Southern Tempers

This is a Christian Kane fan-fic. I claim no ownership over him or any of his REAL friends who also appear in the story. Nor over any other REAL celebrities who may be mentioned herein. I only claim ownership over characters made up by me and that are not REAL celebrities.

This story is complete, as a stand alone, at this time, however that does not mean I may not continue it at a later date, should the inspiration strike.

This story is Rated R for adult content. You may also want a box of tissues.

~*~*~*~

Cassidy Levesque was a modern Hollywood starlet. She’d been discovered in college by an agent who had toured her campus in search of a beautiful face. She had been laying on the Lumpy Lawn studying in the springtime Oregon sunshine. Nick Marker had approached her and asked if she’d ever acted or modeled. She had laughed and said, “I’m a foot too short to model, and I know nothing about acting.” He handed her his card and said he had the perfect role for her if she was interested. “I’ll be in town until Sunday, if you do decide you’re interested, give me a call.” She took the card and stared at it as he walked away.

Cassidy had grown up in Houston, Texas. Her older brother, Shawn, had basically raised her. He was her half brother, father’s son from a previous marriage and was considerably older than Cassidy. He was 23, fresh out of college when their parents were killed in a car accident by a drunk driver. Cassidy was 10, and they had no other family that they knew, cousins in other states, whom they’d never met, and Cassidy, a pig headed, stubborn little girl refused to go and live with strangers, leave Shawn, or Texas. Shawn fought tooth and nail to keep his sister, it took a year, which Cassidy had to spend in foster care. Her foster family let her see Shawn all the time though, and they acted as advocates for him in the hearing for custody. The state finally agreed that Cassidy would be better off staying in Texas with her brother, and he had proven he was a responsible adult and had gotten a great job after college and was doing well. So at 11, Cassidy finally got to go and live with her brother, and she stayed there until she was grown. When she was a senior in High School and it was time for college applications, she had done a lot of research and though it pained her to leave Texas, she had decided on University of Oregon, because they had the best art program in the country.

It took her only a few hours of thought before she called him to inquire about the part. After Nick had finished his spiel, Cassie instantly accepted the offer. They would only need her for a week, and it happened that week was her spring break. They only needed her for a week because her character would be killed in a car accident in which her boyfriend was driving recklessly.

After “Texas Sky” had premiered people in Hollywood went crazy dying to know who was this stunning raven haired, green eyed girl who had so eloquently portrayed Jaddah Monroe, along side Hollywood legends Michael Madsen and Darryl Hannah(who were her parents, Nick and Collette Monroe) and fellow newcomer Sam Worthington(who played her boyfriend, Jeremy.) She got calls from Nick Marker, her agent on a daily basis, and after she wrapped her freshman year at U of O, she decided to put college on hold and give the acting thing a shot.

It was 2002 and with one film under her belt, Cassie had moved from Eugene, OR to L.A. She rented a small one bedroom apartment and her agent began lining up roles. Cassidy Levesque had quickly become a household name and a very highly sought after young star. She was 5’5” and very slender with the perfect curves, she had the ideal body every woman dreamed about. She had long, thick raven hair that reached nearly to her waistline. Bright, sparkling green eyes that showed every emotion she felt, a button nose and beautiful, pouty, full lips with a smile that could bring a grown man to his knees. She was a fan of body art and sported a faerie tattoo on the small of her back and a tribal infinity symbol on the back of her neck. Her Hollywood trademark, however, were those emerald eyes. Guys loved her, girls wanted to be her.

Cassie had been acting for sometime now, she was happy and had moved out of her small apartment into a beautiful condo in the Hollywood Hills. She dated actors, some costars, but she had never fallen in love, her longest relationship had lasted just shy of 1yr. She wasn’t lonely, or that’s what she told herself. She had tons of friends, and loved going out on the town with them. Her favorite place to hang out was The Rainbow Bar & Grill, she had met Bret Michaels of Poison some years ago and they had stayed good friends, so much so that his daughters called her Auntie Cassie. He had introduced her to Rainbow and she had instantly fallen in love. It had a cool laid back atmosphere, where you could go and relax, have some beers with friends, or just go and have some quiet time alone to think.

It was late July of 2007 and Cassie was planning a birthday bash to hold at Rainbow, she had a list of friends she planned to invite and was getting really excited. She was turning 25, but didn’t mind getting older as so many women did, 30 was just around the bend and that thought didn’t frighten her at all.

On the night of her 25th birthday, Cassie wore a beautiful red dress that stopped a few inches above her knees with a deep V down her back, she put her hair up in a loose bun of messy tendrils that hung just so about her face. She wore her classic black eye make-up and a pale lip gloss on her pouty lips. She sauntered into Rainbow to a crowd of her closest friends already there. Her brother Shawn and sister-in-law Stephanie stood talking with Bret Michaels and his girlfriend Kristi Gibson, she looked and saw Rikki, CC and Bobby in a booth together chatting. Michael Madsen sat at the bar on a stool and gave her his classic bad boy grin, they had starred together in her first film and had remained close friends. Jake Gyllenhaal, whom she had dated for a few steamy months was there, standing with him, his sister Maggie. She looked to her right and there stood David, she had worked with him on an episode of his new show, “Bones”, the previous year in it’s first season. Standing next to him, she immediately recognized Christian, though they’d never met. David and Christian had been friends for years and co-stars in David’s series, “Angel”. She walked over to them first because she had not yet met Christian and wanted to introduce herself.

“Look who I brought with me, it’s your favorite evil lawyer…” David snarked with his famous impish grin.

Cassie smiled, “Lindsey McDonald!” she said with a laugh. “It’s so nice to meet you, Christian.”

He smiled the sweetest smile she had ever seen back at her and said in his thick Oklahoma drawl, “Its so nice to meet you too Cassidy, “Texas Sky” is one of my all time favorite movies!”

She blushed as he mentioned that first movie that had catapulted her to stardom. Chris had dark hair that was kind of scraggly, like he was growing it out, blue eyes that went on forever and a smile that melted Cassie’s heart immediately. They hit it off right away, being both from Texas, though Chris grew up mostly in Oklahoma, he had been born in Texas. After that night, she and Christian also became good friends, and would hang out whenever they were both home in LA. After they got to know each other well, and Cassie had heard that incredible voice of his, she began to think, she might be feeling more than just friendship for him, but she kept her feelings to herself.

They had known each other for a little over two years now and Christian was spending half of his time up in Portland, Oregon filming his new show Leverage. Cassidy landed a new role which put her in Portland as well. Christian and his band were playing regular shows at a local bar called Dante’s and after one such show, Chris had been drinking Jack all night and Cassidy had tossed back her share of Lemon Drops as well. She was sitting with Chris and Steve at a table in the middle of the now closed bar, and it was very early morning hours, Steve decided he’d better go back to the hotel and get some sleep before his flight back to LA in the morning. Chris and Cassie walked with him. They were all staying in the same hotel. They took the elevator up and Steve got off on the 5th floor.

The two of them continued up, silent now, tension mounting, they glanced sideways at each other. Cassie broke the silence, “Chris?” was all she got out before he had turned to her and captured her in a heated kiss, one hand gently holding her face and the other placed on the small of her back pulling her into him tighter. They landed on Chris’ floor and continued their kiss, ignoring the doors open and closing and the ding signally each. When they reached Cassie’s floor they turned, still joined and tumbled out of the elevator. Cassie giggled and Chris smiled, looking at her with hungry eyes. They dashed for her room where Cassie reached into her bra and pulled out her hotel key card. The door didn’t want to open and Chris was standing behind her, he pulled her long black hair to one side, his hot breath on her neck and she could feel his desire. When the door finally flew open they burst through it slamming it behind them, Cassie turned to face Chris again and he grabbed her in another powerful kiss his hands on her ribcage and slowly sliding down to try and pull her sundress up, he was a bit disoriented by the passion of the kiss and fumbled with the dress for a moment before finally pulling it up and over her head breaking their kiss. Her supple breasts spilled out before him and he looked her up and down appreciatively, she was standing in front of him now in only her lacy boy cut shorts. She stepped forward and reached for his blue, brown and white plaid button up and ripped it off of him, buttons popping off and flying in every direction. He looked at her with an awnry look on his face, “You’re in for it now,” he said, “that was my favorite shirt!” He let her slide it off of him and fall to the ground then he pulled his t-shirt off and she went to work on his belt, fumbling with his classic cowboy buckle, he reached down and popped the buckle off easily and she unbuttoned his jeans and pushed them to the ground. He was left standing naked in front of her, her eyes widened as they reached his hard cock, he was much bigger than she had anticipated.

He looked at her with a wink, and said, “Now that’s not fair, you’ve still got clothes on…” he grabbed her and laid her down on the bed his hands quickly pulling her panties off and throwing them across the room. Then he was on top of her again, her legs open he settled between them capturing her mouth in another passionate kiss, they lay there exploring each other’s mouths for a long time, his hand slowly sliding down her inner thigh and entering her warm, silky center, passing over her throbbing clit and sliding two fingers inside her. She tipped her hips and moaned into his mouth as he slid them slowly in and out feeling her get wet instantly. She moaned again, her hands on his back digging her nails into his skin and he knew she was as ready for him as he was for her. He raised up slightly and without thinking twice he buried his naked, huge, throbbing shaft deep into her lotus blossom. She broke their kiss and let out a much louder moan arching her back, because his size did hurt a little going in, he slowed giving her body time to adjust to his. He dipped his head down and took a nipple into his mouth while a hand played with it’s twin.

Finally, “Faster,” came her breathy request followed by a soft moan begging for more, “Fuck me, Chris!” He happily obliged, moving in and out faster with longer and sometimes harder thrusts. She tipped her hips and arched her back in ecstasy and he never took his eyes off of her, she brought her eyes up to meet his and they locked. Chris rolled to one side and held onto her bringing her over to straddle him. His cock still sheathed within her depths and she moved her hips forward and back riding him. She moaned and threw her head back every time she climaxed, he could feel her entire body tremble then too. He reached for her and took her by the waist pulling her down for another kiss, her hair fell all around her face and his. He grabbed her hips thrusting into her one last time and let out a deep guttural growl as he exploded inside of her. The sun began to rise and then exhausted they settled down, naked and sweaty and fell asleep together.

