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Part 2 of a 3 part story—at the end of Part 1, Dale learns Rose’s secret and gets ready to tell her that he knows.
I was not looking forward to what was about to happen, and was worried about how Rose would react—I’d seen her get violent already, and with someone much bigger than me. But I had called her, and I had to let her know what was going on. I got dressed, ran down the stairs, yelled to my parents that I was going to be out for a bit, jumped in the car and drove to the park. Luckily, it was pretty empty, and I found a bench away from the one couple that was sunning themselves while their little daughter played near the fountain. A few minutes later, Rose came walking toward the fountain, dressed in a casual pair of shorts and a baggy t-shirt, with her hair pulled back. She looked like my classmate and not some porn star. She smiled when she saw me and sat next to me on the bench.
“I’m sorry I left the party without saying ‘hi’ or ‘goodbye,'” she said softly. I waited briefly for an explanation, but when one didn’t come, I needed to move to the more important issue. I felt like things were moving very quickly, and my mind was racing.
“That’s fine, don’t worry about it,” I said. “But that’s not what I need to talk to you about.”
Her face changed dramatically from happy to wary. “What, Dale?”
I couldn’t ease around the issue. “I, uh, I know about Aubrey Angel,” I said.
“Fuck,” she yelled. “Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck,” she screamed, hitting my arm, pretty hard. The young couple shot us a dirty look, scooped up their daughter and hightailed it out of there.
When I looked back at Rose, she was crying. She buried her face into my shoulder, and I put my arm around her to comfort her. Her body was heaving with sobs, and I just let her cry, holding her and gently stroking her arm.
After what seemed like an eternity, she pulled away from me and looked me straight in the eye with her red rimmed blue eyes.
“How?” she whispered. “Tell me how.”
“This morning, Sam Cruz called me. He said that after seeing you at the party, the way you looked and all, and you looked incredible, by the way,” she smiled weakly as I continued, “he thought he recognized you.” She arched her eyebrows, and I shrugged, as if any teenage boy didn’t watch porn on the Internet. “He sent me a link to a video, and while I wasn’t sure it was you, I watched a couple more, and was pretty sure it was you.” Rose started to sob again. “I read some of the news articles. Oh my god, Rose, what you went through.”
She turned to me, and said, “You read the articles?” I nodded. She started to tell me what happened, and I told her she didn’t have to, since I had read the articles, but she insisted. So, in a flat voice, as if she was talking about someone else, she told me the whole story. From being raped by her stepfather, to running away, being beaten and forced to do porn, even though she was underage, and how she was sold to a bigger producer, pretended to participate voluntarily, then got away, contacted the police and got the people who did it to her arrested and thrown in jail. It took more than an hour, including breaks for her to cry and for me to try to comfort her, but I was really out of my depth. She had gone from telling me almost nothing about her life to telling me more than I really needed to know.
When the story ended, pretty much where the news stories stopped, with her back in Atlanta with her mother and her stepfather dead, I asked her, “So how did you end up here?”
Rose took a deep breath. “After a few months, when everything seemed to have settled down, I was going to go back to school and get my diploma, try to be normal and all, my mom and I were out for dinner at Applebee’s. When we got back, we noticed fire engines, but didn’t think anything of it, until we got closer to our house. We realized it was on fire. Mom and I ran to the house, but the firemen stopped us. And while we were digesting the fact that everything we had was burning, my phone rang. I didn’t recognize the number, and when I picked up, a muffled voice said, ‘we know where you are.’ We freaked out and jumped back in the car and started driving. After a few days, I went online and randomly found Farston. It seemed like a nice place, small enough, and quiet, and so we drove here. I spoke to the chief of police and Mr. G, and we worked it out. I had some money saved from, you know, the movies, so we were able to rent the house. And mom will get insurance eventually, when we can figure it all out.”
What could I say? I just sat there letting it all sink in. “Can I ask you why you just didn’t get a GED and not have to deal with going to school with younger kids?”
Rose paused before answering. “I had never known a normal life, and I thought maybe I could have one. I wanted to have friends, gossip, sit in a classroom, go to prom. All that stuff.” She rubbed her eyes. “I guess it was a dumb dream. I can’t ever be normal, I guess.”
“That’s not true,” I insisted, antalya escort although at that moment, it kind of seemed true. There was an awkward pause, and I wanted to fill it. “How’d you pick your new name?” was all I could think of.
