Chapter 8 | Promises
I am startled awake when I hear the front door slam downstairs.
I shoot up in bed, but instantly regret it. A piercing pain shoots up my side through my ribcage and the throbbing between my legs hasn’t let up since I finally managed to get home.
It took me almost an hour to walk back home, despite my best efforts to walk fast.
I passed by a few people, and nobody even seemed to notice me. I knew I looked rough, definitely scared. Still, not one person stopped me to ask if I was okay.
I suppose that’s a good thing, because I wouldn’t have been able to come up with a good enough explanation for my appearance. My shirt, slightly ripped on one side, matched my pants that were buttoned but not zipped. My hair had come out of its bun, so it hung loosely around my shoulders and back.
When I did manage to get home, I tried my best to take a very hot shower. It helped to wash away the disgusting feel I had all over my body, but it did nothing to stop the pain.
I immediately crawled into bed after my shower, and I’ve been asleep ever since.
Crap, I forgot to text Lexi and Liam.
When I got home, I messed with my phone for a bit, and I did manage to get it to turn on. The screen is still cracked, but it’s not so bad to where I can’t see anything. I’ll have to take it to a repair shop whenever I get the chance.
“Dallas? Are you here?” Liam shouts from downstairs.
I need to answer him. They’re going to want to know why I never showed up for school today.
“I’m in my room!” I manage to shout as loud as I could. My throat is still a little sore from Jeremy’s attempt to strangle me.
I hear numerous footsteps, so I know Liam isn’t alone.
My heart pounds against my chest as my bedroom door swings open.
“Why didn’t you show up at school today?” Liam immediately asks. Lexi is behind him, and so is Ethan.
“I just didn’t feel good. I’ve had bad stomach pain all day. It’s not a big deal.” I manage to say. My throat is burning but I can’t let them know that
“You were fine last night.” Liam comments. “What happened?”
“I’m not a doctor Einstein, I don’t know what happened. Why does it matter? I feel better.” I shrug, slightly wincing as I try to sit in a more comfortable position.
“You don’t look better.” Ethan comments.
I can’t even look him in the eyes after what happened today. All I see is that he’s related to Jeremy.
“Uh, can you both give us a minute?” Lexi suddenly asks, looking at Liam and Ethan.
“Why? Secrets don’t make friends.” Liam gives Lexi a pointed look.
“Yes, but friends make secrets so get out.” She simply says as she pushes them both out of my bedroom and closes the door.
“That wasn’t very nice!” Liam shouts from behind the door, but soon after we hear their feet walking down the stairs.
“Want to tell me what really happened?” Lexi says as soon as we know the boys are no longer listening.
I immediately look down at my lap as I begin playing with the end of my blanket.
I still feel as though my body is shaking, and when Lexi makes a move to sit beside me, I flinch.
“Dallas...” She begins, “What happened?”
I shake my head, not wanting to relive what I have experienced, but I can’t keep this locked inside. I need to tell someone, and if I can’t tell Liam or Ethan, then I need to be able to tell Lexi. I know she will keep it between us, at least I hope she will. I can’t risk Jeremy hurting me or hurting someone else if I try to tell on him. Besides, I don’t want everyone to look at me with pity for the rest of my life.
Something terrible happened to me, but it shouldn’t define who I am. It shouldn’t define how other people see me.
“Dallas it’s me, Lexi, your best friend since toddler days. You can tell me anything.” She says soothingly, making sure not to startle me again with any sudden movements. I know she wants to reach out to me, but everything that happened is still so fresh... I just can’t tolerate anyone or anything touching me.
Before I even realize what’s happening, I feel tears pouring down my face.
I sob once, and this time Lexi doesn’t hesitate to put her arm around me.
I flinch again, but my subconscious tells me that it’s okay, so I lean into her for comfort.
“J-Jeremy...” I mumble, and I feel Lexi’s entire body tense up at his name.
“Oh God... what did he do Dallas?” She begs for answers.
I shake my head again, trying to think about anything to stop the tears from flowing down my cheeks.
“Dallas.” She says more sternly, and it almost makes me flinch a third time.
“He um... well, I was walking to school-” Lexi cuts me off before I can finish.
“That damn Liam. He should have waited for you instead of leaving you without a ride. Why didn’t you call me? I would have come to pick you up. I wouldn’t have cared about being late.” She says, and I nod at her reasoning.
“I was walking to school,” I continue, “and Jeremy, he pulled me into an alley...” I can’t even finish the story before Lexi has tears in her eyes. She knows what I’m about to tell her. I can see it all over her face.
“Did he...” She trails off, and all I can do is look at my best friend and nod.
