Men are pigs! thought Rachel as she stared out the gray streaked window, watching millions of rain drops dancing on the surface of the lake. It was a lesson her Mother had been trying to teach her since she was a young child. Why hadn’t she learned that by now was beyond her? Some things never change she supposed. It was time to finally find out the truth and face it, just to get this ache in her heart to stop. She grabbed the keys off the coffee table and headed out the door.
Seth Parker had been a fixture in her life and heart since she was a teenager, which Rachel supposed could be construed as super romantic or pathetically sad considering she was reaching her mid-thirties. The last four years they had been “dating,” but not serious…..i.e. habitually sleeping together with no real commitment. No commitment was Seth’s deal not hers. Rachel was more than willing to give Seth a commitment of not just her mind & body, but her soul as well.
However if you had asked her friends and family they would have told you Rachel was crazy to put her heart in the hands of Seth Parker, original bad boy and player extraordinaire. He had the looks with his 6 foot frame, dark sandy blond hair, broad shoulders, and piercing blue eyes. When you add the charm, sexual charisma, and intelligence Seth Parker was one hard man to say no too. The problem is history had shown the masses that Seth was just about incapable of being faithful to any woman, not even his ex-wife. Of course, Rachel was the only one who knew that last tidbit.
These thoughts swirled in her head as she locked the door to her house and climbed into her red
. Shaking off the rain drops, Rachel looked in the rear view mirror and for the millionth time lectured herself, Why did you go down that road with him again? Are you a complete idiot? Did you forget what happened ten years ago? Just because now he says you are one of the most important people in his life? If he lost you he’d lose everything? That doesn’t mean he LOVES you, moron! “No it just sounds like he does,” she sighed. Sonoma
Rachel gunned the engine to her beloved red truck before backing it out the driveway onto
Brighton Lake Rd. heading towards Grand River. One thing about Seth was he is a creature of habit, a fact Rachel thanked God for at the moment. It was lunch time at his law office and she knew right where to find him and it was time they had a talk. Face to face this time. She deserved that much from the person who claimed to be her best friend. The one who said he’d always be there for her.
Yet somehow over the last few months, Seth seemed to have forgotten she existed. Right around the time Rachel started having medical problems where doctors were using the words cancer or infertility. She had slipped into a deep, dark, depression where she had lain in bed for days not wanting to get up. And the few times she had talked to Seth telling him about her fears, he blew off her concerns and left her alone to deal with it. When she had tried to confront him on that his excuse was he thought she wanted to be left alone. Right! Your best friend talks about wanting to throw herself off the roof of a building and you think she needs to be left alone!
Something wasn’t adding up because Seth had never been a cold hearted person, at least not where she was concerned. Rachel figured now that she managed to finally get out of her depression, thanks to some real friends, it was time to find out the truth about what is going on with Seth. Thus today’s lunch surprise at Quiznos.
Turning right onto Grand River Rachel followed the lunch time traffic down to the mini-mall containing Seth’s favorite lunch spot. Pulling into the parking lot and finding an obscure spot in the back, she took a deep breath to prepare herself for what was going to come next. Staring out the windshield watching the sprinkles of rain, Rachel tried to think of how she was going to do this.
Once she mustered up enough courage she stepped out into the rain. Walking towards the glass doors of the restaurant, she noticed Seth’s yellow mustang a few spots over and felt her heart beat speed up. The butterflies in her stomach were going warp speed and not in the good way. Something felt off about the whole thing and she couldn’t pin point why. Before opening the door, Rachel stopped and peered through the window.
Several tables back she saw him, but he wasn’t alone. Sitting in the booth next to him was a woman with long bleach blond hair and big boobs. But it wasn’t any blonde; Rachel would recognize that face anywhere. It was Dianna the crazy bitch that broke Seth’s heart about a year ago. The one Rachel spent many nights listening to her then drunken friend, now lover, cry over. The one Seth claimed Rachel helped him get over and one he’d never be stupid enough to go back too. Rachel’s stomach dropped when she realized they were holding hands! Then as if right on cue Seth leaned over and started kissing her!
Rachel could feel the tiny tear in her heart begin as the rage inside built to a screaming roar in her ears. Robotically she turned around and started walking back towards her truck. Half way there she stopped staring at the yellow mustang. Pulling a slip of paper & pen out of her purse, Rachel scribbled a simple message: Hope it was worth losing everything. She folded the message in fourths and slapped it under the wiper of the car.
Back in her truck, Rachel could feel the rage shaking her body. She could not believe that what happened 10 years ago was replaying itself again only worse! This time Seth hadn’t stopped talking to her all together he had kept sleeping with her and filling her head with nonsensical garbage that he really cared about her! She really was only his In Between Girl…..no even better she was the Back Up Plan Girl. The one if he couldn’t find someone better he’d settle for or use up until a better option came along!
