Anna reveals some of her past to Gerard.
“Anna” Claire had head the scream. She flipped on the lights and saw that Gerard was slumped on the ground rubbing his head.
Anna sat up and realization of what she’d done flooded her. “Oh, God. I am sorry.” She cried.
Gerard raised his head, “What the fuck happened?”
Claire understood immediately and took over to handle the situation, “She had a nightmare.”
On the bed Anna’s head was hung as she rocked herself back and forth sobbing.
Gerard looked at her, “I’m okay.” He said hoping to calm her.
“He is bleeding.” Anna whispered to Claire. “I hurt him.”
Claire looked shocked only for a moment then sprinted into action. She crossed over to Gerard, “Come to the bathroom and let me check your head.”
Gerard, who was still feeling woozy, nodded slowly. Claire helped him stand then took his arm to lead him out of the bedroom. His eyes fastened on Anna who was still sobbing, “Sugar, it’s okay.”
Anna refused to look up, she couldn’t.
In the bathroom Claire immediately began tending to the bump on the back of his head. She washed away the blood then applies a very strong smelling antiseptic. Gerard’s nose twitched, “Shit that smells bad.”
Claire nodded, “It does but it is important to clean the wound. I believe you hit the frame on the corner of the window.” She applies more antiseptic then secured a small bandage. “I am not sure this will hold. Your hair makes it difficult but the bleeding has stopped.”
Gerard waited until she was done then turned to face her, “Does she have nightmares often?” His mind was starting to clear, the shock wearing off of what had happened and he was trying to make sense of it all.
Claire sighed, “Not often but when she does they are very bad.” She wanted to return to the bedroom to check on Anna, “Perhaps it would be best for you to return to your tour bus. They have also stopped.”
“I want to check on her.” He wanted to make sure she was really okay before he made a decision. He slid past Claire and returned to the bedroom. Anna was still sitting in the middle of the bed, looking down.
Gerard sat down carefully beside her. “That must have been one hell of a nightmare.”
Anna nodded. She could feel everything she’d worked so had to achieve slipping away. He was sure to think she was she was disturbed. “I am sorry I hurt you.” She whispered
He wanted to assure her he was okay, “Sugar, I’ve got a hard head. You didn’t really hurt me but damn woman you’re strong. You tossed me across the room. That was a hell of an adrenalin rush.” That had to be it because it was the only explanation he could come up with for what had happened.
Once again tears came to her eyes. “Maybe you should go back to your bus.” She whispered. “I think it would be best.”
Gerard slowly stood, “If that’s what you want,” He didn’t want to leave but she was so upset he didn’t want to make the situation worse. He started towards the door then stopped, “Anna, I want to stay.” He was confused but leaving didn’t seem right.
She looked up at him with tears in her eyes and didn’t answer for several moments. Taking a deep breath and knowing how hard this would be she nodded, “If that is what you want I would like you to stay.”
In the doorway Claire cleared her throat, “He has a bump on his head but the bleeding has stopped.”
Gerard laughed, “And she put some really foul smelling stuff on it.”
Anna and Claire exchanged a look that Gerard missed as he slipped back into the bed.
“I will fill the tank and we will be on our way again.” Claire said as she turned off the light then closed the door. In the darkness Anna felt Gerard move closer to her again. She closed her eyes and prayed she could handle this.
“Anna?” Gerard whispered.
“I really am okay, so please don’t worry about it.” He leaned down and gently kissed her cheek.
“I am just so sorry.” Her voice cracked.
“Hey” He whispered, “Nightmares can be terrible, I know.”
Anna knew he had no idea how bad hers could be. Suddenly she wanted him to understand. She needed him to understand at least a small part of it. “In the nightmare I was reliving something from my past.” She whispered. “I woke and your body was holding mine down, I panicked. “
Something in her voice made him realize she was trying desperately to tell him something she had kept buried. A chill ran down his spine. “Can you tell me?”
Tears rolled down her cheeks, “When I was young a man forced himself on me. Then he beat me then left me for dead.”
