Generation 5, Chapter 5

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I don’t usually share my encounters with Tavish and Pia about all the stuff that happens between a girl and I, but today I kind of needed to. It’s been a little over a month, I think, since my big fuck-up at the dock with Riley, but ever since then, I’ve been doing a lot better. I was relieved to learn that she really didn’t care about what I did because we’ve hung out about six or seven more times since then and the time with her all of those days were fun and never awkward. She forgave and forgot, even though I hadn’t forgotten it, but it’s still been pretty okay, none the less. I haven’t tried anything with her, other than making out, since the dock, so I think I’m doing pretty good..? I guess the only reason I was with Tavish now talking about Riley was because we’re not moving fast at all, we’re not even moving at a normal pace.. Then again, I don’t really know what a ‘normal’ pace is anymore when it comes to dating someone, but this just seemed to be a little too slow for me.. We were getting nowhere and I couldn’t help but blame myself.. Was there something about me that she didn’t like?

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“You two haven’t fucked yet?” Tavish asked, his tone at an absolute disbelief and I shook my head as I stared up at his ceiling.

“Nope.”

“How long have you been seeing one another?” He wondered next.

“A month, I think, maybe more,” I guessed.

“Damn.. Why haven’t you done it yet?”

“I don’t know.. She just says that she’s not ready,” I didn’t know how else to put it.

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“What’s she waiting for?”

“How the hell should I know?”

“You haven’t asked?”

“What, to have sex with her?”

“No, dumbass, why she won’t have sex with you,” he continued his questioning and I felt like a patient talking to their shrink, except this shrink liked to give me tough love.. But, I guess that’s what friends are sometimes, right? A shrink that’ll tell you how it is straight up with no sugar coating?

“No..? Why would I ask that? If I did, it would just make me look like I’m getting impatient and trying to rush her or that I’m bored or something..”

“Well, aren’t you impatient?”

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“Yeah, I’m impatient as fuck, but I’m not going to rush her if she doesn’t want to. I’ve learned my lesson once already and I felt like shit because of it,” I referred back to a month ago when I tried to touch her at the dock and she freaked out, “Well, I mean, she does want to, just not yet, and I don’t know when,” I added to my explanation as I sat up and he looked at me curiously for a moment, even slightly impressed, perhaps.

“She’s told you that?”

“Yeah. She said she does want to do stuff like that with me, just not yet,” I repeated for the hundredth time it seemed.

“Wait, wait, wait.. Stuff? As in more than just sex? As in you haven’t hit any of the other bases?”

“Nope.. None of it.. We’ve only made out,” I answered and I heard him let out a heavy sigh.

“Damn.. Have you even touched her boobs yet? Please, tell me you’ve at least done that,” he nearly begged, a pathetic laugh that I couldn’t control escaping me and it was as if my body felt sorry for itself because of my lack of control to keep that laugh in.

“Not that, either,” even now, just listening to myself, it sounded like one big joke and I wanted to laugh along with Tavish and say ‘just kidding’ to all of it, but.. I couldn’t. It was just as sad as it sounded..

“Man.. How are you even alive right now? How fuckin’ backed up are you?” He asked rhetorically, no doubt teasing me and I chuckled softly, “Are you sure she’s not a virgin?” Tav suggested, my expression going from amused to focused, even slight shock, and I thought about it for a long moment..

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“No.. No way.. She couldn’t be,” I tried to wrap my mind around it and Tavish shrugged as he played with the rubix cube he stole from my room.

“Why is that so strange? She’s acting like she is, so maybe it’s true? I mean, it seems like she is the more and more we talk about it.. Think about where she was raised, too.. In the middle of the Bible Belt in a super small town, raised to be a proper lady, probably went to church every Sunday,” he gave examples, but I was skeptical.

“I don’t know, man, that just doesn’t seem right.. She was raised on a farm, so what makes you say that?”

“Well, look at AnneMarie.. She’s, like, the epitome of the perfect southern belle and Riley was raised practically the same way in the same town and everything. I wouldn’t be surprised if they even made a pact with one another to save themselves for marriage and even get pregnant at the same time so their babies can grow up together like they did,” he explained and I chuckled again as I rolled my eyes.

“That’s quite the assumption you thought up,” I replied and Tav laughed softly, “And AnneMarie didn’t grow up on a farm like Riley did, she was in pageants and all that crap.. I know AnneMarie is a virgin because Niko’s never mentioned doing that with her yet.”

“Well, your brother is a gentleman and lot more subtle than you are.. They’ve been together for ten years and you really believe they haven’t had sex yet?” Tavish added with a grin and I glanced down at my chest as I thought about it..

“I guess that’s true,” I couldn’t help but agree, which then made me think how my brother and I were maybe slowly growing apart, if he hasn’t shared something like that with me yet, and I grew sad momentarily for a different reason than the no-sex-with-Riley talk.

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“Okay.. For shits a giggles then, let’s say that she’s not a virgin and she’s just trying to see if you’re worth it, or committed enough. Maybe she’s waiting for something that you haven’t shown her yet and you just have no idea what that is, so you gotta figure it out.. I mean, let’s face it, though, you’re not exactly the greatest example of ‘committed’.. But, regardless, my money’s on virgin,” Tavish put simply with a shrug of his shoulders and I was starting to not like how Tavish could be right.. If Riley was a virgin, who knows how long I’ll have to wait.. What if I have to marry her in order to finally get there?

