Rounding the corner to the front of the Chapman’s house, Audrey’s Toyota Camry came into view. She was home. Trying to calm down, he took deep, slow breaths. When Mrs. Chapman answered the door, Trevor faked his best smile, which he guessed she could see straight through.
“Hi, Trevor.” Sympathy colored her tone of voice. “You’re looking for Audrey, I presume?”
“Mrs. Chapman, I really need to see her.”
To his surprise, she opened the door further and told him to come in. “I’ll see what I can do. She’s up in her room.” She started up the stairs. Trevor shook off his wet boots and followed Audrey’s mom up the steps. Mrs. Chapman paused in the middle of the staircase and turned to him. “You can wait downstairs, Trevor. I’ll send her down.”
Trevor didn’t budge. “I’m sorry, Mrs. Chapman, but you know just as well as I do that she won’t agree to speak to me. Please, let me go up there.”
Mrs. Chapman hesitated, but finally moved aside, letting him go up on his own.
He tapped lightly on Audrey’s partially open door.
Trevor’s heart melted at the musical sound of her voice he had waited so long to hear. Pushing the door open, he saw her sitting on her bed with papers spread out before her. She was busy reading something, so she didn’t look up right away. He soaked in the sight of her. Her blond, curly hair was gathered into a messy bun at the top of her head. A loose fitting T-shirt was draped over her small frame, and she wore a pair of Capri sweat pants. She looked exactly the same as the last time he’d seen her, except that her face was slightly more filled out and he couldn’t help but notice that her breasts seemed larger.
Her natural beauty made him so weak in the knees that he had to put a hand on the door frame to hold steady. The anger he had been feeling minutes ago dissipated in her presence. He cleared his throat. “You’re not supposed to have to study over Christmas break.”
She looked up. Dropping the paper she held in her hands, she covered her mouth, clearly surprised by his unannounced visit. “Trevor, what are you doing here?”
Ignoring her question, he asked if he could come in, but didn’t wait for an answer. He entered her room and sat on the end of her bed. If he wasn’t forward, he wouldn’t get the answers he came for. “I’ve missed you, Audrey.”
“I’ve missed you too.” Her warm response took Trevor by pleasant surprise.
“Did I do something wrong? Because if I did anything to hurt you or make you hate me, I’m sorry.”
“No, Trevor. You didn’t do anything wrong. I promise.”
“Then why have you been giving me the cold shoulder?”
“It’s not like that.” She closed her eyes momentarily, before continuing. “I just think you’re better off without me. You deserve more. You deserve …” She couldn’t bring herself to finish the sentence.
“I want to be with you, Audrey. You know that. Nobody is better for me than you.” He felt tears well in his eyes and was helpless to stop them from spilling onto his unshaven face. It didn’t matter that the world thought of him as strong and tough—a six-foot-four-inch football player. His resolve was completely broken.
“But you deserve…a virgin.”
The confirmation straight from her mouth cut him like a knife.
“You don’t want me anymore. Look at me, Trevor.” Audrey smoothed her shirt over her abdomen, revealing a subtle bulge. “I’m pregnant. I might have to drop out of school and move back home with my parents. You don’t want a girl like that. You deserve so much more. Just move on, Trevor. It’s over between us.”
Trevor wiped his nose with the back of his hand, realizing he was blubbering like a baby. How was he supposed to win her heart back like this? He kept his gaze down as he tried to get a grip on his emotions. Through blurry eyes, he caught sight of the papers she had been studying. They were pamphlets of some kind, something one would get at a doctor’s office. He looked more closely and read the heading on one of the brochures. Your Body, Your Choice, it read.
“Are you getting an abortion?”
“I don’t know. I mean, I don’t think so. Let’s not talk about this, okay?” She swept the papers into a pile and stuffed them into her bedside table drawer.
“You’re pro-life.” Maybe she had changed after all. He would address this issue later. Now he needed to get the answers he came looking for. “So who’s the guy?” He kept his voice gentle, not wanting to sound accusatory.
Audrey shrugged, “I don’t know.”