Gerard closed his eyes a moment feeling an intense anger wash over him, “Son of a bitch.” He whispered, “I’m so sorry.” Words seemed so inadequate.
“The nightmare was so vivid, so real. I could smell his breath, feel his hands on me.” She broke off sobbing.
Gerard pulled her into her arms praying the gesture would make her feel safe, “I wish I knew what to say. I wish I could take this pain away from you.”
“There is nothing to say. I just wanted you to understand. I do not want you to think I am crazy.” Anna whispered brokenly.
Her words shocked him, “Anna, you didn’t need to tell me this for that reason.”
“That was not the only reason. I wanted you to understand why I am this way. I am damaged and I thought you should know.”
“No.” He replied angrily, “You’re not damaged, there isn’t a fucking thing damaged about you. That bastard hurt you but you but he didn’t take away your soul Anna. Don’t ever say that again. What happened to you was brutal but it wasn’t your fault. Don’t ever blame yourself for that bastards actions.”
Anna continued to weep softly.
“Sugar, how old were you when it happened?” He hoped it wasn’t wrong to ask.
“I was sixteen.” Anna whispered.
His heart went out to her realizing she had not only lost her family at that age but was brutally attacked. He wanted her to understand, “If you don’t want to tell me about it, it’s okay, but if you think it would help to let out some of this pain you’ve kept inside then I want you to tell me.”
Anna so badly wanted to tell him the truth. This was something not even Claire knew about her past. Yet she knew she had to be careful. “I was living in Cripple Creek.” She began. As she spoke the memories flooded her mind. “It was a beautiful Spring evening and I decided to take a walk down to the main street of town.” She hated the lies she was forced to tell. “It started to grown dark and I knew I should return home.”
“You were living with your uncle then?” Gerard asked.
“Yes. So foolishly I chose to cut through an alley.” She paused closing her eyes tightly as the memory forced its way into her brain, “It happened so quickly. He grabbed me from behind and pushed me against the brick wall so hard that I saw stars and was afraid I would black out.” She sobbed, “Sometimes I wish I had, then I would not remember what he did.”
Gerard’s heart went out to her. “It’s okay, Sugar.” He whispered not knowing what else to say.
The words started pouring out. “I slumped to the ground and he fell on me. His hands were so rough.” She shuddered. “He told me to shut up or he would kill me. I was so afraid I did not know what to do. I tried to struggle under his weight but he was so heavy I felt like I was suffocating. His breath was so foul and I started to gag. That was when he hit me across the face. He told me to lie there and not make a sound and it would be over soon.” Gerard could feel her tears wetting his shirt. “I was so scared that I cried out for my dead mama and he struck me again in the mouth, I could taste blood.”
Gerard rocked her in his arms murmuring words he hoped would comfort her.
“And then he…” She couldn’t go on.
“It’s okay, Anna.” He felt his own eyes were damp. “It’s okay, now.”
Anna realized she had to get control of her emotions. “When he was done he stood up and he laughed.”
“Bastard.” Gerard spat.
Anna tried to push the memory of that night from her mind but it was impossible. The fear she’d felt refused to fade. “I prayed he would leave but he continued to stand over me.” She took a deep breath, “And then he kicked me and he just kept doing it over and over. I screamed and he started kicking my face. Over and over until I felt myself slowing fading into the darkness. I wanted the darkness. I wanted it to be over. I knew I was dying. I felt it. I had been so cold lying on the ground but suddenly there was no feeling, there was nothing. And then I saw her. I saw my mama and she was waiting for me. Sometimes I have wondered why I did not see the rest of my family, why it was only mama.”
Gerard tightened his arms around her as if he could keep her safe from the memories. “But you didn’t die.”
Anna grew very still. In her mind she remembered what had happened next. The handsome young man who had kneeled by her broken body. How gently he had lifted her head.
“Anna?” Gerard was afraid because she’d grown so still.
“I have never spoken of these memories to anyone before now.” She whispered.
He was touched she had trusted him. “I just wish I knew what to say. I’m so fuckin’ sorry that happened to you. Did they catch him?”