The sad fact is everyone tried to warn her he really was that kind of person, but Rachel refused to listen. She had believed in the good in Seth and loved him unconditionally. He had crept into her heart, always knowing how to make her smile or laugh and constantly saying things that made her think she was special to him. She had wanted nothing more than to give him everything she had in her heart and share a life with him someday. The worst part, the most hurtful part, was when she really needed him as a friend he was too busy chasing a piece of ass to be bothered! And the real pathetic thing is she had devalued herself enough to become his whore in the process!
NEVER AGAIN were the words that screamed in her head as she gunned her truck out into traffic. Rachel was on auto pilot speeding through traffic with no concrete direction in mind. All she knew is she needed to get FAR away and FAST! A tornado of thoughts whirled in her head; “I just wanted to make this the most romantic day ever for you”…..”If I lost you I’d lose everything,”…..”you know if I kiss a girl, I must really like her,” Close to twenty years of friendship, romantic memories, everything that meant anything felt like a lie….meaningless. Empty.
As the reality of those thoughts sunk in, Rachel could literally feel the splintering of her heart while it disintegrated. The pain ripping a hole straight through her causing her to start hyperventilating. Why not just stop breathing? Does anything even matter anymore? As If in an unconscious attempt to out run the process, she pushed her vehicle faster.
Rachel had somehow ended up on Argentine road going towards
. Argentine road is a typical paved country road with twisty and winding curves that those who loved to drive fast could never resist, and Rachel was taking those curves at easily twice the legal limit. Trees and farms whipped passed in a blur. The Linden rounded an extreme curve and Rachel lost control of her vehicle. She heard a loud crunch and then the world turned on it’s head. Sonoma
“Are you sure she hasn’t tried calling and you just missed the call?”
“Yeah, the phone has been silent all morning. Why?”
“I just want to make sure she is okay that’s all.”
“And exactly why wouldn’t Rachel be okay?”
“I don’t know.”
“You don’t know? Seth, what the hell is going on?”
“Chill Lucy. Nothing is going on. Just let me know if you hear from her okay?”
“Seth Parker if you have done something to hurt her again, I swear I will personally kick your ass! I am so tired of you messing with my best friend!”
“I didn’t do anything,” was the mumbled response.
Angry and frustrated Lucy slammed the phone back on the charger. She could not believe the gall of this man. Seth always did think he was God’s gift to women, when really he is just a dangerous predator. The kind of man who knows exactly how to make women fall in love with him, not because he loved them back, but just so he could use them to fulfill his own needs
Lucy Levano was the kind of woman who easily saw through other people’s bullshit and didn’t have a problem calling them on it. Needless to say it did not take long for Seth’s penchant for exactly that to come to the surface. Less than impressed Lucy was able to dodge that bullet, only to watch it smash right into her childhood best friend Rachel Hart.
Over the last 10 years or more Lucy had done her best to try to convince Rachel of the fact Seth could not be trusted. But no matter how hard Lucy tried it just seemed to push Rachel closer to him. So Lucy had finally given up trying and let her friend go the path her heart led her.
Lucy felt slightly uneasy about the phone call, but knew if something was truly wrong Rachel would call. However she could always check in just to make sure everything was alright. Just as the thought entered her head the phone began to ring. Looking at the caller ID, Lucy picked it up.
“Hello there. I was just about to call you. Start talking chickie”
“My Sophie has been hurt,” a deep male voice answered.
A chill crept over Lucy’s skin raising goose bumps.
“What? Do you mean Rachel and how the hell did you get her phone?”
“She needs help. She is on Argentine rd. The ambulance is coming.”
Thoughts raced through Lucy’s head as she quickly redialed Rachel’s number. No answer. Damn it! What if this was just some idea of a sick joke? Rachel could have lost her phone and this was some pervert’s idea of a good time. He did use the wrong name……wait Sofie was what Rachel’s Aunt Maddie always called her. Something about her middle name. The sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach told Lucy this was no joke.
Trying to make sense of the tornado in her head, Lucy was busy throwing on her Red Wings hoodie and sneakers. She grabbed her keys off the kitchen table and booked out the door. Argentine road was just one turn off the road Lucy lived on. So it was definitely possible Rachel had been on that road today. If she had a fight with Seth the first place she would have gone was Lucy’s house.
Even when the world was upside down automatic bodily functions like breathing should still manage to continue. Should it not? At least that was the thought currently in Rachel’s head. However for some reason she was struggling with that basic task. It was then she realized something was covering her face. The need for self-preservation kicking in, Rachel grabbed at the material covering her face and pushed it away.