..No, not happening.

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“..There’s gotta be a way to find out for sure,” I said out loud to myself and I sat up more and looked to Tav when he snickered at me.

“Yeah, there is.. One, ask her, but that’s a little too blunt.. Two, finally have sex with her and see if it hurts her or something, then you’ll know if she was a virgin. Or three, just wait for things to get a little more serious and see if she admits it.. Or just, I dunno, there’s always option four.. Wait until she’s ready and pounces on you or something because even she can’t hold out anymore,” he answered and I gave him a bored expression.

“That’s not helping.. I just want to know without asking or waiting, I want her to tell me why she doesn’t want to, or why she’s not ready.. I don’t care if it has to do with an ex or if she’s waiting for marriage or whatever the fuck it is, I just want to know. This shit’s starting to drive me crazy.”

“And it’s only driving you crazy because you haven’t gotten off in over a month,” he teased and I fake cried.

“It truly is sad, isn’t it?” I asked rhetorically and he chuckled.

“But, really, Luca, it’s not that big of a deal to where you need to get so wound up about it.. I don’t know what you want me to say, man.. You can either be patient and wait for her to be ready, or you can find someone else who’s ready to get down and dirty a little quicker,” he suggested.

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“..You don’t think I have the guts to wait, do you?” I challenged and he laughed.

Hell no.”

“Fuck you, I can be patient,” I blew him off and he laughed harder.

“Ha! Since when?!”

“Since always!”

“Hmm.. I guess you were patient enough to find the right girl to date after seven years of boycotting dating, so there’s one example.. Got anymore?”

Double fuck you,” I answered with a smirk and he snickered again. He really did love to mess with me, but I guess I always had it coming..

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This whole situation perplexed me. I couldn’t understand why she didn’t want to have sex, or did she just not want to have sex with me? Was there something about me that she didn’t like or wasn’t too sure about yet? Or was it all really simple and she didn’t have any reason why she wasn’t ready yet? I used to like simple, the easy kind of simple, but Riley wasn’t that type at all and I was having a hard time accepting and understanding it. I looked to Tavish who was still playing with the rubix cube, but when I looked passed him towards his computer, ideas started to come to me and I wondered if he would be up for doing me a favor..

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“..You in the mood to do a little cyber-exploring for me?” I asked and Tavish stopped playing around with the rubix cube to look at me.

“..Excuse me?”

“You know.. Hack some shit or whatever it is that you do.. Find out what you can about her,” I suggested.

“..Cyber exploring?” He said with a smile, clearly making fun of me.

“Fuck off, you know what I meant.”

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“Are you really asking me to hack into her Facebook? Her computer? Her medial records? Her bank statements? Just to find out if she’s a virgin or not?” With each example he gave, he sounded more and more excited and intrigued about it, but then again, the more he listed off, the more I wished I never said anything.

“No, not all of those things, just.. You know.. The medical stuff maybe? That’d be the easiest way to find out, right? Doctor’s visits and such?” I replied.

“Man.. I haven’t done something like that in a while,” he said with the same smirk on his lips, my brow raising in curiosity.

“Hey, listen.. Don’t go overboard, just look for the answer to this one question, or at least clues that point to it. Don’t invade her privacy too much,” I made clear and he nodded, but I couldn’t tell if he was agreeing to my words or nodding at himself and his own thoughts of whatever the hell he was going to do.

..I really shouldn’t have said anything at all, but there was no stopping him now.

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“You sure are desperate to figure this out, aren’t you?” He asked, but I ignored it.

“How long do you think it’ll take?”

“I dunno, man, I haven’t even started. It might take me a few hours, so just go get your dick sucked or something and come back later,” he blurted out and I chuckled.

“Yeah, right.. By who? Everyone that knows me knows by now that I’m with Riley, or seeing Riley, or.. I don’t even know what the hell we are,” I said at a slight loss, not even sure if we were anything at all.. Even my own words from my own mouth sounded as if being with Riley was a boring or bad thing.

“Are you guys even really dating if you’ve only made out a handful of times?” He pointed out, “I mean, have you taken her to dinner? Like, a romantic dinner? Or have you guys just been hanging out?”

“Our first date was dinner and drinks and stuff.. The second date was just us drinking at the dock.. All the other times after that just involved us hanging out and having fun. Nothing’s ever been extravagant or super romantic or anything,” I replied.

“Whatever you two have going on sounds like every other mild hookup that’s happened at a frat party where nothing matters and everyone’s just trying to have fun.. It doesn’t even sound like you guys are official or even an item. It just sounds like you guys are friends that make out sometimes..”

“..Yeah, I dunno.. Maybe,” I eventually agreed.

At this point, it really did just seem like we were friends that occasionally made out because we were bored.. Or maybe just because I was bored.. Or just.. I don’t know for sure anymore..

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“Look, I don’t care what you do, man, all’s I’m saying is that you have no idea how long this is going to take, you don’t even seem all that serious about Riley, anyways.. To me, it doesn’t even seem like you guys are anything official, so I don’t think you should feel bad for going out and having a little fun.. Give me a couple hours, I’m sure I’ll have something about her by tonight, then you can make up your own conclusion from whatever I find,” he seemed very sure of himself and I nodded.

“All right.. Thanks, man,” I replied and I left him to it, watching him wake up his computer and already hearing him typing away at his keyboard before I even left his bedroom. 

