The Milestone of a Lifetime: A Rocky Transition into Adulthood

“You are NOT 20!” I raised an eyebrow. “No way, I don‟t believe you,” he replied. “Fine,” I said with a grin, “watch my stuff,” and stalked off toward the door. I ran to my car, snatched up my license and ran back into the coffee shop and up to the tall, pierced, striking, young man who doubted that I could possibly be older than he. “Here ya go,” I said triumphantly as I handed him my license. He took a moment to find the birthday and looked up, “Wow! I don‟t even know what to say; you look like you could be in high-school!” “Gee, thanks,” I playfully snorted and was rewarded with a huge smile. I‟d been going to hang out and study at that coffee shop for 6 years, and this was a new, intriguing employee. He was so abnormally friendly that it caught my attention, as if the height and gorgeous, curly, pitch black hair hadn‟t already. But what got me the most was that huge smile; it spreads all over his face. Dimples indent his cheeks and crow‟s feet fan out from his eyes. I can never help but smile back at him. That conversation was the first time we‟d actually talked after maybe a month or so of casual greetings at the coffee shop. In all honesty, I started making a point to go there to study when I didn‟t have to, just to see him. That day in-particular, I‟d been studying Chemistry for hours on end, so he was kind enough to bring me a mug of coffee, creamer and sugar to keep me awake. That was when we started talking.

After that, I went to the coffee shop more and more. We got each other‟s facebooks and started to talk late at night. One day, he told me about a really interesting activity that he was a part of with his exstepfather; geocaching. Geocaching is much like an adult treasure hunt, without the treasure. What you do is get the coordinates of geocaches from a website, take a gps and go find them. Geocaches are nothing more than a small tube with a piece of paper in it where you write your geocache-registered online-username, but they could be anywhere from under a rock to the top of a cliff to a tree in the middle of a raging river. Adventure for adventure‟s sake. I found it fascinating and he invited me to go with him. The day before we were planning on going geocaching, I was, again, studying Chemistry at the coffee shop for hours on end. That day, I was there all the way until closing and he was working with a friend of his. Her boyfriend was also there until closing, keeping her company. As I‟d been becoming more and more friends with him, he introduced me to his friend and her boyfriend who invited us to go to a party with them. Both of us were happy to go, so I drove out with him. First we went to his house where he showed me some of the metal work and woodwork he was currently doing. He even showed me some random chemical reaction, since I‟d been studying chemistry. We also played with his sweet little puppy-dogs. He was so unique and intelligent that it was difficult to believe that he was still in high-school. He was right, he actually looked two-and- a-half years older than me instead of younger.

At the party we danced, hung out, and more than anything, we were interested in just rough-housing with each other more than we wanted to really party. I tried rat-tailing him with my belt and he responded with a sheet rat tail or just picking me up, as I‟m barely 100 lbs and he‟s about 155. We were enthralled with each other the whole night, wet willies, noogies and all; so much so that people started calling us cute and asking if were together and suggesting that we kiss. Well, we didn‟t kiss, just stayed in each other‟s bright blue eyes for the night. When we finally left, he said I could crash at his place so I didn‟t have to drive back to campus so late (I‟m a biology major at George Mason and lived on campus at the time). I accepted and was rather surprised at how incredibly respectful and sweet he was. I‟d told him that I had trouble sleeping, so he rubbed my temples until he fell asleep. His hand on my face was the only contact we had all night (we were both cuddling one of his little puppy dogs too). And for the first time, I actually wanted to cuddle with a guy who wasn‟t trying to, purely out of courteousness. The next day, we woke up at the same time, he made us breakfast, and we went geocaching. We found 4-5 in the area, one under a rock, one in a tree; the first one I actually found myself had a little red and green pipe cleaner ring in it. He had brought a domino for that reason; to replace whatever small objects might be left behind. I still wear that ring . He also taught me how to skip rocks that day and, again, I was impressed at his lack of even trying to flirt with me. I almost thought he had no interest in me, that he really did just want to hang out as friends.

That night the same friend and boyfriend invited us to another party. This one ended up being a dud, but we got to hang out and goof off with each other. We all drove in the same car and he and I play wrestled and rough-housed the whole way there in the backseat. On our way home, I got chilly, so he snuggled me up next to him. It was in that intimate moment that we shared our very first kiss. That kiss sent me soaring and made me feel small at the same time (I vaguely registered that his face and lips were twice the size of my own), but I could‟ve spent days in that moment before it was enough. The group of us went back to his friend‟s house and hung out in the basement for a while. And she let us crash in one of the guest bedrooms. That time there was no dog between us and we actually did cuddle. I could not have felt safer with him next to me. One of the best things I can relate it to is walking a Great Dane his size. I just felt so protected. After that, we spent the next 2 weeks straight together. I studied while he worked, we were in class mostly at the same time and he started coming to the barn with me to see me ride my horse. On the weekends, we always had fun; the second weekend we went to Sphinx Night Club and danced the whole time. Another weekend we went to another party at the same house as before. But this time he told me to stop the car as we were leavingdriving down their driveway to head home. I stopped the car and he made me get out, it was raining a little bit, and he had me dance with him. He hummed out a tune for us to dance to, a half-serious, half-goofy tune. I was smiling the whole time, until he put his

forehead against mine and we both closed our eyes, just for a moment. Then, staring into my eyes again, he asked me to be his girlfriend, and I nodded, biting my cheek but still smiling. His face lit up and we kissed in the rain, under the stars on it. That was November 21st of last year. Months passed like that; us spending as much time together as possible and having fun on the weekends. I, somehow, got mono (I honestly have no idea how because he was the only one I was kissing and he didn‟t have it, but I did live on a college campus). He took care of me. There was even one time where I passed out from being so sick from it; I had a 103degree fever and was lightheaded and I was having trouble breathing. He took me up to bed and kept me breathing until I woke up and then brought down my fever. He looked so relieved when I did wake up; I have no idea how long he had to keep me breathing. But I‟ll always be grateful to him for that. He probably saved my life. When that had happened, we were actually on our way to visit a friend of his. He really wanted me to meet this little girl who was his friend‟s little sister. She was 5 years old and she had cancer, but she was so sweet and so active. Unfortunately, I met her close to the end of her life. When we did get to visit, she had lost the feeling in her feet and was obviously miserable, so he rubbed her feet and pretended to eat them, just to try to get her to smile. He‟d made two little leaves out of wood, that little girl had one of them and he had the other. He would bring her little piggy toys because that was her favorite animal. When she passed, a little before Christmas, I was with him. He used my shoulder to cry on. The same goes for the funeral months later. It was

