Chapter 14 | Jeremy's Sentence
It’s now Friday and I was pulled from school to go to Jeremy’s hearing.
I begged my dad to let me skip it, but he insisted that this could potentially help me move forward with my life and move past it.
So here I am, dressed in a pencil skirt and blazer with my hair pulled back, ready to watch Jeremy’s life change forever. Maybe even my own, depending on his sentence.
I look over across the room and see Jeremy’s parents sitting directly behind him. I assumed they would be as supportive as they can, though I’m sure they must know by now what an awful person their son truly is.
The doors to the courtroom open, and in walks Ethan.
He told me that his parents asked him to sit on their side of the courtroom, to support his brother.
Part of me wishes he would sit with me.
As he scans the entire room, and watches his parents signaling for him to join them, he does something that surprises them both.
He walks directly over to me and sits down in the chair beside mine.
I glance at him, a small smile on my face as he mimics my expression.
“Thank you.” I whisper.
“You never have to thank me, Dal.” He whispers back, pushing his chair closer to mine.
My heart swells, but I don’t have time to think about it as we hear the judge walk in, my attention immediately snapping towards him.
“All rise for Judge Wilson.” The bailiff announces to the courtroom.
Every human being in this room stands up, even Jeremy, though I wouldn’t classify him as a human being.
He will always be a monster in my eyes.
“Please sit.” Judge Wilson announces. “We are here for the sentencing of a one Jeremy Hart. Charges of sexual assault and rape are against him at this time. Jeremy, do you have any final words to state for the record, before we continue with your sentencing?”
I discreetly glance to Jeremy, as he stands up to address the courtroom.
My stomach is in knots, not knowing what’s going to come out of his mouth.
“Thank you Judge Wilson. I just wanted to say that I am deeply sorry for the pain that I may have caused. While I thought I had a green light, so to speak, it appears that maybe I didn’t have that after all. I hope Dallas and her family knows that I am sincerely sorry, and I am willing to take whatever punishment you see fit, your honor. I hope that I can serve my time honorably and then eventually get back to my life. Thank you.”
My eyes widen.
He thought he had a green light? When? When I was screaming for him to stop?
That smug bastard. He’s trying to get sympathy for a lighter sentence.
“I can’t believe him.” Ethan whispers beside me.
“It’s okay. Whatever time he gets, at least maybe it will help him figure out what the hell is wrong with him.” I say in response.
I feel Liam squeeze my knee for comfort.
“Thank you Mr. Hart. Now, let’s discuss the sentence.” Judge Wilson says.
He begins looking through a bunch of files on his desk, and after several minutes, he finally addresses the courtroom again.
“After review of the case, and the evidence involved in the case as well as the victim’s statement, I am sentencing you to seven years in prison. After five of those seven years have been served, we will meet here again to discuss early release for potentially good behavior as well as completion of a psychiatric evaluation. Upon your release, you will also serve two-hundred hours of community service as well as complete a second psychiatric evaluation two weeks after your release date. That is all.” Judge Wilson slams his gavel against the desk and I watch as Jeremy’s mother begins crying to her husband.
As if she can’t believe that her precious son will be going to prison for at least five years.
I hear Ethan let out a breath he had been holding, and I turn to him.
“Are you okay?” I ask.
“Me? I should be asking if you’re okay.” He sighs. “Are you?”
“Yes, I think so. Hopefully those years in prison will make him see what he’s become. Maybe they will help him.” I shrug.
“I can’t believe you’re so calm right now.” Ethan shakes his head. “You’re amazing.”
I feel a blush creeping its way onto my cheeks, so I quickly turn to Liam as he envelopes me in a hug.
“At least he wasn’t let off with no time served. Then we would have had to gone to trial and everything. At least he pleaded guilty.” Liam says, and I nod in reply.
“Can we just get out of here?” I ask.
“Sure, let’s go.”
Lexi couldn’t make it today, which she apologized immensely for. Her mother made her go to school today, even though she begged her to let her skip for the sentencing.
I told her it was okay, and that I had Liam and Ethan with me.
As the three of us begin to exit the courtroom, Ethan’s parents approach us.
“Well Dallas, I hope you’re happy.” Ethan’s mother sneers.
“Mom, stop! Dallas did nothing wrong. I can’t believe you’re defending a rapist.” Ethan is quick to say, which earns him a harsh slap to the face from his mother.
