I was stiff. I couldn’t say anything even though there was a lot that I wanted to say. I didn’t know how to react in this situation nor did I know how to comfort her. Cynthia just stood there glaring at me. I knew that she was waiting for a reaction, but I just didn’t have anything to say. I was so surprised that there was nothing that I could do that we would be right in this situation.
"I know it isn’t what you were expecting," she muttered.
"No," I said quietly. "Not at all." I stood up and looked at her. She had a stern face on, but I saw something else in her eyes. "It’s okay. You don’t have to be strong for me."
Cynthia looked at me and smiled briefly. "I’ve been strong about it for a month now. I can’t break. I cannot fall apart. I have to attain this stature forever." She looked at me. "I don’t cry and I don’t break. I can’t." She shrugged. "I can’t show feelings. I can’t…" She looked away. "I just need help. Amelia said you did wonders with people and I just…"
"I’ve never dealt with rape. I mean… that didn’t come out right."
"Amelia said that you hadn’t dealt with things outside high school drama, but you’ve worked wonders with what you’ve had." Cynthia smiled. "And I could take any help that I can get." She smiled at me. She stepped forward and grabbed my hands in hers. "Will you help me?"
What scared me was how complacent she was about this. I – on the other hand – was very skeptical and hurting for her. I had seen so many SVU episodes to know how badly rape victims are drug through the dirt and how their rapists are usually let go free. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t set her up for failure. There was no way that I could even think about helping her because I wouldn’t know how to win.
"It’s been a month?" I asked. She nodded, slowly. I let her hands go and began to pace, thinking about the situation that she was right now. "You’ve taken showers since then and that means you’ve wiped away any and all evidence that we could have used." Her smile began to falter. "And I’m not a cop nor am I a lawyer nor do I have the means to help you Cynthia."
"I just need someone to believe me." I stopped and looked at her. She was in the same position that I had left her when I let her hands go. "I need someone to tell me that the problem that I have is a real problem. I need to know that I can get help."
"Have you told anyone?" She turned and looked at me. "Besides myself and Amelia?"
"I told my brother," she muttered. She chuckled some, but it was dry. "And he told me that I was a damn liar. He told me that Clay – his best friend – would never do anything like that." She turned from me and continued. I observed her as she went on. "’Clay is dating Amy, Cynthia. Amy is a hot cheerleader at Evermount College. Clay can’t afford to screw high schoolers. Why would he rape you Cynthia? Why would you even make an accusation like that? Why would you want to ruin his life?’"
She stopped and took a deep breath. She leaned over her bed and sighed some, loud and hard. "I believe you."
Her head jerked up some. She placed her eyes on me. "What did you say?"
"I believe you." She stood up straight and glared at me. "I believe your story and I want to help you, I really do."
She turned and sat on her bed. "My father knows." She stared straight forward. "And he told me to not speak a word about this to anyone, not even my mother." She looked up at me. "They let Clay come over all time. Evermount is an hour away from here so my brother is home on the weekends a lot. Our families – Clay and mine – are very close. I have to see him at every family function that I attend." She looked at me. "I break inside because the only other family members that know are the ones that are trying to keep it a secret." She shrugged. "I can’t do that for much longer. I can’t breathe this lie."
I bit my lip and ran a hand through my hair. Her story was compelling and heartbreaking. I wanted to help her and take her and run away from this whole situation. Looking at her cheery face, never breaking and stern made me realize that she had to keep up this façade around other people including him. I had to help her. I had to at least try.
I made my way back over to the bed and sat beside her.
We were silent for a while, just soaking up the situation and our thoughts. Her breathing was heavy and ragged and as I looked at her through the vanity, I noticed that she had bags under her eyes. She had been holding this secret, this tragedy for a month and no one has even tried to help her.
"I’ll try my hardest." She looked over at me. "I’ll help you, but you have to trust me."
"I already trust you." She smiled.
"Then you have to trust me when I say that other people need to be added to the mix in order for me to actually have a chance at helping you." Her smile faltered. She opened her mouth to speak, but I beat her. "I know it sounds like a lot and you might not be ready, but my friends have kept everything that we have done a secret. I trust them with my life. They will not hurt you."
She hesitated for a moment and then nodded. "Okay."
"Okay," I muttered. As I stood, the door came open. The maid was standing there with an older gentleman who was very well-known in our town. "You’re Aiden Roswell. You’re Judge Aiden Roswell." And that’s when it all came together for me.
