Whispers of Love (Chapter 9)

30 03 2009

Trish loved the feel of Hunter’s arms around her small waist, she loved his soft kisses, she loved his whispers into her ear and the tickle as his lips brushed her ear, and she especially loved soft kisses wherever he was creative enough to explore… 

Hunters’ touch — felt like… the color red. Intense. Passionate. Hot. Purposeful. At the moment though, Trish was getting that same feelings from the soothing shower… the kind that steams the whole bathroom and envelopes you in a cocoon of…security.

Trish and Hunter had come to the brink of intimacy on more than one occasion — it was getting increasingly difficult to “fight the good fight” and keep it in order…. She loved the Lord and wanted to be obedient… so she had retreated to the shower in an effort to distract herself from those feelings. In a totally different way, her retreat helped. Of course it didn’t evoke the same emotion Hunter did but the feeling… was as if the water knew its purpose. It knew the kind of days she had experienced of recent and literally wanted to wash away all things bad. And hurtful. And shameful. And wrong.

Trish welcomed the new natural hairstyle Leah had influenced and now wasn’t so worried that her hair would “go back” from the water and steam… reluctantly she turned off the water and grabbed the towel to dry off while still in the shower. She wrapped the towel around herself and stepped out to Hunter leaning against the doorframe.

Trish was startled but recovered quickly, “Hey you, what are you doing?”

Hunter picked up the baby oil gel to rub Trish’s’ back – Trish tensed.

“Relax, darling – we’re good. No hanky. No Panky. I got it!” Hunter assured.

“Tell me a secret no one knows,” Hunter said, gently. “Show me where you hide – when you’re not here with me.”

Trish tried to change the subject – “My arms – my arms are getting flabby. You need to help me work out. Are you trying to get me fat so know one wants me?”

Trish tiptoed to kiss Hunters chin. Hunter pleaded for Trish to peel back another layer.

“Trish, share with me.”

Trish didn’t feel pressured – she actually wanted to share more with Hunter – she just hadn’t known how to bring it up.

“I’m ready. Wait for me in the room – I’ll be out.”

Trish breathed out… and watched her breath fog the mirror — then wiped it clean –and hoped she’d emptied and wiped away any remaining apprehensions…. Hunter knew of Trish’s past and the abuse she suffered at the hands of Randy. He saw the iron marks, the healed cuts, the scarred face, and the disfigured digits…. But for every physical harm, for every rape, for every mean word, insult and embarrassment – the emotional and mental effect grew deeper roots.

Trish had met Randy when she was 14 and he was the only boyfriend she had. He began their relationship by taking… her virginity and her innocence. He was four years older than her and used his experience and manipulation to control her, convincing her no one would want a tall, lanky boy-built gremlin. His pet name for her was “gremlin” — he said it was cute but he used it for everything ugly. She’d never considered herself unattractive but she did feel a bit too skinny and possibly a little homely.

Over the years Randy’s words manifested deeper until Trish didn’t feel worthy of attention, help, sympathy or kindness. She was a shell of a person – existing only… until she didn’t. Words hurt just as much as physical assaults—sometimes more. But there is really no need to compare… hurt is hurt and sin is sin.

At that time, Trish had been beaten and weary — she didn’t even know how to pray. But she was grateful now that praying was her first instinct – she would go to her knees, pray in her heart, lift up holy hands – she was happy to be worthy and happy to know her worth. She had long since stopped flinching whenever someone raised a hand around her but the years of abuse had taken a toll on Trish’s’ mental state. She suffered from clinical depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)– not only had she been embarrassed about her abusive relationship but she also endured the stigma of feeling “crazy.”

“Isn’t PTSD associated with military and Vietnam war veterans?” Hunter asked.

“Well, that was around the time it was discovered but it’s associated with traumatic events – the bottom line is not only do I employ psychologist and psychiatrist for Hope House residents but I seek their help also. At present I am in an “as-needed” treatment program that emphasizes cognitive-behavioral therapy and I’ve previously been prescribed medications.”

Trish knew she needed a break and recalled how obvious that need was during a conversation with Leah, earlier in the evening. Leah was so in tune to Trish….

Returning her mind back to Hunter, Trish almost didn’t want to look at him – she felt a bit embarrassed but she continued to look him.

“Is that your secret?” Hunter gasped. “Darling, I never thought for a moment you could go through those horrors and come out unscathed – if you had I may be worried.” Hunter touched her face softly, to be such a big guy, at 6’4 — he had such a tender touch, “I love you. I love the good in you, the intellectual in you, the insecurity in you, the troubled in you, the strength in you—I love that you love the Lord and you seek in him the strength to continue… and BE.” Let’s go away. Let’s BE together, in the Lord…”

Trish listened and willed away the tears that threatened to spill over her scarred cheek, down her chin onto Hunter’s hands … and he wouldn’t mind one bit… but would he ever tire of her needing his reassurances?

