A Safe Place

I ran fast down the deserted, black street, the hard concrete rough beneath my bare feet, and scattered with shards of sparkling glass from a broken wine bottle near the sidewalk's gray gutter. The cool fall wind stroked my face and neck, chilling my body, and causing Goosebumps to appear on my pale skin. I panted heavily, whipping my head around, desperately searching the dark for Brianna.

I have failed her, I thought, my vision blurring with tears.

I told her I would protect her. And now that monster hurt her… I shook my head, trying to erase the images flooding my mind. Her face… that beautiful face grief stricken etched with sadness and fear. And those eyes, filled with silver tears. Blood on her cheeks and lips… I was weeping now, I couldn't deal with having another person, another person I loved, hurt by my father.

"Brianna!" I yelled.

I didn't care if I woke the neighbors. They could all go to hell. I passed the street behind mine, and sprinted down the next. I was running towards the beach, thinking Brianna would be there. I remembered her telling me about always wanting to see the sea, but never getting the chance. She said she thought of the sea as peaceful and safe. But I knew that now that my father has had her, he'd never let her go. No place is safe for her now.

I ran past the last houses next to the beach, then out onto the sand. I saw a figure sitting next to the water, and squinted in the darkness to see if it was Brianna. But who else would be up this late?

"Brianna!" I called again.

No response from the figure. I slowed my pace, sand was flying up around me, clutching onto my clothes. I heard the sound of the gentle surf crashing against the shore, then the soft hiss of the waves as they retreated back into their endless depths. I saw the outline of the person sitting in the sand, the skin ghostly white, and the hair long and black, trailing down the delicate shoulders. I knew it was her, I could smell the scent of her silky hair from here. I rushed onto the damp sand, to her side and looked down at her.

She had her thin white arms wrapped around her legs, which were pressed against her chest. Her naked feet touched the blue water, when the waves moved up onto the sand. Her beautiful face was emotionless, her mouth set and her blue eyes lost, as they stared out at the sea.

"Brianna." I whispered.

She didn't move. I took a deep breath and slowly sat down beside her. I looked at her arms, seeing the cuts and bruises. Blood on her cheeks…blood on her lips…

"Brianna-"

"The night my parents were killed was the first time I saw the sea." Brianna said suddenly, cutting me off.

I looked at her face, seeing the cut on her lip and under her eye. Her white night gown was torn, her left sleeve was ripped, exposing her pale shoulder and there was a tare running all the way up to her thigh. Blood spattered the gown, the white lace was stained crimson.

I waited patiently for her to speak again. I watched as her face changed with her anger.

"I told them, no kid should grow up without ever seeing the sea. I wanted to lie in the salty water… play in the surf… watch as the waves erased my foot prints off the damp sand… I begged them for weeks until they gave in and drove me and my baby sister down here, so I could finally see the Mediterranean." Brianna explained quietly, watching as the water came up onto the sand around her to dampen her white gown.

"It was night when we entered the French Riviera. I was so exited. I hadn't slept at all, my face was pressed against the window the entire time, watching as the beautiful sites passed us by. I told them right when we got here, I wanted to go to the beach, into the water…I was obsessed really." Brianna said smiling a little.

A few moments passed and I watched as her smile faded.

"Then I saw the sea for the first time. Blue against black. A seagull's white wings pass the dark gray clouds, flying home. I could hear it. I could hear the waves crash against the rocks and the beach. Oh the beach… I saw the yellow of the sand, I saw the white and navy waves… then I saw the headlights of the truck." Brianna whispered.

"I watched the fear come into my mother's eyes. I watched as her mouth became a perfect 'O' as she screamed." She said quietly, her eyes falling to the wet sand beside her.

She released her hold on her legs, and rested her hand on the wet sand. She grabbed a hand full of it and held it in the air, before letting the sand fall between her fingers.

"It happened so fast." She breathed.

"I saw the truck hit us. I saw the glass from the windshield shatter. And I saw their blood…" Brianna stopped, her voice catching.

"I felt their blood on my face…it was all over me…their blood and my blood…my sisters blood…there was red everywhere…" Brianna said, her lips trembling.