touching how much he loved her and how kind he was, and that inspired the best portrait I have drawn to this day; I drew a giant picture of that little girl smiling, playing with her hair and amongst the clouds in heaven. We even brought that to show her mom at the funeral and she loved it, as did her big sister. I am so glad that I could pull off a picture like that and that they all liked it. That was my Christmas gift to him (I was in the CFPA for visual arts in highschool at Woodbridge High School). His gift to me was a necklace that he made out of my horse‟s shoe. He shaped part of it into a small heart and spent God knows how long carving small designs into the front of it and the words “My Country Girl” into the back (I have been a wrangler in Montana and I love the country with every part of me, just being in God‟s country will put me in heaven). “Never let a day pass without looking for the good, feeling the good within you, praising, appreciating, blessing and being grateful. Make it your life commitment, and you will stand in utter awe of what happens in your life.”-The Secret Teachings Though I enjoyed being with him so much, my classes for the spring semester got tougher and I needed to spend more time studying and less time with him. I tried to break up with him, but I didn‟t really want to and he talked me into still dating, just taking it slower and not seeing each other quite as often. Which was fine, but we were so consumed

with each other that it still took too much time out of my studies. So I planned on drifting apart, on distancing myself more and more from him, on distracting myself with school fully. Another part of this was because I could never tell him I loved him. He told me that, but I never really responded. I‟d never felt that I was truly in love with him, I just wasn‟t sure and I had my own life plans that he wasn‟t a part of, such as vet school. But he‟d done nothing wrong, and he is such great company, so we kept hanging out a bit. I was the person he spent his 18th birthday with. It was so much fun! The main thing he wanted to do was go to the botanical gardens in D.C., so we went and he took a bunch of pictures of all kinds of flowers, and there were some awesome ones! Then we went rock climbing at a fake rock wall in Manassas, because that is something you can do when you turn 18 (if you‟re underage you have to have a parent sign and his mom had moved out of the house he was living in with his ex-stepdad and his biological father was dead, so getting a signature would be a hassle). He chose one of the harder walls to start off with, and for some God-forsaken reason, I did the same one on the first go-around. Well, he‟s about 6‟2‟‟ or 6‟3‟‟ and I‟m 5‟1‟‟ or 5‟2‟‟. Where it takes him just a few minutes to get all the way up the wall because he could scale it like a cat, I have to jump from rock to rock. But he pushed me to finish the hard ones from below, even when I wanted to stop. After 3 climbs each, we went back to his place and ordered pizza and wings and watched funny videos on youtube. I spent the night that night and over the weekend, we went to visit a small piece of property that his mom owns that has a small camper on it. He loves visiting the antique stores all around and sitting by the fire with me and looking at the stars. They‟re so much more clear in the mountains, and it‟s such a pleasant

drive! There was one time where we both saw a heart in the stars, but we were both too embarrassed to mention it, so it took us like a half hour to say anything. We‟ve even found a little cat out there who was our friend and cuddles with us! And he knows one of the neighbors and gets wood from him to make things out of it. He usually makes gifts for other people; for instance, he made his manager a table as a gift for her fiancée, he‟s made me wooden rings, a wooden holder for the rings, cups, furniture, all sorts of things. So it‟s a real treat for him to visit the property there and we had a great time. His 18th birthday was Thursday, April 12th , and we visited the property that weekend. The night we spent there, he asked me to be his girlfriend, wholeheartedly again. He said he just wanted me to be his. That he loved me. I hadn‟t changed my mind about it, so I refused. And that was the last time I saw him. The weekend after that was my Dad‟s birthday, so I spent it with him. But I didn‟t go to see him during the week so I could study. On Friday, April 27th, I texted him and messaged him to see if he worked that weekend so I could study while he was there. He never replied, so I stayed at the coffee shop all day Saturday. On Sunday, my dad wanted to come with me to the barn to watch me ride my horse and I needed his help in Chemistry (my dad is an engineer, he worked for Naval Research Lab and Homeland Security and now works for a consulting company as chief scientist) so we went to the coffee shop first. While we were there, one of the employees pulled me aside and asked if I knew where he was because he hadn‟t shown up for a few shifts. I said that I didn‟t, that I hadn‟t heard from him in a few days. I went back to sitting with my dad, but I texted a few of his friends first to see if they knew where he was.

The first response I got was that he was in jail. This was told to me by someone who was with him when he was arrested, the mom of the little girl who passed from cancer earlier, in fact. She told me that he‟d called her from the police station and asked if she and her daughter (the older sister) could come pick him up. They went, but it took hours until the police finally let him leave. On the way back to his house-he‟d insisted on going back there to check on his sick dog- she asked him if anything had happened that she should know about. He said no. He also called me and left a voicemail from her phone, but I missed it. When they got back to his house, the police officers were waiting for him with a warrant for his arrest. They went into his house and took out some empty bottles from his room, asked him what clothes he‟d worn the night before-which he willingly pointed out, and took him into custody without reading his rights. He‟d been charged with rape. The next text I got was from the friend who was with him the night of the incident, the co-defendant. He told me the girl was still in the hospital, that he had admitted to having sex with her but it wasn‟t forced, that there was DNA evidence and that he was in jail. After that was from the friend we‟d gone to the first party with. She told me that she thought that maybe things got too rough or the girl got scared because she was drunk or what have you. I asked about visitation and she helped me find out when and where to go if I even could. I was just about crying in front of my dad by then. Eventually, I told my dad we needed to give up on the chemistry and I should go and ride my horse. I was so nauseated; everything was like a dream. I knew I‟d told him we weren‟t boyfriend and

