Lavendar Dragons,
Scarlet Shadows


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Shadows . . . wavering . . . flashing light . . . stillness. Items that had haunted her all of her life. When all was calm for awhile, her breathing regulated itself again. Her heart slowed to its normal rhythm. She felt the perspiration on the back of her neck. As she reached to wipe it away, a movement caught her eye again. This wasn't in her mid; it was real. The familiar smell of after-shave filled her nostrils. It has been said that an odor can bring on memories long forgotten. So, she thought, it was true. The memories came flooding back. This time there was no way to block them.

1971. New Years evening. An apartment off of Hollywood and Vine. The holidays were over, and Alexandria Marie Abernathy Jones was standing by the window. Her husband of only a few weeks was giving a New Years concert at the Forum in Inglewood.

My husband, she thought and then smiled. Alex liked the sound of that. It had been a whirlwind romance. Alex and Bruce Jones had met the weekend before school started. It was to be her second year of high school. He had been out at Malibu shooting scenes for his television series "Family Five". Alex was on the beach letting the warm August sun wash away recent sorrows. There had been an instant attraction between them.

Bruce had dark blonde hair in contrast to her dark and green eyes that matched her own. He had been quite a gentleman in the few weeks they dated casually. After all, she was almost sixteen, and he was nineteen and starring in his own show.

He could have any woman he wanted. Alex soon learned that what Bruce had wanted was her. Or more specifically - her hand in marriage. In an old-fashioned proposal, he had gone down on bended knew at her sixteenth birthday celebration and proposed, but only after receiving her mother's permission and blessing. Alex often wondered if Bruce had bribed Edna or if it was her mother's way of getting even with her daughter for her past transgressions. When the tabloids caught wind of their engagement, it made the front page.

But on their wedding day, Bruce believed her to be a pure bride in every sense of the word. They had both waited until the wedding night. Bruce had looked handsome with his blonde hair falling against the black tuxedo that had given him an air of modern day royalty. Alex was a princess in her champagne white gown. A cathedral train flowed behind her.

The church was jammed with all of Bruce's family, their friends, the press and his fans. The police had to haul quite a few young screaming girls away during the ceremony before they disrupted it. Flashbulbs popped so often as Alex walked down the aisle that she was afraid she would have spots in front of her eyes the rest of the afternoon.

The wedding party was small. Alex, having no sisters or close female relatives, chose Bruce's television sister, Kimberli Lane, as her maid of honor. Having no older living male relatives, Alex walked alone down the aisle toward her betrothed. Bruce's father was his best man. The ceremony had been beautiful.

Alex sighed to herself. Of course now she was the wife of a star, a heartthrob for millions of adoring girls. The newlyweds didn't spend much time together. Alex had transferred out of public school to begin correspondence courses at home and to study with a private tutor. Bruce, when not taping the weekly television show or recording albums, was on the road in concert. At least since the holidays began, he had been closer to home. It was getting lonelier each day.

Today she had been alone since lunch - six hours. Twilight was settling in. Bruce had pleaded with Alex to come to the concert, but she had begged off. The holidays were over, she told him. She wasn't in a festive mood. Little did he realize that her heart ached for a five-month old girl several miles across town. A little girl that belonged to her emotionally, but legally, for the time being, to another couple. Alex had wanted to give the child a beautiful first Christmas. She knew that someday there would be many holidays she would share with her.

While Alex stood at the window of the darkened room watching the sunset, she was unaware of a door opening. By the time she heard the footsteps, it was too late. The intruder had picked up a heavy object from the desk. It came down hard on her head.

Hopefully she wasn't dead, the stranger thought. While she lay unconscious, he crept through the apartment toward the bedroom closet. He reached above the door on the inside of the closet and felt the envelope that he had so carefully pasted to the inside of the wall when he'd lived in this place. With the other hand he took the razor blade and cut the tape from the envelope. As he slipped it into his jacket pocket, he heard the woman stir.

Her first thought as she found consciousness was of her husband. She struggled to stand. The pain in the back of her head was like fire.

He knew she hadn't had time to do much. When he saw her trying to get up, he covered her with his body. Alex was too afraid to open her eyes. But the cologne he wore - or was that after-shave? She couldn't tell them apart. Bruce teased her about her confusion. The odor was horrific. It mixed with his sweat. She felt his long hair on her face. She pleaded with him to stop. Was this was it felt like, she asked herself. To have a stranger violate the very core of your being? To feel as if all reason and purpose never existed?

"What do you want?" she cried out to him.

He thought it was extremely lucky that she never opened her eyes. Never fought hard enough that he wanted to inflict further physical pain. He knew that what he'd done was an emotional torture. Without her seeing him, there would never be an arrest or trial or conviction. She felt his weight leaving her.

"Keep your eyes closed, and it'll seem like this was a dream." His whispering voice was softer than she had thought a rapist's voice should be.

"I won't look at you if you tell me why." The door slammed.

In the stairwell he realized that he was trembling. With excitement? He didn't believe so. With fear? He wasn't frightened of her. Or was he? Breaking and entering, not to mention what he'd inflicted on her, to retrieve an ounce of cocaine was something the law didn't take lightly.

In the dim light he had gotten a pretty good look at the woman. Not quite six feet tall and so slender he felt he must have broken her in the violence. The setting sun tinged her brunette hair with an underlying henna. Her porcelain features reminded him of his grandmother's china dolls. He regretted that he hadn't seen her eyes even though it would represent danger to him. He longed to know what color they were. And that voice. My God, he swore, her voice was that of an angel. The accent was British or something. She couldn't be more than eighteen - if that. Somehow under less traumatic circumstances he vowed that he would know everything about her. What Billy Tyrone wanted, Billy Tyrone got. It helped that he was a nationally known rock and roll star. The lady in his old apartment never realized that. If he had his way, she never would.

That same smell from years before overtook her. Alex tried to distinguish what it was. It was a cross between an exotic cologne and a barnyard. She brought her hand to her nose and tried to squelch it.

"What do you want?" she whispered into the shadows. "I know it's you again."

A whispered voice she had heard once on that long ago New Years day broke the quiet. "Are you okay?"

"Why should you care? You assaulted me. You violated me, and you want to know if I'm okay? I hate you!" He heard the contempt and sorrow in her words.

"I didn't mean to hurt you."

"Didn't you?"

"If I had known . . . "

"What?" Alex screamed into the night. "You would have gone away? Not only do I hate what you did to me, I hate what you turned me into."

"And what is that?"

Ignoring the question, she went on. "I've spent years trying to wash away the pain you brought to me. I've been running from unseen tortures and unheard sounds. What do you want now? To violate me again? To hurt me again?"

The pain in her voice was too much for him. He ran from there. He had never meant to cause her so much heartache. He ran until he could run no more. As he stopped under a street lamp to catch his breath, he realized that he was across from a church. He hadn't been inside a Catholic Church in years, yet it all came back to him when he entered. He genuflected as he entered the sanctuary and went to a pew and knelt. Tears fell from his eyes then. Forgive me, my Lord, he prayed. I never meant any of it. I will make it all up to her, he swore silently. All of it.

When Alex realized that the stranger had fled, she began to cry. It had been three years since her disgrace. This was the first time in so long that she had let the emotions out. Slowly she began her walk towards the restaurant where she was supposed to have been an hour ago. Her husband would be worried, but he knew punctuality wasn't her strongest quality. As she walked, she thought about the events from three years earlier.

Copyright 2001 © Wendy J. Littrell