She thought, as she coaxed her lungs to inhale and exhale in a slow pace, while she tried to get the loud thundering of her heart under control, and out of her ears. This was it, she had prepared for this day and now it was finally here. Taking a step to the front of the room, she watched as a patient crowd stared back at her in silent patience. She took a deep breath as the eager expressions urged her on.
Lexy was finally taking steps to reclaim her life. That was what she told herself when she prepared for the blind date set up by her neighbour. A lot had happened to her over the years, trouble was all she knew. She was born in it, lived in it and thought she would die in it. But for the first time in all her twenty three years, she felt like she could actually get a better ending to what had been a terrible story.
Finally, she sighed as she took in the crowded room. He was here somewhere but she couldn’t figure out which of the guys was hers. She wondered why he hadn’t asked her to a nice restaurant, somewhere quiet and intimate. I know why, because you couldn’t go to a place where you could be alone with him. Because you are a fraud and this whole brave act is a façade. And because you would rather be bumping elbows with a drunk group of bikers than risk being caught alone with him. Lexy chastised herself. But the optimist in her said that she was taking baby steps.
Her eyes stopped searching the room when she met a pair of excited eyes. She looked at the man and immediately knew that he couldn’t be her date. She looked behind her, half expecting a gorgeous woman to be standing there. But there was no one but a large biker tattooed from his forehead to his neck. Lexy looked back at the kind eyes, and the man was now standing seemingly waiting for her. She didn’t know her date’s name; her neighbour seemed to think it would be more interesting if they discovered it for themselves. There was only way she could identify him, and the thought of her uttering those words, left her feeling stupid.
He stepped away from the throng of people and came into full view. His six something, tall frame was stacked with muscles. He was built like a brick wall and when he moved next to her she felt small. The desire soon fled from her and fear replaced it. His towering build made her panic and she felt crowded. Lexy took a step back and shook her head, trying to rid herself of the thoughts that asked her to turn around and run.
“Knock knock…” the man said, his baritone voice going through her ear and vibrating through her body.
“Who’s there?” she responded with a timid voice.
“Alexander Steele, but my friends call me Lex.” He had a warm smile, kind brown eyes that held humour in them.
“That’s why?” Lexy mumbled to herself.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t get what you said.” He leaned in towards her, his ear close to her face.
Lexy couldn’t resist the urge; she turned her head into his neck and breathed him in. She felt a shiver shoot through her spine as she took in the heady scent of him. A mix of aftershave, musk and the mixed scents of beer and smoke from the bar, it made him smell like a man.
“What are you doing?” The man drew back with a puzzled expression.
“Sorry…I…I was just…” Lexy cleared her throat all the while cursing herself and her secluded life. If she had been let out, before this night, to know other men she wouldn’t be reacting like a teenage school girl.
“Its fine, I go around smelling people I meet too.” Her tensed body relaxed, she watched as he failed his attempt to hold back a grin, “Dogs do it, I don’t see why humans can’t do it too.”
Lexy watched Lex as he smiled then laughed. He put his hands on her arms and led her towards the small table in the back.
“I am I right in assuming that you are my date for the night?” Lex asked once they were sited.
Lexy nodded, her voice lost to her.
“What’s your name?”
“My what?” Lexy closed her eyes and wished she could tape her mouth shut to avoid uttering anymore nonsense.
“Let’s try this again.” Lex chuckled. “My name is Alexander Steele and you are?”
“Alexandria Washington, but my friends call me Lexy.” She bit back a smile when he looked at her, puzzled.
“That’s why our mutual friend thought it would be funny.” He laughed and this time Lexy laughed with him. There was something about his laughter that made her feel so free, like all of a sudden it was okay to be happy. He stretched his hand out to her and she took it, “Nice to meet you Lexy.”
“You have no idea how nice it is to meet you.” Lexy said her voice faltering but filled with earnest.
They had been talking and watching each other when he said, “Do you want to go somewhere else?”
“Where?” Lexy noticed that the panic in her voice was not lost to him.
Lex sat back and watched her as if analysing and seeking her secrets from the expression in her face. Stop being a freak. Lexy barked at herself, this is what normal people do after a date. They leave together.
“You want to share?” His voice pierced through her thoughts.
“You seem to be having a conversation in your head.” He went silent for a second then added, “I just want to take you to the dinner across the street. I would like to feed you. Will you let me?”
She closed her eyes so that he wouldn’t see the relief in them, “Sure, I would like that.”
“I hope you are hungry.” Lex said as he draped his jacket over her shoulders before they stepped out of the bar.
