Rianne couldn’t believe how lucky she was. The way he made her feel was completely unparalleled. When they reached the cars he led the way to her’s. As she went to get her keys from her pocket, she felt his hand swat hers away. Momentarily confused, she just stared at him. "What are you doing?" Going into the back pocket of her jeans, he fished out her keys. Then he handed them over to her, grinning like an idiot. She laughed as he dropped the keys into her palm.
She barely caught his nod as she started opening the door. Rianne popped the trunk and grabbed her bag. Even in the semi-dark she could make out the bulky light blue duffel. Slinging it over her shoulder, she closed the trunk and locked the doors again. She took Aiden's outstretched hand, slowly falling into step next to him. When he reached for her bag, she moved it away. "I got it."
Aiden's car was parked halfway down the street. Though she knew the sooner they got to his house the sooner she would be able to take a shower and eat, she didn’t want to rush over there. She just wanted to spend time with Aiden. At the thought of food her stomach growled. In the fuss of getting away from Tony, she had forgotten to eat. Luckily, Aiden didn't hear it. While they were alone, she felt as ease, like everything was the way it should be.
Finally reaching his car, they let go of hands as she went one way and he went the other. Sitting in the passenger seat she laid her bag at her feet, and patiently waited for Aiden to start the car. Neither one spoke as they drove off. Rianne kept her head leaned against the glass deep in thought, as Aiden kept his steady on the road. They were almost at his house when she looked over and noticed Aiden's hand was on the console between their seats. She lifted her own hand and placed it atop his.
"Thank you." She said smiling.
As the confused look on his face began to disappear, she squeezed his hand. "It really means alot to me."
"Well you deserve it babe."
"Babe?" She laughed. "Where'd that come from?"
"The fact that you'll love me one day."
I already do.
The mock-serious face he gave her made them both laugh. Before she knew it they had reached his house.
A few seconds after the car pulled to a complete stop, Rianne grabbed her bag and left the car. She leaned back against its door until Aiden came around to her side. Before he could slow his pace she stood straight and together towards the front door.
They were a few feet away when the door opened on its own accord. "Rianne!" Mrs. T shouted. From the light on the porch Rianne could see she had her arms outstretched.
"Hi Mrs. T." She gave her a hug and kissed her cheek as she passed her. "Thank you for having me tonight."
She led them into the hallway. Stopping at the stairs she said, "Dinner's on the table you two, help yourselves. And by the way Rianne, honey, it’s no problem. We love having you here."
The "thank you" and "yes ma'am" came in unison.
Together they walked into the kitchen trying to figure out through smell what the food could be. Whatever it is, it smells great. When they saw the food on the table they realized they were half right. Instead of chicken and pasta it was meat and pasta. At the sight of food her stomach growled again. This time it was louder than last.
“Eat.” Aiden pulled out a chair and half pushed it her into it, even though she didn’t need the help.
Rianne gratefully sank into the cushioned wood. The plate in front of her was completely filled. Sauce covered every inch, drenching both the pasta and the meat. The first bite proved the sauce was Mrs. T’s homemade recipe. Everyone in the neighborhood went crazy for it. She took her time eating so she could enjoy the food as well as Aiden’s company. It had been so long since she had actually eaten with someone else outside of school. She looked at Aiden sitting in the seat next to hers. He had his head bent down, hair falling over his shoulders, completely absorbed in what he was eating. And I thought I was hungry? Rianne almost laughed out loud.
She was paying so much attention to him, that she barely heard Mrs. Trenko coming downstairs. When she touched Rianne’s shoulder, Rianne jumped. “Oh!”
Mrs. Trenko laughed. “Sorry sweetie. I didn’t mean to scare you.”
Rianne turned to face her. “It’s okay.”
“So how’s the food?”
“Mmmm. It’s great.”Rianne said.
“Well thank you. I made your bed upstairs in the guest room.”
“You didn’t have too. Not that I’m ungrateful, but the couch would have been fine.”
“What’s the use of having a guest room, if the guests don’t use it?”
“Plus you’re the only guest we ever have.” Aiden chimed in. When he spoke her focus snapped back to him. To her surprise, they were in the same position. Feet on the rail along the bottom of the chair, one arm draped over the back and bodies facing each other.
Suddenly his mother smacked the back of his head softly. “She’s family, not a guest.” Rianne didn’t whether to laugh at the suddenness of the hit, or stay serious. Settling for the latter, she just stared at Mrs. Trenko. She knew Mrs. Trenko had thought of her as family, but hearing it put into words made it that much realer.
“Alright, I’ll leave you two to eat. Aiden stay in your room,” She pegged him a hard look then continued, “Rianne you can have the guest room.”
“Good night and sleep well.”
Dinner lasted another half an hour before they were ready to clean up. Each brought their plate and glass to the kitchen.
“I wash, you dry and put away?” Rianne suggested. She knew Aiden preferred drying over washing.
As she put soap on the sponge, he dropped his plate into the sink. The feel of his arms on either side of hers made her feel oddly protected, not trapped like thought they would be. She started scrubbing, hoping he would get the hint to move. When she turned on the water to rinse the plate, his hand shot out from on top of her wrist and pressed the faucet opening. Rianne couldn’t move in time to dodge the rush of water. Her shirt and face were drenched, her ears humming with the sound of his laughter. After what seemed like an eternity to Rianne, he turned off the water.
“Aiden!” She didn’t know whether to laugh it off or beat him. “Ugh. You’re such a jerk!” Spinning around, she pointed a finger in his face. His laughter was still roaring through the room. The madder she got, the more hysterical he became. It was well over five minutes before he calmed enough to see her anger.
“Ri, come on. It was a joke. You needed to loosen up. You’re way too serious.”
