offered me a job. I ended up being sort of a go to guy for anything they needed. I did a lot of maintenance and patient transporting, but I also did tours for hospital inspectors and groups of school children. I never really knew what I might have to do when I showed up.

For that reason, I kept three clean outfits in the locker room. I kept a suit, a pair of jeans and a set of scrubs there so I was prepared for any eventuality.

It was about 3 months after I started at the hospital that things began to change. Our hospital had a great radiology department.

By great department I meant that we had a great X-ray room and very good equipment. The problem was that we had no Radiologists and no Rad techs.

What we did have was one crotchety old tech who worked mostly in a major hospital in Summerville. She came in on Saturdays and Wednesdays and was paid an arm and a leg for doing so.

She took the X-rays and they were sent electronically to the same reading radiologists that the emergency and mobile techs used. They usually got us a report back within an hour or so for most exams and within 30 minutes for STAT exams.

The problem was that her attitude got constantly worse and with the doctors scheduling all of the X-rays for days when she was there, she was swamped every time she came there.

Mr. Richards assigned me to be her assistant on the days that she was there. She’d been bitching about needing an assistant for a while, but he hadn’t been able to find anyone who could work with her for more than an hour without wanting to kill her.

She took one look at me and started shaking her head. “There is no fuckin’ way,” she sneered. “Isn’t he like the janitor or something. I need a medical person. At least give me a CNA or something.”

“Janice none of our Nursing Assistants will work with you,” said Mr. Richards. “You’ve terrified half of them and the other half have heard about you from them. If you want an assistant, Kevin is what you get. He’s smart and he’s hardworking. You can teach him anything you want him to know.”

That first day was like hell. Janice took every chance she got to prove how inept I was. When I did something well she just looked at me and told me, “Shit ... My grandma’s monkey can do that!”

But I worked hard and learned a lot. By the end of the day, in my opinion we worked together pretty well. I not only brought every patient into the room, I got their information and anything relevant to the exam entered in the computer.

I also got them to remove any jewelry or metallic objects near the exam site. “Don’t be late Saturday,” she grumbled at me before she left.

On Saturday morning, I was cleaning the X-ray lab and disenfecting the table and fixtures when she walked in. I had a steaming cup of coffee made the way she liked it according to the man who usually served her in the cafeteria. I also had the requisitions for our first five patients on the console. That way she’d be able to select which exam she wanted in whichever order she wanted to do them.

She nodded at me and pointed to the power switch on the console. She walked me through the procedure for warming up the X-ray tube and told me not to forget how to do it.

The rest of the day involved learning. I learned how to set the different devices that were called IR’s or Buckies for different exams.

She still needed to put me in my place whenever she thought it necessary. There was one incident where Mr. Richards just happened to be watching us and she had to point out what to her was an obvious failure.

“Come on Kevin,” she yelled. “We’re doing a chest X-ray. We need the wall bucky for that. You should know that by now!”

“Janice,” I said quietly. “Mrs. Aaron rescheduled. We’re not doing a chest, we’re doing a wrist.”

The rest of the day went pretty well. Just before Janice left, Mr. Richards stopped by the X-ray lab.

“Janice, I have something to tell you that’s going to make you really happy,” he said. “When you come in on Wednesday, I’ll have a new assistant for you. And just as you requested, she’s a CNA so you’ll be...”

“Are you out of your fuckin’ mind,” she hissed. “You gave me Kevin as my assistant. It’s taken me two days to get him to the point where he’s almost able to make my job slightly less miserable. I don’t want to start all over. I’ll keep Kevin ... for now. He can go back to cleaining toilets when I’m done with him.”

After Janice left, Mr. Richards came to see me as I cleaned the lab.

“Kevin, I think you were right,” he said. “You didn’t have to figure anything out. Life kind of figured things out for you.”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“Do you like X-rays?” he asked. I nodded.

“Good, we have some talking to do,” he said. “But you start school in September. I figure you’ll need about a year for the pre-reqs. Then X-ray school is just about two years to get your degree. Then. you have to pass your boards. I’ve arranged for you to do your clinical work here of course.”

“But I ... I couldn’t afford that if I wanted to do it,” I said.

“Kevin do you want to do it?” he asked. I nodded.

“Then what’s the problem?” he asked.

“I already told you,” I said. “I can’t afford if.”

“Kevin what’s your favorite sports team?” he asked.

“The New England P,” I began. He cut me off before I could finish.

“Kevin I’m a fan of the Detroit Lions. They haven’t won a playoff game in nearly fifty years. They are the only non-expansion team in the NFL who haven’t ever been to a super bowl. I’m not saying they’ve never won the super bowl, they’ve never been to one.

I think some of their players may have been ushers when the Super Bowl was HELD in Detroit, but they have never been close to playing in one.

What that means is that talented NFL players tend to avoid Detroit like the plague. All they get are the guys who don’t give a fuck where they play, as long as they get paid. But they still have to be paid a lot more to go to Detroit.

Detroit’s only other option is in the draft. Kevin, you’re my Calvin Johnson. You’re my shot at a number one draft pick. We give nurses a hefty sign on bonus to work here. We pay off student loans for doctors to get then to sign a contract to work for us for two years.

Paying for you to go to X-ray school would be nothing. Especially when you consider that you getting your degree means getting rid of Janice and her terrible attitude. It’s worth it.”

“But the community college is forty miles away,” I said. “How am I supposed to get there?”

“Don’t worry ... I know a guy,” he smiled.

Two days later I was standing in a car lot looking at used cars. The owner of the lot was smiling as I walked up and down the neat rows of cars and trucks. “You can have any car on the lot,” he said. Apparently, the hospital had something on him or he owed a huge bill for medical treatment.

I could tell he was trying to steer me towards an SUV. It made a lot of sense. SUVs were roomy and versatiile and fairly easy to maintain. But I walked the entire lot. I looked at every single car and truck on that lot. And back in the last row between two trucks I found it. A ten-year-old 05’ Mustang GT.

I could tell the owner of the lot was not happy that I’d found it. “Oh, that car’s not right for you,” he said.

“You said I could have any car on the lot,” I said. “This is the one I want.”

He grudgingly headed into the office where we filled out paperwork. I called my mom’s insurance company and activated my coverage. I’d told them a few days before that I was getting a car of my own and the details except for which kind of car had already been worked out.

The local agent that I spoke to had been a longtime friend of my mom’s so she seemed concerned that I was getting a car that was already ten years old, but once I told her it was my dream car, she sighed and went Steven Tyler on me.

“I can’t argue with a dream, Kevin,” she said. “Dream on, you’re covered.”

From the first day that I drove the car we had a connection. It was almost like falling in love. Okay ... I’d never been in love, but I felt the way that people always talked about feeling when they claimed to be in love.

Two days later I drove the forty miles to the community college. I signed several papers and a letter of intent to enter their radiologic technology program.

I took two placement tests, one for math and one for English. I did well on the tests. That meant that I needed only two math classes and one english class. I had to take College Algebra, College Trig, Physics, Anatomy and Physiology 1 and 2, Medical Law and Ethics, Medical Terminiology, English Comp, Psychology, a Government or History class and one Physical activity class. My plan was to take three classes for each semester and three during the summer. That way I could enter the X-ray program one year from then. I didn’t really consider the Gym class a threat.

I could have taken Any type of Gym class. The guy who helped me with my schedule told me to take Yoga. He told me the class was wall to wall pussy. “Dude it’s impossible not to get laid in Yoga,” he said.

I took Fencing. I’d always wanted to learn how to use a sword. It felt strange to be heading back to school. I told my mom all about it and she seemed to be as happy about it as I was. I worked even harder at the hospital as a result.

The way I looked at it, I had a year to learn as much as possible about X-rays before I even started the program. While I was earning degree credits for my pre-reqs I’d be working one on one with Janice and soaking up information like a sponge.

I didn’t really see many of my former classmates during the summer and that included Theresa. I was sure that they were all enjoying one last summer of fun and frolic while I worked.

Although I didn’t see them, I did hear about some of the parties and activities they did. I did see first hand though how hard partying can ruin your plans.

It was a Wednesday evening and Janice and I were swamped. I was pulling up the req for our next patient and saw that we were doing a knee. The nurse warned me that the patient was very young and was in a bad mood. I hadn’t paid any attention to the name. I did pay attention to the age and discoveed that he was only a couple of months older than I was.

A patient’s age is important because we tend to use extra care in shieldiing patients of child producing age.

All I heard as I went into the waiting room to get the patient, was a lot of cursing and foul language. I took one look at the patient and he looked back at me.

“What are you doing here?” we both said at the same time. The patient was Richie Cunningham, my classmate and one of Theresa’s prom dates. His knee was red and swollen. He had a big bag of ice on it.

“I did the dumbest thing possible,” he said. I noticed then that he was almost in tears. He was extremely angry and although he’d been cursing at everyone around him, most of his anger was directed at himself.

“Kevin, we were out on the boat and we were just horsing around,” he said. “We were doing stupid dives off the side of the boat...” His eyes filled with tears then.

Richie and I were more acquaintances than friends. He was extremely popular and I was pretty much anonymous, but the way things worked in our town there was no ranking system. Everybody knew everybody and we all spoke to each other. I knew Richie’s plans as well as he did.

“A wave hit the boat just as I jumped,” he sobbed. “I lost my balance and the side of the boat shifted. I hit my knee on it really hard Kev. I felt a big crunch and I know it’s bad.”

“Rich, you’re our next patient,” I said. “We’ll have your X-rays done in a few minutes. We’ll know more then. We all hope that it’s nothing serious.”

I was trying to be as professional as possible. I didn’t want to blow smoke up his ass and give him false hope, but at the same time I needed to get him calmed down. If he was fidgety and angry it would be harder to get him to remain still for the few seconds we’d need for his images.

I noticed Mr. Richards watching me from across the room. He was nodding his head. I took Richie into the exam room and then all hell broke out. Janice was not in a great mood. We were swamped as usual and most of our patients that morning had been problematic.

I really think a lot of that was because we only had her a couple of days a week so we scheduled all of our X-rays, whenever possible on those two days. We also had lots of emergency cases like Richie’s.

So, Janice was in a bad mood and Richie was angry and upset. Janice had no idea that Richie’s entire future and his chance to go to college all depended on his ability to play basketball. He got a full ride scholarship to play basketball. If he’d been dependent on his grades, he wouldn’t be going to college at all.

As it was, playing time for freshmen was marginal at best and Richie would have to play well to earn and keep his spot on the team. Richie had two avenues for success once he was on the team. He could do well in school besides the team and earn his degree or ... He could try to make it into the NBA. Making it in the pros was a huge gamble and I believe Richie was smart enough to get his degree as a fall back. But if he didn’t play neither option was possible. Janice just didn’t understand how important this was. She’d done literally thousands of Knee exams over the course of her career and didn’t see this as being anything special.

Her brusque manner pissed Richie off and within seconds they were screaming at each other. Mr. Richards came into the room to quiet them both down.

“He’s been cursing at everyone since he came in,” yelled Janice. “I don’t have to put up with that.”

“She’s a bitch,” said Richie. “I’m in pain. She acts like she just wants me out of here as quick as possible. I don’t want her touching me. Get someone else.”

That was how Janice walked me through my first X-tay exam. It was of course, technically illegal. But I got the job done. I had seen Janice do knee exams lots of times and knew all of the positions. So, Janice handled the X-ray tube and I handled Richie. We got great pictures. Richie was sent to a bigger hospital in Summerville for knee surgery.

Away from the hospital, my life was pretty much the same as always. I took care of my mom and pampered my car. When school started at the end of the summer, I was a busy as a one-legged man in a butt kicking contest. But the butt that usually got kicked was my own.

A few weeks after Thanksgiving it happened. I was working with Janice and went out to grab the next patient. It was an ankle injury and it was Theresa. I was so nervous I could barely put two words together. As usual Theresa was calm and poised.

“So, Kevin, how are you?” she smiled. “But more to the point, what the hell are you doing here?”

“I could ask you the same,” I said. She smiled at me and I melted inside.

“You know me. I volunteer for everything,” she said. “Coach Klein our old cheerleading coach and history teacher is getting his big chance this year. He’s starting a girl’s basketball team and asked me to help him out as an assistant coach. I don’t get paid or anything, but it’s a chance for me to give something back. Our school gave me years of happiness, so I’m glad to help.

Unfortunately, I’m still a clutz. I rolled my ankle and it hurts pretty badly.”

“Okay, but what I meant was what are you still doing here ... You know in Grace Lake?” I asked. “Why aren’t you away at college becoming a doctor or the president?”

“Kevin!” she laughed. “You’re funny. Why would I want to leave Grace Lake? I love it here. Besides ... Didn’t you ever pay any attention to any of my career day speeches? All I’ve ever wanted was a home, a husband to take care of and a house full of kids. I know it’s more fashionable for women to have careers nowadays, but the world needs housewives and moms too.”

When she said a house full of kids, I lost my professionalism. I took one look at that clean white t-shirt with the boobs beneath it struggling to break free and almost ruined my shorts. If all she wanted was a house full of kids I wanted to give them to her.

Her tanned, thick, sculptured, cheerleader’s legs only added to my lust and my erection.

“So ... You still haven’t answered my question, Kevin,” she said. Her voice was so sexy that I had trouble focusing on anything.

“Kevin ... Where’s the patient?” screamed Janice from the exam room.

I wheeled Theresa into the room and helped her from her wheel chair onto the table.

“Do you want to do this one?” Janice smirked at me.

“But it’s not an emergency,” I said. “It’s illegal.”

“Judging from that tent in your pants, this is a fuckin’ emergency,” she smirked. “And as far as illegal ... It really isn’t anymore. You’re a radiology student. I’m the registered tech you’re aassigned to. I’m just giving you some hands-on training.”

“But I’m not actually in the program yet,” I whined.

“Kevin ... It’s an ankle,” she spat. “It’s three positions an AP, an oblique and a lateral. You could probably do this in your sleep. Although, if you did this in your sleep you’d probably end up fucking her. Now do you want to get your HANDS-ON that curvy little body or what?”

I tried to be as gentle as possible as I moved Theresa’s leg into position for the first image. She smiled at me as I moved into the control room before the exposure.

“Kevin, do you do massages or something?” she asked as I positioned her leg for the next image.

“Huh?” I asked, stupidly. I swear I heard Janice slapping her forehead back in the conteol room.

“Your hands feel really good on my leg,” answered Theresa. “I just thought that maybe as part of your medical training you learned massage or something. I have never felt anything so gentle. Too much of that might go to a girl’s head.”

I didn’t say anything. I just retreated to the control room so Janice could shoot the oblique image.

Janice glared at me angrily. “What?” I asked.

“After,” she hissed, stabbing the exposure button like she was trying to break it.

I went back and positioned Theresa for the lateral image feeling so giddy I could barely concentrate. I just felt strange. On one hand, I wanted to get in there with Theresa badly. I wanted to talk to her and to touch her. But at the same time, as soon as I got in there to take the last image she’d leave and I’d never see her again.

“Thanks Kevin,” she said as I helped her to her wheelchair after taking the last image.

There were so many things I wanted to say to her. I could barely breathe as I watched the rise and fall of her sizable rack. Her ass was nice too but it was those thick cheerleader’s legs that simply redirected all the blood in my vascular system away from my bigger head and into the smaller one.

I took her back to the waiting room where her father was reading a magazine, “Hey Kevin,” he smiled at me. “Is anything broken?”

“We’re not allowed to give out that kind of information,” I said. “The radiologists will read the images and send a report. Dr. Augustine will tell you everything as soon as she gets the report. She’ll also tell you how to take care of it or what comes next.”

“Okay ... Thanks Kevin,” he said.

“I put the exam in as a STAT,” I told him. “So, you’ll get an immediate read and have your results faster.”

“Kevin, you didn’t have to do that,” he laughed. “Terry was a cheerleader. She’s always spraining something or pulling a muscle. We’re used to it. This really wasn’t urgent.”

“It is to me,” I said. “Theresa is a VIP.”

He broke out in a smile as I went back to face Janice. I heard him saying something about me being the nicest kid in town.

I really didn’t care what Janice had to say. I was not about to let her ruin the moment for me.

I walked back into the exam room with the naivete of the innocent as my only armor.

She just stood there shaking her head. “You blockhead Charlie Brown,” she laughed. “I just figured something out. It’s so cute.”

“What?” I asked looking through the stack of reqs and hoping to find one of her favorite exams.

“You’re a virgin, aren’t you?” she asked.

“Don’t be ridiculous,” I said. “What makes you think that?”

“That little slut was trying so hard to give you some pussy that it was painful,” she said.

“She was not,” I mumbled. “Theresa isn’t like that.”

“One,” said Janice beginning a list. “All of that bullshit about how good your hands felt on her leg was a dead give away. Most guys would have used that as an excuse to touch her even more not you ... Captain Cuntless ... VIRGIN!”

“Am not!” I said.

“Two,” she smirked. “While you were positioning her the little bitch had her legs so far apart that I could see her tonsils from here. I’m pretty sure she didn’t have any panties on under those shorts.”

“Janice you’re crazy,” I said angrily. “Theresa isn’t like that. There were some slutty girls in my school but Theresa wasn’t one of them.”

“Three,” said Janice. “She came here specifially to see you.”

“You sound crazy,” I said. “What makes you think that?”

“Because Baron Bashful, it was all an act,” she smirked. “I scoped that shit out from the beginning. Why do you think I let you do the exam?”

“Because you know I like her and you were trying to be nice?” i asked sheepishly.

“Well ain’t that special,” she smirked. “I let you do the exam because there’s nothing wrong with her fucking ankle you moron. Kevin ... I have to hand it to you. You do have a very gentle touch, but you don’t notice much. How did her ankle fee?”

“Really smooth and firm,” I gushed.

“Duh ... Ya think?” she said. “Did her ankle feel cold ... Like she had an ice pack on it?”

“No,” I said, thinking about it for the first time.

“Then it was probably really warm almost hot from the extra blood flow to the area ... Right?” she asked.

“Okay ... No!” I said.

“There was also no sign of swelling at all,” she said. “But you didn’t notice that, did you Captain Obvious? All of the signs point to that girl running a game on you. She wants your wood where it’ll do the most good.”

“Janice you’re full of shit,” I said. I think it was the first time I’ve ever cursed at an adult in my life. “I don’t know what your life is like to make you so mean and judgmental, but Theresa is not like that. Theresa is a really special person and...”

In the middle of my rant I noticed Janice’s eyes get huge and her mouth dropped open. Then she got the stupidest look on her face. “And...” she smirked, looking like the cat that ate the canary.

“And what?” I asked angrily.

“And she’s standing right behind you,” Janice said. At that moment, I was more embarrassed than I had ever been in my life. I felt as if I was standing in the middle of a huge crowd of people and I was the only one who was naked.”

For some reason, I tried to duck into the control room to grab a stack of papers. I mean I knew Theresa was standing there but I just needed to get away. Janice blocked the door.

“I’ll handle the paperwork, Kevin,” she said. And then she stepped into the small open doorway, turned her back and started sorting through reqs.

I turned toward Theresa wishing with all my heart that someone would shoot me.

“Forgot my phone and my purse,” she said pointing toward the small table by the door.

“Oh ... Okay,” I said.

“Kevin,” she said. “Help me walk ... Well limp ... Out of here. We need to talk.”

Once we got out of the exam room, she turned and sat down on the nearest chair she found in the waiting room. She looked up at me, them smiled and reached for my phone. She punched in a number and I heard her phone ring. She handed me my phone back and grabbed hers.

“I’m adding your number to my contacts,” she warned. “So I can call you when I want. Now I’m sending you a text.”

My phone dinged and I looked at it. The text was an odd jumble of numbers a word and several emojis. I was too busy looking at Theresa to try to make sense of it.

“What time do you get off on Friday?” she asked.

“Six,” I said numbly.

“Pick me up at seven,” she smiled. “We’re going out.”

“Theresa, I...” I began.

“Mrs. Lipscomb,” she said.

“Huh?” I asked.

“Your next-door neighbor,” she said. “Kevin you’ve known her for years. She used to babysit you when you were a kid.”

“I know that,” I said. “But what does she have to do with us?” Even as I watched, her face flushed and she smiled.

“She’s going to stay with your mom, while we go out,” she said. “She and her husband will come by at six. She and your mom are gonna talk and play cards while Mr. Lipscomb watches wrestling on your big old TV.”

“My mom might not want to play cards with Mrs. Lipscomb,” I said.

I knew Theresa better than almost anyone. Sure, when we bumped onto each other at the prom six months prior had been the first time we’d ever actually spoken, but I’d been crazy about Theresa Brady since the third grade. I went to football games, not to watch our team, but to watch Theresa cheer. I had seen her do the same move, during debate contests. When she took a step back, nodded her head, and smiled, she was about to lower the boom on someone.

Theresa was awesome in debates. Her opponents always thought that because she was cute and blond that she was empty headed. But she always prepared thoroughly and had all of her facts lined up to prove her arguments. When she laid down the law the audience was usually already charmed and on her side. There were even times when Theresa’s facts simply didn’t support her argument, but she was able to smile and charm her way into winning.

I’ve heard it said that it was like going up against a little blond bulldozer. But in the end, everyone always seemed to love Theresa and she loved them right back. But now having her direct that intensity against me was scary. I’d never dreamed anout going against Theresa. All I’d ever wanted to do was to be on her side.

She took a step back and lowered her head. Then she nodded it and hit me with that devastating smile. “You’re right, Honey,” she said. I felt as if electricity had gone through me. I have never heard Theresa call anyone Honey before.

It felt as if I’d gotten every single one of my Christmas presents for my whole life at the same time.

“But if your mom didn’t want to play cards with Mrs. Lipscomb ... Why did she suggest it?” she asked. It suddenly felt as if I couldn’t breathe. I was fighting against a true force of nature. I was powerless against her.

It was the weirdest thing. Theresa was a full-grown woman. She was eighteen years old just as I was. But she seemed to be so far ahead of me. It was November, but the temperatures were still in the sixties.

She had that crisp, clean, brand new t-shirt with our high school’s logo on it. The t-shirt was loose everywhere except across her boobs. You could see the outline of her bra through the shirt. And her smell ... It was country girl sexy. She just smelled clean, with a very light scent of some sort of soap.

And up close ... Oh God she was standing so close to me that I could fel her warmth. Up close her eyes were too blue. It was devastating. I felt as if I couldn’t catch my breath.

In a flash, she became analytical. “Kevin do you like me?” she asked point blank. I was too overwhelmed. My brain had ceased to filter the interaction between my thoughts and my mouth.

“More than anyting on Earth?” I gushed. “I always have,” I said, plunging my foot even further in my mouth.

“Then why haven’t you ever asked me out?” she asked. “Why did I have to wait until there was no one left in town to go out with you?”

“Uhm...” I began. She took my hand. And she looked at me strangely.

“Kevin this is some truly weird shit,” she spat. “Kevin, right now I am tingling all over. I have never felt like this before at any time in my life. I should have seen this a long time ago.”

As I watched she seemed to be having a conversation with herself.

