Chapter One: Annalisa

I sat huddled in the corner, afraid to move or make a sound. My body screamed in pain but I was too afraid to cry. Afraid he would come back inside and started beating me again. Slowly, I crawled toward my desk. I sat down on the chair and grabbed the pen. I was in the middle of doing my schoolwork when my father barged into my room and start beating me for unknown reasons. I cried and pleaded but he kept beating me with his belt. My tears rolled down my cheeks as I finished the schoolwork.

I've been living in this hell since I was 11. Every time my parents fight, they would then unleash their anger on me. I didn't even know why they beat me in the first place. I was a small 14 years old girl and how long can I endure this kind of pain? They never said they're sorry for beating me. I envied my younger sister. She didn't have to experienced the same pain. My parents spoiled her rotten but she always treat me nicely.

Today I received the belt. Two days before, I was kicked and slapped. Five days before, my father pushed me against the wall until my nose bled. Sometimes my mother would grab my long hair and pushed me to the floor. Why me? What have I done to deserve such cruel punishment from my own parents?

For the next two years, I had to endure the beatings from my parents until one day I had enough. It happened a month before the final exam of my senior year. In pain and anger, I raised my right hand and slapped my father on the cheek hard. He was totally stunned and for the first time, I saw fear in his dark eyes. "I hate you," I said right in his face. "I'd never love you nor respect you. You've done nothing but give me pain. I wished to God I could kill you." He said nothing and stepped back.

That was thirteen years ago. After graduation, I packed and left the city. My father's distant cousin, Aunt Helen asked me to live with her after I told her everything. She lived in a small town, far away from the city where my family and I live. As I stepped down from the bus, Aunt Helen ran toward me and embraced me tightly. "I'm free now, Aunt Helen," I whispered. I saw tears rolled down her cheeks as she nodded gently.

I heard the bells chimed and I turned my head to see a man walking toward the counter. He was tall, probably around five foot ten or eleven with broad chest and wide shoulders. I stiffened at the sight of the hat and uniform. He was a police officer. I couldn't see his face clearly because he was bending his head down as he talked on his cell phone. "Aunt Helen, who's that?" I asked. "Oh, that's Officer Derek Anthony. He just transferred here about a week ago," she replied. "Derek?" I murmured when he approached the counter. He raised his head. "Lis?" he asked in surprised. "Is it really you?" He took off his hat and I noticed the neatly trimmed short dark hair. He looked more handsome than thirteen years ago. "Where have you been for these past thirteen years?" Aunt Helen looked at me then Derek. "You two knew each other?" she asked. "Of course we knew each other, Helen! We attended the same school and best of friends," he replied.

He turned to look at me again. "You didn't answer my question. Where the hell have you been?" he repeated the question. "I've been living here with Aunt Helen and helping her runs the diner. Does that answer your question, officer?" I replied sarcastically. I couldn't help feeling irritated whenever I saw a police officer even if that officer was my best friend. Derek narrowed his eyes and his jaw clenched. Did I annoy him? Good. Aunt Helen planted her hands on her hips and stared hard at me. "Annalisa Campbell! Is that the way to treat an old friend?" she scolded and I sighed. "If you need anything, I'll be in the kitchen," I told her and left the counter.


Chapter Two: Derek

"Let her go, Helen. She'd been through a lot for these past thirteen years," I said and grabbed the elderly woman's hand as she about to follow Annalisa to the kitchen. She swung to face me and frowned. "What do you know about what that poor girl been through?" she asked as she poured a cup of hot coffee for me. "I knew about the beatings. She always came to school with body full of bruises," I answered. Helen leaned closer. "That's not all, Derek. There are other things she wouldn't tell you about. Despite all that, she's a tough girl. Did you know she fought her father back and told him right in his face that she hated him?" I raised a brow.

"She did? That's good. I'm proud of her but what other things she wouldn't tell me about?"

"You're a man. You wouldn't understand."

"She doesn't trust her own friend?"

"'re a police officer now and that makes it worse."

"What do you mean?"

"She hates police officers. That's why she treated you coldly."

I drank my coffee and sighed. She hates police officers? But why? Helen reappeared with a plate of ranch breakfast. "Eat up, young man. You're going to need a lot of energy with the kind of work you're doing," she said with a smile. "Yeah? But what about the energy I needed to smash the wall that Lis erected around herself?" I asked softly. Helen sighed heavily. "What do you want from her, Derek? She's a broken woman." I stared hard at her. "What she really need is love, Helen. She grew up knowing only pain, anger and hatred," I said. "Can you give her that? Love I mean? Don't say things you know you can't fulfill, young man. It's not a good thing playing with one's heart you know. Especially a heart as broken as hers," the elderly woman said with a frown. "I've been loving that same woman for years, Helen. She needs to know that there's someone who really cared about her." She smiled. "Well...good luck because you needed that," she said then left me to finish my breakfast.

Wild Rivers was a small town, a kind of place I'm not accustomed to. I'm a city boy but willing to give a small town a shot. It was a quiet place where everybody knows everybody. I arrived here about a week ago and still learning everyone's names. The town was situated by a river but there was nothing wild about it. How the town ends up with the name, I have no idea. I put on my hat as I stepped out the diner and strode toward the station which was within walking distances. "Good morning, Derek," an elderly man greeted me as he turned over the OPEN sign on the door of the only grocery store in town. "Good morning, Abel. How's your ankle?" I greeted back. He chuckled. "Better. Thanks for your help the other day," he replied. "Don't mention it. Glad I could help," I said and went on my way.