Trevor felt his face flush with heat and his temper began to rise. “You don’t know? You’re going to sit there and tell me you don’t know? All I’m asking for is a simple answer to a simple question.” He looked her in the eyes, letting her know he wasn’t backing down. “Who is the guy?”
Silence was her answer.
Trevor shook his head in disbelief.
Breaking the silence, her phone signaled that a text message had come in. The phone was on the bed between Audrey and Trevor, where they could both read the name Matt Cook displayed on the screen.
Was this his answer? Trevor looked at Audrey. Her eyes were huge as saucers, as if she too couldn’t believe the timing of this text.
“It’s not what you think, Trevor.”
“You don’t know what I’m thinking, Audrey. Because I won’t know what to think about anything until you tell me what’s going on.” He picked up her phone. “Tell me what I’m supposed to think about this.” He read the text aloud. “Some of us are going to a movie tonight. Wanna come?”
“I’ve told you that Matt and I are just friends, and that’s the truth.”
“So how about if you text him back and tell him you’ll go, and Trevor’s coming with you. I wouldn’t mind going to a movie.” He was testing her.
Audrey shook her head. “That would be too weird.”
That was exactly the answer he’d expected to hear … was afraid to hear. “Why? Because he’s your boyfriend and I’m some other guy who’s in love with you?” He knew he was jumping to conclusions, but all the signs seemed to be pointing in the same direction. Audrey must have been seeing someone behind his back and it had to be this Matt Cook. He hated using this harsh tone of voice with Audrey, accusing her of things. If only she would be open and honest with him.
Audrey’s bottom lip quivered, and she hugged her knees to her chest. She seemed sad, not defensive or angry like he expected. “Matt is not my boyfriend. And you …” she stopped mid-sentence, and a tear left a trail of mascara down her cheek.
“Go ahead. Finish your sentence. I want to hear what you were going to say.”
She didn’t answer.
“What am I to you?”
Audrey looked down. “I don’t know anymore.”
She might as well have ripped his heart right out of his chest. But he wasn’t giving up that easily. “Do you love him?”
Audrey looked confused. “Love who?” She thought about it for a moment, and then she shook her head. “No!”
“I don’t get it.” Trevor was honestly baffled. He was getting nowhere.
Her words caught Trevor off guard. “Because you’re pregnant?” He spoke tenderly, finally feeling like he was getting somewhere with her. She was finally letting her guard down.
“It’s not that.” Audrey shielded her eyes with her hand. “I’m not a virgin anymore. I’m sorry.”
Trevor kept quiet, willing her to tell the whole story.
“We all make mistakes, Audrey. You don’t have to punish yourself for the rest of your life for slipping up once or twice. Of course I’m upset about it, but I know that we’ve been apart a lot, and I understand if you fell in love with someone else. I just want an explanation from you so I can have some kind of closure. I know we weren’t even dating, but…I just thought…I guess I thought you had feelings for me too.”
“I didn’t fall in love with someone else. I didn’t slip up once or twice either. I was raped.”
There it was. The answer he had been searching for. The reason she had withdrawn from him. And now he almost wished she hadn’t told him. It was the devastating scenario he hadn’t wanted to consider. It was easier to be angry that she was in love with another guy, but to hear that she had been raped was too much to bear. His gut twisted at the thought of some punk taking advantage of Audrey, the girl who’d always occupied a special place in his heart. “He’ll pay for this.”
“Trevor, I told you I don’t know who did it. I never even saw his face.”
She told him the whole story, up until the moment she passed out. He knew it was difficult for her to tell him, and his heart ached for her. “We have to find this guy, Audrey. He can’t get away with this.”
“That’s impossible. I’ve thought about it, believe me. There were so many guys there and I didn’t even know a lot of them. I bet Jake didn’t even know all of them.”
“You have to report it.”
“I told them at the pregnancy center. They reported it to the police, but there wasn’t any evidence of rape because I waited so long to see a doctor. They said it would be next to impossible to prove it was rape at this point.”
“Unless there was a witness.” Trevor was hopeful.
“I suppose you’re right, but I don’t know how to go about finding a witness. It was dark and crowded; I bet no one even noticed.” Audrey stretched her legs out and crossed her arms over her mid-section. “I want to just forget about it because finding him seems so hopeless.”
