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Chapter 03

            When Dottie heads back out to the bus, she can't get her mind off what Amy said.  When the time is right, it will happen for her and Nick.  She wants to make love to him so badly, she aches with it, but something keeps holding her back.  She trusts Nick with her heart and soul, but she just doesn't feel it's the right time to make love.  Not yet.

            When she opens the door to go outside, she sees two of the roadies with their backs to her, smoking.  She knows they aren't supposed to be taking breaks until the guys take the stage.  Before she can say anything to them, one of them says, "I'm telling you man, she was in prison for a year."

            The second man says, "Why was she in prison?"

            The first says, "Embezzlement. Turns out she didn't do it, her boss did."

            The second says, "How do you know she wasn't in on it?"

            The first says, "He confessed.  He said he set her up so he wouldn't get caught."

            The second says, "Damn, what an ass.  So she spent a year in prison?  Bet she gave Carter the ride of his life when she got out. Wonder if she ever..."  They walk off before she hears what they say, but they said enough. 

            It's not so much that they knew, they didn't really say anything bad that she heard.  But hearing them talking opened the flood gates to memories Dottie wanted left buried.  Feelings she didn't want to feel again. 

            She moves to the back side of a column and slides to the ground hugging her knees.  Wave after wave of nausea rolls over her as the memories keep flashing in her mind.  When she hears the door open behind her, she prays the roadies aren't coming back.

            When she hears Amy's voice, she tries to speak.  But words won't come out.  She hears her talking to James and she tries to sink out of sight, not wanting the baby to see her falling apart.  But when she hears him yell, "DOWN, DOWN!" she knows he sees her.

            When he comes over and hugs her arm, trying to wiggle into her lap, Amy kneels beside her and says, "D, what is it?  What's wrong?"

            Dottie just shakes her head, unable to speak.  James manages to get under her arms and he says, "Hug," wrapping is tiny little arms around her neck.  She squeezes him tightly, trying not to scare him with her tears.

            Amy sits down beside her and says, "D, what's wrong?  Don't cry."

            James pushes back from her, saying, "D!  D!"  He crawls back on Amy's lap looking very confused.  He can't figure out why one of his playtime buddies is so sad.

            The door opens and Nick comes out.  He sees Amy and says, "Hey, where's Dottie?"

            Before she can answer, James reaches for Dottie again and says, "D!"

            Nick comes over and drops to his knees.  He says, "What happened?"  He reaches for Dottie, but her body visibly shakes.  He draws back his hand, not sure what to do.  He says, "Dottie, what's wrong?  Baby, talk to me."  He looks at Amy and says, "What happened?"

            She says, "I don't know.  We found her like this. She hasn't said anything."

            Dottie tries to speak, but the memories won't leave her head.  So much is weighing down on her, it's all she can do to breathe.  She hears James yell "Dada!" and she knows Howie's there now too.

            He picks up James and says, "What's wrong?"

            Nick says, "I don't know."

            James chews on his knuckle and says, "D cwy."

            Howie says, "Let's go find Momma.  Nick will take care of D."

            For several minutes, Dottie just sits with her head on her knees crying.  When she finally gets her breathing under control and looks up, AJ, Howie and Brian are standing close by.  When Nick sees she's calmed down, he takes her hand and says, "What happened?"

            Staring at her hand in his, she says, "I'm sorry."

            He says, "Baby, you don't have to be sorry.  Tell us what happened."

            Lowering her head she says, "I heard two of the roadies talking."

            Amy says, "About what?"

            Closing her eyes, she whispers, "Me."

            AJ mutters, "Fucking assholes!  Who was it?"

            She looks up and says, "I don't know.  But it wasn't what they were saying.  It just made me," her body shudders when she says, "remember."

            Nick says, "Can you tell us?"

            She says, "I don't know Nick."

            Amy says, "Listen, why don't I take D back to the bus to freshen up and relax.  We'll talk if you want to.  And once she's feeling back to normal..."

            Dottie looks up at Nick and says, "Is that ok?"

            He says, "Of course it is.  We'll go get ready for the show then I'll come and check on you.  OK?"

            She nods and puts her arms around his neck.  When he holds her close, she whispers, "Thank you."

            He says, "Dottie, I love you."

            He helps her to her feet and walks with her and Amy to the bus while the others go back inside.  Amy climbs up on the bus as Nick pulls Dottie tightly against his body.  She whispers, "I love you Nicky."

            He kisses the top of her head and says, "I'll be back out in a while.  I love you."

            When he leaves and she gets on the bus, Amy says, "D, you gotta talk about it.  Tell me."