“Sweetie, enough. Let’s go.” Ethan’s father says sternly to his wife. “Before you do something you’ll regret.”
“I’m sorry Mrs. Hart.” I mumble just loud enough for her to hear me, as her and her husband leave the courtroom.
Ethan’s cheek is beginning to turn pink. His eyes are dull and his lips are turned down into a frown.
“Ethan, I’m so sorry.” I say, and he immediately shakes his head.
“You have nothing to be sorry for.”
I nod as he, Liam and I finally leave and head back to our place.
“Who’s hungry?” Liam asks before we make it to our street.
Liam drives us to the local diner, and the three of us sit at one of the small booths near the back of the restaurant.
I text Lexi to tell her the news of Jeremy’s sentencing, and she tells me that she has skipped the rest of school and is on her way to the diner to join us.
After ten minutes, she arrives.
“Hey guys.” She smiles while sitting down beside Liam, who are both opposite of Ethan and me.
“Hey.” I smile back, taking a drink of my tea.
“So, seven years huh? In my opinion he deserved life.” Lexi shrugs.
“I second that.” Liam says with a nod of his head.
I keep replaying the judges’ statement repeatedly in my head.
“With good behavior”
Of course, Jeremy would be good. He’d act like a perfectly modeled citizen if it meant early release.
And what happens after he’s released? Does he go back to raping poor, innocent girls?
Or, will he come out a changed man?
My head is spinning.
“Do you guys mind if I take a walk for a bit? I just need to clear my head a bit.” I ask once I’ve finished majority of my burger and fries.
“Yeah, we’ll meet you back at home.” Liam smiles.
I nod and get up to leave. Suddenly, Ethan is grabbing my hand.
“Can I walk with you?”
I nod again, and we both walk out of the diner and onto the sidewalk down the street.
Our street isn’t too far away, so we take our time walking.
“I don’t mean to be annoying or invade your alone time.” Ethan says from beside me.
“No, it’s okay. I don’t mind.” I smile up at him.
“Can I ask you something?”
I turn to him with a nod.
“How come you didn’t tell anyone when, you know, it happened the first time?”
I know he’s referring to the first time Jeremy raped me, as opposed to the more recent time that resulted in his arrest.
I take a couple seconds to think about his question.
“I guess I was scared. He threatened me Ethan. He told me he would kill me if I told anyone. He sounded so serious… he was honestly scary. I’ve never seen him that way before. I didn’t know what to do. I only told Lexi because I had to get it off my chest and vent to someone. I couldn’t tell you or Liam because I knew you both would have gotten involved and I didn’t want anyone to get hurt because of me.” I explain as best as I can.
“You should have told me.” He says and I notice the pain in his voice. “All of our lives, I’ve always told you that you can come to me about anything. You should have come to me Dallas. I wanted to be that person for you.”
I watch as his frown deepens. He doesn’t look at me, only at the sidewalk ahead of him as we both walk.
I reach out for his hand to stop him. I stop directly in front of him, and force him to look at me by gently grabbing his cheek with my hand.
“I’m sorry Ethan. I couldn’t. You have to understand the position I was in.” I look into his eyes.
“He was my brother, Dallas. And you… you are-“, he cuts himself off and I watch as he battles with something inside of his head. “You’re Dallas and you’re my best friend.”
“I hope that one day you understand why I did what I did.” I shake my head sadly. “All I can say is I’m sorry.”
Memories of the rape are replaying in my mind. I drop Ethan’s hand and tears fill my eyes as I think about everything that I’ve been through.
“Hey, it’s okay. Shit Dallas, don’t cry.” Ethan curses under his breath as he takes a step toward me.
“I’m sorry Ethan.” I say again. He pulls me into his chest, and I’m hesitant at first, but eventually allow his comfort.
“It’s okay. I promise Dallas, it’s okay.” He whispers into my hair.
We slowly pull apart, and as we do, he suddenly stops me from moving. He starts leaning towards me, and before I have any time to react, his lips are brushing against my own.
Immediately, Jeremy’s face enters my mind, and I panic.
“No, stop!” I shout while harshly pushing Ethan away from me.
“Dallas, what’s wrong?” He panics himself, eyes widening.
“Just stop!” I say again, shaking my head.
I don’t give him time to respond, before I’m running away from him and toward our street. We weren’t far, so I don’t have to run for long.