girlfriend anymore and that I‟d refused him, but I didn‟t think that he‟d get over it so quickly as to have sex with someone else that soon. I knew him, I knew he could never hurt someone else like that, that he‟d punish himself so much worse than anyone ever could if he had. He always did his best to protect the weak and the innocent. These thoughts whirled through my head. The guy who always respected me, that loved me and his friends, who showed kindness to everyone, who went out of his way to help others, who got some of the regular customers at the coffee shop a mug and their favorite coffee in it for their birthday, who rubbed a little girl‟s feet when she lost the feeling in them, who called me after saving a friend‟s life with CPR because he was freaking out, who loved me so much, who sang to me and made me thoughtful gifts…a rapist. No way. I don‟t even remember riding my horse in front of my dad that day. I just remember asking him to tell my mom to call me that evening because I really needed to talk to her because something had happened to him and I was really scared. And I started to cry on my horse, in front of my dad. I couldn‟t even eat when he wanted to stop at a pizza-place after. I couldn‟t eat or sleep for days, really. That night I told my mom what I‟d heard and I bawled my eyes out. She told me to get in touch with my dad‟s friend of 25 years who was a lawyer. I told her how much I wanted to try to talk to the girl and she said that would be a bad idea because it could get me and him in trouble. So I admitted something to her that I never thought I would because I thought it might help the girl want to talk to me or something. When I was 16 years old, I really wanted to get my bellybutton pierced but my mom wouldn‟t let me. Well, there was a guy in my art class that I‟d known

for two years who offered to pierce it for me. He lived just about a mile or so away from me and it was easy for me to sneak out, so I snuck out one night when his parents were on a trip so no one would know. When I got there, he looked at my bellybutton and said that might be a little tough and got a needle and everything, then suggested that we have some drinks first so that I wouldn‟t feel the pain as much. Not knowing any better because I‟d never really drank before, I went along with that without really thinking about it. I am pretty small, and that was the first time I‟d drank and all I had was a rum and coke. But it got me good enough so I don‟t remember a lot. What I do remember is that he kissed me and I sort of pulled back, but it wasn‟t registering in my head. Next thing I knew he was inside me. I was a virgin, so I felt it enough to snap out of it, make some sort of bogus excuse, get out of there, stumble home, sobbing and drunk in the middle of the night and sneak back into my house. I never really told many people because I knew it had a lot to do with my own stupidity; I‟d taken my safety into my own hands and played with it, like a stupid little girl and I was ashamed. But also, that guy wasn‟t a rapist or anything, it‟s not as if he forced me to or that he abused me or kept me against my will, I just hadn‟t given him any signals either way. He didn‟t know it was my first time drinking or that I was a virgin. He apologized and told me he felt like crap over text message as I was trying to get home, but I just never talked to him again. He was still in all my art classes throughout high school, but I hardly ever looked at him My mom actually took that pretty well. Thankfully, I don‟t even think she told my Dad. However, she still told me not to try to talk to the girl. But I was losing my mind, I had no idea what was going on. At this point I was thinking that he‟d hooked up at a party.

And I was partly blaming myself for pushing him away; he wouldn‟t have been hanging out or partying with anyone if I‟d been there that night. I tried talking to one of his older brothers a little, but that ended up being useless. His brother had said that he was going to hire him a lawyer, but in the end, told me to butt out, hit on me, never got a lawyer, then told me to get one. Then a few weeks later, got pissed because I‟d already hired a lawyer and was ruining his plan. So, needless to say, I didn‟t seek that brother‟s assistance a second time. On Wednesday, May 2nd, I got a call from Freedom Bail Bonds. The woman there said that he‟d called and asked if they could three-way call me, and I said absolutely, I had no idea he could even call out of jail. The woman connected us and the first thing I heard him say was “Oh my God,” and start crying. I asked him if he was okay, told him that I knew he was innocent and that I would be here to help him. He told me he loved me and, for the first time, I told him that I loved him back. And I meant it. “Love is not to be cultivated. Love cannot be divided into divine and physical; it is only love-not that you love many or the one. That again is an absurd question to ask: „Do you love all?‟ You know, a flower that has perfume is not concerned who comes to smell it, or who turns his back upon it. So is love. Love is not a memory. Love is not a thing of the mind or the intellect. But it comes into being naturally as compassion, when this whole problem of existenceas fear, greed, envy, despair, hope-has been understood and resolved.”-Jiddu Krishnamurti “Pure love has no conditions or boundaries. Love does not restrain itself or hold back. Love gives and it doesn't ask for anything in return. Love is a

continuous flow without any limits. And all of this is inside you.” -The Secret Teachings My heart went out to him and I spent nights crying and days torturing myself. I made a phone account to talk to him and that in and of itself was a huge relief. We talked every day, but we couldn‟t talk much about the case because it was a recorded phone call. So I was frantically looking for an affordable lawyer and, luckily, my dad‟s friend was kind enough to give us a huge discount! From what would usually be $10,000 to defend him, he lowered it to $6,000 and even let us pay half then and half later! Well that was perfect because that was all he had to his namehis mom had been taking the social security checks that were sent to him every month since his father‟s death, but she put $6,000 into his account to get him started on his 18th birthday after graduation. And I had about $2,000 in savings, so I could cover bail and my parents were so willing and happy to help. They would pay the other $3,000 that we owed the lawyer and he and I would pay it back to them. They would also cover any difference in bail that my savings didn‟t cover and they even offered him a job worth $3-4 grand finishing our basement (he‟s actually done that sort of thing before). So we can, thankfully, be financially comfortable in this situation knowing so many people will help, and it has been such a blessing to not have to worry about money too much. Knowing that I had to help pay my dad back, however, I got a job for the summer and worked my butt off instead of taking summer courses. See, I‟m studying to be a vet and hoping to apply next year, so I wanted to take some of my classes over the summer to help myself out, but the hearings and the worry of this whole situation would have been in the

way. I‟d also bombed a few classes the semester before summer because I was so distressed over this. I had several exams just a few days after finding out what he was accused of. I couldn‟t believe it and I never slept, I never ate, I cried all night, there was no way I could focus on studying for finals. So I just bombed. Because of that, my GPA went way down and I was told that I could no longer be a room advisor (R.A.) on campus next semester. But the job I got was so much better. I work at an animal hospital, not that I haven‟t done that before, but I am learning so much more than I would anywhere else! I actually get quizzed on surgical instruments and I get to practice nail trims and expressing anal glands on sedated animals! I also get to go into the surgery room with the doctor and most of all, I‟m around animals all the time! I even know how to do most of the lab tests and x-rays! And I am blessed enough to get to keep this job over the school year because I‟m not an R.A.! It‟s so great and I‟m so thankful that it turned out this way! His living situation was with his ex-stepdad; his mom and stepdad had divorced a few years ago due to something the mom did, but the stepdad was kind enough to allow them to stay until his graduation from high school. And he loved his stepdad and thought of him as a father. He told me so many stories of them going geocaching together or just when he‟d broken down upset over something and his stepdad just hugged him. Even now, his exstepdad is helping him in this situation. He assisted financially with the phone and commissary accounts. And he can and will attest to the fact that he has anxiety and has been medically treated for it, so all of his statements may not be reliable. He has also known him for years, through a few girlfriends and knows that he would never hurt another person,