Rachel realized the truck’s airbag must have been deployed during the crash. The crash, omigod! Did I hit someone? Is anyone hurt? These thoughts turned to raw panic as Rachel attempted to reach her arm towards the door handle. Unfortunately a wave of pain and dizziness hit when she tried to move. The last thing Rachel saw was a pair of worn brown leather work boots outside the driver side window before the wings of darkness enfolded her.
Slowly the darkness began to form images and sounds one after another.
Children’s laughter and bright sunlight bursting through colored trees. A young blond girl with amazing violet eyes smiling and spinning……sky turns overcast blending dark……a woman’s back kneeling at the bottom of a staircase holding a blond child in her arms and sobbing…..a dark silo reaching out of the darkness moving closer……a voice screaming “RUN SOPHIE RUN!!”
Rachel sat on the bed under the brash lighting listening to a mix of random beeps and her best friend Lucy Levano’s voice rambling on. Rachel tried to tune into what Lucy was saying, but most of it passed through her like muted rain drops. She caught words here and there, such as ‘worried,’ ‘lucky,’ and ‘reckless.’ But for the most part Lucy’s words were lost in the vastness of the hospital, an entertaining diatribe for bored family & friends of other patients to focus on.
“Did you hear a Word I just sad?” Lucy raged, “Hello, McFly!” Lucy bore into her with those chocolate brown eyes and stopped short of smacking the back of Rachel’s head.
“Sorry….um….what?” Rachel flinched
“Exactly! You NEVER listen to a word I say! What could have possessed you to be driving so recklessly down Argentine in the rain? You are so lucky the only casualties where your truck and Mr. Seymore’s precious rose bushes! Do you want to tell me what the HELL is going on?”
“Not really no.” Rachel couldn’t quite get the fuzzy images from her brief glimpse of unconsciousness-before the ambulance had arrived, out of her head let alone answer Lucy’s questions. Not to mention the overwhelming pain in her whole body right now.
“Yeah I figured! Well eventually you will talk! Now do as the good doctor ordered and get dressed so we can blow this pop stand,” and with that she flounced out of the hospital room as only Lucy Levano could.
Rachel stared after her dreading the inevitable inquisition that would follow on the way home. But the last place she wanted to be right now was in the ER room feeling like the world’s biggest idiot. What she had done was stupid and reckless. She knew that. The problem was she wasn’t sure how much she cared right now.
Thankfully her only injuries were several broken ribs and a mild concussion, with a few minor scratches thrown in for good measure. What Rachel was most relieved about though was that nobody else had been involved in the accident. It was much easier swallowing one’s own stupidity when the only person they hurt is themselves.
As Rachel slipped off the bed to get dressed, she made the classic concussion mistake and rose too quickly. The world started to sway and she found her rear end quickly reconnecting with mattress below her. She giggled at herself more out of nervous embarrassment than humor and tried again…..slowly this time…….Success!
Now she just had to manage getting her jeans, pinks sweater, and Nike shoes on without killing herself. Rachel thought the odds might be in her favor on that one. She figured if she focused hard enough on the task she could keep her mind off the situation with Seth…….. Seth. The word hurt just to hear it even just in her head…..Just breathe she reminds herself. She could not, however, keep the image of him kissing Dianna out of her head. STOP! She commanded herself.
Breathing slowly in and out, Rachel pushed all thoughts out of her head. Then she began getting dressed and found the pain involved required her to focus solely on the task. She was just finishing up the shoes when the nurse arrived with the discharge papers followed by the hospital aid with the wheelchair.
“Ready Ms. Hart? I bet you can’t wait to get into your own bed,” a friendly blonde, twenty -something aid smiled at Rachel. Rachel could only imagine what twenty-something in her pink hello kitty scrubs was thinking of the crazy old lady who rolled her truck. She was sure she didn’t want to know. Twenty-something smiled down at Rachel with her big blue doe eyes. One more thing Rachel could envy about her. She was sure those eyes & dimples broke more than a few hearts.
Admiring the radiating youth of twenty-something and the bounce in her step, Rachel ached for her own lost innocence. Where had all the years gone? Wasted on loving someone who never even cared about her all that much, let alone loved her? Yeah that would be the answer. Memories washed over her wonderful heart wrenching memories. Nights under the stars talking for hours finishing each other’s sentences, the first kiss, whispered sweet nothings.
She could feel the pain start to beat at her chest making it difficult to breath. Refusing to let Seth Parker humiliate her further by falling apart among strangers, Rachel pushed her feelings deep inside & did not let the tears welling in her eyes fall.
“Ms. Hart are you okay?”
“Yeah, sorry. I’m ready.” Rachel focused her energies on getting into the black wheelchair.
