Gavin let out a long breath. “Wow, Red. You said a mouthful just then.”
“I know and it’s all true. Every distressing bit of it.” She sniffed back tears. “You must think I’m a tramp, too. After all, I slept with you on the first night and I barely knew anything about you.” She knew a lot of things about him now. He even shared things about his family over breakfast.
“If you are a tramp, then I must be one, too,” Gavin replied. “Because I was right there in the trenches with you, baby.” He lowered his voice and added, “And I enjoyed every second of our time together.”
Ruby felt heat surge through her body at his sexy rumble. Her tears instantly dried. “I did, too, but that’s beside the point now,” she replied, trying to stay focused. He was making it harder to cut ties with him by bringing up their night together and by behaving so nonjudgmental about her past. He acted as if nothing she’d shared had lessened his desire for her one iota.
“On the contrary, that’s the main point as far as I’m concerned,” Gavin replied. “But I’ll talk about that later. Right now, I want to talk about this sex video you made it college. Was it with an old boyfriend?”
“An old girlfriend?”
“No! I’m wild, but I do have some boundaries,” Ruby replied vehemently.
“Sorry for offending you with that question, but this information is extremely important to the plan that I’m forming in my mind.”
“No need to apologize,” she said, feeling instantly convicted. “After all, it’s not like I never questioned your sexual preferences before.”
“True.” Gavin chuckled. The sound of his laughter helped lighten the mood if only for a little while.
“As for that video, I was basically filmed having sex with myself. I was so drunk that night that I barely remember much about the experience beyond taking off my clothes for the camera. Although I do recall telling some spiked-haired jerk that I would not be having sex with him under any circumstances afterwards. I only remember that part because on my way off the tour bus he refused to give me the t-shirt and hat that they promised me for my little performance. When I woke up the next morning, some woman named Mandi had dropped off a whole box of t-shirts outside my dorm room door and a copy of the waiver form I’d signed. I knew then I’d done something crazy. My signature on that waiver confirmed my foolishness.”
As the mood quickly darkened again, Gavin balled his hands into fists at his sides. How many other young college women had been preyed upon while they were intoxicated? How many had signed similar waivers that protected the company making the video against future lawsuits and not the women featured in the videos?
Yes, some of those girls were still able to file and win lawsuits when they revealed that they were underage with fake I.D.’s at the time of the filming. But what about the girls like Ruby who were of legal age at the time and yet still didn’t know what they were doing?
However, those would not be the questions Gavin asked Ruby when he spoke again. “How did your family learn about the video?”
“My ex high school boyfriend saw my half-naked image on a copy, bought it and showed it to my father. Probably after he watched it himself, the sick and extremely boring jerk!” Ruby scoffed.
“Why would he do something like that? To pay you back for breaking up with him?” Gavin wanted to break the unknown man’s neck.
“That and the fact that I turned down both of his marriage proposals. Logan paid me back all right. My father had a heart attack right after seeing my face on the cover of that video.”
Gavin let out a rush of expletives. Most were aimed at the sick man that would show a woman’s father pornographic images of her out of revenge. A man that would try to destroy everything that was dear to his ex-girlfriend never really loved her in the first place. At least not unconditionally. Whoever this Logan guy was, was the sorest of losers.
Ruby smiled, despite her distress. Gavin’s anger at the situation made her feel better somehow. “Because of what Logan did, I ended up having to leave school a couple months shy of graduation. I’ve been trying to make it up to my family ever since. Which is why I’m still working in my father’s shop, still trapped in this town even though I’ve tripled our company’s business since I got back and have enough money saved to buy a first-class ticket to anywhere in the world,” she concluded, glad that she’d shared her secrets with him even if they didn’t change the fact that they couldn’t be together.
Or had they changed everything?
In the midst of his angry tirade Gavin realized a few things. One, that no sex video and no lie told in the heat of the moment would stop him from keeping Ruby in his life. Two, that even if he wasn’t already in love with her, the fact that she could make him howl like a coyote was enough to keep her around for a while if not at his side forever.
After taking a deep breath to calm down, Gavin asked Ruby a very important question. “If you had the freedom to leave Blue-eyed Hollow without a touch of guilt, what would you do with your life?”
“I’d explore a career in film,” Ruby said without hesitation. “Not in front of the camera, mind you. Behind it. Possibly even sign up for another documentary like the one I participated in during college. That project was so fulfilling that I declared a double major.”
“Did you ever complete your degrees?”
“My business degree, yes. My degree in cinematography is still incomplete. That particular degree requires me to go to an actual brick and mortar institution for certain classes. And that just isn’t possible with my work schedule and family obligations.”
“I’d like to help you complete your second degree and fulfill your cinematography dream,” Gavin announced.
“How?” Ruby sat upright on the bed. Intrigue made the fine hairs on the back of her neck stand up. Did this have something to do with the plan he alluded to earlier? If so, how was he going to bring that plan to pass?
“By marrying you for real,” Gavin said resolutely.
(c) 2014 by Mi'Chelle Dodson/Suprina Frazier
(c) 2014 by Mi'Chelle Dodson/Suprina Frazier