Dawn tended the tender shoots of her cranerlat nuala grapes as the heat of the sun beat down on her. She ignored the sweat dripping down her neck,as she stood up to stretch her back and aching muscles, promising herself a bubble bath as soon as she was done in the garden. Her increasing formmade it more difficult for her to tend her garden, but she was determined to continue until she simply couldnt bend down any longer. In a couplemonths shed no longer be able to see her feet, much less bend down to harvest the fruit from her plants.She would still work the nectar maker, relying on Gabe and her mothers to help, temporarily, with the garden. She had begun to show her motherhow to work the nectar maker. She smiled to herself as she remembered the giggles, so much like a little girls, that escaped her mother as the fruitsquished between her toes. It had reminded her of the first time she had done it in Elliots Nectary in France.
She sighed to herself, wishing she was there now with Gabe. She wished she could do more than talk to him on the phone at night. She wished hewere home with her now; that he was working beside her in their garden, that he was here to rub and sooth her aching back, that he was their at nightbeside her caressing her skin, kissing her mouth. A different kind of sigh escaped her as she dwelled on that last thought.One more day. she thought. One more day and he would be home again. He had returned to France a week ago to put his affairs in order beforepermanently relocating to Riverview. They would go back and visit often, together as a family. Dawn absently rubbed her belly. She felt a slightflutter as the baby moved inside of her. She was in awe about how much she already loved it.She was so lucky she had found Gabe. Now she truly knew what love could be between two people. She didnt doubt that he would love this babyany less because it technically wasnt his. Not many men would be willing to marry an unwed mother and raise another mans child as their own, butGabe was. Soon they would be a family.
Her brief affair with Don Lothario had resulted in a pregnancy that she had initially been so unhappy about. She was angry and ashamed of herselffor letting Dons charms blind her to the kind of man he really was. A man who had no respect for women, a man who used them and cast them asideas soon as he was done with them. If she had married him, her life would have been miserable. A man like that was incapable of being a loving,faithful husband.Don had pretty much left them alone after her fathers death. Gabe and her brothers seemed to think he had finally realized that he and Dawn, despitewhatever reason he had for wanting to, would never marry. They seemed to be right. The few times she had seen Don since her fathers funeral, hisface had been unreadable, almost blank. He had worked amicably with them about discussing custody, visitation and support . He had come to thedoctors with them for the 20 week ultrasound as well. Unfortunately the baby wasnt in a good position to determine the sex. Gabe never left heralone with him. She was happy about that because although she couldnt explain it to Gabe, she felt a sense of underlying danger, despite Dons calm,almost cold demeanor.
She worked competently for another hour in her garden, weeding, fertilizing and harvesting. Finally, when her muscles screamed in protest she wasforced to call it a day. She waddled into the bathroom and turned on the bathtub before she removed her soiled clothes, covered in dirt and sweat,clung to her skin like they were painted on. She didnt get out until the water turned tepid.Dawn went into her bedroom and put on some clean clothes. She had finally broke down and bought a pair of maternity jeans. The elastic band at thewaist was supposed to stretch over her ever increasing tummy. As soon as she was dressed she heard a banging at the door. She was tempted toignore it, but Gabe had been sending some of his things home via the mail and if this was another package she didnt want it sitting outsideunattended.
She opened the door and came face to face with a very dangerous man."Hello Dawn. We have to talk."He was no longer blank and unreadable; there was an angry, demented look about him. She could tell from his eyes that he had finally snapped. Shetried to keep her breathing calm as her heart began to race. She wondered if she could close and lock the door behind her before he could stopher...she doubted it. All she could do was try and calm him down long enough for her mother to get home from work."Okay Don. Lets talk.""May I come in?" he asked, very politely.She did not want to let him inside. Once again she debated trying to shut the door on him, locking herself inside the safety of her home. Don took herchoice away from her by walking towards her and slowly backing her into the house. He motioned for her to sit down. She made sure to pick a seat
with a direct path to her bedroom. If worst came to worst she would try getting to her bedroom and locking the door. She would use her cell phone tocall for help.She watched him pace the room. He reminded her of the caged panther she had seen at the zoo, dangerous if cornered. She feared for her safety andthe safety of the child growing inside of her. She watched him for several minutes. He hadnt said a word and she wondered if maybe she should saysomething, anything. Maybe she could remind the crazed man pacing in front of her that she was carrying a child, his child. She hoped he caredenough bout that to not want to hurt her."I have another doctors appointment tomorrow. Would you like to come? Maybe the doctor will be able to tell if its a boy or a girl."
He didnt stop his pacing or acknowledge she had spoken at all. She glanced down the hall, wondering if she should make a break for it. When shehad finally decided to risk it, he spoke."I’m being invited to see my own child, Dawn? You seem to have had your thinking turned around by this French piece of shit. Hes too lame to findhis own woman to make a family with, so he thinks he can take mine. I let him get away with that thinking at your fathers funeral, out of respect foryour loss, but he’s not here now, is he, Dawn?"“He…he’s due back…any minute now! I..I..think you need to go now, Don.”“Are you listening to me? You’re my woman, this is my family. No one makes a fool of me and takes what’s mine; no one. If that weak excuse of aman was here, I’d teach him that lesson, but for now, I’m going to teach you.”
