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Submitted by Steven ODell on 5 July 2007 - 11:39pm.

Chapter 6

"Denise, come on over to my place for some coffee, if you will. I need to talk a bit." Jenna looked pensive as the car came to a halt in the Jameson's drive.

"Okay; I do think you need to talk. You were awfully quiet on the way home. You have me worried, Jenna. Just let me tie up some loose ends and I'll be right over."

"Okay." She was very distracted and introspective.

Denise hurried to inform Ron that she was going to be delayed at Jenna’s and then rushed back to find Jenna still standing in front of her own door, holding something in her hands and staring at it intently. As she got closer, Denise saw that it was a folded piece of paper that had obviously been found in the door. Jenna stood silently with the paper still unopened.

"It isn't going to read itself, you know." She waited, but Jenna made no response, seeming to be almost in shock. Denise put an arm about her and opening the door, ushered her inside and to the waiting sofa. Jenna sat down and immediately began to cry on Denise's shoulder. No words were exchanged. None were needed. None would even be appropriate enough to help right now. What was needed was a good cry and nothing more.

In time the whole story did unfold—the date from hell, the Prince-Not-So-Charming who had drugged her, attempted to brainwash her and had who knows what else in mind for her.

"Jenna, I'm worried. Guys like this have a habit of not going away. I would like to see charges filed against him, but you have no proof—just your word against his."

"I know. I won't be seeing him again, you can be sure."

"No, I'm not so sure. I wish I could be, for your sake, but experience has been a rough teacher. I don't trust as easily as I once did."

"Well, if I need you, I will let you know."

"I trust you will, but I want you to understand completely that our home is your home, too, anytime you need it. You come stay with us where you know you will be safe. Ron and I don't want anything to happen to you, Jenna. Anyone who messes with you will answer to us as well, got it?"

Jenna smiled for the first time in hours. "Got it." She hugged Denise wordlessly, but said ‘thank you’ in a universal language. The warmth that was wordlessly returned said all she needed to hear—‘you're welcome.’

"Jenna, before I go, I want to apologize."

Jenna's brow pulled together in puzzlement. "What could you possibly have to apologize for?"

"Well, I quite possibly may have been wrong about Tom. I certainly was wrong about Perry, so I apologize."

"I was wrong about both of them, myself. I see it far more clearly now. My fears were misplaced and so was my confidence."

“ ‘Live and learn, babe’, as Ron would say. So, you gonna read your note, or do I have to leave in total suspense and frustration? I'd guess it's from the 'good guy'."

Jenna laughed and opened the note. It was indeed from Tom. It said simply, Call me A.S.A.Y.G.H. His phone number followed. "A-S-A-Y-G-H?" Jenna was stumped.

"As soon as you get home?" Denise offered.

"Could be," Jenna laughed again.

"Then I'll leave you to call him. Just promise you'll come see me when you need help or want to talk. I promise it will be no imposition whatsoever. We all need friends we can count on and I really do care, okay?"

"Thank you, Denise." Jenna hugged her again and saw her to the door.

"Tom?" she asked into the phone receiver.

"Who else would it be?" He said it good-humoredly and with no hint of sarcasm. His voice soothed her soul immediately and she felt at home in the sound of it. How quickly her perspective had changed.

"Can I see you tonight? I can't promise, but I may want to talk."

"It would be my pleasure. One hour."

"One half hour, if you don't mind?"

"Ah...be still, my heart."

She chuckled and then added, "Thank you." Without further talk, she hung up and went to make the coffee she'd forgotten to make earlier while Denise was there.

About twenty minutes later, a firm, but reassuring knock at the door interrupted Jenna’s reverie. She was surprised to feel her heart leap in anticipation and begin racing with excitement as she neared the door. Stopping first to take a deep breath and exhale slowly, she opened the door and just as quickly wanted to slam it shut again. It was Perry. “You forgot your purse.”

She could barely get the words out as she reached for it and thanked him coolly. He held it firmly before asking, “Are you sure you wouldn’t like to try again? I think we just got off to a bad start, that’s all. Just a misunderstanding.”

