Abel felt as if the roof had just caved in on top of him. He lost control of his thoughts as he took in her bruised and battered face. If he wasn’t so instantly violently angry at who or what had done this to “his Manda” gaining control of his thoughts may have been easier. Standing there mute, his thoughts and feelings swamping him fast and hard. Abel was torn between hugging her tight or demanding immediate answers; decisions –decisions.
Hoping to find Tara Tellar at home, Amanda didn’t expect for Abel to answer the door. Coming home to Charming meant facing Abel and their past, she knew that, but why today? The way he watched her, his eyes roaming over her face – taking everything in- missing nothing. It left her feeling raw and vulnerable. She could tell when he crossed the line from surprised glad to see you into violent what the hell happened to you territory. Never one to wear much in the way of make-up, Amanda knew that her hasty cover-up was doing as shit job of hiding the black eye and bruising all over her right cheek and jaw, not to mention the split lip. Who was she kidding she wasn’t going to full anyone especially Abel. She should have called first. This was a mistake-she realized that now. After all the years of friendship the two of them standing there staring would have been almost comical if not so damn sad. She knew she should be the first to speak, but what the hell to say. Ready to break the growing uncomfortable silence Amanda opened her mouth to speak. Just then Abel grabbed her by the wrist and yanked her inside slamming the door shut behind her.
“WHO THE HELL DID THIS TO YOU??” He roared. Amanda smiled slightly, there was the Abel Tellar she knew and loved. Looking into this man’s face, she could see the teen-age boy who became her best friend throughout four long years of high school. From day one, they stood beside each other no matter what came next.
“Wow Tellar,” Amanda replied rather saucily “it’s good to see you too.” She turned taking in her surroundings; little had changed in the Tellar house over the last few years. Amazingly she still felt more at home here in this house than she had anywhere else on earth. Eventually she would have to tell Abel the truth-but not right now.
Abel took a step back whoever did this to Amanda may have done a number on her face but definitely not her spirit. DAMN! He was glad to see her. Reaching for her hand, he pulled her in close. Wrapping his arms around her, Abel held her close and tight. Amanda sighed, as she rested her head against his chest. Amanda felt safe cradled against his warm solid body. Taking a deep breath she remembered all the scents she associated with Abel; leather, outdoors, soap, motor oil, and just a hint of something more. This felt like home.
Abel was silent as he felt her body press against his. He rubbed his hands restlessly up and down her back assuring himself that she was really here and whole. He wanted to demand answers. He wanted to inflict extreme pain on whoever did this to her. In this moment, he would have to settle for assuring himself that she was ok. Before letting go he pressed his face into her long dark hair taking in her scent; the vanilla scented soap, strawberry shampoo, the light perfume she insisted on wearing, all of it uniquely his Amanda. While it might be nice to stand here like this for a while longer, Abel wanted answers and he wanted them now. Slowly releasing Amanda, Abel took a step or two back and really looked at her. Her dark hair was a little longer than he remembered. Amanda was not obviously beautiful like the crow-eaters who hung around the clubhouse. She was a little thicker, with more curves than Maria. Her eyes were a little too dark to be hazel and not dark enough to be brown. She had a spatter of freckles across her button like nose. Despite all that and the bruises she would always be beautiful in Abel’s eyes.
“Manda” he started, using the old familiar nick-name “Who did this?” he asked gesturing to her face “What the hell happened to you?” Amanda took a deep breath, looked around the room, and for the first time in her life prepared to lie to her best friend. “It’s stupid! Really Abel it’s no big deal.” Amanda began with as much sincerity and she could muster. “It looks much worse than it actually is.” she continued. Nervous, she began to move around the room. She needed to put a little distance between her and Abel. Moving to the mantel, Amanda gazed at the multiple Tellar family photos. Picking up the closest one she turned it towards him, “is this Tommy and Rachael with you?” she asked hoping to buy herself a little time.
Abel came up behind her – taking the photo from her hands “yeah we had this taking last year for mom’s birthday.” He smiled as he placed it back on the shelf. Turning to face her, Abel placed a hand at her waist. With a gentle hand under her chin, he lifted her gaze to his. “You’re stalling Amanda Stevens. You need to tell me what happened to you.”
Amanda felt the panic settle in the pit of her stomach. Doubt clouded her mind. Would she be able to continue to lies? Would Abel believe her if she did? Would Abel ever be able to forgive her lies if the truth were revealed? Determined to press forward, Amanda took a deep breath and began to speak “Abel I…..” Before she could continue she heard a joyous “A….BEL, A…BEL” chant coming loudly from the kitchen. “Is that Rachael I hear?” she asked. She smiled in the sure child-like joy of Rachael’s voice. Before any further response, Amanda turned and raced into the kitchen.
Amanda was stopped in her tracks as watched Rachael at the table eating. Rachael was only five years old when she left Charming. She could not believe how much she had grown. Abel entered the room behind Amanda watching her watch Rachael. “Hey rug-rat we got company!” called Abel over Amanda’s right shoulder.
