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Broken Mirrors Shattered Dreams 3

Lou has a secret that threatens to destroy her sister's happiness
Chapter 3
June, 2011, Wichita, KS 


Next morning at breakfast, Annie and Savannah were in the kitchen. The bus would be at the gate soon. They were busy packing Savannah’s summer vacation bag as I stuffed my face with another slice of peanut butter and jelly on toast. My cheek was still tender, but I was surprised the bruise hadn’t come up – yet. It felt tender to touch, that was all.

“You got your sunscreen and swimmers packed?” Annie asked her daughter who gave a nod in reply. “All right then, give me a kiss and you’d better start walking up to the gate.”

“I’ll take her. I need the exercise.” I was just looking for any excuse not to be alone in Annie’s company.

“Thanks, Aunt Lou!” Savannah’s big blue eyes gazed up at mine, and her smile reminded me of her father’s.

I grabbed an apple from the fruit bowl on the table to eat while we walked.

“Okay, Munchkin. Catch you later Annie.” I said as I held Savannah’s hand, leading her through the back door and out to the dusty road and shortcut we used to take up to the main road that cut through the property. It was only about a mile as the crow flies, or about a half-an-hour’s walk.

Savannah held my hand and chatted the whole way, telling me about her plans for the summer at camp. I knew the camp well, and loved it when I was a kid. I made the same journey, West to Colorado for the summer to avoid the worst weather of the season. The Girl Scouts’ summer camp at the Beaver Lodge held summer camps for girls from all over the Mid-West. Growing up smack in the middle of Tornado Alley meant I had to put up with Tornados dropping out of the sky at a moment’s notice most of my life. Summer camp was the best time of the year I didn’t have to keep an eye on the sky, and I bet, judging from the three cornered smile Savannah kept flashing me, she felt the same sense of relief too.

“Your pack looks heavy – want me to carry it for a while?” I asked Savannah, who kept getting out of breath and heaving the pack that was almost as tall as she was.

“Okay, but I’ll have to carry it to the bus. I don’t want the other kids to make fun of me for having my Aunt carry my pack. I’ll never live the humiliation down.”

I had to stifle a laugh. Savannah liked using big words to express herself in my company. The child was in such a hurry to grow up. I wish she’d have more fun and laugh.

We made it to the road with no sign of the bus. I handed the pack back to Savannah who was having a fit that I didn’t give it back to her a couple of hundred meters back. There was a familiar figure perched up on the tree stump on the side of the road.

“Alex!” I breathed his name, wanting to run and hide under a rock. I didn’t want to face him today, not with Savannah by my side. She was such a little sponge and never held back from speaking her mind.

Alex saw us and gave a friendly one handed, two-finger salute as we approached the bus stop.

“Hi,” he said as he jumped down off the tree stump and shoved his hands in the front pockets of his torn Levi’s. The cut off sleeves of his red snap shirt made his biceps look like rippling cannons. His dark, shoulder length hair kept blowing in the breeze, and for a moment, I thought I might forgive him for his behavior yesterday. Alex was supposed to have been a descendant of some Native American tribe, but he never made any formal claim about it, despite wearing a bear’s tooth, threaded on a piece of rawhide strung around his neck.

‘Damn, he’s handsome’ – the woman in me took a moment to appreciate his form and tanned-skinned beauty.

“Hi,” I murmured and didn’t know where to look. The pleading puppy-dog expression on his face made me give in and I smiled. Savannah wasn’t as polite and shot her mouth off at him.

“My dad says, “’steroids make your dick shrink.’”

“Savannah!” I couldn’t believe she came out with that. My cheeks must have turned the color of Alex’s shirt.

“Your dad is right. They do. That’s why I never use them!” he shot back and grabbed his crotch in a lewd manner. Savannah screamed as she ran past him, and for a moment, I thought she’d kick him in the shin, but she didn’t.

“I’m sorry. She’s very impressionable.” I tried making excuses for her youth and impetuous outbursts.

“Her brain to mouth filter isn’t working either. Might want to bring that up with her parents next time you see them too.” He turned to face Savannah, who had dropped her pack to climb up onto the stump, then pulled a face at her.

