I wasn't sure if he'd say yes or not; in fact, I was almost positive he'd laugh at me and then leave. But for some reason I had this tiny hope that he'd say ok and we'd get in his truck and on the thirty minute trip home I'd be able to explain to him what had happened.
He continued staring at me, the guy he'd been talking to already walking away. I shifted feet, wondering if I should say something else or simply wait. Maybe I should just leave. As I was about to turn and walk away, defeated and shamed, he said, "Whatever."
My head shot up and I looked at him, surprised. "Really?" He didn't answer, though, instead climbing into his truck, but I heard the distinct click of the passenger's door unlocking. So, I slipped into the truck and sat as close to the window as possible, hoping he wouldn't kill me on the way home.
"So," he said after a few minutes, surprising me, and I think even himself a little. "You went to see Zach?"
With a sudden, horrible realization I knew he thought I'd gone to Zach's to be with him, as if I had used Destry and then run to Zach, as if it was really him I loved. "Oh god, Destry, it's not what you think," I said quickly, hoping I'd get to explain.
"I would hope not. But then again," he drawled, glancing at me, "you've surprised me before."
"Destry, I went to Zach's because I couldn't bear to see you, to run into you when I knew you hated my guts."
He breathed in sharply and turned to glare at me. "I don't hate you, Tyler, not yet." My heart was pounding in my chest, my breath wouldn't come, my head was spinning, because even though he'd said not yet, he'd also said he didn't hate me. "Well that's good," I said, trying to sound carefree and sure of myself, "because I don't hate you either. In fact, I love you quite a lot."
He snorted as if I'd told a joke but I could tell he was just using that as a cover for the sudden tears in his eyes. "Yeah, well, if you loved me you would have told me. If you loved me you wouldn't have hurt me. If you loved me..." He trailed off with a glance in my direction.
"But Destry, I do love you, and you have no clue how incredibly sorry I am for what happened, for how you found out. If I could, I'd go back to the beginning and explain it all on our first date," I said, desperate.
"If you could do it again I'd hope you'd go back and not rape my sister," he snapped, furious. "God, Tyler, do you even understand what it was like for her? For our family?"
"Destry," I said quietly, "I didn't rape your sister."
He froze up, his hands rigid on the steering wheel and his eyes averted from me. "You're a fucking liar, Tyler, and a real bastard. How dare you say that? God, I can't—" He stopped suddenly, his eyes going wide. I was trying to figure out what was wrong when suddenly he threw an arm across my chest and yelled, "Hold on!"
Confused, I glanced out the window and watched as another truck came down a road on the small hill next to the highway. Watched how it wasn't going to stop at the stop sign. How it was going to collide right into my door, into me. Fear gripped my throat, the thought of dying scaring the hell out of me. But then suddenly we were spinning as Destry turned the car so that instead of hitting me…it was hitting him. And suddenly that fear for my life triple with fear for his.
But then all was black as the truck hit us.
I wasn't hit. In fact, the only reason I blacked out was because I fainted, ironically. When I woke up, an ambulance, three police cars, and a fire truck were next to the crushed car me and Destry were still in. Next to us sat the truck with it's crushed front and empty cab. I looked over at Destry and saw that his head was bleeding; his door was caved in and all the glass had shattered out onto him form the window. I pushed open my own door where the glass had broken as well and staggered out, unhurt it seemed. As the paramedics got Destry out of the car and onto a stretcher, one came over to ask me if I was alright. "Sir, we need to take you to the hospital just to be sure."
"Yeah, that's fine; I'll ride with him." The man nodded and walked off as I climbed into the cab and rode to the hospital with Destry. As they led him in and got him into a room to check him over, I was in a daze. I couldn't believe what had just happened, how close I'd been to being in Destry's place, and how he'd made sure I wasn't.
Tears sprang to my eyes and I hurried to the bathroom down the hall to compose myself; I needed to find out if Destry was alright, not cry like a little kid. Taking a deep breath, I headed back to the waiting room, pacing the tiled floor until someone came. After about fifteen minutes, a nurse came over to me. "Does he have any family around here?" She asked quietly.
"Um, no, he doesn't. But I'm his boyfriend, you can tell me." She hesitated a second, unsure, then said, "Ok, follow me."
I walked behind her, asking how he was. "Well, he has a cut on his head, and one on his leg that needed stitches. He also has three broken ribs and a small concussion from where his head hit the door, but he'll be ok."
My breathing hitched but I managed to ask, "Can I see him?"
"Of course, he's awake."
"When can he leave?"