She stopped and looked down at her hands, the water from the sea had erased any trace of sand off her palms and fingers. She turned her hands this way and that staring at her white skin.

"I can still see it… I can still see their blood on my hands…" She whispered.

Her hands were trembling. She set them down beside her and drew hearts and stars in the sand with her fingertip.

"I heard my mom breathing for a while…but then she stopped. I never heard my dad. He was just lying in his seat, his face was facing away from me…but I saw the blood on his head. My sister cried and cried. I wanted to tell her it was okay, but I couldn't talk. I couldn't move. Then… then Amy stopped crying…" Brianna breathed.

There was silence after that. Brianna stared out at the sea again and hugged her knees.

"I knew they were all dead. I was only 4, but I knew it…" Brianna told me.

I stared at her. I saw her close her eyes and struggle to fight back the tears. There was silence again as Brianna tried to compose herself.

"When…when I came here… when your family adopted me…and I saw the big white house…the perfect smiling people…and the beautiful mysterious boy on the staircase…I thought…I thought God was finally giving me a second chance at happiness. After all these years… I thought I could finally be happy again…" Brianna said quietly.

She opened her eyes and looked at me for the first time since I saw her standing in the hallway outside her bedroom door, beaten and broken, just after my father raped. Her blue eyes were filled with tears, and were so sad and frightened that my heart shattered in my chest.

"I guess I was wrong." She whispered.

And looked away out at the sea again.

"Oh Brianna…" I breathed and wrapped my arms around her.

She hesitated for a moment, before resting her head against my chest. I pressed my cheek against her hair, her silky black hair that was tangled now, by the wind. She didn't cry, like I thought she would. She just lay there in my arms, motionless listening, like I did, to the waves streak the golden shore. We lay there as the warm water danced around us then pulled back into the sea, leaving us cold and shivering until it came back and we were surrounded by warmth again.

"Derrick." Brianna whispered.

"Yes?" I said kissing her head, then smoothing the black curls off her forehead so I could see her face.

"Do you think God will forgive me if I kill myself?" She asked, her face expressionless.

My eyes went wide, all color drained from my face and not even the warmth from the gentle waves could melt away the ice stakes lodge in my heart. I grabbed her face between my hands and she gasped, staring at me with shock, almost fear. I made her look into my eyes as I spoke.

"I will not forgive you if you take your life." I told her seriously.

She trembled, tears filling her beautiful eyes.

"Derrick-"

"I wont Brianna!" I yelled, shaking her.

"Derrick!" Brianna cried, whimpering.

I blinked. I hadn't realized I was holding onto her so tightly. I released her and slowly inched away, horrified at the thought of hurting her. Brianna stared at me, whimpering a little then hugged herself. She looked away from me frightened.

"Brianna, I'm so sorry." I whispered.

"I didn't mean to be ruff with you. I promise you I'm not going to hurt you. I'm not my father. I swear. But I am serious. I will not forgive you if you kill yourself." I told her touching her arm.

Brianna looked at me.

"I disserve to die, Derrick." Brianna whispered her blue eyes wide and glassy.

"It's my fault they're all dead. If I hadn't wanted to come here so bad…if I just stayed home… they would be alive!" Brianna cried.

She rested her head on her knees.

"It's my fault…" She sobbed.

"No Brianna." I whispered wrapping my arms over her shoulders.

I felt her whole delicate frame shaking beneath me.

"Yes! I should be the one dead….take me god…please…let them live! It's my fault…take me…" Brianna whimpered.

"Pull me into hell…it's my fault…" Brianna said.

"Brianna, you were not the truck driver who smashed into your car, now were you?" I asked, holding her.

Brianna sniffed and lifted her head to look at me.

"No…"

"You were not the brakes of that truck that couldn't stop, were you?" I asked.

"No…but…"

"But nothing Brianna. This isn't your fault." I told her seriously.

She was silent. She looked away from me, starring out at the water. We said nothing for the next few minutes. I still had my arms around her, but she didn't seem to notice. I watched her eyes as she thought her small colorless lips pressed together into a line. I sighed and kissed her neck gently, to comfort her. When I pulled back I saw the redness of a bite mark right next to ware I kissed her. I shut my eyes and clenched my jaw, fighting the tears.

