Bella picked the low cut red dress from the back of her closet. The last time she’d worn it, she’d come home disappointed from the blind date her best friend had set up for her. Yeah, Allen was his name. Bella chuckled as she remembered the awkward way the blind date ended with her sister calling saying she needed to come to the hospital right away because their mom was sick. Bella apologized profusely for having to leave as she crossed her fingers and feigned a look of worry. Allen was a nice enough guy but he just wasn’t her type. He wasn’t rough around the edges like the men she was accustomed to dating. Although Allen had taken her to a fancy, smancy restaurant downtown where they dined at the chef’s table and drank a twenty year old bottle of wine she couldn’t even pronounce, he just didn’t do it for her. No doubt Allen had spent a pretty penny trying to impress her but it was something about the way he spoke and the delicate way he chewed his food that dashed her hopes of being able to move any further with him. From her observation, she had surmised that if anything ever popped off, he wouldn’t be able to protect her.
Bella had always said she wanted someone nice but he was just too nice and didn’t fit the picture she’d painted of her future husband. Truth is she wanted someone like her dad. Despite the couple of times she witnessed him slapping her mom, he was the epitome of a man’s man. Bella was convinced that only a strong alpha male could handle her strong personality and from her birds eye view Allen couldn’t fill those shoes. But tonight would be different. Bradley was right up her alley. They’d met at a Democracy Now symposium in New York when she complimented him on how much depth he added to the panel. From what she knew about him, he’d gotten into some trouble as a teen but managed to turn his life around. Bradley was what she called a reformed rough neck, her phrase of choice whenever she described him. And it didn’t hurt that he was tall, dark, handsome and rough around the edges just the way she liked them. Bradley had invited her over to his place to show off his cooking skills and she was more than happy to oblige as she had a few skills of her own she wanted to show off.
Bella slipped on her sexy red dress, careful not to mess up her hair and sprayed a few squirts of her new perfume Mixed Emotions in the most important areas. It wasn’t lost on her that red was the color of love. She was hoping Bradley would agree. She slipped on her six inch heels and stood in the mirror in awe of God’s handiwork. She loved the way the fit of the dress pushed up and pushed in some things perfectly. The dress fell a couple of inches above her knees, allowing her thick, shapely legs their god given right to be tonight’s star of the show. “Beautiful”, Bella whispered as she grabbed her keys off the dresser and sashayed to her car. Bradley greeted Bella at the door with a soft, gentle kiss. She closed her eyes, smiled and remembered the last two times they were together. Bradley had always handled her as gentle and as wonderful as his kiss. Bella presented him with the bottle of wine she’d picked up on the way and they headed to the kitchen. “Wow, it smells good in here. I’m impressed already”, Bella commented. “I told you I had other skills”, Bradley said while smiling sheepishly. He grabbed her hand and led her to the dining table. Lavender scented candles lit their path. The table was beautifully decorated and the spread was Micheline Star quality.
“Bradley, dinner was amazing”, Bella said as he handed her an after dinner drink. “Thank you” he responded. “That dress is amazing. You are amazing”. He picked up his drink, took Bella’s hand and said, “Come on”. Bradley led her down the hallway to his bedroom. A room of which she was familiar. Bella sat on the bed and began to feel a little lightheaded. She neglected to mention that she’d had quite a few drinks before she arrived – five to be exact. But one thing for certain and two things for sure, she could hold her liquor with the best of them or so she thought. Bella kicked off her shoes and leaned back to get comfortable. Bradley handed her the t-shirt he’d given her the last three times their extra circular activities had rendered her too tired to drive home. She changed into the t-shirt and handed Bradley her dress to hang up as she slid under the covers. Bradley disrobed, turned out the lights and joined her. He pulled her close and she relaxed as she slowly adjusted her body to fit his, like two perfectly interwoven puzzle pieces. Full, relaxed and drunk, Bella fell asleep in Bradley’s arms.
Rapid movements interrupted Bella’s sleep. Something about the movements frightened her. She tried desperately to gather her thoughts, in an attempt to figure out what was going on. She opened her eyes yet she was surrounded by darkness. From what she could gauge, her head was face down in a pillow as she lay on her stomach. Bella panicked from the intense pain she was feeling in rapid succession. It didn’t take her long to understand just what was happening. “Oh my God”, she cried out. “No, please stop”, she whispered softly into the pillow, too embarrassed and conflicted to lend her voice loudly to the rage she was feeling. As Bella began praying for it to end, Bradley held her tight and rolled off of her shortly thereafter. He began stroking her back softly as he whispered, “Goodnight baby,” while he drifted off to sleep. Bella laid next to him for what felt like an eternity, waiting for a safe time to sneak out. She eased out of the bed, grabbed her shoes and purse and hurried out the door.
Safely in her car, Bella buried her head in the steering wheel and began to cry. It was a cry from a pain she had never known. The kind of pain that gripped your soul and refused to let go until the last breath in your body had escaped. Her body shook from the weight of it all. The knowledge of what had just happened and the knowledge that what she didn’t remember would surely haunt her for the rest of her life threatened her sanity. Her muffled cries would never be heard. Forever she would wonder and question what she could’ve done differently. She would forever wonder if what she couldn’t remember had the power to free her or the power to free him. The enormity of it all was more than she could bear and she needed to tell someone. Bella reached in her purse and pulled out her phone. Aimlessly, she searched through her contacts and began to dial. Bella began sobbing uncontrollably as the voice on the other end of the line said, “911. What is your emergency?”