Cassie awoke first around 2 in the afternoon. She looked at Chris sleeping and smiled, he was sprawled out across the entire bed and she had been curled up next to him, her head on his chest. She stood up and walked to the bathroom and decided to take a shower. When Chris woke up he could hear Cassie in the bathroom, she was done with her shower and standing in front of the mirror naked trying to comb out her long tangles. He raised his head sleepily and looked at her smiling. He rolled to his side and pushed himself up out of the bed, her back was to him, but she saw him coming in the mirror. He walked up behind her pressing his bare skin against hers, his hands coming to rest on her hips, he placed several light kisses on her shoulder and then wrapped his arms tightly around her waist and smiled breathing her scent in deeply and then went back out in search of his clothes so he could head back to his room to get some clean ones.

She came out and looked at him as he pulled his t-shirt on over his head. Pouting she asked, “You’re leaving?” Her big green eyes sparkling as the sunlight glinted across her face.

“Well, I would like to find a shirt that still has it’s buttons.” He said with a wink and walked over, embraced her and kissed her softly, “I’ll be back and we can go get some pancakes!”

Their trysts continued all the while they were both in Portland, they were spending every free moment together. “Leverage” wrapped filming before Cassie’s film did and Chris was going to go back to L.A. He spent his last day packing while Cassidy was on set filming so that he could have his night free and spend it with her.

It was late August and she was standing outside, the Oregon sun beating down on her, the temp was 102 that day, the dog days of summer always hit Oregon mid-August. Despite the high temp, Cassie felt cold, she knew it was Chris’ last day in Portland and he would be leaving in the morning. She was dreading that, she’d grown so accustomed to late nights and weekends together and she still had another couple of months of filming left. The thought of that long away from him made her heart ache, but she knew with both of them being actors, and Chris trying to get his music career off and running, there would be times when they didn’t see each other for months. They could talk on the phone and text, it wouldn’t be the end of the world.

She got home to her hotel and found a single red rose tied to the door with a note that said, “Come In.” The door was ajar and she slowly pushed it open, the lights were all off and there were only a few candles casting shadows around the room. Chris stood just inside and took her by the hand and pulled her to him. He was wearing jeans and one of his button ups…buttoned down. He took the rose from her hand and set it on the table. Her hands found their mark, her long fingers gently running through wisps of hair on his chest. He captured her cotton candy lips in a soft, warm kiss. She sighed and fell into him. That night he truly made love to a woman for the first time.

When Cassie awoke on Sunday morning, she was still naked, tangled in the sheets, she looked around the sunlit room and found no trace that Christian had even been there except for the red rose on the table. She looked at the clock and it was after 11. She smiled weakly, she wanted to be happy but she couldn’t, she knew he was probably just about to land back in L.A. Her heart ached for him. She stood and went in to the bathroom. He had written a note on the mirror in bright red lipstick. “I’ll call you later, rest well! ;-)” she smiled and got in the shower letting steaming hot water pour over her head, neck and shoulders. She loved hot showers, she could wake up grumpy and on the right side of wrong and a good, long, hot shower was always a good start to setting things right again.

The two months of filming went rather quickly for her, she was surprised, she had expected it to drag on and on. She and Chris talked on the phone several times a week and texted all the time. She began packing her things slowly all that last week and tried to keep herself busy.

Chris was in his gym in the basement of his house, boxing with a punching bag and found himself thinking about her return to the city and he was conflicted. Part of him felt like there had been something missing while they had been apart and he couldn’t wait to see her. The other part was kicking his ass saying, “WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU THINKING ASSHOLE??? You don’t believe in love, it isn’t real…you tried that once, remember, and look what that got you…a big hole in the heart and a rattlesnake smile!”

He grit his teeth together and punched the bag hard over and over again, his pulse was rising, he was drenched in sweat, his long hair sticking to his face, which was bright red. He suddenly found himself in a foul mood. Christian had fallen in love with a girl once, and changed his life, his ways, all for her and things were great for a while, until she decided she had found someone better and she ripped his heart out and “shit on it” as he liked to tell people. He had never been the same and swore he would never open his heart again and denied the existence of true love.

Cassie had come into his life and slowly began to challenge his entire belief system and after one night together in Portland he felt his resolve begin to weaken. He adored everything about her, her smile, her piercing green eyes, her little upturned nose, her long silky raven hair, her laugh. The way she could make a bad day into a good one with just a kiss on the cheek. The way her small hands fit perfectly in his. The way it felt like heaven when they made love. Made love? He thought again, yes, that is exactly what they’d done that last night he was in Portland, it was the first time he’d ever truly made love to someone. He did adore her, but could he let himself love her. He hated that word and with the thought of it he tried to punch the bag again, he suddenly realized he’d been so deep in thought and wailing on that bag so hard he could now barely lift his arms.

He took the gloves off and threw them to the ground, let a heavy sigh out and fell against the wall and slid down it til he was sitting on the floor. Cass would be back in less than 12 hours and what was he going to do. He had no idea. He sat there on the gym floor for a long time thinking. Finally realizing he was getting drowsy he stood and went upstairs to shower and go to sleep hoping to shut his mind off for a while. Sleep eluded him though and he tossed and turned all night.

Cassie woke early and showered and gathered her things. The bellhop came as scheduled and put her bags on a cart to move down to the cab. She tipped him and climbed into the cab. “PDX, please.” she told the cabbie. It took only 15 minutes to reach the airport and the cabbie pulled up on the side and got out and helped her get her bags out. She had her purse, a small carry on, a duffel bag and a huge rolling suitcase. She had gotten quite used to lugging her own luggage around though, so she paid him and sent him on his way. She went in, checked her bags, got her boarding pass and went to her gate to wait. PDX wasn’t too busy in late October or this early in the morning, so she had no trouble getting through security quickly. She grabbed a Rockstar from the little corner store near her gate. She only had half an hour to wait. She was getting excited to get back to L.A. to see Chris and had flutterbies in her stomach.

Her plane landed at LAX at 10am. She collected her bags and found her truck parked safely still in the parking garage. She drove a big black 1993 Ford Bronco. Her truck looked a bit rough around the edges, but she loved it and kept it well maintained under the hood. It would be a project someday, she had big plans for it. She loaded her bags in and drove home to her apartment. Lugged the bags up the stairs and in plopped on the couch and sighed. Her phone vibrated in her pocked and she pulled it out, it was a text from Chris.

“Landed yet?” it read. He had decided he had to see her right away in order for him to truly know what to do. He was home at his place with Steve and Jay, they’d been working on some new material together.

“Just got home.” came her reply.

“Come over?” he asked.

“Okies. :-)” was her answer. She hopped up, grabbed her purse and keys and flew out the door. She couldn’t wait to see him. She got there in about 20 minutes, L.A. traffic was hell and pulled up and parked right next to his old truck. She jumped out and started to go up the stairs when she heard him calling from out back. “Out here Cassie.” She backed down the first three steps she had climbed and went around to the back gate. It was a tall wooden fence, she took a deep breath before going to open the gate and just then Chris swung it open. He had a bottle of Bud in his hand and smiled at her.

Took her hand and pulled her through the gate, she waved at Steve and Jay. Chris leaned up and kissed her on the cheek, he shook his head and looked her over, “Boy, you are a sight for sore eyes!” he winked at her.

He started to lead her over to sit down around the table, but she stopped him. “I have something for you.” she smiled and reached into her purse pulling out a hand made Oklahoma Sooners beanie. Chris was born in Texas and raised in Oklahoma and was a die hard Sooners fan. “I found it at Saturday Market and knew it would be a great addition to your collection.”

He smiled big and took the beanie from her, “I love it! Can’t believe you found that in Portland.” he laughed. Went in for hug and another kiss. When their kiss broke, she whispered, “I missed you!” “Mmmmhmmm.” was his response and he pulled back to look at her and smiled again. He had missed her. ‘Ok, this is going great!’ he thought, ‘what the hell was I worried about?’

“Chris…”

“Yeah?” he said smiling.

She took a deep breath, reached up to touch his face and before she could stop herself, “I love you.”

Christian let go of her and took a step back. There it was, that word…he was looking at her, and blinked slowly, he suddenly felt everything around him was moving in slow motion. This was it, the make it or break it moment he’d known was coming. Before he could even think about it his voice came back to him and found himself shaking his head no and saying, “You don’t need me baby. Don’t you know I’m no good for you and it’ll only break your heart if you don’t let me go.”

Cassie’s big green eyes were wide when she reached for his hand and said, “Nice try, but you can’t hide behind those shades there on your face.” She reached up and pulled them off of him, “See I don’t think you’re all that tough, I just think you’re scared of love but it’s been so cold outside your arms, and we both know that you’re not as strong as you think you are. Don’t you know, I’m so good for you, and it’ll only break your heart down the road, if you let me go? I love you Christian.” she said again with a smile.

He pulled his hand away from her and threw his arms up, he had that look of agitation now, “You’re just…” he started, then stopped, clenched his jaw and fists at his side and took in as deep a breath as he could shaking his head no again, “You’re just a silly girl!” he was yelling now, “Don’t you know there is no such thing as love, it doesn’t exist. You don’t love me, and I don’t love you.”

She just stood there, holding her breath now, staring at him, feeling her heart crumbling inside. He turned and walked back toward where the boys were, Jay was sitting still, Steve had stood up, unsure of what his best friend might do. She felt tears escaping her eyes and she looked to the boys, Jay was in disbelief and just sat there staring at Chris. She looked to Steve, her eyes begging him for something, but he had nothing to give her, he felt horrible about what Chris had just done to her but he knew how Chris was about love. He looked back at her and kind of shook his head and shrugged, he mouthed “I’m sorry.” She sucked in a deep breath, it burned her lungs and tears brimmed her eyes threatening a flood. She turned quickly and bolt out the gate again, letting it slam hard behind her. When he heard it slam, Chris turned around again and threw the Sooners beanie she’d just given him in the direction of where she had been standing. Then he threw his half empty bottle of bud across the yard and yelled, “Mother fucker!”

Cassie was running to her truck when she heard the glass shatter and the curse. She jumped into the truck and started her up and peeled out of the parking lot. Driving much faster than the speed limit, but she was so angry and so hurt she didn’t care.

Jay and Steve stared at Chris, eyes wide with amazement, they couldn’t believe he’d just let her go.

“What?” Chris said anger still tinging his voice, “I’m done, we’ll work on this shit later.” And he turned and walked out of the backyard and up his stairs to his front door.