"After the crash, I was sent to foster care. I lived near here once or twice. And all the families took me to the beach." Brianna said quietly.

I looked at her. She shrugged.

"I never went in the water." She whispered.

"I just felt too guilty. Because of my obsession with the sea, my parents and sister died." Brianna explained.

I sighed and kissed her again. Brianna looked at me. Her eyes were lost.

"I've been trying to let go of this guilt for years, Derrick. It's like a weight, holding me down, drowning me in my regret and sadness. I can't breathe Derrick. I haven't breathed in 10 years." She whispered.

She looked away.

"I don't know how to let it go. How do I keep living if I'm trying to breathe underwater?" Brianna asked me, her voice catching.

I thought for a moment, resting my chin against her shoulder.

"You have to let them go." I whispered.

Brianna's lips quivered. She squeezed her eyes shut and lowered her head. For several minutes she sat there, crying silently. I held her the entire time, trying to comfort her. Her tears slowed and she took a breath.

She stood, my arms falling to my sides. I looked up at her. She was starring out at the sea, watching the navy waves. I saw her step towards the water, her ankles already disappearing beneath the surf. Brianna looked down at her torn nightgown, spattered with blood. I saw her reach behind her back, uniting her gown and letting it drop to the ground around her. She stood there before me, her back to me, naked and beautiful, her pale skin glinting in the moonlight. She was as perfect as I had ever imagined her.

I looked away out of respect. In the corner of my eye, I saw Brianna step deeper into the water, very slowly, inching her way, deeper, and deeper into the surf. I only looked strait at her when the water was up to her waist. She looked around her, mystified, in a trance almost. She turned to face me and I saw her close her eyes and lift her arms before falling back against the water. Then I saw her smile.

She laughed as she floated in the water. She stood up and danced in the surf jumping up and down, splashing around, diving under the water only to shoot back up. Part of me was afraid that the next time she went under water, she wasn't going to come back up. Would she really kill herself? I knew that I myself have thought of doing that particular act once or twice. But I could never go through with it. I was a coward. But I knew Brianna wasn't. I kept a close eye on her, stiffening each time she disappeared under the surf and inwardly sighing in relief when she came back up.

She smiled and laughed and twirled around in the water. I saw there were tears in her eyes. The whole hour she spent in the water, she never looked at me. I saw her close her eyes again.

"Good bye." She whispered.

Then she opened those blue eyes of hers again, and I saw the lights from the shining stars reflect off her beautiful smile as she danced and laughed again.

After another hour past, Brianna wandered back onto the shore. Her thin white arms were wrapped around herself, and she stood in front of me shivering. Her black hair was plastered onto her frozen white skin, and there was no regret or sorrow in her blue crystal eyes any longer.

Brianna sat down beside me. I fought the urge to look at her body as I turned to her. She stared at me.

"Are you okay?" I asked quietly.

She nodded, her teeth chattering.

"You ready to go in now?" I whispered.

Brianna's eyes filled with fear.

"Don't worry, Brianna. I promise I'll protect you. You can stay with me if you like." I said touching her face.

Brianna nodded and leaned into my hand.

"You must be freezing." I said.

Brianna just nodded again, unable to form words yet. I smiled at her and pulled off my black silk pajama sweater and the warm tea shirt underneath. I took the tea shirt in my hand and gently dried Brianna's cold skin. I wiped her shoulder and arms and trailed the shirt down to her chest. I felt my heart beat raising as I looked at her small breasts. I shook my head. Now was not the time for that.

After I finished drying her off, I took my silk sweater and pulled it over her head and helped her arms into the sleeves. Brianna shook her head.

"Now you are going to freeze!" She protested.

I shook my head.

"I'm fine." I told her then stood.

I helped her up and put my arm around her waist.

"Can you walk?" I asked gently.

Brianna nodded and leaned against me. I kissed her head. She started to walk sluggishly off the beach but almost collapsed. I caught her then picked her up. She wrapped her arms around my neck. I saw her eyes were closed.

