One of my favorites…
Julie was at a party with her sorority sisters and she was getting increasingly uncomfortable. It had always been a little challenging being one of the only girls who didn’t drink. They didn’t really hassle her and most respected her choice. The problem was that they had gone to another sorority house and things had gotten bad. Some of the people Julie didn’t know were doing drugs and she wanted nothing to do with that. She had texted Bill to come and pick her up, knowing he was sleeping after a long shift at the precinct, but he would come. She also knew he would be worried, but she had walked with her roommate Taylor and she didn’t feel safe walking back. It had been a few months since she was stabbed and although she was completely healed, being outside walking late wasn’t something she wanted to do. She went to get Taylor and leave, when she saw her friend being led away by an older guy.
“Tay, hey, what’s going on?” Julie walked towards them. She didn’t like how the guy was holding Taylor’s arm.
“We have to go, don’t we?” Taylor said, her eyes filled with tears.
Julie picked up on her fear. “Yes, we have an early class tomorrow.”
“I’ll get her home, don’t worry,” the guy said and looked Julie up and down.
“No, I’ll get her home, thanks,” Julie walked over to her and took Taylor’s hand. “Come on, let’s go.”
“I said I’ve got it, and I do,” he said angrily at Julie. He looked at Taylor. “Tell your mom to leave us alone.”
“I think I should go, so let go of me,” Taylor said.
“You know what? Maybe I’ll play with both of you, what do you think about that?” he reached out and touched Julie’s face. She smacked him and he grabbed her arm. “You bitch.”
She felt her eyes fill with tears as his fingers dug into her flesh. He let go of Taylor and she ran to get help. “You’re with that Army guy, aren’t you? Apparently you don’t know how to take orders. I think you need to be taught a lesson.”
She looked at him and her eyes were angry, although her body trembled with fear. “Who talks like that? Do you really think the best way to get your point across is to bully people? What are you going to do? Force yourself on me?”
He pushed her against the wall and she kicked him hard. He came at her and she cowered on the floor when the man was thrown across the room. Julie looked up and saw Bill go after him. She was frozen as she watched him.
Bill fought with the guy and overpowered him quickly. He punched him again when a police officer pulled him off. “Did you lay a hand on my girlfriend?” he went after him again and the cop held him back. “Do you think that was a good idea?”
The guy cowered under Bill’s glare and they waited another minute before one of Bill’s officer friends came and took him out, the other cop following. Bill turned to go to Julie who was still shaking. “Hey, are you okay? Did he hurt you?”
She shook her head and launched herself into his arms. He held her and she cried. He could take anything, but her tears killed him. He pulled back and held her face in his hands. “Please tell me if you’re hurt. Do you need to go to the hospital?”
“No,” she finally spoke. “I just want to go home,” she looked afraid. “Where is Taylor? She was so scared.”
“She went with your sisters. She is okay. I need to make sure you’re okay, Jules. You really scared me,” he pulled her to him again, his voice strained.
“I know. I’m sorry. Can you take me out of here?”
“Of course,” he put his arm around her and they left.
“I could have gone back to Tommy’s place or my dorm. I know you must be tired after your double shift,” Julie paced around the main room in Bill’s apartment. He hadn’t said much since they left and she was realizing the extent of the danger she had been put in. She was feeling terrible and he was acting strangely. She wondered if he was mad at her.
Bill looked at her and sighed. “I need to change, I’ll be back.”
“I’m going to call Tommy to come get me,” she said and went to pick up her phone but she dropped it on the floor, the battery falling out. “Shit,” she reached down to pick up the pieces.
Bill walked over to her and knelt down, taking her hands in his. “Do you want to leave?”
She looked at him and her tears spilled down her cheeks. “You seem angry with me and I’m sure I deserve it, but I’m feeling really badly about tonight and I’m freaked out and I don’t want to be here if you don’t want to talk to me. I don’t want to feel like I’m not wanted, and it’s fine if that’s how you feel, but I need to go.”
He looked at her and wiped her tears away. “He could have really hurt you. I don’t know what I would have done if he touched you in that way. I can’t talk to you because I can’t imagine what would have happened if I didn’t get your message. I think of all you went through with being stabbed and getting over your fears and tonight was like it was happening again. When I saw Taylor and she said the guy was going to rape her but you stopped him and now you were stuck with him, I couldn’t breathe. I love you so much.”
She moved to hug him and crawled into his lap, hugging his neck and sobbing into his chest. He held her to him and felt his own eyes wet. He kissed her head and they sat there for a while before she backed away and wiped her face. “I’m so sorry; I don’t know what I was thinking. It’s just that when I saw that guy dragging her to the room, I had to do something. I just acted. I didn’t think, Bill. I’m sorry.”