Jay didn’t say anything while he and Steve cleared up all their notes and guitars, but Steve broke the silence, “He’s a fucking asshole! He just let her walk out…” Jay gave him a look of agreement. “If I was lucky enough to have a woman like Cassie want to be with me, I’d hold on and never let go.” again a nod from Jay. He finally said goodbye to Steve and left. Steve stood there a few minutes more thinking about what he’d just seen. He grabbed his notes and guitar and put them in his truck and then went back to the backyard, picked up Christian’s guitar and the beanie he had thrown across the yard and went upstairs to talk to his friend. He walked in without knocking and set the guitar in it’s cradle and tossed the hat at Christian who was laying on his couch now.

“Don’t even start, Steve.” was his response to his friend’s bewilderment.

Steve wanted to kick his best friend’s ass, “Oh I’m gonna start alright!” Steve responded. “What the fuck are you thinking letting her go? Really? You’re that afraid of love you let an amazing woman like that, who you’ve been in love with practically since day 1 just walk out of your life because she actually told you she loves you? Wait no, she didn’t just walk out, you pushed her out. Because of that one little four letter word…you love her, you know you do, I know you do, everyone fucking knows you do…but you just can’t bring yourself to say that word? Jesus, or even hear it for fuck’s sake.” Steve was standing staring down at Chris who he could visibly see was getting angrier with each word he said. “You’re a fucking asshole!” With that Steve turned and walked out slamming the door behind him.

Cass was lucky to get home without being pulled over. She parked and bolted up her stairs, unlocking the door moving in quickly and slamming it with all the might she had in her tiny stature. The tears that had burned her eyes all the way home now turned into hard uncontrollable sobs. She dropped her purse, keys, cellphone all on the floor in front of the door and doubled over, arms in front of her as she reached for the comfort of her couch. Her thoughts were racing faster than she could even decipher them. What had just happened? She knew Chris had issues with love from a past experience, but how had they shared all that they had in those months in Portland without him feeling the same? How had he held her so close, so tight, made love to her and looked into her eyes with such tenderness and not felt anything? A lump was forming in her throat and she was sobbing so hard she could barely breathe. She got up and went to her bedroom. Her head was throbbing now from bawling and she just wanted to lay down. She stripped down to her tank top and panties and climbed into bed. She flipped on her radio as she always did when she got into bed, it was her white noise. Her chest felt hollow, “So this is what a broken heart feels like?” she thought as she closed her eyes wishing she could stop the tears that continued to pour forth. P!nk’s “Just Like a Pill” came over the airwaves and she thought how appropriate it was.

Several months had passed, and she and Chris had not seen each other or even spoken. Cassidy was home in L.A. filming a new movie, her heart still hollow, she channeled her emotions into the movie because it was about a woman who’s husband was abusive and ended up trying to kill her. During filming this movie, Cassidy began to feel hopeless, it was partly still the broken heart and partly from the stress of the role she was playing. Nick, her agent set up an appt. for her with a Psychiatrist. During her first appt., the Dr. asked her a lot of questions about her emotional health over the course of her life. Cassidy described it to her, beginning when she was a pre-teen, and up through this time. She had bouts of depression and up swings which the Dr. kept referring to as Manic episodes. “Manic episodes?” Cassie thought to herself, “as in Manic Depression?” she thought out loud and the Dr. responded, “Yes, or Bipolar as it is more commonly referred to these days. I believe you have suffered with it your entire life from everything you have told me. I don’t think it’s quite so extreme as Bipolar Type 1, but it is the slightly milder sister, Bipolar Type 2. I’d like to get you started on some medications to help with the sleeping problems and your depressed mood. We start off slowly increasing the amount you take each week and we’ll check in and see how you’re feeling. Possibly at some point in the future adding a Mood Stabilizer such as Lithium or Depakote.”

“Lithium?” Cassie’s eyes were wide.

“Yes, dear, it’s not as scary as it sounds. Popular media has distorted the use of Lithium for years, but it does help to balance the mania side of things, while anti-depressants stabilize the depression.”

Cassie left the Dr.’s office with 4 prescriptions. She had done a lot of research about depression in the past when she’d suffered the down cycles, but she had never thought she might be Bipolar. She took a deep breath as she got in her truck and drove to the nearest pharmacy. She had a trucker’s cap she kept in the car so she could be incognito when she needed to be and big Coach sunglasses to hide her green eyes. She handed the RX to the Pharmacist and he took them, he saw her name, and smiled and put his finger to his lips as if to tell her he’d keep her secret.

After the pharmacy, she went back to her condo and got online to do research, she wanted to know everything she possibly could about Bipolar Disorder. She read and read all the rest of the day, discovering with each new article or site, that she really did fit the bill. She had been undiagnosed and untreated for a good 15 or so years and wondered how it had gone that long without being diagnosed. Cassie was one who thought taking pills was bad for the body, so she rarely took anything unless she had too, but the more she read about people who had been untreated she was scared into taking the new RX’s her psychiatrist had prescribed. She discovered that quite a few of her peers in show business also suffered from Bipolar. She read that Rob Thomas was diagnosed, and that was what he wrote the song “Unwell” about. She suddenly understood why she had felt such a connection to that song.

Cassie went to her room, sat down on the bed and leaned up against the headboard, pulling her knees up to her chin. She wanted to talk to someone, but the someone who she would have called, for the past several years, was Christian. She closed her eyes and took in several deep breaths then rolled to the side and reached under her bed and pulled out some drawing paper and a pencil. She started doodling, she began with a circle and drew a funny little character face with sad eyes and a frown then next to it another with crazy eyes and manic grin. She brought their necks down into one body and drew a belt around the body like a straight jacket. Then she added a few more details, gave them Mary-janes for shoes and bows on their heads shaped like bones. She then colored it in with colored pencils. When she was done she jumped up and slipped her feet into flip flops and went out. Her condo was in the Hollywood Hills, so she got in her truck and drove into downtown Hollywood, she was sure she could find a tattoo parlor no matter what direction she walked. She was right, just 3 blocks north was a parlor called The Jade Mermaid. She went in and was greeted by an adorable blonde with tattoos and pink streaks in her hair. She handed her the drawing and said, “I want this, here.” Pointing out the area on the top of her right forearm, “Do I need to make an appointment, or is someone free?”

“I’m free.” the girl said, she put her hand out to shake Cassidy’s hand, “I’m Joanne,” she added with a smile.

“Cassidy.” she said.

“Nice to meet you, here, you fill out and sign these forms, and let me get things set up and we can get started.” she took the picture and made a copy of it with the thermal transfer copier and then headed to her booth to get everything ready.

Cassie picked up a pen and began filling out the contact info sheet and medical history questionnaire, signed the consent form and laid her drivers license on the counter, she knew they would need a copy of that as well.

Joanne returned to the counter and collected the papers and the license and made a copy, then she grabbed a file folder and stuffed everything in it. “You ready?” she asked, handing the license back to Cassie.

Cassie smiled and nodded.

Two hours later, Cassidy had a brand new shiny tattoo. “So what inspired this anyway?” Joanne asked.

“It’s my Bipolar Badge of Honor,” she said, “I was just diagnosed. How much do I owe you?”

“Nice! It’ll be 180$.” Joanne said. Cass handed her a debit card. “Make it 200$ even.”

“Thank you!”

“No,” Cassie said back smiling, “thank you!” She signed her receipt for the payment and left. She smiled all the way back to her car and couldn’t wait to take the bandaging off to show off her new ink. She got back to her Condo and called Nick.

“Hey there gorgeous!”

“Hey Nicko,” she said, “that call you got last week about that benefit with celebrity karaoke, can we get back in touch with them and accept?”

“You want to do it?”

“Yes, and I want to sing Matchbox 20’s ‘Unwell’,” she answered.

“Ok, I can give her a call and set it up.” came his reply, “What made you decide to do it?”

“Well, it is a benefit for a good cause, and I met with the psychiatrist today, she says I am Bipolar. I came home and did a lot of research, and I can’t believe I never figured this out before.” she told him, “I want to go public with it and I thought that would be a great place, and that’s the perfect song.”

“Huh, I have wondered if that was it for years actually, but it wasn’t until this recent bout you’ve been having that I thought it was urgent for you to talk to someone. Did she give you anything to help?”

“She did, 4 different pills, and then I may later get a mood stabilizer added.” she answered with a sigh. “I went and got a new tattoo.”

He laughed, “Something has to do with this?”

“Yeah, I drew it this afternoon.”

Christian was getting set to head back to Portland for a new season of shooting “Leverage”. He and his manager Eric were also working hard to get his first country album finalized and planning the release dates and when they would shoot the video for his first single “The House Rules”. Timothy Hutton, his “Leverage” costar, was set to direct and they were planning to film it at Dante’s in Portland. He had written a new song for the album that was inspired by the break up fight he and Cassie had had. He thought about her all the time, wondering if he had done the right thing…at the end of the day, he was able to convince himself that he had but by the next morning he felt a longing deep within his soul.

When he arrived back in Portland he was greeted by Beth’s smiling face at the hotel. He hadn’t mentioned the break up to them. “Hey bubba,” she said cheerily, “how’re you? How’s Cassie?” she added with a nudge and wink.

Chris’ face became somber, “We…” he cleared his throat, “we broke up…”

Beth tried to hide her shock, but her eyes betrayed her, “Oh.”

He tried staying busy with filming and planning the video shoot, Chris’ mind only drifted to Cassie in the silence of his hotel room. His sleep, once he finally fell asleep, was never restful, he would toss and turn. He tried sleeping in the middle of the bed, though it did nothing really, he tried to make himself believe it did.

