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Authors: Eva Márquez

Sweetest Taboo

BOOK: Sweetest Taboo
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Sweetest Taboo © 2012 Terra-Mía Press

All Rights Reserved

eISBN: 9781478136811

To a young soul who left this world

far too soon and whose beauty and spirit

touched and inspired those who knew her
.

Table of Contents

Preface

Chapter One: Careless Whisper

Chapter Two: It’s Raining Men, Hallelujah!

Chapter Three: Is it a Crime?

Chapter Four: Sowing the Seeds of Love

Chapter Five: Sweetest Taboo

Chapter Six: More than Words

Chapter Seven: Friday, I’m in Love

Chapter Eight: Winds of Change

Chapter Nine: It Ain’t Over ’til It’s Over

Chapter Ten: No More “I Love You’s”

Chapter Eleven: I’ll Stand by You

Chapter Twelve: Better Be Home Soon

Chapter Thirteen: Believe

Chapter Fourteen: Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad?

Chapter Fifteen: Losing My Religion

Chapter Sixteen: Come What May

Chapter Seventeen: No Ordinary Love

Chapter Eighteen: Sweet Surrender

Chapter Nineteen: Into Temptation

Chapter Twenty: Just Like Heaven

Chapter Twenty-One: It’s the End of the World as We Know It

Chapter Twenty-Two: With or Without You

Chapter Twenty-Three: Please, Please Tell Me Why?

Chapter Twenty-Four: You Were Meant for Me

Epilogue

Preface

Dear Reader,

My story begins in the early 90s, when a young girl started her high school career. She may have been any girl – young, impressionable, and fresh into the wide world of older boys, harder classes, and more choices. She may have been quite beautiful, well developed for her age, and smarter than most of the other students in her class. She may have been destined for the same high school career as anyone else – honors courses, braces, a few high school crushes, photography classes, a first kiss, and then a straight shot into the college of her choice, and her future as a doctor, or teacher, or architect.

Instead, she fell in love with her swim coach, one of the most popular teachers in the school, and became romantically involved with him.

I don’t believe that I have to tell you how dangerous this would have been. She was a young girl of 15, 16, 17 and he an adult man in his late 30s, old enough to be her father. Although this type of relationship would have passed as acceptable and even normal in Medieval England, the modern world frowns on such dalliances, and prosecutes the men – and women – who take advantage of adolescent students in this way. The two of them, then, would have been facing the threat of discovery, tarnishing of reputation, and even time behind bars; throwing their relationship in the face of society, if you will, but doing so quietly, in order to avoid detection.

Have you guessed, yet, that the story I’m telling you is true? Have you guessed that it’s more than just a rhetorical question, more than an idea that developed in my head one day?

The girl in the story is my mother, Isabel Cruz. She never told her story to the world, though she could have, because she didn’t want her love and relationship to be tainted by society’s judgments. This was a story of an illicit – and illegal – love. It was a story of lying, cheating, and misleading the authorities. My mother’s love for this older man was forbidden, and would have been highly scandalous to the world at large. She might have lost privileges, opportunities, and even her family, had they found out. And for him … his future and very life would have been put in jeopardy if the nature of their relationship were revealed, regardless of whether my mother sought to prosecute him or not. Even when she was older, my mother feared that the truth about their relationship might bring a backlash to the man she had loved so dearly. She fought against that with all her might, with the ongoing wish to keep him from any risk or pain. She never lost her love for him, scandalous as it may have seemed to others.

She is older, now, and the man in the story is long gone. When I happened across her diary from that time and asked her permission to write the story, she acquiesced. It was time that the world knew, she said, so it could see that this type of love – though it may be frowned upon, and even prosecuted – isn’t always what it seems. Sometimes, regardless of the ages of the participants, it is just that. Love. True and pure as it can be between two people, and strong enough to last through the years. It was time, she said, for our family to know its past, and its future.

I have just closed her diary, having squeezed every word from it, and written my own last words, which means that the book is done and her story has been told. I must pass it to you now, Reader, and trust you to hold it dear and keep it safe. I must trust you to see the love that shines through, rather than the social mores of the situation. I must trust you to care for my mother and her past, as I have during the writing of this book.

This, then, is my mother’s story. It starts when she was very young, only 15 …

~ Claire Stevens

Chapter One

Careless Whisper

B
y my calculations, I had seven minutes. I had to make my move right now, or it would be too late.

I strained my ears and listened for my brother’s deep voice whispering down the hall. He always ended the conversations with his girlfriend with a “good night” and “I love you.” But there was nothing. Silence. I frowned. I knew my parents were already asleep; I could no longer hear their pillow talk – the steady murmurs that used to comfort me when I was a kid – from the other side of the wall. At least that meant I was safe to go looking.

I left my bedroom and crept down the empty hall, but didn’t find my brother. I moved through the house stealthily, switching off the ringers to all three telephones. I went first to my mom’s office, next in the kitchen, and finally to the living room, where I found the cordless phone’s cradle empty. I switched the ringer off quietly, then looked around the room.

Tony still had the cordless phone. He usually returned it to its cradle after he said goodnight to Amy. What was he doing? Was he expecting another call? Was he keeping the phone out of spite? I gulped down my frustration and fear. He could ruin everything. Worse, he could catch me and turn me in. I thought I still had about five minutes to find the phone and get outside, though.

I crept barefoot down the hallway, a cold chill running down my back. Tony’s bedroom door was ajar, the flickering lights of the TV slanting into the darkened hallway from his room. I tiptoed toward the door and peered through the gap.