I let out a loud sob before Lexi pulls me into her arms and I’m crying against her chest. I feel a few of her tears fall onto my shoulders, as I am only wearing a tanktop, and I wrap my arms around her waist.
Anything for some comfort.
“He raped me Lexi... He raped me and broke my ribs. He tried to strangle me.” I say in muffled sobs against her chest as she rubs soothing circles into my back. “Why did he do this?” I cry even harder.
I hear Lexi sniffle back more tears as she slowly rocks me back and forth.
“Dallas... I’m so sorry. I can’t believe I let this happen. I’m so sorry...” She whispers.
I shake my head and pull back so we are looking at each other again.
“It’s not your fault. It’s mine. I shouldn’t have been walking alone. I shouldn’t have made Jeremy angry that night at Ethan’s pool gathering. I shouldn’t have-” but Lexi is quick to cut me off.
“No! It’s not your fault at all Dallas! Listen to me...” She grabs my shoulders, forcing me to look at her in the eyes. “It is NOT your fault. He did this. It’s his fault. He’s a disgusting human being, and you can’t just let him get away with this.”
Her sadness has now shifted to anger.
I weakly shake my head. “I can’t tell anyone. Neither can you.”
“Are you kidding me? Of course we’re telling. I’m calling the police right now.” She says while reaching for her cell phone. I quickly reach out and take it from her.
“No!” I beg. I feel another instant pain shoot up my side, but I do my best to ignore it. “You can’t tell anyone! Please!”
“Why are you defending him? Why wouldn’t you want to lock him up for this?” She asks while giving me the most pained incredulous look I’ve ever seen.
“Because Lexi! He threatened to kill me if I told on him. Who knows what that psycho is capable of; I can’t put myself or anyone that I care about in jeopardy or danger. It’s not worth it. I just want to forget about this. Please, promise me you won’t say anything to anyone!”
She immediately shakes her head. “I can’t promise you that Dallas! It’s insane!”
“Please! I’m begging you! This happened to me. Let me handle it how I want to!” I urge. “I just want to forget...” I sob again, wiping furiously at my swollen eyes.
I can tell how conflicted Lexi is. Her eyes are wet with tears, but her face is stone cold. She doesn’t want to promise me anything, but she knows that she has to. It’s our one absolute best friend law.
We came up with it when we were six. Never deny a promise, and most importantly, never break one.
“Lexi promise me.” I demand while holding out my pinky finger.
She frowns deeply while slowly raising her hand to meet my own. She sticks her pinky out hesitantly, and I quickly lock mine with hers.
“I promise...” She trails off, looking down at the floor.
“Thank you.” I sigh in relief.
It’s silent for a while before Lexi’s eyes widen.
“Did he use any protection at least?”
I look down while shaking my head.
“Oh Dallas... tomorrow I’m going to pick you up before school, and then we can go buy the morning after pill for you to take.”
“I’m not going to school tomorrow. I have broken ribs. I need to rest for a day or two. I just don’t know how I’m going to explain that to my dad or Liam.” I sigh.
“I’ll buy the pills on my way home tonight, and then I’ll stop by early in the morning to drop them off to you before I go to school. As for your explanation, lie and say it’s your period.” She shrugs.
“I guess that could work. They don’t know my cycle.” I lightly laugh. Lexi smiles, but soon after it fades.
“I can’t even imagine experiencing anything like that. How are you going to deal with this?” She asks.
“The best way I can, I guess.” I shrug. “I don’t really know.”
“Well if you need someone to talk to about it, I’m here. Always.”
“Thanks Lex.” I weakly smile.
She carefully pulls me in for another hug, before we hear a knock at the bedroom door.
“Are you girls done being girls? Jeremy wants us all to meet over at Ethan’s for dinner.” Liam says behind the door.
My eyes widen.
“I can’t go over there. Neither can you. I don’t want you around him Lexi.” I say firmly.
Lexi walks over to my bedroom door and opens it.
“Dallas and I are going to stay here tonight. Girl time and such. You boys go have fun.” She fakes a smile.
“Dallas, you sure?” He peers behind Lexi to look at me.
I nod and smile as best I can, before Liam sighs in defeat.
“Fine, but Dal, you’re driving us to school tomorrow.” He smirks.
“Actually, I’m not going to school tomorrow or Wednesday.” I quickly say.
“And why not?” Liam raises an eyebrow.
“Well since you need to know, it’s that time of month and my cramps are killer. I just want two days to relax. Is that so much to ask for?” I fake a tantrum.
“Sorry, sheesh. Well see you later.” He says before walking back down the stairs.
Lexi shuts my bedroom door again.
“Close call.” I sheepishly smile.
Lexi smirks, but isn’t impressed with my lies.