especially a girl, that he makes a point of helping and protecting others. And I am so grateful that his ex-stepdad decided to help us, it‟s such a huge relief. But when this happened, it was just 2 months before his high school graduation. So, his ex-stepdad said that his mom and all their stuff had to go, and rightfully so, his house looks gorgeous now. But he also couldn‟t keep him on housearrest if he were to get out on bail because of his job (for the government with security clearances). So who was kind enough to agree to allow him to stay on house arrest? The mom of the little girl with cancer. This is truly a case of giving love and receiving love. He was there for that family when they needed him, and boy have they returned the favor  I‟d asked so many people to let him stay with them, but there was no one else in the county who could/would and we couldn‟t do a bail hearing until he had somewhere to stay. I was so tearfully relieved to find out that she convinced her husband to allow him to stay because both of them knew better. They knew that he wouldn‟t hurt someone like that, they trusted him with their own daughters. He had shown them love and kindness and they were returning the favor. I made them dinner and a cake for that  “Friends aren‟t about whom you have known the longest…it‟s about who came and never left your side.” So he now had money for bail, a lawyer, somewhere to stay on house arrest and, not to mention, all the character references his friends, family and neighbors were willing to give him. I thought that we

could for sure have him out on bail. But the first bail hearing he‟d gone to that I didn‟t know about at the time was with his court-appointed lawyer who didn‟t do anything. Literally, that hearing isn‟t even in the records so that my dad‟s friend couldn‟t find it, my dad‟s friend didn‟t even know it had happened. Because he didn‟t know it‟d happened, he tried to have another in juvenile court. But, it turns out, we had to try to get it moved up to circuit court when it was turned down in juvenile, even though that wasn‟t on record. Before we could set that up, however, my dad‟s friend found out that the codefendant had hired a lawyer in the same office. So they both had to withdraw from the case and the preliminary hearing delayed. I‟d been finding out more and more, slowly but surely. At this point this is what I thought had happened: that he and the co-defendant had gone with two girls to one of the girl‟s houses to drink/party. I was told by his ex-stepdad that the four of them had gone to his place before going to her house and that he saw them there. He told me that the two girls seemed like they were out on an adventure, having a new experience so to say. He also said that they hadn‟t stayed too long because he told them that he had to go to bed early for a trip so not to be loud. Around ten they told his ex-stepdad goodbye, thank you for letting us hang out (that was him, he appreciates his ex-stepdad immensely), and that they were going to a party or something(?) I was under the impression that that girl had led them back to her house in a car that she‟d taken without her parent‟s knowledge. I also thought, because of the newspapers, that she was 16. Since the co-defendant had told me there was DNA and that she was in the hospital, I thought that they had had sex and it got too rough. I thought they‟d both gotten too drunk and went up to her room and hooked up and she got

caught by her parents in the morning and cried rape to save her own ass. I thought she knew better than to think she was raped and was throwing him under the bus because she was young, inexperienced and selfish. I‟d also been told that the co-defendant was lying about it all, saying that he wasn‟t there but he‟d driven him there and picked him up. Well I had to get another lawyer asap, obviously. My dad‟s friend gave me the number of one of his friends who would take the case, but they were $10,000. I also knew a lawyer that I really liked, but he was $10,000 also. I was going to hire one of them and just have him and I owe my dad for a while, but I wasn‟t so keen on the idea because, like I said, I‟m going to be applying to vet school as soon as I‟m done with all the required classes. And since this has happened, I knew he wouldn‟t want to stay in the area and I knew that we‟d be together for a long time because of this strong emotional tie we now have since I‟m the main person who‟s been there for him, I told him that he could come with me to vet school, that he could move away with me when I leave. And I‟d like to do that sooner rather than later because my 63 year old engineer of a father is living here and working so hard for me, to put me through school. I‟m the youngest and he wants me to go through college because he knows I can and he wants to help me. He‟s even offered his help with vet school and everything because I am his pride and joy. But when I leave the state for vet school (I stay here at the moment for in-state tuition), my parents won‟t be too far behind me. The sooner I leave, the sooner we all can leave; my boyfriend, myself and my parents. So I didn‟t want to have too much to pay off. Low and behold, one of his block-mates told him of a great, cheaper lawyer! I was so excited, this lawyer had 20+ years experience, he‟d been a prosecutor

and a cop as well as a defense attorney! And he said that he was half price because he could be, because he had so many cases that he didn‟t have to charge as much as the rookies. So I hired him and I am so grateful to have found a lawyer that was half the price of the others! What a blessing! This lawyer didn‟t want to try to do a bail hearing until the preliminary hearing because he didn‟t know if they‟d even decide to go forth after the preliminary. So I thought that‟d be fine, but they delayed the preliminary a few more times, once for her to go on vacation. At one of those delays, the codefendant was there. He looked like he was in pain, so afterwards, I texted him, despite the fact that I‟d been told not to by lawyers since we were all under the impression that he was spreading rumors about it all. I asked him if he was ok or if he wanted to talk. The co-defendant said he wasn‟t supposed to talk to him, but for me to tell him that the cops kept saying that he‟d been blaming everything on the codefendant, that they said he admitted to it and there was DNA etc. But the co-defendant also said that he kept telling the cops that he didn‟t believe that he‟d done anything of the sort or admitted to it. He wasn‟t that kind of guy. The co-defendant told the police that he thought the girl was just afraid of her parents. I asked him if he was on his side then and he said yes. He hadn‟t been lying or anything, just repeating what the cops said to him. Everything else was rumors. When I told him all the co-defendant had said, he started crying and said, “All this time, I thought my brother had betrayed me. And it was the police.” I used the co-defendant to get the girl‟s name. I got him to tell me the blonde girl‟s name (the other girl, the co-defendant actually knew her, but that was his