"You're exhausted. You can sleep. I've got you." I whispered in her ear.

She hummed and rested her head on my shoulder. I kissed her hair and started the short walk home. She was very light, and easy to carry. Suddenly I felt her lips against my cheek.

"Derrick…" She whispered.

I looked at her, meeting her big beautiful eyes.

"I don't want you to not forgive me." She told me quietly then her eyes slid shut and she fell asleep.

I blinked staring at her sleep form. She wasn't going to kill herself. The pain in my chest eased slightly. I kissed her forehead and resumed walking back to my home, thinking about her lips against my cheek.

When we arrived back to my white mansion by the sea, it was already well past 2 o'clock in the morning. I walked up the three little brick stairs and supported all Brianna's weight in my right arm, so I could turn the old brass doorknob and open the towering white door. The heavy door creaked as it slid open.

All the lights were still on in my home, the glossy white and gold marble tile, of the front entrance hall, sparkled and glowed, and the bleach white and oak wood walls looked sickeningly bright. My footsteps echoed, as I entered my home. I held Brianna tight in my arms and turned left, passing the kitchen, and into the lounge.

My mother sat on the white leather couch, trimmed in black iron bars, with her elbows on her knees. She was still in her cotton nightgown, and her golden hair was still mussed after our earlier activities.

My father was leaning comfortably against the back of a white chair, next to the glass breakfast table. His muscular arms were crossed against his chest. His dark eyes stared at the lacquered pine wood floors.

They both looked up as I entered, with sleeping Brianna in my arms. My mother looked alert and worried. My father just looked angry.

"Where the hell have you been?" He demanded.

"She's staying with me." I hissed, ignoring him.

Both my parents seemed shocked by this. My mother's blue eyes became hurt then darkened with jealousy. I glared at both of them.

"If you…if either of you, try to hurt her, I will kill you, do you understand me?" I said quietly, and calmly.

"Derrick?" My mother gasped.

"Don't even think about coming near my room. I'm going to lock the door. You won't be able to get in. She's mine. I'm going to protect her, from you." I said directing it to both of them.

I knew if Brianna stayed with me, my father wouldn't be the only monster staying away from my room. My mother looked close to tears. I knew she wouldn't dare try to hurt me in front of someone else. "It's our little secret, my love, my beautiful, perfect, good boy. No one will ever know."

"Derrick, we need to talk about this!" My mother said a little desperately.

"What the hell is there to talk about, Mama? Papa, raped my new sister, do you really think I'm just going to let him keep doing it?" I snapped.

Now tears were really streaming from her eyes.

"Please Derrick. Your father and I discussed it. He promises he won't do it again. Brianna is safe sweetheart." My mother said and stood, walking towards me.

I took a steep back.

"Don't call me that." I whispered.

Oh how I hurt her then. Her eyes welled with sadness and tears. Her beautiful full lips trembled and her perfect body shook with sobs. I clenched my jaw, feeling pain eating away at my heart. I wanted to cry myself. I had to look away from her, fearing that I would break down in front of my father. I didn't want him to know I was so weak. I stared at him, meeting his cold gray eyes, blazing with rage.

"She's staying with me." I stated strongly, hearing the confidence in my voice.

Then I turned away from the monsters, and slowly walked out of the room, and up the stars to lay my sleeping beauty in my bed, protected by my locked door and my tight embrace.

I set Brianna down on the soft tan sheets, and covered her with my blanket. I sat beside her on the bed, watching her sleeping for a while, before I mustered up the courage to, lift my trembling hand and run my fingers through her silky hair. She stirred a little, and I quickly pulled my hand away.

All I could think was, she kissed me. This beautiful, perfect girl kissed me. And I loved it, and wanted more, of course. But I was frightened. I had never been in a relationship before. I didn't know what to do. I laughed at myself. I had lost my virginity at 10 years old, and I had absolutely no idea how to please a woman. Should I have kissed her back? Would she allow me? And how could I even think about doing so, after she was just assaulted by someone, I am related to. That's it. She must hate me. Then why had she kissed me?