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I went downstairs and outside, getting into my car and driving the ten minutes it took to get to my parents house. I thought maybe my dad could help me out a little with this whole Riley situation, he usually always had good advice. I appreciated Tav’s advice, he made a lot of points that even I agreed with, but I wanted one more opinion on it before I go out and do something stupid.. I hadn’t been over to my parents place since Niko proposed to AnneMarie, so it’ll be nice popping by to see them. I’m sure they’ll be happy to see me, too, even though I usually didn’t look forward to it all that much, but that was only because my parents, mostly Pop, liked to get on my case about certain things and I hated hearing the same shit over and over again.. I guess it was still nice to see them despite the bullshit, though.

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I needed a different opinion and a different perspective. My dad’s been through this kind of stuff already, so has Pop’s, so I figured I’d get some real ‘dating’ advice from one of them because Tavish was like me and didn’t date that much, either. I liked Riley a lot and I wanted to be intimate with her, but if she’s not on the same page, or if she’s not as eager to do something like that with me, then what’s the point? I admit that I did make it seem like I wasn’t truly interested in her in front of Tavish, maybe that was a defense mechanism or something, but the truth is that I do like her, I want to do those things with her, I want her to be okay with it before we do things like that, but how long does she need? What was holding her back? I wanted to know if it was the classic “it’s not you, it’s me” bullshit, but in all truth, I really did want to know if it was her and not me.. I’d hate for me to be the reason on why she’s holding back on being intimate with me. I wanted to know if there was something I could do, something that I could change about myself in order to make myself better.. Better for her.

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When I pulled into the driveway, I only saw my dad’s car and no one else’s. Petra, Umiko and Jiro must be out with their friends and Pop must be at work. I turned my keys and the rumble of my engine stopped, getting out of my car and tucking my keys in my pocket before heading in. I was kind of glad that Pop’s wasn’t here and that I’d get a chance to talk to Dad because Pop’s would only make a huge deal about me finally seeing someone after this long, and I felt like Dad would actually let me talk, and most importantly, he’d listen. Pop’s would eventually get to that point after asking me a million questions, but I just really didn’t want to deal with that right now.

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I went inside and didn’t see anyone in the kitchen or the living room, so I went straight to my parents room and peaked in, seeing my dad lying in bed alone with his eyes shut and rubbing his face. He seemed exhausted and for a split second, I wondered if I should let him have his nap or if I should disturb him, but if he eventually found out I was here without saying hi to him, I knew he’d be a little peeved about it, so I disturbed him anyways.

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“Knock, knock,” I said softly with a smirk as I tapped my knuckles on the door frame, my dad looking up to see who was in the doorway and a bright smile riddled with love spread across his lips.

“Luca,” he said softly, standing from the bed and I met him half way and was pulled into his arms for a warm hug.

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“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to wake you,” I spoke as I continued to hug him and he rubbed my back in a comforting manner, as if he needed a good hug and I’d stay like this for as long as he wanted to.

“Oh, don’t worry about it.. It’s so good to see you,” he answered with a long inhale and letting it out in a pleased sigh.

“Yeah, you, too,” I replied.

“What made you drop by?” He asked, eventually letting me go and looking at me with the same smile on his lips.

“I came by to see you, actually,” I answered, Dad giving me a curious face, “I wanted to ask you some advice,” I continued and a smile replaced his curious expression.

“Oh, of course. Come over here, sit down,” he invited, taking my wrist gently and pulling me over to his bed and I sat next to him.

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“I’m glad to help you with anything.. What’s bothering you?” He asked, his tone full of immense love like it always was and he put his hand on my back to give me any extra comfort that I needed.

“Well, I-” I stopped for a moment, sighing softly before I continued, “I’ve been seeing someone..”

“Oh?” He seemed surprised, very surprised, but also happy, “For how long? What’s their name?”

“Before I go any further, can you not to tell Pop? I don’t want him to make a huge deal out of this,” I asked and he nodded.

“Yes, of course. You can tell him whenever you want to, if you want to,” he answered and I felt relief.

“Thanks,” I said with a brief smirk, “Her name’s Riley, she’s a friend of AnneMarie’s, and I’ve been seeing her for a little over a month now, I think..”

“Oh, AnneMarie’s Maid of Honor, right?” He asked and I confirmed with a nod, “And what’s the problem?” Dad wondered, giving me a welcoming smile that told me I could tell him anything in the world, good or bad, and he’d always love me, but it was a hard subject to bring up. I knew he wouldn’t think less of me, but I couldn’t find the right words to say what I wanted to without sounding like a huge pig. 

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“I.. I dunno.. We just haven’t, you know.. Done stuff yet,” I implied and a chuckle came out from behind my dad’s smile as he removed his hand from my back.

“And you’re, what? Impatient? Wondering if it’s you?” He gave some examples and I nodded.

“A little of both, I guess,” I admitted softly.

“Well, it’s obviously not you, because you’re perfect in every way possible,” he assured me and I couldn’t help but roll my eyes as I smiled, “But, why are you so impatient? Do you really like her and want to show her how much you care in other ways besides dates?” He asked, but suddenly, how he worded it, made me feel.. Uncomfortable.. As if I was in love with her or something and I wanted to make love to her and just.. Ugh, God, this got so awkward so fast..