“Yes, broken ribs are awfully painful. But don’t worry the doctor prescribed some good pain killers for you”
Rachel wondered if those big white pills would kill the pain of a broken heart, somehow she didn’t think so. She reminded herself that she would have plenty of time to fall apart in the arms of her best friend later. Until then she would focus on the business she would need to take care of due to her carelessness.
Like calling Principal Eggert in the morning to tell him about the accident and that she would probably have to take off these last few weeks before summer break. Rachel could have tried to work through the pain, but she had some vacation time becoming. Besides she didn’t think that working while on strong pain killers was appropriate, not to mention being on her feet for long periods is not recommended for someone with a concussion.
Although there were several students that Rachel would miss, she was glad for the break. Lately she was less than satisfied with her chosen career as English teacher. Somehow she had never thought about what would happen if she ended up with a class full of spoiled junior high children. Students who could care less about reading anything that didn’t have Beyonce or Justin Beiber on the cover and God forbid you actually wanted them to write something!
The cool breeze washing over her face from the hospital door opening brought Rachel out of her head. She noticed the sun was already setting, turning the horizon above the trees a purplish pink. Sky blue pink Aunt Maddie always calls it.
“Here we are Ms Hart. Is that your ride’s car there?” Twenty-something asked pointing to a silver Kia pulling up to the door.
“Yes, that is Lucy’s car.”
“Let me help you get inside,” Twenty-something came around the wheel chair grabbing Rachel’s arm like she was an elderly woman crossing the street. Rachel could not help but chuckle, until she stood up and the world started to tilt again.
“Oops, here we go. I gotcha.” Twenty something firmed her grip & put her other hand behind Rachel’s back, helping her climb into the little car.
“Thank you” was Rachel’s grumbled response.
“No problem. Have a good evening Ms. Hart.” Twenty-something shut the car door.
Closing her eyes against the flicker of pain, Rachel tried to mentally prepare herself for the onslaught she knew was about to happen.
“So how ya feeling trooper? Wanna get something to eat?” Lucy’s sardonic smile & arched brow did not mix with tone of her voice as she pulled out of the hospital parking lot.
“Like I got run over by a Mack truck. Listen I know you’re mad-“
“I’m not Mad. Nope not at all,” Lucy cut in, “My best friend decides to drive like she is in the Indy 500, during one of the first rains of the season, on a dangerously curved road! But what could I possibly be mad about?”
“That your best friend is a complete and utter moron.”
“Well that is one thing we agree on today. Oh and would you mind telling me what I was supposed to tell your mother who is in Alaska, had you not survived? Let alone your Aunt Maddie up north? Hmm?”
“I’m really sorry Luc! It was absolutely reckless and stupid thing for me to do. I get that, really I do! But please tell me you did NOT call my mother. That really is the last thing I need right now.”
“NEED? What you NEED is to tell me what the hell is going on.” Lucy’s chocolate brown eyes pinned Rachel to the seat. Shifting uncomfortably, Rachel scrambled for something to prolong the inevitable I told you so conversation about Seth. “Quit stalling and SPILL IT! I already know it has something to do with Seth.”
“How do you know that?” Rachel sighed
“When is it not about Seth? Besides that he called me right before your creepy good Samaritan.”
“Good Samaritan? I have a creepy good Samaritan?”
“Uh yeah. Apparently he called 911 right before me, according to the EMS I spoke too. Plus he knew your middle name…..called you his Sophie. Any clue who he is?”
“No. That IS creepy! How the hell does he know my middle name?”
“I was hoping you would know.” Lucy turned on Grand River heading towards their favorite eating spot, Max’s Sweet Shop. An old fashioned burger & soda fountain joint.
“Maybe he read my license?” Rachel shrugged, trying to think of who this man could be. The problem was she was drawing a complete blank.
“Then why would he call you HIS Sophie?”
“Right, very creepy. I have no idea.” Rachel looked out at the beautiful sunset, rubbing against the goose bumps forming on her arms. Lucy swung into a parking spot next to the giant 50s neon sign and turned towards Rachel.
“Yea that’s kinda scary. Ok now that we have creepy good Samaritan guy out of the way, what the hell is up with you & Seth?”
Seth…Seth….Seth. The word repeating in her mind like a living creature she couldn’t control brought with it the pain. The pain beating against her chest and stealing her breath. God how she hated herself for ever believing in him or the words he said. Unable to hold it together any longer the words burst through. Under the safe scrutiny of her best friend Rachel let it all go, the whole story, every emotion. It wasn’t until she was through that she realized she had her arms around her middle like she was trying to hold herself together and tears were streaming down her face.
Lucy grabbed Lucy’s hand, pulled her face up so she could look her in the eyes and said, “Oh honey, what you need right now is some chocolate & tequila.”