My Saving Grace Pt. 02

Amateur

I was a bit surprised at the response I’ve received from this simple little tale. Thank you all so much for the kind words and constructive criticism. Honestly, the only downside to this is that I’ve had to say to my wife those words all husbands hate to utter: Yes, honey, you were right!

*****

Our parents arrived in the wee hours the next morning. Dad called me from the driveway, letting me know they were there so we didn’t call the police when we heard someone at the door. As soon as he and Mom got in the house, it was an immediate hug fest. Mom was determined to double check every inch of Grace to make sure she hadn’t been hurt. Good thing Grace had showered!

While Mom put Gracie under the maternal microscope, Dad took me aside for a chat. “I’m so proud of you son, for the way you helped your sister!” he said with quiet emphasis.

“Thanks Dad, but I didn’t really do that much for her. Besides, you know she would have done the same if it had been me getting set up.” Dad nodded firmly.

“Yes, Kevin, I acknowledge that. Nevertheless, I’m proud of you – both of you. You kept your heads in a very difficult and confusing situation, and because you did, everyone walked away under their own power, and your sister is okay.” Then, Dad hugged me. He didn’t hug me a lot, preferring a firm handshake, so it was a bit of a surprise. Maybe it shouldn’t have been, but there you go.

And, then it was Mom’s turn. She caught me off guard with the sheer force of her embrace. My ribs groaned at the strain of standing up against her strength. “Thank God you were here, Kevin! When I think about what those two bastards planned to do to my daughter…I almost feel like-” she broke off, her voice trembling with suppressed rage. It wasn’t hard for me to guess what she might’ve said. After all, I felt the same rage pulsing through me.

I didn’t sleep much that night; none of us did. My parents and I felt like we were keeping watch, and Grace just couldn’t rest. I was sitting up in bed, staring out my window when she slipped quietly into my room. I knew it was her without looking; the subtle scent of her favorite dusting powder and her lithe, deft movements gave it away. Grace settled quietly into my bed, and I gathered her in my arms. She settled herself comfortably against me, and I kissed the top of her head, all without a single word spoken between us. None were needed. After a few moments, she finally closed her eyes and drifted off into sleep.

That whole week after the Event, as we came to call it, was a flurry of activity. Grace and I went to class, by choice, believe it or not. My Mom and Dad changed all the locks in the house as well as the alarm code. There would no longer be a hide-a-key, he cautioned us. He also hired someone to fix the hole in the floor (and the corresponding hole in the first floor ceiling). I remember on Tuesday of that week, Dad approached me with an odd little smile as I walked into the house.

“Hold out your hand, Kevin!” My curiosity got the better of me, and I held my hand out as requested. He dropped a tiny, mangled piece of jagged metal into my palm. After a second of studying the tortured-looking piece of gold and gray metal, I realized this could only be the remains of the bullet I’d fired into the floor.

“The contractor pulled it out of a floor beam. I figured it would be an interesting souvenir,” Dad said, answering my unasked question. “If nothing else, it’ll make a great conversation piece, huh?” I had to laugh. I put the mangled projectile in my dresser. I had an idea for it, for later.

A little about my daily schedule: On Tuesdays and Thursdays I had my lab classes which tended to run late. Grace would always make it home before me on those days. Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays I tended to get home around 2pm and Grace was doing well if she made it before four. I’d had to schedule things that way in order to have time for homework and my job. That’s why it was a surprise to me when I came home Thursday of that week and saw Grace’s car wasn’t in the driveway.

As I walked into the house I noticed Mom in the kitchen, talking to another woman who had her back to the door. I closed the door and headed towards the stairs, but stopped when Mom called out to me. “Hey Sweetie, your girlfriend is here!” she said, brightly. She apparently didn’t notice my reaction as she continued merrily on. “I haven’t seen Kelly in a while, so we had a nice little chat while we waited for you. I’ll just head upstairs for a minute so you two can talk, alright?”

“Mom, I don’t-“

“Kevin, let’s talk out on the deck, okay?” Kelly said.

“No, thanks! What part of ‘I never want to see you again, you cheating whore’ did you not understand, Kelly?” I demanded.

“KEVIN MICHAEL RICHMOND!” my Mom thundered. “I DIDN’T RAISE YOU TO SPEAK LIKE THAT! WHAT HAS GOTTEN INTO YOU?”

