Authors: ML Ross
a strong girl, Amy. You may not see it right now, but I do. What
kept you going?”
think about that for a moment. I never considered myself a strong person.
I just did what I could to get through each day.
read a lot. Got lost in the characters and the stories. I also used to
write everything in a journal and I think it really helped me. I would
write about my hopes and dreams. It was like my own therapy, you know?
My mother didn’t like what I wrote so she burned it.” I choke back
those negative memories. “Anyway, I don’t want to talk about it, so tell
me about your normal childhood.”
pops a grape in his mouth and my eyes drift right to his lips as he chews. I’m
jealous of those lips. They look slightly swollen. Any girl would
die to have them, or have them on her.
see. I grew up on the ranch with my dad and Laney. Laney’s married
to a surgeon and has a three-old named Daisy. She’s absolutely adorable.
You’re going to love her. My mom left when we were little to live
in the city. The big city, actually. She’s in New York. Laney
went to live with her for a little while, but then missed the ranch and came
back until she went to school in Denver. She met Caiden at school, they
got married and they chose to stay in Denver. My dad likes to write so he
travels to Denver for business now and then. That’s where he is now.
He writes books about ranching. You’ll like him. He’s really
cool. Not much else to tell.”
you talk to your mom?”
Yeah. Not often. She calls every once in a while to catch up.
I’m not mean to her, but I’m still angry. I was only six when she
left. Laney was ten and needed her. My dad had no idea how to raise
two kids on his own, especially a ten year old girl. It was a really hard
time. I tried to be there for Laney and my dad. I didn’t want
anything to do with my mom for a long time. Laney visits her all the
time. She wants Daisy to have a relationship with her grandmother. Anyway,
we got through it and my dad was great. He stepped up and made sure we
didn’t feel like we were missing anything. Laney took dance classes.
He baked cupcakes with her. I played barbies with her and talked to
her about boys.” He laughs.
were probably the cutest little kid.” I try to picture a small toothless
Dillon playing barbies with his big sister and it makes me smile.
was a quiet kid. Kept to myself. I didn’t have many friends.
I got along better with the horses.” He laughs and shrugs his
like you were a great brother.”
well, Laney is four years older than me and she is all girl. She is a
very social person whereas I am not. So, we didn’t really fight but we
didn’t hang out either. She would bring her friends over and they would
do their giggling and I spent all of my time working the ranch with my dad.
Am I boring you yet?” He looks up at me, squinting in the sunlight.
I’m watching him chew on another grape and every once in a while, some of
the juice will escape his mouth and his tongue darts out to lick his lip.
I can watch that all day.
Not at all.” I bet all of Laney’s girlfriends had crushes on Dillon
even though he was younger. How could they not. “Did you have a lot of
None actually.” He sucks his plump bottom lip into his mouth and I
can tell he’s thinking. “Well, in college I met this girl. Her name
is Candice. I don’t consider her my girlfriend though.”
I didn’t mean to be nosy. I was just curious. I saw you with her.
I saw you there that day. Candice and I …..it’s hard to explain. I
met her at my first college party about three years ago. We had a lot to
drink and things happened. We’ve kind of been together since but…..it’s
kind of complicated.”
I fiddle with my hands; unable to look at him. I want to ask him if he
loves her. If he plans to marry her one day. I can literally feel
my heart breaking. I need to change the topic.
that’s what happens at college parties? You get drunk and have sex?”
He looks a little surprised by my bluntness. “Your sister’s books
are mostly about college kids.” I laugh.
well, you’re right, that about sums it up.”
never had alcohol….or sex.” I say as I pick at the lint on the blanket.
I can’t believe I just said that out loud.
you’re not missing much. I mean, as far as college parties go.” There is
an awkward silence.
else do you like to do besides work? Do you like to watch TV or go to the
Candice watches a bunch of shit on TV. Reality TV, it’s called.