Trish’s’ cell phone, chirped — and she reached over to view the caller ID.

“It’s Monica’s social worker,” she said. After a quick deep breath and a prayer she answered.

Trish wouldn’t normally be privy to these updates but her status as the director of Hope House and Monica having been in recent residence– the professional courtesy was extended. Trish listened intently and held on to Hunter. When she hung up she immediately fell to her knees, bringing Hunter with her…

“Trish NO!” Hunter stared in horror.

She knew what he was thinking and put a hand on his chest to assure him Monica was alive… “But she’s not well…”

……..

She had tried to commit suicide. She felt like she could not go on any longer, the thoughts that were going through her mind were overwhelming and she felt hopeless and unsure of how she would ever be a better person. Monica thought of her kids as the sedation lifted her to another, less physically painful, place.

How could she subject them to this – over and over and over? How would DJ treat women? How would he ever lead a normal life, certainly not without her help? She blamed herself when he was diagnosed with autism and she beat the blame into her head every hour of every day… How would Angel expect to be treated by men? How would she show love and how would she accept it?

What was wrong with her, Monica wondered. She felt no better than her husband… abused but also the abuser… she felt useless. She wanted to let go… in fact, this self-talk was to finally convince herself it was ok to let go — the kids would be so much better without her…

 The Holy Spirit does not sublease,” she heard a voice say.

Monica had never been particularly religious and the longer she lived the less she believed there was a God-entity and he was certainly not her Father and protector… that’s what had turned her off about Hope House – holy-rolling rhetoric. Still, Monica was familiar enough to recognize the words Holy Spirit… she was puzzled why she would speak them….

Well, she tried to think — it had to be her speaking, she reasoned, a bit startled…. She heard the voice so clearly – but it was booming and authoritative – she hadn’t had those feelings… ever – it seemed like. This voice, so loud wasn’t coming from anyone that may be in her room nor was it “all in her head” – it was inside her. The words exploded from within … even when her whole life seemed to be – imploding around her.

Something inside her was trying to get out – trying to get her attention from the inside out. Hope House worked on her from the outside… something else worked on her from the inside. She was more than a little frightened – she must finally be loosing it, she decided.

“Give you to Him. He will never abandon you. He will never bring harm to you. He will never let harm come to you. Comfort yourself in his armor, rest and be protected for an eternity.”

Even if Monica could scream — she was scared stiff…. Sometimes crazy people clung to false hopes of this Saving Grace… she almost wanted to give in to the “crazy” — she gave in to everything else. She wasn’t a fighter so she stopped fighting “the voice” and just listened…

“This is not my plan for you. Cece you are more than this,” the Spirit whispered.

He called her by her father’s pet name for her. She missed her father, who had been taken from her too soon. He wouldn’t have let any harm come to his precious Cece.

“Daddy I need you. God, I don’t know what you can do with the mess that is my life but if you can, please take this pain from me. Thank you,” Monica cried.

It was as if, a warm breeze had blown into the room and enveloped Monica. She felt loved, held close the way her father always did and much like she did when she had stubbed a toe or bruised a knee she wailed from the deepest part of her soul. Monica had no idea how long she cried but when she awoke from the best sleep she had in years, Trish was sitting at her bedside.

“You look radiant,” Trish said coming closer. “I don’t have to ask who you’ve been speaking to because He is all over this room. Are you ready to raise your gaze and see the woman God says you are Monica?”

“Yes, Trish,” she replied.  “He called me Cece, like my Daddy used to. I have never had anyone make me feel as safe since my father passed. I didn’t know God could do that. I thought I had to do this by myself but He says I won’t have to. He will be with me.”

“And that is a promise you can take to the bank,” Trish said as she squeezed Monica’s hand. “He cannot lie and He loves you beyond measure,” Trish sat on the edge of the bed allowing Monica to place her head in her lap.

The tears began anew but Trish was not worried. The healing had begun.

……..

Leah’s room was quiet. It was missing Monica’s silly giggles and practical jokes. She smiled as she remembered the pranks Monica had played on the residents in an effort to fit in and lighten their mood. As her thoughts went to the image of Monica broken and bruised she shuddered.

It had been easy for Leah to pretend all these years she was not a victim of abuse because she had never been to the emergency room from injuries inflicted by her husband. He had made sure to keep the injuries on body parts hidden by clothes and more often it was the verbal and psychological methods, which were most effective. Any slip-ups were quickly explained away as Leah’s clumsy feet or fragile emotional state.

Leah shook herself from the dark thoughts trying to overwhelm her. It was over…that life was gone and Monica would be all right. They all would.

In the entire furor over Monica, Leah hadn’t bothered to open the mail on her desk. She knew what it was in the brown envelope and that delayed her opening it even longer. It couldn’t wait anymore. The cream paper was embossed with the name of the firm Trish used to help the women file claims and start divorce proceedings when necessary. Leah was asking for a divorce and the papers confirmed her husband’s wish to challenge her request. It meant Leah would have to see him in court. Was she ready for that?

