Graduate high school – check
Attend college in Houston – check
Finish a duel degree in digital design and marketing in four years– check
Launch right into a Masters of Science in Marketing– check
While working an internship at Dwiser Ad Company – check
Land a full-time job at Dwiser – check
Fall in love with a man who’ll move mountains for me – check
Okay, so I’m not dense enough that the last one was really on a to-do list, but don’t we all fantasize about it at some point?
That gorgeous, powerful, wealthy man who makes a suit look like porn?
Those adoring glances, extravagant dinners, heart-dropping gestures, and mind-blowing sex?
The protective, feral, alpha male, who makes your skin tingle, your legs go weak, and your tongue forget how to function?
Except, somewhere along the line, it went terribly wrong.
My vision greys around the edges as his hand tightens around my throat.
There’s no accompanying rush of erotic excitement.
God, there isn’t even terror anymore. I don’t know if he’ll let go this time, and I can’t even manage an ounce of raw fear.
He lets me have one quick gasp as he changes position, then he tightens his grip until I feel dizzy. He’s inside me. Fucking me. Nothing new. But I don’t even pay attention. I’m counting down.
Three. He shudders.
Three days until I run.
Two. The room dims.
It has taken us two years to get to this point.
One. He jerks.
One chance to get away.
Zero. He finishes and rolls off of me.
I whimper as he does, and he takes that as a “job well done.”
He doesn’t care that I didn’t climax. That was never in the cards of his “punishment” for the night. But, he doesn’t know that I don’t even want it anymore.
I’m not aroused. Needy. Nothing that he wants. My whimper was merely involuntary because he hit a sore spot. Probably one he made when he came to my bed two nights ago to tell me all about some new project. A “problem” I didn’t listen to. This. That. Stress.
It’s all I have left.
How did I get here?
Why haven’t I left?
Did I mention he’s rich and powerful? Manipulative?
Tomorrow morning, he’ll play golf with the commissioner.
“Baby,” he nuzzles my neck. Punishment is over. It’s time for apologies. “Don’t disappear without telling me where you are.”
“I’m sorry,” I say automatically. And I sound like I mean it. My voice won’t work right.
His fingers drift lightly over my throat. Empty promises that they’ll never hurt me. Not at this second.
Not until he’s flying high from a rage again. Carried away by some unseen force that turns his affection into affliction.
“You’re beautiful,” he whispers. “I can’t stand to be without you. I can’t stand not to know where you are.”
I keep myself from shuddering. Just barely. “There’s some family stuff, back home,” I whisper. “Mom wanted to talk.”
He doesn’t care about the ‘why’s, only that I wasn’t where he wanted me when he wanted me. “You’ll need to wear a scarf to work tomorrow.”
Nine out of ten days, I do.
It didn’t use to be this bad. Once, he was more angel than demon. I think.
At least he didn’t leave bruises then.
He’d interviewed me for the internship at Dwiser near the end of my junior year. He wasn’t supposed to, but Bob Whoever had to take sick for the day, so the owner’s son stepped in. I can’t tell you how badly my hands were sweating when I found out who he was. How I choked on my words. How he smiled and brushed it off, then closed my portfolio and asked to continue the interview over lunch.
He said he was starving, but I was convinced he only wanted to break the bad news in a less formal setting—you’re definitely not ready for this job.
Maybe he wanted to put me in a more comfortable setting, so I’d loosen up.
Maybe he was just bored. He took me to a quiet, dark restaurant. Held open the door. Pulled out my chair. Ordered for me in fluent Italian.
Whatever his motivation at the time, I got the internship.
I got a hell of a lot more than that.
I fell. Hard. Staring into his pale blue eyes as we ate and chatted, I felt more than “you must impress your future boss” jitters.
After offering me the job, he pulled me aside and said nothing could happen between us. He’d felt it, too. But, he was—and is—married after all.
I could handle just working.
I finished my year-long internship without a hitch, except that hitch in my chest every time we passed in the hall, ended up squeezed into the same crowded elevator—even though the elevators with only the two of us seemed much more cramped.
A wink over coffee.
A brush of his hand as we ate while going over plans for an upcoming project.
Despite his own warning, he pursued me. Notes. Candies. Flowers.
He began confiding in me. His marriage was falling apart. Stress at work.
Then, we had a few drinks to celebrate the completion of my first job after joining the company as a Junior Marketing Coordinator.
Followed by a night in a hotel.
A bad decision.
One that we both avoided for weeks later.
Things with his wife got better.
They got worse.
Nights with me increased.
He took control of my life.
I thought I could fix him.
I thought the anger came from his god-awful marriage. Even though I know nothing about it except what he’s told me.
I listened to him.
He shoved me.
But that was the stress.
I trusted him.
He hit me.
But that was the alcohol.
I loved him.
He choked me.
But that was because I put myself in danger.
He held me.
He sent me flowers.
He sank to his knees and promised to never do it again.
And he’d top off the apology tour with an explosive orgasm that left me sated and compliant.
He was forgiven.
Too many times.
I’m not a stupid person, but I just kept hoping. Holding on to the justification that it was just a fluke. Holding out because it couldn’t all be just a waste.
He filed for divorce.
Things looked up.
His dad swept it under the rug. And instructed them to “work it out” for the sake of the company’s family reputation.
I close my eyes, hoping he’ll leave me alone so I can go to sleep, but he kisses my earlobe. That used to tie my stomach in knots. I guess it still does, but in a way that makes me want to crawl away. I can’t take it anymore.
This afternoon, I used my lunch break to make the arrangements. I didn’t know he’d show up in my office. Or call half a dozen times. He was supposed to be in a meeting, so I’d turned my phone off. He has a tendency to check my records and GPS, so I used a cheap phone I picked up on the corner to call my mom. Then, I pulled my money from my accounts.
He’s going on a three-week second honeymoon. Followed by a week-long business trip.
And I’m going home.
Black, Blue, & Purple Pain
There’s a black and blue person out there right now, in pain from the physical violence they suffered from the one they trusted. Their bruises will begin to fade to purple . . . then yellow . . . and eventually will disappear. Their fear will outlast the pain. Their broken bones will mend, but only physically.
There’s a wounded heart out there. Someone who put faith in another human being, only to have it stripped away and shattered. Words thrown at them that they’ll never forget. Mental disturbances which will replay over again for the rest of their existence. Nothing can erase the pain of this, nothing can take away the destruction it causes. Their emotional state becomes broken with no promise of healing.
It comes in many forms. Some you can see. Some hide in the shadows and behind closed doors. Some show no signs at all.
Sixteen powerful stories from sixteen incredibly talented authors joined together to raise awareness and bring hope to those who need it the most. All proceeds benefit the victims of DV/Abuse to help remove them from dangerous situations and start over before it’s too late.