After two hours at the station, I decided to walk around town. Crime was pretty low in this small town. Even if there was a case, it's either about neighbors butting heads over herds trespassing or wives beating up their husbands because they're too lazy to wake up early. I chuckled. I wouldn't want to marry the local girls here if they're anything like their mothers. I stood outside Helen's Diner, watching Annalisa working. At the age of seventeen, she was quite small for her age. She was short and skinny. Now at the age of thirty, she looked great. She stood at five foot four, curvy and her dark brown hair was longer than I remembered. She was a beautiful woman with beautiful eyes. But if you looked real deep into her eyes, you would see sadness and pain. I wanted to be the man that could bring a smile to her lips and filled her world with happiness. I sighed. I knew loving her wasn't easy. She grew up not knowing what love was and how it felt to be loved by someone who really cared about her. I wished she could open up to me and tell me everything.

When we're both in our teens, she's willing to share happiness with me but not the painful moments of her life. She's always shutting me out whenever I tried to make her confide in me. I watched as she moved around, smiling but the smiles she puts on rarely reached her eyes. She was a sad and lonely woman. I casted my eyes toward the clear blue sky, seeking a divine assistance. "I need your assistance, Lord. I can't do this alone," I whispered. I let out a heavy sigh then resumed my walks. When it came to Annalisa, miracle is what I need.

I buried myself in paper works after I got back from my walks. I jerked my head up when someone put a takeout on my desk. I saw Annalisa looking down at me with an expression I couldn't put my finger on. I stood up and offered her a seat. She politely declined. "Aunt Helen said you always missed your lunch when you're busy so she asked me to deliver these to you," she said. I looked at the takeout and a tall cup of steaming black coffee. I smiled. Helen always knew what I wanted. I looked back at Annalisa and noticed her discomfort. She looked around her, frowning. I put my hand on her back and pushed her lightly toward the door. Her body stiffened at the contact but she made no protest. "I know you hate everything that has to do with the police including the station. You don't have to be here if you don't want to in the first place. Next time, just give me a call so I could pick up the takeout myself," I said softly. She turned to face me, biting on her lower lip as she did so. I almost groaned out loud. Focus on other things, Derek my head scolded me. Just stop looking at her mouth. I tried to focus my thoughts on other things but her. It wasn't working. I found myself staring at her mouth again. Stop that, my head screamed and I cleared my throat. "Anything else?" I found myself asking. She looked up at me and sighed. "I'm sorry about the way I treated you this morning. It's just..." she paused, as if didn't know how to put her next words together. I put my fingers under her chin and forced her to looked at me straight in the eye. I could sense her stiff reaction but I ignored it. "If you don't want to tell me about it, then don't. Don't force yourself, Lis. You can tell me all about it when you're ready," I said and smiled. She returned my smile reluctantly. "Thank you," she murmured and left.

I watch her walking back toward the diner. Okay, scratch that. The truth was...well...I was actually paying attention to her hips. I'm not proud of where my mind wandered at the moment but I'm just a man. I'm no saint and definitely not perfect. I sighed as I adjusted my suddenly tight pants. I cursed under my breath and kicked myself mentally. I'm not some horny tenager that couldn't control his underage lust. I got to stop thinking about Annalisa or I might end up taking a cold shower tonight. I shook my head and grimaced. My new life here would be a pure hell if I couldn't rein in my desire that threatened to go out of control every time I set my eyes on Annalisa.



Chapter Three: Annalisa

As I walked back toward the diner, I took the opportunity to turn around just in time to see Derek walked back inside the station. I rested my eyes on his short dark hair, wide shoulders, narrow waist and lean hips. My mouth went dry and I cursed myself. I groaned, suddenly feeling disgusted with myself and where my mind wandered since this morning. When I stared at his face just this morning, my heart went crazy. I didn't know what came over me. He ought to be fined for being too God damned good looking. Didn't he know heads turned when he walked into the diner? Even Tracie, the petite brunette who's working for Aunt Helen gaped.

Derek was born into this world with a purpose; making women crazy at the sight of him. Everything about him was sexy; from his piercing brown eyes to his whole body. Even the sexy lopsided grin could make any woman fall flat on her face. If he wasn't a police officer, I would have fall flat on my face too. Damned that man for being too handsome!

"Hey, why the long face?" Tracie asked and rested her hips against one of the tables as I walked in. "You should smile widely after meeting the most good looking bachelor in Wild Rivers!" I stared at her but said nothing. After all, she ogled my best friend just this morning. "I've been wondering..." she went on saying. "Are you a lesbian?" I felt heat crept up my neck and cheeks. During these past thirteen years, nobody had ever said things like that to me before. "Tracie! Don't you have anything else better to do than prying into other people's lives?" Aunt Helen asked sternly. Tracie said nothing then stepped away from me. "I swear to God I'll fire that girl one day," my aunt muttered. "She shouldn't have said things like that."

I sat on one of the stools. Aunt Helen leaned forward. "So...what were you two talked about?" she asked. I stared at her in confusion.



Tag der Veröffentlichung: 17.05.2013

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