Dale dressed Alissa and picked her up into his arms. He held her close, hoping that it was nothing serious. When it came to her, his medical training flew out the window and his emotions clouded his thinking. He carried her out through a side door of the hotel to the car. He tried to respect her wish for privacy and used a side entrance at the hospital too.
The doctor asked Dale to leave the room. Dale leaned over and kissed Alissa, and then he left to wait in the hallway.
“What do you mean?” Alissa asked.
“Was it the young man who brought you here?” He asked.
“Of course it wasn’t Dale. He would never ever hurt me in any way!”
“By your choice of words, I can tell that you have convinced yourself that this other man did not intend to harm you! There is no way that your injuries were unintentional. Has he ever done this before or harmed you in some other way?”
“That is a common statement from victims of abuse. I warn you, the first time is always the hardest for the abuser. After this it becomes easy for him! Is the young man who brought you in your husband?”
“Does he know about this other man?” The doctor asked her.
“Yes. He knows.”
“Mr. Stallworth, I have advised your wife that statistics show that once the abuse begins it escalates. I strongly advise that a police report be filed and that she cut contact with the abuser!”
“I can’t do that to him, Dale. I’m already hurting him! His life would be ruined if I did that!” The shot that the doctor had given her was beginning to make her feel drowsy. She just wanted to go back to the hotel and go to sleep.
Dale didn’t care about Alex’s life! Alex didn’t care about Alissa’s well-being, but Dale knew that there was no point in continuing to try to persuade her. However, Alex would never lay his hands on her again! They filled Alissa’s prescription, and Dale took her back to the hotel.
Dale had called Sharlee from the hospital to let her know that Alissa was okay. She was asleep when they returned to the hotel. The doctor instructed that Alissa stay off her feet for the next twenty four hours. She could return to normal activity in three days.
The next morning, Sharlee dropped Cara and Shawn off at school and then went to class herself. She was taking an early release from classes so that she could stay with her mother while Dale was at the hospital.
Alissa insisted that she would be fine alone, but Dale refused to leave her alone. She spent the time on her laptop looking for houses for rent and researching information for her next story at work. She found two houses that she thought would work for them.
Dale and the twins went to the airport to pick up his father. It was unnerving to meet a man who he knew to be his father, but of whom he had no memories. When Cara and Shawn ran to greet an older man to whom he bore a striking resemblance, Dale knew that he had to be his father.
Robert walked over to Dale. He was not normally an emotional man but he couldn’t stop the tears from sliding from his eyes as he looked at his youngest son. He could see in Dale’s eyes that Dale did not remember him. However, that didn’t stop him from grabbing Dale and holding him tightly.
Dale felt uncomfortable, but he didn’t pull away.
They went back to the hotel. Robert was happy to see Sharlee too. It had been more than six months since he had last seen his grandchildren. Sharlee greeted Robert with a hug and then she left the room to change for dinner.
“So, how have you been, Alissa?”
“I’m happier than I’ve been over the past few years!” She responded while looking at Dale.
I hope that we can all regain the close relationship that we had before and not just because Dale is back. We’ve felt this way for a while, but Alex wouldn’t let us back in your lives. I don’t know how much good my coming will do. Alex hasn’t cared about anything that I’ve had to say for years! Although he is the eldest, he somehow began to feel that we favored, Dale.”
Alissa knew that it would not be that easy for her to forgive Valerie’s accusations. She would have to hear Valerie herself apologize before she believed that Valerie was truly sorry. Although he said it was not the reason, she wondered if this change of attitude was really because Dale was back and he wanted contact with Dale and the children. Robert’s smile at her had not quite reached his eyes.
Robert noticed that Alissa wasn’t up and around like everyone else. “Are you ill?”
“It’s not anything serious! I was hurt accidentally, and I just have to take it easy for a few days.”
Neither Dale nor Alissa said anything in response.
“Let me get settled into my room and then we can go out to dinner. Has anyone called Alex?”
Alissa looked at the floor.
“Are we going to eat dinner soon?”
“Yes, in just a little while.” Dale answered. Then he went over to Alissa.
They had decided to eat at the hotel restaurant.
“Robert, why don’t you call Alex?”
Alissa dialed his number and handed the phone to Robert. Then she and Dale changed clothing for dinner.
Alex was pleasantly surprised to see Alissa’s number on the caller ID. He was shocked to hear his father’s voice. He agreed to meet them at the hotel for dinner.