Cassidy had a follow up visit with her psychiatrist and she wanted to know more about the break up that Cassie had mentioned briefly in their last session. She sighed heavily, it was hard for her to talk about so she hadn’t really done any more than to tell people it was over. “We, uh, well, a mutual friend introduced us…and we became great friends almost immediately, didn’t start out as anything more than friendship, then last year we were both filming in Portland and things just began to change. We finally acted on our feelings or attraction, whatever, and it got really intense really fast. I fell for him hard and fast, maybe I had always had feelings for him, I don’t know. It felt like he was feeling the same, and when he left Portland before me, we had one last amazing night together. I missed him so much, but we texted throughout the day and talked on the phone at night. He told me he missed me too.” Cassie took a deep breath, “Then I went home a couple months later and the day I got home, he texted me to see if I had landed, I was already at my Condo, so I said that and then he asked me to come over to his place, I grabbed a beanie hat I had bought for him, he loves them and left. I got there he was in his backyard with two of his band mates and I went in he came over and hugged me and I gave him the hat and he loved it, kissed me and thanked me. I told him I had missed him and he kinda made a sound like he was agreeing with me. Then before I could even rethink it I had said, ‘I love you’.” she paused again for a moment trying not to let any tears fall. “He backed away from me, looked at me like I had just run over his dog. He told me I didn’t need him and he wasn’t good for me, he’d only break my heart. I disagreed, and I told him I was good for him and I said again, the ‘I love you’. He got angry and called me a silly girl, said love doesn’t exist, neither of us love each other, walked away from me.” Another deep breath and she shook her head a little as if clearing the memory from her mind, “I stood there for a moment tears started coming, I looked to his best friend who was standing there, and he just gave me this look like he didn’t understand any better than I did and he was sorry. I bolted then, I haven’t seen him or talked to him since.”

“Wow,” her Dr. said, “did you know he had commitment issues before that point?”

Cassie shrugged a little, “I knew he had been burned bad by a girl he had loved and he did have issues with that word. I don’t think it’s a commitment thing really. He seemed committed to me and would have stayed so, had I just not used that word. It was the L word that set him off.”

“Yes,” she agreed, “you haven’t tried to call him?”

“God no! I am still hurting too much,” she bit her lip, “I’d never had my heart broken before, because I’d never actually loved anyone before. For me with men before, they had usually developed feelings and I hadn’t.” she explained, “I miss him so much, and I still love him. I want to tell him that and try to make him see that it’s not all bad. I would never hurt him!”

“Give it time.” her Dr. said, “It sounds like there is real connection between the two of you and maybe he needs some time to find his faith again.”

Cassie tried to force a smile. They finished their session and the Dr. decided to hold off on the mood stabilizer and give her some time to see if the antidepressants were enough or if she would cycle again.

Time came for the Celebrity Karaoke Benefit and she met Nick at the venue. Cassie had suddenly found herself in the midst of a manic episode. She still hurt and missed Chris and the movie was still difficult, but she found herself behaving the way she knew she always did in this sort of episode.

She waited backstage for her turn, she was wearing a tight white t which she had tied in the back showing her midriff this was accompanied by low rise hipster jeans that fit just perfect on her body accentuating her best features. Her hair was down and loosely curled, eyes made up in her usual fashion and pale pink lips glossy.

Michael Ian Black was hosting the event, he told a few jokes between each performance, “Next up, one of my favorite actresses, the gorgeous, sexy and multi-talented, Cassidy Lynn Levesque!”

Cassie ran out on stage and looked around at the crowd, she was very please by the size, she could see a few other stars sitting close in the front rows but then the audience sort of faded out due to the bright stage lights and she was completely unaware that Christian and the rest of the ‘Leverage’ cast had come back down to L.A. for the benefit. “Hey,” she said with that gorgeous smile of hers, “Before I actually perform, I had something I wanted to share with all of you here and those watching from home,” she took a deep breath and held out her right arm, “See, this is my newest tattoo, and all of my ink has a very important meaning in my life,” a camera zoomed in on her ink and it was displayed on the huge screens that hung above the stage. “Well, this one, I call my Bipolar Badge of Honor. See, just two months ago I was diagnosed with Bipolar and since that revelation, I have come to understand myself a lot better. I am being treated. Right now though, I am in the midst of a manic episode that just came on this week. My reason for sharing this, is because in my personal research I’m seeing this huge stigma on people who are affected by mental illnesses. I want to educate people, it’s not bad, it’s not something to be afraid of. We are still just normal people. Everyone has mood swings, bad days, times where they even think they may lose it. We just have those issues more often and maybe sometimes to a bigger extreme. Left untreated it can cause problems in the affected person’s life…family…work, I now understand why I was so hard to handle growing up. I put my parents through hell, and as I’ve said many times in the past, my brother took me and finished raising me. If you know someone you think might be suffering undiagnosed and untreated from a mental disorder, please don’t turn your back on them, but love them and do everything you can to help them.” she took another deep breath.

Christian was sitting in silence watching her, and his heart ached, he hadn’t know she would be performing. There was a war going on inside him at that moment and he gritted his teeth and held back tears, he didn’t want his friends to see him like this. With all she was saying he wanted desperately to hold her, comfort her as he had done before.

“So, yes, I am bipolar and proud.” she finished, adding, “This song was picked the day I was diagnosed.” With that the music for ‘Unwell’ began.

“All day
Staring at the ceiling
Making friends with shadows on my wall
All night
Hearing voices telling me
That I should get some sleep
Because tomorrow might be good for something”

Cassie was swaying to the music and she would make gestures that fit with the lyrics. They had set it up so that around her on the stage there were shadows on the walls. The lights were dimmed except for one spotlight shining on her.

“Hold on
I’m feeling like I’m headed for a
Breakdown
I don’t know why
I’m not crazy, I’m just a little unwell
I know, right now you can’t tell
But stay awhile and maybe then you’ll see
A different side of me
I’m not crazy, I’m just a little impaired
I know, right now you don’t care
But soon enough you’re gonna think of me
And how I used to be
Me”

She belted out the chorus with such passion. She was lost in the song, as if she were alone in her apartment singing.

“Talking to myself in public
Dodging glances on the train
I know
I know they’ve all been talking ’bout me
I can hear them whisper
And it makes me think there must be something wrong
With me
Out of all the hours thinking
Somehow
I’ve lost my mind
I’m not crazy,”

Again she was belting out the chorus and shaking her head no.

“I’m just a little unwell
I know, right now you can’t tell
But stay awhile and maybe then you’ll see
A different side of me
I’m not crazy, I’m just a little impaired
I know right now you don’t care
But soon enough you’re gonna think of me
And how I used to be
I been talking in my sleep
Pretty soon they’ll come to get me
Yeah, they’re taking me away
I’m not crazy, I’m just a little unwell
I know, right now you can’t tell
But stay awhile and maybe then you’ll see
A different side of me
I’m not crazy I’m just a little impaired
I know, right now you don’t care
But soon enough you’re gonna think of me
And how I used to be
Hey, how I used to be
How I used to be, yeah
Well I’m just a little unwell
How I used to be
How I used to be”

Unwell – Copyright Matchbox 20

She sang the song flawlessly. She had really gotten into it and belted out some of those verses. She received a standing ovation for her performance. She was exhilarated as she left the stage. Nick stood just off stage to the right, “Cassie, that was incredible my dear! I am so proud of you!” he told her with a hug and a kiss on her forehead.

The benefit had been in mid-May, it was now late July and Cassidy was still filming the movie which was causing her so much stress. She regret having ever accepted the role, she had lost weight, looked pale and tired. Nick was worried about her and had kept her following up with the Psychiatrist by now they had seen her cycle again in May and her doctor had prescribed Depakote for her in conjunction with the four antidepressants she was on. Finally, she finished filming in late August. On her drive home that night, she finally began to feel some relief, her tension eased, the headache she’d had chronically for months melted away. She got home and found a letter taped to her front door, in a sealed envelope with her name written in chicken scratch on the outside. She went inside and locked her door behind her, flipped on her table lamp and slumped down in the chair to read it. The letter, too, was in chicken scratch and a bit hard to decipher, however, she did get that this person was not a fan of hers, but was a fan of Christian. It was very obviously a hate letter, calling her all kinds of names, from “the barracuda” who had blind-sided Chris, to “the trailer park white trash whore” who had broken his heart. There was nothing overly threatening about the letter, this person just had their facts wrong and probably would have hated The Virgin Mary had they thought she’d broken Christian’s heart. Cassidy shook her head, it wasn’t the first hate mail she had ever received, and it probably wouldn’t be the last. She tossed it onto the desk. It didn’t really scare her, but what the letter had done, was open up that wound again, the one Chris had left, she tried to fight the emotions, but in the end she lost and several tears rolled down her cheek. She went back out to the kitchen and poured herself a bowl of cereal, she could live off of cereal, and a lot of the time, she actually did, it seemed to be a comfort food for her. She loved sugary Cheerios, Fruit Loops, Lucky Charms and Fruity Pebbles the most, those seemed to feed her inner child and bring a smile to her face when she felt like crying. So on this night she poured herself a heaping bowl of Lucky Charms, and sat down and flipped on her TV.

Cassie woke up on the couch, her TV still on, her empty bowl of cereal balanced on her flat stomach. Her cell phone was ringing. She reached for it on the table and flipped it on, “Hey Nicko.” she said.

“Where the hell have you been child? I’ve been trying to reach you for three days.” came his semi-agitated voice, though he had trouble ever really getting mad at her.

“Three days?” she asked. “What day is it?”

“It’s Monday.”

“You’re shittin’ me!” she said shocked, “I’ve been asleep for three days?”

“You’ve been asleep all this time?” he laughed.

“Yeah I got home Thursday, had a bowl of cereal and assed out on the couch.”

“Good,” he said, “You’ve needed it.”

“What did you need, Nicko?”

“Nothing, I was just checking up on my girl!”

“Oh, ok, well I’m fine, I feel rested, I’m gonna shower and I think I’ll get out of the house today and go to the board walk or something.”

“Good girl! Call me if you need anything!”

“Yes sir!”

Cassidy did get up and shower and left, went to the boardwalk and wandered around the beach all day. This place pulled on her heart strings, she and Christian had spent many days here when they were both in L.A. That was a long ago time that she longed for, even if it meant they had never shared what they did last summer, she just missed him. She shopped at the little huts and stores along the boardwalk and tried to think about other things. When the sun began to set she went down onto the sand and planted her feet, digging her toes into the soft warm dry sand and sat down to watch the sun go down over the water. It was a beautiful sight, the pinks and purples mixing with orange, she hadn’t seen a sunset all year. When the sun was gone and the moon was high, Cassidy finally stood and went to her truck and went home.