“Maybe you should ask what’s gotten into her, Mother,” I said. I only called my Mom ‘Mother’ when I was really maltepe escort upset, and hearing this cut off further shouting from her. “How about it, there, Kelly?” I taunted. “Eat any good dicks lately? Everything going alright with your new fuck toy?”

“Kevin please, there’s no need to air our dirty laundry here-“

“Really? No need? Well, I think there’s a need. Clearly there were a few things you neglected to mention to my mother while you were ‘chatting,'” I said sarcastically, holding my fingers up to make little air quotes.

“Kevin, please, I love you, don’t-“

“You hear that, Mother? She loves me! Thank goodness! You know, I was worried for a few days. I was afraid I’d end up proposing to you, only to hear you tell me you couldn’t accept because you’d fallen in love with – and had fucked – another man you met a few days ago! Oh wait,” I paused dramatically, holding a hand up. “That’s exactly what happened! I spent the last six years being absolutely devoted to you! Hell, you even convinced me to save myself for you, making me the only 20-year-old virgin I know of! But you love me, so that means it’s all good between us. Water under the bridge, like Grandpa used to say. Right?”

I shook my head and sighed, dropping the sarcastically cheerful mien. “Kelly, if this is how you treat someone you love, I think I’d rather have you hate me, alright?”

I glared balefully at the erstwhile love of my life. Finally, I said, “Kelly, if you truly loved me, you wouldn’t have been ABLE to fall in love with anyone else, but that hardly matters now. If you didn’t want to be with me anymore, then the moral, honorable thing to do would have been to just tell me. Tell me honestly, to my face, and make it quick and clean. Then, after you officially ended the relationship with me, you could have sex with whoever appealed to you and no one could fault you for it.”

“That’s right, the correct sequence of events is: 1) break up with boyfriend, then 2) find another boyfriend. It still would have hurt – damn it would have hurt – but I wouldn’t have hated you. And, you still would’ve had my respect. But you got it backwards, Kelly. So here we are. By the way, since you won’t leave me alone, will you at least tell me what I did, or what it is about me that is so substandard, that the only way out for you was to have sex with another man?”

Kelly didn’t answer my question, not that I figured she would. My mother, though, was staring back and forth between the two us, slack-jawed with shock.

“What the hell are you doing here anyway?” I asked, when it became clear Kelly wasn’t going to give me what I wanted.

“I heard about what happened on the news. I had to hear it on the news, Kevin! You didn’t call me and tell me you were okay. Neither did Grace. The news said no one was killed, but there wasn’t a lot of details. I was concerned for you,” she said. To my surprise, I actually saw tears in her lovely green eyes.

Now I was just confused. Why in the hell would she be concerned about me? She flushed me away like used toilet paper, but she’s concerned about me? I confess, I didn’t see that one coming.

“Look Kevin, I know I could have handled the situation between us better,” she continued, when I failed to respond. “But you just have to understand, I love Grant now. It was love the second I looked into his eyes! He’s my soul mate! But I still care for you! Just because I don’t love you the same way I used to doesn’t mean I want to see you get hurt or killed!”

I managed to stop myself from telling her that she had to have a soul before she could have a soul mate, but it took a lot of willpower. I rolled my eyes and stared at the ceiling. This conversation was a lot like talking to a politician; we were talking in circles around each other. She either didn’t understand a single point I’d made, or she didn’t care. I don’t know which was the case and it didn’t matter anyway. Maybe the true fault was with me. Could I have been so smitten with her that I hadn’t seen her for what she really was? Was that possible? Was I really that stupid? For God’s sake, let’s just end this!

“Whatever. Kelly, as you can see, I’m fine. Grace is fine, though you’ll just have to take my word for that. Now that we’ve allayed your ‘concerns,’ please allow me to show you out.”

“That’s alright, Kevin, I know the way,” Kelly said softly. She left quietly, and I’ll give her this much: she showed at least a little dignity by departing without any tears or recriminations.

Mom closed the door behind her and came to sit with me at the table. “Where’s Grace?” I asked.

“She stopped in a little while ago, but left again. She said she was headed over to Crystal’s apartment.” Mom shook her head. “Now I realize she just didn’t want to be here with Kelly. I wish you had told me what happened, Kevin.”

“Aww, Mom, it doesn’t matter. Gracie’s situation was way more important. I don’t want you or Dad to mecidiyeköy escort be worried about me too,” I said dismissively.