first time meeting the plaintiff). I got the blonde on facebook, and through that, found the other girl‟s name. That didn‟t give me much because her facebook was private, but it felt good to be a little more prepared. Just to know what she looked like so I wasn‟t openly staring her down or anything. It was hard to imagine what the accuser of such a sweet man could look like. I saw pictures of her when I found her stepmom‟s facebook. She was so pretty and looked so sweet. She seemed like such a familyoriented young girl. But there was a photo album of her sweet sixteenth birthday party…in 2010. That was when I discovered that she was actually about to turn 18. At the actual preliminary hearing on July 6th (he was arrested 2 weeks after his 18th birthday, on April 26th and the preliminary had been delayed 3 times) they held it in juvenile court since the girl was under 18, so it was closed off to the public. But I saw her; not only did she bring a whole crew of her family and some friends, but she didn‟t even notice me, or my mom, or his ex-stepdad, or the lawyer. She was blissfully unaware. That is when it hit me that she really had no idea what the unintended consequences were in this situation. This may be consuming my life, but it‟s a tiny part of hers; she didn‟t even know I existed. But then, they didn‟t even have her go into the courtroom. They insisted on delaying it to have her there, but I saw her go into the back where the conference rooms were, and then the hearing started. All they did was have the detective summarize the statements. Though I wasn‟t in there to hear it, our lawyer said that he tripped over his facts, corrected himself several times, was confusing and unclear and just an all around weak witness. The major use of this hearing was that I got a much more clear picture of what happened. The lawyer

finally told me what he‟d said when they‟d met; that he didn‟t even have sex with her. Yes, she was out with her parent‟s car when she wasn‟t supposed to be, and yes, she led these guys back to her parentless house to drink. But what happened after that was that they all went into the basement to drink and chase it with chocolate syrup (which sounds like a good way to make yourself sick in and of itself). They were having a good time, coupling up a bit, his friend with the blonde and him with the plaintiff (I assume that the co-defendant talked him into tagging along so that he himself could get some, but I know that he really had no interest in her, that I was the only one he wanted to be with). Well, it seems that the plaintiff was drinking a little too much and, though the three others cautioned her to slow down, she kept going and got too drunk. I guess she blacked out because the story gets fuzzy here, she needed to go up to her bed and started stumbling up, so he helped her up to her room and the friend went to take the blonde home. While the friend drove the blonde home, instead of leaving with them, he stayed to make sure she was ok and when the co-defendant got back, they both cleaned her up (she made a bit of a mess of herself), changed her and put her to bed. I‟d be willing to bet that he was even kind enough to find her comfy pajamas and tuck her in. Because that‟s the man I know. Because he would do that for a complete stranger just because he loves to help. He has shown me the kind of person to be, to go out of your way and get people random things, even if you don‟t know them. After that was all assumptions. Mainly the assumption that her parents had come in the next morning, somehow knew others were over and that she‟d drank and were furious so she cried rape.

But the fact that he didn‟t have sex with her sent me reeling. I asked him as soon as I could, “Was I the last person you had sex with?” and the way he said yes broke my heart. He said it like, “God I‟m so glad you‟d believe me”. Of course I‟d believe him; that would make a hell of a lot more sense to me anyway. It sounded a lot more like him to be going out of his way to help someone. He once stopped at a neighbor‟s house because he saw this man who was a war veteran, so he had a fake leg, sitting atop a large hill of dirt in his driveway with a shovel. He asked what he was doing and offered to help him move the pile of dirt. He took two days to help that man without pay. When I saw him helping that household, he looked so happy, he was playing with the kids and everything! Since he was accused of this I‟ve talked to the wife of this man who told me that she had actually prayed to God the day before for someone to help them move that pile of dirt because either his or her parents were coming to live with them, and they needed the driveway room but they couldn‟t afford to hire someone. She said it was such a blessing to come home from work to see this friendly young man moving the dirt for her for free! She said that all he asked for was “good company and conversation” and that her husband invited him over to dinner, which he had never done for anyone before, least of all someone he‟d known for a mere two days. “We all receive according to how much we give. Give the best of you everywhere you go. Give a smile. Give thanks. Give kindness. Give love.”-The Secret Teachings Knowing all these kinds of deeds, of course it makes much more sense to me that he helped this poor girl who was so obviously out of her element, not hurt her. And if nothing else I‟ve been so proud of him

for showing her kindness that night and for how well he has handled the situation; he hasn‟t been angry or vengeful, he‟s just missed me. Though this is terrifying and scarring to him, he‟d forgive her without even being asked. Though he didn‟t get to graduate, he enrolled in school in jail and is in classes. He is determined to be the first in his family to achieve his standard diploma, and make his mom proud. His security was even lowered after 2-3 months of jail time. He‟s been doing everything he can to stay positive and keep going with his life. When he‟s out, he‟ll be able to do woodwork and metalwork and he‟d have so many buyers! He‟ll also be able to graduate and have his job back. He has a few places he can stay and he even has a friend nearby who has a barn where he could stay and work off rent. He‟s stayed so positive, I can‟t believe what a blessing he is sometimes! I felt so terrible that I‟d told everyone there was DNA and that he‟d admitted to having sex with her, so I immediately corrected myself and told everyone the truth. Not everyone believes it after all this time thinking we knew for sure he‟d had sex with her. And I understand, out of sight, out of mind; you start imagining the „what if‟s‟ of that person. So I can only imagine how convinced this girl has been. After more and more times talking to the lawyer, I‟ve had some more of the holes filled in. The next morning, she got up, cleaned up and went to school; her parents were still out of town. So that assumption was obviously incorrect. At school, she went to the counselor and said she simply didn‟t know what had happened, that she had blacked out. The counselor called the police and the girl ended up getting a rape kit done at the hospital where the nurse found and took pictures of “injuries consistent with nonconsensual sex.” I‟m not sure I fully understand

what this means, but it sounds like there would have had to be a struggle, and it has been established that she was passed out. Not only this, but her virginity was mentioned, but nothing was mentioned of the hymen breaking or any bleeding. Now, I know there are certain activities that can do damage to that area that may look similar, such as horse back riding. I also know that nurses can be wrong sometimes, they‟d need to have a doctor look at it. It seems that no real conclusive data was found; the prosecutor has admitted to the fact that there wouldn‟t be much evidence without his statements. But that hospital report, though I‟m certain there‟s another explanation for it, is enough to make someone doubt his innocence. What else happened that next morning was that when he found out what he was being accused of, he had the co-defendant take him to the police station so he could go sort things out. Well, he‟s so honest that he didn‟t think he‟d need a lawyer, he obviously didn‟t realize the magnitude of the situation he was in. He was probably like me, I assumed that they could not arrest you without DNA evidence. The officers kept him in interrogation for 9 hours. That was when they started telling the co-defendant that he was in there admitting to rape, when really, he was simply telling them that all he did was help get her into bed. Though he was neither under arrest nor charged, the officers would not allow him to leave, not to go home when he asked, not for a cigarette, they wouldn‟t even let him have a glass of water. He has anxiety attacks, I can attest to this because he‟s called me to come calm him down during the attacks before, like when he was freaking out about the little girl with cancer, or after he had to save his friend with CPR. All he wanted was for me to come over and snuggle up next to him, and that made it better, so I always did. So he was probably having an