She thought for a minute, then shrugged. "Tomorrow? Nothing serious happened, so they probably just want to keep him for over-night observation. I'd say if everything checks out, he can be out of here tomorrow morning."
I smiled, glad I'd gotten such a nice nurse, and followed her to Destry's room. When I walked in and saw him, his head wrapped and in a hospital gown where I could see the bandages wrapped around his chest, I froze. What if he didn't even want to see me? I realized. What if he got upset?
Slowly, I inched towards him, stopping a few feet from his bed. His head rolled toward me and he stared into my eyes, his own tired and dull. Of all the thoughts racing through my head, only one poured out. "Why did you do that?"
He looked away from me and shrugged gently. "Cause I love you, even if I don't want to."
Laura came the next morning and drove us home after the doctor proclaimed that Destry would be fine and could go home. He'd had his ribs wrapped and would have to come back to have his stitches checked, but other than that he was good. I helped him into his apartment and thanked Laura for her help. I couldn't believe how much had happened, but I knew there was still more to come.
Sitting down next to where Destry lay on his bed, I said quietly, "Destry, we need to talk."
He groaned but nodded. "I know."
"Can I start?" When he didn't say anything, I jumped in. "You're probably wondering a lot, but let me tell you everything from the beginning. When I was sixteen," I began, "they came to my school and arrested me for raping a girl I'd never met, not even seen. They convicted me and I went to jail for seven years, where I myself was raped and beaten and treated like dirt because I was so young. After getting out, someone sent me a letter—maybe it was lawyer, but I think it was one of the jailers—anyways, it said that I was innocent, that the court had messed up and sent the wrong man to jail. Of course, I knew I hadn't done it, but to see it on paper was a relief because then other people would believe me, too.
"They never caught the guy that actually raped your sister, and though I wanted to, I could never get up the courage to write her and explain everything." I sighed. "If you don't believe me, I can go get my file and show you; it's all there."
He wouldn't look at me and that made me worry. Did he not believe me? I had hoped he would, but if he didn't, I really could go get my file. Finally, though, he turned to look up at me and I could see the tears in his eyes. "I'm sorry, Tyler, god I'm so sorry," he said, choking up. "I just…when I saw your name and the case…I couldn't forgive you because of what it did to my sister, to me."
"I know, Des," I said softly, running a hand through his hair. "I'm sorry, too, but can you ever forgive me? For not telling you? For everything?"
He sat up and pulled me into a hug. "I love you." It was all I needed to hear, all the apology I wanted. Pulling back slightly, I kissed him with a deep, passionate need.
"I love you, too." He smiled against my mouth and closed his eyes.
"Can we start over, then? Just forget this ever happened?"
"No," I said evenly, "I don't want to ever forget any of this." He looked at me, confused, then smiled.
A week later, I was completely better. Tyler and I were back together, a little worse for wear, but together all the same. I couldn't believe after all that time, after yelling and leaving and crying, that he was innocent. I mean, I could believe it, I just couldn't understand why I'd waited to long to hear what he had to say. If I'd listened to him that first day, then these past two weeks—and the wreck—could have been avoided.
The first thing I'd done the day after we'd made up was call Natalie; I figured she deserved an explanation as much as I did. When I told her about the wreck, she asked the usual questions and grilled me on if I was ok or not, but once I told her about Tyler, she barely said anything. All she really said was that she was happy for us, that she knew if I'd just listened I'd understand, and that she was coming to visit.
I didn't know why she wanted to come down, but I agreed anyways and waited for her arrival. Now we were in Ty's bookshop with him, Laura, and Danny. They'd gotten engaged sometime while me and Tyler were apart, so we were celebrating. I was excited for them; they had always been really good friends to me, especially when this had all happened.
Tyler had been nervous around Natalie at first; his hands were actually shaking. And I could understand—maybe not completely, but some. The awkwardness of the situation was bad enough, but the fact that he'd been accused of raping her almost eight years ago was even worse.
A few hours later, I came over and wrapped my arms around Tyler's neck. "You know," I said, drawing the words out. "I'm in love with this really great guy."
"Oh really?" He asked, his hands on my hips. "Well I hope he's not around to see me steal you away from him."
"Oh I don't think you have to worry about that," I said, pulling him closer.
"And why's that?" He asked, his lips brushing mine with every word.
"Because he's you." And he kissed me.
A/N: Ok, I'm so sorry for the late update. And for the ending; I suck at endings, and this definitely didn't turn out like I wanted it to, but hopefully it wasn't too corny and lame. HUGE thanks to everyone who reviewed, especially those who reviewed every chapter; ya'll are awesome :)
Also please check out me new story!