As soon as I begin to run, I hear Ethan shout my name, but I can’t stop my legs from moving.
All I can see is Jeremy.
What is happening to me?
Once I make it home, I see that Lexi and Liam are already here. I rush inside and up the stairs, despite their protests.
Once I’m in my room, I slam the door shut and collapse on the floor beside my bed.
“Dallas, can I come in?” Lexi says gently behind the door.
I don’t answer, so she lets herself in anyway.
She sees me on the floor, and rushes to sit beside me.
I don’t know why, but I’m shaking.
“Ethan kissed me.” I manage to say, finally able to sort the thoughts in my head.
“He what? Is he crazy? It’s way too soon for anything like that!” Lexi sighs.
“I know. He didn’t know that though, it’s not his fault.” I reply.
“So why are you so upset?” Lexi asks quietly.
“As soon as he kissed me, all I could see was Jeremy. That isn’t right, is it?” I look at my best friend, and her eyes soften at my bewildered ones.
“It’s normal, Dal. You went through something so traumatic, it’s normal for you to have a little PTSD.” She says carefully. “You were far from ready, and Ethan should have known that.”
“He probably thinks I hate him. I ran away from him so fast.” I sigh. “I’m an idiot.”
“No you’re not, and he will understand why you ran.” Lexi soothes, putting her arm around my shoulders.
“Stop making so much sense, it’s annoying.” I manage to smirk. Lexi laughs and that’s when Liam walks into my bedroom.
“Wanna tell me what happened?” He asks.
“It’s nothing, I’m fine. I promise.” I say and he nods.
“Well, we rented a movie if you wanna join us.” Liam says to me, and I nod while following him and Lexi down the stairs.
“What ever happened to Ethan?” Liam asks once the three of us settle on the couch in the living room.
“He had to go home.” I say. “He’s fine.”
Lexi sends me a discreet smile and I nod, telling her that I’m okay.
“So popcorn?” Liam asks.
“We literally just ate dinner, Liam.” Lexi rolls her eyes.
“Popcorn can be desert.” He shrugs, getting up to go into the kitchen.
That’s how we spend the rest of our Friday night.
| Ethan’s POV |
After Dallas runs away from me, I continue on to our street and to my house.
The way she looked at me, she was scared of me.
Of me? Why?
I wish I knew what I did that was wrong. I thought if I kissed her, maybe she would finally see the feelings I have for her. Maybe she would finally see that she feels the same.
I must be delusional. Maybe she does only think of me as her brother’s best friend.
As only her best friend.
I know things are still fresh with what happened to her. I know she’s still terrified.
The only thing I wanted to do was comfort her. I wanted to show her how much I care about her.
I’m an idiot.
Once I make it home, I hear my parents talking in the kitchen.
I walk in, and they immediately go quiet.
“Hey.” I say, walking over to the fridge and taking out a can of soda.
I pop it open, and take a drink as they both watch me.
“What?” I ask.
“I don’t appreciate the stunt you pulled this morning.” My mom states.
“What stunt would that be?” I ask, raising an eyebrow.
“Your brother needed your support, and you chose to sit on the opposite side of the courtroom.” She explains. “Why?”
“Are you kidding me?” I give her an incredulous look. “He’s not my damn brother anymore.” I snap.
“Son, watch it.” My dad chimes in, pointing a stern finger at me.
“No dad, I’m not going to watch it. She’s defending a rapist!” I shout.
“Enough! Jeremy is still our son, and he’s still your brother!” My mom shouts back, tears in her eyes. “We don’t know exactly what happened; we can’t just assume it was all on him.”
“You’re just as screwed up as he is, if you honestly believe that.” I shrug, taking another drink of my soda.
My mom immediately begins shaking her head. “I don’t know what’s gotten into you. You and your brother were so close, how can you just say that?”
“Because mom!” I cry out, “He hurt the one and only girl that’s ever truly mattered to me! He hurt her and stole her innocence. She will never get that back! And now she’s…” I trail off, thinking back to earlier tonight. “Now she can barely even look at me, because all she sees is him! So yes, I can just say that, and I will say it. He’s not my brother anymore and he’s not the same person he used to be. He’s changed, and he’s evil and I hope that one day you realize the truth.” I finally say, turning to storm out of the kitchen and upstairs into my room.
I hear my dad call out for me, but I ignore it.
Everything is so fucked up.
And it’s all his fault.
I hate him.