Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Chapter 2

Jon stood on the porch looking at Frannie through the crack in the door. There was a wariness in her amber eyes, as if she didn’t trust him. His instinct to protect had him pulling off his sunglasses so she could see he meant her no harm. Her dark hair was as he remembered, long and curling over her shoulders. He could see that her faded jeans had a rip at the knee and the hem of a man’s shirt skimmed her thighs.

As he looked at her she was doing her own perusal of him. God he was gorgeous. His hair that was once blonde was now a warm shade of brown and made the blue of his eyes stand out that much more. He had removed his sunglasses and she could see that his eyes were bright and smiling, not at all like him. His jeans were as faded as hers and his t-shirt was the same blue as his eyes. “Jon?” He hadn’t answered her question and she wanted to know what he was doing there.

He looked at her face, “I have been thinking about you and wanted to see how you were doing. How is Sophie?” She smiled shyly, he remembered her name. He’s been thinking about me? “She is doing fine, growing bigger every day. Would you like to come in?” He nodded and she shut the door and unlatched the chain. Taking a deep breath she opened the door and let him in. When she shut the door behind him she engaged the locks and slid the chain in place once more. “Do you always keep yourself locked in like that?” He didn’t know her background and found it slightly odd that she locked all the locks, including the chain. She turned around as she nodded, “can’t be too careful.”

Standing there in the foyer Frannie felt herself starting to panic. Breathe. He’s not going to hurt you she told herself. She hadn’t been this close to a man since that night. She took a breath and picked up the monitor off the table before moving past Jon. “I was just heading back to my studio when you rang the bell.” His interest was piqued. “Studio?” He looked her up and down again, only then realizing that her clothes had what looked like paint stains on them. “Do you paint?” She nodded, “I draw, well sketch with charcoals and chalks too.” He followed her down the hall and out to what he had thought was the garage when he pulled up, but in actuality it was her studio. He glanced around the room when she turned on the lights there paintings and drawings propped up against all four walls. An easel was standing in the middle of the room with a blank canvas just waiting for her next creation.

Frannie stood inside the door and watched as Jon took in his surroundings. He had moved away from her and was standing near the window looking down at one of her watercolors. She grabbed her sketch pad and started to draw. The light coming in the window provided sort of a soft glow around him. She was so engrossed she didn’t noticed when he moved away from the window and came up behind her. She was just putting a few finishing strokes down when he touched her shoulder. She jumped and the chalk flew from her hand as the sketch pad landed at her feet. Frannie turned around, eyes wide in fear. When it registered that it was Jon she tried to make light of the situation “dammit, don’t do that!” She was trembling as she retrieved her chalk and sketch pad.

“Jesus Frannie, I’m sorry I didn’t mean to scare you.” He should have known better than to come up behind her like that. How many times had it happened to him when he was writing? He should have just stayed in front of her until her eyes cleared and she registered he was still in the room. He laid his hands on her shoulders, he could feel her trembling still. She looked at him, “it’s okay Jon, sometimes I get so engrossed in what I am doing I totally go somewhere else. Do you want to see it?” He kept his hands on her shoulders and scanned her face. He could still see the fear in her eyes, but it was obvious she didn’t want to acknowledge it. “Sure, let’s see what you did to me.” He slid his hands slowly down her arms and dropped them from her so she could show him the sketch. She had captured him by the window, a slight reflection appearing in the glass. He gaze was downcast, and the lines of his face soft and relaxed. “This is wonderful.” She added her initials to the lower right corner before ripping it from her book and handing it to him with a small smile, “here, I am sure your kids or your wife will like it.”