When she got home, she walked up onto her porch and saw lights on in the house, she didn’t think she had left any on, but she wasn’t sure either, and saw nothing else out of place. She unlocked the door and walked in, turned around to lock the door and was grabbed from behind. She tried to scream but a large hand covered her mouth and muffled any sound that might have escaped her. She started kicking and landed a blow to his knee which caused him to stumble and drop her she landed on her knees and tried for the door. He grabbed her foot and she spun around onto her back, he let go of her foot and went for her throat lifting her up off the ground and pulling her to him again. And again she kicked and swung her legs, she couldn’t scream with his hand around her throat, but her bucking body sent him backwards and he fell into her glass coffee table which shattered on impact. He held tight to her though and she fell with him, his grip loosened when he hit the floor though and she was up and lunging for her front door again. He stuck his foot out tripping her and she fell forward hitting her head on the corner of the wall, she was knocked unconscious instantly and crumpled to the floor like a 10 lb bag of potatoes. He stood up, cleared his throat with a snarl and reached down picking her up like a rag doll and walked outside with her and threw her into his trunk, then he sped away.

She finally came around her head was pounding and she reached up feeling the blood smeared on her face and in her hair. She started banging on the trunk and screaming, “You mother fucker, let me out of here!” The car was on gravel now, she could hear it crunch under the tires. He suddenly slammed on the breaks and the inertia sent her slamming around inside the trunk, she heard him shut the car off, get out, slam the door, walk around to the back of the car and suddenly the trunk flew open and she started to scream again, “Mother Fu….” she was cut short as he grabbed her by the throat again. He pulled her out of the trunk and dragged her body across the gravel. She was barefoot, her flip flops had come off during the struggle at her place. She realized they were way out somewhere she didn’t recognize, and he dragged her into a wooded area throwing her to the ground. He kicked her in the stomach. “What do you want, you sick fuck?” she spit out between gasps. He back handed her splitting her bottom lip, blood pooled in her mouth and she spit it in his face as he was trying to pull her skirt off. One hand yanked her skirt off and the other back handed her again, this time in the eye, it sent her head spinning to one side.

“What do I want?” he said in a deep raspy voice, “You…to pay for what you’ve done to Christian. I know you got my letter.”

She knew now this was the man who had left the the letter on her door, if she hadn’t been angry before, she was now, that hot Texas temper mixed with her bipolar, “I didn’t do a goddamned thing to Christian fucking Kane.” she yelled.

“You did, and you’ll pay. And he’ll finally notice…” he laughed a little, “He’ll notice, when I’m through with you.” he added, right down in her face now, his breath was sickly sour. He smacked her again as he pulled himself out of his pants. Her panties were pushed down and she screamed as he slammed himself into her. Her screams turned to sobs and she was begging him to stop, he just laughed as he continued his assault.

“Please…” she sobbed, and he covered her mouth and nose as he continued to pummel her. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity to Cassie, he finished. Then he stood and kicked her hard in the ribcage again, she felt bone snap inside of her and gasped for air. He grabbed her by the throat again and lifted her just enough to slam her head against a rock. Cassie felt a surge of pain that enveloped her entire head, neck and shoulders and could feel the heat of her blood as it flowed through her long hair, then her world went black.

He pushed her panties back up and picked her up again and took her back to his car, he threw her in the trunk again he floored it and was on his way to their next destination. This time, Cassie did not come too. The assailant drove out to West Hollywood, past all the lights and hotels, where it turned to beaches and the houses were spaced far apart. He pulled up to one such place, lights on in the house and he could hear guitar coming from the open windows, and there were two men’s voices, laughing and singing. He sat for a moment and listened, he knew one of the men owned the property, the other was his best friend. He had been here many times and watched their ritual of drinking, playing guitar and trying to write new songs. At 3am, he knew they were both well past drunk and in the back of the house. He would have sufficient time to set Cassie’s body up at the front door, ring the bell and be back in his car driving away before either of them opened that door. He got out of the car quietly, leaving the front door open for his quick getaway. Opened the trunk slowly and quietly, lifted her up and put her tiny lifeless body over his shoulder and stealthily walked up the steps that lead to the front door. He set her down gently, despite his belief she was dead, he simply wanted to make no noise before the appropriate time. He crouched low so he couldn’t be seen through the the decorative glass windows that adorned the top half of the front door. He propped Cassie up against the door, posing her as though she were his puppet. He had her positioned just as he wanted and he stood back up off to the side, still keeping to the shadows and he rang the doorbell, pushing it three times in fast succession before bolting down the steps to the car. He slammed the door and was off, his open trunk slamming down as he went.

A drunk man staggered to the door, yelling, “Its 3 am, what the fuck do you want?” he was looking through the glass and saw no one out there, just the taillights of a dark car driving away at high speed. He got a puzzled look on his face and swung the door open to look, just then Cassie slumped back off the opening door and into the door way landing on his bare feet. He looked down, stunned, his Jack induced state was immediately gone when he saw her lying there in only a cami and panties, both of which were covered in blood and dirt. Her face was black and blue, there was dried blood caked on her forehead and in her hair. Her lip had been split open. She had bruises and cuts covering her body. “Jesus Christ,” he muttered, “Cassidy, come on, answer me baby.” His breathing came in short shallow bursts as the panic set it. He lifted her head, felt blood still flowing from an open wound in the back, he pulled his t-shirt off and put it behind her head.

His best friend came stumbling through the corridor, “Who is it, Chris?” then his eyes came to rest on Cassie. “Fuck me!” came out of Steve’s mouth next, his stooper now doused as well.

“Fuck, help me Steve, come hold her head.” he came to his friends aide. Chris felt in her throat for a pulse and could find nothing, he leaned his head down close to her nose and mouth to check for breathing. “She’s still breathing, come on, we gotta get her to the hospital.” Chris lifted her, lifeless, in his arms and Steve ran ahead to open the truck doors, Chris got in the passenger side, tears now flowing, cradling Cassie in his arms. Steve got behind the wheel and they took off towards the hospital. “God….Cassie, stay with me, come on baby, please don’t leave me.” he was whispering to her as tears continued to stream down his face. Steve hadn’t seen Chris cry in years, the last time he could remember was when his grandma had died. Steve had known all along that Christian was in love with Cassie, he was just to damn stubborn and pigheaded to admit it and swallow his fears.

They pulled up into the ambulance area in front of the emergency room and Steve slammed on the brakes. Chris jumped out and ran inside with Cassie in his arms, “Somebody help me!” he yelled, two nurses and a doctor came rushing over to them and a third nurse pushed a gurney over to them.

“Ok sir, lay her down,” she said. They immediately began trying to check her vitals.

The doctor, while feeling for a pulse, “What happened to her?”

Tears still streaming from his eyes, Chris was shaking his head, “I have no idea, someone left her like this on my doorstep.”

“So you don’t know her then?” asked the doctor.

“No…I mean, yes, I do know her….she’s my…” he paused and took a deep breath, “she’s my ex girlfriend, but until tonight I haven’t seen her since last October.”

“She’s barely hanging on, we’re gonna get her back. Sit tight, have you called the police?” he asked as they began to walk away.

“Just did!” Steve said as he came to stand by his friend who was standing there barefoot and shirtless. “This was in the back of your truck, thought you might want it.” he handed Chris a navy blue shirt with a big white 7 on the back. It had been in the back of Chris’ truck since June, he’d worn it for the video shoot for ‘The House Rules’.

“You did?” Chris asked, “You called the police?” his face was wet with tears, his voice shaky at best. Steve nodded. “Who would do this? I mean really what sick fuck thought to do….God knows what to her, and then leave her at my door?”

Steve put an arm around Chris’ shoulders, “Lets sit down.”

Chris let Steve guide him to the ER waiting area, he pulled the t-shirt over his head before he sat down. He closed his eyes, “Jesus, he said she’s barely hanging on…did you hear him?” The struggle to breathe through his panic returned. They sat for a few minutes in silence, then Chris jumped up, “I’ve gotta call Nick.” he said pulling his phone from his jeans pocket. He found Nick’s name in his phone, he had once considered using him as an agent when he first got to Hollywood too, and they had kept in touch and he knew that he was Cassie’s agent, and he’d be the only one who would be able to contact her brother in Texas. Phone rang three times and then the click of it being answered and before Nick could even say hello, “Nick it’s Chris, I’m at the West Hollywood Emergency Room, somethings happened to her Nick.”

“Cassie?” Nick asked in confusion.

Tears were falling again, “Yeah…I don’t know what, someone hurt her, bad Nick.” he sucked in a deep breath, “They left her at my door.”

“I’m on my way.” he said and hung up. Nick, himself, lived in West Hollywood, so it wouldn’t take him long, he stuffed his phone in his pocket, slipped his feet into some shoes, grabbed his keys and was out the door. He drove over the speed limit, ran three stop signs, one red light, and nearly t-boned a minivan. He parked and went towards the door and could hear a deep southern voice talking in a very agitated voice.

“Fuck, I know you’re a cop and you gotta ask me questions, but I am telling you, I didn’t touch her!” Chris was getting worked up because he was being questioned by this young cocky uniform officer. “You have no clue about our relationship or anything that’s ever happened between us, yet you come in here and assume I’m some fuckin’ asshole who beats on women. I’ve never hit a woman in my entire life and I sure as fuck ain’t gonna start with her.”

Nick walked over to Chris and the officer, “Excuse me officer…Daniels, is it? I’m Nick Marker, I am Cassie’s agent, friend to both she and Christian here. I understand you have a job to do, and the person who has done this to Cassie must be found and brought to justice, but I guarantee you, you’re barkin’ up the wrong tree.” he said and the officer started to speak, and Nick cut him off, “Now I’d hate to have to tell your superior that you were harassing us, who really don’t know anything, when you should have been in there, checking with the nurses if there was any tissue under her nails. Have them run a rape kit, send another officer to her home to check things out…you know, the real investigative work.”

Chris felt suddenly sick when he heard Nick say “rape kit”. His mind had gone over a lot of things, but it hadn’t gone there yet. His head began spinning he had to grab on to Nick to keep his balance. The officer, with a pissed off backwards glance at both of them, went back inside.

“Whoa, you ok Chris?”

“You…you said…” he looked as though he was going to be sick, “Jesus, Nick you said, rape…I hadn’t even thought of that yet.”

“I’m sorry, lets go back inside, tell me what happened.”