He shook his head, still holding her. “That’s why I love you so much, Jules. You always think with your heart. I’m glad you couldn’t leave her, but you have to know how dangerous that was. Maybe you should carry some mace or pepper spray?”
She nuzzled his chest and he wrapped his arms around her. “I’ll do whatever you want. I love you and I can’t take it if you’re angry with me.”
He tilted her face to his and smiled. “I’m not angry with you. I was scared. I could have killed him.”
“He deserved it.”
He stood up and paced. “I can never get that angry.”
This was new. Julie felt something big was underlying his anger. “What do you mean?”
He shook his head. “Nothing, it doesn’t matter.”
She crossed her arm and winced at the bruise on her flesh. His face showed his pain at her injury. “What’s going through your mind?”
“I can’t let myself get that angry, about anything.”
He looked at her and shrugged, “Maybe it’s best you know this about me before we get in too deep.”
“Know what? What are you talking about?” she walked to face him.
“I grew up with an asshole for a father. It’s probably only a matter of time before I turn into him.”
Julie was shocked. She had never heard him talk about his parents and this was not something she expected him to say. “Why would you turn into him? You are your own man and I love you. How could you think that would change?”
He exhaled and looked at her. “My dad is a violent man and it’s what I know. I figure it will come out eventually. Tonight, when I saw that guy on you, I could have killed him. That’s something my father would have done. He hits first and asks questions later. I have worked my whole life to never be like that, but it’s obvious to me, now, that I can’t escape it.”
Whoa, this was huge, and Julie knew it. She took his face in her hands and looked into his eyes, “That isn’t true.”
He sighed, “Yes it is.”
“Does your dad hit you?”
Bill blinked and then looked away. “When I deserve it.”
She shook her head. “You never deserve to be hit.”
His eyes filled with tears. “That’s the point. I went after that guy tonight and beat him up. I don’t do that, Julie. I don’t use my fists.”
She smiled. “He was going to hurt me. You didn’t walk into a room and have a discussion or even get angry at what someone said and start punching him. You walked in on someone hurting me. I would expect nothing less than you wanting to kill him. If I saw what you did, I would want to kick the shit out of that person, too. Bill, do you remember what you told me when you taught me to shoot?”
He swallowed the lump in his throat. “You shoot to stop the threat.”
“Do you have your gun on you?”
“You didn’t shoot him. You used the lesser way to stop the threat and you did just that,” she took his hand in hers and kissed his fingers. “You’ve never told me about your parents.”
“There’s nothing to tell. My dad beat me and my mom is a drunk. They are both still alive and your parents, who were wonderful and loving are both gone. It doesn’t seem fair.”
“One thing has nothing to do with the other. I’m sorry you haven’t felt comfortable telling me about them. Did you think I would be turned off by that?” she stroked his face.
He moved her hands away and turned to pace. She watched him and after a minute, he turned to her. “Maybe. You look at me with such love, Jules, such respect. I don’t ever want that to go away,” he said and blushed.
She sighed and shook her head, “You think I look at you that way because I think you’re perfect?”
“Well not perfect I guess, but I don’t want you to worry,” he said and then stopped.
“Worry about what?” she needed him to say it.
“That I will become like him. That I will be a bad father. That I would ever lay a hand on you,” he spoke in a whisper, like he couldn’t handle saying the words aloud.
She adored how he thought of her and children. It meant so much that he was as in love with her as she was with him. “Let me tell you a couple of things,” she walked back to him and led him to the couch where they sat down. “I know who you are. I don’t question anything about your character or your integrity because I know what’s inside. You have treated me with nothing but respect from the moment you first spoke to me. You have held me through my tears and comforted me when I needed you. You make me laugh and you seem to like my incessant need to always talk. You’re genuinely happy when I’m happy and you truly seem to love me in spite of my issues. You are your own man, Bill, apart from your parents and I love that man with everything I am.”
She reached up and wiped his wet cheek. “The second thing I believe you already know about me, is that I would never be with someone who I was afraid of. Of all the things I have felt when with you, fear of you laying a hand on me has never been one of them. The only thing I feel when I look at you is love and desire and respect. You never have to worry about who you are or who you will become, because both of those things are simply amazing,” she stroked his cheek and he lowered his face to hers. “I love you,” she whispered before he closed his mouth over hers.
He held her tightly and kissed her deeply. “I love you, too. Thank you.”
They were quiet for a minute and he rubbed her back. “Do you want me to take you home?”
She looked into his eyes and saw the pain and fear still there a little. “I am home.”
He traced a line across her lips and smiled. “I love the sound of that.”