Dawn didnt know what Don had planned, but whatever it was couldnt be good. Her brain screamed for her to get out of there, but a part of her knewif she couldnt get away and he caught her, it would be much worse."You, Dawn, are to go to your room and pack your things" he said resuming his pacing. "Youll leave a note for your mother, who I know you dontexpect back for several hours, telling her that you and I are getting married and going on our honeymoon. Tell her youll call her whenever you get achance."Fear gripped her when she realized he had planned to kidnap her.
He sensed her fear and it excited him. She would come to understand that what she had done to him, betrayed him, humiliated him, everything shedid had consequences and she would learn her lesson well. The controlled rage and her fear excited him. He adjusted himself as he though about howDawns instruction would begin soon."When you finally learned your lesson, when you fully know who it is you belong to, we are going to the courthouse to get married. If you show anysigns of displeasure, you will be punished, do you understand me?"Dawn looked up and him and said nothing."If you rebel against me Ill make sure someone thats important to you gets hurt. Maybe your mother will have an accident next time shes outhanging the laundry all alone. I can make that happen Dawn."Dawn just sat there. She was sure her fear was written all over her face. What was she going to do?"Or maybe one of your brothers has an accident at work...anything is possible."He continued to pace letting his words sink in. "After our wedding, you will call your so called fiancé, Don said making air quotes in the air, "andtell him he can stay where he is. That you dont want him because the baby youre carrying already has a father. That you dont love him, that youlove me. Only me!"
His rant had a controlled fury to it that sent ice down Dawns spine. He didnt yell, or scream. She knew he had been planning this for awhile now.She could only hope he would make some mistake and she could get away from him."Were going to move away from Riverview and your meddling family Dawn. You and that baby belong to me, do you understand?"Suddenly, deep inside Dawn, a fire started to burn. There was no way, not now that she had found the man she loved, the man that loved her backunconditionally, regardless of her past; there was no way she going to give it up without a fight. Don was pacing several feet away from her. Hedidnt seem to require an answer to his question. He seemed like he was having some kind of inner debate, or struggle. Maybe he was just going overthe steps to his crazy plan. If she was going to run, now would be the time to do it, when his mind was distracted and he wasnt fully watching her.
She stood up quickly, despite her increased form, and ran as fast as she could down the hallway towards her bedroom. She was going to close andlock the door and try and wedge it shut with a chair. That should keep him out long enough for her to call for help.
Once inside her room, she turned to grasp the door and saw him running towards her. She didnt hesitate and slammed the door. It was inches fromclosing when Dons foot appeared inside to stop it."You shouldnt have done that, Dawn." His voice was icy cold, but she could tell from his face that his anger was at a boiling point. "You are donerunning away from me." He pushed his way inside. She backed away from him, more afraid then she had ever been in her life. What would he do?He could do anything to her now because no one was coming, no one could help her now.
"Don, I...""Shut up!" he screamed at her.Dons fury was at its peak! The anger inside of him twisted into a perverted sexual thrill. The adrenaline was pumping and he was rock hard. Shedidnt understand yet that she was his... he was going to show her now."Take off your clothes" he commanded, the icy control returning to him. He took pleasure in the look of fear on her face when she realized what hewas about to do to her. This would not be a gentle introduction to love making she had experienced before.
She shook her head no and he strode towards her and slapped her hard across her face. She stumbled backwards from the force of it, tears fell fromher eyes and her face stung, beginning to swell where his hand made contact."Take...off...your...clothes."She felt impotent. If she continued to fight him, he was liable to hurt her further. She already knew, from her brief glimpse of him and Juanita, that heenjoyed inflicting pain. She didnt want to risk her safety, or the safety of her baby. Filled with fear and the feeling of hopelessness, she gave up herfight.
Through her sobs she slowly removed her clothes. Her only hope was to do what he wanted and pray, someone, anyone would come to rescue her.Maybe her mom would come home early, or one of her brothers would come check on her like they did occasionally since she got home. She knewGabe wasnt coming because he was thousands of miles away in Champs Les Sims.
She closed her eyes as she undressed, imagining herself riding through the small village in France. Her home away from home. She saw the beautifulold buildings that held so much history. She could spend a lifetime there and never discover all its secrets.
She stood naked in front of Don, her eyes still closed, streaming down her face. She heard rustling around her and knew Don was removing hisclothes as well. Fresh sobs escaped her as she felt him walk closer to her.
Her mind returned to Champs Les Sims, to the nectary nestled up to the hillside. The smell of the damp earth filled her nostrils. She wanted to bethere now, her hands buried in the dirt, tending the grape vines, harvesting the fruit. She saw the face of her friend Elliot as they sat near the fire,talking and laughing.
