8 - Honeymoon Phase

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8 – Honeymoon Phase

After the New Year's debacle, Brent and I went through what experts call the honeymoon phase. We got along great. He was considerate and loving, just like he used to be. My opinions were valued, my wishes respected, there was nothing he wouldn't do to show me how much he loved me. Back then, I didn't know that this was his way of regaining control of our relationship. That's what it was all about in the end – I just hadn't learned that yet.

He begged me not to tell anyone about his outburst, especially not my father and my friends, and it wasn't hard to persuade me. My dad would have freaked out, prohibiting me from seeing Brent again, and I couldn't bear the thought of losing him. My friends had grown distant to me; I never hung out with them anymore and figured they weren't interested in me crying on their shoulder.

In my mind, I was convinced that I had new friends now. They were really Brent's buddies who tolerated me, and I never developed any close bonds to them. Whenever I engaged in anything other than small talk, my boyfriend quickly interfered. I was weary being around other guys, scared he could get jealous again and lash out at me. Over time, I withdrew more and more from anyone including my father, and in the end, I only had Brent to rely on.

Looking at it now, this may have been my last chance to get away. I should have known it could only get worse but as I said, I was young and naïve. I thought it was a onetime slip up because he had a bad day. I didn't see the signs and was just plain ignorant to the truth.

The rest of our lives was also progressing well. I was thriving in school, having mostly As and Bs and dreaming of becoming an English teacher. He dropped down to a part time status, taking only nine credits this semester, and could easily handle the workload. Any spare moment we had, we spent together.

We went out on dates, usually dinner and a movie, or hung out at his dormitory. He had moved into a single bedroom suite to get rid of his roommate right after the winter break, and we couldn't get enough of each other. Sex was absolutely spectacular. In hindsight, this may have been the best time in our relationship.

For his eighteenth birthday in mid-April, I surprised him with a ride in a hot air balloon. We went to Galena and took off in the late afternoon, just before the sunset. It was a beautiful spring day, just perfect for conquering the sky. The first few minutes were spent at tree top level to get us a feel for the flight before the balloon ascended to about three and a half thousand feet.

"Oh, this is wonderful." He wrapped his arms around me from the behind, nestling his face into my hair. "That was a great surprise, honey."

I pointed to the west. "There is Iowa." Glancing down, I noticed some fast moving dots. "And look, there are deer. Aren't those pretty?"

He leaned over to watch the clearing below. "I used to go hunting with my dad just in the beginning of November. We shot a deer and took it to the butcher to have him cut it up and fed on it all winter. My mother makes a killer deer stew."

It was the first time he ever shared something that personal about his childhood. "That sounds like a lot of fun."

He grimaced. "It had its moments – but it was also raining and nasty for some of the years. I had to be absolutely quiet. One time, it was so cold I blew into my hands to warm them and my father hit me in the mouth for being too loud. He knocked out a tooth but luckily, it was just a baby one."

I stared at him in disbelief. "Your father hit you like that?"

"I guess he has a temper." When he noticed the shock on my face, he nudged me. "It wasn't that bad. No permanent damage done."

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