anxiety attack being berated by police officers and not being allowed to leave. An example my criminology professor has made: he once accidentally locked his night class in the room for 45 minutes. He said, during that time, many of the students, first of all had the sudden urgent need to use the bathroom, but they all got anxious knowing that they were not free to leave. Many admitted to claustrophobia. It suddenly became hot in the room. They got antsy. Take away someone‟s freedom and they will react. I have also read in a book about nonverbal communication called “What Every Body is Saying.” By Joe Navarro that it is a common mistake for police officers to mistake stress and anxiety signals for deception and nervousness. That could be why those officers would twist his statements, but that is still no excuse in my mind. Is that what we do to our youth now? A mere two weeks into „adulthood‟ and he is thrown into jail without a second glance. A fear of those meant to protect and serve has been instilled in him forever. As well as myself. His ex-stepdad can also attest to the fact that he‟s been medically treated for anxiety, knows he has anxiety attacks and can also be an excellent character reference. Despite the fact that his mother hurt his ex-stepdad, his ex-stepdad still wants to help him, still believes him and still loves him and wants to be a part of his life. After that is part of the story that was already told. He called his friends-the mom and sister of the little girl he loved so- to come get him from the police station that evening. They took him home to see his sick dog where they saw him arrested without being read his

rights. They took the dog that he was worried about home and took care of him until his mom came to pick up the dog. She had been too busy with her nursing job and being kicked out of everywhere to help. Obviously, she left his ex-stepdad‟s since he was 18 and graduation wasn‟t going to happen, then her boyfriend dumped her and kicked her out, she was moving in with some friends who found out about her son‟s charges and kicked her out. So she moved in with an old lady on a farm, paying rent. The detective who interrogated him called me a few weeks after the preliminary hearing. He told me he was doing an investigation on him and I assumed my number was in his phone. The detective asked who I was to him and I said „his girlfriend‟. He sounded very surprised to hear that and he asked if I‟d talk to him, to which I refused. But before I hung up, I repeated that „yes, I am his loving girlfriend.‟ And went and looked him up online. Turns out, that detective graduated the police academy a mere 3 years ago and before that, obtained a bachelor of arts in computer science in Massachusetts. I even thought, after discovering this, that you could maybe make the argument that he was arrested on reasonable suspicion, not probable cause, since the detective seems to be of average intelligence (reasonable suspicion- an average citizen has reason to suspect, probable cause-an officer has reason to suspect and that is all they need to arrest and put someone in jail). If only it weren‟t for the twisted statements. They even made him apologize. He didn‟t say what for; at that point he told me he was just doing whatever it took to get himself home. He had no idea he could be arrested. Some quotes from his letters of leniency/character references: “…is my brother-in-law and I have known him for 6

years. He has always been the first one to offer help whenever his brother and I needed it. When we got our first apartment together,…helped us move and offered us the little money he had so we could get food until we got paid. When his brother and I got married, … offered to walk me down the aisle since my father was not able to attend the wedding.he made every effort to make our day special and to make me feel welcomed to his family. When… came to visit us about a year ago, he spent his time getting to know his nephew by playing with him and taking him to the park. …was patient, caring and kind to my son which describes …‟s true character. It is out of his character to be charged with a crime such as sodomy and rape. … is one of the most generous and most caring people I have ever met. He loves his family and I would trust my 2 year old son with him.”

looked at everyone as if each person was the most unique he had ever met in his life. He treated everyone with respect and love.” “If someone hurt him or angered him he wouldn‟t retaliate, yet he would try to help them even if they did the most horrible thing to him they could. …is genuinely the most loving and caring human being I have ever met and most likely will ever meet.” That friend also went on to describe how he allowed her girlfriend to stay with him for a few nights when she was kicked out and made sure she was comfortable, even though he‟d never met her before. She also said that “…showed me as a shining example that there are still wonderful loving people in this world. That generosity and care still thrives within human nature.” The mother of an ex-girlfriend, “… was a perfect gentlemen to my daughter and myself. He has never given me a reason not to trust him. And he has spent a lot of time with me sixteen year old daughter alone.” “He‟s like my son and I care for him like a son. I would trust him with my daughter‟s life as well as my own.” That ex-girlfriend” “… has a kind heart and is absolutely sweet. I have been there for … whenever he needed someone to talk to. He returned the favor any chance he got. I would be extremely upset one day and he would come give me a hug when he could. I am one of …‟s ex-girlfriends, and I‟ve seen … when he is extremely happy and extremely upset. He would never hurt me or anyone else. I can trust … with anything. He has neer wronged me in any way, and he never will. I love … like an older brother ever since our relationship as boyfriend and girlfriend ended. While we were dating, we gave each other nicknames. I was called „Bunneh‟ and he was „Kitteh‟. This shows … is sweet and absolutely

He has two brothers. This one is not the one I talked about earlier and this one lives much further away, unfortunately. That brother said much the same as his wife and included that “He is sweet and gentle to a fault…” and that, “It‟s out of his character to commit such a crime; he doesn‟t have it in him. I trust him and wish for him to spend time with my family again.” From a friend: “He would do anything he possibly could for anyone whether he knew them or not.” “He

harmless. I love … with all my heart and will be there for him as long as he needs me.” The disabled man-he-helped‟s wife: she describes how he stopped and helped her husband out of the kindness of his heart and that she recognized his voice because she always enjoys his singing as he walked that way to work. “I commended him on his behavior and how most young men his age would not help. He told me he felt he owed himself and society to be polite and kind. Around 6 PM he left and said he would return early the next day to assist my husband. To be honest, I was not expecting him to return.” “My husband informed me … had kept his word and showed up ready to work. I was floored at his generosity. Now, my husband trusts very few people and never lets people he does not know into our home. However, … impressed him and he invited … to our family dinner table for a home cooked meal. ” “When I saw in the paper he had been accised of such a heinous crimes, I was stunned.” “I still feel there has been some sort of misunderstanding regarding the situation. The … that I met did not have those actions in him.” “He is just a kid living in highschool and dreaming of life. Neighbors: “In the five years we have known … he has always been respectful towards our family and we have never witnessed any negative traits or acts of violence from … He always presented himself with a friendly greeting and displayed an upbeat personality. When our oldest daughter was 15 and going through some struggles, … reached out to her and helped her through a rough time. … is willing to encourage and help other children in our neighborhood. We have never felt that he had the capability to harm any member of our family.” Another friend he did yardwork for: “We had a number of conversations while we were out there