Lexy pulled the jacket around her and wished she could cuddle in its warmth all night long. She had only been with him for an hour and she was already getting a hint of what an equal, caring relationship was supposed to be like.
“I should let you know, that I like to eat pancakes before anything else. It’s like my appetiser.” Lex reached to place his hand on the small of her back and she froze.
Lexy moved away from him, but by the time she had caught her error it was too late. Lex was examining her once again. She closed her eyes as she willed herself not to cry.
“I’m sorry.” She mumbled.
“You don’t have to apologise.” His voice was as low as hers, “Do you mind if I hold your hand.”
Lexy nodded, she put her hand through the jacket sleeve and held onto his. She felt a sliver of excitement seep into her heart from the gentle contact. This is how it a gentle hand feels like. She moved closer to him, a purr escaped from her lips as his warm body came into contact with her.
“Are you alright?”
She nodded. Relief almost sent her to her knees when he smiled at her. He doesn’t think I’m a freak.
“It’s alright to be nervous. I think we should just get the kiss over with.”
“What?” Lexy barked out a laugh.
“I think we should do this, right here.” He continued a hint of humour in his tone, “I have to warn you though, I am a terrible kisser.”
“Nope, I’m the worst kisser in the world.” She stood in front of him and watched as the light of laughter danced in his eyes.
“You couldn’t be. Girls as beautiful as you are know how to kiss a guy.”
“You think I’m beautiful.” The laughter slipped from her voice as she stared at him.
Lex leaned his face towards her, stopping when their lips were inches away from each other. He was waiting for her to give him permission, to say it was alright. The gesture broke Lexy’s heart. She took a deep breath as she rose to her tiptoes and brushed her lips against his. Her breath froze in her lungs and her heart stopped in her chest, when he begun to kiss her. Slow and sweet at first, but then his hand, pressed on her lower back, pushed her even closer to him. His other hand cupped the back of her head as the kiss grew deeper and sweeter.
She whimpered her disappointment when he pulled back. But a giddy feeling twisted in her gut when he whispered against her lips, “You are the most beautiful woman I have ever kissed.”
“And you are the only man I’ve ever kissed.” She whispered back.
The smile on his lips dropped as the laughter in his eyes was replaced by wonder. “You are twenty three years old. I’m sure you have been kissed before.”
Lexy shook her head and hid her face in his chest.
“I’m honoured to be your first.”
Lexy pulled back and watched as his lips lifted in a grin. She was about to say something when she heard the sound of police sirens approach them. Without thinking she grabbed his hands and led them in a chase.
She couldn’t out run him, she knew that. But Lexy swore that she would rather be damned if she let her tormentor get to Lex.
“What’s going on?” She heard Lex ask, and when she didn’t respond he stopped and almost pulled her arm out of its socket.
“You need to hide.” She said in desperate urgency.
“Who do I need to hide from?” She didn’t answer; instead she looked around wondering where the car had disappeared to. “Lexy listen to me, I can protect you. Who are you trying to hide from?”
“Not me, he’ll catch me eventually. But I won’t let him get to you.” She begun their mad dash once more all the while she repeated, “I won’t let him, I won’t let him.”
Lexy led them to the park, hoping that their assailant wouldn’t find them there. It was huge and had plenty of hiding places. She just needed to make sure that Lex was safe and then she would face her tormentor alone.
“You need to give me some answers Lexy.” Lex ordered in a deliberate voice. “Is it an ex-husband, and ex-boyfriend? Are you being stalked?”
“Why would anyone want to stalk me?” Lexy pulled him to the carpet grass next to the large oak tree. Her eyes continued their search around the dark park, “I never had a boyfriend or anyone that interested in stalking me?”
“Then who are we running from?”
Lexy swallowed hard as the deep voice that haunted her, echoed in her ears. She jumped to her feet pulling Lex behind her. “Leave him alone.”
“I saw him kiss you.” The man leaned on the tree well shrouded by the dark.
“Who are you?” Lex barked.
“Shhh!” the sound escaped from Lexy’s lips. She didn’t think her tormentor had seen that kiss. But now that he had, there was no running from the consequences. She turned around to face Lex, the anger in his eyes evident. His arm went around her waist and pulled her behind him. He wanted to protect her, but he couldn’t. She felt a tear slid down her cheek.
“You can’t help me. You need to go.”
“No! He stays. He can watch.”
Lexy let out a scream when the sound of a gun going off, in perfect harmony of a man cry out when the bullet met flesh, filled her ears. Lex was on the ground groaning in pain as his hand covered his injured and bleeding shoulder.
“Don’t kill him please.” Lexy begged as she knelt next to Lex.