Amanda was not sure if Rachael would remember her. She stood there in front of Abel unsure what to say or do next. Rachael looked up from her sandwich and studied Amanda for a moment maybe two. Finally she shrieked “AMANDA!!” before jumping down from the table and racing towards Amanda’s open arms. Scooping Rachael up, Amanda hugged the little lady tight, thankful for the innocent love of a child. Letting Rachael down, Amanda swallowed back her emotions, “Gee, Rachael, I wasn’t sure you would remember me.”
Rachael sighed “Are you kidding? You were like the most awesome baby-sitter, when I was little.” Rachael squealed. Abel ruffled her hair and with a snort teased “Yeah because your becoming an old lady now, huh rug-rat?” Rachael rolled her eyes at her brother. With a shake of her head she turned to Amanda and began again “Are you moving back to Charming? How long are you for? What happened to your face? Can we hang-out while you’re here? OH!! I know – we could have a popcorn movie night like we used too?” Amanda laughed, kneeling down next to Rachael she began to speak. “Rachael I….”before she could continue Abel interrupted. “Hey! Hey! Rug-rat slow down, breathe. I’m sure Amanda and you will hang out real soon. Right now though, Amanda and I need to talk; so why don’t you take your sandwich to the living room and start your homework ok?” Rachael thought about it a second or two before hugging Amanda tight and then grabbing her things headed towards the living room.
Amanda smiled as she watched Rachael race off. “Damn, Abel I cannot believe how big she is getting. She’s a beautiful little girl. You Tellar boys are going to have to beat the boys away from her someday.” The glow spreading across Abel’s face showed just how much he loved his baby sister. “Yeah darlin,” he whispered “I know.” That said, he moved with Amanda towards the kitchen table, “Sit down” the words fell sharp and quick from his mouth. He left no room for argument. Amanda sat down across from him and silently prayed for another interruption. At this point, she would do just about anything to avoid this conversation.
Facing each other; they both sat silent for long moments. Abel reached across the table and took both of Amanda’s hands in his. “Come on darlin, talk to me” he whispered “the truth this time.” Amanda sat getting lost in big beautiful blue eyes. She wondered absently, if Abel was even away of the effect those eyes had on her. Soundlessly she laughed thinking to herself; she doubted Abel was aware of her as a woman at all. Sadly, she questioned if she would ever be more than just his best friend. Perhaps this is what drove her home in the first place. Maybe she needed to be reminded that she and Abel would never be more than friends. If she could settle her past – she could resign herself to the future.
Before she could speak, the front door opened. Abel and Amanda turned in unison as they heard Tara Tellar enter the house. A very excited Rachael met her mom at the door. Before Tara could remove her jacket, her shoes, or set down her bag; Rachael was chattering away about the events of her day. “Mom you will never guess whose here with Abel. Guess Mom go on Guess….You will never get it - OH MY GOD it is so cool!!! Mom can you guess?”
Tara laughed as she hugged her little girl and set her things down at the same time. “Slow down Rachael” she smiled. Looking up from her daughter she saw Abel and Amanda standing in the doorway. “Amanda!!” she breathed. Moving away from the door she hugged Amanda gently, “What are you doing here? I thought you were in Tacoma with your family.”
Throughout high school Amanda had spent so much time in this house with this family; she often fantasized about what it would be like if Tara Tellar were actually her mom too. “I was” she replied “I’m just home to visit.” Tara stood back from the young woman, for the first time really looking into face she too noticed the bruises. Slipping from mom to doctor Tara was shocked at how little the makeup did to cover the damage evident on Amanda’s face. “Who, What?” she gestured quickly towards her face. “Who did this to you?”
A nervous Amanda would have preferred to have this conversation without Abel lurking right over her shoulder. Tara sensed Amanda’s unease. She knew the young woman was hiding something. Tara assumed that the girl was hesitant to talk because of Abel. Whatever this was all over her face, Abel would want answers. Too much like his father, those answers would most likely come with a fair amount of blood shed.
The uneasy silence was broken by insistent ring of Abel’s cell phone. Jerking it from his pocket, he answered with a clipped “Yeah!”
So much like his dad, thought Chibbs as he answered “Abel boy!! We need you out at the warehouse right away. Your da, want’s you in on this Alvarez/ Mayans bullshit.” Frustrated, Abel shook his head “Yeah, Ok see you soon.” He snapped the phone shut with more force than really necessary. Shaking his head he grabbed his cut from the back of the chair. Shrugging into his cut, he kissed his mom on the cheek. “Mom I got to meet the guys and take care of something’s for dad. If it gets to late, I’ll just crash at the clubhouse.”
Hugging her son close, Tara made him promise to be careful. Releasing his mom Abel turned his full attention on Amanda. “You and I are not finished – this conversation finishes later. I swear.” With that he gave her a quick squeeze, shouted “See ya later Rug-rat” at Rachael and was out the door to the warehouse.
A relieved Amanda watched him go. “Whew” she thought at least I can avoid lying to him for a little while longer.