They film real people and their lives. It’s not my thing. I’m
simple. I like to ride the horses. I go fishing sometimes or
four-wheeling. I like the outdoors. Most of all, I love just relaxing by
the lake after a long day of work watching the sunset.”
if we stick around for another thirty minutes, we’ll see it. This is a
great spot too. You’ll see it go down right behind those mountains,” he
says, pointing to the horizon. The sky is already turning several shades
of orange. “Do you listen to music?”
had a radio but my mom didn’t like it. I guess she thought we’d get
brainwashed by some cryptic messages in the music.” I laugh but I’m dead
brought my iPod.” He pulls out this little device from his pocket.
“It plays music through these earpieces. You want to listen? My
sister likes Maroon 5. I’ll play you a song.” He fidgets with it
for a minute and then scoots really close to me and places one of the speakers
in my ear.
you go to dances at school?” I turn my head to look at him but our faces
are too close, I have to turn away.
I can’t dance,” he replies.
or dance? You answered dance.”
He laughs. “I had to think about that one but I’m a much better
dancer than a singer so I went with dance.”
always wondered what it would be like to have a boy ask me to dance at prom,” I
accidentally say out loud. Again.
He pauses. “So, bear with me a minute okay?” He gives
me both speakers and stands. I watch him walk a few feet away and pluck a
purple flower from the ground. I feel absolutely giddy and can’t hold back my
smile. He stands in front of me with his hand out to me. I give him
my hand and he pulls me to my feet in front of him.
Will you dance with me?”
nod my head as he slides the flower into my hair. “I don’t know how to
okay,” he says glancing all around us. “No one’s looking.” He
smiles down at me, his dimples prominent.
places his hands loosely on my hips and I put mine on his shoulders. He
doesn’t pull me close. There is a good six inches of space between our
bodies, but I’m still shaking with nerves. We awkwardly scoot around the
grass laughing at ourselves. I’ve never laughed like this. Ever. I
feel like I’m dreaming. He twirls me around and we stumble all over and
then we start to belt out the lyrics to the songs on his iPod, which he admits
are all songs Laney put on there for him, so we have no idea what we’re
singing. Our words are probably so wrong, but we sing them to the tune
can call me green bean, and baby I’ll rule, I’ll rule, I’ll rule. Let me
live that fantasy
!” We scream with laughter.
dance and laugh and sing until the entire sky is covered in dark shades of
orange and red, like the flames of a blazing fire. It’s the most
beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.
or ice cream?”
haven’t had either.”
then, you’re having both. We have to eat until we feel sick. That’s
what movies and junk food nights are about. We need to do this at least
once a week.”
told me I could pick out any movie from Laney’s stash and he’d watch it with
me. When I brought down
, he rolled his eyes.
I’m not sure why. Laney told me it was her favorite movie.
She has the book too.
pops popcorn, pouring it all into one huge bowl and then he smothers it with
salt and butter. I help him spoon heaping scoops of vanilla ice cream into a
couple of bowls and then we top them with hot fudge and whipped cream. We
sit by side on the couch, with the popcorn between us and the ice cream bowls
on our laps, and proceed to stuff ourselves. We alternate, one handful of
popcorn and then one spoonful of ice cream and so on. Dillon even
sprinkles popcorn on top of his ice cream and claims it’s the best thing ever,
so of course I have to try it too. We eat until we’re both moaning and
holding our bellies.
what do you think?”
God. I’m so full. I couldn’t stop. It was so good.”
get comfortable.” He moves the popcorn bowl and puts a pillow there
instead, next to his lap. He pats the pillow, encouraging me to lay down,
so I lay on the couch with my head on the pillow and my legs stretched out.
He keeps his arm stretched on the back of the couch, but the entire time,
I’m wishing he would put his arm around me.
through the movie, I cannot stop crying. Dillon just laughs and shakes
his head at me and hands me tissues. “I’ve seen this movie no less than
twenty times with Laney and she cries like that every single time.” He
moves his arm down from the back of the couch and barely, just barely draws
circles on my shoulder with his finger. Every once in a while I feel him
twirl his finger in my hair.
haven’t been touched like this in years. Probably before I turned eight,
when my mother was taking her medications on a regular basis. I remember
her running her fingers through my hair and rubbing my back when I wasn’t
feeling well or if I was upset. At some point, she just stopped touching me.