“Seen what?” i asked hoping I hadn’t blown a chance to date her.

“Kevin, I have never been in love,” she said. “I’ve never had a boy friend. I’ve never wanted a relationship. It never felt right. There were twenty-eight kids in our graduating class. Twelve boys and sixteen girls. If you count the class above us and the class below us that brings the number up to roughly forty boys.

Over the years I think I’ve dated all or most of them. Three of those guys are gay, but I dated two of them before they figured out what they were. Shit, I dated everyone who asked me out. Some of them more than once or twice. I’ve dated athletes, nerds, both of the black guys in our school, the Asian exchange student, the fat guy ... I even dated Ted, remember him?”

I nodded. “The guy in the wheelchair, right?” I asked. She nodded.

“The only two guys I can think of that I didn’t date are Eric, that blond guy who thinks all women smell like fish and hates them ... And you, Kevin.”

She looked at me strangely then. “It’s me, isn’t it?” she asked. “You’ve dated Elaine a few times. Kelly Smith was your girlfriend all through middle school. She said you got really serious after your dad died and she couldn’t handle it.”

“I had to get a job to help my mom with the bills,” I said.

“You took Rhoda to the prom,” she said. “I know she’d have gone out with you during the summer If you’d asked her.”

“How do you know that?” I asked her.

“Kevin don’t be an idiot,” she laughed. “I called her the day after the prom. Remember when we bumped each other? The way you looked at me when you tried to apologize. I felt something Kevin. And you did too. So why haven’t you ever asked me out?”

“Theresa ... I’m ... But you’re...” I stammered.

“It’s Wednesday, Kevin,” she said. “When you pick me up on Friday, you’d better have an answer for me.” She leaned over and hugged me. I could feel her breasts flattening between us as she squeezed them against me. I almost came in my boxers.

As she walked away towards the exit, the sight of her ass filling out her shorts nearly stopped my heart.

“You know Janice can be a boy’s name too. You just spell it differently. You spell it J-A-N-I-S. It’s short for Janisarius, i think he was the God of peanut butter or something,” said the voice over my shoulder.

“Why are you telling me that?” I asked.

“I want you to name it after me,” she gushed.

“Name what after you,” I answered absent mindedly.

“The kid you’re probably gonna make Friday night,” she laughed. “And don’t come in late Saturday morning, whining about being tired and crying because your dick hurts.”

“Janice, Theresa...” I began.

“I know ... I know,” she laughed. “She’s not like that. She smiles and beams of sunshine gush out of her. Kevin, you just watched her walk out of here didn’t you?”

“Unh huh,” I said.

“Kevin, did you watch the way her ass moved?” she asked. “Tell the truth, Kevin.”

“Yes,” I admitted.

“I want you to think about two things before we get back to work because I think you might be over your head and I’m scared for you,” she said. I turned and looked at her.

“One,” she said. “That ain’t no virgin’s ass. And two, you saw her walking. There’s nothing wrong with that girl’s ankle.”

I’ve mentioned before, how small Grace Lake is, but let me give you an example. It was a wednesday evening when Theresa and I agreed to go out on that Friday. By Thursday morning it seemed as if the entire town already knew.

When I stopped off at the town’s only general goods store ... A general goods store or gg sells everything except food and drugs ... Any way I stopped off at the gg to get some Turtle wax stuff to wash my Mustang.

Brad Gillis, the store manager looked at me and smiled. “Good Idea,” he said. “You can’t go out on a date with Theresa Brady in a dirty car.”

“How did you...” I began.

“Hey, George,” he screamed. “Bring me up a bottle of that new Turtle Wax Wheel and Tire Cleaner.”

George Lynch, the assistant manager showed up about three seconds later with an ear to ear grin.

“God damn, I wish I was young again,” he said. “I’d give you a run for your money over Theresa. They just didn’t build girls like that when I was growing up.”

“This will make your wheels and tires look really shiny and new,” Brad winked at me. “Bitches love that shit. It’s on the house, Kevin.”

“I’ll pay for it,” I said. “Mr. Gillis, Theresa isn’t a bitch!”

“God dammit,” he said. He reached into his pocket and pulled out his wallet. “You were right Tom,” he yelled. “I owe ya ten.”

Mr. Brady, Theresa’s father came from the back of the store and took the ten from Gillis.

Mr. Gillis looked at me. “I was just trying to get under your skin, Kevin,” he said. Tom bet me that you were already nuts about Theresa and you two haven’t even gone out yet.”

“That was a fool’s bet,” said George Lynch. “The whole town loves Theresa.”

For the rest of the day, it seemed as if everyone I spoke to wanted to talk about me and Theresa. If I walked past a restaurant, the owner or the cook would come out and ask if I was bringing Theresa there.

Even the nurses at the hospital had an opinion on where we should go. And every one of them made sure to find me and let me know.

My plan was to take her to a nice sit down, dress up, Italian restaurant that was just in the other side of the campus of the college I went to. Several of the nurses thought that was very romantic and a nice first date.

“Make sure you get her flowers,” said Ginger Grant, the hospital’s director of nursing.

I thought that was a good idea and decided I’d do it at luchtime on Friday.

I got home on Thursday night and got all of my car wash supplies out. I had just rinsed my Mustang off and filled a bucket with warm sudsy water when my phone rang.

“Kevin have you lost your mind?” asked Theresa.

“Did I do something wrong?” I asked.

“Kevin, we are not dressing up and driving forty or fifty miles away to a fancy restaurant for our first date. You save that for when you have an important question to ask me, or something to celebrate,” she said.

“Okay how about if we drive to the movie theater and you can pick...” I began.

“Nah,” she said. “This is our first date Kevin. I just want to get us comfortable with each other. I want us to talk and get to know each other. I’d rather just get a pizza and a movie or go for a drive in your car.”

“But Theresa, I have to make this really special,” I said. “Everyone in town knows we’re going out and...”

“Kevin, fuck everyone in town,” she laughed. “Do you want to please them or me?”

“But what if it doesn’t go well,” I said. “I have to...”

“Kevin if it doesn’t go well, we’ll have to do better on our second date,” she laughed. “My dad is always telling me how awful his first date with my mom was. And they ended up married with a daughter.”

“Theresa whatever happened to your mom,” I asked. “Did she pass away?”

“Nah, she’s a Brazilian super model,” she said. “Trump’s people thought she was Mexican and deported her.”

Friday evening came and I was more nervous than I had ever been. I picked Theresa up in my waxed and washed car.

“I really like your car,” she said. “It’s really shiny.”

As I opened her door for her, her dad ran out of the house. “Hey wait for me,” he said. He was carrying a twelve pack of beer and a huge bag of chips.

“Can you guys drop me off at Kevin’s place?” he asked. “Me and Lipscomb are gonna watch wrestling and drink some beers.”

We dropped him off at my house and turned down his offer to leave us each a can of beer. Then we hit our local pizza place. We drove back to Theresa’s.

They didn’t have a huge TV. It was only a thirty-two incher, but it sat on the coffee table right in front of the sofa so the size didn’t matter.

We sat down on the sofa and she smiled at me. “Why are you so nervous, Kevin?” she asked. “Come over here, I want a before and after.”

“A what?” I asked.

“I want to see how you taste before the pizza and after it,” she giggled.

She wrapped her arms around me and pressed her lips against mine. She tasted sweet. She opened her lips and her tongue fed into my mouth. I was glad we weren’t standing because my legs would have collapsed.

I almost lost control. I kissed her back hungrily. “That was nice,” she said. Her smile lit up the room. It made the unwatched TV seem dim in comparison.

“Are you less nervous now?” she asked. I had no idea what to say. “Kevin let’s play time machine,” she said. I looked at her like she was crazy.

“Okay,” I said. “How do we do that?”

“We’re going forward in time,” she said. “I want you to pretend that we’ve been dating for a year. You’re already used to me. We’ve seen each other naked and everything, so you aren’t nervous any more.”

“Okay,” I said.

She scooted over near me and took a slice of pizza. She leaned against me and started eating.

“So, Kevin, have you got an answer for me?” she asked. She had her head against my shoulder and it was dark in the room. She picked up the remote control and turned off the TV.

“Start talking, Honey,” she said. She was leaning against me and the warmth of her body was making me giddy. I wrapped my arms around her and started talking.

“The fourth grade,” I said. “Theresa ever since we were in the fourth grade I’ve been crazy about you. You are the prettiest, hottest most special woman on the face of the Earth to me. I just never felt like I was a suitable...”

“Kevin, shut up!” she said angrily. “Why do you think we’re here together tonight?”

“Uhm,” I began.

“I know how you think already, Kevin,” she said. “You think I want to date you because you and I are the last ones in town, so I’m stuck with you because everyone else left town or went off to college and left us. Kevin there are a lot of guys in town who didn’t go to college. There are guys who are a few years older than us and shit ... I’m eighteen, I’m a grown woman. I could date a guy in his thirties or forties if I liked him.

Or maybe you think I just wanted to complete my set so I could say that I dated every guy in my grade.”

“Theresa,” I said.

“Kevin, I have dated a lot of guys once or twice, but I think you’re something special too. No one ... Not one of the guys I’ve ever dated has made me feel the way I felt when you looked at me back at prom. I hoped that you’d have asked me out during the summer. So, when you didn’t and I found out you were still in town like me, it was on.

Kevin, you have nothing to worry about and nothing to be nervous about. I already like you a lot. I already feel like we’ve been together for a long time. I don’t really see this as a date. It feels like we’re already together. I think I’m ready for a relationship and I want to see how we grow with time. And I already know how you feel about me. Are we done with the dumb shit?”

It wasn’t much of a date. We lay there together on that sofa in the dark talking and kissing. I was in heaven.

Over the next few weeks, we did that a lot. It got to the point that both Theresa and I knew each other’s whole life stories. We both knew what each other wanted out of life and the top item on each of our lists was each other.

One of the weidest things for me was that I was pretty sure I could have fucked Theresa that first night. But I wanted our first time to be something special.

The weird thing was that we both handled our relationship differently. I was trying to build up the courage to ask Theresa to become exclusive. That’s kind of weird when you haven’t had sex yet. But in Theresa’s mind we were already together.

That point was hammered home to everyone in town pretty emphatically and pretty quickly.

A lot of our friends came back to town for the Christmas break. The first I heard of the trouble came when Janice told me that she needed me to watch her do a patient.

“Skull work is really tricky, Kevin,” she said. “A lot of the exams look the same but the angles and your target points change. The exams we’re doing on this lady are unusual. We’re doing orbits, facial bones and nasal bones. I wish you were already in the program so I could give you practices on these. In some major hospitals, you won’t get a chance to do much skull work because anything on the head goes straight to CT or MRI.”

I went out into the waiting room to get the patient and was surprised to find Rhoda Morgenstern sitting there with a big ice pack on her face and her eye already blackening.

She looked up at me and got angrier. “This is all your fault!” she screamed. I had no idea what she was talking about.

“I’m sorry Rhoda,” I said. “What did I do?”

“Rhoda, it’s not really his fault,” said the woman sitting beside her.

I walked Rhoda into the exam room and made her comfortable on the metal exam table. Janice started explaining the different views we were doing. She showed me views with names like the Caldwell, the Waters, the Townes and several different types of lateral views. I put on a lead apron and stayed in the room to hold Rhoda’s hand during the exam.

When it was over Rhoda had forgiven me, but I still didn’t understand why. “Kevin you’re just as nice as I remembered,” she said. “After being away from home for a while I began to realize how special you are. I think a lot of the girls did. You’re a nice guy Kevin. You’re nice because you just are. You’re not fake and just being nice to get in a girl’s pants.

So, I had the idea of coming home and asking you to go to the Christmas ball with me. I was having breakfast with a few of the girls and I mentioned it.

Kevin, Theresa has never been serious about any guy. She dates any guy who asks her and the next night she dates someone else. So, I was really surprised when she got up and walked over to my table. She was helping out in the restaurant. She doesn’t even really work there.

“Hey Terry,” I said. I felt weird because usually we hug. “Kevin, she asked me about you after the prom and I told her how nice you are. If you remember, Theresa went to the prom with two guys. She doesn’t get serious about guys.”

“Rhoda, what did you say you were gonna do?” she asked me. “I told her I was going to ask you to the ball.”

“No, the fuck you aren’t,” she said. “Kevin, you have to remember, we’re all adults now. This isn’t high school anymore. All of that small-town bullshit doesn’t apply. Theresa Brady is no longer the queen of the school.

So, I told her that I damned sure was. Then I asked her. Theresa have you already asked him or something? She told me she hadn’t. So, I asked her if you guys were married or engaged or something. And she said that you weren’t. So, I told her that I had just as much right to ask you out as she did, and probably more since you took me to the prom.

Kevin, Theresa went crazy. She just started hitting me like there was no tomorrow. Before I even knew I was in a fight it was over. They pulled her off of me and took her to jail. Kevin, I...”

“Rhoda,” said a voice from behind me. “I already told you to stay away from Kevin. Things are different now. Kevin is mine.”

“Is that true, Kevin?” asked Rhoda. I nodded. “Then I apologize, Theresa,” she said.

I guess Theresa needed to mark her territory because she wrapped her arms around me and kissed me right in front of Janice, Rhoda and everyone else in range.

“Get back to work, Kevin,” she cooed. “Make me some money.”

“That night, for the first time in the month that we’d been dating, I didn’t hear from Theresa. I sat home with my mother. The next night was the same. I called and left her messages and texts both nights. On the third night, I was busy so I didn’t bother calling her.

We had a Christmas party for the kids at the hospital and I played Santa. I gave out presents, organized games and hosted our animated Christmas movie showing.

On my way home, I passed a group of people walking down the street in the middle of town. There were four guys, I knew them all. The fifth person was Theresa.

She did bother to call me the next night but I let her call go to voice mail. I ran into one of my old classmates who told me that he’d heard about Theresa and me, “You’re really lucky. Theresa’s a very special girl.”

“Everyone knows that,” I said. “But how does that make me lucky? I dated her just like everyone else in our class did. Well ... I guess we’re all lucky, right?”

“No, it’s different,” he said. “None of us were any more than just ... dates. You guys are ... Well you get her all of the time.”

“Who told you that?” I asked. “We’re not married and have no plans to be. We’re not engaged. We dated a few times because everyone else went off to school or left town. My school is only forty miles away, so I still live at home. That’s all there is.” He looked confused but he shrugged his shoulders.

“She’s amazing, though isn’t she?” he asked.

“That kind of wears off after a while,” I said.

When I got home my mom told me that Theresa had called me several times. I told my mother that Theresa and I were done and she wasn’t taking it well. I told her to just tell Theresa that I wasn’t home if she called. I stayed in and played cards with my mom. I put my Mustang in the garage in case Theresa tried to come over.

When I was at work it was more difficult. I had to keep it moving. Of course, it was easier on days when Janice was there. Janice had no problem telling Theresa that I had the day off even if I was hiding in the closet right next to where Theresa was standing.

“Can you tell him I was looking for him?” asked Theresa.

“I’m not his God damned secretary,” said Janice. “He works for me, remember?”

“Could you do it for me then?” asked Theresa.

“I’m not your secretary either,” said Janice. “If you want to talk to him, try that new thingy they invented ... You know the telephone.”

Two days later, on Christmas eve, everyone I ran into was telling me that Theresa was looking for me. I heard from all kinds of people what an asshole I was. Poor Theresa was supposedly crying her eyes out over me.

I woke up early Christmas morning and gave my mom her presents. I took her to an early church service and then went in to work even though I had the day off. I took my mom over to have Christmas dinner with the Lipscombs before I went in.

I played with the kids and did everything I could, running errands and fetching things for the patients. I called family members and used skype on one of the hospital’s laptops to help patients contact their family members.

I think things came to a head when Morris tracked me down. “Hey uhm Kev ... You know the New Years eve party is coming up in a couple of days. Most of us will be heading back to school the next day,” he said.

“Yeah, I know I have a physics project that’s due two days after New Years day,” I said.

“Are you going to the New Year’s Party?” he asked.

“I hadn’t planned on it,” I said.

“Well, is it okay if I take Theresa?” he asked.

“Morris, that’s between you and Theresa,” I said. He looked at me strangely. I got the idea that he wanted to tell me something. But he shook his head.

I got a message from Theresa calling me an asshole. I decided that the time for hiding was over. I went to the New Year’s party with an old friend of mine, Melissa Carillo. I thought about asking Rhoda but I wasn’t sure she wanted to risk another ass whipping to go out with me.

Melissa and I had a great time. The party was held in the town square and the area was big enough that Theresa and I weren’t seated anywhere near each other.

I did see her sitting at a table with Morris and some other people. She seemed to be having a great time as well. Melissa and I danced and ate and talked. We had a lot in common. She was in a Nursing program. We talked about lazy nurses, stupid doctors and crazy patients for a long time.

Just before the ball dropped we got up to dance. To be truthful, by that time I had forgotten that Theresa was even there. I smiled at Melissa as we twirled around the floor without a care in the world.

As they started the countdown, Melissa looked into my eyes and smiled. I pulled her into my arms and leaned toward her.

“Kevin, have you lost your mind?” I heard the words from behind me and turned to face an extremely angry Theresa. She looked as if she was torn between anger and agony. Tears had welled up in the corners of her eyes.

“Hi Theresa,” Melissa waved at her. “It’s good to see you. What did Kevin do wrong?”

“I thought we had something really special,” said Theresa.

“Believe me, I did too,” I said. “It was nice seeing you again.”

The next day most of our friends went back to school and I went back to school and to work myself.

It took only three days for Theresa to start showing up in places she knew I’d be.

“Kevin can we talk?” she asked.

“I can talk,” I said. “I have great communication skills. It’s part of my job. I’ve heard you talk too. So, I guess to answer your question, we can both talk.” Then I walked away.

A couple of days later she called me. “Kevin can we go for a drive?”

“I’m not driving right now,” I said. “But you can.”

“Kevin, we need to talk,” she said. “We need to fix us.”

“There’s nothing to fix,” I said. “It’s a part of life. You try things and people. Some of them work. Some of them fail. The failures give us experience and help us grow.”

“Kevin that’s bullshit and you know it,” she said. Her voice was choking up.

“Theresa, you said it yourself. You’ve dated a lot of guys. I was lucky enough to be one of the ones who got more than one date,” I said.

“You’re supposed to be the one I’m with forever,” she said. I just laughed.

“Why is that funny?” she asked.

“Because you actually had me believing all of that shit,” I laughed.

“You said some things too,” she said.

“Yep, and I meant every word of it and acted like it,” I said.

“You’re saying that you dumping me is my fault?” she asked.

“Theresa, I didn’t dump you, you didn’t dump me,” I said. “We were never together, we just went out on a few dates. Things didn’t work out.”

“What didn’t work out?” she asked. “We were fine. One day I’m pretty sure we were in love and the next day you show up at a party with that skanky ass Melissa Carillo and were about to kiss her in front of the whole town on New Years.”

“You left out the part where you beat up Rhoda because she wanted to go out with me, but then you spend the next week or so going out with guys you knew from high school. I called you for three days and could never get a hold of you. I just figured we were done,” I said.

She got the dumbest look on her face then. “Kevin, I’m sorry,” she said. “I just...”

“Theresa, you don’t have to be sorry,” I told her. “You don’t owe me an apology. I should be grateful to you. You taught me an important lesson. No matter how you feel about a person, it doesn’t mean they feel the same way. And just because you love someone, it doesn’t mean they’re gonna love you. In the end, how people treat you is up to you. No matter how you feel you have to be strong enough to walk away if you’re being treated like shit.”

“Kevin, you don’t understand,” she said.

“Theresa, you don’t understand,” I said. “I’m not unhappy. I’m very grateful. For most of my life I dreamed of someday talking to you. When we started talking there is nothing in the world I wouldn’t have sacrificed for one date with you. I had many more than that. I’m grateful. Have a great life, Theresa.”

Despite my tough talk I felt awful. Everything hurt. I was heartbroken. No one and nothing had ever hurt me so badly.

I think everyone noticed it. “Kevin, you have to get your head out of your ass,” Janice told me. “I warned you about that girl. I told you that you were in over your head. But come on nothing lasts forever. You must’ve been tired of fucking her by now. It’s time to move on to the next one.”

“Janice, it’s not like that,” I said. “I love Theresa. We never had sex. God, Janice, I feel like my life is over. We were gonna get married and have ... I feel like I’m gonna die.”

“She feels the same way, Kevin,” I looked past Janice and saw Theresa’s father, Tom standing in the doorway.

“Kevin, when you and my daughter started going out, I knew deep in my bones that it was something special. I just knew that you was gonna be the one to take my little girl away from me. Kevin, I don’t know what happened between the two of you, but she’s yours now,” he said.

“Mr. Brady, I wish that was true,” I said. It was all I could do not to cry and he knew it.

“Both of you are miserable, Kevin,” he said. “You two should talk.”

Over the next few weeks I lost count of how many people came to see me or just stopped me in the street to talk to me about Theresa. No one including, Theresa seemed to understand why we broke up. But I think they realized that I was suffering as badly as she was. It felt almost like the entire town was a darker, sadder place.

I don’t think anything would have changed if tragedy hadn’t struck. I remember the day like it was yesterday. It was a Wednesday in early February. Theresa and I had been broken up for a little over six weeks, but it still felt like a raw open wound.

I know that it doesn’t make sense. How the hell could it take more than six weeks to get over someone that I had dated for only a month? I have no answer for that but it had. Every day, I had to struggle to find the motivation to go to school or the hospital.

And the hospital was bad. Theresa showed up there so often that Mr. Richards had to tell her not to come there unless she was visiting a patient or was there as a patient herself.

But anyway, I came home that Wednesday evening and made dinner for my mom. We sat and talked like we always did and like always she hinted around that I should call Theresa.

“Kevin, she doesn’t even know why you broke up with her,” she said angrily. “The poor girl deserves that at least.”

“Mom how do you know all of this?” I asked.

“She comes over to talk to me all the time,” she said.

I got up and walked out of the room. During the night, I had the strangest dreams. I dreamed that my mom was standing over me and telling me that I needed to get back with Theresa.

“Mom, let it go,” I said, mumbling in my sleep. I woke up in the middle of the night after that dream. My room was ice cold, but I was sweating.

I went to my mother’s room and found her. I thought she was sleeping but I noticed that she wasn’t breathing. I kissed her and called the Sheriff and the hospital. Our town was so small that the coroner worked out of the hospital.

The Sheriff got there in about thirty minutes. He went into her room. “Kevin, I’m so sorry for your loss, son,” he said. “I know this doesn’t make it any easier, but we knew this was coming. She lasted a lot longer than anyone expected. I really think that was due to you taking such good care of her.”

I nodded. I felt as if I was walking through mud. I kept thinking that I needed to wake up. It felt like another of those strange dreams.

News travels like lightning in a small town. Less than ninety minutes after I found my mother, they were removing her body from the house. My mom had agreed to have her body examined to determine how her disease had progressed and what had finally killed her.

The coroner was there. The town’s mortician was there and the Sheriff’s new deputy, a guy I neither knew very well nor liked was there. Suddenly, I heard the sound of a key in my front door. It opened and before I knew what was going on a small bolt of lightning struck me.