“One day, you’ll need to tell them the truth.” She suddenly says. “Especially Ethan. He deserves to know what kind of person his brother is.”
“I know...” I sigh. “I know.”
The next day, I make sure to wake up early for when Lexi arrives.
As I walk into the kitchen, my dad startles me.
I wince as I grip my side. “Dad!”
“Sorry kiddo, what are you doing up so early?” He asks, giving me a confused look.
“Needed more Motrin.” I shrug, walking over to the far cabinet in the kitchen.
“You sure you need to miss school because of cramps?” He suddenly asks.
“Dad, they hurt. Very badly. I need time to just lay down and relax while it goes away. You’re not a woman so you don’t understand.” I say and he makes a funny face.
“Thank God for that.” He chuckles. “Well I’ll see you tonight for dinner. Get some rest. Love you.” He says before getting up and walking towards the front door.
“Love you too!” I shout from inside the kitchen.
Thank God he left before Lexi got here.
“Sweetie, Lexi just pulled up!” Dad shouts from the doorway. “Why is she here if you’re staying home?”
“She’s taking some of my homework to school with her. I have a few things that are due today.” I lie.
“Alright, see ya!”
A few seconds later, I hear Lexi walk through the door.
“Bye Mr. Ryder!” I hear Lexi shout before shutting the front door.
She meets me in the kitchen with a look of relief.
“Whatever lie you came up with, good job.” She laughs.
“Thanks.” I wince as I reach to put the pill bottle back in the cabinet.
“Still hurting bad?” She frowns.
I nod. “I’ll be fine though.”
“Here.” She opens her bag and pulls out a plastic bag full of different things. “I got you a couple new DVDs, the morning after pill, some fresh iced tea and a bag of gummy bears.”
“God, you’re amazing!” I smile wide, taking the bag from her. I put the tea into the fridge to keep for later, and instead pull out a bottle of water.
I open the morning after pill, and waste no time swallowing it.
“I already feel better.” I lie.
“Well I doubt that, but at least you won’t end up pregnant.” She replies.
“Will you hush? I don’t want Liam to hear!” I whisper-yell.
“Sorry.” She mouths before grabbing her bag and giving me a small hug. “Text me if you need anything.”
“I will.” I lie. I don’t want to keep bothering her.
“And keep the doors and windows locked. I hate knowing that d-bag lives right down the road.” She grimaces.
“Yes mam.” I nod.
“Promise?” She raises a brow.
“Promise.” I weakly smile. “Doors and windows will stay locked.”
“Good. See you later.” She says before leaving.
I walk over and lock the front door, before I slowly walk around the house making sure all of our windows are locked, including the back door that leads to our backyard.
Once I finish, I slowly walk over to the couch and get comfortable with a blanket before turning the TV on. I should go back to sleep, but now that I’m awake, I can’t.
Almost an hour later, Liam comes strolling down the stairs fully dressed for school.
“How are you feeling?” He asks while sitting beside me on the couch to put his shoes on.
“The Motrin is helping, but I still don’t feel all that great.” I admit, which is technically not a lie.
“Well, I’ll check in with your teachers about any homework.” He smiles.
“Thanks Liam.” I smile at my brother.
I want to tell him what happened so badly. I want him to go over to Ethan’s house, and beat Jeremy to a pulp for hurting me. I want him to protect me from the world, but I can’t find the courage to speak up.
He’s always been my defender, and protector, but this is different.
I just don’t know where to begin.
“I’ll see you for dinner, alright? I think dad is wanting us to eat together tonight.” He says, pulling me away from my thoughts.
“Alright, sounds good.” I say. “Have a good day at school. Tell Ethan I said hey.” I smile.
Liam kisses the top of my head before grabbing his bag and leaving. I hear the Jeep start up, and I get up to watch him pull out of the driveway. I make sure the front door is locked again, before I turn to head back to the couch.
Not a moment later, there’s a knock at the door.
My stomach drops. Everyone is gone. Who could this be?
I walk over to the door, but can’t seem to reach the peep hole. I try to stretch, but an instant pain shoots up my side, so I decide to open the door.
My eyes widen as I stare into the horrendous eyes of Jeremy. Before he can say anything else, I immediately slam the door shut and lock it. I hear him jiggle the doorknob, before he begins pounding against the door.
“Dallas, I just want to talk. Please let me in.” He shouts from the other side of the door.
I shake my head, though he can’t see.
“Go away!” I cry.
“Just open the door, I promise I won’t hurt you!” He tries again, but I’m smarter than he is.
I am not going to open this door, so that he has a chance to come inside and hurt me again.
“I mean it Jeremy, go away!” I scream.
There’s a moment of silence and then I walk to peek out of the window. He’s gone.
But for how long?