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“Ahh, jeez.. This is already getting weird,” I stood from the bed, pacing a little around his room, “It feels so weird talking to you about my sex life, I can’t do this.”

“Oh, stop it, don’t be so immature.. It’s completely natural.. It’s not like I was never your age once and wanted that kind of attention from your father, but wasn’t getting it yet,” he explained and I was mortified.

“Oh my God, you just made it so much weirder by saying that! Why did you say that?” I put my hands over my face, as if somehow rubbing my eyes would rid me of what I just heard and the images that flashed inside of my brain, but it was no use. The damage had already been done and now all I could picture were my parents going at it.

I rubbed my temples roughly as I gave myself a quick pep talk. Quick! Think other thoughts! Think other thoughts, dammit! 

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“I guess I could’ve worded that differently.. But, anyhow, come back here and sit down, I want to help you,” he continued and I shook my head.

“No way! I can’t sit in your bed now,” I refused and he scoffed.

“Oh, Jesus, Luca..”

“Can we go into the living room or something?”

“Wherever you want to tell yourself is better, it doesn’t matter to me. I just want to help you, so pick some place and we’ll go there,” he encouraged, not even wanting to question what the hell he meant by that, either, but I really couldn’t sit on their bed anymore. I had to get out of their room in general or else I wouldn’t be able to think straight.

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We came to the living room, it being transformed back into one from being a dining room the last time I was here and we sat on the couch together, but I still didn’t really know where to begin talking about this kind of stuff. My conversation with Tavish was pretty eye-opening, but I wanted an outside opinion, one from my dad that knew nothing about this and could give me a different view on it solely from what I would tell him.

“So, you two haven’t done anything yet? You’ve, what, only kissed?” He began the conversation for me and I nodded.

“Yeah.. Only that.. She’s told me that she wants to do stuff like that with me, just not yet.. But, I don’t know what that means.. Like, is she waiting for me to do something in particular that will show her I’m serious about her? I just can’t stop thinking that there’s a reason she doesn’t want to do that stuff with me yet, like she’s testing me or something,” I said suspiciously, but my dad steered me in a different direction.

“Well, if she’s told you that, then it’s obviously her, not you.. Something is holding her back, but you need to be patient and just wait until she’s ready,” he replied.

“It’s just.. I’m not really used to this kind of thing. I sound stupid saying that I don’t know how to be patient, but I really don’t anymore.. I keep asking myself if she wants me to tell her I love her or some crap before we do anything serious, and I’m definitely not going to do that.. I’m nowhere near ready to do that.. Or, what if she’s a virgin and wants things to be serious before we do that stuff? I don’t know if I’m ready to have both feet in yet..”

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“First of all, yes, you are used to this kind of thing. You’re being patient whether you know it or not because you’ve lasted this long with her without being intimate. You’ve even been patient enough to wait until you found someone you actually enjoyed being around to start dating again,” he explained and I was surprised I hadn’t noticed that until he said it, “Secondly, her possibly being a virgin is none of your business,” he pointed out, “If she is, you need to ask yourself if you’re willing to wait for her to be ready. And, if she is, are you willing to eventually put both feet in in order for her to be comfortable with you, because if you wait and eventually do that with her, you can’t leave her after something like that.. Virginity is a huge deal to some people and if she is one, but wants to make sure you’re the one she wants to lose it to, then that’s her choice and you need to respect that.. If she does want to share that with you, you should feel honored that she wants you to be that person.. You might want to ‘try before you buy’ or whatever nonsense, but you shouldn’t steal and then throw it out, afterwards, you know what I mean?” He added and I nodded in understanding.

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“Let’s say she is.. Do you like her enough at this point in your guys’ relationship to wait?” He then asked and I hesitated.

“..I-I mean.. I dunno.. It sounds bad, I know, but.. Doing stuff like that is kind of important to me and if we don’t, I feel like I might get bored and I don’t want to..”

“You don’t want to get bored? So you do like her?” He said with a slight grin, as if he had successfully pried something out of me and I sighed.

“I.. Yeah.. I guess I do,” I reluctantly admitted, and for the first time, admitting it to someone other than myself.

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“Well, then there’s your answer,” he said simply, as if the answer was right in front of my face this whole time, but I just couldn’t see it yet until now, “Don’t do anything stupid and mess it up. There are plenty of other things you can do to keep yourself occupied, or satisfied, whatever you want to call it-”

“-Dad.. Gross.”

“Oh, hush, I’m just pointing out the obvious.. If you like her, then you can wait for her, virgin or not.. You’re a strong man and you know what you want, so if you want her, then do whatever you can to keep her, and don’t do anything you’ll regret later until she’s ready.. You need to hone in your ability to be patient again, Luca.. It’s been a long time since you’ve had anything serious like this, so you need to get back into the groove of things. Sleeping around might be fun, easy, uncommitted and all that, but it’s always worth it to try things out and stick to one person if you like one another enough.. Plus, you said it’s only been a month, right? A little more than a month? That’s honestly not that long to be worried about this kind of thing already,” he tried to assure me.

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“..When did you and Pop..? You know..?” I implied, not really wanting to talk about it, but I needed something to compare my situation to.

Now you’re okay with talking about that?” He said with a sly grin and I rolled my eyes.

“I’m just curious, so answer with as little detail as possible, please.. I just need some kind of time frame to go off of,” I replied and he chuckled softly.