It was Theresa, of course, and she was all over me, hugging me and kissing me and telling me how sorry she was. “Kevin, I loved her too,” she said. “We talked all the time. We talked about you and our future and...”

Theresa was there. She helped me through the whole tragedy. If our lives had been a movie or one of those internet stories, my mom’s death would have been one of those dramatic plot points that got us back together.

But it wasn’t. And it wasn’t Theresa. It was me. Theresa was perfect. She was the girlfriend that every guy dreams of having. She helped me deal with the insurance companies. She helped make the funeral arrangements. She even helped to keep me sane by helping me deal with all of the people trying to console me and wish me well.

At the funeral, Theresa was incandescent. She was like the sun shining through on a dark gloomy day. Everyone there was drawn to her, they all wanted to be in her presence. But Theresa stayed with me, she sat by my side and held my hand the whole time.

Theresa was perfect. I was numb. I felt nothing. Nothing affected me. It took all the energy I could muster just to continue breathing. I don’t remember having the energy to agree to or veto anything.

In fact, there are huge chunks of time that I simply don’t remember. I remember seeing Theresa in the little black dress she wore to the funeral. But I don’t remember any of the speeches or anything else about the service. It was a blur.

I remember getting angry after catching some guy staring at Theresa’s ass during the burial. Theresa somehow sensed my anger and wanted to know why I was suddenly so tense. When I told her she smirked,”Let me handle it.”

I remembered then how she’d handled her jealousy with Rhoda. “It’s okay Honey,” she said. “I won’t leave you for a second. I promise.”

We turned back to listen to the minister, and Theresa took my hand. She wrapped my arm around her waist and laid her head on my shoulder. Then she took the hand that was wrapped around her waist and pushed it down further and further until my hand was resting on the roundest part of her ass.

“I’ll bet he’s cumming in his pants right now,” she whispered. “I’ll bet he also knows who this ass belongs to.” I let my hand drop to my side then.

“What’s wrong?” Theresa asked loudly. I could tell her back was up, so I took her hand to soothe her into being quiet. I wasn’t going to get an argument started at my mom’s funeral.

Back at my house ... I couldn’t get over the fact that I was not even nineteen years old and owned my own home ... Theresa went up the stairs and into my room.

When I got there, she was taking the clips out of her dark blond hair and letting it fall. She pulled her dress over her head and put it on a hanger. She put the dress in a clothing carrier and stuck it in my closet.

Seeing Theresa standing there in front of me in nothing but a bra and panties took my breath away.

Her large breasts were barely contained by the frilly bra. It seemed like one big breath would allow them to escape.

Her panties were a very tiny thong. The front panel was made of the same frilly material as her bra. The patch of cloth that covered her intimate zone was the size of two of my fingers. The rest was just a very thin string.

I couldn’t take my eyes off of her. I suddenly noticed that she was watching me watch her.

“Theresa ... I am so sorry,” I said. “Please forgive me.”

She burst out laughing. “Kevin, you just gave me the biggest compliment ever,” she said. “And I’m not ashamed of my body. Besides, this outfit is barely smaller than the ones I’ve slept in for the past two nights.”

“Okay,” I said, not understanding what she meant.

“You must be exhausted, Honey,” she said. I nodded. I even let her calling me “HONEY” slide.

“Theresa, I have no idea how I can pay you back for everything you’ve done for me,” I said. “I have something I’d like to talk to you about though, sometime soon ... maybe later this evening?”

“Sounds good, Honey,” she said. “You lie down. I’ll be just a minute.”

I got into my bed and it felt like all the tension I’d been carrying over the past few days just melted. I thought about how much I missed my mom. But I knew that her pain was over. She’d no longer have to take an endless array of medications that supposedly made her feel better, but actually made her feel worse.

It seemed as if each of the pills came with a tiny side effect that muted a small portion of her personality. Taken individually the effects were miniscule, but taken as a group, they changed her personality so much that my mom seemed to be a completely different person.

She was free. She was free of pain. She was free to be my mom again; just the way I remembered her.

That was when the tears began. I let out one mournful sob and got the surprise of my life. Two very warm arms wrapped themselves around me.

“It’s okay to cry, baby,” I recognized Theresa’s thick husky voice before my eyes were open.

“Theresa!” I yelled. “What are you doing?”

“Ya said we were takin’ a nap and then we’d talk,” she said.

“But you’re in my bed!” I said. “And you’re naked.”

“I’m not naked,” she said. “I have the same bra and panties on that you were staring at, but if you want me naked all you have to do is ask ... Kevin ... Shit ... I knew you were out of it.

Kevin we’ve been sleeping in the same bed together for three nights, Honey.”

“But everyone’s gonna think...” I began.

“So?” she said.

“Theresa,” I sighed. “My mom loved you.”

“I loved her too,” she said. “She loved me because she knew how much I love you, Kevin.”

“Theresa, the last thing my mom said to me was that you deserved to know why we broke up,” I said.

“You mean why you dumped me?” she said. “WE didn’t break up. I love you Kevin and you loved me. So, go ahead and tell me what happened.”

“I know this sounds like a cliche,” I began. “But it’s not you it’s me. I got greedy and...”

“And you wanted me AND that Bitch, Rhoda,” she hissed.

“Can I talk?” I asked. She didn’t say anything. “Theresa, I have always loved you. I once told you that I dreamed of just talking to you...”

“Then why the fuck haven’t you spoken to me in weeks?” she said angrily. I sighed.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “I won’t say a word until you’re done.”

“Any way, we started going out,” I said. “And as you know I was nervous at first...”

“Then you got used to me and realized that I’m just a normal girl and got sick of me?” she said.

“No, I fell even more in love with you and decided that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with you. I loved you so much I became obsessed with you. I started thinking of you as mine and...”

She pushed herself up onto one elbow and stared at me. Her eyes were shining and she was smiling. Rising up that way pulled the flimsy bra to one side and I was looking at a very large breast falling out of its cup.

“Kevin, I like that kind of thinking,” she said. “I am yours, you know.”

“I had three weeks of heaven,” I continued. “Then it ended. I got home from work and tried calling you. It went to voicemail. I kept calling. I even called your dad. He told me you were out with friends.

I tried again the next day. Then I gave up.”

“What do you mean you gave up?” she asked.

“I stopped calling you,” I said. “But then on my way home I saw you...”

The look on her face should have told me everything. In fact, if I knew then what I know now, my life would have been very different.

Theresa looked shocked. “You saw me?” she sobbed. The anguish in her voice was so palpable that I felt her pain.

But I was too intent on getting my point across to really exploit the opening.

“Yep, you were too busy to talk to or spend any time with me, but there you were walking down the street with a bunch of guys I barely remember from high school,” I said.

She let out a huge sigh, like someone who’d not only dodged a bullet, but had dodged the fucking gun.

“I thought you’d seen me in jail,” she said. “For beating your girlfriend’s ass.”

“That was stupid,” I said. “Rhoda was never any kind of threat to us. If she’d had the chance to ask me, I’d have just explained to her how things used to be ... Or at least how I thought they were.”

“You mean how they are and always will be,” she laughed.

“No Theresa,” I said. “It’s stupid. You can run around with four or five guys but I can’t go to a party with Rhoda?”

“Kevin, it’s different,” she said. “Those guys are all guys I dated and felt nothing for. That whore Rhoda was trying to get you. She even told me about how all of the guys she dated at her school were assholes who didn’t care about her at all, they just wanted to fuck her.

She was looking for something permanent ... Something a lot more serious and committed than just hooking up. That’s all well and good but you’re taken.”

“No, I’m not,” I said.

“Kevin, I just spent a couple of days catching up with old friends. Shit ... most of what I did was talked about you. Every one of those guys thinks you’re lucky.”

“Yeah, so lucky that Morris Hazelnut asked me if he could take you to the New Years Party,” I said.

“You were supposed to say,”NO,” she said. “Like I did with your girlfriend. Instead you show up with that slut Melissa and almost kissed her in public.”

“We were broken up,” I said. “And you had Morris.”

“Morris and I are only friends,” she said. “I don’t love him and he has a girlfriend back at college. Did you see me kissing him? Hell no, you didn’t. He was only trying to cheer me up over you not talking to me. And you admitted it yourself ... He asked you if we could go to the party. All you had to do is say no.”

I sighed and she went for the throat.

“So why didn’t you say NO?” she asked. “I expected you to. Everyone in town knows we’re together.”

“Wait a minute,” I smiled. “Less than five minutes ago, you said, and I quote, “Fuck everybody in town.”

“That was a different thing,” she said. She flashed me that huge smile that she used to charm everybody. On some people, it would have been called a shit eating grin, but it just seemed to work for Theresa every God damned time. And it worked on me, so I conceded the point.

“Kevin, I love you,” she said. “I really love you. You said you had three weeks in heaven. Kevin, I want you to spend the rest of our life in heaven. Before we even had a chance to really get started you want to throw us away because you’re jealous. That’s all this really is.

I admit it, I fucked up. I took you for granted. Kevin let me explain something to you. My life is not what you think it is. My grades ... Sucked. I’m basically a bum. I don’t want a job. I want a home to take care of and a bunch of babies. I’ve been looking for the guy I want to share all of that with.

As soon as I saw you at the stupid prom I knew you were him. Kevin, I know what I look like. I know how I’m built. Most guys take one look at me and want to fuck me. Remember my Brazilian super model joke? My mom actually got tired of my father’s inability to keep a job and left him.

My mom was thin and really pretty. I’m a country girl. I have wide hips and big boobs. By the time I’m forty I’ll probably be a four by four. Kevin, I want someone who will love me forever, not some guy that just wants to fuck me, get bored with me and then leave me. You’re that guy Kevin. I knew it as soon as I saw you at the dance.

I’ve been kicking myself ever since then that I didn’t come and find you sooner.

We’ve both said this. Everybody in town knows we’re together or at least they think we are. A lot of this is your fault Kevin.”

“How is this my...” I began.

“You had your chance, Honey,” she smirked. “It’s my turn to talk.”

She moved even closer to me then. Her boobs pressed against me. I was having trouble concentrating. This was the first time in my life that I’d been this close to a woman who was that close to being naked.

The fact that I’d been crazy about her since I was still wearing short pants didn’t help. It was unfair. It was like a kid with a slingshot trying to fight a full-grown man with a machine gun.

I was breathing heavily and she was rubbing herself against me.

“Resa, you need to stop doing that,” I hissed. Her only answer was to moan. She shivered unexplainably.

“What did you call me?” she asked. Her arms wrapped around me even tighter and her pelvis bumped against my erection.

“Resa,” I said, my voice cracked as I said it. That shiver went through her body again wnd she pressed her lips against mine.

“You have your own little name for me and everything don’t you?” she asked.

“Resa we haven’t ... I mean I told you why we broke up but...” I gushed.

I swear her eyes seemed to roll up into her head. “Kevin stop calling me that,” she pleaded. She moved herself away from me then. “Not that I don’t like being where I was,” she said, running her finger slowly down my chest. “But you’re right, we have things to talk about.”

Even as she said it, she kissed me. Then she kissed me again. “I only need to hold out for a few more minutes,” she said.

I wasn’t sure if she was talking to me or to herself.

“Kevin, we aren’t broken up,” she said. “You got angry and jealous and I gave you some space, but it’s time to move on from that foolishness.

You love me, Kevin and I love you. I just got caught up. Kevin all or our friends came back from college for the first time. We all got together or kept running into each other and had to tell each other what was going on in our lives.

The biggest mistake I made was to take you for granted in my excitement. It’s funny, I thought that they had a lot of exciting things to share but it turned out that I was the one who seems to have done the best.

Okay, they’re in bigger cities or what not, but I never wanted to leave Grace Lake. So that’s a wash. Some of them are going to classes. I told them about your classes and how proud I am of you.

They talked about the careers they will have someday. I talked about getting married to my dream man and having our babies right here in Grace.

I think a couple of them were jealous. Matt Stein really made an ass of himself. “Kevin, Kevin, Kevin ... Can’t you talk about anything except Kevin?” he asked me. I just smiled and said no.

I love you, Honey. And I got your message loud and clear. I will never do it again, okay?” I sighed and nodded my head. I was sweating even though the room was relatively cool.

“And that brings me to my next point,” she smiled. “Do you know why your girlfriend came down here from her high falutin’ college looking for you, Kevin?”

“The only time I spoke to her was when we X-rayed her,” I said.

“Kevin, she’s looking for love. She was whining about how all the guys at school want to do is fuck her amd move on. Everybody seems to be doing a lot of fucking lately. Is that all they do in college?

Even the gay guys were bragging to me about how easy it is to get laid at whatever school they go to.”

“It makes sense,” I told her. “They’re young and they’re away from home. They’re experimenting and trying to find their way. And they have healthy apetites to satisfy.”

“So why aren’t we satisfying ours?” she asked.

“Resa, I love you,” I said. “I want us to last forever. You’re always talking about how you want a husband and a house full of kids. I want to be in that picture. So, I’m not gonna mess it up by rushing you into something or treating you like a slut.”

“Kevin, every time you call me Resa, something happens to me,” she said. “Honey, don’t be angry with me but I’m not a virgin. And I was ready to be with you after our first date.”

I have no idea how to describe how I felt. There were so many things I wanted to know. I wasn’t sure how I felt about Theresa any more.

I know it seems odd, but somehow it tarnished my idea about our perfect romance. There I was lying almost naked beside the hottest woman I knew ... She had just told me she wanted to have sex with me but I felt like crying.

Truthfully, I felt as if I had lost something. I started seeing the faces of all of the guys in our class. I wondered which one of those motherfuckers had gotten to her first.

Her hand brushed my rapidly deflating dick. “Wow,” she said. “Just a second ago this thing was as hard as a rock.”

I didn’t say anything. I didn’t want to say the wrong thing, but I felt weird. I know it was wrong and sexist and all of that caveman shit, but fuck it, we all have traces of caveman DNA.

“Guess you don’t wanna stick your dick in an ugly, fat, diseased whore, huh?” she said.

“Wanna get something to eat?” I asked.

“No,” she hissed. “And you don’t either!”

“Actually ... I’m kind of hungry,” I said. I noticed the tears streaming from her eyes but I was just too shocked to do anything.

“I’m sorry I’m not the perfect girl you dreamed about,” she sobbed. “There’s all kinds of things wrong with me. I drink a beer or two sometimes. I smoke weed every once in a while, and sometimes the things I eat make me fart. But I’m human, Kevin. What did you think you were getting?”

“Theresa, I...” I began.

“Wow, I’m not Resa anymore huh?” she said angrily. “You should probably wash your hands, you were touching me. You’re not perfect either, Kevin. How many girls have you had sex with? I’ll bet my number is lower than yours.”

“Theresa,” I said slowly. “Can I...”

“No, you fucking can’t Kevin,” she said. The agony in her voice was really starting to bother me. “There’s this thing they call puberty. Most people go through it Kevin. Our hormones go nuts ... Our bodies develop and we get a curiosity for how things work.

If I had known that I was ruining my life I never would have done it. So, go ahead Kevin ... How many girls have you done it with?”

“We don’t need to talk about that, Theresa,” I said. “It doesn’t really...”

“Oh ... I’m still, Theresa? I thought I’d be down to Miss Brady by now,” she said. “And it does matter. So how many bimbos have you put the holy pork to, Kevin?”

She just glared at me angrily.

“None,” I said. She just stared at me and her mouth dropped open. Then she started crying in earnest. I moved over to her and put an arm around her shoulder.

“Why Kevin?” she asked.

“Why what?” I asked her back.

“Kevin, Rhoda ... Melissa ... Shit I can make a whole list of girls you could have messed around with. You probably still can,” she said.

“Theresa, I didn’t date very much,” I said. “I was fifteen when my dad died. I got a job to help out. It didn’t leave a lot of time for dating and messing around. I wasn’t like you. I can take people or leave them.

I did go to most of the football games and all of the important Basketball games. But Theresa, I only went to those games to see you. I went to the debates, but again, I was there...”

“Shit, Kevin ... What were you ... a stalker? Why didn’t you ever just come up to me and ask me out?”

“We’ve already talked about that,” I said.

“Oh yeah, you thought I was too good for you what with me being an angel descended from heaven. But that was before you discovered that I was a dirty, disgusting slut and you’re the pure sweet one.”

“No Theresa, I’m not pure and sweet. Believe me I had some thoughts too. But I just...” I said.

“You just what?” she asked.

“I ... Never ... Well no one ever...” I said.

“Bullshit!” she said. “There are some girls in that school that will fuck a snake,” if they had a chance to. So, don’t give me that no one ever wanted to shit. What’s the truth?”

“I’m trying to tell you the God damned truth, Theresa,” I yelled. “This isn’t easy for me either you know. Do you know how embarrassing it is for a guy to admit that he’s never done it? Especially for a reason as stupid as mine. I never did anything because no one matched up to you, Theresa. I wass sure that sooner or later you’d move away or get married and I could go on with my life, but it didn’t happen.

Really funny, isn’t it? I based my entire life around being in love with a woman who never realized that I was alive.”

“So, you said that you had thoughts sometimes ... Who’d you have them about?” she asked.

“You mostly,” I told her.

“When was the last time you had thoughts like that?” she asked.

“About ten minutes ago,” I said. “You had me ready to pop.”

“Kevin if you had called me Resa, one more God damned time we would still be going at it right now,” she said.

“So why didn’t you try anything up until now?” she asked.

“I already told you that too,” I said. “It’s not like I didn’t think about it. Our kissing and making out got hotter every time, but I thought I had all the time in the world for that. Besides we’d only been together for three weeks when things broke up. I guess I thought good things were worth waiting for.”

“Tell me another lie, Kevin,” she said.

“I’m not lying,” I said.

“Kevin, this is a small God damned town,” she laughed. “Everyone knows some of everyone else’s business; and some of us know everything about everybody.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” I asked.

“It means you just lied to me,” she said. “I know for a fact how much you loved me, so don’t give me that taking our time, good things are worth the wait bullshit.”

“Huh?” I asked.

“Kevin, Ida Lipscomb is your mom’s best friend,” she said. “Remember how they helped me with our first date?”

“God, I was nervous,” I laughed. “I never imagined that we’d go out. And I never imagined that we’d have ever been lying in a bed almost naked together.”

“We still should be,” she said sadly. “But anyway ... We never stopped planning. And Ida’s nephew’s wife sold you ... okay Kevin, what did you buy me for Christmas?”

“We were broken up before Christmas, remember?” I said.

“Kevin, just because you don’t love me anymore, doesn’t mean you have to lie to me,” she said. “I already know. Shit, I knew before you finished paying for it. I made sure it fit.”

“What?” I asked.

“You know what, Kevin,” she smiled. “If you wanted to take your time and go slow, why were you going to give me an engagement ring after only three God damned weeks?”

“How did... ?” I sputtered.

“Your mom told me,” she said. “Mrs. Lipscomb’s nephew, the jeweler, told her and she told your mom.”

“I’m sorry Theresa,” I said. “I know this shouldn’t matter. I know that what we did before we met is our own business, but it just hurts. I know I’m a Neanderthal and a flat-out asshole ... But ... Look I need time to think, okay. There is simply too much going on at the same time.

Over the past few months my entire life has morphed into something I never expected. I got a job at the hospital, it’s probably the best job I’ve ever had. That turns into me being pushed into a role that the town really needs. When I’m done I’ll be a vital and important part of the town.

In order to do that I’m being sent to college to start a career that I never knew I was interested in but I really like. In order to make it to school I get another gift. Theresa, they just gave me the car of my dreams as an after thought.

And just when I thought things couldn’t hey any better, you came into my life. I have loved you forever, Theresa. Even when I had those sporadic dates with someone else, it was always you I thought about. Yours was the face in all of my fantasies.

I know it didn’t mean much to you, but for me bumping into you at the dance and you talking to me was the high point of my life. It stayed atop the podium until I X-rayed your ankle. And that stayed there until the first time you kissed me. All of that happened within five months, Theresa.

The next thing I knew you and I were dating or something. My life just kept getting better. It was like I had the golden touch. But life isn’t like that. There’s a balance.

You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have...”

“Kevin isn’t that the lyrics from the Facts of Life?” she giggled.

“Shut up, Theresa,” I said. “You know what I mean. I was on a steady upwards tragectory, but gravity seems to have taken hold of me.

It all seems to be turning bad. My golden touch has become the fecal touch. Everything I put my hands on turns to shit. We broke up, Theresa. That hurt me more than anything in my life. Then it got worse. My mom died, Theresa. I’m still processing that. I have to get over that and deal with the fact that I’m all alone now and while that’s going on you come screaming back into my life and now there’s this and...”

“And you’re a dumb ass,” she said. “You’re acting like a whiny little bitch, Kevin. Can we inject another ingredient into the pity pie you’re baking for yourself?

Kevin, nobody is giving you shit. You busted your ass all through school to get good grades. Halfway through high school your dad died and you had to not only finish school but work too. No other kid in town had to work the way you did Kevin. You missed out on every social thing that kids do, that’s probably the reason that you and I didn’t meet sooner. It’s probably also the reason why you’re still...

Anyway, Kevin this town has a way of taking what it wants from people. Our guidance counselor failed you, Kev. She should have filed for any number of scholarships for you. With your grades, you could be going anywhere you wanted.

The hospital gave you a job? Bullshit, Kevin you work there six and sometimes seven days a week. And what ... They’re just sending you to college for nothing? Kevin, they’re sending you to school because they need a fucking X-ray department. And you’re gonna end up being the entire department. Mr. Richards is paying that fat bitch you work with almost double what she’s worth and you’re doing most of the work.

Sure, you’re going to get paid well when you finish school, but he’s going to save money AND have a fulltime, every day around the clock X-ray department. Do you think I don’t know that they’ll be calling you any time there’s an emergency? Ray Charles can see that, Kevin.

And your dream car? Fuck, Kevin ... it’s a ten-year-old Mustang. Don’t get me wrong it’s a beautiful car but Kevin they got you that car so you can get back and forth to school which once again suits their plans. And even in that, I think they planted that car.”

“Huh?” I said.

“Kevin, remember what I’m always telling you,” she said. “It’s a really small God damned town. Do you think nobody in town knew that you liked Mustangs? How many car lots are there in this area? There’s only one, Kevin. How many Mustangs have you seen in that lot? How many were there on the day they picked for you to go and get a car? I think it was a set up. They just want to keep you fat and happy.

They give you a ten-year-old car that makes you so grateful that you just do whatever the hell they need. Shit it’s not like they gave you a Ferrari, Kevin.

Have you noticed how pissed I am? I just figured out a few things while we’re sitting here talking. I know you don’t want to hear them but I’m gonna tell you anyway. Kevin you’re selfish. You have your whole idea of the way you want things to be and anytime something deviates from the way you want it, you see it as bad or wrong.

Kevin your mom was ready to go. She’s been literally just hanging on for years, for one reason, you jack ass. She needed to make sure her little boy was safe and happy. She was in a lot more pain than you know Kevin. Those pills she took ... They handled the pain in her body but they didn’t do shit for her real suffering.

