Rita sat at the kitchen table after Henna left for work. She had already let her job know she wouldn’t be in so she could spend the entire day with her sister. The girl appeared unexpectedly on her doorstep yesterday, a welcome surprise for Rita. She only hoped it wasn’t something horrible that had the girl searching her out.
The girl stood in the doorway for several beats watching her big sister before entering the room. Rita was lost in her memories and didn’t even notice until the girl sat beside her. “Oh, good morning, Did you sleep alright?” Receiving a nod, she continued, “Coffee?” “Can I make you some eggs? Or would you prefer cereal?”
The girl yawned, “Relax, Rita, I don’t drink coffee. Do you have juice?” When Rita jumped up, Amber laughed, “you don’t need to wait on me. I can get my cereal and juice.”
Rita shrugged and laughed at herself. “Every morning, no, but today I’ll get it. I’m just so excited you’re here.” Amber gave up and accepted her breakfast. Rita topped off her coffee and sat with the girl; she had a million questions. She decided to give the girl time to wake up before she let them out.
Amber noticed how hard Rita was trying to be patient and decided to spare her further torment. “Okay Rita, go ahead ask away.” “or do you want me to give you an over view first?”
“Tell me what caused you to run away? and how did you know how to find me?” Rita had so many questions. She didn’t want to overwhelm the girl, so she forced herself to slow down and listen.
With the remaining juice in the glass, Amber began slowly, “your address was easy. I’ve been intercepting your letters for years. Not all of them but enough to know you never gave up.” Amber shyly smiled up at her sister before continuing. “As far as running away, well, I knew I would as soon as mom remarried.”
Shock registered on Rita’s face, “divorce?” Although she wrote tons of letters, she received nothing in return.
Immediately, Rita knew as she watched a tear trail down the girl’s cheek. “No, Dad had a heart attack. He was in the hospital for weeks before he passed.” Amber waited several minutes for the news to sink in, then wiping her tears continued. “You know he wasn’t gone more than six months when she remarried.” She shivered at the memory.
“Honestly, Ron her new husband is super creepy. I thought he was strange when they married but lately.” Amber rubbed her hands over her arms as if trying to keep the chill away.
This news had Rita’s hackles up. “What do you mean lately? What did he do?”
Amber noticed her sisters were rising and tried to calm her, “trying is one thing succeeding is different.” Even though she didn’t want to talk about it, Rita’s looked at her, practically singing. “I’ll tell you, but you have to promise not to do anything.” Amber dug her heels when she didn’t get a promise right away. “I’m serious, Rita. I don’t want you doing something crazy that forces me to return there.”
It took a few deep breaths and some silent mental lecturing for Rita to calm herself down. “Okay I promise I won’t do anything crazy as you put it.” “Please continue.”
Amber took a moment to look at Rita, trying to decide if she could trust her; finally, she thought, what did she have to lose? “Here it goes. It started with weird looks; then, he’d bump up against me. You know, always by accident, but not really. Recently the looks became creepier, and he graduated to touching.” A shiver escaped the girl. “I just knew I had to leave.”
Rita let out an expletive, “That SOB! We should call the police! What a pervert!” She ranted.
“No, you promised.” Pleading, Amber continued, “Rita, please!”
Again, she took several intense breaths this time, “of course, I’m sorry, Amber, I’m just mad. I won’t do anything without your permission.” Rita reached over, practically squishing the girl in a hug. “I’m sorry, baby girl.”
“It’s okay, Rita; really, nothing happened.” Although Rita tried to console Amber, the girl did all the consoling. “I knew I had to make my move once he started getting handsy. Mom’s on a business trip this week, and I’d be home alone with him. Rita, I couldn’t stay.” Amber covered her face to hide the pain.
Rita’s grasp on the girl became tighter as she tried to ease the girl’s pain. “Baby girl, you did the right thing. I’m so proud of you.”
Although Amber was thrilled her big sister was proud of her and loved being in her arms, she squeaked out, “I can’t breathe. Rita, you’re squishing me.”
Embarrassed, Rita released the girl. “Sorry, let’s go for a walk. We can clear our heads and make plans.” Amber agreed, then as they walked, Rita decided to contact a lawyer. Suppose she had any hope of keeping the girl with her; she’d need to do it legally. They talked and reminisced; although Amber’s memories were vague, Rita was able to fill in some of the blank spots. Amber was delighted Rita’s shared what she remembered of their time together. Even though she didn’t know specific stories, Amber always felt a close bond with Rita.
After a long and productive walk, both girls were ready for some alone time. Time to absorb everything that transpired over the last twenty-four hours, Amber retreated to her room, and Rita made her way to her office. In the office, Rita glanced down and saw she had missed a text from Henna. As she read it, she became confused, “sorry to bother you, Rita, but I was wondering, do you and Amber need alone time tonight? Or do you want me to come over?” “I know it’s weird for me to ask, but I don’t know what to do.”
Rita wished Henna was here now; she wasn’t sure how to proceed and could use a friendly ear. Oh, she knew what she wanted to do but unfortunately, trying to get the girl to talk, Rita made promises she no longer wanted to keep. She wrote back. “I would love for you to come over. If you don’t mind, I’ll pick you up from work. I need a few minutes of just me and you.”
Henna typed worriedly, “Rita, is everything okay?” Then waited nervously for a reply.
“Yes, Nothing to worry about right now. I’ll tell you everything when I pick you up.” Rita didn’t want Henna to worry.
Arriving early, Rita waited patiently in the parking lot for Henna’s shift to end. Then she smiled when she spotted her beautiful girlfriend searching for her car. Rita tapped the horn, flashed her lights, and knew when Henna saw her car. Her face brightened, and she practically ran over; she was at Rita’s door before Rita could even unlatch her seatbelt. Standing there with Henna’s arms around her seemed to settle some of Rita’s building anxiety.
Rita indulged in Henna’s presence and smelled before walking her to the passenger seat and buckling her in. The way Henna eased onto the seat didn’t escape her notice. So after getting herself settled behind the wheel, she said. “I see you still tender.” Henna almost rolled her eyes but thought better of it, then was surprised when Rita said, “Tonight I’ll give you a message with arnica cream.” At this, she couldn’t help a groan from escaping.
On the ride home, Rita explained Amber’s situation and planned to have the girl stay for as long as needed. “Henna, I’m not sure how to keep her with me. My first instinct is to go over and threaten that SOB but I promised I wouldn’t Do you have any ideas?”
“Rita, I hope you’re not mad but I spoke to Gloria today.” Henna glanced over to Rita; when her expression didn’t change, she continued. “We talked about Amber just showing up and, well I didn’t think you’d mind.”
Rita quickly reassured, “Henna dear I don’t mind at all. What did she say?”
“Oh good, well, she thinks you should talk to Sandi. You know since she’s a lawyer.” “Gloria’s arranging a get together on Saturday.” Henna added, “She’s not sure if Sandi can do anything but it’s a good starting point.”
“Henna that’s a great idea.” Rita cooed. “In the mean time, I’ll make a list of questions.” She groaned, “Henna please be patient for the next few months, I know nothing of raising a teenager.” “I may not be able to give you all the attention you desire.”
Grabbing Rita’s hand, Henna said, “I know but don’t you worry, when I get to desperate I’ll make sure you take care of me.”
Rita’s chuckled, “you little minx. Maybe I should warm you up before I massage your bottom.