Once more she remembered the scene in the alley. Watching as the man who had hurt her died. “Yes” She whispered. “He paid for his sins.” Suddenly she was overcome with despair. “You see is so much about me you do not know.”
Her words confused him yet somehow he was not surprised. He knew in his soul this woman held so many secrets. “Someday I hope you will trust me enough to tell me. I’ll wait for that day.” He said from the bottom of his heart.
“I do trust you.” She whispered through her tears, “But…”
“It will take time.” Gerard said believing he understood.
Anna’s tears continued to fall. Time was one thing they didn’t have.
Long into the night they talked. Anna spoke more of her past, the past she dared to reveal. She had explained to him that after she’d been so brutally attacked it had been months before she recovered. She lied and told him that her uncle had sent her to the private school in Europe as soon as she could travel.
As the early morning broke Gerard fell asleep. It was just after ten when Claire knocked on the door.
“I am sorry but your brother is here and wishes to speak to you.”
Gerard opened his eyes and stretched. He was surprised to find that he was alone. “Where’s Anna?”
“She went for a walk.” Claire answered. As she moved back slightly Gerard saw Mikey standing behind her.
“Hey, bro.” Mikey said grinning.
Gerard sat up, “What’s up?”
Mikey waited until Claire left the bus before speaking, “I was just checking on you. I saw Anna and she told me you were still sleeping.”
“Where are we?”
“About fifty miles from the venue. Everybody is over at the restaurant having breakfast. You gonna come?”
Gerard nodded, “Yeah, sure. Is Anna there too?”
Mikey shook his head, “Nope. She said she wasn’t hungry. Last time I saw her she was sitting on a bench under some trees sketching.”
Memories from last night suddenly filled Gerard’s head, “I gotta check on her.” He said quickly rising from the bed.
Mikey gave him a surprised look, “Something wrong?”
“We talked about a lot of personal shit last night. Some of it pretty intense.” He grabbed his clothes and headed for the bathroom.
“What’s on the back of your head?” Mikey asked spying the bandage.
“Oh, I hit my head.” Gerard said as he closed the bathroom door. When he reemerged dressed Mikey was waiting for him.
“How’d you hit your head?”
There was no way he was going to tell him what happened. “I just did. Come on, let’s go.”
It wasn’t until he stepped out of the RV something that had been kicking around in the back of his mind came into focus. Last night when Claire had flipped on the lights one of the first things Anna had said was that she had hurt him, that he was bleeding. But he’d still be slumped against the wall. The wound was on the back of his head….
“Gerard” Mikey said loudly trying once again to get his attention, “Are you gonna eat breakfast with us?”
“Uh, no.” He spotted Anna. “I’ll just grab a cup of coffee later”
Mikey saw that his brother’s attention was focused on Anna. “Hey, I’ll bring you guys out a couple a cups of coffee.”
Gerard smiled, “Thanks Bro.” He crossed the parking lot to the wooded area.
“Good morning.” Anna said looking up at him from her sketchpad.
Gerard sat down next to her and impulsively placed a gentle kiss on her cheek, “How long have you been up?”
“A few hours. I wanted to let you sleep so I sat with Claire a while then when we stopped I decided to do a bit of sketching,”
He wanted to see what she was working on but she closed the sketchbook.
“Won’t let me see?” He teased.
Anna shook her head, “Not yet, it is not done.”
Gerard stood up suddenly, “You know I think it’s only fair that since you showed me that drawing last night, I should share.”
Anna gave him a confused look, “Share?”
He nodded, “Yeah, be right back.” As she watched he sprinted across the lot back to the RV. Several minutes later he emerged holding the sketchbook he had retrieved from his messenger bag. He sat back down and flipped it open, “I did this a couple of days ago.” He said looking slightly embarrassed.
Anna looked down at the drawing of herself. “Oh my.” She was at a loss for words.
“That bad, huh?”
When she looked up at him her eyes were moist, “This is beautiful. Is this truly how I look to you?”
“Well, yeah.” He was surprised by the question. “Why?”