He took the sketch from her, “well my kids maybe or I might just keep it for myself.” He didn’t say anything about his pending divorce. She looked at him, “I have something else for you.” He looked surprised, “something else?” She led him over to a large frame that was facing the wall. “I did this right after I had Sophie, when the memory was still fresh.” She turned the frame around, it was him and guys standing in the room where she delivered Sophie. She had sketched them from memory and had done a damn fine job of it too. He had a thought then, “this is amazing Frannie. You know, I know someone who would love to see all this. Do you think I could bring him by sometime?” She shook her head, “I don’t think so Jon.” Before he could question her Sophie’s crying came through the monitor. Frannie grabbed a rag and wiped her hands. “I have to go get her.” He followed her out of the studio and she told him to wait in the living room while she went to get her baby girl.

Jon glanced around the living room. There were pictures of Sophie on the mantle, some with Frannie, but none with a man in them. Wonder where the father is? He turned then and saw the framed drawing over the couch, it was Sophie laying in her crib asleep. Her little butt was up in the air and her fist was tucked under her chin. He smiled, he could just barely remember Romeo like that.

He heard the floor creak behind him and turned to find Frannie and a very content Sophie watching him. He walked over to the pair, “well, isn’t she a beauty.” He ran a finger lightly across the baby’s forehead. Sophie was the image of her mother and Frannie thanked the heavens everyday for that. Jon looked down at the baby, and then back up at Frannie, “could I hold her?” He saw the wariness in her eyes again. He wondered who made her so afraid. “I’m not going to drop her or anything I promise. I have done this before you know.” At the sound of Jon’s voice Sophie smiled. As Frannie passed Sophie to him, he reached for her, his arm coming in contact with the soft curve of her breast. She stiffened at the innocent contact and it didn’t go unnoticed by Jon. Who hurt her? “I know you’ve done this before. I just get a little overprotective sometimes.” Frannie looked at the two of them, “it seems as though she likes you.”

Jon sat on the couch with the baby in the crook of his arm. Sophie was content just to look at him and every time he talked she smiled. Frannie watched her baby girl develop her first crush. Jon looked over at Frannie, “can I ask you something?” She shrugged her shoulders, “sure.” “Where’s Sophie’s father?” Sophie started fussing right then and Frannie gave a silent prayer of thanks for her daughter’s impeccable timing. “Let me take her, she probably needs to eat.” With a sigh Jon relinquished Sophie and stood. He wasn’t going to get an answer to his question now. “I should probably go anyway.” Frannie led Jon to the door, Sophie squalling the whole time. He leaned in and kissed the baby’s head and she settled for a minute. “It was nice to see you Frannie.” He dug in his pocket and handed her a slip of paper, “here is my number. Call me if you need anything.” He looked at her, her eyes giving her away again, “I mean it Frannie, if you need anything at all, call me.” He moved to kiss Frannie’s cheek but she moved away. “Thanks Jon. It was nice to see you again.” She let him out and after she had locked the door again she sat down in an overstuffed chair and fed the now screaming Sophie.


Frannie woke in the middle of the night, soaked in sweat and shaking from head to foot. Another nightmare. Glancing at the clock she decided she might as well just get up, it was four in the morning but her daughter would be ready for breakfast soon. She showered the nightmare off of her but the underlying fear was still there. It never seemed to leave her alone. Dressed in jeans and an old flannel shirt she padded to the kitchen for some juice and then headed out to her studio. The blank canvas was on the easel, taunting her, daring her to put a brush to it. She picked up a paint brush and dipped it into the red paint. She was experimenting with acrylics now and it was the closest to her at the moment. She painted with bold strokes, her anger and fear seeming to flow out of her and onto the canvas through her brush. She stopped only to changes brushes and then continued until Sophie’s cries brought her back. She ran from the room without even looking at what she had done.

Once she got Sophie settled down and fed she returned to her studio. She avoided the canvas in the middle of the room for as long as possible. She grabbed the framed sketch that Jon was supposed to have taken with him the day before and set it by the door. When she could ignore it no longer she stood in front of the easel and studied her painting. It struck her as being angry, almost violently so; all red, orange and yellow in bold strokes and streaks. As she studied it she felt a sense of peace wash over her, something she hadn’t felt in a long time. She left the painting there to dry and, on the way back into the house she grabbed the frame and went to make a phone call.