“There is no ‘time frame’ for this kind of thing, Luca.. It depends on the couple. A month into dating, you’re father already loved me and told me he did,” I saw my dad’s smile grow warm and loving, knowing he enjoyed looking back on the past with Pop and it made me feel good to see the love he had for him written all over his face, “After he told me that, we slowly eased into those things.. I didn’t tell him I loved him until maybe four or five months into our relationship, so he had to wait a long time for that, but you know what? He was patient.. The fact that he told me he loved me so early on helped me be able to get closer to him, it helped me trust him, and it helped me be comfortable with him to eventually tell him those words, myself, when I was ready,” he expressed.

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“Damn, you held out on Pop that long?” I teased and he curled his lips as if my words left a sour taste in his mouth and he ignored my play-fun towards him.

“And to answer your question, our first time was probably two or three months into our relationship the night we first moved in together, so we did that stuff before I even told him I loved him back.. I was the one that was stand-offish at first because I had never had a serious relationship before, and I had never loved someone before I met him.. I was incredibly shy, too, so I kind of side more with Riley, on this one.. Things like that just take time for certain people. Your father is a very patient man, though, and he never rushed me or did anything that I wasn’t comfortable with. He was so patient, in fact, that I was the one that had to initiate everything first because he was so worried about making me uncomfortable, which is why it took us a while to get to the more serious things because I was nervous, maybe even a little scared, too.. Maybe Riley could be dealing with the same thing,” he offered as an explanation for Riley’s lack of intimacy with me and I nodded as I thought about it more in depth.

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“So.. If I’m patient and don’t rush her or do anything like that, she’ll give me the signs when she’s ready?”

“Well, I don’t know.. She might. I don’t know her, Luca, I’m just telling you how it went for your father and I.. But, my guess is, yes, she’ll probably just let you know when she’s ready whenever she truly is. You can’t rush her or imply that you want to do those kinds of things because it’ll just make her uncomfortable and push back whatever progress you’ve made. It will seem like you’re rushing her. I can’t say this enough, but you really do just need to practice patience and you’ll get better at it to the point where you won’t even think about this kind of stuff when you’re with her. Whenever you hang out with her, just keep your mind from wandering too far off the path, know what I mean? Enjoy her for who she is and then whenever you guys finally do something intimate, it’ll be that much more special and it’ll feel ten times better than just some quickie with a stranger,” he added and I nodded again, taking his advice to heart.

Dad put in a better perspective, too. I never really admitted to Tavish that I liked Riley, I kind of just went along with the wall I put up when it came to being serious with someone, so his advice was to mainly not take it seriously, but.. I like her more than just a friend.. I like her more than I portrayed to him than I portrayed to my dad, so the advice was miles apart and I was glad I came over to talk to him.

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“What if we don’t do anything like that for a few more months? Or a year? No matter how much I may like her, how do you wait for someone that long..?” I asked next and my dad gave me a slightly worried expression.

“Well, now you’re just making up excuses.. When you say things like that, it makes me wonder if you truly even do like her.. It just sounds like you want to get into her pants and that’s it, and if there’s no sign of that soon, you’re going to lose something that might actually be good for you because your basing all of this on just sex, which is all that it is.. Just sex,” he pointed out and my view met the floor, “You’re scared of getting hurt again, aren’t you?” He continued and I looked back up to him, “Is that why you’re making up excuses? So you can maybe leave her before she leaves you?” He continued to pry and I couldn’t help but think he was right. Maybe I’m just using sex as a means to determine if we should stay together and I know I shouldn’t do that, but I am.. I didn’t realize that that’s exactly what I was doing until he pointed it out.

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“I-I dunno.. Maybe I am just using it as an excuse.. What do you think I should do? ..Overall?” I wondered genuinely and my dad looked at me as if he was proud, in a weird way.. I think he was liking the idea of me with someone more than he portrayed vocally, or maybe he was proud that I was opening my mind a little and actually heading his word. I truly was taking his advice. As weird as it sounds, I felt like it was helping my soul recover and talking to my dad was the best decision I had made today.

“I think you should do whatever your gut is telling you to do, not what’s between your legs is telling you,” he said with a simple chuckle, “Despite the excuses, I do think you like this girl, and I think you should see where this relationship takes you.. I know first hand how bad things can get and being broken up with is the least of your worries, trust me.. You’ll bounce back if anything happens. You’re very smart and strong and everything else that’s good under the sun.. If it doesn’t work out, then it doesn’t work out, and if it does, then that’s great and you’ll look back on this in the future and you’ll be glad you can say that you stuck with it. You’ll be able to say that you tried, no matter what happens,” my dad said with a smile throughout his entire answer and he lifted my spirits up so much. My conversation with Tavish made me think I should break up with her, but my conversation with my dad made me think I could make it work and he gave me the strength that I was lacking to be able to keep this going.. I’m glad I came here to talk to him.

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“Thanks, Dad.. I think that’s really what I needed to hear,” I replied with a soft grin and the smile on his lips grew warmer from my words.

“Anytime.. I’m always here for you, Luca, and you don’t ever have to be embarrassed to talk to me about these things, okay?” He assured me, standing from the couch and I stood with him, both of us simultaneously coming into one another for a hug before pulling away.

“Where’s Pop, by the way? And all the others?” I wondered.