Kevin your mom hasn’t really wanted to live since your dad passed. He was the only man she ever loved. Believe me mister we are gonna talk about that in another minute or two.

Kevin, you are not alone asshole. Why the fuck do you think I’m sitting here with a piece of pink string between my ass cheeks and my titties hanging out? I’m here for you, Kevin. I’m here WITH YOU, Kevin. I LOVE YOU, Kevin.

But like everything else in your life that doesn’t go the way you planned it, I’m damaged goods.

Kevin do you love your Mustang? You don’t even have to answer me. I know you do. That car was ten years old when you got it. It had almost a hundred thousand God damned miles on it, but you don’t care. You wash it and baby that car the way I wanted you to treat the kids we were gonna have.

You know every oddity and quirk about that God damned car and love it even more for them. That ding beneath the front grill that I needed a magnifying glass to see bothers you. You scrub it a little harder there hoping it’ll buff out.

I told you that as soon as you graduated and passed the registry we’d buy you a brand-new Mustang and you looked at me like I had shit in your cornflakes. “THIS is MY car,” you told me. “Maybe we’ll get some engine mods and a paint job, but this is my baby.”

Kevin, I thought I was your baby, too. Apparently that treatment only goes for the car though. Because as soon as you found out that someone else drove me, you don’t want ME anymore.”

I noticed then that every time she mentioned me not wanting her or us breaking up it seemed to hurt her badly on an almost physical level.

She stopped talking long enough to wipe her eyes and then she got up and went into my mom’s room. She came back with what looked like two of my mom’s photo albums. One of them I had seen before, but the second one, a smaller, much older one I didn’t recognize.

“Kevin, I know everything there is to know about you,” she said. “I’ve seen every one of these photos of you and I know the story behind them all. I spent hours talking to your mom about you, while you were at work.”

“Why would you... ?” I began.

“Because it was something we had in common, Kevin,” she said. “We both love you more than anything else on Earth. I thnk she thought that she was getting me ready to take over her job of taking care of you. And I wanted to know everything about you.

You were obsessed with me for years Kevin. I had to catch up in only a few weeks that would have been months if you hadn’t dumped me. But you know I guess I should be grateful for the time we had.”

She closed the big album and pulled up the smaller one. “Kevin, I’m sorry for what I’m about to show you. I promised that I was gonna burn this, but I guess I’m gonna be a little bit selfish myself.”

She showed me an old black and white photo of two little girls. I didn’t recgnize them. “That’s your aunt Janey and your mom, Jenny,” she said. As she turned the pages, I saw photos of the grand parents on both sides of the family that I never knew.

They had passed away before I was born. Through the photos I saw my mom grow up and mature.

“She was beautiful, wasn’t she?” asked Theresa. I saw a photo of my mom with a boy about her age. They were dressed up.

“That’s my dad,” I said.

“That’s her first boyfriend, dummy,” she said. She showed me more photos and another one stood out. My mom in a beautiful gown with a young man wearing a tuxedo.

“That’s not your dad either,” she laughed. “That’s her prom date.” I was really enjoying looking through the photos and wondered why the hell my mom would have wanted Theresa to burn them. I decided that I’d ask her to save them.

I looked at a series of photos of my mom with a man in an army uniform. In some of them she was happy and in others she was angry or crying.

“Nope, not your dad,” Theresa said. “But she loved him. They were gonna get married as soon as he came back from the war.” Theresa’s voice dropped. “He never came back.”

I couldn’t look at those photos so I quickly turned the page. “I saw photos of my mom and what I thought was her sister with another guy. Then there were photos of my mom and the guy and finally a wedding photo. My mom was a beautiful bride and the guy, the groom had to be a younger version of my dad. I started trying to pick out his features.

“His hair lightened over the years,” I said. “But I recognize those eyebrows. They’re just like mine.”

“That’s not your dad, Kevin,” she laughed. “That’s your mom’s first husband.”

I almost went into shock. I couldn’t form words.

“He died from lung cancer,” she said. I’d noticed that in almost every photo they were smoking. I guess they thought it was stylish and cool back in those days.

There were more photos of them together. Some happy some sad. And then I noticed a different man in the photos with my mom. These photos were different. For one thing, my mom was a mature woman in her thirties. For another thing, she couldn’t keep her hands off the guy. And in every photo, she was smiling so hard I thought her face would split in half.

“That’s your dad,” said Theresa. The next set of photos was really weird. My dad looked as if he was going to die, but my mom was ecstatic. I got the worst feeling. In the pictures, I noticed that my slim mother was getting fatter and my dad got sadder in every picture. My mom’s smile never waned, but my dad looked worried and afraid. It was as if he didn’t want her anymore.

I was pretty sure I knew why. My mom had cheated on my father. There was no other explanation. I slammed the book shut. I knew why my mom wanted the fucking book burned. I couldn’t imagine why she’d kept it. I also knew what Theresa was trying to do. She was trying to make herself seem like a better person. She was trying to make...

“Why’d you shut the book?” she asked. “We hadn’t gotten to the good part yet.”

“Let me guess...” I hissed. “There’s a photo of my mom sucking some guy’s dick, right?”

She looked at me strangely. “Honey, what the hell are you talking about?” she asked.

“You just showed me a bunch of pictures of my mom smiling like a cat that just swallowed a canary,” I hissed. “My dad was miserable. So, she was doing something he didn’t like. She was cheating on him right. You just wanted to...”

Theresa laughed so hard that one of her boobs came out of the flimsy bra she was almost wearing. She looked at me and shook her head. She didn’t bother putting it back in. It was enormous. It was also beautiful. She took the bra off.

“It doesn’t matter,” she said. “You don’t want me anyway.” I was hypntized by the way her boobs moved.

“Kevin, your mom was not some slut,” she said. “She didn’t cheat on your father. And that is not the point I’m trying to make. Your mom is happy as hell. Your dad was miserable, but not for the reason you think. He’s scared Kevin. He loved her so much it was silly ... Well it’s not silly to me. I understand it.

Your mom loved him too. She loved him more than life itself, but you already know that. You grew up with them, Kevin. You see your mom wasn’t built like me. She was one of those super thin, birdlike women. She had a miscarriage and almost died during her first marriage. Her doctor told her she might not survive it a second time. So, she never tried to have kids again.”

“I’m adopted!” I said.

“No, you’re a fuckin’ moron,” she said. “When your mother met your father, her whole life changed. She loved him more than she thought it was possible to love anyone. Your father felt the same way about her. I think he felt the way about her that you used to feel about me before you discovered that I was a prostitute.”

“Theresa, you’re laying it on a bit thick don’t you think?” I said.

“Anyway, your father was more mature about it than you are,” she continued. “Your mom loved him so much that she risked her life to give him something, but he didn’t want to take the risk. He loved her too much. Kevin your mom wasn’t cheating, she was pregnant. Your father was just afraid of losing her. But she didn’t die. She got really sick, but she got better and she gave him ... YOU!”

I was floored. I never knew any of that. I just sat there in shock.

“Kevin, your mother always said your dad was her soulmate. He was her other half. I’m sure they’re together in heaven right now,” she said. Tears were streaming from her eyes as she said it. “But he wasn’t her first boyfriend. He wasn’t her first husband either. He wasn’f even the first man who got her pregnant. But he was the one she loved the most. He was the one she couldn’t live without.

I love you, Kevin. I will love you forever. I’m sorry ... I’m so sorry that you weren’t my first. But I swear you’ll be my last. If you feel like you need to get even it’ll hurt me but I’ll understand. You can go out and fuck Melissa and a bunch of girls from your school if it makes you feel better and I’ll be here waiting for you when you’re done.

I’ll just be here waiting to start our life together. I’ll be your friend or your side piece or your booty call or whatever you want...”

“Resa, stop,” I said. Her eyes fluttered and her nipples sprang out so fast that I swear I heard a popping sound.

“Kevin ... I swear if you call me that again we’re gonna...” she gushed.

I wrapped my arms around her. “You made your point,” I said. “I have a lot of thinking to do. I just need some time. I guess I need to adjust my caveman way of thinking.”

I kissed her then. I took her head in my hands and kissed her very gently. “Oh Kevin,” she gushed. “You still love me.” I nodded and she melted against me.

“Shit, Resa it’s almost midnight!” I said. “I’d better get you home before...”

“Kevin ... I am home,” she laughed. “I told you I’ve been sleeping right next to you ever since your mom passed. My dad doesn’t know that part. But he knows that we WERE kind of engaged and he knows that I’m dead set on marrying you someday.

He also really likes you, Kevin and he trusts you not to hurt me ... I guess he was wrong about that part though huh? Tonight, made the second time you hurt me.”

“There won’t be a third,” I said. “I promise.”

We were both emotionally wrung out. We crawled into my bed to go to sleep. I wrapped my arms around her and she sighed contentedly. I was in heaven again. I couldn’t believe where I was and what I was doing.

“Kevin ... Holy fuck that thing is big,” she gushed. “You need to take those boxers off.”

“Resa,” I said.

“I’m just saying, Honey,” she laughed.

“Are you mine?” I asked.

“Always was, always will be,” she said seriously. “Til death do us part.”

“Good,” I said. “So, there’s no rush. I don’t want to treat our lives like a hook up. I want us to take our time and enjoy the ride. I want to savor things and take each new development as it comes.

You said that we slept together for the past three nights. Honey, I don’t remember it. Just like I don’t remember most of the funeral or anything that came before it. I guess I was overcome with grief. I just want to enjoy lying here in my bed with my arms full of angel.”

“Kevin, I love you, but I’m just a girl. I’m not an angel. I’m not perfect ... I’m perfect for you, but that’s because you’ve loved me since the third grade,” she sighed.

“Fourth grade,” I corrected.

“You just didn’t realize it until the fourth,” she said. “But it was the third grade. I’ll prove it to you tomorrow.”

I tried to fall asleep, but ... No pun intended ... It was hard. I had my arms wrapped around Theresa and I didn’t know where to put my hands. My boxer covered dick was buried between her ass cheeks and she was constantly wiggling it.

But somehow, perhaps it was from exhaustion, I drifted off to sleep. I know I did because if I hadn’t gone to sleep I couldn’t have awakened.

I also had a dream. Several dreams in fact. I dreamed of doing all of the things I’d seen in porno movies to my walking wet dream girlfriend.

I dreamed of bending a naked Theresa over the hood of my car and thrusting my dick between the globes of her heart shaped ass.

I dreamed of Theresa, in her cheerleading outfit, doing the Chinese splits while I just slammed her. I also had much more tender and romantic dreams. The one that I saw the most was Theresa on her back with me between those thick tanned legs and our arms around each other. I had my dick jammed up her as far as it would go while she begged me to knock her up.

The dreams were so vivid that a part of me was embarrassed and worried about spraying uncontrolled sperm all over her while we slept. I could amost feel my dick shooting off.

It was the scream that awakened me. From the second my eyes opened I knew something had happened. I focused in the moonlight streaming through the window and realized that Theresa was on top of me.

“Oh fuck, Kevin,” she mumbled. “Fuck f-f-f fuck. It’s so fucking big. Never had anything that big in me.” She was moving very slowly and trembling like she was having a seizure.

She looked at me and realized that I was was awake. My dick was on fire. It was as different from jacking off while dreaming about Theresa, as driving my Mustang is from riding a bike and pretending it’s a Mustang. The real thing is just so much better.

Her pussy was so hot and so tight I wasn’t sure how she got me inside of her. Every time she rocked her hips forward gravity seemed to lodge me further up inside of her when she settled back down. I felt the head of my dick pressing against a spongey surface that seemed to give a bit more each time until she finally settled her ass on my balls.

“Kevin, your dick is all the way up in my stomach,” she gushed. “I think if you cum it’s gonna come out of my mouth.”

Electricity shot through me and I came like a faucet. Theresa screamed again and I could feel her walls squeezing and milking my dick. She collapsed onto me. “M sorry, Kev,” she sighed. “I just needed you so bad. You kept poking me with that thing and you were asleep and Kevin that thing is huge. I’ve never...”

“Resa...” I felt her pussy clench as I said it. “I thought you were gonna give me time.”

“I gave you an hour,” she said. “Kevin, we need to talk.”

“We need to sleep,” I said.

“I’m so happy,” she said. “Kevin, don’t get mad but you need to know something. You’re the first guy I fucked.”

“Huh?” I said.

“Usually they just do everything and I let them,” she said. “This was the first time I actualy wanted it so badly that I got on top and did the work. I’m gonna have to get used to that thing though. Kevin nothing has ever been that far up in there before. I could barely breathe. We didn’t even get a chance to start stroking and I came all over the place. I have never had an orgasm that hard ... Ever! And I’ve never had two in one night.”

“What happened to giving me time?” I asked.

“Kevin, we talked about that,” she said. I sighed. Realizing that I would never be in charge of our life.

“Kevin,” she said.

“I’m not a whore,” she said.

“I know Honey,” I answered. I wrapped my arms around her.

“Kevin this has never happened to me before,” she whined.

“What’s wrong Resa,” I asked.

“Kevin can we ... I want to do it again.”

The next morning Theresa was incandescent. Her smile lit up the house. “Whoa shit!” she exclaimed.

She grabbed my shoulder with a claw-like hand.

“Resa, what’s wrong?” I asked.

“Kevin ... Don’t call me that,” she growled. “That’s part of the problem. You fucked me four times last night. The last time you were out of sperm but you kept going anyway. My pussy is sore and my legs don’t work.

My daddy is gonna be here in ten minutes so we can use his truck to move some of my stuff. I need a shower and some clothes and he’s gonna expect breakfast.”

“That sucks,” I said. “I’m going to work.”

“Kevin no one expects you to be there today,” she said. “We buried your mom, yesterd ... Okay Honey, whatever you want.

What should I wear?”

“Why are you asking me?” I asked.

“I’ve never been someone’s girlfriend before. Do you want me to dress sexy to make everyone jealous, or should I tone it down and be classy?”

“You’re not my girlfriend either,” I said. Her face fell a bit. “But there is something I’d really get off on seeing you wear.”

“Kevin whatever,” she said. “Last night was the best night of my life. I’m not gonna let you ruin my mood. What do you want me to wear?”

“This,” I said, holding out the engagement ring she’d talked about the night before.

Who can understand women. She’d already known about the ring. According to her she’d tried it on to make sure it fit. But she still fell onto the bed and started crying as soon as she saw it.

I opened the door for her dad, who saw her crying and looked at me. She held out her hand and he looked at me again.

“Why’s she crying?” he asked.

“Maybe she doesn’t want to marry me,” I said.

She suddenly stopped crying and looked up. “I’m just so happy,” she gushed. Then suddenly she looked strange. “Shit, I’ve go so much to do,” she said. “We have to get married in June, right?”

I looked at her dad who seemed just as puzzled as I was.

“Kevin don’t be an idiot,” she said. “All of our classmates will be away in school until the end of May. That’s also when the cold and flu season really ends so you’ll be less busy with X-rays at the hospital so we can go on our honeymoon. This is gonna take a lot of planning.”

Theresa and I settled into a comfortable life together. We got married young, but we were very happy. Our marriage was good for both of us. People around town were always telling me how Theresa had blossomed since we got married.

I don’t mean that she’d gotten any bigger but there was just something different about her. You could call it a new sense of confidence or pride, but it showed in everything she did. Her walk was different. Instead of the quick side to side swing that let everyone who saw her notice her ass, her hips did a slower more pronounced rolling motion. And Theresa’s boobs had never needed any help announcing themselves.

Her face at nineteen just seemed to be more mature than the other girls our age. Her father often told me it was because she had almost everything she wanted out of life and she was ready for the missing piece.

“It’s like she’s a mountain climber, Kevin,” he said. “She can see the top from where she’s at and it ain’t that far.”

We spent every spare moment together and she often showed up at the hospital either to bring me lunch or just to see me. She was famous for driving all the way to the hospital for a hug or a kiss.

Theresa was the most affectionate woman I have ever known. And we were still fucking like bunnies every night.

There were only two things we argued about. The first was Theresa’s jealousy. It was off the hook, especially when it came to Rhoda or Melissa, neither of whom was invited to our wedding.

After the wedding which was the social event of the year in Grace Lake, the feeling became mutual. Both Rhoda and Melissa hated Theresa with a passion. Rhoda was always telling everyone who’d listen about how Theresa had beaten her badly enough to put her in the hospital and recieved no sort of punishment for it.

“That bitch was in and out of jail before I even got to the emergency room,” she said. “What kind of justice is that? She’s not even that pretty. This town must run on titties or something,” she said. “I’m gonna go out and buy myself some huge titties. Then I’ll have everybody kissing my ass too.”

The second thing we argued about was having a baby. I wanted to wait until I graduated and passed the registry. I wanted us financially stable first. I was also enjoying just the two of us sharing our life and growing together. I liked us taking little vacations together at the spur of the moment.

After we’d been married for two years and I was halfway through school, I started running again. I’d run a few marathons and I loved to run. Of course, Theresa became my biggest cheerleader and my staff. She was my massage therapist, my nutritionist, my chef and my inspiration.

I loved our Sundays more than anything else. On Sundays, I’d wake up early and go out for my longest run. It was usually eighteen to twenty miles and I was usually wiped out afterwards.

I’d go home to a huge hug from my gorgeous wife, a big breakfast and then we’d lie around in bed and just kiss and hug each other until my kegs recovered and I’d go wash my Mustang while Theresa made dinner.

I can still remember the Sunday that I stepped into the house after my run. I had only two weeks of school left and I’d have my degree. A week after that and I’d take my registry exam and start doing X-rays full time at the hospital. I’d get a nice raise and Theresa and I could start making babies.

As usual I was exhausted. As I got out of the car I felt strange. Something felt wrong. Normally Theresa was with me before I got out of my car. I made it all the way to our porch with no sign of Theresa.

I opened the door and the house was eerily empty. I laughed at myself. Theresa had probably driven into town to get something she needed to make breakfast.

That was one of the things that sucked about small town living. You couldn’t just drive around the block to a grocery store. We had to drive all the way to the next town to shop at a decent sized store and all the way to Summerville for major shopping.

I called her but her phone rang, kept ringing and then went to voice mail. The last time Theresa hadn’t picked up the phone when I called had broken us up for over a month. I was scared. It wasn’t like her. None of this was.

I called her father to ask if he’d heard from her. Some woman answered his phone and told me to hang on.

He sounded out of breath when he got to the phone. “What’s wrong, Kevin?” he asked.

“Uhm, I came back from my run and Theresa isn’t here. Have you heard from her?” I asked.

“How long has she been gone?” he asked.

“I just got home,” I said. “And she wasn’t here.”

“How long have you been home?” he asked sounding bored.

“Probably three or four minutes,” I said. He started laughing and put the phone down. I heard mumbling in the background. “Kevin give her a few minutes before you put out the APB, okay son. And Kevin have you got any vitamins around the house?”

“I don’t think so,” I said. “What do you mean. Is Resa tired? Is she coming down with something?”

“Kevin, calm the hell down,” he said. “I was talking about YOU nedding the vitamins. Theresa told us all to leave the two of you alone for a while. You know her so you know what she’s planning. I even know. I told her that you said you wanted to wait for a while. But you know my daughter.

“Fuck Kevin,” she said. “I want a baby and I want it now.”

“We were in the middle of the store,” he said. “Everybody around us laughed. Milton Bradley tapped her on the shoulder and said, “Theresa that’s all you do anyway.”

“What’s all I do, Mr. Bradley?” she asked.

“Fuck Kevin,” he told her. Some other guy in the store said he wished he was Kevin. So, don’t worry too much, Son. She probably just went shopping to get some of them frilly panties and such that you like to see her in.”

“I like to see her out of them even more,” I gushed.

“Kevin, that’s my daughter you’re talking about,” he laughed. As he hung up the phone I heard him tell whoever he had over there that I was whipped.

I waited another fifteen minutes and called the Sheriff. He too told me that I should calm down. “Jeezus, Kevin the two of you are so far up each other’s butts that neither one of you can take a shit. It’s supposed to be twenty-four hours before we can begin a missing persons investigation. But you call me back if she hasn’t called you in four hours. I’m pretty sure that’s the record for time you two have ever been apart.”

He too was laughing as he hung up the phone. I took a shower and tried to relax. I was starving after my run so I lit the grill and started making lunch as if it was any other Sunday and Theresa would burst into the house looking for me.

That was what I told myself. I told myself that she’d been out shopping and ran out of gas. And the battery on her phone was probably dead. Her iPhone was prone to needing to be charged. She plugged it in every place she went.

My poor baby was probably trying to walk home with a dead phone. I decided that after I ate I would drive up and down the roads until I found her.

And that was what I did. I drove around town for over an hour. I think I drove down every street in the town. Since it isn’t that big a town it really didn’t take that long. I was frantic by then.

I started asking people, but no one had seen her. Fear clutched at my heart and I was on the verge of tears.

I was about to start driving the roads again when I got a phone call. It wasn’t Theresa. It was the Sheriff.

“Where is she?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” he growled. “It hasn’t even been two hours, Kevin. God dammit, you’ve got everybody in town all worked up. So, go home and change your panties. I’m gonna come over there and find out what’s going on. But I’m telling you if this turns out to be a case where she comes sashaying into your house, you’re gonna be the laughing stock of the whole God damned town ... Shit!”

I didn’t care. An icy chill clutched at my heart. I could barely breathe. I swear I felt like a hand was grabbing my throat and choking the fuck out of me.

As soon as the Sheriff started making calls I felt better. Within an hour there were groups of people going door to door and other groups either driving or walking around the town.

The door to door people were asking for information or trying to find out if anyone in each residence had seen Theresa that day.

The walkers and drivers were doing the same and they were also looking everywhere to find my wife.

“What should I do?” I asked the Sheriff.

“Nothing,” he said. “And stay out of your house. I have a forensics team coming in to go over your house for evidence.”

My father in law came over then. “Hey Kevin,” he said. I noticed that something about him seemed off. He seemed sad. He kept shaking his head.

“I thought she was different,” he said. “I was really sure she loved you enough ... I’d a bet my life on it.”

“Tom what’s wrong?” I asked.

“Kevin, I gotta tell ya something,” he began. “Not a lot of people know this ... And in this town, that’s a miracle. Theresa’s mom, Maybelline, well, I loved her ... Still do. But she ... Well she was a slut. That woman never met a dick she didn’t like. I know it’s stupid, but I loved her.

I caught her a couple of times and we argued ... Okay we fought like cats and dogs but I always took her back. I guess after the first few times, i just looked the other way ... And yeah it seems like I had no pride. I really did and it really hurt, but I had to figure out which thing was bigger and more important.

Sure, I had my pride, and I’m not sure if it outweighed my love for her. But both of them took a back seat to my love for our daughter. I put Theresa first, and she needed both of her parents in her life.

Then one day, out of the blue, Maybelline was gone. I searched everywhere for her. So, Kevin, I know how you feel. The empitness, the pain ... The feeling that somehow you weren’t enough for her. And you’re wondering what you could have done differently or not done to make it not happen ... Well you can’t because...”

