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Love's Transition - Chapter 4

Love's Transition - Chapter 4

“Stab the body and it heals, but injure the heart and the wound lasts a lifetime.” Mineko Iwasaki

After throwing Billy out of my room and my life, I lay in my bed and reflected on my life. I remembered the best moments and of my life and Doug was there. I relived, reluctantly but honestly, the worst times and Doug helped me though most of them. Being with him made things better.

I had abandoned him. Why did I do that? In retrospect, it was sheer stupidity. Blinded by the promise of excitement and adventure, I deserted the best thing in my life.

I was a fool! With tears beginning to form, I promised myself I would not cry.

I don’t believe crying shows weakness, but for now, I had to contain my emotions until I knew what I would do. I was through wondering what I was going to do next. I was going to decide what I wanted to happen next and make it reality.

Regret, anger, fear and shame consumed me. I had experienced them all. Those emotions had filled and overwhelmed me, but I wouldn’t let them dominate me again.

After the doctor examined me, I was allowed to check out. Doug carried the few items I had as I was wheeled out by an orderly. Doug drove us back to our house… I mean his house. We rode in relative silence. Emotions, I wasn’t ready to deal with, prevented me from saying what needed to be said. It was cowardly of me, but until I knew what I truly needed to straighten out my life, I was at a loss for what to say.

We arrived at Doug’s house. As Doug carried my bag to the house, I watched him. At 200 pounds and 6’3” tall, he moved like a cat, fluid and full of potential. He was wearing a navy blue polo shirt that was tight across his broad shoulders. Doug always looked good in blue. His jeans were tight enough to be skin and highlighted his tight muscular derrière. He wore his black leather boots. He was handsome with the breeze blowing his dark hair. In the bright daylight, I saw dark brown highlights that made his hair look full and rich.

We entered and he led me back to the guest room I had used two nights ago. I went across the hall to clean up. I froze at the door as the memories from yesterday flooded my awareness.

The doorframe was broken from when Doug had broken in to save me. I pushed the door open and I recalled his frantic cries as he yelled for me. I walked into the bathroom and felt panic looming in the background. My heart pounded vigorously and my breath quickened.

The ceiling bore a hole where the hanging pot had been attached and the glass shower doors were missing. Doug had cleaned up my mess again.

I kneeled and studied the floor. Doug must have cleaned for hours. There was no glass on the floor, but I saw an insignificant stain on the tiles where my blood had pooled. The spot was disturbingly large. I reached down to touched the tile expecting it to still be warm, but it was cold, very cold.

In my memories, I saw the blood dripping from the towel held on my arm. Felt the sharp pain, how it became duller and insignificant as I started getting light-headed from blood loss.

I remembered my last thoughts as I succumbed to unconsciousness yesterday.

Doug was walking beside me. He is so nice to me. How could I make it without him? They were putting me in the back of a truck. I saw Doug talking to the man pushing me into the truck. I heard them. The man said, “I don’t know, it’s pretty bad.” I saw tears on Doug’s face. He was crying. Doug is so handsome.

It had been a close call. I took the bandages off my arm and looked at the injuries. They had been sutured with tight well aligned stitches. I felt the roughness of the stitches as I lightly stroked my fingers across them.

I stood up and stepped over to the sink. There was a towel in the sink. I pick it up and immediately dropped it as I felt the stiffness of dried blood, my dried blood. I felt nauseated and sat down on the toilet. I had been so stupid.

Was it accidental? I know what happens if you hit glass like that. There was no way I could have avoided serious injury. I should have realized the consequences. Were things so bad that I unconsciously wanted to be hurt myself or maybe even die? Where things that grave?

I covered my face and cried. No, I wasn’t crying like I had been, racked with uncontrolled emotions. Quietly I wept and let the fear and tension drain from me as the tears slowly rolled down my cheeks.

Doug placed his hand upon my shoulder and startled me.

I looked up at him and tried to project a renewed strength as I said, “I’m sorry Doug. I didn’t mean to barge into your life and cause you problems again.”

”It’s alright kitten, I rarely use this bathroom anyway.”

“You must have spent hours cleaning up this mess.” I said.

He gripped my shoulder firmly to share his strength as he said, “It gave me time to reflect. When you arrived on my porch two days ago, it brought up a lot of issues I had buried and hadn’t dealt with after you left.”

