“Paige? May I come in?” Lon lightly rapped his knuckles against his bedroom door. He just didn’t want to intrude anymore than he had already done by listening to Cindy. There was no answer. He opened the door. The room was dark. “Paige?”
He turned on the lowest setting of the lamp on his night table. A muffled sniffle came from his bathroom. The door was open. He went towards the sound. With the faint glow from his night stand, Lon could see her silhouette.
Paige was sitting in the corner of his shower stall. She was holding her knees tightly in front of her. Lon sat on the floor just outside of the shower. He started to reach for her and felt that the floor of the stall was still wet from his earlier shower.
“Baby?” He felt her flinch as he touched her shoulder. But she didn’t pull away.
She spoke quietly through tears. “Please don’t be mad at me.”
“Why would I be mad?”
“Because I didn’t tell you. I didn’t want anyone to know…”
He shook his head in the dark. “I was the one who let your sister keep talking. I’m sorry. There is no reason for me to be mad at you.” Lon clasped her hand in his. She let him hold on. He sat with her quietly.
Paige was remembering. She remembered the last beating her father had given her. It was the worst. She shuddered. Lon felt her shudder, but he didn’t say anything. He just squeezed her hand tighter.
She couldn’t remember what she had done to make him so mad. She wondered if she had ever known. He had grabbed her hair and dragged her into the barn. She tried not to cry, it always made him madder. When he was finally done, she lay there bleeding and too weak to stand. She didn’t even have the strength to cover herself or hide when she heard Hal come into the barn.
He said he had been sneaking around trying to catch a glimpse of her. He had seen her in town and thought she was pretty. Then he had heard her father yelling and he had seen him drag her into the barn. He had witnessed the beating she took. Hal had swiped a washcloth from her mother’s clothesline and had dampened it in the horse trough.
He blotted her wounds and spoke soothing words to her. She was unaware when his touch turned from comfort to lust. Suddenly he was in her. Paige was terrified that her father would come back and find her like that. She was terrified what he would do to her. So she was silent. She never told Hal to stop. Afterwards when her virgin’s blood had mingled with the blood from her wounds on the barn floor, he said he would take her away from there. And she was grateful.
Lon noticed the glimmer of the tear that ran down her cheek and he used the back of his hand to tenderly wipe it away. He gently put an arm around her shoulders and was happy when she let him.
“Come on baby. Let’s go inside.”
She looked at the shadow he cast. “I don’t want to have sex.” She sounded scared.
His heart broke from hearing the fear in her voice. “Don’t worry. I wasn’t asking to have sex. I just wanted to lie with you in my arms and hold you. If that would be okay with you.”
Paige took a long time to consider his reply. Then she nodded.