“There’s a good chance he bragged about it to his buddies, and he’s maybe doing it to other girls too. Someone has to stop him.”
“I don’t know.” Audrey didn’t appear to have any fight in her.
Trevor thought back to the papers Audrey had stuffed into her drawer. “Are you going to keep the baby?”
Audrey bit her lip. “Honestly, I haven’t thought about it much. I was just looking at being pregnant as some sort of disease or something. You know, something bad that happened to me that needs to be fixed.” Thoughtfully, she continued, “I’ve always thought abortion was wrong, but now I’m not so sure. I mean, who wants to know that they were conceived by rape? Is it fair to bring a person into the world under those circumstances? And I can’t raise a baby right now. I don’t know what to do.”
Trevor didn’t know either, and he didn’t feel equipped to offer advice.
“Do you understand now why I didn’t want you to have to get involved in this mess?” she asked.
“I get it. But did you forget the lyrics to our favorite song?” He sang softly, “Lean on me, when you’re not strong.” He knew it was corny, especially considering how heavy the conversation was, but they had sung that line to each other too many times to count. The cheese factor was what made the song so great. It had never failed to make them smile. And it worked this time too.
Audrey chuckled. “Don’t you think that’s a bit childish, considering the circumstances?”
“I think there is a lot of wisdom in that catchy little song. Seriously, don’t you feel better now?”
Audrey smiled. “Yeah, I do.”
“Except now I feel like crap.”
“Sorry to break it to you, but you look like crap. Ever heard of a razor?"
Trevor laughed as he rubbed the stubble on his face. “I decided to stop shaving until you talked to me.”
“And that’s all the further you got?” Her lips curved into a devious smile.
Trevor couldn’t help but laugh. He leaned over and rubbed his scratchy face on her cheeks.
“Stop!” She giggled.
Audrey’s laughter was medicine to his soul. He kissed her on the cheek. He sat next to her, their arms pressed against each other’s. He leaned his head against the headboard. It felt so good to be here next to Audrey again.
“I’m glad you hunted me down. Even though you didn’t groom yourself first.” She touched his stubbly chin.
Trevor lightly tickled under her arm.
She squealed. Trevor tickled her sides. “Uncle.” She screamed and laughed at the same time. Trevor dug his fingers in deeper until she laughed so hard she cried. His fingers traveled to her belly.
“Don’t!” Audrey squirmed out from under him and stood up from the bed. She wrapped her arms around her midsection and turned her back to him.
Trevor immediately felt like a complete jerk. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to do that. It just felt like old times and I got carried away in the moment.”
“It’s okay.” She sniffed, holding her arms tight around her waist.
There was an awkward silence. Completely at a loss as to what to do or say, Trevor waited for her to break the silence. He sat on the edge of the bed, resting his elbows on his knees.
After several minutes, she sat down next to him. “Do you see now why this isn’t going to work?”
Frustration reared its ugly head once again. “You’re saying we can’t be friends because something terrible happened to you, and you need to survive it on your own? Is it so bad that you laughed for a minute?”
“You need to move on, Trevor. Please just live your life. I don’t want to hold you back.”
“I can’t believe we’re back to this, Audrey. Stop being so stubborn!”
Audrey jumped up from the bed. “I can handle this. This isn’t your problem. I don’t need you.” Regret seemed to darken her features the moment the words escaped her mouth.
Trevor knew she didn’t mean it, but it hurt just the same. Maybe he had no business being there after all.
Audrey slinked into a ball on the floor, hugging her knees to her chest. “I have too much to figure out.” She sighed heavily. “Just because my life is ruined doesn’t mean yours has to be ruined too.” She looked up. Her eyes were bloodshot. “Please, Trevor. Please leave me alone.”
Anger and frustration grabbed hold of Trevor once again. She left no room for negotiation. “If it’s really what you want, I’ll leave you alone. But only until you figure things out. Don’t you get it, Audrey? I love you. I have always loved you, and I always will. I waited my whole life for you. A little more time won’t hurt me. I’m not giving up on you, Audrey Chapman.” He stood up and walked out the door, not waiting to see her reaction. He was crushed that the conversation had ended like this. Although she wouldn’t admit it, he knew she loved him too.
