Tara and Amanda watched from the door way as Abel started his bike and headed out onto the street. Slowly shutting the door, Tara turned to Amanda giving her a proper, firm, motherly welcome home hug. “I hope you don’t have plans for dinner.” Insisted Tara. Amanda looked uneasy, “That’s not necessary, Miss Tellar, I don’t want to intrude.”
Tara took her by hand and led her to the kitchen. Gesturing to the same spot Amanda and Abel had just shared Tara asked her to please sit. Amanda sat down uneasily. An hour ago she had been almost anxious to talk to Miss Tellar, now she was a nervous wreck. Tara looked at the young woman thoughtfully, searching for a way to put her at ease. The care and concern Tara felt covered her face and warmed her eyes. “Please, Amanda you’ve been a part of our lives for many years. I think it’s ok if you call me Tara now, don’t you? As for dinner, I don’t want to hear another word about intruding. You practically grew up in my home. If I know Jax and Abel they won’t be home for hours. Tommy is away at school right now. This is a perfect night for us girls to catch up – what do you say?”
Unsure of herself, Amanda knew she should just get up and go. But, as she watched the genuine care and concern across Tara’s face-she realized that she simply could not bear the idea of being alone tonight. “Thank-you Miss…” sorry she smiled shyly “Tara that would be great.”
Calling Rachael into the kitchen, Tara asked if she had finished her homework. Rachael assured her that everything was done and waiting for Tara to double check. Tara wrapped her arm around her daughter’s shoulders. Dropping kisses along the top of her head “Good girl!!” she whispered. Looking around the kitchen, Tara decided that actually cooking dinner tonight was out of the question. “Ladies, what do you say that we order a large pizza and just stay in tonight and catch up?” Rachael squealed “Can we get mushrooms and pineapple mom, with breadsticks and extra sauce?”
“As long as I can throw some pepperoni in there too.” laughed Tara. “That sound ok to you Amanda?” Tara questioned. Happy to feel a part of something strong and healthy for the first time in many months Amanda just nodded yes.
By 9:30 that evening, everyone had eaten their fair share of pizza and bread. Amanda cleaned up the dishes and put away the leftovers. Meanwhile Tara went to tuck Rachael into bed. As Tara came back to the living room it was clear Amanda was preparing to leave. “Are you staying with friends?” Tara asked. Amanda startled slightly, not having heard Tara come back into the room. Attempting poorly to cover her raw nerves, Amanda shrugged, “I have a room reserved at that little hotel over on Main street.”
“Why don’t you just crash here tonight? If I know Jax he won’t be home for a while yet. Abel will most likely crash at the clubhouse, Tommy is away right now, so there is plenty of room.” Replied Tara.
Amanda thought it over quickly, she did feel safer here than anywhere else. “It will only be for one night – what can it hurt?” She thought to herself. “Ok” she replied “if you’re sure it’s no trouble – I would love to.”
“No trouble at all – your always welcome in this house, you know that.” Tara stated calmly as she sat down on the sofa. After a moment’s hesitation Amanda joined her, sitting at the opposite end of the sofa. The two women sat facing each other for a long a moment before Tara spoke.
Still unclear what this young woman was hiding, Tara thought this would be the perfect time to talk – do a little catching up. They talked for nearly an hour about the differences between Charming and Tacoma and all the people and events that Amanda had missed in her years away. Finally Tara turned the conversation to a more personal nature. “So Amanda,” she asked with a gentle girlish smile, “is someone special waiting for you back in Tacoma?”
Until that moment, that question, Amanda had been quietly sitting at the end of the sofa toying with a blue throw pillow. As the words left Tara’s mouth, Amanda head snapped up hard and quick. She tried in vain to hide the vicious fear that clouded her eyes. “No!” she mumbled then more forcefully, “No...No! One special waiting for me in Tacoma.”
Unsure how to proceed, Tara was reasonable certain she knew the story behind those bruises but she did want to push. “Push too much,” she thought to herself “and you end up sounding like Gemma.” Finally, Tara watched the younger woman’s expression carefully, recognizing the emotional space Amanda was in – Tara decided to share a family truth with her.