Savannah retaliated by poking out her tongue.

“Stop it both of you!” I said as I grabbed Alex by the arm to turn him away from her. “You’re both behaving like children! – Savannah, I understand because she is a child, but you! You’re an adult!” I slapped Alex across the arm. “Behave like one and don’t let her goad you.”

Alex raised his hand to rub his index finger across his bottom lip and I fell for it. My gaze instinctively went to his lips and he stepped closer. He smelled good and I knew if I raised my gaze to meet his, our lips would lock. I kept my focus cast slightly down, fixed on one of the pearl fastenings of his shirt. Alex’s hand gently caressed my hair as it blew in the wind, but still, I refused to meet his gaze.

“Gracie-Lou, I’m sorry for yesterday,” his voice sounded soft and pleading. “Please look at me, sugar?” Both of his hands cupped my head and his fingers started to massage my scalp.

“That’s a dirty trick,” I whispered. “You know how much I love head massages.” I tilted my head back and his lips are waiting to ambush mine. Strong arms wrapped around me and swept me up as we kissed. I broke away from Alex, straightened my dress and tried to regain my composure.

“I’m sorry, Savannah. You shouldn’t be watching this.” I called out to her, and couldn’t believe I started blushing.

Savannah rolled her eyes and pretended to vomit and gag.

“Eww! You can do so much better than him!”

Trust my niece not to mince her words. She never liked Alex.

I was grateful when the bus pulled up to take Savannah to camp. She jumped down off the stump and picked up her pack. When the doors of the bus opened, she stepped back to let a young man off the bus. He tipped his baseball cap to thank her and then walked over to the stump where Savannah had been waiting.

Savannah gave me a shy wave before she climbed on the bus and poked out her tongue at Alex once more before the doors closed. She’d be gone for most of the summer. I missed her already.

Alex and I ended up covered in a cloud of dust as the bus pulled away. He held me close to shield me from the majority of the dust cloud. When the bus had passed, I noticed the young man was still leaning against the stump. He dropped his knapsack in the dust and shrugged off his black leather bomber jacket then scooped up his knapsack to stuff the item of clothing in it. He caught us watching him and he waved before approaching us.

“Hello there!” his voice was deep, and he sounded well educated. I didn’t think he was from around here.

“Hi,” Alex raised his chin to casually acknowledge the stranger.

I smiled at the young man. Something about the way he walked – the casual authority of his swagger reminded me of Oliver.

“You two love birds wouldn’t know the way to a farm around here called,” he dropped his pack on the ground and snapped his fingers as he tried to recall the name, “something ‘Verde’?”

“Herba Verde?” I blurted out.

The young man smiled and I didn’t realize I was holding my breath.

“Yes! That’s the one,” he said, wagging his finger at Alex. “You have a smart young lady there. You’d better hold on to her.”

I noticed Alex glance at the stranger and then at me suspiciously before his grip on my waist tightened.

“What do you want with that place?” Alex asked him.

“I’m looking for my brother, Oliver Bradley.”

I gasped a little too hard and started to cough.

“Hey, is your girl all right?”

“Lou?” Alex rubbed my back while I caught my breath.

“I’m fine.” I wheezed between coughs.

“She’s fine. Probably caught a little the dust from the bus.” Alex said.

“I’m William Bradley,” he held out his hand to Alex, which Alex accepted as a gesture of friendship.

“Alexander Cullen.” Alex said then remembered his manners. “This is Gracie-Louise Mason.”

William removed his sunglasses and his gaze locked with mine. He smiled as if he knew me, but I had never met this man before in my life. His eyes were a deeper shade of blue than Oliver’s, but every bit as mesmerizing. I couldn’t tear my gaze from his.

I wanted to scold him for the way he looked me over, but before I had the chance, he spoke up.

“Your girl seems to have forgotten her manners,” he said to Alex who nudged me in the arm. Still I couldn’t bring myself to say anything.

“She can be a little shy at times.”

I knew Alex lied to spare me, but I was never shy.