Standing on Jon’s front step waiting for him to answer the door she wondered if maybe she should have just asked him to come and pick the sketch up at her place. She shook that idea from her head. No, if you are going to make any headway, you need to do this. You can be in the same room with a man, this one won’t hurt you. She kept telling herself that while she waited. Sophie was in the sling on her mother’s front and the picture was leaned up against the house. Just as she started fussing the door opened. “Hi Frannie, come on in.” Jon stepped back so she could enter the house. She reached to grab the picture and he stopped her, “just get in here. I’ll get that.”

He closed the door and turned to Frannie, “let me take your coat.” She shrugged out of her light jacket, spring was in the air today. He hung it on the hook by the door “come on let’s go sit down.” They moved into the living room and Frannie took Sophie out of the sling before sitting down. She started fussing as Frannie tried to get comfortable on the couch. “Here, let me take her” Jon told her. At the sound of his voice Sophie stopped her fussing and smiled. Frannie looked at him, “oh you are so coming home with me to be there when she’s screaming at 3 in the morning.” He laughed and cradled Sophie against his chest. “What can I say, I have a way with the ladies.” As Jon was walking the room with Sophie Frannie reached into her bag, “you forgot this yesterday too Jon.” He turned and saw the sketch she had done of him yesterday laying on the table. “Thanks. I was halfway home before I realized I had forgotten it.”

Frannie watched Jon move around the room with Sophie in his arms. He was murmuring to her and she was quite content to be with him. Frannie felt her pulse quicken as she watched him. He had been so nice to her yesterday. Maybe she owed him an answer to his question.

“Jon?” He skimmed his lips across the baby’s head and looked at Frannie, “what?” “Could you sit down a minute? I want to talk to you.” He sat down in the chair closest to the end of the couch where she was sitting. “Now,” he started as he settled himself, a now sleeping Sophie resting against his chest. “What did you want to talk about?” She took a deep breath to steady herself. “I want to answer your question from yesterday. I’d like to tell you about Sophie’s father.”

Monday, September 24, 2007

Chapter 1

Her first night out since that awful night and she went into labor. At the concert she decided she just had to attend. Frannie had gotten herself a ticket and had gone alone, not really thinking anything would happen. She had dressed comfortably but still with a bit of style, well as much style as one could have at eight months pregnant anyway. Black maternity jeans and a cute black embellished top. From the back you wouldn't have guessed she was pregnant, but from every other angle, there was no denying it. As she made her way to her seat people were staring at her, but she didn’t care. She had as much right as anyone else to be there, pregnant or not. She sat when she felt she needed to and stood as much as she thought she should. By the end her back was hurting and she decided to wait for everyone else to make their way out before trying to leave. She didn’t want to get caught in the crush of people. As she stood to leave a pain caught her and she grabbed the railing in front of her. With her free hand she rubbed her belly, willing the pain to subside. As the pain eased she turned to go up the steps and another one caught her. Shit. I need to get out of here. She looked around for the nearest exit and it was still a flight of stairs away.

One of the security guys and been watching Frannie to make sure she was doing all right. They didn’t get many women as pregnant as she so obviously was at a rock concert so he wasn’t going to take any chances. He saw her stop and grab her belly three times before making his way over to her. “Are you all right miss?” She looked up and he could tell from the grimace on her face that she was far from all right. He picked up his two way radio, “boss, we got a situation.” Frannie heard the faceless voice speak back, “what’s the problem?” Frannie was in the throes of another contraction and didn’t catch anything else. As the pain subsided she realized the man was speaking to her again. “Do you think you can walk miss?” She looked at him, “what’s your name?” He wasn’t expecting that. “My name?” She shook her head, “your name, sir, what’s your name?” She didn’t have time for this. “Mike, my name’s Mike.” She smiled as best she could, “well Mike, I’m Frannie and if you are going to get me to a hospital, you are my new best friend.” They managed a few steps and another pain hit. He waited as she breathed through it and then picked her up and carried backstage and into the first room he came to. He deposited her on the couch and, being such a big man, she couldn’t see around him to figure out where the heck she was. It was only when he moved did she realize just where he had brought her and who the “boss” was.