He kneeled down next to me, placed his head on my lap and hugged my legs. I sat up straighter and ran my hand though his hair. His hair was soft and his head was warm on my lap. I felt a stirring deep inside me, both physically and emotionally.

He wrapped his strong hand around mine and pulled it to his cheek as he said, “After you left me, I hated you. I walked through my world in a haze of fury and despair. I hated you for a long time, but underneath I knew I was trying to hide my anguish. I eventually let it all go. I was being consumed by rage and misery. I had to move on, to survive. I told myself I had forgotten you, but it was a lie.”

I heard him lightly catch his breath. I felt wetness on his face and knew he was crying. He sobbed once, twice and then a third time. Then he was quiet. Doug sat up and wiped his face which held a look of loss and melancholy, but then he swallowed the emotion down into himself.

He gave me a sad smile of resignation and said, “Trying to forget someone you love is like trying to remember someone you never met. I can’t do it.”

Doug stood up and walked out. I heard his footsteps move up the stairs to ‘our’ bedroom.

I moved over to the sink again and tossed the ruined towel into the wastebasket. I took off my clothes and sponged myself off as best I could with a washcloth. I felt a little better.

I headed back to the guestroom and met Doug coming down the stairs carrying two shopping bags. He put them on the bed and turned to me.

“Yesterday I picked up a few things at the mall, I thought you might need.”

“Thanks.” I replied. “It wasn’t necessary. I’m going to go get my things this evening.”

He asked, “Do you need some help?”

“Yes, I could use a ride. I don’t want you in the house. A scene is the last thing I need right now. Even though I told Billy to be gone this evening, it would be just like him to be there waiting.”

He hesitated and then said, “I promise I won’t cause any problems. I won’t do anything to him and I’ll keep my mouth closed.” He smiled broadly and continued in melody;

I will be your beast of burden.
I'll walk for miles, with my feet a hurting.
All I want is you to be with me.
Oh yeah.

I replied a bit off key;

I need a beast of burden.
I need some fussing.
I need some nursing.
Forever and ever let it be.

We shared a looked and laughed. It had been so long since I had a little light come into my darkness. We would sing to each other and change the lyrics to match the meaning we wanted to express. I’m surprised I could still do it.

I moved to him and gave him a friendly hug. I thought of the lyrics to that song. The actual lyrics where not ‘All I wants is you to be with me’, the real words where ‘All I want is you to make love to me.’ The fear in me was glad he didn’t say it, but the hope in me wished he had. We held each other for a few seconds. We both seemed to be a little unsure and uncomfortable.

I stepped back and looked into his eyes, “Thank you for helping me when you should be relishing my anguish. I needed help and once again you were my knight in shining armor.”

I pulled him down to me and gave him a peck on the cheek. I was still tired so I went to the guestroom and slept for a few hours. When I got up Doug was gone. He left a note that he had to take care of some business and when he got back we would go get something to eat.

I wanted to do something for Doug. I went through his kitchen and found what I needed to cook dinner. I made a light salad and Spaghetti alla puttanesca. It was a bit heavy for an early evening dinner, but Doug loves the sauce I make. It’s a little salty and very aromatic.

When Doug got home he knew what I had done just from the aroma filling the house. We enjoyed the meal and made some small talk. It was obvious there were things that we needed to talk about, but neither of us started down that frightening path. We got a few boxes and headed over to Billy’s house.

The house is a ranch style with two bedrooms. The front yard is small, neat and bare. The front half of the house is a huge living/dining room area. When we arrived Billy’s car was in front of the house.

We parked and I looked to Doug and said, “He is here. I don’t want any trouble, so you stay in the car.”

“No, if he is here you may need my help. I promised to behave.” He said.

I thought about it and suggested, “I’ll go in and pack my things. As soon as I’m done, I’ll come to the door and wave you in. I just need my clothes, shoes, some personal items and my stereo.” He nodded agreement and I headed inside with several empty boxes. I didn’t want any drama. With Billy and Doug here, I was anxious about what could happen.

I knocked. There was no answer, maybe Billy wasn’t here. The door was unlocked. I entered and there was Billy seated on the same couch where I had caught him having sex with that other woman. The primitive sounds of their passion and rich musky aroma of sex where still in my head even if it wasn’t in the room.

Billy is 190 pounds of fat free muscles and he looks bigger than his 6’1” frame. He works out every day at the gym and it shows. He was wearing a light blue man’s shirt and his usual faded blue jeans. The jeans are tight and leave nothing to the imagination. He was wearing his expensive $500 light gray trainers. His long brown hair was loose instead of the usual French braid and fell down past his shoulder blades. He has the kind of handsomeness that makes women swoon, he is almost beautiful, but the solid strong bone structure of his face is nothing but masculine.