“Her ‘situation,’ as you call it, was more important. But that doesn’t make yours unimportant, Kevin,” she said. “I wouldn’t have even let Kelly in the house if I’d known. I wonder why Grace didn’t say anything when she saw Kelly sitting here with me?”

“I know why,” I said, shaking my head and smiling slightly.

“Oh?” Mom said when I didn’t continue the thought.

“Gracie told me, the day after Kelly dumped me, that I needed to talk about it in order to work it out. I did talk about it a little with Grace, but I obviously still had some feelings to express, huh? This was Grace’s idea of a therapy session.” I gave a humorless chuckle, then shrugged. “Ironically though, Mom, I do feel better. Now that I’ve said to Kelly exactly what was on my mind, I feel…I don’t know, almost lighter, somehow. Does that make sense?”

Mom smiled and kissed me on the cheek. “It makes perfect sense to me, honey,” she said. “Gracie has always known you much better than you know yourself. You two have always been close. I’m just glad that, now that you’ve both grown up, you still continue to look after each other. It makes me feel much better about the future, knowing you’ll be there for each other.”

What am I going to do with that sneaky sister of mine, I thought to myself, as I climbed the steps to my room. Grace is a psych major, so I suppose I should expect things like this from her. She’ll make one hell of a therapist! I spent the next couple of hours buried in coursework. It barely registered with me that my door had opened and closed, before a pair of warm, feminine arms wrapped around me from behind.

“Hey, Gracie,” I said, as she tenderly kissed my cheek.

“Hey, Kev,” she said. I turned around, looked to be sure my bedroom door was firmly closed, and pulled her into my lap. Her body melted against mine, and we kissed each other gently. With one hand, I stroked her soft hair away from her face and cupped her cheek, inviting her to deepen the kiss. After a moment, I felt her mouth open and her tongue gently teased my lips.

I let my own tongue slide along hers, enjoying the intimacy of the moment. I felt my passion rising…along with my manhood, and knew I had to tone it down. Mom and Dad were home, after all, and then…well, there were still some questions I had to ask. The problem was that Gracie and I were so busy with class, homework, and everything else. It was almost impossible for us to get a private moment to talk. We desperately needed to talk. But for right this second, passion was in the drivers seat as I kissed the beautiful, loving, tender woman I was holding.

She gently ended the kiss and leaned back slightly, gazing into my eyes. “I love you, Gracie,” I whispered to her. “I love you with all of my heart.”

“I love you to, Kevin,” she whispered back. “Now and always, no matter what.”

I could smell a very faint odor that took a moment to identify, because I’d only smelled it once before: the scent of an aroused woman. I was both elated and unnerved. Elated, because this implied Grace was as attracted to me as I was to her. Unnerved, because I didn’t know how, or even if, I should move forward. I loved Grace with all my heart, as I’d just told her. I know she loves me too. Grace is more than just my sister.

She’s my best friend, confidant/confessor, exercise partner, and base of support. We take turns cooking for each other. I had possibly saved her life – for sure, I’d saved her from a horrible betrayal of trust, and probably rape too. She had rescued me from falling into a life of bitterness at my own hands. We complemented each other in so many ways. I had no doubt that if I needed Grace, she’d be there for me. Damn sure, I’d be there for her!

Now though, I wanted to explore more with Gracie. I wanted her to be my lover. There, I said it! I want her the way a man wants a woman! But if we went down that road, what happens to the other aspects of our relationship that are so vital to us? Can we continue to be all that we are to each other and be lovers as well? If we try and fail, what then? Even if we succeed, what kind of life could we live? Would we dare risk having a child? What about Mom and Dad? There were so many questions to ask, so many potential pitfalls to avoid. I hardly knew where to begin. I did know this: as Grace had said a moment ago, I loved her no matter what.

As usual, my beautiful Grace seemed to know what was going through my mind. She smiled at me, the love in her eyes clear to see. “There’s time, my dear, sweet Kevin,” she said softly. “Mom and Dad won’t be here forever; they have too much wanderlust for that! There’ll be time for us to talk, to decide together what we want, how we feel!” She leaned into me again and snuggled herself close. I hugged her tightly, savoring her warmth and closeness. nişantaşı escort “Do you work this weekend?”