She looked around at the five faces that were staring at her. Holy Hell. Jon, Richie, David, Tico and Hugh were all looking at her, waiting for some sort of reaction. Before she could think of something to say another contraction hit, this one more intense than the last. The men watched, not sure what they could do for her. When the pain passed she tried to get off the couch, “um, a little help here please?” She looked at the five of them still standing and looking at her. “What, I know at least four of you have seen a pregnant woman in labor before. What’s the problem?” Jon moved first, “you sure you want to get up...” he hesitated. “Frannie. My name is Frannie and yes I want to get up, this couch is damn uncomfortable.” Jon helped her up and she paced back and forth, “did one of you…” she trailed off as another pain hit. “Shit” she looked down at the puddle between her feet. “Did someone call an ambulance or something” she managed to ask before she had another contraction. They were coming closer together and way more intense, she knew she wasn’t going to make it to a hospital, whether or not an ambulance had been called. Jon moved to her, offering his support. “Where would you be most comfortable?” She looked around, “over there on the floor I guess.” She pointed to a spot by the wall. As Jon took the couch cushions and placed them on the floor for her to lean on, Richie came up beside her and took her hand. “Don’t worry darlin’ we’re gonna help you.” She tried to smile but she just didn’t have it in her at that moment. Another pain came and she gripped his hand so hard he grimaced. “That’s quite the grip you got there darlin’.” She looked at him, “sorry.”

They helped her get situated on the floor, held her hands, encouraging her to breathe through the pains and praying that the ambulance would get there. After one particularly strong contraction she looked first at Jon and then at Richie, “I need to push.” Jon and Richie both had panicked looks on their faces. “What do you mean you need to push?” Jon looked over at the others, “go find out where the damn ambulance is!” He turned back to Frannie, “are you sure?” She was panting through her contractions now, “yes… I’m… sure.” He pulled her shoes off and she flipped her shirt up as he helped her get her pants off. They watched as her stomach went rigid with another contraction. Richie got behind her to support her back and Jon encouraged her to push. “Come on Frannie you can do this.” He looked at her, making sure she was still with him. Tears were running down her cheeks as she bore down a second time. “That’s it Frannie, I can see the head.” He was between her legs, but having no idea what to do, he just let her body do what it was made to do. Richie and Jon watched, as with the next push, the little head appeared. Jon looked around and grabbed a t-shirt that was slung over a nearby chair. As the baby slid out he wrapped her up in the t-shirt and set her on her mother’s stomach. “It’s a girl Frannie.” She looked up to see a tear trail down his cheek. “Thank you.” She looked up at Richie, “thank you too.” She looked down at her baby girl just as the paramedics came through the door.


Frannie caressed the soft downy head resting against her breast. Three months had passed since that fateful night when little Sophie made her early and quite unexpected appearance; helped into the world by the two men Frannie had always wanted to meet, but not quite like that. She glanced up at the picture on Sophie’s dresser, except for her memories, it was the only proof she had that these two men had been there for her. What a story that was. She smiled down on Sophie, her little ray of sunshine. She hadn’t been conceived in love, but Frannie had vowed she would know nothing but love.

She tried not to think about the night Sophie was conceived very often, but every now and again the memories snuck up on her, catching her unaware. Like now. She sat back down in the rocking chair and let herself drift back to that awful night.