He’d wanted so badly to hold her and tell her that everything would be okay. But truthfully, he couldn’t promise that. Only time would tell.
Mrs. Chapman met him by the front door. “I’m glad you came by, Trevor. If anybody could pull her out of her shell, it would be you.”
“I don’t know, Mrs. Chapman. That is one hard-headed girl you got there.”
“Strong willed her father and I like to call it.” Lydia laughed.
Trevor wondered if Lydia knew what had happened to Audrey. He considered asking her. But Darcy knew about the pregnancy, and no secret was safe with Darcy. Surely she had apprised her mother of the situation.
“Bye, Mrs. Chapman. Merry Christmas.”
Back at home, Trevor went into his dad’s office and closed the door. He would honor Audrey’s request for space while she figured things out. In the meantime he would find the jerk that violated her and get him locked away for good.
But two hours later he found himself at a standstill, having run into one dead end after another. The police department said the same thing that Audrey had told him. It would be nearly impossible to prove that she had been raped because by now the only evidence was the pregnancy.
The officer Trevor spoke with wasn’t convinced that Audrey had been raped. “So she’s running around partying. Sounds to me like she was looking for a good time. It’d be tough to prove that she wasn’t a willing partner.” How dare the officer suggest that?
Trevor realized just then how difficult it would be to catch this guy if the police department wasn’t even convinced it was rape. Trevor decided he would try to figure things out on his own.
He called Jake and got the names of every guy he could think of who had been at the party. “I have reason to believe that someone at your party used a date rape drug. Do you know anything about that?”
“Are you serious? Not that I know of. I mean, there were a couple of girls passed out on the sofa for a while, but I’m sure nothing happened to them. I sent everyone home after that. It wasn’t that kind of party. No drugs of any kind here … unless you consider alcohol a drug.”
Trevor talked with him for quite a while, and was well convinced that Jake really didn’t have a clue about any date rape drugs or know of anyone who would use them. Trevor’s investigation was a complete fail.
Infuriated, he decided a mental break was in order. He went into the kitchen and grabbed a bottle of water from the fridge. Lucas was sitting on the counter top eating handfuls of chips straight from the bag. Trevor slumped against the fridge as he gulped down the cold water.
“So what’s the scoop on your girlfriend?”
Trevor clenched his jaw. He wasn’t in the mood for joking around. “She was raped.”
Lucas swallowed the chips in his mouth with obvious difficulty. He tossed the chip bag on the counter and wiped greasy hands on his pants. “I’m sorry.” He jumped off the counter. “Who is he? I’m gonna pound the creep.”
“I wish I knew. Audrey doesn’t even know. It happened at a party. She was drugged.”
Lucas trudged the few feet it took to reach the kitchen table and slouched into a chair.
“It gets worse.” Trevor’s lower lip trembled. “She’s pregnant.”
Lucas shook his head in disbelief. “What’s she gonna do?”
“She might have an abortion. Can you believe it? I mean, she’s always been pro-life and now she might abort her own baby.” Trevor hoped his older brother would offer some wisdom.
“I can believe it.” Lucas shrugged.
Trevor felt his defenses rise. “But it’s her own flesh and blood.”
“Her’s and some disgusting creep’s. Plus, it’s not like she would’ve bonded with it at this point.” Lucas straightened. “I’m not saying she should have an abortion. I’m just saying that I get why she’s considering it.”
Lucas had a point. It’s not like Audrey would feel all maternal after something like this happened. Yet for a reason Trevor didn’t quite understand, he felt protective of the baby. “I care for Audrey so much. I guess it’s just that I love every part of her. No matter what.”
A corner of Lucas’s mouth lifted into a lopsided smile. “You are so whipped.”
Trevor was helpless to stop his own grin. “Yeah, it stinks.”
“Nah, it’s beautiful.” Lucas winked.
Read a chapter a day from Bittersweet Goodbye right here on this blog, beginning September 1st, 2019.