“Tom what does your life story have to do with finding Theresa?” I asked angrily.

“I’m just telling you ... Her mother ran off with a slick...”

“Theresa didn’t run off with anybody,” I hissed. “Theresa loves me.”

“Her momma loved me too,” he said. “When she was in her right mind.”

Before he could continue his story, the Sheriff came to get me. There was a a white truck parked in front of my house. On the side of the truck in huge blue letters were the words FBI MOBILE CRIME LAB.

Two men in suits came out of the truck and headed towards the Sheriff and me. Then a nerdy looking woman and another man came from the back of the truck and went inside of my house.

“We’d like to ask you a few questions,” said one of the men. He held out his hand for me to shake. “I’m agent Milka. My partner is agent Magnesia.”

The Sheriff looked as if he was going to say something but his deputy walked up to him. At that second, I knew why I didn’t like the deputy.

He was the guy who’d been staring at Theresa’s ass at the funeral. From the way he looked at me, I could tell our dislike was mutual.

But I put my feelings aside and followed the FBI guys. You should remember that at that point in time I was distraught. And, whether you believe it or not and I didn’t, a very strange thing was beginning to make itself known.

So, I thought the FBI was there to help me. I forgot about all of those cop shows on TV.

They were very polite and professional.

“Would you like a cup of coffee?” one of them asked me. He was smiling almost to the point of licking his chops. I got the idea that we were playing some kind of sport. It was like the politeness before the Super Bowl. The two opposing captains meet for the coin toss. They shake hands. The coin is flipped. The winner is given the choice to have the ball or defer to the second half. Everything is polite and professional, friendly even. Then they spend the rest of the time trying to tear each other’s fucking heads off.

“No thank you,” I said. “I’m not a big coffee drinker.”

“Okay then, let’s get to it,” he said. In an instant, his smile faded and he got an ugly sneer on his face.

“Did you kill your wife?” he asked. He leaned over so close to me that I could tell he’d eaten something Italian for lunch.

“Of course not,” I said. “Number one she’s not dead. And I love her too much to ever hurt her.”

“There’s no sign of a struggle or forced entry,” he said. “That means that she knew whoever took her. I understand son,” he said. “Young married couple ... Struggling to make ends meet. You’re the only one working while she sits home eating bon-bons all day. When you get home, you want to relax but she still wants to go out and party. Tensions arise ... Tempers flare. You popped her one and it just got out of hand.”

My mouth dropped open. It was all I could do not to laugh. The nerdy woman who’d been in the house came in. Without saying a word, she walked over and picked up my hands.

“No bruising ... No signs of a fight ... Stand up sir,” she said as she made notes on a tablet.

She looked at my face very closely, almost as if she was trying to look into my pores. “Take off your shirt, sir,” she said. Her entire tone and demeanor was totally clinical.

I took off my shirt and she went over my torso when she got to my back, she reacted. “Hmmm what have we here?” she said grinning broadly. “We have scratches on the dorsal thorax.”

The two agents who’d been interogating me came over.

The nerdy woman got a kit and swabbed my scratches. I must admit that she was very gentle.

“Where’d the scratches come from?” asked one of the agents. “You been having sex with some hottie from your job or maybe at your school?”

“Let me guess,” began the other one. “The wife found out about it and got pissed. She got in your face and you just lost control? Tell us where you hid the body and let all those nice people beating the bushes out there go home okay. It’ll go a lot easier if you just come clean, son.”

“Huh?” I said.

“Where’d scratches come from?” he asked. “Did your wife get pissed when she saw them? Answer the questions. It’ll go easier if you cooperate.”

“Theresa thought the scratches were funny,” I said. “She...”

“You two have an open marriage?” he asked. It was almost as if he wanted a juicy story.

“No way,” I said. “We’re both too jealous for anything nasty like that.”

“So, when she saw the scratches she flew into a jealous rage and went after you. You had no choice. You had to defend yourself and things just got out of hand, right?”

“Wrong,” I said angrily. “This is dumb!”

“Just answer the questions, son,” he said.

“I’m trying to,” I said. “But you won’t let me. Before I answer one question, you ask me two more.” They didn’t say anything.

“Theresa wasn’t angry about the scratches. Like I said she thought they were funny. Theresa made the scratches, herself. Theresa is the only woman I’ve ever had sex with. She always gets a little bit wild on Saturday nights,” I said. “On Sundays, I go out and do a much longer run. I’m pretty much wiped out for the rest of the day.”

They kept grilling me for the next hour or so. They asked me questions about our sex life. They asked me questions about our finances. They asked about how often we fought and what we fought about. They asked me if I still loved her and if there were any other women in my life. Then they started asking me if there were any other men in Theresa’s life.

That was when my father in law and the Sheriff came into the truck.

“Why are you guys keeping Kevin locked up in here?” asked my father in law. “We wanted him to look through Theresa’s clothes to see what’s missing. That’d give us an idea of what she might be wearing. that would really help the people looking for her.”

“And this is my investigation,” said the Sheriff. “I called you guys in just for your forensics team, nothing else.”

“Sheriff we were just doing some preliminary questions,” said one of the agents. “In more than eighty percent of these cases, it’s someone the victim knows very well.”

“Ya’ll think Kevin...” said my father in law. Then he burst out laughing. “That boy would never hurt my daughter. He’d rip his own guts out with a spoon first.”

“Well somebody killed her,” said the agent. “We just want to start eliminating suspects. Where were you when she disappeared sir?”

“Well according to Kevin, he kissed her goodbye before he went out to run, that gives me an alibi, if I needed one. I was uhm spending the night with ... Uhm ... a friend and she can vouch for my whereabouts all night and up until the time that Kevin called me this morning. Am I a suspect?”

“Everyone is a suspect until we find the body and a perpetrator,” said the agent.

“There’s not going to be a body,” I yelled angrily. My voice reverberated off of the walls seeming even louder inside of the truck. “She’s NOT DEAD!”

Everyone in the truck looked at me in shock. “How do you know that sir?” asked an agent.

“I know,” I snapped. “Theresa and I are connected. If she was dead I think I’d feel it.”

“Sir, we’d like to schedule you for a polygraph,” said the agent. “We can have one of our experts here by tomorrow at this time. It would be extremely helpful in eliminating you as a suspect so we could concentrate on others.”

“Okay,” I said. “You know where to find me.”

“Hey ... Give me one too,” said Theresa’s father.

Little did I know my entire life had changed. I woke up that morning at seven a.m. And less than eight hours later it was all different.

When I stepped out of the truck I saw several of the people I’d grown up around and had known all my life. I was so glad that they’d given up a part of their Sunday to help find Theresa.

I smiled at Ed Parker and waved at him. He didn’t wave back. In fact, he scowled at me and turned his head. I shrugged my shoulders and turned toward mh house. I’d run 18 miles that morning and hadn’t eaten anything. I was starving.

I remembered then that I had started my grill but hadn’t put anything on it. Well ... except for wasting charcoal I hadn’t hurt anything.

I saw my neighbors, the Lipscombs. “Hi Mrs. L,” I yelled. “Wanna come over and grill?”

The Lipscombs were in their fifties like my mom had been. They were both nice people.

He answered for both of them. “Fuck you, Kevin!” he shouted. “We don’t associate with murderers.”

I went into shock. I had no idea how to respond to that. There was crime scene tape all around my house, so I sat on my front porch trying not to lose my temper.

As I sat there I saw several people that I knew, who not only passed by without speaking, but glared at me.

Only twenty-four hours previously, it had seemed as if the entire town was one big family. Now that family no longer included me, apparently.

To make matters worse that hulking, evil looking deputy was staring at me as I sat there.

The nerdy FBI woman came over and removed the tape.

“For what it’s worth,” she said. “I don’t think you killed her.”

“She’s still alive,” I said. She gave me a wry smile and walked back to the truck.

I went back inside of the house and fell heavily on our sofa. In a burst of inspiration, I called her phone again. I listened hoping against hope that it would ring and she’d pick it up. It didn’t happen.

I made a can of soup and forced myself to eat it. I grabbed an apple and two bags of chips. I loaded four cans of pepsi into my cooler then headed out to my Mustang.

“Where are you going?” the evil looking deputy who was standing on my porch asked me. He was smoking a cigarette and took a puff while he spoke to me.

I walked right by him without saying a word. He angrily threw his cigarette down on the ground.

“Pick it up or get off of my property,” I told him.

“I’m a...” he began puffing out his chest.

“You’re the Sheriff’s flunkie,” I said. “And until I’m convicted or even charged with anything you are on my property at my discretion.”

“He’s telling it right, Zack,” said the Sheriff behind me. Zack glared at me but he picked up the cigarette butt.

“Kevin where are you going?” asked the Sheriff. “Didn’t you run all of those miles this morning? You look like shit. We’ll start again in the morning. I promise.”

“I have to try to find her. She’s out there...” I said.

He just shook his head.

I drove around the city but I found nothing. It was strange, even to me, but I knew that Theresa was still alive. When I couldn’t drive anymore, I went home.

It was strange; I’d lived in that house all my life but I’d never spent a single night in it alone befiore that night. I woke up the next morning and headed for work.

It was the worst morning of my life. I went to the restaurant that I sometimes stopped at. Theresa sometimes volunteered to help there too. Peggy, the woman who owned the place came out to me before I made it to the door.

“Kevin, you probably shouldn’t eat here for a while,” she said. “Uhm ... It’s not me, it’s my customers.”

“I’ve been one of your customers since I was fourteen years old,” I said. I reached into my pocket pulled out my wallet and handed her some bills.

“What’s this for?” she asked.

“I’m paying off my tab,” I said. “I won’t be back.”

“Kevin, it’s not what I wanted,” she said. But I was already back to my car.

I figured I’d just stop at the gas station and grab some snacks to tide me over until lunch.

But when I got to the gas station and put my credit card into the slot nothing happened. I walked into the station and saw the old man, Mr. Bennett who ran the station.

“Mr. Bennet, are the pumps turned off?” I asked.

“Do you have enough gas to make to that fancy station out of the highway?” he asked.

“Yeah,” I said. “But I’d rather...”

“Use it!” he said. “I don’t want no murderer’s money.”

I nodded my head and put the bag of chips I’d picked up back down.

“Ya might as well keep them chips,” he said. “Nobody’s gonna buy ‘em since you touched ‘em.”

“Then just don’t tell ‘em,” I said. I turned to go and he called me back.

“Kevin, that girl was as pretty as the morning dew,” he said. “What did she do that was so bad that you had to kill ‘er?”

“I didn’t kill her,” I yelled. “She’s still alive. And when we find her all of you small town motherfuckers can eat shit.”

I drove to the hospital. When I walked in as usual I was greeted by the sound of the hustle and bustle of too much to do and not nearly enough people to do it. I smiled because some things never changed. I’d been at the hospital before Theresa and I got together and I’d probably work here for the rest of my life. Some things are just beyond age, gossip and bad times.

But that morning, it was like a switch had been pulled. Everyone stopped what they were doing and looked at me.

Instead my usual greeting of, “Good Morning Kev, before anyone else grabs you could you please...” I was greeted by dead damned silence. Even the patients stopped moaning in pain and screaming for things.

I shook my head and headed for the locker room. It was a Monday and unless there was an emergency and I was needed somewhere else I had to help with maintenance. I’d already decided that the grass needed cutting.

Before I had changed into my coveralls, there was a knock at the door. Mr Richards came in. I was sure he was going to assign me somewhere else.

“Kevin, I ... I think you should go home,” he said. “Maybe you should go study for school or something. You need to get really good grades so you can get a job and pay the hospital back for your education.”

My mouth dropped open. “I thought I was gonna work HERE,” I said angrily.

“Kevin ... Under the circumstances, I think it best that you seek other opportunties,” he said.

I did something then that hurt me as much as Theresa going missing did. I reached into my pocket and took out my keys. I took off the key to my door at home and handed him the rest.

“Kevin, I don’t want your car,” he said. “You worked really hard for us for the last few years. You’ve more than earned it.”

I didn’t bother answering, I just walked away. I turned when I got to the door. “Mr. Richards,” I said. “I’ve always respected you. You had, I thought, the ability to judge people. You could always see more in a situation than anyone else could.

You were always the person telling me how gentle, and kind I am even with difficult patients. Would that person be able to kill the woman they love more than anything on this planet?

You know how I feel about Theresa. You were at our wedding. You see us having lunch together every day. You’re making a mistake this time and it’s a big one.”

“Kevin ... It’s not me...” he began.

“Yeah, I know,” I spat. “It’s the patients and the other people who work in the hospital. I’ve been hearing it all morning. I wish just one person was honest enough to admit that it WAS them. Then I’d know who I coukd actually trust.”

“Shit Kevin, they’re probably too scared that you’ll kill them next,” he blurted out.

I started the four mile walk back to my house. When I got there the morning sun had done its job and I was sweating like a pig. I got the same feeling of constriction in my throat that I’d been getting since the day before. I also caught a bright flash of light and a cold chill went down my spine.

The Sheriff and his deputy were sitting on their cars waiting for me. The FBI agents were also there, along with a small man who wore thick glasses.

“Kevin this is Dr. Marcus Welby,” said the older of the two agents. “He’s our polygraph expert. He’ll be conducting your test today. Please remember that you voluntarily undertook this test, but the results if the test are still binding either way.

Also remember that Polygraph tests are not admissable in court and you are doing this only to remove yourself from our list of suspects...”

“You mean MY list of suspects, don’t you?” asked the Sheriff. “Unless it turns out that Theresa was kidnapped, this is still my jurisdiction. So, a murder is still mine to investigate.”

“Can you two stop stepping on each other’s dicks and give me the damned test?” I asked.

We drove to the Sheriff’s office in town to do the test. I sat down in the hardest, least comfortable chair ever made. They put what seemed like a hundred different leads and sensors on me.

And then Dr. Welby started asking me questions. He started off with very simple questions, like whether or not my name was Kevin Foster, and then he gradually ratcheted up the intensity.

He asked me the same questions repeatedly, constantly rephrasing them. He was very thorough, he asked me questions about every level of my relationship with Theresa. But he also asked me questions about the town I lived in and my job and our finances and my relationship with various people around town.

He questioned me about my future plans and what I wanted out of life. I believe those questions helped to establish a baseline that he could use to determine if I was lying on the one most important question of all.

When he was done he simply packed up his equipment and walked to the door.

“Well?” asked the Sheriff.

“Well what?” asked Welby.

“Did he do it?” asked the Sheriff angrily.

“Sheriff, I’ll need at least a couple of hours to evaluate the data,” said Welby. “The longer I spend standing here answering your pointless questions, the longer it will be before you have your answers.”

“Well EXCuuuuuuuuuuuuuuse MEEEEEE!” said the Sheriff, angrily.

As Welby left the room the Sheriff seemed agitated. “Kevin, I hate doing this,” he said. “But according to them FBI guys, I gotta lock you up until the results come back. They say that a lot of guys go on the run after the test and some of them are innocent.

It’s only gonna be a couple of hours or so. I stopped by your house and got your books and stuff for you to study. Ain’t you got that big test comin’ up anyway?”

“I’m not sure I’ll be taking it,” I said.

“Why not?” he asked.

“Mr. Richards pretty much told me that I’m not needed or wanted at the hospital,” I said.

“Kevin, Richards is a good guy,” he said. “But he’s under a hell of a lot of pressure from the people in the town. I got a feeling that when all of this is over there’s gonna be some fences that need mending.”

I stepped into the cell and the Sheriff handed me my books, a notebook and my iPad. As the door to the cell clanged shut, the Sheriff looked at me.

“Shit,” he said. “Kevin, you aren’t going anywhere.” He took out his keys and opened the door to the cell. “Kevin I’ll be back as soon as I can. If you need anything just tell Zack.”

“Hey wait a minute, Andy,” whined Zack. “Why do I have to babysit? Don’t you need me to help lead the search?”

“Zack, you don’t know the town or these people very well yet,” said the Sheriff. “I’ve been getting complaints ever since this started, about places you skipped or missed during the search yesterday. So, I’m gonna handle this today.”

I needed something to do. So even though my heart wasn’t in it, I started looking through my books. After about an hour I noticed Zack standing outside of the cell staring at me through the bars.

“Why’d ya do it?” he asked.

“Are you mad?” I asked. “Or just an asshole?” One of the great things about an iPad is that it has all the same apps an iPhone has. So, as my conversation with Zack started I turned on a voice recorder.

“What are you talking about?” he asked.

“This is a small town,” I said, “I know almost everybody in it. You stand out like a sore thumb. I first noticed you at my mom’s funeral. You didn’t know my mom or me, so why were you there.”

“I was there in my official capacity as a deputy,” he grumbled.

“Then why weren’t you wearing a uniform?” I asked.

“I don’t have to answer to you,” he said.

“Was it part of your official capacity to stare at my wife’s ass?” I asked.

“Fuck you!” he yelled. He slammed the door of the cell shut again.

“The actual Sheriff left that gate open,” I said.

“The actual Sheriff ain’t here right now,” he said. “I’m in charge. And you’re lucky I’m not in charge all the time. You’d already be in prison if I was. We learned how to handle guys like you in the service.”

“So, you’re an expert at handing guys?” I laughed. “Were you in some special gay branch of the service where you HANDLED a lot of guys?”

It looked like steam was coming out of his ears. He opened the door again and came right up to me. He grabbed one of my hands and cuffed it to the bars. Then he knocked all of my books and my iPad onto the floor angrily.

“Why am I handcuffed?” I asked. “The Sheriff didn’t think I needed to be cuffed.”

“I’m in charge now,” he said.

“Okay Cartman,” I laughed. “Is this where you start yelling for me to respect your authoritah?”

Before I knew what was going on he punched me in the face. I was shocked.

“Why did you do it?” he yelled.

“Why did you punch me?” I yelled back.

“Shut up!” he yelled. “I’m answering the questions here, God dammit!”

“I thought you were ASKING the questions,” I smirked. He punched me again, this time it split my lip and I tasted blood.

“Why’d you kill her?” he asked. He punched me again this time me punched me in the eye. “Huh, why’d you kill her?”

“I know why,” he said. “She was too much woman for you. You told the Sheriff yesterday that the two of you are jealous about each other. You found out somebody else wanted that big old booty and them titties huh?”

He punched me three more times and my head was beginning to spin. I could barely see out of my left eye. I tried to calm him down because he was out of it.

“I didn’t do it, Deputy,” I said. I was having trouble forming words. “I love her.”

“That’s why you did it,” he yelled. He punched me again and again as he said it. “You loved her but you were holding her back. She wanted to be with somebody bigger and better than you.”

I couldn’t hold myself up anymore.

“She wanted to be with someone who could handle that big old booty and it pissed you off so you killed her didn’t you?” he screamed. The handcuff was cutting into my wrist, but my balance was gone.

“You killed her, didn’t you?” he screamed.

“No,” I managed to spit out. That was when the door opened and the Sheriff stepped into the room.

“Zack!” he screamed and drew his gun. “What the fuck are you doing?”

“He’s about to confess and save us a lot of money and time,” sneered Zack.

“Oh, Jeezus Zack,” he said. “How stupid are you. Call an ambulance! No, we need to try to keep this quiet until we figure it out. Get over to the hospital and get Dana over here. You know her the older really pretty nurse.”

“Fuck him. I ain’t gettin’ no nurse, for a killer,” sneered Zack.

“Zack, you fuckin’ moron,” spat the Sheriff. “I’ve been putting up with your shit because you married my daughter. I was letting you get the nurse so it would seem like you were trying to help, dumb ass. You’re in trouble.”

“Why does everybody care so much about a criminal’s rights?” spat Zack. “Back in the Army we...”

“Zack, you ain’t in the Army,” spat the Sheriff. “Dishonorable Discharge ... No benefits remember? And apparently no fucking brains.”

The Sheriff held up a stack of papers. “He didn’t do it, Zack,” the Sheriff yelled. “He passed the polygraph with flying fuckin’ colors. The only thing this report proves is something everybody in town already knew and apparently forgot due to some kind of mob mentality. Kevin loves Theresa. He ain’t ever even yelled at her let alone killed her.

But you ... handcuffed and beat an innocent man. Now go get that fuckin’ nurse before you’re the one who needs her.”

“I ... I...” Stuttered Zack.

“Git!” screamed the Sheriff. I had been barely hanging on. The blackmess took over then.

The first thing I remember when I came to was the voices. Everyone seemed to be yelling.

Dana Plato, the hospital’s Head Nurse was yelling at the Sheriff.

“Andy why did you send this monster to kidnap me?” she asked. “He looks like he just came from a slaughter house. There’s blood all over him.”

The Sheriff pointed at me. “Is that Kevin?” she asked. Her professional behavior had been honed by over a decade of treating patients. She ran over to me. “What happened to him?”

“Zack kind of lost it,” said the Sheriff.

She looked at me. For years she and I had worked together and been friends. I didn’t spend a lot of time with her but we both joked about the reason. Theresa was jealous of Dana and everyone knew about Theresa’s temper.

My friend and coleague looked at me and said,”He deserves it for what he did to that girl.”

“Dana get the fuck out of here,” said Andy.

“Gladly,” spat Dana looking at me. “Have your gorilla take me back to work.”

“You can go straight home, Dana,” said the Sheriff. “I’m pretty sure you’re gonna lose your license.”

“Huh?” she said.

“Well medical people are supposed to help anyone who needs their help, right?” he asked. “Ain’t that part of your professional ethics? I’ve learned a lot today. That boy has been busting his ass helping everybody in this town since he was too young to drive and we turned on him the first time he needed help.”

“What are you talking about Andy?” asked Mr. Richards who’d just come into the room.

“Your uppity assed nurse just refused to treat a patient,” said the Sheriff. There were three or four other people coming into the office.

“Look Andy,” said Mr. Richards. “There are extenuating circumstances here. She’s afraid of Kevin. She has a right to refuse cases that may risk her own life, I’ll get another nurse...”

“She wasn’t scared to send him all over fuckin’ town just last week running errands for her, was she?” asked rhe Sheriff.

“Andy, we all know what a great kid we thought Kevin was,” said Mr. Richards. “ I had big plans for that boy. But because of what he did...”

“Martin, shut the fuck up,” said the Sheriff. “We haven’t found a body. We have no idea what happened to Theresa. This is really starting to seem like the situation with her mother all over again. But we do know one thing ... If she was killed, anybody in this town could have done it. There’s only one person on town who we know didn’t do it.”

“Who is that?” asked Mr. Richards.

“Kevin,” said the Sheriff. “He took a polygraph. The FBI cleared him. He didn’t do it. And I think that deep down inside anybody who knows him knows that Kevin would never have hurt that girl. He’d have hurt himself first.”

The entire office went into shock. I heard a couple of people whispering, “i knew he didn’t do it.”

“Oh Kevin,” cried Dana kneeling beside me. “Let me take...”

“Dana, stay away from me,” I slurred.

“Kevin, I’m sorry,” she whined. “I thought...”

“Sheriff, can you please drive me to the hospital in Summerville?” I asked.

“Kevin, that’s a long ass drive,” he said.