Anna looked at the drawing again, “Because I look so beautiful.” She whispered.
“You are beautiful.” He answered reaching out and touching her cheek, “You really don’t believe that, do you?”
How could she explain to him that the reflection she saw in the mirror looked like a stranger to her?
“Anna, you are beautiful inside and out.” His thumb brushed her bottom lip.
This conversation was making her uncomfortable so she changed the subject. “How is your head? Does it hurt?”
He realized what she was doing.” Stop worrying about my head. I told you I’m fine.”
“He won’t tell me what he did.” Mikey’s voice started both of them. Gerard dropped his fingers from Anna’s face and turned to look at his brother.
“I hit my head.” He said trying to play it off. He saw that Mikey had brought them coffee and reached to take the cup that was being held out for him. “Thanks Bro.”
Mikey handed the other cup to Anna. “Claire said you take it black.”
Anna smiled, “I do and thank you.” She tried to see past him to the restaurant, “Is Claire having breakfast also?”
“Nope, just coffee.” He followed Anna’s gaze and saw that Claire had just exited the building. Bob was following closely behind. “He’s gonna check the air in the RV’s tires.” Mikey explained. “Claire and Bob were talking when I got the coffee. She was saying how she needed to check the tires and Bob volunteered to do it for her.”
Gerard laughed, “Sure he did.”
Anna turned and gave him a puzzled look, “You are surprised he offered?”
Mikey grinned, “Uh let’s just say Bob has mentioned a few times he’d like to get to know Claire better.”
This news shocked Anna, “Really?”
Gerard wondered why that surprised her, “Well sure. Claire is sorta a mystery. None of us have talked to her all that much.”
Anna looked across the parking lot to where Claire stood watching Bob who was bending down using a pressure gage to check the tires. He must have said something amusing because Claire suddenly threw her head back and laughed.
“Oh, romance is in the air.” Mikey teased following Anna’s gaze.
Gerard was watching Anna’s face closely, “There’s nothing wrong with that is there? I mean Claire doesn’t have a boyfriend does she?”
Anna forced herself to look away from Claire and Bob, “No, she is unattached.”
“Hey I gotta get back in there to my breakfast or Alicia will eat it.” Mikey said laughing, “See you guys later.” With that he turned and walked towards the restaurant.
Gerard noticed Anna was looking across the lot again, “Does it bother you that Bob is interested in Claire?”
“No, of course not.” Anna answered truthfully, “I just am a bit surprised. Claire does not usually warm to people.”
Her words puzzled him, “You mean she’s sorta shy?”
“You could say that.” Anna answered. “But it is nice to see her enjoying his company.”
Gerard suddenly had an idea, “Hey maybe tonight you could stay on my bus and Bob could ride with Claire. You know keep her company while she’s driving?”
Anna surprised him by suddenly laughing, “You sound as if you are a matchmaker.”
He grinned, “Well Bob has been kinda lonely since he and his girlfriend broke up so maybe this is a good thing.”
“Perhaps.” Anna agreed.
Gerard looked into her eyes, “And that would also mean that I could share my bunk with you.”
Anna smiled, “There are many sofas on your bus. I am sure I could sleep on one of those.”
If she hadn’t been smiling he would have been hurt by her words but he could tell she was teasing, “Nope. They aren’t comfortable at all. You’ll have to share my bunk. You know think of it as research. Getting to see how it is to sleep on a tour bus.”
Anna glanced over and saw that Claire and Bob were once again laughing about something. They truly seemed to be enjoying each other’s company. She had known for some time that one day Claire would need to find another life, one that did not include her. “Well I do suppose I could.” She gave him a beautiful smile, “In the name of research, of course.”
AUTHOR NOTE: Just want to thank all of you for the reviews. Often I smile when I read what you write and while I’d love to respond to some of the comments I can’t because let’s face it..it would ruin the story. All I can say is this…don’t be mislead by the obvious. LOL
Oh and Allie you are totally right sometimes I do write uber long sentences. LOL I’ll try to watch that!