“I am not!” I shot a hostile glance sideways at Alex and pulled away from his side. “I don’t particularly appreciate being ogled by a complete stranger,” I hissed.

Both men stared at me – Alex with his mouth half open, William with a smirk on his lips.

I scowled at both men and started walking back to the homestead on my own. I heard their low male voices at my back as they followed, and the occasional outburst of laughter. I was furious with them both, but didn’t understand why. I felt like such an idiot for not having said something intelligent to William when I met him. The man was little more than a stranger and he somehow managed to get under my skin straight away.

As I power-walked through the tall grass, I wished I wore long jeans. My legs itched as the grass stung, whipping my bare skin as I tore through the field, but I refused to give William and Alex the satisfaction of my company. I was a fair way ahead of them when I tripped on a rock and fell flat on my face.

“Lou!” Alex called out. By the time I managed to sit up, and shake off the initial shock of the fall, both he and William were by my side.

“Ooh, that gash above your eye looks nasty.” William said – his tone slightly mocking as I reached up to finger the throbbing sensation over my left eye.

“Dammit,” I mumbled. I hated the stranger was right.

Alex ripped off his red snap shirt and wrapped it around my head.

“Here, put pressure on it. I’ll carry you home.”

“I can walk!” I said as I tried standing unaided, but crumpled in a heap. William dropped his pack to help me to my feet. I shrugged off his help. He raised his hands in peace and backed away.

“Like hell, you can!” Alex said, and like lightning was by my side. The debate finished as he scooped me into his arms and carried me like a baby.

I held Alex’s shirt to the bleeding gash over my eye as I rest my head against his bare chest. I felt every footstep travel through his body and it was like having a hammer banging inside my head. My stomach churned and I wanted to throw up.

“Stop!” I groaned. “Put me down. I’m going to be sick.” Alex supported me as I threw up in the grass.

“Mind if I take a look at her?” William asked, and before I could protest, he knelt in front of me. His hands were gently cupping either side of my head. The smirk had faded from his lips as he gazed into my eyes – a concerned expression in his. “Yep, as I thought. You’re a little concussed.” William held his finger in front of my eyes. “Follow my finger?” He moved it from left to right.

I found it hard to focus properly. Frustrated, I slapped his hand down.

“What are you, a doctor?” I angrily snapped at William. I felt dizzy. Alex scooped me up into his arms again and we started walking back toward the house.

By the time we got there, I could barely keep my eyes open. Alex put me down on the couch inside the house and Annie fussed over me with an ice pack. I couldn’t figure out where William was. I didn’t really care. I just wanted to sleep.

“Stay awake, Lou!” Annie shouted at me.

“I’m not deaf,” I muttered under my breath. I wondered where Oliver was.

“How did this happen?” Annie yelled at Alex, who backed away from my sister. No one wanted to get in her way when she went on the warpath.

“She tripped and fell when we were walking through the field,” Alex replied as calmly as possible.

“I ought to kick your ass for showing your face around here after what you put my sister through yesterday!”

“Annie!” I raised my voice a little too much. The throbbing ache inside my head caused double vision and I wanted to throw up again. “I’m going to be sick,” I muttered before dry-retching. I had already thrown up my breakfast and probably last night’s supper, so nothing came out. It didn’t stop my throat from feeling like it was being torn apart.

I could just make out male voices on the porch, yelling at each other, but I had no idea what they argued about.

Annie lightly slapped the side of my face.

“Lou? Wake up. Don’t go to sleep.” She placed an ice pack to my forehead. I was glad it was wrapped in a tea towel. The cold numbed my pain and brain. It felt good. A few painkillers later, and four hours of constantly being told not to fall asleep, I was over the worst. I welcomed the rest that claimed me.

* * * 

I woke late afternoon. Annie was in the kitchen. I could smell burning corn fritters. I staggered to the kitchen.

“Is something burning?”

Annie spun around to face me and clasped her hands together with glee.

“You’re awake! Oh, Lou!” she hugged me tightly. “We were all so worried about you.”

I had a dull headache and when I reached up to check out the wound, I discovered a tiny strip of tape.