“Okay, it’s only a forty-minute drive to my school,” I said. “They have a nursing program. If you call my father in law he can take me. Are the FBI guys still around?”

“Yeah, we can’t get rid of them,” he said. “They’re trying really hard to take over my investigation.”

“I have a feeling they’re gonna,” I said, barely conscious.

“Why?” asked the Sheriff.

“The FBI is always called in for police department malfeasance,” I said and blacked out.

When I regained my senses, I was in a hospital cubicle. I recognized it as being one of the slots in our ER. A nurse was holding an ice pack to the side of my face. My mouth was full of cotton and Dana was applying some sort of ointment to my wrist before bandaging it.

“Let go of my hand,” I said. I pulled it away from her, angrily.

“Kevin, you don’t want to get your wrist infected,” she said.

“Dana, if my choices are between accepting help from you and an infection, I’ll take the infection,” I said. I reached over to the table beside the bed and pushed the call button.

“What do you need Kevin?” she sighed.

“I’m calling my nurse to get you out of my room,” I said.

“Kevin ... I’m your nurse,” she said.

I struggled, but I managed to get to my feet. I staggered out of the cubicle and as usual the ER was a beehive of activity.

In every direction that I looked I saw people. But I saw no one I could trust. I sat down on a chair in the waiting room and put my shoes on.

My head felt like it was a giant balloon that would pop at any second. I staggered to the door of the ER and was immediately met by the Sheriff and several other people.

One of those people was my father in law. Another was Marie Lowrey, an ER doctor. Mr. Richards was there and so was Zebulon McGinty, who everyone in town simply called Zeb.

“Kevin what happened to you?” asked my father in law. “Are you okay?”

“While I was in jail waiting for the results of my polygraph, the Sheriff’s deputy handcuffed me to a bar and beat the crap out of me,” I said.

I said it loudly enough that everyone in the vicinity could hear me.

“Shit ... I’m glad I didn’t show up for mine,” he said.

“Kevin, can you please keep it down,” said the Sheriff. “There are some tourists in the hospital that don’t need to hear about the town’s problems.”

He looked me over. “Kevin, you look like shit,” he continued. “Your lip is swollen and you have two black eyes. Hey ... your wrist is still bleeding. Are you sure they released you?”

“They didn’t release me,” I said. “I’m going home to bandage myself up. Then I’ll take some pain killers and go out to find Theresa myself.”

“Kevin ... Hey Kevin,” said Zeb. “I’ll make a deal with you. I need to have this hand X-rayed. Doctor Marie says that if you don’t do it I have to either wait until Wednesday, when that evil, fat bitch comes in, or drive to the hospital in Summerville.

If you help me I’ll help you,” he said.

“You ought to help just because you live in this town, Zeb,” said the Sheriff. “Besides we’ve got lots of people out looking for Theresa. Do you know where she is?”

“Nope... “ he smiled revealing a mouth full of broken, yellow teeth. “But I know who probably does ... Deal?”

“Deal!” I said before the Sheriff could speak.

“Me first.” said Zeb.

“Kevin what we need is...” began doctor Lowrey.

I held up my hand to silence her.

“Kevin, I’m trying to save time,” she said. “I have three other patients I’d like you to...”

“Marie, After the way you treated me this morning, doctor or not you have no favors coming from me. I’m doing Zeb’s hand and nothing else. I don’t work for this hospital anymore.”

“Since when?” she asked.

“Mr. Richards told me this morning,” I said.

“Kevin forget about that,” said Richards. “We’re back to the original deal, okay?”

“Nokay,” I said.

“Why would you do something so stupid?” asked Marie.

“Don’t even try to lay that turd on my plate, doctor,” said Richards. “You were at the meeting too. You were one of the first to decide that having Kevin around wasn’t safe.”

“Come on Zeb,” I said. We disappeared inside of the X-ray examination room. Five minutes later Doctor Lowrey was looking at the images on the large monitors in the reading room.

The Sheriff and Richards were there too. “Zeb, I know why you’re in so much pain,” said Doctor Lowrey. “You have three foreign objects in your hand. How’d they get there?”

“I fell on my nail gun this morning,” said Zeb. “Can you get them out?”

“Zeb,” I said.

“Okay I don’t know where she is right now,” he said. “But yesterday early in the morning, I was out but I wasn’t going hunting, Sheriff. Anyway, while I was not hunting I saw a car stop at the entrance to Miller’s park. You know the place where all the kids go to spoon. Any way your Theresa was in the car with old Bobby Klein, the girls’ basketball coach.

They was arguing to beat the band. I didn’t know why they was out that early in the morning but that was what I saw while I wasn’t hunting.”

“That son of a bitch,” said the Sheriff. “He’s been leading one of the groups in the search. He pulled out his phone and started talking. “Hey Wendell, keep quiet don’t say anything. Is Coach Klein still with your group?” he asked. “Wendell, you can answer the fucking question just don’t say anything else ... Okay good. Now, where are you? ... Unh huh. Wendell do me a favor make sure you stay in that area. Don’t say a fucking word to anyone but if Klein leaves or goes anywhere you follow him.”

“I’m going with you,” I said.

He looked at me and laughed. “Kevin,” he said. “You took a hell of a beating and it wasn’t very long ago. You are one tough kid. I was surprised that you were able to stay on your feet long enough to do those X-rays. And like everybody seems to have forgotten you clearly love you some Theresa, but son, you’re out on your feet. I’m going to get that son of a bitch right now.

But remember, he might not have done anything. All we know for sure is that he was seen in a car with her after you went out to run and they were arguing. He could have just left her by the side of the road and someone else picked her up.

Kevin, I don’t want you to get your hopes up, son. Things ain’t looking too good here.”

“Theresa is still alive and I want to go,” I said.

“Okay have it your way,” he said. “Come on let’s get to the car.”

I started following him. The first step was easy. On the second step, my knees began to buckle. By the third step my peripheral vision began to close in and the Sheriff turned around and caught me before I hit the floor.

I woke up again and this time I missed the ice pack. Mr. Richards was sitting in a chair by the bed. He was looking over some papers. He looked up when he noticed that I was awake.

I groaned when I noticed that again I was in a cubicle in the ER.

“I know how you feel?” he said.

“I doubt it,” I mumbled as clearly as my swollen lip and busted mouth would allow. “Are you wondering what it’s going to take to get out of this hospital?”

“Kevin, it’s Monday afternoon,” he said. “Less than twenty-four hours ago you thought this place was Disney World. It was your version of the happiest place on Earth. I can remember Theresa calling my office because after doing X-rays with Janice all day long, you’d stay and transport patients to make it easier on the nurses. You love it here.

And this hospital loves you. Every nurse, every doctor, every secretary here knows Kevin. Yep, we fucked up. We more than fucked up, we betrayed you. We all fell into ... Mass hysteria or mass hypnosis or some kind of mob justice, I don’t know what it was. We somehow forgot how kind and nice you really are, we also forgot now much you and Theresa love each other ... Kevin, we’re human and...”

One of the CNAs had popped her head in the cubicle. “Mr. Richards, the Sheriff just called, they got him and they’re bringing him in,” she said.

Even as she spoke, my phone rang. I answered the call. As soon as it connected I heard my father in law’s voice. “Hey Kev, they got that sumbitch!”

“Can you come and get me?” I asked. “I want to be there when they question him. We need to hurry, I don’t think Resa can last much longer.”

A few minutes later I was leaning against the door to the ER when Tom’s battered, ancient F-150 rattled its way to a stop.

“You know you could drive your own car, Kevin,” said Mr. Richards from behind me.

“My mom’s car is still parked in front of my house,” I said.

“I meant the Mustang,” he said.

“That isn’t my car anymore,” I said sadly. “But maybe I’ll buy it from the hospital when I sue the city.” His face took on a look of shock. He looked like he was about to say something, but I was already dragging myself into Tom’s fossilized truck.

Tom drove us to the Sheriff’s office. It seemed as if nearly everyone in town was headed there.

As I got out of the truck the sea of people parted to let me through. I opened the door and went into the building.

As soon as I entered the room, I saw Zack on the other side of the room. He was wearing his uniform. He’d changed his shirt but I was sure I could make out flecks of blood on his pants.

His face took on a mixture of anger and fear at seeing me.

Coach Klein was sitting in the same chair I’d been sitting in earlier that morning. I think the nerdy FBI forensic tech was the first to see me.

It was funny, a woman who was used to collecting evidence at crime scenes had to have seen some truly horrific injuries and bodies, but she put her hand over her mouth and closed her eyes when she first saw me.

She quickly pointed me out to the two FBI agents who’d questioned me earlier. They both stepped away from where the polygraph tech was hooking Klein up to his machine.

“Mr. Foster ... No hard feelings about before, I hope,” said one of the agents.

“I know you guys were only doing your job,” I said.

“So, what happened to your face?” asked the other agent.

The Sheriff’s face took on a surprised look, as if he’d forgotten something important.

“While I was in custody, awaiting the results of my polygraph, I was handcuffed and beaten by the deputy over there,” I said.

Zack froze in his tracks. “He was trying to escape and I was forced to subdue him,” he lied.

“I hadn’t done anything. Why would I try to escape? The Sheriff hadn’t cuffed me when he left. As a matter of fact, the Sheriff made a point of giving me my books so I could study and he left the cell door open,” I said.

“He just looked squirelly to me,” said Zack. “I tried to close the cell and he attacked me.”

“Deputy, you’re more than twice his size and you don’t have a mark on you,” said the agent. The nerdy woman came over and swiped what appeared to be a q-tip on Zack’s pants.”

“I’ve got blood,” she said. “I’d be willing to bet it’s Kevin’s.”

“I’m not talkin’ without a lawyer,” Zack said. One of the agents reached for his handcuffs and Zack bolted. He knocked down several people as he made his way to the door.

“Zack, don’t run!” yelled the Sheriff. Zack froze again but then took off. The two agents separated one headed towards Zack and the other flanked him.

The one headed for Zack suddenly grabbed his gun and fired. Zack dove for the floor and the second agent cuffed his hands behind his back.

“Andy!” yelled Zack. “You said you’d fix this.”

“I told you I’d talk to him,” said the sheriff. “There hasn’t been time.”

“Did you try to escape?” he asked me. I pulled out my iPhone and downloaded my voice recording from the cloud.

As I played it they heard Zack’s comments about Theresa and heard him accusing me of killing her.

Almost everyone in the room was looking at Zack and shaking their head. “Beating a handcuffed prisoner is a serious offense,” said the agent who’d shot his gun.

“Fleeing and eluding a law officer is too,” said the other.”

“You discharged a firearm inside of my jail,” whined Andy. “That’s pretty serious too.”

“Blanks,”’laughed the agents. “I scared the shit out of him so my partner could cuff him.”

“Can we get back to finding out about Resa?” I said.

Klein was laughing his head off. “What’s so funny?” I asked.

“Did you hear what he said?” he laughed. “Half of the guys in this town would ruin their lives for those titties and I killed her.”

As soon as he said it every head in the building turned towards him.

“What did you say?” asked the Sheriff.

“Look the guilt is killing me,” said Klein. “I’ll tell you all about it. Just promise me that I don’t have to see my kids’ faces. Keep all of this quiet and off of the news.”

“Whatever,” said the Sheriff. “Start talking.”

“Talk later,” I said. “Take us to her.”

“Kevin, maybe you should sit this one out,” the Sheriff told me.

“She’s still alive,” I said.

“Kevin ... Did you not hear what that fuckin’ psychopath said?” he asked. “He said he killed her. He admitted it. Jeezus my niece was on that asshole’s basketball team!”

“Sheriff, I would know if Theresa was dead,” I said.

We all got into vehicles. A shackled and chained Coach Klein led us into the woods. It was the opposite side of town from the trails I ran on.

It was the same area that teenagers went to for smoking, drinking and sex. There were beer cans and bottles all over. I saw a few used condoms and even a few discarded pairs of panties.

The Sheriff had called an ambulance but it was waiting for us back by the road. Klein led us further and further back into the woods. Some of the guys with tracking experience pointed out some disturbed grass and soil.

“Sheriff it looka like somebody dragged something back here,” said one of them.

“Thanks Captain Obvious,” said the Sheriff. “I think we all got that when he told us he dragged the fuckin’ body back here! Uh sorry Kevin, I didn’t mean any disrespect. I mean Shit ... Everybody in town loved that little girl.”

And then I saw her. She was lying on her stomach. One of her shoes was gone and she had on a skirt that I had told her not to ever wear out of the house. If she bent over in that skirt you could see most of her ass.

At that moment, ALL of her ass was visible. There were more beer cans and more condoms on the ground near her. The brand of beer was very cheap it was the stuff kids drank.

She lay there, unmoving on the ground and fear clutched at my chest along with the anger. This was the last fuckin’ straw.

I ran over to her. The Sheriff and a couple of the others tried to hold me back. I think the Sheriff was more shocked than I was.

“Kevin, son you shouldn’t see her like this,” he said. But he kept shaking his nead. “Kevin the marks around her throat ... You kept talking about a clutching feeling in your neck ... Now the hell did you... ?”

“Let go of me,” I yelled. I staggered over to her and stood over her. Then I dropped to my knees. “Theresa how many times have I told you not to wear that fucking skirt. That’s it I’m throwing it away. Nope ... I’m burning it. I’m burning every short skirt you have. From now on you’re gonna be dressing like an Amish woman.”

“Oh ... Shit that boy has lost his fuckin’ mind,” said Zeb.

“Resa ... Get up,” I said.

They all looked at me like I was crazy. One of the medics from the ambulance, knelt over her. He shook his head as he examined her and then ... His eyes opened in surprise. He spoke into the walkie talkie on his shoulder.

“Ted get the rig back here as close as you can. And get me a body board. It’s faint as hell but I’ve got a pulse,” he shouted.

After that everyone started moving. The medic opened the case he carried and got out a respirator bottle. He pushed the mask over Theresa’s face and began squeezing it. He pulled out a solar blanket to try to get some warmth into her.

The large ambulance, from the next town over, slowly drove over the muddy grass and made a path through the trees. The driver couldn’t get all the way to us but he got as close as he could, he got out and grabbed a board for us to carry Theresa to the truck on.

As they got the board under her and lifted her to carry her to the truck, I clutched her hand.

Coach Klein was gibbering like an idiot. “I thought I’d killed her,” he gushed. “I choked the shit out of that slut. Fuck ... I even wrapped my belt around her neck and pulled it so hard the damned belt broke. How the hell is she still alive?”

We were all wondering the same thing.

The ride to the hospital was surreal. I held Theresa’s hand the entire way. Dozens of unrelated thoughts went through my head.

Is she going to be okay? Why the hell did this happen? Why us? Why now?

What are we going to do from this day forward?

“She survived so far with no medical help,” the medic watching over her told me. “She’s strong, she’s gonna be fine.”

Somehow, just hearing that seemed to be the thing I’d been waiting for.

Before we got to the hospital I was out. Too much had happened to me over a period of less than forty-eight hours. They awakened me late monday evening to do a few things that only I could do. I was glad to help.

I used a portable fluoroscopy machine called a C-arm to produce images as they inserted a stent in Theresa’s throat it would keep her trachea from collapsing and allow her to take in a full volume of air.

Her vocal chords had been damaged but they would heal on their own. The timber of her voice would be changed ... Probably forever, but that was a minor thing if it did happen.

Once she awakened, they scheduled several exams to look for bleeding in her internal organs. I’d need to do both abdominal X-rays with contrast and several fluoro studies to make sure. I went to sleep Monday night and truly slept for the first time since Theresa disappeared.

When I awoke on Tuesday morning I was in a hospital room. This time it wasn’t an ER cubicle it was a room and a nice one.

I looked across the room and saw Theresa. Unlike me, she had telemetry lines and several IVs hooked to her.

My face hurt badly, but the swelling in my eyes and my lip was beginning to go down. Most of the dizziness was also fading and I was starving.

I walked over to Theresa’s bed and stared at her until I was sure that the steady rise and fall of her chest wouldn’t stop.

A feeling of pure, absolute joy overwhelmed me. I’d known all along that she was still alive, but having her back made me so happy that I wanted to dance or just break out in song like they do in those stupid fucking musicals they did during the forties.

All the things I’d gone through ... All the things that had happened to me paled in comparison to the happiness I got just by looking at the woman on the bed in front of me.

I’d go through it all again just to see her smile. But I had a lot of thinking to do and a lot of things left to do. Some of the things that had happened over the previous two days could be overlooked, but others simply could not be forgiven and would have long lasting ramifications on our lives.

They would affect my life for sure and I hoped Theresa’s. Theresa and I were married and we were soulmates but a big part of that on her side was simply the fact that no matter how much she claimed to love me, we were the last ones standing.

Everyone else in our graduating class had gone on to college or careers. Theresa and I had been out of high school for three years at that point. We were twenty-one not eighteen and things were about to change for good.

For one thing, this would be the kast summer that we’d see those highschool friends. Most of them would go back to school in September for their senior years in college and very few of them if any would be back after that.

Most them would seek jobs and there were very few opportunities for the kind of jobs they’d want here in Grace Lake. There was also the fact that if they were ready to settle down there were again relatively slim pickings here. That fact I believe was a big part of my problem. Since the pickings were so slim, it meant that more of these idiots obsessed over Theresa.

But there would be some who came back. I knew for a fact that Rhoda would be back. She was probably going to be in school for a couple of more years to complete her Masters degree in nursing, but I was pretty sure that she’d be working at the hospital.

And Jeremy Binkman’s family owned a large farm on the edge of town. He’d been sent on a mission to get degrees in both Agriculture and Animal Husbandry so he could modernize his family’s operations and the way they did business.

Jeremy and any other guys who chose to come back could compete for Theresa and Rhoda because I wasn’t sure that I would be here. And I was even less sure that Theresa would leave.

If the shoe was on the other foot ... If it was she who wanted to leave ... I’d be helping her to pick our next city. But again, that was because i had loved Theresa for most of my life. She’d just settled for me when everyone else was gone.

“God what I wouldn’t give for that kind of love,” the voice behind me was soft and wishful.

I turned to find Dana standing behind me. My anger flashed in less than a second. But it was only a flash.

“I used to be her, you know,” she said as she inched her way towards me. “For a long time, I was the belle of the ball ... the one that everyone wanted ... the prettiest girl in town. She’s luckier than I was though. I’ve often wondered if it was luck, brains, hormones ... or if she just learned from my example.

But whatever it was, she got the brass ring. Theresa Brady got it all. She’s lucky to have you, Kevin. The kind of love you have for her is rare. No matter how pretty a woman is, having someone love them the way you love her is special.

I can still remember all the craziness of the last few days. The whole town went nuts, it was like we were all on the same kind of drugs. Everyone and I mean everyone thought that Theresa was dead. We also thought that you had snapped and killed her.

I guess in a way it’s just human nature. Everyone loves the prince and the princess, but more than that we want to see the prince and princess fail. We raise them up ... Just so we can tear them down. I don’t think it’s malicious. I think it’s mostly jealousy.

We all think ... That could’ve been me. That should have been me. And then when the prince falls or just stumbles we rip him from the pedestal to get our chance. It was even better this time because the princess disappeared under mysterious circumstances and left the prince holding the bag.

Every woman in town wanted to be the next Theresa. And every guy in town wanted to become a hero by finding the old Theresa’s body. I can still remember one battered and bruised voice saying over and over, “she’s not dead!”

Kevin, she could have been. Shit ... She should have been. The doctors say that if they’d found her an hour or so later she probably wouldn’t have made it.

We were all like a bunch of lemmings. It was that whole mob mentality thing. We heard that the FBI was questioning you and that was it. The fact that they questioned a couple of other people as well, including her own father was lost on us. Kevin, Theresa is the town princess. This whole town loves her. They needed a villain and you were available.

I guess we were so caught up in our righteous fury that we forgot how much you loved her and more importantly how important you are to the town as well.

Kevin, this town loves Theresa. All of the men fantasize about her and all of the women wish they were her. But as much as they love Theresa ... This town NEEDS you. We didn’t treat you very well over the past couple of days but make no mistake about it they ... WE ... feel really shitty about it this morning.

We feel like we have a hangover. We’re all slapping ourselves on the head and saying, “How stupid was I?”

I mean I know how stupid I was. One day I was flirting with you when Theresa wasn’t around and sending you on errands that weren’t part of your job. But I always knew you’d go because Kevin, Theresa might be the town princess, but you’re the town prince. And you didn’t get to be the prince because you’re cute. You earned it, Kevin. You’re the nicest guy in town.

But like I said, one day we’re all on the Kevin train and the next day we all wanted to string you up. Kevin this is a small town. We don’t have much of a police force. We have Andy and usually one deputy. This time even the deputy turned out to be bad. So, when something scares us ... We go off the deep end. Logic just doesn’t work in those cases.

So, when Theresa turns up dead ... And that was what we all thought ... We got scared. Maybe we’ve all seen too many movies or too many crime shows but we needed a villain. And as usual, you seemed to be there when the town needs someone.

I can’t believe my own personal behavior. I mean I’m a nurse. I’m supposed to take care of anyone who needs me no matter who or what they are. I just can’t believe the way I acted...

“Neither can I,” said Mr. Richards who was standing in the doorway. “I think we all feel that way, Kevin. When Theresa’s better, I’d like to talk to you about a few things.”

“You should probably have the mayor with you,” I said.

“Why do we need him?” he asked.

“Don’t you guys discuss everything that affects the town?” I asked. He nodded. “Well my lawsuit against the town will affect both of you.”

“What suit?” he asked.

“You don’t really think that I’m gonna let one of Grace Lake’s official Law officers beat on me for no reason and get away with it do you?” I asked.

For the rest of the day I sat by Theresa’s bed. Nurses came in and checked her vital signs. I got out my books and studied for my boards. But I didn’t leave the room. Doctors came in and checked on her.

Klein had kicked and beaten every part of Tneresa’s body in his rage. But he hadn’t touched her face. She lay there like a princess in her bed.

And then her eyes opened.

She looked confused at first and her hands immediately went to her throat.

“Don’t try to talk, Resa,” I said. “They had to insert a stent in your throat to keep it open.”

Her entired face reacted when she heard my voice. Her eyes got bigger and her mouth curled into the biggest smile. Her eyes closed again into slits and the smile vanished. I was sure she was angry at me for not coming to find her for so long. I hoped that she would understand.

Then she sat up and started making angry gestures at my face. She kept pointing at my eyes and my lip.

It was like Theresa that the first thing she would worry about was me. “Resa while I was in jail, Zack handcuffed me to the wall and beat the crap out of me. But don’f worry, I’ve got it covered.”

She made a motion as if she wanted to write. So, I gave her my notebook and a pen.

“Who the FUCK is Zack?” she wrote.

I quickly explained that Zack was the guy who’d stared at her ass at my mom’s funeral. He was apparently as obsessed with her as most of the ofher men in town.

“That’s stupid,” she wrote. “I’ve only ever loved one man and I married him.”

I told her that most of them didn’t want to love her or marry her, they just wanted to fuck her. She shrugged her shoulders and then wrote, “Why were U in jail?”