……..

Hunter had canceled their evening out in an effort to catch up with paperwork, which left Trish without any plans. The women had all turned in as scheduled at eight and the night attendant had everything under control. Having regular help would take some getting use to. Trish was used to scampering around outing fires but it had taken an emotional toll on her. She was easily tired and her emotions unraveled at the smallest hiccup. If it hadn’t been for Hunter to lean on, the women would have seen through the facade she had been using to keep them settled at the shelter. Thank God when it could no longer be hid, Hunter had been there to hold her up. How could she repay his generosity?

Trish’s text was a non-invasive interruption for Hunter. Numbers was not his cup of tea and he had ignored the pile of invoices and receipts long enough. No one was more amazed than he was at how handing out a few homemade business cards had turned into a steady stream of clients. Even in the present economy when many were complaining of job cuts and no business, it was crazy that his would be taking off. He could only thank God for his favor and a mother’s instructions that he always paid his tithes. Hunter tithed even when he was unemployed, using all of his volunteer hours as the seed to a better future.

 The text…“R U Hungry?” How should he answer that?

When he thought of Trish, it was a hunger of a different kind but come to think of it…he hadn’t eaten anything since a late breakfast of Cream of Wheat.

“Very!!” was his reply.

Let’s see what the lady had cooking, he thought with a smile.

Half an hour later the invoices were all in his new bookkeeping software and the receipts would have to wait, because there was a knock at the door. A quick check of his breath and face and Hunter opened the door to find Trish laden down with a wicker basket.

Trish had no illusions that her cooking would get her a show on the Food Channel but she was pretty sure that Hunter would enjoy her curried chicken with peas and rice and plantains. He took the basket with his left hand and drew her close with his right for an open mouthed kiss that made her forget her name. Hunter raised his head and took in Trish’s face. By now she would have tried hiding her scar from his gaze but it looked like his kiss had her totally off guard.

Registering her inability to speak he decided to kiss her some more. Walking her backwards into the apartment, Hunter maneuvered the basket unto the table and quickly brought her even closer to take in as much of her as he could.

Hey! This was so unfair, she thought. Trish usually greeted Hunter with a tiptoed kiss on the chin — setting the mood for No Hanky. No Panky — they often joked. This may be unfair but it felt so darn good!

Trish wasn’t going to think a whole heck of a lot tonight. She brought the mood so she certainly wasn’t going to break it just because she had been caught off guard. Go with it, she thought. Yes, she would go with it. As Hunter kissed her he peppered her shoulders with I love you, he took her thick two-strand twists into his fist and kissed the back of her neck and behind her ears. He whispered in her ear — more love, more trust, pleading with her to open her heart… Trish was absolutely, completely swept away. Not once did she wonder how she would get out of this… Ha! She deserved this and evidently Hunter thought so too…

Hunter sat Trish on the arm of his couch and removed her shoes. He took her feet in his strong hands and rubbed them firmly and kissed each toe… twice! He massaged her calves and sincerely admired the soft curves of her legs, hips, and the small of her back… He didn’t massage her back he slowly and feather-lightly — tenderly rubbed her back so softly it would have tickled at any other time — soft circles and figure eights… for almost too long… He then kissed up then down both arms and stopped at her hands. He held her hands to his face, alternately kissing the palms and then the fingertips… giving equal time to both hands and keeping eye contact most of the time. He moved back up to her face and planted gentle kissed all over it — even her eyelids. Trish was overwhelmed!

 “You… said… you…were…very…hungry,” Trish got out between breathless kisses.

 “I never said for what,” was Hunter’s smart reply.

“It’s going to get cold,” she said trying to pull her head out of the cloud it was in.

“I have a microwave,” he countered, cutting off anymore of her suggestions with his mouth.

“Just a few minutes more,” Trish told herself, pressing her body even closer to her man. “I’ll enjoy this for a few minutes more.”

Trish felt a rush of emotion — and it wasn’t the heat all over her! Just then, Hunter paused, which interrupted her thoughts.

“Trish, I have just — literally, loved you from head to toe. And that’s what I wanted to do. I wanted — I want to show you that I can love you completely and remain in control. There is no agenda. Think: Helpmate. You are not indebted to me — there is no way and in no manner can you “repay” me or settle up. I can love you unconditionally. I do love you unconditionally. I admire all that you are; you are, quite simply — my shero.” Hunter had said a mouthful and indeed — a heartful…

Trish: throat-lump-swallow… she couldn’t speak but rather acknowledged his words with a kiss of her own as she pushed herself away from him and falling back onto the soft pillows of the couch. Hunter met her at the other end and placed her head in his lap. Really…Trish was spent! She just needed a moment but a thank you or two escaped her lips before she drifted off…

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