His touch brings me comfort. It soothes me.
day starts to catch up to me and my eyes start to burn from my tears.
With each blink, it becomes harder and harder to keep them open.
They become so heavy that they begin to close and my body just melts into
the couch. I haven’t slept for days and I just can’t stay awake any
longer. I feel myself dozing and then all of a sudden I’m back at that
cowered in the corner of the bathroom. My mother has my hair in one hand
and scissors in the other.
you look like a whore. Do you know what this is good for?” She
pulls hard on my hard. “It’s so that they can hold onto it to keep you
mother, please,” I beg.
please.” I hear his voice mocking me. It’s not my mother anymore.
It’s the faceless skinny man in the suit. I’m all of a sudden in my
mother’s bedroom, bent over her bed with my face pushed into the mattress.
I see her. She’s in the closet. She can’t help me. He
kicks my legs apart and yanks on my long hair.
he’s shaking me. “NO!” I kick hard and hear a loud grunt. I
force my eyes open and see Dillon bent over holding himself. His face is
all red. Oh God.
sorry! Oh God, I’m so sorry.” I hold my hands over my mouth, my
body still shaking from my nightmare.
okay. Are you? Are you okay?” His voice is still straining,
even though he’s trying to disguise his pain. He comes toward me, I’m
assuming to comfort me, and I want him to so badly, but my body language must
tell him different because he stops. I’m still coiled on the couch,
wrapped around myself protectively.
okay.” I really don’t want him to ask me about it and he doesn’t. I
can tell he wants to, but instead he distracts me, as always.
missed the end of the movie. It was really sad,” he says sarcastically while
standing in front of me with his thumbs in his front pockets.
nod my head, still feeling bad for hurting him.
okay Amy,” he says to reassure me.
nod. “I’m sorry.” I don’t know what else to say. “I’m really
sister is coming early tomorrow. You should get some sleep. She’s
really excited to spend the day with you.”
I am too. Thanks Dillon. For everything.”
glad you had fun. I want you to feel comfortable with me. If
there’s anything you ever need, just let me know.”
need him to hold me. I want him to hold me again so bad. I stand
from the couch and start towards the stairs but, I really don’t want to be
alone, so I turn back to him.
you sit with me again?”
doesn’t say a word. He just follows me up the stairs and lets me curl up
in the blanket and then sits next to me on the bed.
can lay down. You don’t have to sit.”
lowers his body onto the bed and lays facing me. Our bodies are so close.
He reaches over and uses one finger to move a strand of hair off of my
face. The touch causes my eyes to flutter closed.
Amy. You don’t have to be afraid. I’ll be right here.”
do. I sleep straight through the rest of the night and get a solid five
hours of sleep. I haven’t slept for that long in years. I wasn’t
afraid. I felt protected and at peace with him next to me.
awaken early in the morning to a horrible sound in my ear that is a combination
of whistling and humming. I feel a blanket of warmth against my back.
I slowly blink my eyes open and let them adjust to the sunlight
filling the room. Dillon is holding me. His body is pressed against my
back, his face against my neck, his hand draped over my hip, resting on my bare
skin where my shirt has ridden up. My stomach tightens and a soft sigh
escapes my lips. I hold myself completely still and close my eyes,
absorbing the sensations of his touch and his body pressed against me.
morning,” he says in his sleepy voice. I feel his warm breath tickling my
ear as he talks. His hand gently squeezes my hip.
I barely squeak out.
feel him harden behind me, against my ass. I have a strong desire to push
myself into him, but instead I squeeze my thighs together to squelch the need.
He finally pulls away from me and I let out all the air my lungs were
did you sleep?” he asks as he jumps off the bed.
turn to him and can’t help where my eyes immediately fall. His sleep
pants are tented. It’s a big tent.
good. I slept really good.” When I tear my gaze away from his pants and
look back up at him, he has a glimmer in his eyes and he’s holding back a