“Everyone in town thought that I had killed you,” I told her. She looked shocked and then a tortured little squeal came out of her throat as she tried really hard not to laugh.

“That’s stupid,” she wrote. “No one loves me as much as you do. I knew the whole time that you’d come for me. The only thing that kept me alive was the thought of never being able to tell you now sorry I was and how dumb.”

I gently kissed her forehead. “You missed my mouth,” she wrote. And then in a totally Theresa move she quickly changed the subject. “I wanna meet Zack.”

I must admit that as usual I handled it badly.

“Why ... so you can run around in your shortest skirt, flashing your ass at him too?” I hissed. I was immediately sorry. And I told her so. I had promised myself that if ... That when I got her back I would give her time to heal before I brought up that fucking skirt. It no longer mattered though because even though the Sheriff and the FBI claimed all of Theresa’s clothing was evidence, I had burned that skirt and threw the ashes away.

“Never wear it again,” she wrote. “But Kevin you don’t understand.”

“Oh, I understand,” I said angrily. “I understand that you already promised me not to wear that thing outside of the house and you broke that promise.”

“Did not!” she wrote and her whole face pouted.

“Did anybody talk to Coach?” she asked. I shook my head.

“He clammed up tight,” I said. “Since you didn’t die all they can charged him with is felonious assault and attempted murder. According to the FBI guys since it clearly wasn’t premediated, he’ll get out in ten years or less. His wife is divorcing him.

She claims he’ll never see his kids again. He seems to be okay with that. He says he isn’t going to talk about it. He plead guilty and is planning on writing a book about it while he’s in jail. There isn’t going to be a trial. His sentencing is next week. It’s strange they’re wrapping this all up so quickly. You won’t even get a chance to face him in court. But I think that’s one reason they’re doing it this way.

I think they want to get him shipped out of town to prison, so you don’t have to deal with seeing him and having to face those painful memories.”

I should have realized that something funny was going on by the way she reacted. As I’ve said many times, Theresa isn’t a classic beauty. She’s nice looking. She’s cute ... Maybe even pretty on a good day. But I’ve studied every curve of that face and I know every expression that face is capable of.

While other men are distracted by her huge boobs, tiny waist and that big round booty, I love the way her eyes twinkle. I love the way the corners of her mouth move when she launches that incandescent smile.

And with what I’d just told her Theresa’s face told me a story. For one thing, she relaxed. It was as if she had been sitting on the edge of something and trying to figure out which way to jump. Whatever it was had her worried, but what I’d just told her allowed her to simply step away from the edge.

And more than just relaxing, she’d almost smiled. It wasn’t something that everyone would notice. I doubted if her father would even have caught it, but to me it was obvious.

Theresa was running her game again. I’d learned over the years that I was putty in Theresa’s hands. Her charm, her debating skills and that fucking smile had maneuvered me into so many things over the years that I’d grown accustomed to it.

There had been only a few of those, but when we had big differences of opinion, Theresa always won. And in the aftermath ... When she’d won her point, and forced me or charmed me into conceding, that little hidden smile was always present.

I wondered what she’d just won or more go the point what I’d just lost.

She reached out for my hand and for once I didn’t want to hold hers. I did but it didn’t feel right. And I was sure I knew why. With Klein leaving town to go to prison, Theresa thought that things would just go back to normal.

I dreaded it but I had to tell the only woman that I had ever loved, except my mother, of course, that this time I had made a decision. And this time she’d have to make the decision whether or not to follow me.

So, knowing as I did that she ... That we’d always planned to stay in Grace Lake and raise our kids here, it was about a fifty/fifty chance. But even if things went my way I was going to have to debate her and I was on a lifetime losing streak when it came to those debates.

This time would be different though, because this time I was prepared to walk away ... At least I thought I was.

“Theresa, I love you... “ I began. “But we need to have a serious talk.”

“Kevin, I was wearing that fucking skirt for you, dummy,” she wrote quickly. “Okay, it was for me too. Honey, I’m tired if us only having sex six days a week. I know that when you come in from running all those miles on Sunday morning you’re exhausted, but I’m not and I still want you.

So, I figured that If you came through that door and saw me bending over in that skirt, you’d uhm ... react. But Coach Klein called. He told me that he was having alk kinds of problems with the team and wanted my help. The girls look up to me.

He wanted to talk to go over specifics and he told me it would only take a few minutes. He said you’d be running for at least a couple of hours so We’d be done before you got back. So just as I’ve done lots of times I got in the car with him. Kevin, I guess my mistake was that I never viewed Klein as a guy. I mean he’s way older than us and he has a wife of his own to have sex with. He also has three kids and a position in the community.

Why the hell would he risk all of that to try to have sex with a woman who’s married and loves someone else?

Anyway, he grabbed my boobs and started trying to pull my skirt up. But I pushed him away from me and told him I’d scream. I’d scream and I’d tell everyone in town.

And he got crazy then. He started hitting me and then he choked me. When I didn’t die he thought he hadn’t choked me hard enough, so he wrapped his belt around my neck and pulled it until it snapped.

I was barely breathing, he couldn’t tell that I was still alive. So, he dragged me out into the woods and left me. He came back a couple of times and threw leaves and stuff on me to hide my body. The first night I nearly froze to death but that was just a lack of circulation. I was literally too weak to move. All I could so was to take tiny breaths and the breaths hurt so badly, Honey. I was half conscious. All I could think of was what we would do when you found me.”

As I read her words her writing morphed. The first line or two was neat and controlled but as she wrote more her penmanship declined into a barely legible scrawl.

But her story had given me an idea of how to present my case. “Resa, it’s not just Klein,” I said. “Zack beat the crap out of me because he wants YOU too. Honey, every guy we run into wants you. I think we need a fresh start somewhere else.

I thought this was the place for us to grow old together. I thought this was the place for us to have our kids. But it’s not. While you were gone this whole fuckin’ town went crazy. They all thought that I had killed you. And they treated me like shit for it. There was no innocent until proven guilty. They were all judge, jury and everything else. This town betrayed me in the worst possible way after all I’d done for them.

They’re treating that fucking Zack far better than they did me. Shit, they’re treating Klein better than they did me and he actually did what they thought I did, and admitted to it. I’m tired of busting my ass for people who don’t appreciate me.

You’re gonna be here for a while. Tomorrow we’re gonna run some tests on you. Next week I’ll take my registry exam and start putting out resumes and scheduling interviews. I’m gonna ask Janice to help me with that. She’s worked in a lot of hospitals in several states.

Resa, I don’t want to stay here anymore. We need to leave here, for good.

I was prepared to listen carefully to her argument, try to find holes in it and then refute it. I was prepared to compromise a bit if necessary but I was not prepared to lose this time. Her answer floored me.

It took her less than ten seconds to write it.

“Okay, Honey,” she’d written. I looked at the paper and didn’t understand it.

I thought that we were done. I thought her answer meant that I would leave and she’d stay. By leaving I’d lose her. Before too long, Theresa would easily find someone to replace me.

My obvious confusion amused her. “Where you go, I go,” she wrote. “Forever!”

My smile must have done something because the smile that broke out on her face made me feel even stronger.

I hugged her and kissed her right there in her bed.

“It’s about time,” she wrote. I talked and held her hand for the rest of the afternoon. She fell asleep and I went back to studying.

My plan was that WE’d be out of there within a week or two but that plan went to shit almozt immediately.

The next day’s tests revealed that Theresa had several internal injuries. She was healing and getting better but she was going to require at least two surgeries and a relatively long recovery period.

And I had other problems. The Sheriff was the first. I can’t say I blamed him. “Kevin, you’re a good guy,” he began. “Zack ... he’s had anger issues for a while now. And well, I had no idea that he ... Well shit, Kevin every guy that sees her ... Kevin is there any way you could see your way to forgiving Zack?”

“What do you really want, Sheriff?” I asked. “Do you want me to forgive him or to drop the charges?”

“i guess drop the charges,” he said.

“Why?” I asked.

“Well Zack’s had a rough life,” he said.

“Well Zack’s an asshole,” I said.

“He’s married to my daughter,” he said sadly. “I just want to protect her. Kevin, you don’t know what it’s like to be a father, but someday you will and...”

“Sheriff, I know your daughter,” I told him. “Resa and I were in the same class as she was. And you don’t have to be a parent to know how to love somebody. But don’t you think Marjorie deserves someone better. Doesn’t she deserve a guy who looks at her like she’s his fantasy? Why the hell do you want her with someone like Zack?”

“She loves him, Kevin,” he said. “I don’t want to see her go through the pain...”

“Sheriff the guy is a creep,” i said. “How long do you think it’s gonna be before he does something to hurt her?”

“Jeezus Kevin,” he just snapped. “He had a really hard day you know?”

“Bullshit...” I said. “He was staring at Theresa’s butt at my mom’s funeral. This didn’t just happen. And even if I did try to drop the charges, the FBI akready has a copy of the recording so they can start their own case for conduct unbecoming an officer.

And it’s gonna come out once my lawsuit against the town comes out. If you want to save Marjorie or make this easier on her, just tell her the truth.”

The Sheriff looked as if he was thinking about it.

A day later it was the Mayor and Mr. Richards. My face had all but healed but the bitterness lingered.

“Kevin, you got a raw deal,” said Mr. Richards. “I’m willing to renegotiate. All you have to do is tell me what you want. We can come up with a deal that benefits us both.”

“Mr. Richards, I was happy with our original deal,” I said. “You were the one who broke it. I have simply chosen not to renew it.”

“And I’m here because you’re suing the town you grew up in and love living in, right?” asked the Mayor.

“You mean the town that turned its back on me and treated me like shit, before I was even found guilty?” I asked.

“Kevin, it was a strange situation,” he said. “We all made mistakes. We’re not proud of that”

“I totally understand that,” I said. “That’s why I’m offering you a one-time chance to settle this out of court.”

“I’m interested,” he said. “What do you want?”

“Not much,” I said. “I want my classes paid for, Theresa’s medical bills taken care of and ... My car.”

“Done,” said the Mayor. “Thanks for being reasonable.”

“No problem,” I said.

“Kevin, the hospital would give you all of that and more,” said Richards. “How about if we upgrade your car to a Shelby?”

“No thanks,” I said. “Theresa and I are leaving town as soon as she’s well enough.”

“But you can’t,” he said. “I’ll have to start all over again.”

“Watch me,” I said.

As I left the room I felt better than I had since the whole mess got started.

When I got back to Theresa’s room I got a surprise. She was smiling from ear to ear.

“Love you,” she said. Her voice was scratchy and raw but for the first time since the ordeal started she could speak. She immediately took a sip of water to lubricate her throat and spoke again. “Come here,” she said.

I got as close to her as the bed would allow and she granbed me and pulled me to her. She kissed me like it had been years instead of a couple of weeks. She pulled me into the bed with her and before I knew it we were going at it.

She turned over onto her side and thrust her butt towards me. I couldn’t get my pants off fast enough. I pulled her to me and began kissing and licking her neck. She reached behind her and grabbed my dick. She lifted her top leg and rubbed my overly sensitive tip across her rapidly moistening slit.

I was sure someone would hear her moaning. I rubbed her breasts and squeezed her rubbery nipples as she guided my dick home. That first penetration was incredible.

It was so good that I wanted to scream and I had to put my hand over her mouth so she didn’t. She started pushing her large, soft, ass against me and we built up a rhythm.

I was beginning to lose control. It felt so good to be inside of her that I just wanted to let go.

I pulled out just in time and shot my spunk all over her ass. We were both breathing like we’d just run a marathon. I heard voices outside of the room and quickly got out of the bed, grabbed my pants and ducked into the room’s bathroom.

“Coward,” she croaked.

“Frog,” I snapped back just as the door opened.

I quickly threw my legs into my pants and pulled them up. Just as the Sheriff and Theresa’s father stepped into the room.

The Sheriff looked at me with kind of a wry smile. “Kevin, you were right,” he said. “I told her everything. She went through a couple of days of pain. But when she thought about it she realized that she was better off finding out now. They have no kids and she’s still young enough to start out again and be more careful in who she chooses to spend her life with.”

“Why does it smell like... ?” my father in law began. He looked at the huge smile on Theresa’s face and the fact that I couldn’t look him in the eye and burst into his own smile. “Yawl didn’t... ? In the hospital bed? Jeezus!”

“Theresa, I understand that you can talk again,” said the Sheriff. “Is it possible that you could tell us your side of what happened that day. Other than Coach Klein’s admission that he killed you or thought that he did, we have no idea of what happened.”

I felt Theresa reach out and grab my hand. I held onto her for strength as she told them pretty much what she’d told me. I saw glances pass back and forth between the Sheriff and my father in law.

“Are you sure that’s what happened?” asked the Sheriff.

“Yes,” she hissed.

“Come on guys,” I said. “Theresa just got her voice back. And this entire ordeal has been hard on her. We already know what happened. That asshole tried to rape her and then tried to kill her to cover it up. Leave her alone. If she remembers anything else she’ll tell you.”

“So, Theresa, you and coach Klein never had sex that day?” asked the Sheriff.

“Nope,” said Theresa. “And if he says we did he’s a liar.”

Like I’ve mentioned many times, Theresa and I have a connection, but even if we didn’t, I think I’d have known that she was lying.”

I think she knew that I knew too. She burst into tears then and started sobbing. She squeezed my hand.

“Okay, he raped me,” she cried. “I didn’t say anything because I didn’t want to put Kevin through that too. He’s been through too much already.”

“Uhm okay, Theresa, I’m sorry to put you through all of this,” said the Sheriff. “We just got all of the reports on the evidence back from the FBI crime scene team and I had a few questions, that’s all.”

For the rest of the day, I held Theresa’s hand. Every time she looked at me she started crying. It was weird. Around the nurses and doctors, she was fine. Several people who knew us stopped in just to see her and they acted strangely too. They were all smiles around Theresa, but as soon as they saw me they got weird.

I began to realize that they were feeling guilt over the way they’d treated me. They were trying to make up for it.

That morning as I driven my reclaimed Mustang back to the hospital to spend the day with Theresa, Peggy had flagged me down as I drove past.

I opened the window but didn’t get out of the car.

“Hey, Kev,” she smiled. “You haven’t stopped by for breakfast in a long time.”

“I usually have breakfast with Theresa at the hospital,” I said.

“Ugh ... Hospital food?” she said. “Maybe you should stop by and get something for both of you.”

“Thanks,” I said. “I’ll keep that in mind.” I started to raise my window and she held up her hand.

“Kevin ... Are you really leaving town?” she asked. I nodded.

“But you love it here,” she said.

“I did,” I told her. “I really did. But it was a one-way love.”

“You’re never gonna eat here, again are you?” she asked.

“I doubt it,” I said. “But I’ll really miss your cooking. You’re the best, Miss Peggy.”

Theresa was acting the same way. I couldn’t figure out what she had to feel guilty about though.

She’d been through too much. All I could do was love her and try to help ner through it. After the Sheriff and her dad had gone and the doctors were done with their visits, we talked.

“Kevin, I want to go home,” she said. “I don’t have any tubes in me any more and I want to sleep in our bed. I want to have a nice long genuine fuck with my husband without worrying about somebody coming in a door that doesn’t have a God damned lock on it. I want to be able to scream as loud as I want.”

“Theresa, they’re still running tests,” I said. “You’re as weak as a kitten. You need someone to take care of you around the clock.”

“You didn’t think I was so weak a couple of hour ago when you were jamming that big old dick in me did you?” she smirked. And then she paused as if something had just occured to her.

“Kevin, why did you pull out?” she asked. “You shot your stuff all over my ass and my back instead of inside of me.”

Even as she asked the question, it hit me. Ever since the Sheriff and Tom had left I’d had a gnawing thought.

“Resa, this isn’t the time for us to get pregnant,” I said. “You may have internal injuries. A pregnancy might kill you. I don’t even want to risk losing you.”

“You’re never, ever going to, dummy,” she said. “Wanna do it again? It’s been three hours. Your batteries ought to be recharged.”

“Resa why didn’t you tell me Klein had raped you?” I asked. I was holding her hand and I felt her pulse quicken.

“Because, I didn’t want to lose you either,” she said angrily.

“That wasn’t your fault,” I told her. “Why would I be angry at you?”

“Because you told me a million times about that skirt,” she said. “I should have changed.”

“Theresa, Honey you can wear whatever you want,” I said. “Just because you have a nice body and you’re dressed in a really short skirt it doesn’t give a guy the right to attack you. I guess part of this is simply my insecurity. I thought that if you went out dressed like that you’d find someone better than me ... Or they’d find you.”

She started laughing. “Kevin, there is no one better than you for me,” she said. I leaned over her bed and kissed her. As the kisses heated up she rolled towards me and slipped her arms around me and her tongue in my mouth.

After a few moments, she started a mixture of moaning and mumbling. She took my hand and moved it to her ass. “Squeeze it,” she moaned. “Squeeze it hard baby!”

Once Theresa got started there was only one way things ever ended.

“Oh boy! I never expected to see that! I guess you guys are fine!”

I turned with embarrassment written all over my face. As Theresa sat up the hand that she’d placed on her ass ended up in her lap. As she lit up her brilliant smile she snapped out her hand as quickly as a steel trap wedging my hand on her crotch.

There was a short wide woman standing in our doorway smiling. Her big innocent appearing blue eyes and dark hair made her attractive. She had a big round booty and a very sexy walk.

She had small breasts which gave her a very pear-shaped body.

I was too embarrassed to look at her so I shot Theresa an, I told you so, glare.

“I’ve never seen anybody make out in a hospital bed before,” said the woman.

“I’m just glad you came in before we got our clothes off,” laughed Theresa.

“Me too,” laughed the woman. I liked her immediately. I could see Theresa turning into a version of her with bigger boobs as we aged.

“Kevin, I’ve never actually met you before, but I’ve heard nothing but awesome things about you,” she said. “I guess we’ll catch up when we work together though. I’ll be starting here in a couple of weeks.”

“What about your kids?” asked Theresa.

“Neighbors and friends,” smiled the woman.

“Put me on the list,” said Theresa. “As soon as I’m out or here, I’ll help until we leave. I need the practice.”

“Theresa, I’d never have asked ... considering,” said the woman. She looked as if she was about to cry.”

I was lost. I had no idea what was going on.

“I really came here to apologize,” she said. “But I can see that you guys are doing fine. This just came out of nowhere. It just doesn’t make sense.

Of all the things he might have done and all the people he could have done them to ... I mean he’s known you since you first started high school. All of those practices and games ... Nothing! All of the times you’ve been to our house ... Nothing!

I mean we watched you grow up. We were at your wedding, Theresa. I have no idea how to make any of this make sense. All I can say is that I’m sorry!”

She hugged Theresa, and then she hugged me. She smelled good and she felt good. She felt warm and soft. I had an extremly male thought then. Yep ... Even with no boobs, given the chance, if there was no Theresa in my life I would fuck the cowboy shit out of her.”

“Thanks Mrs. K,” said Theresa and suddenly all the pieces fit. It wasn’t any one thing she’d said, but added to the questions I still had from when the Sheriff had come by and I knew something was wrong.

Theresa was lying to me. She was lying to everyone. There were things here that made no sense. I had a lot of questions. But only two people knew the answers.

One of those people was not telling me the truth. I needed to talk to the other.

On my way home that evening, I decided to stop by the Sheriff’s office. He was still there.

“Sheriff, is it possible for me to get a look at the crime scene report?” I asked.

“Kevin, you really don’t need to see that,” he said. “The case is over. We got the guy. They’re gonna deliver him to the state pen in the morning. It’s over.”

“I want to see it,” I said. “Do I have to file a FOIA request?”

“You’ve already ... Hell the whole town has been through the ringer, Kevin. We need to just let this shit die.”

I didn’t say anything I just held out my hand. After a while he handed me a very thick folder. I sat down at a desk and began to read.

“Kevin, you can take it home,” he said. “But don’t destroy it and bring it back in the morning.” I just nodded.

As I drove towards home, Mr. Bennett came out as I passed his station. He waved me in and I opened the window.

“Kevin, I see you took your car back,” he said. “I guess that means things between you and the hospital are okay again, huh?”

“As well as can be expected,” I said.

“So, I guess this thing must need some gas,” he said.

“Nah, she’s good,” I said. “I filled her up this morning.”

“That was dumb,” he said. “I’m running a special ... Free gas for Mustangs.”

“Wow, I wish I’d have known about it before I filled up,” I said. “Especially since this is the only Mustang in town. Have a good night Mr. Bennett.”

I sat down on our deck with the grill going and the lights on to read the report. A lot of it was gibberish and extremely techical and legal language.

I got the gist of it, but I really didn’t learn anything new. When my steak was done I pulled it from the grill and grabbed a tomato from the fridge. I popped the top off of a beer and sat down to read more.

“Damn that smells good!”

I whipped my head around to see who’d spoken. Looking in the direction the voice had come from, I saw Mr. Lipscomb with his head sticking over the top of the privacy fence that separated our yards.

“Howdy Neighbor,” he said. “Is the grill still on? Or do you have enough to share?”

“Sorry,” I said. “Part of the terms of my release forbid me from associating with people who don’t associate with murderers.”

“Kev ... I’m really...” he began.

“I’ve always hated being called Kev,” I lied. “My name is Kevin ... As in Fuck you, Kevin! Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a very long and boring report from the FBI to read. It’s about the evidence they collected on the guy who really tried to kill Theresa.

I’m sure you remember laughing and joking with HIM while you were all treating ME like shit!”

I went and sat back in my comfy chair and picked up the report. Strangely enough, I didn’t feel good about the way I had treated him.

Even as the screaming man yelling Fuck you Kevin appeared on the screen in my mind, the kind man watching wrestling with Theresa’s father while Theresa and I had our first date superimposed himself.

I decided that maybe some of those people were worth a second chance. I’d go and talk to him the next day.

As I continued reading the report, I was still bored. I didn’t need a psyche-profile to realize that Coach Klein wasn’t crazy. He’d just had one of those momentary flashes of extremely bad judgment and then reacted in an even worse manner to keep anyone from finding out.

I skipped the rest of the profile and finally got to what I wanted to read.

The information I’d been looking for without knowing it was right there in front of me. One of the pairs of panties found at the scene had Theresa’s DNA all over them. There was no other DNA on the panties.

Several of the beer cans had Klein’s DNA on them, one had Theresa’s DNA, and one had both Klein’s AND Theresa’s DNA on it.

There were a couple of condoms found on the scene with both Theresa’s and Klein’s DNA. The area where Theresa was dragged to was also interesting. There was a condom found there within two feet of where Theresa was found with both of their DNA on it as well. That sample was degraded because the condom had to have been there for a month or more.

I felt a pain in my heart so severe, that I was’nt sure I would survive it. I broke out in a cold sweat and it was all I could do to staunch the flow of tears.

I stood up and got out a bucket. I filled the bucket with warm water from the tub in our basement and took it out to the deck.

As I passed the table where the report sat, I noticed that my phone was ringing. I looked at the screen and saw Resa was calling me. For the first time since we’d met, I didn’t answer it.

I pulled my car further up our driveway and into the yard. I went into the garage and got my halogen work lights out and surrounded the car.