“Alissa, I’m not willing to take a chance on you having a setback just for dinner. So either I’m carrying you, or you can stay here. You know I’m right, don’t you?”
Alissa hadn’t wanted to admit it, but she didn’t feel like going. She didn’t know if she was ready to see Alex this soon after what he had done to her. However, she felt like she needed to be there too.
“Dale everyone will stare!”
A look of displeasure came to Dale’s face as Alex approached their table. Alex walked over to Alissa and leaned over and kissed her. Not a soft peck, but a real kiss. Dale started to stand up, and Alissa waved him away because of the children. She didn’t want an embarrassing scene that would upset them. Alex knew she would feel that way and caused a scene by dragging out the kiss.
When Alex finished, he looked at Dale triumphantly and went to greet his father.
Robert saw all of this, including Dale and Alissa’s obvious joy in being together again. He felt that they needed to spend some time alone to reconnect and wondered if they would agree to letting he and Valerie take care of the children for a few days.
There wasn’t very much conversation. After the children were finished eating, Robert said, “Dale why don’t you get Alissa and the kids settled upstairs and then join Alex and me in my room? I’ll take care of the bill.”
As he left the table with Alissa in his arms, Alex stared at him, fuming inside.
Alissa nuzzled her head against Dale, and he thought of how delicate, how vulnerable she was; of how much he loved her. It infuriated him that Alex could even have thought of hurting her. He didn’t stay in their suite for long after dropping off Alissa and the children.
“It’s not that he’s mad at your Dad. He is just having a hard time getting used to the fact that we are going to be living with Daddy now and not with him.”
“He sure looked mad!” Sean said.
“I know it’s not easy to understand, but sometimes adults don’t behave the way that they should. Alex wants things to go back to the way they were before your Dad came back, but they can’t. I don’t want them to. We’re going to be with your Dad. Please don’t worry! Everything will be okay. Your Dad, and I will make sure of it!”
Even though Alissa had tried to reassure them, Sharlee wasn’t so sure that everything would be okay. She had seen the cold hatred in Alex’s eyes as he had looked at her father, and the way that he looked at her mother. He still felt that her mother belonged with him.
Alex and Dale both stopped and looked at their father. Alex smirked. He knew that his parents believed that he and Alissa had been seeing each other even before Dale’s supposed death.
“There may not be much that I remember, but I do remember Alissa. I know that she never cheated on me and never would. She is not a loose woman. Let me make one thing clear. I don’t know you people! I feel no ties to you, and I’d have no problem never laying eyes on you again! So telling me that he is my brother, your son, is not going to stop me from giving him the beating that he deserves after hurting Alissa the way that he did!”
“I should have known that you’d waste no time telling Dad about what happened. Didn’t she tell you that it was consensual? I didn’t do anything that she didn’t want me to do! You bore her in bed, Dale. With me, she’s adventurous. She likes to try new things!”
Dale tried to get to him again and Robert stopped him.
Alex didn’t say anything. He just looked at them both contemptuously.
“You both claim to love Alissa. Well this is your chance to show how much! Dale you say that you feel no ties to me or to Alex, but Alissa knows that Alex is your brother. How do you think it makes her feel to know that she is the cause of the rift between the two of you?”
“Alex! You are Dale’s older brother whether you want to acknowledge that fact or not. You remember the way that he used to look up to you and tried to copy everything that you did. You always used to look out for him. That didn’t change until Alissa came along. You both fell in love with the same woman. She must be very special to have captured both of your hearts in the way in which she has.”
“If either one of you harms the other, how do you think that will make Alissa feel? She will feel responsible. If one of you ends up in jail because of it, how do you think she will feel? The guilt would eat away at her. Have you thought that maybe then she won’t want to have anything to do with either of you?”
“And you, Dale. There is not just Alissa to think about. You have three children! Think about how your actions will effect them! They also love both you and Alex. They would not want either of you harmed. Alex and Dale, you both have to forget about your own selfish needs!”
Dale was really thinking about what his father said. He was finding it difficult not to put his hands around Alex’s neck and squeeze the life out of him, but for his family he would not do it. At least for now, he would not do it.
Alex had barely been listening to his father. He had developed a plan for what he realized that he really wanted. He had to leave on an assignment the following morning. When he returned, he would put his plan into action.