Briana walked quietly into Brittany's room to check on her. Brittany was wide awake.
"I never thought I would see any of you again," Brittany said to Briana. "When Philip was dragged in, I knew someone was trying to find me, but I didn't think there was any way we could be rescued. I'll never be able to thank you, and Connor, and Freddy, and Megan. It must have been awful for her to see what they did to Philip. And Freddy, he picked me up and carried me like I was a baby. And ...."
"It's alright, Brittany. You really need to rest. It's only been two days and the doctor says you're going to be fine" Briana said.
"I've been an awful sister haven't I?" Brittany said.
"No!," Briana said. "You've been awfully interesting though," she said smiling.
"Your a wonderful sister, Briana. I just love you!"
"Do I have to say it? You know I love you, Brittany."
"I know. You never would have helped rescue me if you didn't.
"Well, you better get some rest, now," Briana said.
"Rest? That's all I've done. I couldn't possibly sleep."
"Do you feel up to company?"
"Oh, I don't know if I'm ready to see anyone except you and Connor and Mom and Dad yet. Who is it?"
"It's Freddy. He's been here every day hoping to see you, but is willing to wait until you are ready."
"Oh, I'll see him," Brittany said. "Wait. I must look a mess. Perhaps I shouldn't."
"I don't think it matters how you look, so long as it's you, but I'll tell him, 'next time.'"
"No. You're right. I was just thinking of myself. Please ask him to come in so I can thank him."
"Alright," Briana said. "But I'm sure that's not why he wants to see you."
"Hello, Brittany. I'm so happy you're going to be OK," Freddy said when he came in.
"Why don't you sit there by the bed," Brittany said.
He did and just looked at Brittany.
"I'm a mess, huh?"
"I don't see a mess, I only see a girl I care for," he said.
"Thank you," she said. "I know it's a lie, but it's a nice one. Your nice. Briana said you've been here every day."
"I have, but it's only been two."
"By the way, thank you for carrying me. I don't remember much of it except suddenly being swept up and jounced when you ran. You must be awfully strong."
"No. You are light. I hardly noticed your weight. I'd like to do it again under different circumstances."
"What? Pick me up and carry me?"
"Yes," he laughed. "Anyplace you wanted to go."
She laughed too, then, "Oh, that hurts."
"What," he said somewhat alarmed.
"Laughing," she said. "I guess I'm not quite better yet."
"I'll try not to do it again, but when you're better I hope I can make you laugh a lot."
"You're serious, aren't you," Brittany said.
"Very," he said. "I hope I'm not being too forward. I usually say just what I think."
"You're not at all, and I'm very flattered... no, pleased. I think I'll take you up on that offer to pick me up and carry me," she said.
"Nothing would please me more," he said. "I'm so glad I haven't offended you. Thank you for letting me see you. I'd like to do it again tomorrow."
"I don't know...," Brittany started, but then, "If you really want to, I'd love to see you tomorrow."
"I would and I will." Then he stood and leaned over and kissed her on the cheek, "get better quick." And left.
Freddy did visit Brittany the next day, and the next, and the next. In fact, around the Arnault's household, Freddy's daily visits were assumed, and when Brittany was finally able to take her meals with the family, Freddy was always invited.
Brittany was nearly well when she and Freddy were taking a walk together. He was holding her hand, and she was very quiet.
"What is it, Brittany," Freddy asked. "If you're growing tired of me? I'd understand."
"I'm not growing tired of you," she said. "That's what's troubling me. I always grow tired of boys, but I'm not tired of you at all. It's strange, I'm afraid you will grow tired of me."
"Well there's no danger of that," he said.
Brittany stopped walking and looked directly at Freddy.
"You don't know me, Freddy. I'm not like the others, like Connor or my sister Briana, or Megan. You have no idea the things I've done."
"Oh I know, but I don't care what you've done."
"What do you know about me?" she asked.
"I know you got yourself in a lot of trouble and I was able to save you from it. When I picked you up, all I could think was that I must not let anything happen to you, that your life depended on what I did. I want it to always be that way."
There was a sudden change in Brittany's mood. "You do now," she said, "but anything can happen. Do you think I'm beautiful?"
"I haven't thought about it," Freddy said. "It's not how you look I'm interested in anyway, and I can put up with any looks. I'd love you no matter what you looked like."
Brittany just looked at Freddy, and there were tears in her eyes. She suddenly hugged Freddy and said with her face buried in his chest, "do you really love me like that?"
"Yes. I really love you like that," he said.
"That first day when you came into my room and just sat with me, the craziest thoughts came into my mind. I thought if I could always be just like that with you beside me I'd be happy. I had never thought anything like that about anyone, and it frightened me. I didn't know what it was. I've known for some time now, but was afraid I'd lose it, that you'd get tired of me. I've been in love with you since that day but couldn't believe you could be in love with me."
"I love you Brittany with all I am," and he kissed her, and she kissed him as though it were the first time she'd ever been kissed.
"I never knew a kiss could be like that," she said. "But then, I've never been in love before."
Freddy held her for a long time, then let her go, and held her at arms length looking at her as though he were examining her. "You know," he said as though it were a complete surprise, "you really are beautiful," and they both laughed like children.
Briana had talked to Britanny about Freddy. "Are you sure, Brittany? He's not like the boys you're used to. You can't use him and then drop him like the others."
"Drop him!? Oh Briana, I was so afraid of losing him at first I was afraid to say anything. I was afraid of what he would do when he found out what I've been and what I've done. I was afraid to tell him I loved him, because it might frighten him off. Briana, I'll never drop him, unless he wants me to. I'd hate it, but if it was truly what he wanted, I would."
"He's not the first boy who thought he was in love with you?" Briana said.
"No, he's not," Brittany said. "And they all said the same thing, they thought I was the most beautiful girl they'd ever seen, or something like that. They didn't love me, they were infatuated with my looks. Do you know what Freddy told me. He said he hadn't even thought about what I looked like, that he could put up with any looks, that he'd love me no matter what I looked like."
Briana raised her eyebrows. "That certainly sounds like Freddy."
"You know something strange, Briana. The very first day Freddy came to sit with me before I was well I lost all interest in that whole crowd I thought were so important. All at once I saw how shallow they all were, and how shallow I had been. All I want now is to be the best person I can possibly be, first for me, then for Freddy. He did a lot more than save my life that day, he saved me from me."
Briana hugged Brittany and said, "I couldn't be happier for you."