In the operating room they had taken Cassidy into, they had cut her clothing off of her to check her over for broken bones, cuts and bruises and serious wounds. Her most serious injuries were the two gashes in her head and what they believed was two, possibly three broken ribs. They had to roll her onto her stomach and stop the bleeding from the gash in the back of her head and had just finished stitching it up when another nurse came in and said, “The police asked us to run a rape kit on her.” and she handed one to the doctor. They looked over her backside and there were only minor scrapes there. They rolled her back over, one nurse went to work bandaging her head, one was getting her ready for the blood Cassie would need, and the third was opening up the rape kit while the doctor examined her.

“It definitely looks like she was raped, hand me the swab.” he asked and the nurse did. They took several swabs and canistered them as was required and sent it with the police officer to be analyzed at their forensic lab. The doctor stitched up several other deep wounds and they got a unit of blood into her. Her pulse had increased and was detectable in her neck again and she seemed to be breathing ok, they had to get her X-rayed though, to determine the damage inside. They put a gown over her now and wheeled her to X-ray. The doctor was relieved to see in the X-ray film that only two ribs were cracked and nothing punctured. They then ran her through an MRI and cat scan. Brain activity looked good, the blows to her head had broken skin but not skull. After all the tests were run, they moved her to the fifth floor into a room to herself. She had not yet awoken so they were keeping her under strict observation.

Chris explained everything to Nick that had happened. Nick was shocked. He couldn’t understand anymore than Chris, why this had happened, or who could have done it. While they were still waiting for word from the doctor, a plain clothes detective arrived at the hospital to speak with them. He had gone to Cassidy’s home and investigated. He told them of the signs of a struggle, and showed them the letter they had found, it was sealed in an evidence bag now. “Have either of you ever seen this?” They looked it over and both shook their heads no. “It appears to be from someone who is a fan of yours, and not of hers.” he said looking at Chris.

“What?” he asked, and the detective handed him the letter to read. It shook him to his core, he handed it to Nick when he was finished. “Fuck, this is all my fault!”

Nick read it quickly, “Chris this is not your fault, if this is from the same person who did this to her, you are just as much a victim. This person is stalking you.”

Chris sank into a seat. Tears again staining his face, his jaws clenched, fists bawled in his lap. He stared off into space. He heard what Nick had said, but that didn’t change the fact that it was some deranged fan of his that had done this to her. His heart felt heavy. He sat up leaning over with his head in his hands. “What the fuck is taking so long.”

The doctor rounded the corner and saw the bunch sitting in the waiting room. He remembered Chris and Steve, “Hi, I’d like to talk to you, in private, if you’ll follow me, there’s a private room down here.”

Chris tried to stand and nearly fell back into the seat, Steve grabbed him to steady him, “Its ok, bubba, come on.” Chris’ mind was racing, in movies when they took the family into the private room, it was always because the person had died.

They got into the private room and the doctor asked them to all sit down, they chose to stay standing. “Alright, fair enough. She is stable.” he began and Chris heart felt lighter, she wasn’t dead. “We’ve gotten her wounds stitched up, ran some tests. Her most severe injuries were the two head wounds and two broken ribs. Nothing inside her abdomen or chest cavity was punctured by the ribs. MRI and cat scan came back perfect, brain activity is good. She is still unconscious at this time though. She has been moved to the fifth floor to her own room, room 572, you can all go up there soon, I’d like to keep it one at a time though.” Chris was relieved to hear all this, so was Nick. “The only other thing, we ran a rape kit at the request of the L.A.P.D.” There was that word again Chris tensed up. “The kit doesn’t tell you if a person was raped, it takes any semen found in someone and will look for matches. Sometimes that semen came from a lover, not an attacker. I did an exam on Miss Levesque, and I wish I could say different, but she has been violated.”

Chris turned and punched the wall as anger flooded him. He’d been angry before, he had a temper that ran hot, but now he saw red. Someone had hurt Cassie, though he knew he had no right to call her so, she was his Cassie, someone had beaten and raped her, in his name. He was angry and disgusted and he would kill the man that did this if he ever got the chance.

“You can go ahead and all follow me up to the fifth floor now, I’m going to check on her and then one at a time may go in.” He turned and they all went out to the elevator and up. When he walked in he found a nurse fussing over her and Cassidy was awake. “Welcome back, Miss Levesque.” he said, “I’m very pleased to see you’ve woken.” as he approached her. “Now bare with me as I just want to check your vitals here. Can you look up at me?” she did and he quickly shined a flashlight in her eyes. He felt her pulse on her wrist. Listened to her heart and breathing, which was very laborious with the pain from her broken ribs. “Are you in pain right now?” he asked.

She closed her eyes and took a breath, hoping she could find her voice, “Yes, my head is pounding and it hurts to breath.”

“Ok, are you allergic to any medications?” he asked.

“Bactrim,” she whispered, “That’s it.”

“Good,” he looked up at the nurse, “Give her 500mg of Vicodin to start.” then looked back to Cassie, “I don’t want to give you too much, if in about 30 minutes, you’re still hurting too much, use the call button, and the nurse will get you some more. You’ve been through a serious trauma, all the tests came back great, but we still need to keep you under observation, I want to keep you awake for a while, we need to make sure you’ve not got a concussion, ok?” she nodded, “There are several people waiting to come in and see you, I’m going to let them come in now, are you up for it?” again she nodded. He walked out now to the four men standing in the hallway, “Good news, she is awake. She is also in a lot of pain though, so please one at a time, and Officer, if she’s not up for it, please don’t force her.” he nodded. “You may go in.” he pointed to Nick.

Nick looked to Christian, who nodded, “It’s probably best if you’re the first one she sees Nick.”

Nick went into her room, “Hey baby girl,” he said looking down to her laying in bed, she tried to smile but was just in too much pain for much of one. “I was so worried!”

“Shawn?” she asked.

“I called, he’s on his way.” Nick assured her as the nurse came back with her Vicodin. “Hunny, there is a police officer here, who needs to ask you some questions,” he paused, “are you up for it?”

“Yes,” she said emphatically, “I want to!” and she tried to push herself up and then winced in pain.

“No no, child, lay down, you can answer questions just fine laying down!” he said as he made her lay back down.

“Dammit Nicko!” she said.

“You can damn me all you want, you’re going to keep your ass down in that bed, or I’m gonna tie you to it!” he said as he went to the door, “Detective Samuels.” he said motioning for him to come in. A tall blonde man walked in, he was wearing a tan suit and brown loafers, he looked far to young to be a detective already.

“Hi Cassie,” he said nodding as he came in, “my name is James Samuels, I’m a detective with the L.A.P.D. A couple of my fellow officers responded to the call that was made and they came out and asked a few questions and I went to your condo to investigate. We got photos of everything there, and I found a very strange letter.” he held it up and Cassie instantly recognized it as the letter left on her door. “I would just like it, if you could, to the best of your memory relay everything that happened.” She nodded and began her story. She started with coming home from the movie wrap to find the letter, how she slept for three days, then spent the day at the beach, came home to find the lights on in the house. Then the struggle and everything that her assailant had done to her. “Did you get a look at his face?” Det Samuels asked her. She nodded. “If I was to bring a sketch artist in, could you describe him?” Again she nodded. “Excellent, I want you to rest now, I will bring the artist in this afternoon if you’re up for it.” he looked to Nick, “Please if she’s not well enough for another visit today, let me know and we’ll come back in the morning.” Nick nodded and Det. Samuels handed him his card and then he left. Nick looked back to Cassie, he saw one tear roll down her cheek.

“Can you please help me sit up a little bit? This is so damned uncomfortable!” she said, sniffing back further tears, in her thick southern accent. Nick walked over to help her prop up with some pillows and to raise the back of the bed.

“There is someone else who wants to see you.” he said and got a strange look from her. “Christian. Steve is out th…” he was cut off.

“Nicko, why in the hell did you call him?” she yelled.

“Calm your ass down! I didn’t call him, in fact, he called me.” he said. “He and Steve brought you in this morning.” she looked very confused now. “Your attacker, he left you on Chris’ doorstep. Rang the doorbell and ran apparently.” he explained, her eyes got wide. Nick stepped closer and touched her hand.

“Chris is here and he’s been very worried about you and would like to come in and see you. Steve is out there too. But, hunny, it’s Chris that needs to see you, for his own peace of mind.” he said, “If you can handle seeing him.” She shook her head no, “Ok, do you want to see him?” her face scrunched up as she tried not to cry, “I know that face means yes.” Nick said as he walked to the door and disappeared through it. On the other side he nodded for Chris to go in.

Chris took a deep breath and closed his eyes, then he pushed the door open and went in. He saw her sitting up, the blood had been cleaned from her face, and they had gotten as much out of her hair as they could. She had stitches at her hairline, a bruise and cut next to her left eye, her bottom lip was split right down the center, Chris took another deep breath as he walked to her bed, she had bruises around her throat that looked like hand prints, cuts on her neck, chest and arms. That was all he could see now, but he had seen the rest before and knew it didn’t just stop there. Her head was up, but her eyes looked down. “Cassie?” he sort of whispered as he neared the bed, and she looked up at him. He had tears welling in his eyes again and his face was still stained from earlier. Her green eyes were on the verge of tears also. “Jesus, baby, I am so sorry.”

“That better be an apology for calling me a silly girl and not for this.” she told him.

“I am sorry for calling you a silly girl, but that one was for this, it’s all my fault.”

“This is not your fault. You didn’t go hire him to try and kill me. Chris I know you’re not in love with me, but I also know you’re not a psycho!” she winced and held her ribs as she took a deep breath.

“But I am…”

“You are a psycho?” she said with a bit of a sarcastic tone.

“No…” he started and swallowed hard, “I am in love with you!” he couldn’t believe he’d found the guts to say it.

“What?”