Jenna responded firmly and with an understated intensity that left no room for mistake as to how she felt. “That’s a fairly accurate description, I would say; but no thank you. I don’t think so.” Pulling her purse from his fingers with some force, she thought as to how she had better check it for missing articles at her earliest opportunity.

“I’m truly sorry you feel that way. You can’t imagine how losing you will make me feel.”

“Losing me? Losing me?! You lost me before you ever had me!” Jenna was absolutely incredulous. She nearly laughed in his face. “Listen, Perry—I don’t want anything more to do with you—ever. What you did was hideously despicable and monstrous and if there were any stronger words, I would use all of them as well. I’ve had enough of you to last a lifetime and your veiled threats don’t make me want to change my mind one iota.” As she began to close the door, his foot stamped to the floor in front of it, preventing it from latching.

“Veiled threats? I’m sure I have no idea as to what you are referring. I meant every word I said.” His brief stare could have shattered ice, but as he turned away, just in time to see Tom coming up the walk, his visage rapidly changed, this time to one of mock friendliness. “Ah, you must be Tom.” He did not extend his hand as one would expect, but instead clasped both of them behind his back. Before Tom could respond, Perry again spoke. “Just a word of advice—Jenna is not in the most stable of emotional states today. Perhaps it would be best if you were to leave her alone. You seem to upset her considerably more than I can explain.”

All of this was spoken quietly, out of earshot of Jenna, who watched intently from the door. Tom shot a glance at her, read her expression in a second and turned again to Perry. “Well, thank you for the advice. I’ll certainly take that into consideration.” His eyes showed no fear and Perry knew it, so he again upped the ante.

“Oh, well,” he sighed and shook his head. “I tried to warn you. What more can I do?” He smiled coolly and then walked past Tom, without looking back. He did, however, take close note of Tom’s car—make, model and plate number—as he walked past to his own, more costly vehicle.

“What was that all about?” Tom asked at the door. Jenna responded by throwing herself against him and holding on for dear life. “Wow, you’re just full of surprises today, aren’t you?” He was genuinely surprised at her seemingly sudden change of behavior. This woman, who earlier couldn’t wait to get rid of him, now could not let go, even long enough to invite him into the house. But Tom was not the only one who took note of this. The black car pulled silently away and disappeared into the distance.

Tom finally pried Jenna loose long enough to steer her into the house. Still she desired to cling to him, and he made no effort to fight it. She did not cry again, but her breathing seemed labored and it was obvious to anyone that she was troubled. He held her close and gently stroked her hair. It felt so natural to be holding her this way, in total and silent trust. Her delicate form seemed molded to perfection to fit his arms and his alone. With his own heart beginning to race, Tom felt this was a dream come true. Jenna’s scent filled his nostrils, and his senses were drifting rapidly. If only this would never end, he thought, but there was indeed some problem at hand, that needed sorting out if she was to be reasonably happy—or feel safe again. The thought shook him.

“Jenna, you need to sit down, now, and tell me what’s wrong. That man upset you, it’s obvious. To tell you the truth, he rather creeped me out, too. Who is he, and what happened?”

“I don’t want to discuss that, yet.” Her hands went to her mouth, and her eyes closed as though to shut out all reference and sight of Perry Rollins. When her eyes opened again, she looked directly at him and said, “Tom I want to know all there is to know about you. Everything.”

He drew her closer, and again she snuggled in as though form-fit to be his alone. His feelings startled him again, and he pulled her head closer, burying his face in her hair and breathing deeply. “I love you,” he whispered softly. She only seamed to cuddle in more fully, if that were possible—a great reassurance to him at this moment.

“I love you, too, Tom,” came her reply, and she turned her face upward and kissed him fully on the lips, nearly taking his breath away. When their lips parted, it felt both like forever and far too short a time and they again clung tightly, as if afraid they would somehow be parted all too soon. It was now that he had dreamed of, and had waited for so long. It was her that he had seen in his dreams. This was the woman he was destined to be with. Now she was finally his and he was absolutely euphoric at the thought.

The light was beginning to fail outside, but nothing could get either of them to break this perfect moment—this small piece of forever they had been given to cherish together. To have and to hold was enough for now. In fact, it would always be enough.

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