“Yes, but only Saturday morning. That contract at the Hiller place is almost complete, and after that I’ll be free until the snow removal jobs start coming in.”

“Well then,” she began, smiling up at me, “How about we hit the trails again this weekend after you get off work? Then we can cool off in the creek!”

“Umm,” I said, and tipped her face to mine for another kiss. This one, while sweet and loving, was short. “That sounds like fun. So long as we take…precautions.”

Grace nodded, a little nervously this time. And I hated to admit it, there was good reason for nerves. Her former boyfriend Matt, was a slimy piece of shit, but he was the scion of a pretty wealthy family. My Mom and Dad had enough money to do as they please (within reason, of course), but they weren’t in the same league as the Segan family. Few people in our county were. I didn’t know Lance Forster’s (the well-muscled giant) family, but if he was well-acquainted with Matt Segan, his family was probably at least as well off as my own. With Matt’s resources, he’d been released from jail on his own recognizance almost as soon as bail was set. Lance didn’t spend any time in the big house to speak of, either.

The fact that the two conspirators were out on bail awaiting trial was one reason Mom and Dad were still here; maybe the biggest reason. They were enjoying traveling the country in their RV, but there was no way they’d ignore such a threat to their babies (even if the ‘babies’ in question were in college).

Dad’s attorney had helped us file for a restraining order against the pair, but we all knew it wouldn’t do much good. What was a restraining order, other than a piece of paper? It wouldn’t stop bad men from doing bad things, and everyone involved knew that. It was kind of like the lock on a car door. It kept an honest person honest, but would barely even slow a professional car thief down.

Of more value was the ‘Carry Concealed Weapon’ permit he had made Grace apply for (I couldn’t, because in Indiana you must be 21, and my birthday wasn’t until December), and the compact pistol he’d given her to go along with it. Grace had nothing against guns, especially considering her circumstances, but she didn’t enjoy shooting like I did. So, in order to help her get into it and improve her skills, I appealed to her naturally competitive nature. I challenged her on the shooting range, pushing her to work and improve, until she was scoring almost as well as I was.

So far, neither Matt nor Lance had bothered us. In fact, we hadn’t even seen them around town or campus. That didn’t cause either of us to relax our guard, though. This ride would be the first one we’d taken since this whole mess began, and I think we both needed it. But we had to remain mindful of potential dangers, too. There was no way in hell I’d let anything happen to Gracie; not while I still drew breath!

Though Grace wasn’t thrilled with the idea, I made sure Mom and Dad knew where we were going. I also made sure her friend Crystal knew. Mom and Dad didn’t offer to join us even though I could tell Dad wanted to. I suspect Mom’s hand was at work there. The odds were in our favor that nothing would happen, but you know how Murphy’s Law works: The one time you’re unprepared will be the one time something happens.

As we loaded our bikes and the cooler into Gracie’s Jeep, Mom and Dad watched nervously. They couldn’t help it, we knew. The drive was uneventful, and soon we were peddling down trail 4 again. It hadn’t gotten any less difficult than last time, but it appeared the extra time I’d spent on our treadmill had payed off; I wasn’t as far behind Grace as I’d been the last time!

I relaxed slightly, allowing myself to enjoy the moment. The mid-fall crispness in the air, the dappled sunlight that filtered through the tree branches, the ever brighter colors of the leaves…in all, it was a perfect fall day, made even better with the knowledge that I didn’t have to work the next day! Mainly, I was enjoying being with Grace. I watched her ride, strong and confident over the trail. This was her passion as the shooting sports were mine. She owned this, and it seemed as though nothing could touch her.

We made the circuit again and again. By the fifth time through, I was tired, but not completely out of gas. I could see Gracie looking back at me, gauging how much farther she could push me. In the end, she didn’t go for another turn through trail 4. Instead, as a sort of cool down, she lead me through the far less challenging trail 2. This one, while possessing its fair share of climbs and descents, did not have the sharp hairpin turns and dangerous switchbacks, nor did it have the narrow choke points that forced you to ride single file. I could get used to this!

We only made one trip through that trail, and then I followed Gracie back to the parking lot. By now, my muscles were starting to protest some. After I’d stowed the bikes, I looked for Grace in our usual spot, only to find that she’d slung her day pack on her shoulders and was waiting by the treeline.

“C’mon!” she said as I grabbed my own pack and the soft-sided cooler. “Let’s eat at the creek!”

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