working, and when I was driving to pick him up or drop him off. I got a chance to get a pretty food sense of his character and make up, and I was very impressed with his politeness and courtesy, his honesty and integrity and his general decency and caring for others. Recently, we both lost people very close to use within a week of each other, and that‟s when I truly saw the depth this young man has in his soul; he was very much comfort to me even when he was dealing with his own loss. I would not hesitate to vouch for him.” Another neighbor/friend: “ I have known … since he was thirteen years old and in that time he has grown to be a part of our family! I have two daughters and to this day would trust him with them without hesitation. I know him to be a great kid and a caring person.” My own mother hasn‟t given me her letter yet, but two things I will never forget that she said about him: “As soon as you meet him, you know you have a friend. He makes a point of letting you know that he is now your friend.” And, “there is absolutely nothing anyone could say to make me believe he‟d do that.” The bail bondsman who is ready to help him is actually the stepfather of one of his ex-girlfriends. He is also ready and willing to be there as a character reference for him and has told us that it doesn‟t matter how high the bond is, he‟ll get him out. Posts on his facebook when this first happened: “I love you… Everyone knows you didn't do anything wrong. Continue being cool, broski (:” “I miss you.”

From his manager: “He is a fixture of our community, a hard worker, and a great friend. He is sweet to the customers, even singing to them, „Have a wonderful day!!!‟ and makes a point to get to know all of them as not only our guests, but as important parts of our lives.” “I believe … to be a honest, hard working and generally all-around great young man, and hope that you take into consideration everything that he has done not only for his friends, but his school and my customers, they are still asking when his is coming back, they miss him, „he is a great guy.‟ Personally, I believe that … is a great kid with a future ahead of him. anyone that can lift heavy boxes over his head, sweating, and working a nine hour shift and still have time to play peek-a-boo with one of his co-workers kids so that she can fill out some paperwork is someone I would like to have on my staff and in my life.”

“This is the … I know. The one that is truly a great friend and is willing to help at any minute, the one next to his best friend, the one chasing me around with mud at my carwash last summer, the one making the most random and creative things in school and bringing them to us in lunch. The one with the God forsaken red clown hair. Chasing people around on the track in the middle of pe class. You know you have people by your side, that's the least any of us can do while you've been by our sides, and we all know it isn't true. Stay strong♥”

“…, I know you didn't do this and so does everyone else. I love you, stay strong and remember she won‟t get away with this.” “I love you. I know you didn't. I know it. I didn't wanna post anything earlier, but I need to. I love you babydoll. Stay strong.” “The person I know, is my friend who came and sat with my little sister before she passed away and rubbed her feet trying to make her feel better because she couldn't walk anymore... The person I know, helped this past weekend plant a dogwood tree in memory of her birthday and sang happy birthday to a cake with a number 6 candle lit in the center... The person I know, was there when I needed a friend when no one else was there... The person I know, my family loves and sends him prayers... If this is the person you don't know then you know nothing about him like I do... ♥ He will always have his guardian angel watching over him named Autumn♥” (from the older sister of the little girl with cancer, below is the dogwood she mentioned. He‟s taking a picture of it on his phone and sent it to me.)

“For all those f***ers posting the sh** on Facebook and continuing to talk about this whole situation, … is an amazing person who doesn't deserve any of this shit. He would NEVER hurt ANYBODY and it really upsets me to see people being so effing stupid. The girl knows who she is. I'm sure karma will give her back what she's gotten twice fold. I hope to God it does.” That brings us to now. The next thing to hopefully happen will be a suppression of statements hearing, which will be about whether or not his rights were violated. Obviously, they have been. But it‟s become such a waiting game because the prosecutor and our lawyer have to find a day that works for the both of them. Well, there‟s a few things: the prosecutor didn‟t even meet with the plaintiff and her family until about a month and a half ago, and the deal she made him was to plead guilty to rape and they‟d drop the sodomy. I have not yet addressed the sodomy because it is a little…graphic. But the sodomy he is charged with is oral. The only girl he‟s doing those sorts of things to is me, and he was under the age of 18 every time he has and I turn 21 on September 25th. I have been asked, “are you sure he didn‟t have sex with her?” my reaction to that was nothing but tears and anger because of who was asking. Hopefully, they won‟t read this, but I won‟t say who they are just in case they do. But they are two of the people helping him and I the most and they will never forget my reaction. There is no did he or did he not have sex with her. She was passed out. If you f*** someone who is passed out, it is rape. Point blank. No, my boyfriend would not cheat on me, he loves me and has no interest in anyone else; he did not see some passed out girl and just decide to have his way. No, there was no sex involved. While I can handle this kind of doubt from the opposing side, I can‟t

“He wouldn't hurt anybody and anybody who really knows him would know that.” “Hey I miss the laughs I used to get from you :(.. I believe you're going to be okay :) be strong!” “I love you :) I know you will be okay, she won‟t get away with this. I know it. You always take care of everyone, and this time someone will take care of you. You don‟t deserve this :) we all love and miss you, be strong :)” “I love you♥ stay strong, hun. We all know it‟s not true and we'll stand by you through it all♥” “Everyone knows it's not true, Just have faith” I like love you!!! Buddy hope to see you soon I'll be praying for you love you !!”