“Well if you were more mature, I wouldn’t need to be serious.” She countered.
He looked into her eyes, all trace of humor gone. “I’m sorry.”
Affected by his sincerity, and his love for fun, she accepted.
A big grin spread across his face. “You’re so easy to please.” She murmured, turning back towards the sink. Ten minutes later they were done and heading upstairs.
Walking hand in hand, she let Aiden lead her to his room. She couldn’t count how many times they had done this in the past. Eat, clean, movie, talk and then off to their respected sleeping quarters. When they reached his door, she broke the contact and gracefully hopped up on his bed, while he went to set up the movie.
“What are we watching?” She asked as she tried out his pillows attempting to find the most comfortable.
From her peripheral vision she could tell he was standing in front of the TV. Randomly picking one out; he held it up in the air. “Whatever this is.” He waved it, not knowing that she wasn’t looking.
After everything was set up and Aiden was next to her on the bed, Rianne cuddled up with him, ready to watch the movie in peace. It ended up being a horror film, but neither flinched when the gore came. She had seen it so many times she could recite the lines by heart. Her eyes drifted up to the shelves hanging above the TV. CDs lined from end to end. She was trying to read some of the titles on some of them when she felt Aiden gently twirling her hair. At first she had the feeling he was doing it subconsciously. The movements were soft and barely there. A wave of drowsiness tugged at her will to stay awake as cuddled closer to him. Her head rested on his chest, subtly rising and falling as he breathed. Somehow managing not to fall asleep, she lasted an hour and a half to watch the end of the movie. As the credits were finishing, she sat up to leave. Before she left the bed, though, she kissed his cheek.
He sat up reaching for her hand. “You could sleep here tonight. I’ll be you safe while you sleep.”
“That’s really tempting, but don’t want to disrespect your mom.” With that she slipped from his grip and gracefully walked out the door closing it behind her.
Two doors down the hallway to the right, was the guest room. She was halfway to the bed before she realized she hadn’t changed from her wet clothes into pajamas. With a groan, she grudgingly made her way back to the stairs. Too tired to think, she entirely forgot about the squeaky floorboard. The second her weight came down on it, a high squeak protested. Cringing a bit, she moved up a few spaces. Aiden’s door opened and his head popped out.
“Trying to sneak out?” He teased.
“Technically, I already snuck out today. But I forgot my bag downstairs and need my pj’s.
“It’s okay. I’ll get my own.”
“You’re too tired to go downstairs.”
“Aiden I’m fine.”
He grabbed her arm, and as unwilling as she was, brought her to his room. She stood with her hands on her crossed over her chest. Through the semi-dark, she could see him fumbling through his drawers. Finally he turned back to her and held out the clothes. The lighter colored fabric was the shirt. It was smooth and worn out from overuse. When she tried to look at the second piece he gave her, she found out they were boxers.
“Thanks, but you didn’t need to.”
“I wanted to.”
“You too babe.”
This time her walk to the guest room was more alert. As quickly and quietly as she could she stripped down and changed into his clothes. They smelt like him. The perfect mix of clean sweat and fresh air. She opened the sheets part way and snuggled in. the sheets were cool against her exposed skin. Rianne relaxed her body completely. Her eyes grew heavy as the fear of waking up to Tony on top of her began to fade. Soon she drifted off to sleep.
Rianne slowly resurfaced into consciousness as the bed shifted. She wasn’t sure what was happening until the sheets were pulled away from her body. Totally dazed, she jumped from the source of movement and tried to leave the bed. When warm hands caught her, she punched the air slamming into flesh. She sucked in a deep breath, ready to scream when she realized he had let go. The open doorway left her enough light to see by. She saw his body slumped on the bed facing away from her.
God help Tony for trying again.
“Ri...” Hr groaned.
Wait...that’s not Tony. Rianne looked around. She wasn’t home... SHIT!
“Ooooh!!!! Shit! Shit! Shit!” She ran back to the bed to check on Aiden. “I’m so sorry Aiden.” She crawled up next to him and tilted his head towards her. There wasn’t enough light to see where she had hit him. Quickly she flicked on the lights and hurried back to him. When he looked at her she saw his eyes. The bruise from the first time she hit him at school was still there, and as he clutched at it she knew that was the target of her storm.
“Oh, Aiden, I’m so sorry.”
“Remind me never to surprise you again.”
After she saw what damage she had done, she went and turned the lights back off. They would probably wake up his mother. Crawling back into bed next to him, she kissed his cheek below the eye. “What were you doing in here anyway?”
“I wanted to cuddle.”
Silence followed and she used that peace to get back under the covers and urge him to do the same. When they were both covered, she rolled on to her side away from him. She hadn’t meant to hurt him, but once again she did. As the silence dragged on, she tried to fall asleep. As used to falling asleep next to Aiden as she was, it had never been in a bed. She shuttered. That was Tony’s thing. While she slept he was occasionally creep in. Rianne moved herself even farther away from Aiden. She needed to overcome her fear and not let Tony ruin her almost perfect day.
“Is that how Tony did it?”
“Yea.” She paused as painful memories surfaced. Rianne didn’t know how long it was before she could force herself to continue. “I would wake up and he’d be in the room. Watching me, just staring at me like I was a toy or something. A few times I even woke up with him on top of me. The only time he came close to doing anything, I got away.” She could tell her voice was growing weaker even as she tried to keep it strong. “Every time I fought, he fought harder.” The broken sobs escaped and she did nothing to stop them.3[4
She felt Aiden move towards her then abruptly pull back. As the tears slowed, she cuddled close to him. She rested her head against the nook between his shoulder and arm while placing and her arm on his chest.