“So when you grabbed my ass, I did freak, but not because of you,” I explained. “You can see the old marks, but the wounds on my soul are a lot worse. My uncle molested me, Jett. And every time he did it, he beat me because he said it was all my fault. I’ve started to understand that he wasn’t really beating me; he was whipping his own demons. It started in grade school, and it just got worse. He seemed to have a thing about asses, and when he felt me up, it hurt, especially when I was younger.”
I let my dress fall, and I sat back down in my recliner, my face still flushed with embarrassment.
I reminded myself that it was his shame and not mine, but I was still trying to accept that completely.
“Tell me everything,” Jett growled.
I lowered my head as I picked up and played with the wine glass. I may not be able to look at Jett, but I was going to be completely honest with him. “I never told my parents. My uncle told me that my parents would lose everything if I told them. I wasn’t really old enough to understand that it would take more than half ownership of the business to ruin them. All I knew back then was that I was terrified something would happen to my family. As I got older, I guess I was programmed to believe him.”
“Jesus Christ!” Jett exploded. “How could that happen when your parents were around?”
“When they were alive, it only happened when he could get me alone with him, and I tried to never let that happen. But since my parents didn’t know, and my uncle was our only close relative besides my grandmother, I ended up alone with him occasionally. Sometimes, he didn’t have the opportunity for months. But it didn’t matter because he always had control. I was always afraid of the next time.”
“No kid should ever have to live like that,” he rasped. “What happened after your parents died, Ruby?” he asked in a graveled voice.
I shuddered as I remembered the event that had forced me to leave. “He started going beyond just touching after my parents were gone. I finally had to leave because he tried to rape me, Jett. I got away, but I knew I could never go back.”
I saw a tear drop onto my dress, and when I lifted my hand to my face, I realized it was drenched with tears. I’d thought I was all cried out from baring everything in counseling the last several weeks. Apparently, I was wrong.
“Did you talk to Annette about all this?” Jett asked.
“Not at first. But I eventually talked it all out with her. It’s not an easy thing to share with anybody. You and Dr. Romain are the only ones who know.”
I could see Jett move out of the corner of my eye, so I wasn’t surprised when I heard his calming voice above me. “Look at me, Ruby,” he requested in a persuasive tone.
I tossed my hair back and tilted my head to finally look at his face. His expression was a myriad of emotions, from concern to fury.
He held out his hand, and I took it without hesitation. He pulled me to my feet, his eyes never leaving my face.
“I want to touch you, but I won’t if you don’t want me to,” he said in a steady tone.
I more than wanted it; I craved it.
I put my arms around his neck. “I’ve never not wanted you,” I confessed. “Promise me that whatever happens, you’ll know it’s not about you. I have a lot of baggage that I’m carrying, and it’s going to take time to figure it all out.”
“I get that now,” he said with regret. “I was just too damn involved in my own disappointment to see your fear for what it is. That won’t happen again.”
I lay my head on his shoulder as he ran a soothing hand up and down my back. “I missed this. I missed feeling you close to me so much,” I whispered. “I feel so many things when I’m with you, and I want so much. But then my demons took over, and I pushed you away. And I wasn’t sure how to talk about it until I figured things out with Annette.”
“I should have given you that time,” he said.
“You didn’t know,” I said simply.
“What do you feel now?” he asked.
“I ache, Jett. I want so much more, but I’m not sure how to ask for it. Everything was so confusing. I didn’t think I wanted anybody to touch me, but I want…you. I don’t know if you feel the same way.”