Cynthia’s father – well-known – was the person whom could make or break you. His wife, Belinda, ran a bakery that had been spread throughout the country and her aunts and uncles were either in the police force or big shot lawyers.
She was afraid.
"And you are?" He muttered.
I looked at him and then back at Cynthia who had gotten herself more composed than she already was. She looked at me and smiled. "She’s just leaving." She looked back at her father. "She’s friends with Amelia. She came over to get opinions about the dress that she’s wearing to the gala this Saturday."
"You’ll be at the annual gala this year?" Mr. Roswell said, arms crossed. His beady eyes scanned me. He could tell that I was out of my element. I glared at Cynthia with a fake smile on my face and then back at her father.
"Of course. I wouldn’t miss it."
Her father smirked. "Well, Cynthia has things that she needs to tend to."
"Of course." I grabbed my backpack off the floor and turned to look at him. "It was great to meet you Mr. Roswell. I’ve heard a lot about you."
He smirked. "Nice meeting you to Ms.?"
"Briana." I stuck my hand out for him to shake and he took it. "Briana Wilkens." The smirk on his face fell as I said my last name and he dropped my hand immediately.
"Wilkens?" He muttered. I nodded and he looked over at Cynthia before he looked at me. "Well, Helga will show you out." He turned back to Cynthia. "With me in my study, now."
Helga grabbed my arm and pulled me out of the room and down the spiral staircase once more. She didn’t let my arm go until we reached the front door and even then she held it with such force.
"Listen my dear," Helga said. "If you want what is best for Cynthia, you won’t come back around here anymore unannounced." And then she pushed me out of the front door, locking it in the process.
I rubbed my arm and ran down the stairs of their home and then got back into my father’s car. As soon as I sat in the drivers’ seat, my phone went off. I fished it out of my pocket and put it to my ear without looking at who as actually calling.
"Yes?" Wasn’t the best way to answer a phone, but between me trying to put my seat belt on and start the car, it was better than nothing.
"So I assume since you didn’t answer my first two calls that you were busy." My father.
"Dad," I started into the receiver. "I’m so sorry. I was just-"
"Busy?" I gulped some, but he continued on. "Where’ve you been? I’ve been trying for the last half hour to get into contact with you."
"I took Axton for a walk and I forgot my phone." A very huge lie so it would be a big miracle if he actually fell for it.
There was a pause on the other side of the receiver. He sighed and began to speak. "Keep your phone on you next time. There are dangerous people in the world no matter if it’s daytime or not."
"You got it dad," I said. I leaned back in my seat. "Was there something important that you needed to tell me?"
"Yes. I won’t be home until late tonight." There was a pause and muffled voices in the background. "I have to go sweetheart, but be safe."
"No problem dad."
After I hung up the phone with my dad, I immediately called Sam.
I knew that I need help fixing this one.
"Raped?" James asked.
On my way home, I called Sam and asked her to get our group assembled. We met in my house, seeing as though my father was not going to be home until very late. Since we all lived fairly close to one another, it didn’t take them that long to get to my house.
"Raped," I muttered as I leaned down lower beside Sean on the loveseat. Sam sat crisscrossed on the floor in front of us, James paced and Angie sat in my father’s favorite reclining chair which was also her favorite when he wasn’t here.
"No wonder she just needed you," Sam said. She leaned back on her palms and then looked back at me. "So are you telling us against her wishes?"
I shook my head. "She knew that she needed help and I’m the one that could give it to her so I said that I needed my people – meaning you all – to help me with this." I shrugged and shook my head. "It’s rape, you guys. How do we help that?"
"Can we help that?" James asked. I looked over at him. "We aren’t the police or the FBI, she erased all evidence, this happened months ago and her father is Judge Aiden Roswell. We got all that, didn’t we?"
"Yes," Angie started. "We got that, but we also got the fact that we can’t turn a person down that is in need of help from us."
"But we fix things that are broken, things that we can repair."
"And we can’t fix her?" James stopped his speech and looked at Angie. "Who says that she isn’t broken?" James closed his mouth and Angie ran a hand through her hair and placed her eyes on me. "I’m happy to help in any way possible. Do you have any ice cream left?"
I nodded. "Sherbet, the pink kind."
Angie made a face, but stood and walked to the kitchen anyway. Sean looked over at me. "So how do we fix this and make it all better?"
I shrugged and stood to pace. "I’m not sure. All I know is that it will be the hardest thing that we ever do." I stopped and took a deep breath in. "Her father is trying to cover it up, her brother is an idiot and her mother is clueless."