It is easy to see why I fell for him about a year ago, but his hold on me was gone. I knew that his kind of sweetness has a bitter and sour core.

He stood and asked, “Are you staying or leaving?”

“Hello to you too, Billy. I’m just here to get my things. I asked you not be here.” I answered.

He said, “This is my house, I’ll be here anytime I wish.”

I turned and went to the bedroom and started packing. When I finished, I had two full dress bags and three stuffed suitcases of clothes, a packing box full of shoes, and two packing boxes of personal items.

I only needed three more things. I put my jewelry box down inside of one of the personal boxes and before I went to get my stereo I went to the closet and got my H&K P2000 9mm handgun out of the gun safe. I checked to make sure the gun wasn’t loaded and the safety was on. I put it and two loaded ten round box magazines into the other box and covered it with a towel. Billy doesn’t like guns even though I knew he had one in his cabinet drawers next to his big overstuffed recliner.

It took several trips to bring all of my things to the living room. I went to the door and waved. Billy looked out the window and recognized Doug getting out of the car.

“What is he doing here?” Billy asked.

I replied, “I needed a car and someone to help me load all my stuff.”

“He can’t come in here. This is my house and I don’t want him here.”

I looked at Billy and said, “Don’t be a child. He is only going to put my things in his car.”

I didn’t like the upset look on Billy’s face, but I ignored it and opened the door for Doug. When Doug walked in, he scanned the room and then he saw Billy standing there. I watched the emotions play across his face.

“Can you please take these out to your car? I have one more thing to get.” I asked.

Doug nodded and took the dress bags and one of the suitcases out the door as I walked over to the sound system that Billy had given me for Christmas.

As I started unhooking the speakers, Billy realized what I was doing and called out, “What are you doing?”

“I’m taking my stereo system.” I matter-of-factly said.

“No, that stays here. You can’t take it.” Billy said as his voice began to rise.

I ignored him and finished disconnecting the speakers. I started to disassemble the system when I felt Billy’s hand on my shoulder. I yanked myself from his grip as I turned to face him.

“This is my stereo. You gave it to me yourself. It’s mine and I’m taking it.” I said with conviction.

I had startled Billy with my confident sense of purpose, so I pivoted around back to the stereo to continue to take it apart.

“No!” Billy yelled as he yanked me back and then shoved me backwards towards the door.

I stumbled and lost my balance. I landed on my butt with a jolt. I wasn’t hurt, but I was surprised and a little disoriented. Damn him, I’ll have a bruise from that.

I heard the door close and my brain went ‘Oh, shit.’ I jumped up as quick I as could and saw Doug’s outraged face. I moved in front of him and said, “Doug, you promised me that you wouldn’t touch him.”

“I saw what he did. I won’t let him do that to you.” Doug growled.

“Doug, stop it!” I snapped.

I saw him gain control of himself. ‘Everything is going to be OK’ I thought.

Then Billy had to open his mouth.

“You got something you want to say, Dougie-boy.” Billy said.

“Doug, don’t say anything. Please just finish taking out my things to the car. We don’t need to stoop to his level.” I said.

“Yeah Dougie, do what you’re told.”

“Billy, be quiet.” I barked. “Be reasonable. It’s just a stereo. You know it’s mine, so please don’t cause a hassle.”

“I won’t let you take the stereo. I like it. Hell, I like it a lot better than I ever liked you.”

Knowing Billy was just trying to hurt me because he was hurt, I went back to the stereo and heard Doug leave through the front door.

“Bitch, I said to leave it!” He shouted as he moved towards me.

Turning to faced him, I spoke slowly as if lecturing a child, “Accept it. I’m gone and I won’t be back. Stop acting like a spoiled brat.”

“That’s it, I’m calling the cops.” Billy said as his faced flushed with anger.

I knew he was bluffing, so I rebuffed him, “You can’t call the police. What would they say about the drugs you keep over there in the drawers next to your chair? I think that would cost you a whole lot more than this stereo.”

“You fucking bitch! You want the stereo? I’ll shove it up your ass. It would probably fit perfectly!” Billy yelled and he poked his finger into my shoulder.

I slapped him hard across his face, “Don’t you ever touch me again.”