I cleaned the interior first. As I worked I thought about my relationship with Theresa. I remembered happy times when we first got together.

Shit, all I could remember were happy times. We had very few sad or bad times. But we had a hell of a future ahead of us. Or so I’d thought.

I closed the doors and began rinsing the loose dirt from the outside of the car. Mrs. Lipscomb stuck her head over the fence. “Kevin, Theresa wants you to call her,” she yelled.

“Thanks for delivering the message,” I said. “I’m very busy, I’ll call her when I have a chance.”

Theresa called me at least twenty times over the next hour. I was in the middle of waxing the car when her dad’s truck pulled into my driveway.

Tom got out of the truck and walke towards me.

“Wanna talk?” he asked. I shook my head.

“Kevin, Theresa is at the hospital crying her eyes out,” he said. “Is this something I can fix?”

“The only person that can fix it is Theresa,” I said. I put down the sponge and picked up the phone. I dialed her room number and spoke.

“Theresa, I’ll be at the hospital tomorrow,” I said. “I may be a little bit later than usual, I have a stop to make.”

“Okay, Honey,” she chirped. “I love you, Kevin.”

The next morning at six a.m. I was at the Sheriff’s office. I handed him a cup of French roast coffee from the Bigby coffee place about five miles outside of town on the highway.

I handed him the report back. He took a big swig of the coffee and then spat it out.

“It’s coffee!” he said in surprise.

“What did you think it was?” I asked.

“Coffee,” he said. “But there’s no liquor in it.”

“Okay, next time I’ll know,” I said. He was still trying to clear his mouth of the taste of coffee.

“So, Kevin, what can I do for you this early in the morning that couldn’t wait until later?” he asked.

“Sheriff, you said that they were coming to take Klein to prison today,” I said. “I need to speak to him.”

“They’re not coming to get him until noon,” he croaked. “Surely you don’t need to speak to him for six hours?”

“Sheriff, I have no idea how long we’ll be talking,” I said. “And I had no idea what time they were coming to get him. I figured it would probably be about eight a.m.”

“You can talk to him if you want,” said the Sheriff. “But the question is IF he’ll talk to you. Klein is slicker than snake shit. Somehow, wothout saying a fucking word he got the rape charge thrown out AND got the felonious assault knocked down to simple assault. The kidnapping charge ... Thrown out completely. The only thing that kind of stayed was the attempted murder.

I expected the bastard to get life or close to it. He ended up getting ten to fifteen. With good behavior, he could be back on the street in seven or eight years. He’ll barely be in long enough to write his fucking book and get a publisher.

I have no idea how he did all of that shit! Zack is probably going to do as much time as he will, maybe more. How the hell is that fair?”

“Sheriff, did you read the report?” I asked.

“I read the first page and then realized what it was,” he said. “It was just a bunch of legal mumbo-jumbo that let those FBI lawyers show off their ability to confuse everybody with big words and legal stuff. They do stuff like that to make people think that they’re smart enough to earn their outrageous salaries.”

We walked through the office and into the jail section. “Hey Klein, you’ve got a visitor,” he yelled.

“Give her the address at the prison and tell her to send the divorce paper there,” he mumbled.

“It’s not your wife, Coach Klein,” I said. His eyes popped open and he turned to look at me. He looked at me as if he was trying to analize my motives.

“Kevin,” he smiled. “You’re the last person I expected to see. Is that coffee for me?” Even though I had already drank out out of it, I nodded. Shit, if he wanted to drink coffee with my germs in it, more power to him.

He took a long sip. “This is good coffee,” he said. “This shit didn’t come from Peggy’s place.”

He took another long sip. “Okay, son ... What do you want to know?”

“What happened ... That day?” he asked. “Was Theresa cheating on me with you? I’ve heard her version of things, but her version doesn’t line up with the evidence the FBI collected.”

He burst out laughing and spit out a mouthful of coffeee in the process.

“I like you, Kevin,” he said. “You’re a conundrum. On one hand, you’re as sharp as a tack, but at the same time you’re as naive as a baby. I’ll tell you what you want to know. It’s gonna ruin your life, but I’ll tell you. Why not? I’ve got nothing else to do. I doubt that I’m going to be having a lot of long stimulating conversations where I’m going.

Okay, in order to truly tell you what you want to know, I have to give you some background. Kevin, I know that you love Theresa with all your heart. And in her own way, I think she loves you too. But your way and her way are simply not the same.

Not only did you marry Theresa too soon, you never really knew her. You asked me if she was cheating on you with me ... It’s the other way around. She was cheating on ME with YOU!”

I laughed then. I’d been wary about anything he was going to say. My theory from the beginning had been that when you’re faced with two liars, the truth is somewhere in between.

I knew that Theresa had been lying to me but Klein ... He was just ridiculous.

“You think that’s funny huh?” he said. “You’re almost twenty-two now, right? You were just about to turn nineteen when you and Theresa first got together, right? You two got married pretty quick, so all told your marriage and your entire relationship is less than three years old.

I’ve been having sex with Theresa for almost six years!”

I went into shock. My legs suddenly weren’t strong enough to hold me up.

“You!” I hissed. My fingers clawed as if I could somehow rip my way through the hardened steel bars that separated us.

He didn’t even flinch. And I had no idea what to say after ... You. So I collapsed into a chair.

“Kevin, I’m sorry,” he said. And I believed him. “Kevin what I did with her was morally wrong, I mean I was her teacher and her coach, but at 16 she was legal in our state, and I was nowhere near her first.

Just to let you know that I’m being as honest as I can, let me tell you a few things that only you and Theresa know. She was your first, right? And you freaked out when you found out that you weren’t hers.

She lied to you for the first time then. She got all indignant and led you to believe that there had only been one or two guys and she’d only done it a couple of times, right? I know because she told me.

Kevin when you two got together Theresa had already fucked most of the guys in your class and the adjacent classes. She left that out when she told you she’d “Dated,” them.

The fact of the matter is that Theresa, as nice as she is has never turned a guy down when it comes to sex.

But the thing is you should understand that it’s not like she’s some round heeled slut, because she’s not. I think she or Tom told you the story about her mother. What they probably left out was the fact that once she left, Tom never let her come back. She tried several times but Tom didn’t want her her bad influence rubbing off on Theresa.

In some ways it worked, but in other ways it was a dismal failure. Everybody in town talks about how Theresa would help anybody do anything while growing up. That’s because not having a mother who loved her in her life made Theresa grow up searching for that from other people.

Tom tried, but to this day he still loves his wife so much that it’s crazy. Theresa has been looking for most of her life for someone to love her the way she thought she should be loved.

All those guys she fucked ... She was auditioning. She had some kind of test amd until you came along, nobody got close. The more time the two of you spent together the stronger it got.

Along the way you’ve made some people angry, Kevin. It all started before you ever knew.

You and Theresa locked eyes at the prom and from that day on she was yours. The guys she went to the prom with were pissed. Like I said, Theresa was pretty much guaranteed pussy after a date. The poor guys spent money for a limo, flowers, a motel room and suits and went home with dry dicks. Theresa spent the rest of the prom watching you and Rhoda.

There’s another victim. Rhoda like everyone else in town never had anything bad to say about Theresa. But seeing the two of you dancing and how comfortable you seemed with Rhoda, made Theresa take an immediate dislike to the girl. If Rhoda so much as mentions your name Theresa gets scared and flips the fuck out.

There’s a couple of other things, shit there are a million things you need to know. Number one, and this one pisses me off ... You’re the first guy Theresa ever fucked...”

“Wait a minute,” i said. “You just told me that every guy in my class and a bunch of others have all had sex with her...”

“Kevin that is completely different, even with me,” he said. “You have no idea of what having sex with Theresa is like.”

“I think I do,” I spat. “I married her after all. So, give the poor dummy a little bit of credit.”

“Kevin, you’re a lot of things,” he said. “But dumb ain’t one of ‘em.

“What I meant was that for most of us ... Actually, everyone I know of, Theresa is different with you. Maybe we got her first, but we’ve never really had all of her.

All we ever got was that fantastic body and a fantasy. We got to see those amazing tits wobble as we pumped her but that was it.

Theresa has always had all kinds of rules. Nobody except you has ever fucked her without a condom. We were allowed to touch her boobs but not to suck them.

She does not ... Or at least I thought she didn’t do blowjobs. She was just like the very best blow up doll in the world.

All we ever got was her body. I built that body you know. I built that ass with lots of heavy squats amd crunches. I built those legs too. The boobs are a genetic gift but I made the body that carries them strong and firm.

So, imagine my surprise when Theresa starts telling me about things she did with you. I was pissed. And some of it I just didn’t believe.

I mean Theresa is one of those pretty girls who just lay there and let you have the honor of fucking them. Sometimes she even looked bored while I was pumping her as hard as I could and it just seemed like she was thinking about something else.

In fact, she never knew how close she came several times before this to having me wrap my fingers around her neck and just squeezing it until...

There was one a couple of months ago, when I thought I was ringing her chimes. I was pounding the shit out of her, Kevin. I put everything I had into it ... Shit, I almost had a heart attack.

And I realized then that she might as well have been shopping. “You didn’t finish?” I asked.

She looked at me with that same smile she always gets when she talks about you.

“Don’t worry ... Kevin will take care of that,” she said. “He can make me cum just by touching me.”

Do you understand what that does to a man’s ego? It was like she was telling me that you’re like this expert fucker and I have no idea what the hell I’m doing.

But I didn’t let anger get the best of me. I did some research. I just had to know. So, I followed her back to your house. I wanted to see just what was so God damned special about what you did to her.

I figured that maybe I could do it too.

As soon as she got home she took a shower and changed clothes. I figured I’d have to wait for a long time. Usually after my wife and I have sex she doesn’t want it for a few days.

But I figured that Theresa would bull through it out of guilt. I’d given her a pretty good going over so she’d want to take it easy though.

As I watched her I began to realize that this was not the Theresa I knew. She sat on your sofa watching TV. She constantly checked her watch. As soon as you drove into your driveway she bolted for the door. I have never seen her like that. She was acting like a fuckin’ puppy.

You know how a puppy waits for its owner to come home and gets so excited that it wags its tail so hard you’d think its back would break? That was Theresa.

Even as she walked to the door I noticed something that I have never seen in all the years I’ve known Theresa. It should have been obvious but her body is so outrageous that the obvious things tend to slip your mind.

As many times as I’ve seen Theresa’s tits, I’ve never seen her nipples hard. I guess I didn’t think they did. It was amazing. You hadn’t even come through the door yet but her headlights were on high-beam.

She sat you down on the sofa and taught me something else. All those things that I didn’t think Theresa did, she not only did but loved.

The Theresa who doesn’t do blow jobs ... Not only blows, but swallows and loves doing it.

Then she not only let you suck on those tits, she fed them to you. The theresa who lies down and lets herself be fucked was clawing at you and thrusting her pussy at you like you weree the last man on Earth. She actually got on top and fucked you.

Even when you were on top, she wrapped those thick legs around you and rubbed your back to urge you on. The bitch was in heaven. The only thing I didn’t get to see was you fucking her ass. You are the only man who ever has.

And when you were done she cuddled against you and wrapped herself around you as if she was trying to hold onto you for dear life. I have to admit that I was jealous. Kevin, I would give anything to have her feel the way she feels about you for me. But she doesn’t.

Theresa is one of the nicest women I know, but she only gives herself to fully ... To you.

Another thing I want you to know is that once she met you, she quit. She stopped having sex with everyone else. From the night of the prom she just quit.

She did slip one time. That first Thanksgiving that you two almost broke up ... She went out with a group of friends. There may have been drugs involved but she ended up having sex with some of them.

She was really sure that it would get out and she’d lose you forever. she cried like a baby for days. She was even more hurt when you tried to break up with her. I think you remember what happened to poor Rhoda.

Anyway, the two of you eventually got back together and ruined a lot of people’s lives. For more than a year, Theresa wouldn’t touch me. Finally, I had to blackmail her. I used her fear of losing you against her. I told her if she didn’t start up with me again, I’d tell you everything and she’d lose you forever.

So, she and I got together for the occasional quickie, but she spent all her time, effort and love on you. Everything was fine until last Sunday. I didn’t call her Kevin, Theresa called me.

Her exact words were, I have some time, Kevin is out running. Come pick me up.

We went to our usual spot in the woods. Yep, I fucked her. And yes, she just laid there like a big titty blow up doll. And yes, I gave it all I had to get her to react. I wanted just one time to have her give me what she gives you.

When we ... I guess the truth would be to say when I was done, she told me that I had fucked her for the last time.

I was whining and begging her to change her mind. She told me that she was going off of the pill so you two could have a baby. She told me that you weren’t ready yet, but it was something she had to give you.

I begged her, Kevin. Then I tried to make a deal. I told her we could take a break until she got pregnant. She told me that she intended to give you at least six kids.

She also told me that from that moment forward she would only have sex with you. She told me that we’d had a good run and she’d learned a lot from me.

I wasn’t having it. I threatened to tell you. She told me that would be stupid because I held an important position in the school and the town. She told me that I had just as much to lose as she did.

She even told me that having sex with me was boring. That was when I snapped and tried to choke the bitch to death.

So now you know the entire story, Kevin,” he said.

“No,” I said. “I only know the sordid details about two liars and cheaters who pretended... “ I shook my head hoping for some sort of clarity. It didn’t come. “What about your wife and your kids?”

“Never should have married her,” he smiled. “It just seemed like the right thing to do at the time. I don’t know about her but I was never really in love with her. We were young and we started fucking, even though I didn’t love her, I loved fucking her. She ended up pregnant. I did the right thing. We got married. About a month after we got married she lost the baby and I was stuck. We waited more than ten years to have cnildren again which is why our kids are so young. I didn’t want to have them then.

My wife is a nice woman, Kevin. She’s like you. She really puts her heart into everything. She’ll find someone else easily and be better off without me.”

“You’re a monster!” I said.

“Nope,” he laughed. “I’m human, Kevin. I lie and cheat and steal and make mistakes. I also love and help people and do nice things. I am not perfect and have never claimed to be. Kevin truthfully, I don’t want to be. Your life, being Kevin the nice guy ... It’s too much fucking work.

There are a lot more people in the world like me than there are like you. And I have no idea why you’re so shocked abut everything. Your perfect little town here ... Grace Lake? It’s a big swingers’ community. Almost everybody here even the married ones are all in on it. Sure, the younger people have no idea what goes on. They wait until they get to be a certain age and slowly bring them along, but they had plans for you and Theresa all along. Those old men can’t wait to get their hands on those boobs.”

“Well, they won’t have to wait anymore,” I said. “They can have her.”

“Kevin, we’ve already established that you are not a fool,” he smirked. “If you dump Theresa, she’ll replace you before you make it to your car. You’ll never find a woman like her again. Be smart. Play your role and enjoy what you have. A lot of this really isn’t her fault and she really does love you. If I know anything at all, I know that to be true. But with a woman that hot, men are gonna want her. Live with it.”

The door opened then and several very large, very intense men walked in. They all wore black jackets with the letters FBI on the breast and on the back.

“Well, Kev, my ride is here,” he laughed. “The rest is up to you. But let me give you one final piece of advice. Be a little bit like me. Take some time and think about what YOU want to do. Be a little bit selfish for once. And then do what makes YOU the happiest.

You have two things to juggle. One is the fact that you love her Kevin. Before you found out what I just told you, you’d have moved heaven and Earth for her. Shit ... You were the only person in town who thought there was even a chance that she was still alive. If it hadn’t been for you, I’d have probably never been caught until she WAS dead and I’d be doing a lot more time.

You LOVE her Kevin. It’s a fact. And she LOVES you. That is very rare. I might have fucked her, but she never felt one iota of what she feels for you Keivn. Put this shit behind you and go make some smart, sexy babies with her.”

I stood there for a long time. Long after he was gone, I stood there. My phone rang and I had no need to check to see who it was. I didn’t even think about it. I was incapable of processing thoughts. I was literally frozen on the spot.

The Sheriff came in and patted me on the shoulder. “Kevin, tomorrow the FBI guys will be here to ask you some questions about what happened with Zack. He and his lawyer will be here too,” he said. “Oh ... And I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that Theresa is awake and looking for you. She called a few minutes ago to put out a missing persons alert on you, because you weren’t at the hospital when she woke up.”

I drove to the hospital as if I was in a fog. I suppose going home would have been the smarter thing to do but I wanted ... Maybe i needed to see her. I needed to look at the woman I’d been in love with for most of my life and really see her.

She was lying in her bed with her arms across her chest and her lip stuck out when I got there. As soon as she saw me a smile flashed across her face and yep I meant face. Theresa smiles with her entire face. Her lips, her eyes, her cheeks and even her nose participates in expressing her joy. And it was all directed at me.

The arms shielding her mammoth boobs dropped and somehow, she managed to both smile and stick out her bottom lip at the same time.

“What took you so long to get here?” she asked. “I was worried. And you didn’t call me last night.”

“I spent last night studying for my exam,” I lied. “And I woke up, still on the sofa with a book across my chest.”

“Did you have breakfast?” she asked. Apparently, my explanation passed muster.

As I looked at her, I wanted to hate her, but I couldn’t. Every inch, every iota, every fucking cell of that woman’s body seemed to worship me. Even as she sat there waiting for my answer, she was scooting her body closer to me.

When she got to the edge of the bed and couldn’t scoot any closer to me, she leaned. And then she reached.

As soon as her fingers brushed my skin she sighed. It was hard for me to separate the woman in fromt of me from what I’d learned.

I had no idea which was the real Theresa. Was she the pretty, baby faced country girl with stars in her eyes who loved me with everything she had?

Or was she the small-town sex symbol slash small town whore who’d fucked damned near every guy in our generation and then some?

“How could I eat without my best girl?” I asked.

“Best girl?” she laughed. “I’d better be your ONLY girl, buster!”

I hadn’t planned it. I had actually intended to take Klein’s advice. I was going to take a few days and give the entire situation a lot of thought. Even married to her, we had no kids so getting a divorce would be easy.

So, I wanted to take the time to look at her in a purely emotionless way and examine all the pros and cons of remaining married to her.

But my festering anger led to a slip of the tongue.

“Yeah, like I’m your only man,” I hissed.

I hadn’t meant to say it. I especially hadn’t meant to express it so angrily. But it was out there and there was no way to take it back.

Tears sprang from her eyes so suddenly there was no way she could have faked it.

“I knew it,” she sobbed. “That’s why I didn’t tell you that bastard raped me. I knew that as soon as you found out someone else had stuck their tiny worthless little dick in me that you’d resent it and it would cause problems for us.

I’m sorry I’m not the pure untouched virgin you wanted Kevin, but I’m the woman you married, the woman you love and I always will be. So, get your head out of your ass and realize that I’m the victim here.

I had no choice in the matter. Coach Klein is going to jail for what he did to me.”

“And he deserves it,” I said. “He’s going to jail for assault and attempted murder ... Not for rape.”

“How did he get off on the rape charge?” she asked.

“Because you weren’t raped Theresa,” I said. “And letting everyone in town think that you were demeans and trivializes women who actually do get raped. You should be ashamed!”

“Who says I wasn’t raped?” she asked. I sat down in the chair beside the bed. I wanted to calm things down before a nurse came in.

More than anything else, I wanted to see how Theresa reacted when all her lies were exposed.

“Theresa, I read the FBI evidence,” I said. “The only DNA or biological evidence on your panties was yours.”

“That doesn’t mean anything,” she said.

“It means you took off your panties for him yourself,” I said. “Who takes off their panties when they’re being raped, Theresa?”

“He forced me to do it,” she sobbed.

“Theresa, he used a condum,” I said. “When did he have time to put it on in the middle of a rape?”

“Just shut up, Kevin,” she yelled. “You and your FBI spies weren’t there. You don’t know shit!”

“I know that I deserved the truth, Theresa,” I said. “So, I’m not some guy that you’ve been screwing for a long time. I’m not one of the guys on the team or your prom date. I was the guy who was dumb enough to marry you because I love you so much.”

“Then Kevin, just love me and leave this alone,” she said. “It’s not worth it.”

I turned and walked out of the room.

“What are you doing?” she yelled.

“What I always do, Theresa,” I said. “I’m doing exactly what you told me to do. You told me to leave it alone. So that’s what I’m doing. If you don’t think I deserve the truth, why bother?”

“You’ll be back, Kevin,” she yelled. “You don’t have a choice.”

But I did. I chose to go home and study. The next day I chose to go to the Sheriff’s office and explain my side of what happened.

It turned out that Zack had a history of anger issues. It was one of the reasons he hadn’t been successful in the military. But this time it bit him in his ass.

This time he got time. He got three years and the Sheriff’s daughter divorced him. She didn’t divorce him for beating the shit out of me though. She’d have stood by him through that. She divorced him over his obsession with Theresa.

For the next few days I struggled with my own obsession. But I didn’t give in. Theresa called me constantly, but I held fast.

It was beginning to feel like the first time we broke up. If I’d known then what I knew at that point, I’d never have gotten back together with her. The problem waa that I’d loved her for most of my life. It wouldn’t go away over night.

About a week later I took and passed my registry exam. It should have been a special time but I had no one to share it with.

The next day I went to the hospital. I tried to avoid everyone who’d treated me badly. I really wanted to avoid Mr. Richards, but I failed in that.

“Kevin, congrats,” he said. “When do you intend to come back to work?”

I just laughed and headed into the X-ray exam room. I hugged Janice and thanked her for everything she taught me, in and out of school.

She gave me the list that I’d asked her for and told me to always reject the first offer.

It was strange how quickly I left the town that I never wanted to leave. I packed my clothes and a few personal items in the Mustang’s tiny trunk. Everything else that I needed went on the back seat.

I spent a large part of the evening writing Theresa a very long letter. I told her everything starting with how I felt the first time I saw her and how I still felt that way.

I told her how much I loved her and how hurt I was by all of the things Klein had told me and how the fact that she hadn’t told me herself had destroyed any trust between us.

I told her that after all the things I’d found out, I wasn’t sure I had ever really known her, but if I had known we would probably never have even dated.

I reminded her of how pretty she was and how easily it would be for her to move on to the next guy.

I told her that whoever I ended up with would be less than a pale imitation of her and I would remember our time together until I died.

I explained to her that there was nothing wrong with her. It was all me. I was just too old fashioned when it came to my ideas about love and sex. I was kind of a caveman. I believed that my woman, had to be MY woman alone. And I was just too insecure to be able to share her.

Finally, I told her that she’d been right about telling me that I’d be back, because I’d wanted to turn around and go back as soon as I left.

I left the note in her father’s mailbox. I figured I’d call him and have him give it to her after I was gone.

I did one purely selfish thing too. When Theresa called me for at least the twentieth time that day, I picked up the phone. I didn’t say anything. I just wanted to hear her voice one more time.

I picked the hospital on the list I’d gotten from Janice that was the farthest away from Grace Lake. It was in Michigan. I called them, spoke to the person that Janice had told me to ask for and did an interview.

I got the job and started my new life. One of the first things I did was to sign up with a different phone carrier and change my number. I was truly alone then.

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