“Cuff him to the bench.” The man shouted as he threw a pair of handcuffs at her.
“No!” Lexy cried. She couldn’t do that to Lex, she couldn’t let him be a victim, not a witness, but a victim to her nightmares.
“I’ll shoot him again.”
Lexy moved to Lex’s feet. She cuffed his ankle to the park bench then assumed the position she had been taking for years. She lay on her belly her hands folded in front of her, her eyes looking away from her tormentor and Lex’s searching, confused gaze.
“No!” She heard Lex shout when he finally understood what the man meant to do.
“Shhh…Shhh!” Lexy tried to comfort him as he struggled against his shackle. “It’s alright, it will be over soon. Close your eyes.” Unwillingly Lex did as she said and Lexy tried her best not to make a sound. But her attacker’s gratifying sounds was bound to leave scars in Lex’s heart forever.
“…I watched as he set Lex free and warned him that if he ever told anyone he would kill me. He was a cop after all and he would know if Lex ever reported the rape. When I went home that night my heart ached more than it ever did since I was fifteen. I was used to my father abusing me, but having Lex watch tore my heart out. I wanted to wrap my arms around him, comfort him. But then I felt disgusting and I knew he wouldn’t want filth like me to ever touch him again.
“My father was waiting for me. He was in a crazy rage and locked me in the basement. He only let me out when he needed me again. But he said I am too old for him now. He’s going to get rid of me soon.”
Her eyes lifted from the diary she had been reading from. She watched as people tried to control their emotions. “Alexandria Washington had no one to speak for her, so today I will.” She turned back to the jury and each one of them had tears in their eyes. She walked over to the defendant, and showed him the diary, “Is this your daughter’s handwriting?”
“Yes.” He answered grimly.
“So this is her diary and she wrote all of these entries.” Angrily the prosecutor flipped through all the pages.
“Where did you dump your daughter’s body Mr.Washington?” She roared at him.
“I didn’t kill her.” Rage burned white hot in his eyes as he shouted back at her, “She’s still alive and setting me up. I swear when I find that bitch she-,”
“She’ll what!” The prosecutor asked. “You raped and abused her for eight years, and then you shot her date,” she pointed at Alexander Steele in the gallery, his arm in a sling, “but you had to humiliate her by letting someone watch as you raped her, and then if that was not enough you killed her. Where is her body!” her fist came down on the desk with such force that everyone, even the judge, jumped in their seats.
“Your honour I would like to ask for a recess please.” The defence attorney asked, frazzled.
“Why?” the judge asked pushing his glasses up his nose.
“We would like to consider the deal offered by the prosecution.”
“The deal is off the table.” The prosecutor cut in, “We should close right now.”
“I’ll allow it. The defence shall be first to offer their closing statement.” The judge ordered.
“The defence has nothing to say.”
“The prosecution rests.”
Lex took his phone out and quickly texted. The jury had been back after fifteen minutes of deliberating and had a unanimous vote, guilty. Lex had requested the prosecutor to take the death penalty off the table; he would be satisfied with life imprisonment. Although the prosecutor didn’t understand why, she agreed. He waved at Washington as he was being dragged out of the court room to face his new life. He smiled and sighed, finally it was all over.
She could see everything from here. The French Riviera was beautiful and from the pent house Lex had gotten them she had a beautiful view.
“Hey sweetheart.” She smiled when his arms wrapped around her. She was always at peace when he was close by. At first Lexy thought that he would never be able to get over that traumatic event but he had. Granted it had taken him six years and an army of therapists, but they had finally been able to move past it.
“So what do you think we should name our next baby?” His fingers drew circles on her protruding belly.
“Let’s see, we’ve got the, twins, Alexander Junior and Alexandria Junior, and our son, Alec so I guess we should name our little girl Alexia.” She said a smile on her lips and in her heart.
It had taken Lex a while before he was comfortable to touch her sexually. And it had taken her even longer to know that sex wasn’t a method to hurt. She had to wrap her head around the fact that Lex truly loved her. But once they had first made love three years ago, it seemed like they couldn’t stop. And each year they brought a new life into the world, and even happier possibilities.
She hadn’t thought of Washington for a while now. But she had made sure that there was someone who gave him a message every single year. She needed him to know that she had outsmarted him, that she had won. She was loved and she was happy. He was in prison and he would never be free again. He was trapped in a hell he couldn’t escape and she was glad.
But each year her message was always the same CHECKMATE.
Author M.O Kenyan first published work, Shades of Spring 1964; Letter’s to My Daughter, published by 5 Prince Publishing is available. Read the first excerpt on her website.
Check out her website www.mokauthor.worpress.com
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