“Fuck you!” He yelled as he pushed me back.

“That’s all I can stand.” I heard Doug say behind me.

I turned and held up my hands, “Wait Doug.”

Billy had to make it worse by taunting Doug, “Come on, old man, you ain’t got shit. You’re not even man enough to keep her. Why do you think she left you for me?”

Doug stood there angry and frustrated. I watch him as Billy baited him. I saw shame cross through his eyes. That was it. Doug thought I had left him because he wasn’t man enough to keep me. How could I be so stupid! He had felt rejected and emasculated.

Billy was several years younger and worked out, but he worked out for definition of his physique. Doug worked out for strength and power. Doug was bigger and what Billy didn’t know is all the years of boxing Doug had done as a teenager and in the service. Billy didn’t stand a chance. I wanted Doug to know that I knew he was a man.

I looked at him and tried to give him a little smile, “Doug, I’m going to go get the stereo while you take care of the garbage.”

I nodded my head toward Billy. I saw a look of eagerness and determination in his face as he caught my meaning. I step out of his way.

Turning to see Billy, I shook my head as Doug moved towards him and said, “Billy, you are so fucking stupid.”

It didn’t take long. Billy threw a punch and Doug side stepped it. Another punch came at Doug. He blocked it and hit Billy in the face. Billy’s lip split and then another punch opened up his head above one eye. Billy charged Doug to tackle him, but Doug moved quickly to one side and slammed his smaller opponent to the floor. Doug pulled Billy to his feet and hit him in the jaw stunning him. A punch to his gut doubled Billy over just in time to catch an uppercut square in his nose.

Doug pulled him to his feet again and pulled back his fist when I said, “I think he’s had enough.”

Doug held him there. One eye was almost swollen shut and cover in blood as was his split lip. His nose looked broken and was bleeding. The only think he saw was stars. Doug shoved him over to the other side of the room and came to me.

He reached into his pocket and pulled out a ring. He placed it in my hand. It was my engagement ring that Billy had given me. I had thrown it into the bushes at Doug’s house.

“Is there something you would like to do with this?” He said.

I went to Billy. He had pulled himself to his feet holding onto his recliner. With a smile on my lips I tossed the ring to him. It bounced off his chest.

“I don’t ever want to see you again.” I said to Billy.

His eyes burned with hatred. Part of me wished it had ended better. We had meant something to each other for a while, even if Billy wouldn’t admit it. The self-centered hedonistic person I had been was gone. At least I hoped she was. I had caused pain and ruin in all three of our lives. I had been so stupid, so foolish.

I walked over to Doug. He was carrying the stereo towards the door. I heard something behind me and turned.

“Doug, he’s got a gun” I screamed.

Billy had pulled his gun from the drawer and was moving to point it at Doug. I ran at Doug screaming as I went. I was going to push Doug out the front door.

I heard the report of the gun, like a thunderclap.

I felt like I had been kicked in the back. Forced forward, I fell to the floor facedown. I lay stunned, my ears ringing. Doug ran past me in a flash.

My right arm didn’t want to work. With a dull pain in my chest, I pushed myself up so that I was on my knees. I looked down and saw blood above my right breast and a hole in my shirt.

I heard another shot and yelling. Through the ringing in my ears, I heard a siren, then two. My chest was now ablaze with pain. My shoulder hurt. I fell forward again. Breathing was becoming difficult. I felt numb; almost as numb as I had on Doug’s porch.

I closed my eyes and was enveloped in darkness.


When I opened my eyes, I saw the bare ceiling above me. I starred up at it as my senses began clearing. Looking down, I saw I was in a hospital bed. Covered in white sheets with an IV in my arm again; my mind cleared and I began remembering what happened.

I had been shot in the back.

I don’t remember much about what happened after that. Pain, I remember the pain. I have bits and pieces of memories and images from the emergency room. They doped me up and sewed up my wounds. The bullet had gone right through me. It broke my shoulder blade, chipped it really. I had some damage to the nerves going to my shoulder and arm, but the doctor expected me to regain full use of my arm.

I didn’t understand why I was alive. The doctor had told me the injury wasn’t very serious. I would have a scar on my back and my chest. I always thought you died when you were shot in the back, but the bullet hadn’t hit anything vital. After Neurology looked at me I would be getting out, going home, where ever that was.

There was a knock at the door, and then a nurse came in. She took my vitals and asked if I felt up to a visitor. I was.