“I know I’m not your mother Amanda. That said, I realize that whatever happened to you is really not my business, but as your friend and Abel’s mom I’m concerned.” Amanda watched Tara warily, as if deciding how much of the truth she could trust her with. She wanted desperately to unload her burden. She needed to share her fear with someone. Amanda knew Tara would listen and even possibly understand. At the end of the day, she was still Abel’s mom and unloading on her would not be fair to anyone. So Amanda sat silently still – her secrets unspoken.
Tara waited a beat longer for Amanda to say something – anything. When the silence continued she began to speak. “Amanda, I think it’s time I share a little Tellar family history with you.” Tara took a deep fortifying breath. “This is not something I share lightly. I have never talked about this with anyone other than Jax. I hope maybe sharing it with you – if nothing else gives you some food for thought.”
Amanda was definitely intrigued. Sure Amanda had been Abel’s best friend for years. Yes she had practically grown up in their home. Yet she could imagine what it was that Tara felt was so important to share with her.
Tara never expected to speak of Josh again. After all these years, he was just a very ugly memory. However, this night – sitting here with this girl, it seemed the only thing to do. Pressing forward, Tara turned to face Amanda straight on. Certain she had the young woman’s attention, Tara pressed on.
Smiling sadly Tara began “I too left Charming after graduation. I had big hopes and dreams. I wanted to be away from this town and most everyone in it. I missed Jax every day I was away but with time I learned to adjust. I made my way through school. I started working at a local hospital in Chicago. My life was looking up. That’s when I met Josh. He worked for ATF. He was very sweet and charming at first. He was very kind and thoughtful. For a short time I thought maybe he was the ideal man for me. I was wrong, things changed quickly. He became violent with me. I was completely scared of him – of what he might do to me. I tried to talk to him. I tried to make him see reason. I told him we were through – that I was moving on. Nothing I said got through to him. I eventually took out a restraining order against.”
Amanda sat almost transfixed as she listened to Tara’s story. She almost couldn’t believe what she was hearing. There were so many questions bubbling inside her. Before she could speak, Tara continued. “Eventually, I lost it and had to get away – leave Chicago. I came home to Charming. I knew this was the one place on earth where I would feel safe. Looking back I realize that it wasn’t so much Charming I was running to but Jax. I knew that I would always be safe with Jax. I was home for weeks and never said a word about what happened to me. Then one day I saw Josh here in Charming.”
“Oh” whispered Amanda, “what did you do?” She asked clearly wrapped up in Tara’s words.
“At first, I tried to handle it on my own. I didn’t want Jax involved. Then after a short time Josh pressed the issue, he began stalking me here in Charming – much like he did in Chicago. I needed help I had to involve Jax.”
“What happened to him?” Amanda asked “Did Jax hurt him? I mean he obviously left town right?” Amanda asked hopefully. Tara smiled even after the bruises; it was good to see the girl still had hope. Choosing her words carefully, Tara decided to leave some skeletons dead and buried. “Things between him and Jax became ugly. Jax actually pushed him through a plate glass window at one point. Josh was picked up by the local P.D. He realized then that his career was over. He knew that he would be facing charges if he returned to Chicago. He skipped town and went into hiding I guess. As far as I know, no one has seen him since.” As the last words left Tara’s lips, both fell silent. Tara lost in past memories that were both bittersweet and horrific at the same time. Amanda wondering if she were as strong as Tara had once been.
Meanwhile Driving Across Town:
Abel inhaled deeply, being on his bike bringing a freedom he never tired of. He needed to clear his mind before reaching the warehouse. He would be no good to his dad or the “uncles” if his mind was on unfinished conversations instead of business. As he was nearing the turn off for the warehouse, he felt his phone vibrate in his cut pocket. Slowing down he grabbed his phone and harsher than intended barked out a quick “Yeah?”
