My phone rang. I didn’t recognize the number. Never knowing if it was a client, I always answered my phone.
“Hello, this is Toni.”
It was Officer Terry, Steve’s partner.
“Hello Miss Brown. I was calling to give you some news we just received from the jail.”
I held my breath. Please Lord don’t tell me that man was not getting out of jail.
“There was an incident at the jail and Mr. Proctor was assaulted.”
I smiled. Good for him.
“We thought you would want to know.”
“Thank you for letting me know. I know that’s not normal protocol. Wait, is he dead?”
Now I don’t wish death on anyone but if the crime fits…
“Well no, but he wants to be.”
“What do you mean by that?”
“He was gang raped.”
I looked at the phone and then asked, “Are you serious?”
“Yes. He is in the ICU. Unfortunately child molesters and rapist tend to get the same treatment that got them locked up. They are in special units of the jail but when the doors are unlocked for a couple hours a day they sometimes become targets.”
I couldn’t believe it. Some people would be happy about this but I wasn’t. No one deserved to be raped, especially gang raped not even my own rapist. He acted like such a manly man. He had to be suffering. Now he knew how it felt to be violated. That I was not sorry for.
“Thank you for calling me. I appreciate it.”
I put my cell back in my pocket and stared out the window for a few seconds.
Sean put her hand over mine.
“Are you okay? You are shaking.”
I hadn’t noticed.
“Yes that was your brother’s partner. Quentin was gang raped in jail.”
She sat up releasing my hand.
“Well good for him.”
That might be the normal response.
“I’m sorry. Men who rape sometimes get off in the court system. But in the jail system, they never get off. Someone always proves a lesson to guys like that in jail. They are considered punks in jail and before they know it, that’s what they become. I’ve seen it over and over again.”
I thought about it for a moment and shook my head. It was still horrible. If he got jail time, they would harass him the whole time he was serving his sentence. Well he wouldn’t be in there if he hadn’t raped me. I drank my whole glass of wine in one gulp and she laughed and asked the waiter to bring me another round. I wasn’t going to let anything ruin our date…day…
I looked at Sean across the table as she bit into her sandwich. She looked up at me that instant and she stopped chewing.
“You like me don’t you?”
“Huh, what do you mean,” I replied feeling hot again in my neck and face.
“Is it hot in here to you,” I asked not really wanting an answer.
This time she put her sandwich down and laughed at me.
“You’re enjoying this aren’t you?”
“Enjoying you blush and blaming it on the heat? Yes I am.”
I cleared my throat and reached for my water. She grabbed my hand instead.
“I really like you but I also know this is new for you and that it’s not good timing.
I keep saying to myself this isn’t a date but right now it feels like it. I don’t want to lose your friendship. It’s important to me but I just want you to know that I am here for you and I want to see you through this.”
I thought about my response and just decided to go with it.
“I have no clue what is going on here with us but I like spending time with you. You have been there already when I really needed someone. I would like to go out on a date with you. I’ve actually wondered what that would be like,” I said looking away avoiding her eyes.
She turned my face around with one finger touching my cheek so that we were looking into each others eyes.
“I would love to take you on a date when you’re ready.”
“Thanks. When I’m ready, you will be the first to know.”
We stared at each other for what seemed like forever. Neither one of us said anything. We just looked into each others souls looking for answers to questions not asked.
When the spell finally broke, we finished our lunch and paid the waiter. We went Dutch again. I wouldn’t let her pay for my meal- yet.
We walked to the car, holding hands as we ran across the street. I felt safe with her. That was a feeling I needed right now.