“Oh, he’s at work, Petra’s at a job right now giving an estimate on a remodel, and Umi and Jiro are out with their friends.. I think Umi’s at the mall and Jiro’s paint-balling with some of his friends,” he replied and I nodded.

“Cool.. Well, I don’t want to keep you from resting. You actually have the house to yourself, so go back to bed and nap.. I didn’t mean to disturb you,” I implied and he scoffed.

Disturb me,” he mimicked my words in a teasing way and I smirked, “It’s all right, really.. Were you hungry or anything? Do you want me to make you something?” He asked and I smiled at his kindness and still wanting to take care of me even though I could take care of myself.. But, well, after the conversation we just had, I guess I did make it pretty clear that I couldn’t take care of myself.

“No, Dad, I’m okay.. I should be getting back home, anyways. I think Pia’s making something,” I lied, I had no idea if Pia was making dinner tonight, but I just didn’t want to burden him anymore than I had and I didn’t want him to wait on me.

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“So.. Is Riley going to be your date for Niko’s wedding then?” He changed the subject out of nowhere and I sighed heavily, “What? She’s going to be there anyways since she’s AnneMarie’s best friend, might as well go together, right?” He implied and I shrugged.

“Yeah, maybe.. I dunno.. I don’t want to think about that just yet,” I tried to avoid talking about it.

“Well, I’m only suggesting it because it might be something that she’s been thinking about, too.. And, if you want her to see that you like her and are serious about her, inviting her to be your date for a wedding is pretty romantic, actually. A little serious, but not too serious, you know?” He tried to coax me a little and I had to admit that it wasn’t that bad of an idea..

“I guess you got a point.. I’ll think about it,” I said with a tone that cancelled out this conversation immediately and he respectfully backed off.

“All right, no pressure.. Just food for thought,” he said with a soft smile.

“I’ll see ya, Dad.. Thanks again, and give my love to everyone, yeah?”

“No problem, I will. Thank you for coming to me about this, I’m glad I could help in any way possible and it was good to see you.”

“Yeah, you too, Dad.”

“I won’t keep you anymore.. I’ll see you soon, I love you,” he said with a smile and a gentle, caring squeeze of my arm.

“Love you, too,” I replied, leaving the living room and going back outside to my car so I could head home.

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When I got back home, I came upstairs to Tavish’s room and knocked, hearing him make some kind of noise and I assumed I could come in, so I did. He still sat at his computer, typing away and clicking from tab to tab and I then noticed Pia sitting on his bed.

“What are you doing in here?” I asked Pia.

“I came to his room to see if we should order a pizza or something tonight, but he refused to give me a straight answer because he was distracted, so I asked what he was doing and he told me,” Pia replied, giving me a rather annoyed look as if she was disappointed in me and I sighed.

“Why’d you tell her?” I asked Tav, but before he could answer, not that he would’ve anyhow because he was too preoccupied, Pia butted in.

“Why the hell are you making him hack into your girlfriend’s accounts and shit just to find out if she’s a virgin? That’s none of your damn business, you perv,” she scolded, using some of the same words my dad did, but in a much harsher way.

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“I’m not making him do anything, he offered,” I defended myself.

“After you asked,” Tav said under his breath and I sighed again.

“..You’re not exactly helping me here-”

“-And I didn’t tell her,” Tavish explained, “She hovered over my shoulder like a gargoyle until she figured it out herself. After she figured it out, I may have mentioned the reason why I was doing this in the first place, that’s all..”

“All right, whatever.. So what’d you find?” I asked, coming up behind him as he continued sitting.

“Gimme a second, I need to find the right tab,” he replied, watching him still looking through the tabs he had opened.

Jesus, I told you not to go overboard.. How many things did you look up on her?” I asked, a little confused and already somewhat regretting this the longer I waited.

“You could always, you know, mind your own fucking business.. You still have time to do that before geek-face tells you what he found,” Pia added.

You know, so why shouldn’t he?” Tavish said to Pia and I looked to her.

“What? You know, too?” I asked, getting frustrated, “Why’d you-” I then asked Tav, but I stopped myself, “-You know what? Never mind. I can’t have the both of you knowing something about Riley that I don’t, it’ll eat me up inside, so just fucking tell me,” I gave up, looking back to Tav’s computer.

“Ah, here-” Tav found what he was looking for, “So, from the beginning, or just straight to the point?” He asked and my heart started to race a little, knowing that once I heard this, I couldn’t un-hear it, but, fuck, I wanted to know.

“The beginning, I guess..”

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“Okay, so.. She dated this guy named Jeff for a little less than a year. Apparently from her Facebook, the things that she deleted, that is, that I managed to dig up, was that in the beginning it was nice and fun and whatever and she really liked the guy, but once it hit the six month mark, her status’s changed and she sounded a bit more depressed and stuff. I found some photos she was tagged in that have since been deleted, but I dug them up, too, and in most of them, she has bruises on her arms and legs, some on her chest and neck.. Kind of just all over the place at different times and in different photos the longer the relationship lasted, so the dude was obviously roughing her up.. So, when I figured that might be the case, I decided to go digging for police reports and stuff and I found something,” he continued, looking through a few tabs until he came across the police report he had found.