            She says, "Amy, I don't know if I can do this."

            Amy says, "Of course you can.  You're a strong woman.  You can't keep it locked up inside you.  I know you.  When you bottle things up, you completely shut down.   I'm not letting you do that.  Not when there's so much out there for you.  Now, tell me what happened.  Let me help you get through this."

            Dottie sighs and says, "Amy it wasn't what they were saying.  Everything they said was true. At least everything I heard.  It's just what it made me remember.  It was so bad, A."

            Amy takes her hand and says, "What happened?"

            Dottie says, "Even though it was a minimum security prison, it was horrible.  Night after night being locked in that cell.  Knowing that even if they let me outside, I still wasn't free.  It was like they were taunting me with the sunshine.  Giving me a taste of something I couldn't have.  And some of the women in there..."

            Amy says, "What happened?"

            Dottie says, "I was there almost a week before they jumped me.  They were letting me know who was in charge."

            Amy gasps and says, "What happened?"

            Dottie says, "I don't remember much.  I woke up in the infirmary.  I spent six weeks in there, isolated so I could heal."

            Amy says, "WHAT?"

            Dottie says, "They broke my arm and a couple of ribs.  I was bruised all over and probably had a concussion.  I refused to let you come and see me because I didn't want to see you feeling sorry for me."

            When Dottie finally finds the nerve the look up at Amy, she doesn't see pity.  She's sees love.  Amy says, "Dottie, you could have told me this.  Why did you think you had to hide it?  Why did the guards allow that to happen?  Jesus, what you went through."

            Dottie says, "I never told who did it.  It was like a test.  To prove whether or not I was a snitch.  I kept my mouth shut and kept to myself.  Why do you think I had you bring me so many books?  I mostly read.  But I knew what was going on around me.  I saw it every time a new girl came in.  I didn't make friends.   I couldn't.  You were all I had for that year.  You saved me from myself every time you came to see me."

            Amy says, "Dottie, you should have told me."

            Dottie says, "I couldn't then.  I couldn't tell anyone."

            She says, "Why now?"

            Dottie says, "A, I don't know.  When I was out there crying, when all of you were with me, I felt safe.  For the first time since before it all started, I felt safe.  I felt like I could finally let go."  She gets up and walks to the refrigerator, taking down two pictures.  One is her with Nick; the other is her and Amy with all the guys.  She says, "I just don't know if I can tell Nick."

            She says, "D, you can.  That man loves you beyond all reason.  He's worried about you."

            Dottie says, "I know that.  I love him with all my heart."

            Amy says, "Then he needs to know.  You need to tell him about this so you can truly let it go."

            She says, "Amy, they all need to know.  They've all been here for me, just like you have.  I don't want to keep it a secret anymore.  It's eating away at me and I can't take it anymore."

            Amy says, "D, I know it's hard.  But I think you talking about it will only make you stronger."  She looks out the window and says, "Nick's coming.  I'll leave you two alone."

            Dottie hugs her and says, "Thanks A.  I'll tell them after the show tonight."

            Amy kisses her cheek and says, "I'll be there with you.  You won't have to do it alone."

            Amy jumps off the bus as Dottie goes back and sits on the bed, staring at the picture of her and Nick.  When he gets on the bus, he finds Dottie sitting in the middle of the bed, staring at a picture.  When he sits beside her, she looks up and says, "Hi."

He says, "Hey.  How are you?"

She says, "Better.  Talking to Amy helped."

He says, "Can you tell me what's wrong?"

She says, "It's just memories Nick.  Bad ones.  I want to tell you.  I need to tell all of you, but after the show, ok?  You need to focus on that right now."

He says, "I don't give a damn about the show.  I care about you, D.  I don't want you to be hurt by something someone says."

She cups his face and says, "Nick, you have to do the show.  I'm ok now, I promise.  And after the show, I'll tell you what happened.  I want to tell all of you.  I can't move on until I talk about this."

He says, "You promise you'll tell me?"  She nods and he says, "And you'll stop hiding from me when you need to cry?"

She says, "You knew?"

He says, "D, you're everything to me.  When I hear you crying at night I just want to hold you tight, but I don't want to scare you or push you.   I'd give anything to hold you when you cry and show you I'm not going away.  I'm always going to believe in you and I'll always take care of you when you need me too."

She throws herself against him and says, "I love you so much, Nicky.  I love you more than anything."

He says, "Do you want to come in for the show?"

She looks into his eyes and says, "I wouldn't miss it for the world."


Chapter End Notes:

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