He stepped closer, so he was standing right next to her now. He reached up and brushed hair from her face and she turned her eyes up to meet his. “I have missed you so much, ever since that day. I knew I had done something stupid the moment I heard that gate slam behind you. I wanted to fix it but pride and fear got in the way, and at the end of the day I convinced myself that I was no good and you were better off without me.” He looked down and Cassidy watched a tear fall from his eyes. “When I got back to Portland, I sat down one night to write a new song for the album, I still needed one more, and that day came flooding back to me and I could hear everything we said to each other, and even though I think I’d known it all along, at that moment I couldn’t deny it anymore. I thought about calling you a hundred times, but it wasn’t really something I wanted to do over the phone, so I kept telling myself not to call you.” He paused and looked in her eyes as he took another deep breath. “When I opened the door and you were at my feet…you were so cold and it was like there was no life left in you…I was so scared that I was gonna lose you…” he stepped closer and more tears fell from his eyes, he reached up to touch her face again, “I realized, without any doubt, when I held you in my arms on the way here, I love you.” he said. “I’ve always loved you, from the first time we met on your birthday and I love you more than anything in the world.” her bottom lip began to tremble. “You mean everything to me and I need you. I know I don’t deserve it,” he took her hand in his, still looking deep into her eyes “but I was hoping, maybe, you would give me one more shot…?” She lost her fight with her emotions and tears began to streak down her face, she nodded when she couldn’t find her voice and she squeezed his hand. Christian was crying now too, it killed her to see him cry. He wanted to hold her tight in his arms, but he knew she was fragile, so he leaned over her and gently brushed a few strands of hair from her face and kissed her forehead softly.

Cassie was exhausted that day, so Nick requested the sketch artist not come in until she was ready. The next morning she was ready, she described her attacker until they had a composite sketch she said was perfect. The detective wanted to run the picture by Christian to see if he recognized him.

“Just the man I was looking for!” Detective Samuels said as Chris rounded the corner with a cup of coffee, looking quite tired. “We’ve got the composite sketch here, want to see if you recognize him.” he said holding up the drawing for Chris.

Chris took a good hard look at it, he started nodding. “I remember him from The Viper Room when we used to play there. Steve what was his name?”

Steve looked too and nodded but said, “Jesus, I can’t think of it either…Melter, wasn’t that his last name?”

“Carl Pelter!” Chris said, “Thats what it was!” Steve nodded in agreement. “He was a sound technician back when we played there, no idea if he still works there or not.”

Detective Samuels nodded, “A name is good though, we have a name and face. Can you think of any reason he would do this?”

Chris shook his head no, “I mean he was a little strange, but never struck me as unstable or dangerous. We haven’t played at the Viper Room in years, and I haven’t seen him since.” he clenched his teeth and the detective knew he was getting angry.

“Chris, I know you’re angry, but we’ll get him, don’t you worry and don’t go off half cocked and do something crazy. Cassie needs you with her, the doctor came in as we were finishing up, I think they’re going to let her go.”

“Hey there!” he said as he walked into her room.

She was standing and gathering her things, her brother had just arrived before Chris, she tried to smile but her lip still hurt.

“They letting you out?” Chris asked and she nodded. “I don’t think its safe at your place, will you come stay with me?”

She looked up at him just as Shawn butt in, “I’ll be staying with her, she’ll be fine.” He was the protective big brother, and he knew what Chris had previously put his baby sister through. What he didn’t know, was that Chris had told Cassie he loved her just 24 hours before, and that she had said she would give him another shot. “I’ll be taking her home to Texas to recover once she’s well enouh to travel. She saw Christian’s face and knew he was about to give Shawn a piece of his mind.

Cassie closed her eyes and took a deep breath, “Shawn, I’m not going home to Texas. This is my home! I am so happy you’re here, I need everyone right now, that includes Christian.” she said. Then added, “ Shawn, I would really feel safer at his place, away from mine, I mean it’s a crime scene for God’s sake.” she looked to Chris.

He winked at her, “I’ll go have Steve bring the car ’round.” she nodded.

As soon as Chris was out of the room she turned to her brother, “I know you take issue with him because of how he hurt me, Shawn, but you should also know, he and Steve brought me in here. Without them, I’d be dead now. I still love him, I never stopped, it’s not something you can just turn on and off, you of all people should know that. He told me he loves me yesterday, that he always has and he was sorry he had hurt me and taken so long to realize how he felt.” she saw Shawn’s face softening, “We’re going to give us another shot and he feels like this is all his fault and I hate that he thinks that, especially when he saved my life by getting me here.”

Shawn nodded his understanding. “Well, then I’m going to be staying for a little while, I need to make sure you’re ok, too, baby girl, you’re the only family I’ve got.” she nodded her ok.

“Pardon me, sir,” a nurse came up behind Shawn, “I’ve got some papers for you to sign Miss Levesque, and a prescription for Vicodin as well as an antibiotic. The Doctor’s orders are to get them both filled, start the antibiotic immediately, it’s more of a preventative measure and take the Vicodin as needed for pain.” Cassie signed her release papers, “If you’ll wait just a couple of minutes, I’ll be back with a wheelchair to take you out to your transportation.” and she turned and left.

Chris walked back in and over to her, put his arm around her and his hand on the small of her back and gently pulled her to him, “I love you.” he whispered and kissed her forehead.

Shawn smiled and stepped forward, “I’m sorry for being a jerk, I’ll stay in a hotel for a few days so I know she’s ok.”

“Don’t be ridiculous, I have plenty of room at my place, you’re welcome to stay there while you’re in town.”

“Thanks.”

The nurse came in with a wheelchair and Chris held Cassie’s hand as she sat down and he took the lead, “Steve pulled the truck around to the pick up area.” They all followed him out.

Steve was out there and tossed the keys to Chris, he came around and winked at Cassie, “Hey babydoll!” he said as he climbed into the back of the truck. Shawn followed suit. Chris helped Cassidy into the front seat and then went around to the driver’s side and they headed to his house. It wasn’t a long drive, but in comparison to how they drove it to get her to the hospital, it seemed to take an eternity.

“I wanna grab a shower, and then I’ll go get your prescriptions filled, ok baby?”

She nodded, “Ok.”

“I’m also going to go by your place and get you some things from there, Detective Samuels said it was alright to go in. So why don’t you make a list of what you need?”

She nodded again.

They pulled into the drive way, “Steve, show Shawn to a spare room, please?” They climbed out of the back of the truck and Chris was rounding the front of the truck as Cassie opened her door and began to get out. “You ok?”

“I’m ok, I can walk Chris.”

“I know, I just wanna take care of you.” he said, concern etched across his face. She smiled at that statement. They walked up the stairs, her hand in his, more for his peace of mind than her’s. “I know you’ve been through something awful, so if you don’t want to share the bed with me, I understand and I’ll sleep on the couch.”

“No,” she said quickly, “I’d feel safer with you there. I’d like to lay down for a while, I have a headache. I’ll make the list first though.”

He nodded, his heart happy at that, he wanted to be by her side.

Chris escorted Cassie to the bedroom, his bedding was a mess, he never made the bed. He grabbed his pillows and pulled them over for her. “I’ll go find some paper for you.” he rushed out and back to the back of the house where he and Steve had been that night, he knew there was paper there, they had been working on some song ideas. He scooped some up and a pen and went back to her. “Here babydoll,” he said handing it to her, “I’m gonna shower while you do that.” He went into his bathroom and started up the water.

“Think Cassie, what do you need.” she began the list.

Clothes, PJs, panties/bras, shoes, socks

Bipolar meds(in the kitchen cabinet by the fridge)

Incudes: Depakote, Celexa, Nortryptiline, Trazodone and Wellbutrin

Excedrin/Advil

Phone?(if you can find it)

iPod/Laptop

Toothbrush/toothpaste, deoderant, blue hair brush, black comb, hair dryer

She sighed heavily, just as chris walked up wearing jeans and pulling a t-shirt on, “What is it Cass?”

“Hmmmm?” she looked up at him, “Oh nothing, just trying to think if thats all.” she handed him the list she had made.

“If it’s not we can always go back, or go buy something. You just lay down and rest, I’ll be back soon.” she leaned back into the pillows, they had his musky smell she had missed all these months, Chris pulled the blankets over her and leaned down and kissed her forehead again.

She drifted to sleep quickly. It wasn’t restful though, she dreamt of her attacker, not of being attacked, just him, in her dream, as though he was an old friend of Christian and she had no way of telling them that he did it. She tried as hard as she could but no one heard her, or even saw her it seemed. Several hours had passed and Chris had already returned home when he heard her screaming from the bedroom. “Listen to me! It’s him, he did it!” she awoke herself as well.

Christian rushed into the bedroom to her side, “Whats wrong, baby?” she looked up at him and was trying to catch her breath. “I’m right here with you, it’s ok!” he assured her and she nestled her head against him as he sat down on the bed to hold her.

He lifted her face and wiped the few tears that had escaped from her face, she was still trying to slow her breathing. She swallowed hard, “I dreamt that you knew him, he was an old friend and I was there and trying to tell everyone it was him, but no one could hear me…I don’t think anyone could see me even.”

“I’m here though, and I can see you and hear you! I gave the detective his name.”

“You do know him?” she pulled away looking up at him.

“No, baby, not like that, I swear.” he tried to reassure her. “He worked at the Viper Room when we used to play there with Shooter. He was barely an aquaintance let alone a friend. He was just one of the sound techs. I really couldn’t have said more than 5 words to him outside of giving him specs for our sound.”

“You swear it?”

“On my life!” She lay her head back down on his shoulder, “You wanna stay in bed here or you wanna come out for some food or anything?”

“I am hungry, and I’ve been without my meds for 2 days, I need to take them.”

“And the anti-biotic.” he added, “You can come out there with me or you can stay here and I’ll bring it to you…? Steve took Shawn to go get some tacos.”

She laughed a little and then it turned into a wince and she grabbed her ribs. She knew exactly what that meant. Steve had this obsession with this taco place, it wasn’t a restaurant, or a taco car, more of a hut, and he loved their tacos! Chris said he’d eaten them once and gotten sick, Cassidy never had the guts to try them. “Poor Shawn,” she started, “he’ll never know what hit him!” she snarked, “And I’ll come out there, I’ve been in bed for 3 days, it’ll do me some good maybe.” She stood and Christian took her by the hand leading her out of the bedroom and through the corridor to the kitchen. She saw her meds on the counter and the new RXs with them, she went over and gathered up what she needed to take for the night and set them aside, she didn’t want to take them now she knew they made her drowsy.

“What sounds good to eat?” he asked.

She smiled, “Pancakes!” He laughed heartily. Cassie had a thing for breakfast foods in general, but her favorite was pancakes. She just figured it was linked to memories of her mother, on Saturday mornings, she would wake up to the sweet smell of pancakes and then the aroma lingered on her mother like perfume, so whenever she smelled or ate pancakes she felt close to her mom. She also knew Christian was an incredible cook and next to her own mom, made the best pancakes she’d ever had.