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“The night they finally broke up and she got away from him, it was a nine one one call she put in because he was going crazy on her and she managed to lock herself in the bedroom of his house that he pretty much made her stay at, got a hold of a phone and called.. The audio from it is pretty scary.. The police report was of domestic abuse and there’s pictures, but I’m not going to show you those-”

“-No.. Show me,” I demanded and Tavish looked over his shoulder at me briefly before sighing and looking through his tabs again. From the beginning of the story, I felt sad for her, but now, I was angrier than all of hell and I just couldn’t believe someone as sweet as Riley could be treated in such a manner. I just wanted an answer to a simple question, not something like this..

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“She had red hair back then, but-”

“-Yeah, that’s her,” I confirmed as I stared at the photo from the police report, her beautiful green eyes full of tears, her face bloodied and bruised and swollen, her lip cut.. What kind of a fucking scumbag would do this to a woman?

“Poor thing,” Pia said with a sad tone.

“What’s the audio? I wanna hear it,” I insisted and Tav looked at me as if I had lost my mind and was fueling the fire to my anger.

“..Are you sure?”

“Yeah, just play it,” I stressed and he seemed reluctant to do so, but he searched through his tabs again and found it after a moment of digging it back up.

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I stood there quietly as I watched the green line bounce on a black background whenever a voice could be heard. Pia stood from the bed and stood on the other side of Tavish and she looked to me with a worried brow before looking back to the computer.

“Nine-one-one, what’s your emergency?” The woman asked and at first, there was just loud banging in the background and you could hear someone whimpering and crying on the other line, “Hello? Is there anyone there? Do you need any help?” The woman asked and there was a few seconds of silence.

“I-I need help,” I heard Riley’s soft, whispered, rattled tone from the other line as the banging in the background continued, my heart sinking as I imagined what Tav had told me and it must’ve been her boyfriend trying to get into the room she had locked herself in.

“Ma’am, what’s wrong?”

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“M-My boyfriend, he.. He’s hit me a few times tonight, and now he wants into the bedroom, but.. I-I’ve locked the door and he won’t leave me alone.. He’s going to get in soon,” she continued to whisper.

“Please, stay on the line, ma’am, I’m sending a unit over to your location right now,” the woman answered.

“Riley? Open the fucking door!” I heard her boyfriend’s voice in the background, along with a few more bangs on the bedroom door.

“Please, please hurry!” She stressed in a harsh whisper, hearing her continue to cry over the phone and that’s where Tavish stopped the audio. I had goosebumps on my arms.

“After that, he just keeps banging on the door and within about a minute, you can hear the sirens in the background and they manage to get to her before her boyfriend does,” Tav filled me in.

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“Jesus Christ, man,” I let out, a little rattled already from all of this and that audio made me a little sick to my stomach. Even though it had already happened and had passed, I wanted to be there and stop all of that from happening, myself.. I felt the strong need to protect her.

“Keep going?” Tav asked, looking over his shoulder again at me and I nodded.

“Yeah, keep going,” I replied, trying to find all the strength in me that I could to not drive down to Alabama, myself, and track down this piece of shit.

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“She got a restraining order against him the next day and apparently, they haven’t been in contact since, thank God.. The guy went to jail for it and a few other things, but he gets out in a year,” he added and I couldn’t comprehend all of this.. Riley was so driven and strong and the most gentle woman I’ve ever met, I really didn’t know how she could get over something like this so quickly.. Or, maybe she was just hiding how she really felt about it. If he was abusing her like this, there’s no doubt in my mind that he was most likely sexually abusing her, too, so it made complete sense on why she was so jumpy whenever I tried to touch her without her fully knowing what I was doing first.

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“Fuck.. I feel so shitty for her,” I said softly, feeling Pia’s hand touch my back and she rubbed me softly to try to give me comfort.

“..There’s more,” Tav reluctantly continued and I looked at him questionably, “That break up was about six months ago.. I went and looked for medical stuff after all of that and two months after he had gone to jail, she, uh.. She had an abortion.. Two months later, she moved here, my guess is to get away from that guy even more and as far away as possible just in case he would ever find out about it.. So, yeah, about a month after she had moved here and got settled, she started seeing you,” he finished Riley’s blast from the past and I was dumbfounded, angry, and I pitied her..

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What made it worse, however, was thinking back to what I tried to do at the dock with her and how startled and scared she was.. This was the perfect explanation as to why she acted like that and I felt like even more shit because of it.. She tried to make it less of a deal than it was, so maybe she’s over everything that happened, but maybe her body still wasn’t? Whatever the case was, I still felt like an asshole now more than I did before.

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“..I don’t even really know what to say,” I spoke softly.

“Well.. Now you know she’s not a virgin,” Tav said, though I wasn’t sure if he was throwing a joke into this mix or not.

“Not funny!” Pia scolded, smacking him in the shoulder.

“Ow! I wasn’t trying to be! ..I’m just saying, now you know.. Fuck,” he replied, rubbing his shoulder and I sighed heavily.

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“I thought this would just be something simple.. Like some little clues on her Facebook or through some emails, like dirty gossip with her friends or something that you’d come across.. But this? ..This just sucks,” I expressed with a depressed tone, “I should’ve just minded my own damn business. I can’t un-know this shit now,” I came to the conclusion and Pia gave me a dirty look.

“I tell you to do that all the time, but you never listen,” she pointed out and I glared at her for a short moment.

“This makes me feel weird, though.. You’d think after something like that, something that traumatic, she’d want nothing to do with a relationship, or even men in general, for that matter, and I wouldn’t blame her.. She seems so cool with me, though.. I don’t know how she hides this stuff so well,” I was a little perplexed, stepping over to Tav’s bed and sitting down.