I shook my head, and unwillingly rose from the bed. I walked over to the door and locked it, then dragged the chair next to my desk over to me then placed it under the door knob, like I had done so many times, to stop that monster from hurting me.

"Derrick?" Brianna's soft voice whispered behind me.

I turned around and saw her rubbing her eyes then watched her look around my room, amazed.

"You fell asleep." I said quietly and walked over to her and cautiously sat down beside her.

She frowned then yawned. She lay her head against my pillow then smiled up at me weakly.

"Oh." She breathed.

My throat felt tight, and my heart raced. Brianna was in my bed. How many fantasies had I had imagining her lying in that very spot, underneath me, as I made love to her? Too many to count. I watched as her eyes wandered across my bed, taking in my neatly folded sheets and plain gold blankets.

"I like your bed." She whispered, then looked up at me with her crystal blue eyes sparkling in the moonlight.

"I feel safe." She breathed.

"I want you to feel safe." I said quietly but sincerely.

I could feel her breath against my face. I could see each individual black eyelash of hers, each tinny pore on her flawless face, each fleck of silver in her beautiful eyes. She captivated me. She was the angel in my dreams, the one that always saves me before the monsters came to hurt me.

Her shinning eyes wandered across my face. Then I felt her delicate hand against my cheek. She touched me like no one had ever touched me. Her gentle fingers stroked my skin, softer than a feather. Her hands were so incredibly warm. I found myself leaning into her hand, and my eyes rolled shut.

She stroked my eyelids and touched my eyebrows and forehead. Her slender fingers trailed down my cheek, outlining my chin and jaw and finally landed on my lips. I opened my eyes only to stare down into hers. Her thumb caressed my lips making them part in anticipation and excitement.

"I feel safe with you." She whispered.

She was so close. Is this what intimacy feels like? I wondered. Is this what love feels like? I knew my mother loved me and I knew some of my family loved me too. But I could never feel it. Maybe my father was to blame, stripping those emotions from me as well. Or maybe it was my mother. I wanted so much, for this to be love. I wanted Brianna to love me. I didn't want to be alone anymore.

"You would never hurt me, would you, Derrick?" Brianna asked me searching my eyes.

It wasn't a question.

"I could never harm you Brianna." I whispered.

Her face was closer. Was I leaning in? Or was she coming to me? I didn't know. I knew I was sweating, and I hoped I wasn't flushed. I was trembling. Brianna looked into my eyes again and then lifted her head ever so slightly, until her lips pressed against mine.

I felt a sudden rush of happiness, of love, of compassion, something I had never experienced before. I was kissing her. Her lips were soft and delicate, like the petals of the sweetest rose, and I was so afraid I would crush them, with my excitement.

I had never been kissed on the lips, besides by my mother or by Alyssa when she was in her drunken state. I was inexperienced, and I hoped Brianna wouldn't notice, and she didn't seem to.

I put a little more pressure against her lips as I deepened our kiss, and I felt her shy tongue caressing my mouth. I parted my lips, letting her tongue into my mouth. Ah yes, I remembered this. The devilish tongues of French girls. I remembered my mothers tongue, wet and hot in my mouth as she touched me…I pulled away from Brianna, breaking our kiss and shattering the perfect moment.

I sat up in bed gasping. Why did I have to think of my mother and what she did to me, when I was kissing the woman of my dreams? I put my head in my hands.

"Derrick?" Brianna whispered and I felt her slender arms around me.

Tears were in my eyes.

"I'm sorry if I did anything wrong-"

"No. It's not you." I shook my head.

I felt her soft lips plant a gentle kiss against the back of my neck. She ran her hands down my back and across my shoulders, making me warm. I sank back against her and my tense body relaxed in her comforting embrace.

"I'm doing everything wrong." I whispered and closed my eyes.

Thinking about making love to my mother while kissing a beautiful girl was defiantly wrong. Then why, sometimes did it not feel that way?

"It didn't seem that way to me." She giggled in my ear.

A smile formed on my lips. She ran her fingers through my hair and kissed my head.

"You're a very good kisser, Derrick." She told me.