He cooked, they ate and then they went out to the den Chris had turned into his music room. There was a couch and chair set, and then music memorabelia lined the walls, there was an old piano multiple electric and accoustic guitars and a drum set for when Ryan was in town. There were papers left here and there from various song ideas.

“Play it for me.” she said.

“Play what?” he asked.

“The song you wrote because of us.”

“Oh, ok, sure. It’s called ‘Let me Go’” he said picking up an accoustic guitar and he sat down on the chair. He began to play, their eye contact never waivering. It was then that she believed whole heartedly that he did in fact love her as he had finally said. Tears brimmed Cassie’s eyes as he finished and she smiled. She stood up and took his guitar from him setting it gently on the couch and she sat down on the coffee table in front of him. They were so close now that her legs were between his. She reached up and pushed his long curly hair out of his face. He had tears slowly streaming down his face as he looked at her, “I’m so…so very sorry.”

“For what?” she asked softly.

“For this, for last year, the past 10 months, all of it.” he began and she rubbed a thumb under each eye to wipe away his tears, it killed her to see him cry, but just as quickly as she wiped them away more fell. He reached out and pulled her to him arms around her waist nestled his head into her hair at her neck. “I’m so sorry, baby!” his tears were sobs now, one arm was around her waist and the other at the back of her neck, “I love you so much, and I pushed you away and I knew it was the biggest mistake of my life the moment you were gone, and when I found you at my door, I was sick, I thought I’d lost you or was going to.”

She pulled back just slightly so she could see his face, “Shhhhh, baby” she wiped his face again, “I’m here now. I have missed you so much and I never stopped loving you, thats what made the last 10 months so hard. But there are things that have happened during this time that may not have had we been together all this time. My diagnosis and everything.” she paused and looked him in the eye and she could see how guilty he felt, “but of all thats happened, Christian, this was not your fault, please don’t blame yourself.”

“I can’t help it, this guy was someone from my past and the things he did to you, I just…”

Cassie interrupted him with a kiss, much like their first. It shut him up. She leaned her forehead against his now. “I love you.” she said, “And you love me, right?” though she knew the answer, and he nodded his yes. “From here forward, that is all that matters!”

“I’m here for you, no matter what you need, I will get you through this, I promise!” he said, “No matter what it takes!”

The first week after her rape was rough, she had a lot of nightmares and everyone was doting on her which was driving her crazy. She loved her brother to death, but she wanted him to go home. Nick and Steve too. She wanted peace and quiet, but knew with all of them there she would never get it.

“Nicko?”

“Yes hunny?”

“Please go home! I’m fine and so many people in the house all the time is driving me nuts.” she said, desperation in her tone, “I’m going to talk to Shawn too and get him to go home. I’m losing my mind waiting for news from the police and all of you are making what little sanity I have left go even quicker.” she said with a laugh.

“We’re just worried about you, and we love you.”

“I know, and I appreciate that and I love all of you, but quiet is what I need now…and I can’t seem to find it.”

“Ok, I’ll go.” he leaned in and hugged and gave her a kiss on the forehead, “if you need anything you know how to reach me, and please keep me posted on news from the police.”

She nodded and as Nick walked out the front door she was off to go have the same conversation with her brother. Shawn was a bit tougher, but she managed to break him down.

“I do miss Steph and the boys,” he said, “but I am still worried about you!”

“I’m ok, and I have Chris here and Nick only a phonecall and short drive away…Steve is around too.”

“Alright, alright, I’ll pack and go catch a flight.” he kissed her on the forehead.

She walked down the corridor and into the back of the house, where Chris and Steve wrote songs into the wee hours of the morning. Steve was packing his notes and tabs and guitars up.

“Leaving?” she asked him.

“Hmmm, oh yeah, baby doll, I have a London gig in two days, I fly out tonight.” he said with a smile. “But I have told Chris he is to keep me updated on any news from the police.” he pulled her in for a tight hug. She walked him to the front door where they met up with Shawn coming down the stairs. “Well, looks like you and Mr. Kane are gonna have an empty house finally…whatever will the two of you do without everyone around?” he laughed.

“Not pull anymore hair out? Sleep? Regain my sanity…if there is any to regain.” she gave Steve a wink.

“Need a ride to the airport?” Steve asked Shawn.

“That would be great!” he answered and Cassie watched them disappear through the door and down the stairs.

Chris came up behind Cassie and put his arms around her, “Quiet at last!” he placed a kiss on her cheek as she turned her head slightly to the side. “Come,” he said as he took her by the hand and lead her to the living room, “I know just what you need.” He sat down on the huge plush couch, she smiled down at him, he was a sight, long curly hair a mess wearing nothing but his Oklahoma Sooner’s basketball shorts and socks. Ordinarily with him looking like that she would have him naked in no time, though she wasn’t ready for that yet, she could still appreciate his rugged sexiness. He took her hand again and she sat down between his legs with her back against his stomach. He had the TV all ready to go, he had all of her favorite old movies lined up, starting with ‘Bringing Up Baby’ starring Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn.

They spent all of that day snuggled together on the couch watching old movies and eating popcorn. Every time he heard Cassie laugh his heart skipped a beat, he’d been so afraid that her usual spunky, fun loving nature might not recover from what happened. But she was smiling and laughing, and she had that sparkle in her big, green eyes that he loved. He knew that there was still a long road ahead of recovery for her and he’d be there every step of the way, but that laugh of her’s was music to his ears.

It was well past dark and Jimmy Stewart’s ‘Harvey’ was just ending. Chris looked down at Cassie who was asleep against him, her head on his belly. He smiled, she was an angel, his angel. His leg was asleep so he had to get up, he gently lifted her up and lay her back down on the couch so he could hop around and wake his leg up. Once he had, he lifted her gently in his arms and carried her to bed, layed her down on the left side of the bed and he went around to the right. When he was settled in bed too, Cassie rolled to her right side and snuggled up next to him with her head nestled against his shoulder. He breathed in the scent of her apple shampoo, he had always loved the way her hair smelled of fragrant, fresh, green apples. “I love you.” he whispered as he drifted off to sleep.

Several hours later Chris woke up to Cassie crying out in her sleep. She was having a nightmare, she’d had the same one every night and he figured it was the same one now. He’d always heard that you shouldn’t wake people from their dreams, especially nightmares, so he just held her until she settled down or woke herself. Tonight she woke herself up with a scream and shuddered and Chris held her tightly as she pushed away. He felt her hot tears on his chest before he heard her crying. “Its alright baby doll! You’re safe!” he whispered to her and gently rocked her in his strong arms.

She was gasping and choking over her sobs, but she had finally realized she was awake now and safe in Christian’s arms. “Will it ever stop?” she asked through her tears, “I can’t handle these nightmares anymore. It’s like he’s doing it to me all over again every single time I close my eyes to sleep. I can smell his sour breath, and feel him hitting and kicking me, and…” she choked over the words, “raping me.”

There was that word again. He knew it had happened, but he hated that word. “Maybe if you talk about it, tell me what happened that night. If you get it out, and share it with me, maybe he will stop haunting your dreams. But it’s going to be ok, I promise!”

“OK…well, I went to the beach for the day and came home way past dark. When I got home there were lights on in my condo and I was sure I hadn’t left any on, but I looked around and nothing else seems strange so I just unlocked the door and went in. While I was turned to lock the deadbolt back up, thats when he grabbed me the first time from behind. I fought him though and got away then he got me again and I knocked him backwards into the coffee table and he took me with him, but when he landed he lost his grip on my throat and I turned and tried to run for the door again and he tripped me and I fell and the next thing I know I was in his trunk. I woke up and we were way out in the woods somewhere. The road was gravel, I could hear it crunch under the tires. I was kicking and banging on the trunk and screaming. He slammed on his breaks really hard and I bounced around, then the car turned off and he came back and pulled me out by the throat again and dragged me across the gravel and the branches and forest floor then he threw me down. Thats when he kicked me in the stomach the first time, then I asked what he wanted and he started going off about his letter and how I was going to pay for what I had done to you and that after he was through with me, you would finally notice him. He backhanded me twice while he pulled my skirt off. Thats where the busted lip and eye came from. I felt the blood pooling in my mouth and I spit it in his face and screamed at him, I was angry by then, more angry than scared. Then he slammed into me, it knocked the breath clean out of me, and hurt so bad and he just kept going. Through what little air I was able to gasp I kept begging him to stop and he just kept on, nothing in my life has ever hurt so much as that, Chris, it was like this searing pain all the way through me.” She was sobbing softly now as she tried to compose herself. He was holding her tighter and she could hear him grinding his teeth in anger. “I’m afraid he’s taken everything that made me who I am away from me. My passion, everything, Chris, everything…will we be able to have what we had before?” she whispered as her soft sobs turned into heavy ones again.

Chris rolled her to her back laying her head on her pillow and pushed hair out of her face. He kissed her and it was that same kiss from the first night in the elevator, full of passion, need, and hunger. When it broke, he whispered to her, “No one can ever take away what we have.” Her crying had ceased while they kissed, now her bottom lip trembled slightly. “I almost did, and I’m never going to let that happen again, not my stubborn pigheadedness, or yours, or anyone else who thinks they can break it.” he said. “You’re my angel…my Cassie!” he gently whiped where the tears had stained her face, “I will be here for you no matter how long it takes, I love you more than anything or anyone in my entire life. And you helped me find my faith in love again. I will help you find your way through this.”

At that moment Cassie’s phone rang, “Hello?”

“Cassie? It’s James Samuels.”

“Oh, yes, hello Detective.”

“I’ve got fantastic news…a couple things actually. The semen from your rape kit did find a match in the system, and it was the man in your composite sketch and one Carl Pelter, as Christian and Steven named him. We found him tonight and he is in lock up now.”

“Oh my God,” she started to cry again, but this time happy tears. “That is so great!” her heart lept at the fact that he was off the streets now.

“Can you come in tomorrow for a line up? We have him, but we still have to follow protocol.”

“Absolutely.”

“Say 11am?”

“Ok, sounds good, thank you for calling.”

She hung up the phone, “They got him! He’s in lock up and the evidence all matches, I just have to go in for a line up tomorrow at 11am, standard protocol.” she flung her arms around Chris’ neck. He felt a lot of the tension in his body release, they had him and he couldn’t get to her again, he silently thanked God.

They lay back down and both sank into the first restful sleep since the night of the attack.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s