Maria smiled at the rich deep voice as Abel answered. “Hi baby, you busy?” she asked. Abel cursed silently; this was so not what he needed right this moment. “Yeah” he answered, “I’m kind of in the middle of it right now darlin.” When she hadn’t heard from before now – she expected that he was busy, she just needed to hear his voice once more today. “I won’t hang you up then. I just wanted to make sure you were free tomorrow night. My parents are planning a family gathering to celebrate my birthday and I would love for you to meet them.”
“Damn” Abel thought, “Today is really going to hell quick.” He was rushing to handle club business. He was thinking about Amanda more than was healthy for him. Now Maria, a woman he wasn’t even sure how he felt about wanted him to meet her folks. Eager to end this call quickly, Abel promised to call back soon. He quickly hung up the phone and shoved it in his pocket. Rolling up in front of the warehouse, Abel saw Chibbs and Bobby waiting for him. Pulling his bike to a stop, Abel slipped into the well-worn role of SOA member.
Roughly 2a.m. Tellar Household
Jax and Abel slipped silently into the house and hanging their cuts on the backs of kitchen chairs. Quietly Jax made his way down the hall, stopping at Rachael’s room he slipped inside. As usual, she had kicked her covers and teddy bear to the floor. Straightening out her blanket he covered her up and tucked her teddy bear under her arm. Leaning over her small frame he dropped a slight kiss on her forehead “Love ya little darlin,” he whispered before leaving.
He noticed the light coming from his and Tara’s room. He hoped Tara hadn’t waited up, but he wouldn’t be surprised if she did. He knew how she worried when he and the boys were out on business. Entering the bedroom, he saw Tara sound asleep with a small book across her chest – the bed side lamp shining bright. Quietly stripping off his clothing – he moved the book, turned off the light, and slide into bed next to his wife. Feeling his presence, Tara snuggled closer, “everyone alright?” she mumbled not fully awake. Jax wrapped his arms tightly around his wife. Tucking her in closer, Jax whispered “Everyone is ok. Abel and I are both home safe and sound.”
It took a moment for Jax’s words to filter through her sleep addled brain. Coming more fully awake, Tara asked “Abel came home with you? I thought he was going back to the clubhouse.” Even at this late hour, Jax quickly realized he was missing something. Seeing the confusion on his face, Tara explained that Amanda was sleeping in his room. Jax was shocked “Amanda Stevens is back in Charming? When did that happen?” he asked. Tara sighed sleepily “It’s a quite story. I promise to fill you tomorrow. Right now, just enjoy the chance to quietly snuggle with your wife.” Jax flashed his beautiful wife that sexy bad boy grin that had attracted her all those years ago. “Who am I to argue with you darlin?” With that he dropped a soft kiss against her forehead and let himself drift off to sleep.
Shower / Abel’s Room
Abel slipped noiselessly into the bathroom and turned on the hot water. Washing away the days sweat and grim felt amazing. After a few minutes, he shut off the water and wrapped in a short white towel. Moving quickly to his room, Abel opened the door and went inside. Without turning on the light he moved to the dresser and found a pair of clean boxers and SAMCRO t-shirt. Drying off, he tossed his towel in the general direction of this laundry hamper and dressed. Turning towards the bed, the first time since entering the room, he realized he was not alone. Moving closer to the bed, he watched Amanda curled up in the center of his bed clutching his pillow tight to her chest. The sight of her long dark hair fanned out over his cream sheets; stirred something deep inside Abel had forgotten he was even capable of.
As best friends, back in the day, they had shared the same bed more than once without issue. Even without details, he knew instinctively that something was terribly wrong. Not wanting to startle her, he thought better of lying down next to her. Instead he took an old blanket and pillow from the closet and set about getting comfortable in the old recliner in the corner. As tired as he was, Abel expected sleep to come quickly. However, nearly forty-five minutes later he was still awake watching Amanda sleep. As he closed his eyes he promised her “I don’t know what’s happened to you darlin’. But I promise you – your safe now.”