I was relieved at what I saw. My brother had fallen asleep with the TV on and the phone in hand. The idiot. Tonight, of all nights. I sucked in a deep breath, stretched out my hand, and pushed the door open. The hinge let out a slight creak and I froze. The loud groans of our old house were the last thing I needed right now. I waited until the door stopped moving, and listened intently for any other sound. Nothing. No one was awake but me.

I held my breath, pushed the door a little wider, and slipped into the room. The carpet was thick under my feet, cushioning my quiet footsteps as I padded closer to my brother’s sleeping form, while my nerves fired with every step. I was terrified of being caught, but I needed that phone like I needed to breathe. I held my breath and reached out slowly, pulling the phone from Tony’s hand.

Tony stirred, mumbled something, and turned over with a grunt.

I didn’t breathe again until I was out of the room and rushing toward the kitchen. I glanced at the clock as I passed and exhaled; three minutes to spare. I crept across the living room, the phone held tightly in my fist, and took a wide path around the coffee table. The last thing I needed right now was to crash into something and wake the whole house. Luckily, the full moon’s warm light shone through the mini blinds in the living room, casting a glow across everything in the room.

I turned the brass knob on the kitchen door with a light touch and tiptoed out to the patio. The phone would ring any minute. I swung the door almost shut behind me, but left it slightly ajar; as to not make any noise when I went back inside. The night air surrounded me, invigorating me with its touch and promise of dark corners and secrets. The wind blew through my hair on its way to the gigantic maple tree at the far end of our backyard, where it rushed across the dry leaves. This was good – the sound of the leaves would conceal the sound of my voice. I sat cross-legged on the cool patio floor, and wondered nervously if the buzz of the cordless phone would wake anyone inside. It never had before, but there was a first time for everything.

This wasn’t the first night I’d sat barefoot on the patio, cordless phone in hand. I’d sat out here like this many nights, and it always made me feel … alive. Even with the dim light of the full moon, the other side of our yard was dark. Mysterious. Full of possibility. Of course I knew that during the day there was a fence there to keep the neighbor’s horses out and our little terrier in. At night, though, in the dark, the whole world seemed somehow larger.

The cool spring breeze found its way under my long hair and I wished that I was wearing my favorite flannel shirt instead of the fitted pink tank top I had on. I shivered, staring at the darkness of our yard, and thought suddenly of the rapist and murderer who had terrorized our community when I was younger. My father had put special locks on our doors and windows, and no young girls had been allowed out after dark. I had been too young to really understand, but it had left a lingering mark. How did I know there wasn’t some nutcase just over the fence, waiting for a moment like this, when he could to jump out and assault a seventeen-year-old girl in her tank top and shorts?

The phone vibrated suddenly and my heart jumped, startling me out of my morbid thoughts. I pressed the green
Talk
button on the phone, a lump forming in my throat.

“Tom?” I asked in a hoarse whisper, my stomach full of butterflies. It was still a little strange to call him by his first name, even after all these years. Especially when everyone else at Royal Oaks High called him “Mr. Stevens.”

“Isabel,” came the familiar voice. “How are you?” His voice was gentle and deep. It soothed me instantly, the same way it had when I was fifteen. There was an edge to his voice tonight, though, and I sensed that there was something bothering him.

“Is something wrong?” I asked. I didn’t want to admit that I already knew exactly what it was; my high school graduation was coming up. It would bring an end to our current arrangement. We hadn’t talked about our future yet, but I had known that it was coming.

After a few pensive moments, Tom spoke.

“You’re my sweetheart,” he told me, his voice sad. “I can’t imagine life without you. I don’t want to have to imagine life without you.”

Tom rarely used terms of endearment with me, these days. When he did – in these rare moments when he called me his sweetheart – my heart melted. All of the turmoil, the sleepless nights, the protracted nature of our relationship, became nothing more than a passing inconvenience and very worthwhile. Tonight, though, I knew that the word came with drawbacks. They gave me the courage I needed to say the words I’d been dreading.

“My graduation won’t affect our relationship, you know that,” I told him. “Look at how much we’ve been through together. If we made it through all of that, we can make it through anything. Tom, I want to be with you always, no matter where life takes me after graduation.”

I spoke passionately, fully believing in what I said. I was absolutely devoted to this man. But somewhere deep inside, I knew I was being dishonest. Neither of us wanted our relationship to change, but it was clear that things
were
going to change, and soon. I had just been offered a place at a small, private liberal arts college on the East Coast. The choice had been difficult because although I wanted to stay close to Tom, I also wanted to move forward with my life. In the end, I accepted the offer. Tom hadn’t really reacted when I told him. It hadn’t affected our relationship. Now, though, the cracks were starting to show.

“I want to believe that,” Tom answered quietly. “I loved the last letter you wrote me. Every time I read your letters, I feel like I’m sixteen again. I feel like I’ve come out of a deep sleep.” A pause, and then, “I can’t lose you, Isabel. You’re the reason I wake up in the morning; I can’t love anyone more than I love–”

Suddenly I heard a distinct
click
on the line. My heart plummeted.

“Did you hear that?” Tom snapped, his tone suddenly terse. “Did someone pick up the phone at your house?”

“Hold on a minute, let me check inside.” I slipped back inside and listened, but the house was completely quiet. The kitchen phone was on the counter, my mom’s office was dark, and I was holding the only other phone in the house.

BOOK: Sweetest Taboo
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ads

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