“Maybe she wanted to be with someone that she already knew and someone that AnneMarie trusted.. You have a good rep, for the most part, besides all the random sex with strangers,” Pia added and I glared at her again for her comment, “Hey, you’re a good guy, and your a big guy, too. Maybe she wanted someone that she knew wouldn’t do something like her last boyfriend did, and maybe she wanted someone for, like, you know.. Protection or something?” She said with a shrug and I furrowed my brows.

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“You think she’s using me?”

“Well, no.. Not exactly.. But, maybe? ..Kind of? ..I dunno,” she shrugged and she must’ve noticed that my expression was a little hurt.

“I want her to like me, not use me-”

“-And I’m not saying she doesn’t like you, I’m just saying that if someone roughed me up, I’d either come and get you guys to beat their ass, or I’d just use excuses to be around you guys because I know I’d be safe,” she pointed out and it made a lot more sense coming from her.

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Tavish jumped in, “Maybe just take it as a compliment, even if she partly is? She feels safe enough around you, you know? Making a girl feel safe is never a bad thing,” he added and I nodded.

“Yeah, I guess so.. It’s just that, if I’m being used, I’d like to be used in every way possible, you know?” I implied and he chuckled briefly.

“Still got your mind on the important things, I see,” he said sarcastically.

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“Sorry about your girl, man, that sucks.. No one should ever treat a woman like that,” Tavish grew serious again.

“I kind of wish that AnneMarie had told me a little more about her before we got this far..”

“Why? Because she’s damaged goods and won’t have sex with you?” Pia teased and I shook my head.

“No, because I would’ve never acted the way I did around her if I had known what happened to her.. I would never have tried to touch her or anything like that, too,” I said with slight disappointment. 

“You can’t blame yourself for this shit now, there’s no way you could’ve known,” Tavish explained, “The only reason you feel this bad about it now is because you know what happened to her.. And, you know, maybe even AnneMarie doesn’t know the extent of what Riley went through..?”

“They’re best friends, AnneMarie had to of at least known about her boyfriend and what a piece of shit he was.. The abortion, she could’ve easily kept to herself, but AnneMarie should’ve warned me to be a little more patient and gentle with her or something.. Instead, I’ve made an ass out of myself more than once because I’ve been completely unaware of what she’s been through and I’m a horny piece of shit.. It just would’ve been nice to get a heads up,” I said with a shrug and he nodded in understanding.

“Yeah, I know what you mean, but, you can’t do anything about it now.. At least now you know so you don’t fuck up anymore,” he said with a smirk and I suppose he did have a good point.

“Thanks for looking into it for me, even though I still kind of regret it now.. I know how time consuming that stuff is.”

“Eh, no problem.. Only took me an hour or two, and if it’s helped you at all, then it was worth the time,” he said with a brief smirk and I smiled appreciatively. 

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“What are you going to do now? Do you want a drink or something?” Tav wondered and Pia jumped in.

“We probably should so we can trick our minds into forgetting this depressing shit,” she encouraged, though she might just be using it as an excuse to drink, and I chuckled softly. 

“Actually, yeah, I think I really do need one,” I agreed and I watched as Tav faced his computer quickly.

“Let me just close this stuff out and wipe my computer clean,” he said rather impatiently and I nodded encouragingly. 

“So, what are you going to do when you see her next?” Pia brought up, making conversation as we waited for Tavish.

“I don’t know.. I guess just act like things are completely normal. I mean, I’ll have to, because if she ever found out I fuckin’ spied on her, then there’s no doubt in my mind that she’d break up with me. I just gotta be careful and watch what I say, and especially watch my fuckin’ hands, because I couldn’t stand myself if I tried anything with her and scared her again, especially after now knowing what I know about her. I’m a scumbag, in my own right, but not that much of one,” I burned myself.

“You’re not a scumbag, her ex is a fucking scumbag. You’re completely different breeds. He’s an abusive piece of garbage and you’re a slut. Big difference,” she teased and I chuckled, “Well, you’re not a slut anymore, I should say,” she added and I smiled, needing to agree with her since I haven’t fucked anyone since I met Riley and I had to admit I was little proud of that.. I guess my dad was right, I still do have the ability to be patient.

“All right, done.. Let’s go get shit faced,” Tavish announced when he was finished and we all went downstairs to the kitchen to make some stiff drinks.

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Even though I made it seem like I was a dog with a permanent bone, I’d like to think there was more to me than that. A small part of me still wanted to be intimate with Riley, but now, after hearing what I heard from Tavish and heading my dad’s advice, that was the last thing on my mind. My dad told me to enjoy her for who she is and that’s exactly what I’m going to do. I’m going to try my hardest to not pressure her, I’m going to try my best to treat her as well as I possibly can, and I’m going to go out of my way to give her what she deserves.

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I wasn’t going to do this just because I felt sorry for her, either, I was going to do this because I cared about her and I was going to do this because she deserves to be happy and I want to be the one that makes her feel that way. I want to make her smile and I want to tell her how beautiful she is until she finally believes it and doesn’t tell me to stop saying it. I want to do so much for her that it made my heart race with nervousness while also making me weirdly excited.. I haven’t felt like this in a long time. 

..It feels kind of nice.