For the first time in a while, Rose smiled. “Mom thought of ‘Hicks’ because we were moving to a ‘hick town’—no offense intended,’ she quickly added.
“None taken,” I said, because she was pretty much right.
“And ‘Rose’ because they are pretty and pure, but are strong and can protect themselves,” she finished.
“I think that is a good name,” I said, and I meant it. I realized, though, that there was more. “Rose, Sam wants to write about you in the school paper.”
I could feel her stiffen up. “If the word gets out, I’ll be found, and they will come for me and Mom.”
“I can talk to Sam, but I don’t know if it will do any good. He thinks that he is a fucking crusading reporter.”
“Then I have to talk to him and convince him to keep quiet.”
“Are you sure?”
She took a deep breath. “I am. I have to be.”
We sat there for a few minutes, and I could hear Rose breathing while she thought. She turned to look at me, and the next thing I knew, we were kissing.
If I thought that my kisses with Tessa at the party were good, and they were, this was another order of magnitude. Rose’s lips were soft, her tongue firm, and she tasted indescribably delicious. It sent chills down my spine, caused my stomach to flip and my cock to get hard. But it lasted only a few seconds, before Rose bolted off of the bench and started running away. I was stunned, first by the passion of the kiss, then by its sudden end, and then by the sight of Rose tearing away as fast as her long legs could carry her. By the time I was able to move and start running as fast as I could, considering the hard on that I had, she had reached her car, and her tires squealed as she peeled away. I tried calling her, but it kept going to voicemail, so I decided to drive after her.
When I arrived at her house, Rose’s car was in the driveway, but she was nowhere to be seen. I knocked, then banged, on the door until her mother answered.
“I need to speak with Rose,” I demanded, out of breath.
She turned and stepped into the house, but left the door open. I walked in behind her.
“Rose, Dale is here to see you,” she yelled up the stairs.
“Tell him to go away,” came from upstairs.
“I’m not going anywhere,” I yelled back. “We need to talk.” There was no immediate response. I could hear footsteps, a door close, water run, a door open, and more footsteps, which stopped. After a few seconds, Rose came down the stairs, her eyes red-rimmed.
She looked at her mother and said, “Someone at school found out.”
Mrs. Hicks, or Mrs. Rowland, to be accurate, deflated before my eyes and collapsed on the nearest chair.
“How?” she whispered.
I decided to respond. “One of my friends recognized Rose from, you know, the Internet.”
Rose stood there as her mother asked, “And he told everyone?”
“No, actually, I think he only told me. But he is the editor of the school paper, and gave me until tomorrow before he goes public.”
“Shit,” Mrs. Hicks/Rowland said, sadly. “I guess we have to start packing, Rose.”
“Wait. I’ve known Sam since preschool. He’s not a bad guy. Give me a few hours.” I had to think of a way to get Sam to sit on the story. I ran out of the house and got into my car. My first instinct was to call Larry and Albert, but I realized quickly that was a bad instinct. I had to get adults involved, and I had to start with my parents. Every once in a while, though, the kiss forced its way into my thoughts, but I had to shake my head and focus on the bigger issue.
Somehow, I had pulled into my driveway, despite the fact that I had no recollection of actually driving there from Rose’s house. I ran into the house and was happy to see Mom working away in the kitchen on something that smelled incredible, and Dad watching a game.
“Mom, Dad, I need to talk to you.”
I must have looked out of control, because they both said, “Dale, what’s the matter,” at pretty much the same time.
“Calm down,” Dad said, moving from the couch to the kitchen table, and Mom quickly poured me a glass of water before sitting down.
“Are you O.K., honey?” Mom asked, a look of concern on her face.
“Um, oh, yeah, I’m fine, but I need your help.” Mom glanced at Dad with a look that showed both concern and maybe a bit of pleasure that I had come to them. The said nothing, so I told them about Rose, at least a PG-13 or maybe a soft R version. I mean, I wasn’t going to admit to the amount of porn that I watched, or say “blow job” to my mother, but I gave them the basics.
Dad looked up at the ceiling, pressing his fingertips together and then to his lips in his “thinking” look, which I sometimes found myself doing and said, “How can we stop Sam from going public? That’s the immediate kemer escort question.”