handle it from people who are helping him. I understand that after many months of believing one thing that it‟s hard to switch gears. Especially with those „injuries‟ mentioned. But the cops lied so much to the co-defendant (most likely to get him to testify against his friend), and the newspapers lied (that she was 16 and that they knew each other), and so many „facts‟ have changed that it‟s very much believable to me that the nurse made a mistake or there‟s another explanation. It seems that as soon as someone recognized the possibility that something could‟ve happened that a lot of assumptions were made. This is just another rape case to many, just another number. But I‟m here to make it personal. Most rapists don‟t have a small, loving girlfriend sticking up for them and helping them in whatever way possible. And ask yourself this: would you release 100 criminals to free 1 innocent person? This is a question asked in my criminology class. The professor said that 20 years ago, the answer was skewed toward yes among classes. Now, however, the answer is no; releasing the innocent is not as important as before. Since their first deal is to, well, plea guilty, it‟s safe to assume that the prosecutor would strongly oppose bond and be a pain in the butt and we‟d have a better shot at it after the suppression and they might even decide at the suppression that there is no longer enough evidence to pursue it and let him go. What a mess, right? “You have the ability to appreciate something in every single circumstance. There is always something to be grateful for.”-The Secret Teachings But, truth of the matter is that I‟m still grateful. Through all of this, if it hadn‟t been for this

happening I would be an R.A. instead of a vet tech! I can‟t believe what an amazing opportunity I have working there, I get so much needed experience for vet school applications! And living at home actually makes me go to class and study during the breaks between classes of the day, so I‟m staying more on top of everything. The doctor that I work for even has horses and agreed to come give me a lesson on my own horse! She‟s actually exactly the kind of doctor I want to be; she never turns down an animal in need, she goes up front and rolls around on the floor with the puppies, she‟s fascinated with surgeries and tells me all kinds of cool stories, she‟s a very patient and clear teacher and she even keeps foster animals. I feel so lucky that I got to keep this job over the school year, but I still took something away from training to be an R.A. I went to a conference with Paul The Ripples Guy and that, that was just awesome. It was a uRock conference: Unleashing Ripples of Compassion and Kindness. Look it up and you‟ll know what I‟m talking about it. So I stand in awe of how perfectly that worked out. Because of this girl, I am a vet tech and I stayed with the one I love. I am truly lucky to have him. In all honesty, she would be lucky to have him consider her, because I‟ve completely snagged him. Anyone who knows him right now knows he loves me. Those phone calls he makes to me every night are supposedly recorded, but they must not spare the time to listen, because you would absolutely know that he would not mess it up with me. Even if we weren‟t technically together, he‟s made himself mine. It took this happening for me to accept it. So I thank her. And I hope that this girl is lucky enough to have a boyfriend this wonderful someday. And that that‟s who she loses her virginity to. But, I know 5 other women who were raped-3 of them admitted

it to me because of this situation and how sickening it was to accuse him of that. And I know how crappy it feels to lose your virginity to someone you didn‟t want to lose it to. I wouldn‟t have called it rape in my case really, seeing as he didn‟t injure me, hold me against my will, nor did I struggle. I just didn‟t consent. But that wasn‟t worth ruining his life over, so I didn‟t bother. But I still wish I‟d lost it in a more special way, and I can‟t have it on my conscience to not say anything when some sweet young girl thinks she was raped. It eats at me that she was convinced of this and I am told not to contact her directly, because it could get me or him in trouble. But I can‟t do nothing anymore, so that‟s why I wrote this and left out his name, in the hopes that she would read the whole thing, as would everyone else. But I am the only person who has to live with myself for the rest of my life. The only one I‟ll have to explain myself to is me, I can‟t just allow this belief to continue. Is it not at least worth looking into the possibility? Is an innocent life not worth the green paper given to the prosecutor?

“Every time we witness an injustice and do not act, we train our character to be passive in its presence and thereby eventually lose all ability to defend ourselves and those we love.” –Julian Assange

His name is Brent Taylor-Fuchs and my name is Virginia Barone. Everyone else‟s name will be left out, out of respect of their privacy.

whole way, as will all his friends who have written all the letters preceding this.” At the end of the day, I know like I know like I know that I will see my man again. I may be older than he, but I call him a man because he has always filled my one true requirement of a man-someone who is not ashamed to live up to, admit, recognize and apologize for their mistakes. Brent has shown me more maturity than the 24-year-old I dated for 2 years before Brent. To quote my own letter of reference for him: “This man is kindhearted, gentle, loving, happy, goofy, friendly, sweet, strong and the best friend I‟ve ever known. What he has been accused of is nauseating and not a single one of his friends believes it. It even made my mother cry; she‟s met him and loves and knows him.” “I know that raping someone would break him as a person; if he had done something that horrible he‟d never forgive himself and he‟d take his punishment like a man. He‟s always recognized when he was wrong and admitted to it, but I knew the second he called me, crying, that he was innocent; he would not have asked for help otherwise.” “He is a hero. Heroes are people who rise to the occasion and then slip away quietly. He has done that for every single one of his friends at least once and for strangers as well. He has improved the life of everyone he‟s met. The world needs more people like this. And not in jail. I love him and I miss him and I know him. I know his innocence. And I will be right there with him the Tonight he told me that I would be beautiful forever because I‟d always be beautiful in his mind. And he asked me if I remembered the few times he‟d walked in the room while I was laying down asleep or after we‟d made love and he just stared at me. I said no and he said that it‟d just taken his breath away, that it was just beautiful. If these are recorded phone calls, why can‟t they hear that part too? And in the last letter he wrote me he said that for the times he can‟t call me because I‟m at class really late, “just because you don‟t hear me say it doesn‟t mean I‟m not saying goodnight to you every night before I go to bed.” And he‟s written so many grateful things about me, about how he‟s grateful to have an amazing girlfriend who‟s not afraid to go camping and who‟s strong when he‟s weak. We‟ve learned The Secret through this together. I‟m grateful that I am with him, that I‟ve been able to tell him I love him. He needed me and still does and I‟m glad to help because I know he‟d do the same for me. And I‟m happy to be with him because he‟s the best, kindest, sweetest, goofiest boyfriend I‟ve ever had and I can‟t wait for him to come to vet school with me. We now have a strong emotional tie and he‟s so good to and for me and I could really use the help in vet school. So this situation has helped to change my mind and put me back where I belong; snuggled up against his chest. Even if it is against his childhood teddy bear‟s

at the moment, it‟ll be his chest soon enough.

God Bless “Practice gratitude relentlessly. As you practice gratitude you will attract more thoughts and feelings of gratitude. In a short time your entire being will be saturated with it, and you will experience a happiness that is beyond what you can imagine. This is what is ahead for you when you choose gratitude as your way of life. And if you can really live in this highest state of gratitude, you will never have to ask for anything. Everything that you want will be given to you before you even ask, because gratitude is the magnetic substance that opens every single door in the Universe.” “The fastest way to receive is to give, because giving starts the reciprocal action of receiving.” -The Secret Teachings The Secret is a book by Rhonda Byrne that has changed both my own and Brent‟s lives. It is also a movie and can be explored at www.