She shook with grief as she felt Dons hands pawing her. He roughly squeezed her breasts, leaving red marks behind. He was breathing hard and shecould feel his excitement when he pulled her towards him. She didnt try and stop her tears; she once again tried to remove her mind from thesituation and go back to a happier time and place. It was hard to separate her mind from reality when Don was pushing her onto the bed roughly, histongue invading her mouth.
He was heavy on top of her and he was putting strain on her belly. She tried to adjust and he growled into her ear to stop moving, his handscontinuing their detestable journey over her body."The baby" she whispered, hoping hed understand.Don lifted some of his weight off of her and she was relieved that he didnt wish to harm his child. She once again tried to disconnect her mind fromthe abhorrent situation she had no control to stop.
She pictured the small cafe where she loved to spend hours reading, eating wonderful food, or just sitting watching the people of the town she grewto love; watching the children play in the fountain, trying to cool themselves down on a hot summer day.She felt Dons hand run down over the hair at the apex of her legs. She lost all hope, no one was going to help her now. She heard Dons low, gutturalgrowl when he discovered her.
"Youre crying, my love, but your body likes what Im doing to it" he said as he continued to move his hands roughly over her. "Admit that you wantme as muchas I want you. Say that you are mine."
The cafe was where she first met Gabe. He filled her mind and great sobs wrecked her body, a new wave of tears feel from her eyes, as she realizedshe might never see him again."No!" she screamed.
Fight him! a voice in her head screamed. Fight him!She began to kick her legs. She would not let him take her. She didnt belong to him, she didnt belong to anyone!"Stop fighting me!" he yelled, trying to pin her legs between his own.She rocked her body back and forth, flailing her arms, lifting her legs. So what if it was only inches. She wouldnt lay there and let him violate her,she was going to fight!He pushed her down hard on the bed, once again slapping her face, but she keep fighting."You cant have me!" she screamed. "I dont love you, you monster! I love Gabe! I am going to marry Gabe and we are going to spend the rest of ourlives together!"
Her rebellious speech enraged Don. He stood up, picked her up off the bed and threw her, face down, onto the bed. She continued to struggle.kicking, clawing, anything she could, as he laid on top of her. He tried to pry her legs apart, but she fought him."Get off of me, you monster! You cant have me! I love Gabe!""Stop or Ill kill you!" Don whispered in her ear. "If I cant have you, no one can."She kept fighting, screaming for him to get off of her. Suddenly his weigh was no longer pinning her down. She quickly turned over onto the bed andsaw that Gabe had pulled Don off of her.
"Gabe!" she exclaimed. She couldnt believe it! It was a miracle! Her senses came back to her and she sprinted to the phone."Yes, theres a man in my house; he tried to rape me! My fiancé is fighting him off, please come help!"She turned her attention back to the fight. She unplugged the lamp from the bedside table and ran towards them."You wont hurt him!" she shrieked as she brought it down hard on Dons head.
Dawn sat up with a start, her breathing was fast and her nightshirt was plastered to her, soaked with sweat. It was dark outside and Gabe was sleepingnext to her."Just a dream!" she whispered.Gabe stirred in the bed next to her. "Are you okay?" he asked."It was just a bad dream." she breathed out, trying to steady her breathing."It must have been pretty bad Dawn, youre white as a ghost.Dawn nodded her head. It had been pretty bad. "I dreamed my Dad died while I was away in France."
Gabe got out of the bed and embraced his wife. "Are you okay?"She nodded her head yes. "Theres more.""Do you want to talk about it. It might help you calm down if you tell me."
"It was pretty bad. Don turned violent when he met you at my dads funeral. You had to go back to France. While you were gone he tried to rape mewhile I was still pregnant with Dante."Gabe was right of course; talking about it helped a bit. Now that her body realized the whole thing was a dream her legs werent shaking as much, andshe could breath normal."Are you feeling better?" Gabe asked her, kissing her mouth softly."Yes, but it was horrible, Don was such a monster. But it was all a dream."Gabe rubbed Dawns arms, relieved that she was calm and that color had returned to her face."Come back to bed" he gently urged."Im going to go check on the kids first."
She walked down the hall and went into the first door on the right. Her eldest son Dante was sleeping soundly; most likely dreaming about how hewas going to make it big one day. He was a lot like Don, charismatic, athletic and a bit of a slob. Despite his inability to put his dirty clothes insidethe hamper, Dante had a certain quality to him and she knew he would achieve his life goal to be rich and famous one day.
Her middle son, Dax, slept in the bed across the room. He was the spitting image of Gabe. He had a lucky streak, like his father. Dax wasnt afraid ofanything. Hed march right into any situation and then promptly forget why he was there in the first place.She silently closed the door and went to check on her youngest.
Daphne was the baby. She was still young, but everyone could already tell she was just as fearless as her older brother Dax. Gabe was sure she was agenius since she learned all her skills very quickly.Dawn leaned over and stroked her daughters hair and whispered Sweet dreams before she headed back to her own room.