Frannie had met some friends out for dinner and a drink. This was the same group she got together with once a month. They enjoyed a lively dinner and they talked for what seemed like forever, catching up from the previous month. It was a night out that Frannie always looked forward to. Normally they all left together, but this night Frannie left early. She had a headache and wanted to get home and get to bed early. She had to work the next day. As she headed to her car she was grabbed from behind and knocked to the ground. She tried to fight off her attacker but he was twice her size. She managed to scratch his face before he backhanded her. She closed her eyes, trying to blank out what he was doing to her. She felt him rip her shirt and she felt something cold against her belly before feeling her jeans give way. “No, please!” She cried and begged to no avail. He ripped her underwear from her body. She chanced a glance at him. He had flat, emotionless gray eyes, a scar on the left side of his face and a menacing mouth. He smacked her before hissing out “stupid bitch, you’re gonna get what you deserve.” She screamed as he rammed into her and he hit her again, leaving her in a daze. She clawed at him but he was relentless. He finished, hit her once more and left her in a heap on the pavement near her car, bloody and broken and, unbeknownst to Frannie, pregnant.

Frannie managed to gather her purse and keys and get into her car, driving herself to the nearest police station. She hadn’t waited for her friends, she didn’t want them to see her like that. She stumbled into the station and collapsed in a chair. A policewoman took her statement and took her to the hospital. After she was treated and the rape kit was done, the doctor admitted her and kept her overnight. She didn’t find out until several weeks later that she was pregnant. When she went for a check up with her gynecologist her doctor confirmed it. Frannie sat in her doctor’s office in disbelief. Not only had she been raped, but now she was carrying that bastard’s child. Her doctor gave her information on adoption and told her to keep her faith, that fate was a funny thing and everything would work out in the end. Frannie shook her head at her doctor’s words, Bon Jovi was her favorite band and words to one of their songs came to mind.

Faith: you know you're gonna live thru the rain
Lord you got to keep the faith
Faith: don't let your love turn to hate
Right now we got to
Keep the faith
Keep the faith
Keep the faith
Lord we got to keep the faith

In the weeks following she poured over the information on adoption, not sure of what she was going to do. She knew abortion was out of the question, she just didn’t have it in her to take a life, no matter how it was conceived. Adoption seemed like the right thing to do, until she felt the baby move. After that her decision seemed to have been made for her, she was going to keep this baby.

They never caught the man that had raped her. This left her more than a little unnerved. Frannie stopped going out at night and took to her studio. Her sketches and watercolors and music kept her from totally falling apart. She slept with the lights on for more than a month after the attack. The nightmares had lessened, but every now and again, out of the blue, they surfaced.

She immersed herself in her work. Her sketches and paintings sold at a local gallery and were always in demand. She didn’t need the money they brought her, but she needed the outlet. It was a way to work out her anger and aggressions, her fears and insecurities. It was her passion and it showed in her work. She had sketched the man who attacked her, to best of her ability, but it hadn’t helped. She could only hope that one day he would be caught.

Blinking, she came back to the present. She really needed to stop dwelling on the past and start living her life again. She checked on Sophie and left the room, heading to her studio. Work, that’s what she needed. It would help to ease her mind. As she walked through her little house her doorbell rang. She walked quickly to answer it so the bell didn’t wake Sophie. Peeking though the peephole she gasped in shock. What was he doing here?

He had no idea what possessed him to show up on her doorstep now. It had been three months since that night. After their last show a girl had gone into labor and she had been there alone. He and Richie helped her out, but that night, that girl had stuck with him. He had seen her during the show, thinking it odd that a woman as pregnant as she had been was there, but didn’t give it any further thought. She had been on Richie’s side of the stage, just up off the floor. She had stuck out to him for the obvious reason that she was very pregnant, but there had been something else about her as well. He had the immediate instinct to protect her but couldn’t understand where that had come from. He put it from his head, but made sure to keep an eye on her throughout the rest of the show, just in case.

The sound of a lock disengaging brought him out of his reverie. He hoped he wasn’t making a big mistake coming here. He had wondered about her and just wanted to know that she was doing all right.

Frannie opened the door as far as the chain would allow. Even though he was who he was, she still had trust issues. “Jon, what are you doing here?”