Mom said, “But if Sam recognized her, then someone else is bound to. I mean, Sam can’t be the only kid in this town who watches…”
Before she could finish, Dad jumped in, “or adult, for that matter.” Mom shot Dad a look that made it clear that there would be a private discussion between them later.
I had never even considered that possibility. We could put out this fire, and another one could arise the next day, or week, or year. And if she moved, the same thing would just repeat itself. Not to mention, I would never have a chance for another kiss like that. But it wasn’t about me, really, although it was quite a kiss. “What can we do?” I asked.
Mom asked me, “How did you get involved, anyway? I thought that you and Tessa Hill…”
“Rose and I are friends. Sam called me because he knew that. I’m just trying to help. Really.” Dad smiled at me quickly, as if he really didn’t buy that, but he said nothing.
“You’re a good friend, then, Dale,” Mom said.
Dad said, like he was working through an idea out loud, “You know, when you want a reporter to bury a story, you have to offer him something in exchange.”
“But what do we have?” I asked. “We have nothing to trade that is juicier than a former underage porn star going to school with us.”
“Actually, you do,” Dad said, with a grin. “You have the former underage porn star.”
Mom nodded, but I wasn’t getting it. “I don’t get it, Dad.”
“Offer him an exclusive interview with Rose if he holds the story.” Dad replied.
“I still don’t get it. She wants to keep this a secret, not give an interview.”
“No, just offer the interview, but only when Rose decides to go public.”
Dad’s strategy was beginning to make sense. “If she never goes public, then no interview, but if she has to go public, he gets the scoop.”
“Do people still say ‘scoop’?” Mom asked and Dad and I both shrugged. We both watched a lot of television.
Dad turned to me and said, “Call Rose. Tell her our idea. Ask her and her mother to come here so we can discuss it.” I made the call, and Mom returned to the kitchen to prepare for guests.
* * *
About 20 minutes later, we were all in our living room, and Dad outlined his plan. Rose, who kept apologizing, thought it made sense. Her mother initially just wanted to pack up and move on, but Mom convinced her that Farston was a good a place as any to try to stick it out, and she ultimately relented. Dad suggested that we get Mr. Garner involved, and after everyone agreed, he called the principal and filled him in. A half hour later, we were on our way to a meeting at the school.
I could only imagine what happened at the Cruz house when Mr. G called. I mean, it is bad enough when the principal calls, but for him to call on a Sunday evening must have been a little unsettling. Especially since Sam’s parents were kind of religious and conservative.
It was not an easy meeting. Mr. G laid out the facts, and Sam’s parents were mighty unhappy with Sam’s Internet porn viewing. Rose started crying and leaned her head on my shoulder, which drew some surprised looks from my parents. Sam insisted that he had the right to publish, and when Mr. G threatened to kick Sam off the paper, he threatened to post the story online. His parents were horrified at Sam’s insistence on hurting Rose, but also took some shots at Rose’s and her mother’s “immorality.” Mom and Dad tried to calm things down, and I sat there, my head spinning, and Rose bawling away on my shoulder.
Finally, though, and somewhat reluctantly, Sam agreed to the arrangement that he would tell no one, and that whenever Rose decided to go public, he would get an exclusive interview—even if it was after graduation. Mr. G also made it clear that everyone in the room, including me—maybe especially me—was sworn to silence. Mom and Dad offered to take everyone to Cookie’s for dessert and coffee, but the Cruz’s apparently had other, likely less delicious, plans for Sam, and Rose just wanted to go home.
We decided to just go home, too, and the car ride was pretty quiet, other than Dad playing with the radio and Mom busting his chops for playing with the radio. I sat in the back, with my eyes closed, trying to make sense of the whole situation.
Later that night, I was in bed, trying to sleep when my phone rang. It was Rose.
“Hi, Dale, I hope I didn’t wake you.”
“No, I’m awake.”
“I wanted to thank you and your parents for today.”
“No problem.” The phone was silent.
“There’s something else,” Rose finally said.
“Yeah. About our kiss.”
The memory of it flooded back into my mind and I started to feel warm. “It’s O.K., we can pretend it didn’t happen.”
“That’s not what I meant. I wanted to kiss you. I’m glad I kissed you.”
“Me too, then why did you run away?”