My smile widened and I laughed. I opened my eyes and turn to face her. She repositioned her self and sat cross-legged, facing me, her gentle hand resting on my arm. I hesitated before leaning foreword and gently brushing my lips against hers.

I pulled back and saw her eyes were closed. She licked her lips then opened her eyes and smiled at me.

"You're the first boy to ever kiss me." She whispered, then sadness crept into her expression.

She looked down and I saw the pain in her beautiful eyes. I wrapped my arms around her, and felt her hands lock onto my waist.

"Shh…don't think about what he did, Brianna." I told her, but knew it wouldn't work.

I tried to not think about what my mother did to me, every single second of the day, but I could never get the image of her naked body pressed against mine, out of my head.

Brianna suddenly laughed.

"It's so…pathetic…" Brianna said laughing through her tears.

I pulled back and stared at her. She leaned her head back against the headboard, and continued to cry.

"I wanted for so long, to have a boyfriend. To have someone love me, and… kiss me…" She stopped and her lips trembled.

"I guess I got my wish." She whimpered.

I clenched my jaw and I hated my father more than ever. I hugged Brianna as she cried. I wanted to tell her I understood her. I wanted to tell her, what my mother did to me. But I couldn't. My mother's words rang in my ears, " It's are secret. No one can know." I started to cry to, though I hated crying in front of other people. But Brianna wasn't like anyone else…she knew my pain. She knew the suffering I went through. She was raped, and I was raped? Is that what my mother did to me? Rape?

"No." Brianna suddenly said shaking her head.

I pulled away from her, afraid I had done something wrong. I stared at her and she looked up into my eyes.

"I will not cry because of what he did to me." She said shaking her head again.

"You're so brave." I whispered, remembering all the times I cried after my mother and I made love.

She looked at me and drooped her head. She reminded me of a flower wilting.

"If I was brave, I would have screamed when he told me to shut up." She said quietly.

"If I was brave, I would have bit his tongue when he put it in my mouth." I winced when she said this.

"I should have said something Derrick." She whispered, then looked up at me.

"I didn't even tell him to stop." Her lips trembled again, and tears streamed from her crystal eyes.

"I was too scared." She whimpered and lay her head down on my chest, wrapping her thin arms around me.

"I know. Believe me, I know." I whispered in her ear.

And I did know. How can I tell my own mother, to stop? I remembered the first night she came into my room, just after my 10th birthday. I remembered her sitting on my bed, and I remembered the tears in her eyes.

"Mommy what's wrong?" I whispered, afraid she was hurt.

"He hates me, my beautiful boy," She told me running her fingers through my hair.

Then down my chest.

"You look so much like him…" She breathed then kissed my mouth.

I didn't pull away. I froze in place as her tongue eased into my mouth. I started crying. She held me and told me not to cry. And then she took off my pants.

I shut my eyes and pushed away that awful memory. Once I got older, I started telling her 'we shouldn't' and 'your tired mama, you should get some sleep' but I never said stop. And she never did stop. I wasn't afraid of my mother. But I was afraid of hurting her. How could I say no, when she begged me? When she told me she loved me? How could I say no when she cried to me because her own husband refused to make love to her anymore? Why can't I say no?

Brianna pulled back and stared into my eyes.

"How can you know?" She whispered.

Oh how I wanted to tell her my secret. That secret that has been eating me alive for the past 4 years. Why didn't I tell her?

"You should get some sleep Brianna." I whispered and looked away from her.

Brianna just nodded, and I loved her even more. And again I wondered if this was love. Did I love her? Or did I love my mother? I helped Brianna back under the covers and was about the get up to guard the door, when she held my arm. I looked down into her frightened eyes.

"Please stay with me." She begged, her beautiful eyes filling with tears.

"Please Derrick." She whimpered.

I hesitated swallowing hard. She wanted me to sleep in bed with her? Did that mean she wanted me to make love to her? I was so confused. I nodded slowly and crawled into the opposite side of the bed, as far away from her as possible. I didn't want to tempt myself. And I didn't want to hurt her.