In about five minutes there was another knock. The nurse entered followed by a large bunch of flowers. The nurse said my visitor could stay until the doctor came in, but if I got tired they would have to leave.

The flowers moved toward me and then I saw Doug. He looked fine, maybe a little tired. Doug put the flowers on the bedside table and sat down on my left.

“Have you been at the hospital all night?” I asked.

He looked blank when he said, “Yes. I rode with you in the ambulance. I had to talk to the police while you slept. Everything has been taken care of, but the police want you to stop by the station house when you are released.”

“What happened?”

Doug took a deep breath and continued, “When Billy shot you it shocked him. You weren’t the target. That moment it took to recover gave me the chance to disarm him. The police showed up in less than three minutes. They took him away and he’s in a lot of trouble.”

“I’m sorry to get you caught up in all this.” I said.

“It’s alright Tonya. The question is where do we go from here?”

He jumped right to the sixty-four thousand dollar question. I had no idea of what to say.

“I got you a room at a decent motel for the rest of the month. That will give you three weeks to find a place to live. I contacted your work. They said to take the rest of the week to recover and they will see you next Monday. I put all your stuff at the motel except for a change of clothes.” Then he gave a little smile, “Including your stereo.”

After a moment I said, “I don’t know how to thank you for all your help Doug.”

“Don’t worry about it. It’s finally over.”

“Doug.” I said, “I’ve been doing a lot of thinking. I’ve had to face up to some very unpleasant realities these last few days. I’m not sure where to begin, so I’m just going to say it.”

I hesitated for a moment and placed my hand on his before continuing, “I’ve been an idiot. I’ve hurt you and made so many foolish mistakes, but I know that I still love you. I don’t know how you can ever forgive me. I think you feel the same way I do.”

Doug took my hand and pulled it to his lips. He placed a light kiss on the back of my hand. His eyes never left mine as he did it. I’m sure he could see how I felt about him.

“Tonya, I do love you. I never stopped loving you.” He said.

My heart flooded with joy. Maybe there is a chance. Maybe our lives weren’t derailed, just sidetracked for a little while. I know we can get over this.

“Doug, Can we try again? It can be better than ever.” I said.

He put my hand down and leaned over the bed. He kissed me on the forehead.


My heart stopped. The world stopped.

He continued almost with no emotion, “I do love you, but I had already put that behind me. You broke my heart. It almost killed me when you left me. Love doesn’t heal all injuries. It still hurts too much. We are at different places in our lives now. You can count on me to be there for you if you need anything, but I have to move on. You will always have a place in my heart and my life, but I can’t be your ‘one and only’ anymore.”

He turned around and walked out the door.

I was stunned and dazed.

I was released from the hospital, gave a statement to the police about the shooting, and went to the motel Doug had arranged. Then I cried.

I cried all night. When the sun came up and there were no tears left, I got dressed. I had to find a place to live. Even though I felt like I was dying, I had to keep on living.

What a just punishment the fates have given me.


It has been over thirteen years since those extraordinary events. My life was changed forever.

For six months I felt empty. I longed for a love that I knew I could never have. At times I wished that bullet had pierced my heart; it could not have hurt worse than how I felt. I think I might have welcome death during those dark days of unhappiness.

Every day I woke up, ate, dressed, and went to work. I shut myself off from everyone. My work didn’t suffer. I threw myself into my work. It got me through the day. Then I would go home, eat, do house work, and go to sleep.

Day after day my routine continued, until I started getting together with my colleagues. Life eventually got easier. I became happier. I was scarred, but wiser.

I built a new relationship with Doug. It hurt being around him at first, but our love transformed into something as equally beautiful, true friendship.

He married a wonderful woman. They had three children. I knew she could give him something I never could, children. I can’t have children. I was Aunt Tonya and I loved those children like my own.

I finally met someone a year ago. He swept me off my feet. I didn’t think I could ever feel like this again, but I was so wrong. Today I’m getting married to a man I love.

Thirteen years ago I thought my life was at an end. If it hadn’t been for those terrible few days, I could never have been as happy as I am now. I came out of those disastrous days a different person. I didn’t change overnight, but it was the turning point of my life.

If Doug had taken me back, I believe I would not be the strong, caring person I am. I believe it would have been only a matter of time before I ruined everything. I had needed time to grow.

I had thought when Doug left the hospital, the fates had punished me. They didn’t. The fates only pushed me in the direction I need to go. Now I have the future I deserve; happy and loved.

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