“Don’t touch that. You’re lucky William was here to stitch you up.”

“What?” I murmured. My mouth felt dry and I was ravenously hungry. “What does he do, and why is he here anyway?”

Annie’s lip curled up into a sneer.

“His arrival was not my idea, but Oliver’s. His brother needed a place to stay for a while, and Oliver promised he could stay with us. I’m glad Savannah’s away at camp, or he’d be sleeping on our couch.”

I had to sit down. The room was spinning. Annie helped me sit at the table while I reached for the pain pills and pitcher of water to wash them down.

“Is he here because he’s a doctor and there’s something wrong with the baby?” I had to ask. I was sick of mincing my words and wanted a straight answer from her.

“No, he’s not a doctor.”

“Tell me the truth, Annie.”

“He’s here because Oliver,” Annie looked nervous. “Oliver is William's parole sponsor.”

My jaw almost hit the floor.

‘I had an ex-con touching me!?’

“Why the hell would Oliver bring him here – and while you’re pregnant?!” I screeched.

“Lou, calm yourself. I’m sure Oliver knows what he’s doing.”

“I hope he’s not staying in the house!” I almost jumped out of my chair.

Annie sighed.

“If it’s any consolation, William used to be a police officer too.”

I couldn’t believe what my sister was telling me.

“Oh, wonderful. And this guy is most likely handy with a gun!” I wanted to reach across the table and shake some sense into my sister.

“He’s not dangerous. If he were, would he have helped patch you up?” Annie said before wincing. She sat very still for a moment, and I thought she was holding her breath.

“Annie?”

She waved me off.

“I’m fine. Just a twinge.”

The last thing any of us wanted was for Annie to lose her baby. I couldn’t understand why Oliver would bring this on our household, not to mention, his wife.

“Still, Oliver should be more considerate of your feelings, bringing an ex-con to stay in our home. What did he do to get locked up?”

“Perjury. He falsely confessed to something he didn’t do to save someone else. He’s not a murderer or thief.”

“Yeah, how do you know? He’s a liar.” I snapped at her.

Annie got up from the table to finish cleaning up the burnt fritters. She scrubbed the griddle pan, turning her back on me, and I knew there was more to the story than she was willing to tell me.

“Where is he now?”

“Oliver is showing him around the property.”

“What?!”

Annie dropped the scourer in the sink.

“Oh, Lou! You’re exasperating me! Just drop the subject and forget I even told you!” Annie raised her voice and winced, doubling over.

I rushed to her aid and helped her to the table. She sat down and I fetched her a glass of water.

“I’m all right. Perfectly normal to have twinges like this. Just my body getting used to the baby growing,” she breathed.

“Don’t try and fight the pain, just relax.” I tried to offer her some comfort, but I knew nothing of what she was going through. I wondered if I’d ever have children of my own – wondered if I’d ever feel comfortable enough to lose my virginity to Alex.

No, not him…’

Annie lightly touched my arm.

“I’ll be fine.”

“What if I finish cleaning the dishes while you put your feet up?”

“But what about you? Are you still feeling dizzy?”

“I can handle the dizziness, so long as I know my little niece or nephew is not going to make an early appearance.”

Annie smiled warmly.

“What would I do without you? You’re such a kind and thoughtful sister.”

Her words made me feel guilty. If only she knew my thoughts, she’d kick me out on my ass. I had to stop thinking about Oliver. I could never have him.

‘Yes, you can…’ a deceitful voice within me whispered, and I had to try ignoring temptation. If I kept dwelling on what I couldn’t have, I’d only end up feeling miserable.

“Mind if I go to my room? I’m still not feeling the best.” I excused myself after I finished cleaning up the kitchen for Annie.

I made it past the kitchen door when Oliver and William came through the front door. I couldn’t get to my room without crossing their path. I tried to swallow the nerves rising in my belly as I fidgeted in their presence.

“How’s your head?” William asked.

Oliver stood quietly observing me. I hated when he did that.

“I’m on my way to my room to lie down,” I murmured as I gestured to the hallway they were blocking.