There konyaaltı escort was a long silence. I could hear Rose breathing on the phone. Finally she spoke, slowly. “You have been such a good friend to me, even before you knew. And when you told me that you knew, you did everything right. You are the first man I have allowed to kiss me—hell, actually the first man I’ve allowed to touch me—since I got away from those bastards.”
“Oh,” was all I could think to say. For a second, I thought it was cool that she called me a “man,” but I guess I was, and I needed to focus.
“I like you, Dale. I like you a lot. But I can’t see this working. You’re a nice guy, and I’m this, you know, ‘porn star’. I know that you have needs and wants, and I’m not sure I can let that happen. I’m not sure what would happen when we kissed again. Or if we went further. I might lose it again, like I did with Stan, and you deserve better.”
I really didn’t know how to respond, and before I could say anything, she continued. “Plus, if my location gets out, it could get dangerous for you, and I might have to disappear.” She paused again. I could hear her take a deep breath and say, “No, Dale, you and I should just be just friends. You deserve a regular girlfriend, who can be there for you, and act like a girlfriend. You should go out with that cute girl from the party.”
Before I could answer, she hung up. When I called her back, it went to voicemail.
Boy, my life had changed over that weekend. I went from girlfriendless and pretty much hopeless to having a cute sophomore basically throw herself at me, and a 21 year old ex porn star telling me that I was too good for her, after giving me the kiss of my lifetime. Of course, Rose made it clear that she wasn’t currently interested in doing anything with me, while Tessa made it clear that she very much did. On the other hand, as pretty as Tessa was, I really didn’t know her, or whether I even liked anything about her other than her apparent willingness to fuck me. Which, admittedly was a heavy weight on her side of the scale. But Rose was not only more beautiful, she was a real friend, and I knew that we got along, and that there was a real attraction. I mulled over the situation, turning it over and over in my mind, without really coming up with a solution.
* * *
The alarm rang, and I started my morning routine without thinking. But when I saw Mom and Dad, the past night popped back into my mind. I thanked Mom and Dad again for their help. When Dad and I were in the car, he said, “How involved are you with Rose?”
I’ve always found that honesty, or something damn close to it, has worked the best with my parents, so I said, “Really, we are only friends. Yesterday, when I told her that Sam knew about her past, and she was telling me the story, she kissed me, but last night she said it was a mistake,” I rambled.
Dad nodded. “O.K. My advice, if you want it, is that you need to be careful around her. She is not like the other girls you know. She’s had experiences that you can’t even fathom. I don’t want you to get hurt. So, be her friend, but be careful.”
And that was Dad. He didn’t lecture, he didn’t set unenforceable rules. He told me what he thought, and he trusted me to do the right thing. I wished that I knew what the right thing was, though.
Rose was in her usual seat in homeroom, and I tried desperately to act like I had on Friday. Between second and third period, I saw Tessa, and she looked pissed when she saw me. We only had a few minutes, but she left her group of sophomores and came over to me. “Why didn’t you call—or even text—me yesterday? I thought that we had something,” she hissed.
“Something important came up.”
“It better have been,” she said, and turned to walk away. “Meet me at your car after school,” she demanded before striding down the hall to catch up to her friends. I was not looking forward to that conversation. It gnawed at me all day, and Rose’s smile when we passed in the hall only made it worse. Not to mention that it was killing me not to be able to say anything to Albert and Larry about the whole thing.
But I made it through the day, and was both looking forward to and dreading my “meeting” with Tessa. She was waiting by my car, leaning against the hood, looking good enough to eat. Her hair flowed in waves past her shoulders and her compact body strained against her clothing. Her cute face had a mix of innocence and mischief that frankly was nearly irresistible. When I reached the car, she pressed her body against me and brushed my lips with the hint of a kiss.
“Would you give me a ride home?” she asked, knowing the answer would be “yes.” I nodded and opened her door, and as she slid into the passenger seat, I got a brief hint of her soft cleavage. I hurried to the driver’s side of the car, and started to drive toward Tessa’s house. She chattered away, as if we had been dating for months, and not maybe just starting some sort of relationship. I wasn’t sure where this was going, and I kinda hoped that she suggested that we go anywhere other than her house, but after her reaction this morning, I was hesitant to push. When I pulled in front of her family’s nice, white house, I wasn’t sure if she was going to invite me in, so I sat there.
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