An excerpt from the novel, “A White Rose,” by Bekah Ferguson.
Dakota Reilly hadn’t really noticed Ryan Hill when he first started showing up for her father’s poker games, but one night she’d bumped into him in the kitchen when she went to grab a soda.
Most of her dad’s friends were older, middle age, but this guy was much younger; like one of those hotties from Beverly Hills, 90210. She’d seen him from a distance before; he lived down the road in an old farmhouse.
Having thus seen him up close for the first time, she was star-eyed. From then on, she made a point of going to the kitchen for a glass of water or soda whenever she saw him head in that direction. She also stopped wearing shorts to bed with her over-sized T-shirt. She didn’t really know what she was doing, but she’d seen this in movies before and understood that long bare legs were sexy.
After one month of obsessing over him, daydreaming about him constantly and writing his name on every page of her diary, he asked her how old she was. For a moment she panicked, fearing he would think her a stupid kid, and blurted out that she was seventeen. His pleased grin indicated that he actually believed her and she almost giggled with excitement when he nicked her chin with his knuckle and gave her a wink.
The first time he kissed her took her breath away—she’d never been kissed before. It happened two weeks later in front of the kitchen fridge. The poker game had been going on for a couple hours already in the living room and they were well out of view of anyone who might happen to glance toward the closed-off kitchen. With one deft movement, Ryan pulled her against him and kissed her lips—hard and fast.
Before she could say a word or open her eyes, he slipped something cold and metal into her hands.
“Come see me tonight, baby,” he whispered, brushing his lips against her earlobe. “You know where I live.” He pulled away and moved to leave the kitchen, a sly grin on his face. “Three a.m., sweets. . . . Don’t disappoint me.” He left the room with a wink that turned her knees to jelly.
After milling about her bedroom for three hours, watching TV and impatiently eying the clock, it was finally two-thirty in the morning. She washed her face, put on fresh makeup, some jewelry, jeans and a tee, and ran a brush through her amber colored hair. She slipped the key into her pocket and opened her bedroom door a crack.
The house was dark.
Her mother wasn’t home, as usual, and her father was snoring away in his bedroom down the hall. As quietly as possible, she took the creaky steps to the main floor and went outside, shutting the front door behind her with a click.
Outside was a warm summer night; the sky bright with a full moon. A chorus of crickets and night peepers filled her ears. She hurried down the street, cheeks hot, and cut through a neighbor’s field to Ryan’s house; a farmhouse he shared with several friends. How many times of late had she made an excuse to walk past this house in the daylight, hoping to catch a glimpse of him?
The second floor was unlit and shadowed, but two of the main floor windows were yellow. She climbed the porch steps and unlocked the door slowly, hands tremulous and clammy. The door swung open on hinges needing oil and made a harsh sound. Ryan stepped out of a nearby room to her left; looking to see who had entered.
He beamed at the sight of her.
She hesitated before starting toward him and he motioned for her to follow him into the room he had come from; cooing at her like she was a timid puppy in need of coaxing. With tentative steps, she crossed the front corridor and entered a narrow room with a television atop a dresser, a coffee table scattered with magazines, and a well-worn Futon in couch position. A sash window with drapes filled the center of the far wall.
She didn’t really know what to expect. She’d spent most of the night and the past month daydreaming about kissing and cuddling, and it was hard to imagine anything beyond that; she had no experience to draw upon. Maybe it was a bit foolish to sneak out to see Ryan in the middle of the night, but he was such a sweet guy. It’s not like her parents cared either. And besides, it was exciting. She couldn’t believe that the man of her dreams actually liked her. It seemed too good to be true.
As she had innocently fantasized, they kissed and cuddled for awhile—she like putty in his hands. But as time passed, Ryan stopped being gentle and got a little rough. She was so enamored by his attention that she didn’t protest at first, even when his caresses started to hurt and embarrass her.
This wasn’t how it was supposed to be!
An hour later, she tried to hurry back home but there was too much pain between her legs to walk fast. She hugged her arms around her chest and followed the fence line of the field along the side of the dirt road that lead back to her own house. Her father was still snoring away upstairs. She went to her bedroom and undressed, thankful that her absence hadn’t been noticed by anyone. After pulling on an over-sized T-shirt, she grabbed her pajama shorts and carried them with her to the bathroom.
Dried blood made a trail down to her right knee. She wet a cloth and wiped away the blood, pulling on underwear and shorts.
She hadn’t expected . . . this.
Several days went by before she was ready to talk to her friends about it and when she finally did, she’d rearranged the memories so many times in her heart of hearts that she was able to tell them a convincing tale of a romantic rendezvous. Her friends were jealous and something about their admiration made her feel good inside again. It helped to lessen the shock and numbness she had been feeling all week. Maybe it wasn’t all that bad. It was just her first time, after all. It was going to be better the next time, she was sure of it.
And she’d already decided that there would be another time.
The second time, Ryan kept his key and told her she need only climb into his bedroom window whenever she wanted to see him. He would keep the sash open for her.
He was smoking pot that night, and not wanting to seem like a child, she pretended that smoking pot was something she was used to doing. But the truth was she’d never tried it before; had only ever heard the boys whisper about “Mary Jane” in math class from time to time. She knew her mom did pot too, but she’d never seen her do it in the house.
They shared a joint and it was all the strength she had to hold back the spasms of coughs that swelled in her burning throat during those first couple of inhales. When the high started, she felt like she was wandering around in a dream. This time, the sex didn’t seem so rough and painful. And as the weeks passed, it gradually became pleasurable.
She was in love. Madly in love. Never in her life had she felt so close to another human being. Ryan was her world. Her prince. And she adored him.
But then, one cool evening in September, shortly after midnight. The window sash was closed and the drapes shut. Through a narrow slit in the curtains, she peered in on a room full of people. Several guys and several girls. No, not girls. Women. And they were drinking beer and smoking joints and having fun. It was a party. She went to the front door and knocked, figuring Ryan would be delighted to have his girlfriend join them.
When he opened the door, he slipped outside and shut the door behind him. “Rose, hey. Look, sweety, tonight doesn’t really work for me. You go home, okay?” He nicked her chin with his knuckle and winked, reaching for the door handle behind him. He went back inside, leaving her standing in the shadows of the front porch.
When she returned the following weekend, the window and drapes were closed yet again. Through the chink in the drapes a beautiful woman with wavy blond hair was sitting on the Futon next to Ryan, her feet up on the coffee table and a beer in hand. His arm was draped over her shoulders.
Rose ran all the way home and curled up in a ball under her blankets, sobbing until she was hoarse.
The next day she hitched a ride into town with her mother and bought a bleaching kit and hair dye. After dying her amber hair blond, like the woman in Ryan’s bedroom, she decided to change her name to Dakota.
As far as she was concerned, dumb little Rose Reilly no longer existed.