“Good,” Oliver said with optimism in his tone. “You can show William to Savannah’s room for the night.”

William’s smile made me nervous and my palms started sweating. I quickly wiped them on my dress and took a deep breath.

“Fine. Follow me,” I pushed past both brothers and felt the scarlet hue of embarrassment rise. Now I knew the real reason William was staying with us, I didn’t want him near me, let alone sleeping in the room beside mine.

His heavy footsteps sent a shiver down my spine and when I stopped abruptly outside Savannah’s room, he ran into me.

“Sorry,” he chuckled and swung his pack off his shoulder. “Guess I was following too close.”

I rolled my eyes and couldn’t hide the contempt from my voice.

“See this space,” I gestured to the arm’s length I stepped back to make between us. “This is my space. Remember that!” I snapped at him. My defensive attitude didn’t sway him.

William chuckled.

“Whatever you say, Princess.”

I scoffed at his sexist comment, but he wouldn’t wipe the amused smirk off his handsome face.

“What’s your problem?” I raised my hands to my hips.

William raised his eyebrows at me then leaned close. I was about to take a swing at him, thinking he was going to kiss me when he clicked his tongue at me.

“You know,” he whispered. “I think you need a jolly good spanking. You’re far too spoiled.”

That did it. I let my hand fly up, but he quickly grabbed a hold of it.

“Let go of me – you – you – criminal!” I spat hotly at him, but the moment his hand grabbed a hold of mine, I was surprised how gentle his grip was on me.

He used my momentary lapse of concentration to whisk me into Savannah’s room, kicked the door closed with his boot heel then everything happened so fast after that. Before I knew what was happening, William had made himself comfortable on the edge of Savannah’s bed and thrown me over his knee. The first contact of his palm on my ass made me jerk. Shock more than pain made me angry.

“How dare you!” I spat at him as he spanked me again. The cloth of my clothes prevented any real sting, but the fact that he would even strike me only made my anger burn hotter. I kicked my legs as he spanked me again and again.

“Your father should have smacked that smart-ass mouth out of you and taught you some respect years ago.” William said as he spanked me again. I counted five in total before he released me.

“You’re no gentleman!” I shouted at him as I scampered out of his reach.

“And you’re an ungrateful spoiled brat!” He fired back.

We both faced each other, nostrils flaring, breathing rapid – neither one of us prepared to back down – neither of us saying another word.

“Ooh!” I growled at him before opening the door and stormed out. I ran into Oliver who said nothing. I stamped my foot in anger and pushed past him too before slamming my bedroom door closed.

I paced the floor of my room, stewing over the fact Oliver let William strike me, then stewed over how gentle William had spanked me. I rubbed my backside, but it didn’t hurt. He managed to damage my pride without leaving any physical marks. I checked the mirror, hoping there would be a mark of something, so I could call the police and make a complaint, but found nothing.

The worst part about William doing that to me, was that deep down, I think I liked it.

When I realized that, I dove onto my bed and buried my face into my pillow to let out a frustrated scream.

* * * 

My sleep was filled with disturbing dreams and visions. Flashbacks of the night Annie was taken came back to haunt me and I woke in a lather of sweat. I sat bolt upright, breathing hard as the memory of cologne from whomever took her that night came back to me. I could have sworn William wore a similar scent, but that seemed crazy.

‘Why would I be dreaming about him?’ I wondered as I threw off my bedclothes and went to stand by the open window. The night air felt warmer than usual, and the breeze didn’t give me chills.

“I’m in love with Alex,” I whispered as I tried to convince myself of a truth I knew was a lie. “I don’t even like William. I want Oliver...I can’t have Oliver…Oh shit…” I breathed as I gazed up at the starry night sky. The breeze caressed my bare breasts through the flimsy cotton fabric of my nightgown, teasing the nipples into hardened peaks and I shivered.

‘What is happening to me?’

I couldn’t think straight.

“Maybe it’s because I hit my head – yes, that has to be it,” I told myself as I paced my room. I reached for a magazine on my dresser to fan myself as I paced. I had a bad feeling that tomorrow was going to be a hot one. My mouth felt dry, so I decided to get a drink from the kitchen.

