Cara Marshall called out to her mother as she walked to the front door of their modest two-bedroom home, “I’m going over to Jenna’s.”
“Be home by nine,” Caroline Marshall shouted from the kitchen as she heard the front door shut. She stopped washing dishes, dried her hands on a dish towel and picked up her cell phone. Caroline quickly texted Cara reminding her to be home by nine. She wanted her home by then partially because it was a school night, and partially because Michael Matthews got home at ten o’clock. It would not be good for Cara, or Jenna, if Jenna’s father caught Cara at their house that late at night.
When her text tone sounded on her phone, Cara opened the message and rolled her eyes. She knew to leave Jenna’s by nine. Her mother worried too much. But then, it would be very ugly if Jenna’s father caught her at their house. It would be especially bad if he caught them in an intimate embrace.
Cara and Jenna had been dating for over a year. They had been close friends for almost six years, but it wasn’t until Christmas last year that Jenna finally admitted that she was in love with Cara. Smiling, Cara remembered how nervous Jenna had been. It hadn’t been news to Cara. She’d suspected Jenna’s feelings for a while.
Truthfully, she had been praying that her feelings for Jenna were not in vain. Cara had been in love with Jenna since they first started hanging out in seventh grade.
They had science together that year and Mr. Tabor always sat the students in his class in alphabetical order by their last name so he could remember who was who. Jenna Matthews name came in order alphabetically after Cara Marshall that year. They had hit it off right away. They both liked science, all sports, and Italian food.
Cara’s text tone went off again. This time it was Jenna. She opened the text as she unlocked the back door of the Matthews’ house with the key Jenna had given her. “Don’t come over.”
“Too late. I’m already here,” Cara text back.
“Shit,” Jenna hissed as Cara was striding into her bedroom.
Before Jenna could stop her, Cara said, “Hey,” and wrapped her arms around Jenna and kissed her on the lips.
Jenna pulled away. “You have to leave.”
Before Jenna could do anything else, her father stormed into the room. He glared at both for several seconds before turning his rage on Jenna. “You fucking bitch!” he yelled. Grabbing Cara by the arm, he flung her across the room like a ragdoll.
“Run!” Jenna screamed at Cara.
Jenna’s father back handed her, knocking her onto her bed. She scrambled to the opposite side and screamed, “Run, Cara!”
Cara picked herself up off the floor. She was dazed and stared at Jenna as she continued to scream for her to run. Jenna’s father jumped on the bed and chased Jenna to the other side, cornering her between the bed and the wall.
“Get away from her,” Cara screamed, ran to him, and started hitting him on the back.
Matthews was a big man. When he backhanded Cara, it sent her sprawling across the floor. This time she did get up and run.
Jenna’s father started punching her in the face and yelling, “You should have kept your ass out of the fucking garage.”
At five-seven, Jenna was not that much shorter than her six-foot-tall father. But in his rage, he seemed taller and bigger somehow. Jenna was not a small woman. She was big boned like her father and worked out. None of that helped in her attempts to defend herself against her father’s rage. He was hitting her so hard Jenna could feel the bones in her face breaking.
Finally, he hit her hard enough to send her crumpling to the floor. The blows continued until the last thing she remembered was seeing the chair raising above his head as he delivered the blow that knocked her unconscious.