"But you think that the nanny knows," Sean said. "We could start there."
"Maid," I corrected him. "And I don’t know if she knows anything, but there is sure as hell something going on in that house that she doesn’t want me to find out about."
"Secrets are just piling," James muttered.
"What about the gala?" Sam started. She moved from sitting on the floor to sit beside Sean. "Maybe that was an excuse for you to help her."
"Maybe I can help her in some other way, plus I have no idea about this gala thing."
"It’s held every year." I looked up as Angie walked in with a bowl full of ice cream. "It’s full of elite judges and lawyers, doctors and dentists, all of that. My father attends. He was the president of Evermount before he was the principal of a high school."
"Your father goes?" Sam asked.
"Every year." She sat back down in the recliner. "He could get you on the list if you asked for it."
"Wait," James started. "He was the president of Evermount?"
"It was when I was fairly little, like three. He gave up the job to move back home here because his mother – my grandmother – was feeling ill. That was like a decade ago, but he has a strong alliance there and he can go back anytime he would like as a professor or something."
"Is that not a coincidence?"
I looked around the room and shook my head. "Nothing is coincidental in our small little town." I placed my eyes on Angie. "See if he can get us on the list."
"If we’re all there then your father will know that we are still fixing and he will tell Briana’s father," James said. "So I think that we should bow out and just let you and B go."
"James is right," Sam said. "We would be better off doing something behind closed doors that can help her."
"First off," Angie started. "Gala’s aren’t my thing and neither are dresses. I think that we should take another approach to this."
"This is the only approach we have," I muttered. "A dress and heels aren’t that bad compared to what Cynthia has been through."
"Way to guilt trip," she muttered. She finished a text on her phone and then looked at me. "It’s been sent. I’m pretty sure my father couldn’t say no to me wanting to go to some stupid gala that he’s been shoving down my throat for years."
"Good," Sam said. She stood and smiled. "Sean, James and myself can help with whatever we can with this. Just name it."
I placed my hands on my hips and paced. I really had no idea where to start with something like this. I didn’t even know what I could say to them to help me with something as big as this.
"I’m thinking." I turned around and continued to pace. There wasn’t much that could help her here unless her brother’s best friend was in the mood of confessing or something. I didn’t know what to do.
"We can research the protocol on this." I looked at James as he saved the day, per usual. "It’s been a month since the incident. We can look up how this would be handled in court."
"And some dirt on her father," Sean chimed in. "There has to be a reason as to why this judge doesn’t want his name to be brought into this."
"And we can have all this information before the gala on Saturday," Sam said, smile on her face.
I couldn’t help but smile at my group of friends. Crossing my arms, I nodded. "I could do nothing without you guys by my side."
"It sounds like heaven every time you say that," Sean said. He feigned surprise and leaned down to put his head in Sam’s lap. She smiled down at him. "Say it again."
James smiled at the scene and I smiled at James. I opened my mouth to speak, but I was cut off by Sam. She looked up. "I could go for something sweet."
"This pink sherbet isn’t as bad as I thought it would be," Angie started. She looked down in her bowl and shrugged. "And quite frankly I could go for more than what I have now." She stood and walked to the kitchen with Sam and Sean right on her tail.
I sighed and leaned against the wall. James slowly paced over to where I was. "Are you sure that you aren’t taking on more than you can handle?"
"When have I ever just had one job?" I muttered. "Plus, this is the biggest thing that I have going on right now. I just need something to keep me preoccupied."
I looked at James and he was observing me. His blue eyes looked as if they were judging me. I bit my lip. "There’s nothing going on between Mike and myself and there never will be."
"You say that with your mouth, but it’s really hard to believe you." I opened my mouth to speak, but he cut me off. "I know you B. I have for years so when you say this to me, there’s no way that I can believe you."
His eyes sought mine out and I couldn’t help but look away. "After next week, he won’t be a problem so it won’t matter."
"I could go for something sweet too." I leaned from the wall and walked towards the kitchen, but I couldn’t help but think that he was right. I might say that there is nothing going on between us two, but there would always be something between Mike and myself.
And that’s the part that sucked.
Miha: Thank you so much! Please continue to read!
K: Thank you!
Jasmine Charms: I can always count on you to come back with an extremely long comment that makes me happy and makes me think about everything. I think that's just how Briana is. She's an adventurous type of person and she does things for the sake of doing. She asks questions later. I'm glad you're so into my story and analyzing it. I love love love your comments and respect them.
Anonymous: Thank you! I'm thinking about updating Being Beautiful as well!