‘A quick dash to the kitchen and back; no one will see me, ’ I thought as I crept past William’s door that was slightly ajar. The floorboards squeaked as I tried to be quiet. I had no idea how loud my padding bare footsteps were to the rest of the sleeping house.

Reaching the kitchen, I made it to the fridge without stubbing my toe on the chunky dining table and chairs. The light from inside the refrigerator sufficiently lit up the room as I grabbed a glass and Annie’s pitcher of homemade lemonade. I was pouring a glass when the lights snapped on. Suddenly having the entire room light up frightened me, and I dropped the glass on the floor. It smashed, leaving shards of broken glass all around me as I stared at him.

“William!” I breathed his name and my heart began to race. It was then I realized my nightgown was too sheer to wear without a robe in his presence.

‘Oh my god! I’m practically naked in front of this man,’ I thought, and swallowed hard, trying to compose myself. I didn’t want to give him the satisfaction of seeing my discomfort.

“Don’t move. I’ll get the broom and some paper towels,” he said; his tone genuinely concerned.

I obeyed and soon, he had swept up all the glass from around my feet and mopped up the wet with paper towels. My heart pounded wildly the whole time, watching his bare back and the taut muscles moving so elegantly like the sculpted splendor of a horse running in slow motion…

‘Stop it, Lou!’ I mentally chastised myself.

“There,” he said, smiling up at me from kneeling at my feet. “All better.”

I still held the pitcher of lemonade in hand and for a moment thought about tipping the lot over his head, but squashed the impulse – didn’t want to waste good lemonade.

“Thank you.” I managed to say calmly, setting the pitcher on the table. William grabbed a couple of glasses and set them down on the table.

“Thirsty?”

I gave a mute nod in reply and realized I was staring at him again as he poured the beverage. I took a deep breath and let it out slowly to calm my nerves. I couldn’t stop the betraying rise of heat that burned beneath my skin when he gazed into my eyes to hand me the cold glass of lemonade.

“Thank you.” I whispered and quickly drained the glass. “Another,” I gasped as I held it out to him.

“Please…” he corrected me with a low tone. The expression on his face – serious.

“Please,” I whispered and a slight smile curled the corner of my mouth when he winked at me.

He poured me another then raised his glass to mine.

“Cheers,” he said – again in that low tone, and for some reason it sent a shiver up my spine when we clinked glasses.

From over the rim of my glass, I studied him. He didn’t seem to be all that bad. Judging by the way his cotton boxers clung to his firm bum, he must have worked out. The prominent V at the base of his abs reminded me of Oliver – Oliver…

William clicked his fingers in front of my far off gaze and snapped me out of my lustful thoughts.

“Earth to Lou?”

“I’m okay. Thanks for helping clean up the mess.” I set my empty glass down on the table and walked toward the door, ignoring him. I had to get out of there before I said or did something to trigger his urge to spank me again. I wasn’t wearing panties and the thought of his hand on my ass started to frustrate and excite me.

“Goodnight!” he whispered.

I turned around to give him a shy wave and managed a nervous smile before hurriedly tiptoeing off into the darkness – back to my room.

Well, like that wasn’t awkward…’ my inner voice murmured. What I wouldn’t give to shut her up sometimes!

My heart beat rapidly and I was confused even more. Earlier, William was quick to spank me, and now he had been so chivalrous. I did not understand men.

I curled up in bed, pulling the sheet up over me and snuggled into my pillow. A smile settled on my lips as I thought about William, squatting then kneeling on the floor at my feet to wipe up lemonade.

I wondered if he knew his shorts didn’t button up in front…

* * * 

Could William be Lou's perfect match? Or will he break Lou's heart? Secrets and lies are being spun to weave a web that inevitably will be sticky. Stay tuned to see how Alex reacts to his competition for Lou's affection. Lou has a huge surprise in store for Alex, one that will threaten everyone's happiness.

This story is protected by International Copyright Law, by the author, all rights reserved. If found posted anywhere other than storiesspace.com with this note attached, it has been posted without my permission.


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