I waited until her breathing evened out. It didn't take long. I knew she was exhausted. I tucked her in again and picked up the bowl and mug.

"Is she asleep?" Janine asked, running a brush through her hair.


"I wish I didn't have to go to work," she said, looking up the stairs sadly.

"Don't worry. I'll keep an eye on her," I promised. "Mom has to go in the office, too." I put the dishes in the sink and frowned. "Hey, Janine?"


"Deidre mentioned something about having to run when she was a kid," I said and Janine sighed, putting the brush on the kitchen counter. "What happened?"

She shook her head and looked at the clock. It was almost eight in the morning.

"I'm late. Let me know if she gets worse."

"I will," I muttered and watched her leave.

I went back into Deidre's room with some books and sat down at her desk. I read while she slept. I wanted to be right there in case she needed me.

Shortly after dinnertime, she woke up.

"Are you hungry?" I asked immediately but she shook her head.

"Is there some Sprite or water?"

"Yeah, of course. I'll be right back."

I got a bit of both. She was in the bathroom and I heard a ripping noise. I went a little pink but pretended I hadn't heard anything when she came back in, walking slowly. She climbed back into bed and sighed. I stared at her.

"This is much better than sleeping on the ground and a bench," she said, sitting up to drink a water bottle.

"I'm worried about you," I said.

"I know."

"No, you don't." I took my shoes off and sat at the other side of her bed, turning to face her and folding my legs. "I need to know what you meant earlier."

She toyed with the blanket. "Why now?"

"Because you don't trust me," I stated. "Don't try and deny it. It takes a lot for you to kiss me, I know it does. Shit, it takes a lot for me to hold your hand. What happened to you, Deidre?"

She looked out the window. She didn't answer for at least ten minutes but I sat patiently. I had a feeling she was gathering her thought and I didn't want to interrupt.

"Remember how I said my dad is a douche?" she whispered and I nodded, moving closer until our knees were touching. She winced but didn't move away. "When I was a kid... he would come home drunk. My mom was going to night school for business. Anyway, if I didn't have my homework and chores done by the time he got home, he'd...."

"Punish you?" I asked and she hesitated. She nodded. "He hit you?"

She looked down at her water bottle.

"No. He would...." She sighed and closed her eyes. A few tears fell out. "He'd make me touch him." My heart lurched and I felt like I was going to be sick. "It was small things at first. Then, one night, my mom had to stay at school late for a project. He was convinced she was really cheating on him. He was drunk again and wanted to get revenge. I.... I was asleep at first."

"Holy shit," I breathed.

"When-When he was done, he made me swear not to tell my mom. Each time she had to stay late, he'd do it again. One night, he hit me at the same time and I ran. He just laughed. I bumped into my mom. I was still naked. That's when she filed for divorce and called the cops...." She wiped her tears away and took a gulp of water. "Then, when I was 15, I thought I was in love." I nodded, remembering her mention that. "He did what all chasers do."

"God. I'm so sorry, Deidre," I groaned, pinching the bridge of my nose. "If I had known, I never would've kissed you."

"Hey," she whispered and I looked up. She held my hand and smiled weakly at me. "Don't do that. There's one more thing." I bit my lower lip, not sure if I wanted to hear what she was about to say. "It-It'll affect what we...." She cleared her throat. "When this kind of thing happens to a girl, there are two things that can come from it." She hesitated. "I don't want you to think badly of me."

"I never could," I said quickly, holding her other hand.

She took a deep breath. "She'll either become sexually active or sexually suppressed." She closed her eyes. "It's been nearly 15 years and I'm still not sure which I am."

I didn't know what to say so I opened my arms. She didn't seem to know what to do so I took her bottle and she leaned into my chest. I wrapped my arms around her tightly. She started to cry.

"I'm glad you told me," I whispered into her hair. "I'm very sorry you had to relive it."

"I'd have to tell you sooner or later," she sniffled.

She cried for a while. She didn't stop until her mom came in. Janine sighed heavily and pulled the desk chair over. Deidre leaned back, wiping her tears and taking the NyQuil.

"I've blamed myself for that for so long," she told me. "It took a while to accept that I couldn't control my ex-husband's actions. None of this, and I repeat none of this, is Deidre's fault."

"I know," I said quickly. "And I don't think it's your fault, either."

She closed her eyes so I reached over and held her hand, too. Then my mom came in. She could sense the sad atmosphere and joined us. The three women cried and I kissed Deidre's fingers. I got up and let them talk.


Deidre wasn't getting any better. It was starting to worry Janine.

"I want to take her to the doctor but we don't have the money," she sighed, rubbing her eyes.

My mom squeezed her shoulders. "We're family. We'll pay."

"No. It could cost a lot of money," Janine began but I cut her off.

"I'll call the doctor's office now," I said and got my phone out.

We set up an emergency appointment and Janine helped Deidre get dressed in warm clothing. Deidre still had trouble walking on her own. My mom had me drive. She wasn't comfortable driving on icy roads and Deidre sat in the back with her mom. She was pale and would cough periodically. It sounded incredibly painful.

Luckily, the office wasn't far. While they helped her to the waiting area, I signed her in. We sat and I bounced my leg. I hated doctors' offices after what happened with my dad. When they did call her back, my mom and I waited out in the waiting room while her mom took her in. I tried to read the magazine but I was too worried and my phone buzzed with a text from Larry.

How's our girl?

At the doctor's office now. I'll let you know.

I scrolled through Facebook just as I got another text. It was from Mike.

Party at my place tomorrow. You and Deidre down?

Can't. She's sick.

Damn. Hope she gets better.

I sighed and put my phone back in my pocket. My mom passed me a stick of gum but I rejected it. I coughed a couple time. The last few days had been exhausting both physically and emotionally. I rubbed my eyes and my mom noticed.

"When we get back to the house, sleep," she said and I nodded distractedly. "I'll take care of her."

An hour and a half later, they walked out. The look on Deidre's face told me it was bad news. My mom got up to pay the bill and Deidre sat beside me.

"I have pneumonia," she mumbled and I held her hand. "He prescribed a lot of medicine. He tested my mom and, before we leave, he wants to check you and your mom."


"I guess pneumonia can be contagious sometimes."

Two hours later, Deidre and I were at the pharmacy. My cough had picked up more.

"Damn it," I mumbled.

She nudged me gently. "We can be sickies together."

I chuckled as she leaned against me, closing her eyes. When our medicine was ready, our moms took us home. I rubbed the back of my neck.

"Do you- Eh, never mind."

She blushed. "Is there room for two?"

I smiled and nodded. We kept my bedroom door open, though, and our moms brought in soup for us as well as our medicine. I yawned and got under the covers, my eyes closing. In our sleep, our feverish bodies were drawn together and I woke briefly to find her in my arms. I smiled sleepily down at her before the medicine pulled me back down into sleep.

The End

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