But I felt her cuddling against me. She wrapped her arm around my waist and hugged my tight. I felt her lips against my bare back, and I shivered.

"Thank you." She whispered.

"For everything, Derrick." She said and her lips touched my ear.

That was all it took. I quickly turned around and pressed my lips against hers. I wanted her. All of her. I wanted to do to her, what my mother made me do to her. I reached under my loose pajama sweater she wore and touched her flat stomach. I marveled at how soft she was.

I trailed my hand up to her small breasts and touched one, very gently and heard her gasped. I felt her hands push my chest. I stopped immediately, even though I wanted more. I could still taste her spit on my lips.

Brianna avoided my gaze and wrapped her arms around herself, as if she was hiding. From me?

"I'm sorry." I whispered kissing her cheek.

Brianna's lips touched my hair and I pulled back to look at her. Tears filled her eyes again.

"No I'm sorry…I just haven't…done…that… before…" She whimpered, and I knew she was thinking about what my father did to her again.

"Like I have?" I said, trying to make her laugh.

She cracked a small smile. There was silence for a few moments as we lay facing each other.

"It's just…I don't feel like I'm not a virgin." Brianna said quietly.

I looked at her and ran my fingers through her hair. She didn't look at me. She frowned at the grain painted walls.

"It happened so fast. I barely had time to process what was happening before he…" Brianna stopped and shut her eyes.

"I know." I whispered kissing her again.

Brianna looked up at me, and met my lips kissing me gently then rested her head on my chest.

"Can we just start were normal people start in a relationship?" Brianna mumbled in my chest.

A relationship. My heart stopped. We were going to have a relationship. Sweat formed on my forehead and back. Did that mean she loved me?

"And where do normal people start in a relationship?" I asked kissing her head.

"I don't know…" She whispered trailing off in thought.

"Like kissing?" She said hopefully and looked up at me with her beautiful eyes.

I smiled at her and kissed her lips again. I heard her giggle nervously. I sighed and rested my head against hers, and wrapped my arms around her holding her tightly against my chest. There were several minutes of silence, before she spoke again,

"I don't consider what he did to me my first kiss, or…my first time…" Brianna whispered.

I looked down at her meeting her eyes. She smiled at me and rested her head on my chest.

"My first kiss was with you Derrick." She said sleepily.

It took a moment for her words to sink in. Should I consider my mother kissing me and Alyssa kissing me, my first kiss? Or was my first kiss with Brianna?

"And mine was with you." I told her, making up my mind.

I never kissed Alyssa, she always kissed me. The same with my mother. But I kissed Brianna. I wanted to kiss her. It was my decision, and she didn't force me. Brianna stared up at me in disbelief.

"I don't believe you!" She laughed.

I shrugged.

"It's true." I said and kissed her lips again.

I loved the feeling of her lips against mine. I felt such completeness. Brianna laughed shaking her head. She stared up at me with her beautiful eyes.

"There is so much I still don't know about you Derrick…" Brianna realized and stared back at the walls thinking.

"It is so strange to me…I care about you, more than I have cared about anyone, and I know so little about your past…" Brianna said looking at me.

"Maybe that's a good thing." I whispered resting my head on hers again.

"No it is not." Brianna shook her head.

"My life has been meaningless, until I met you." I explained quietly.

"It's been…suffering…pain, helplessness…I never really could understand what happiness ever felt like. I've been…trapped. For all these years. And you've given me…freedom." I stopped, feeling foolish.

Brianna turned in my arms to face me.

"Do you mean this?" Brianna asked her blue eyes full of hope.

"Yes." I whispered.

She kissed me and I felt her tears on my face.

"I feel the same way Derrick. After my family died, life had no meaning anymore. I was a ghost, I couldn't feel. And now you're here for me and I feel…so, so happy." She smiled at me.

"I finally feel like I'm in a safe place." She whispered,

There was a tug in my chest. A warm sensation flooded me, drowning me in happiness. I kissed her hard, wanting to share with her my happiness.

We talked for a while after that, laughing quietly, and occasionally kissing. I will always remember that night. Because that night was the first night I ever truly felt…human.

End of Chapter