[ 0 . 4 ]
As soon as all has taken their seats, South and I are getting questioned about our encounter. With Adrian sitting to my right and Daniel to my left, Ashton to Adrian's right and our parents to Daniels left, the Relish family sitting in front of us, we began our conversations and dinner.
After taking a gulp of her wine, Ruby speaks up, "so tell us Delaney, how did you and South meet?"
I lightly choke on my own white wine before answering, "oh it was while I was on a run this morning. Nothing special really." I mumble the end but hear South's chuckle from across the table.
He decides to tell the whole story, "well, when I was about to start my run I heard a lot of curses around me so I looked and saw Delaney just falling on the floor because she ran into an signpost" he began and West spits out his food of laughter, "I told her we should go to the hospital to get her checked out because it was a nasty fall but she accused me of kidnapping her but in the end I still brought her there and when I told her my name she started to laugh uncontrollably because she already met North and East and asked 'so, where is West?' and laughed even more at her own joke."
While I gave him a deadly glare are the rest chuckling or laughing out loud, such as Adrian, Ashton and West. After this, dinner was filled with a lot of conversations and laughter and I must say, the Relish family is incredible. Now I also know why our parents chose Ruby and Aaron as our godparents. They are simple the most kindhearted people I ever met as well as funny as hell. The brothers are so much alike yet so different at the same time but you can tell they are very close. All in all, dinner was fantastic. After an hour however, Ruby decided to ask me something that takes my happy mood away instantly.
"Oh Delaney honey, I heard you are about to get married soon! Congratulations dear!" Her voice shows real excitement while I freeze in the middle of taking my drink. I see my family reacting the same but they don't say anything.
I feel two reassuring hands on my legs from Adrian and Daniel who are giving me sympathetic smiles yet you can see anger behind it. Not towards me nor Ruby but Ethan.
I clear my throat, "thank you Ruby. It means a lot but our engagement was called off a few days ago." I give her a weak a smile before standing up and excusing myself politely and going outside in their garden. I close the door behind me and sit on the bench of the terrace.
I just stare of in the distant, replaying the events from the last days. I still don't know how we got from madly in love to being cheated on and abuse. How can a person change so much. Maybe it was all a facade but I guess I will never know. I feel something wet dropping on my cheeks and realize only now that I'm crying. I wipe my eyes, not even caring anymore that my make up will smear and my bruises will show. Suddenly I feel something poking my leg with a whine. When I look down I see a majestic looking dog. It's pitch black with light brown eyes and it's huge.
I warily reach out my palm and hold it in front of him. He is sniffing it before licking it and placing his head on my thighs. I scratch him behind his ears and he purrs softly which still sounds very deep. Others would be terrified by his looks but he looks simply majestic in my eyes.
I'm still crying when I hear the door open behind me and the dog looks up shortly before laying his head on my thighs again. I feel a presence sitting down beside me but he or she doesn't talk. I look slightly to the person and see that it's North. I sigh, he already knows a little bit about my ex from what he encounters. Feeling his arm wrapping around my shoulders, pulling me in his chest I stiffen a bit before relaxing when he caress my arm softly.
"You know, you don't need to be ashamed about what he did to you." his voice is low but soothing.
I sigh again, "you know, my dad once told me, 'I can tell you over and over to leave the situation, but you won't until you are ready. One day you will wake up and realize that this isn't what you want to feel like anymore and you are done.' I repeat it over and over again in my head since it happened and I wish I realized it sooner. How can someone keep their facade so long without even showing a little bit of their true self for such a long time, North. I don't get it. Was I that naive all these years?" My voice breaks the more I speak.
He puts his chin on my head before replying, "no Delaney. You weren't. Some people are just like this. Some people like to play games and they are so good at this that no one sees it coming. You aren't naive nor you ever were. What he did will stay on your mind for a while and you will continue to think you were just naive enough to believe him and that you did something that lead for him to cheat and got abusive towards you but it's not true. You were never naive nor have you done something to him that leaded him to do something like that. Just keep in mind non of this is your fault and that it's his loss. Also, you have your family by your side the whole way of recovery just like you have my family and me by your side. You aren't alone and if you ever need a shoulder to cry on, my door is always open or if you need a night out call me and the boys and we will be there. You aren't alone Delaney and someday someone will come and show you what love really means."
I take everything he says in and my heart flutters from his words. Who knew the intimate look of him is truly covering this side of him but I'm nonetheless scared.
I sniffle slightly, "but North, you don't understand. When he punched me that night or choked me at the company, I felt so helpless. I couldn't protect myself from him and if it weren't for you, East or Daniel, I wouldn't have gotten out of it. I never needed to protect myself. I grew up with three brothers and a father who were nothing but lovingly to me and I never thought I would be in a situation were I need to protect myself towards a man because I always thought that men aren't supposed to hurt a woman due to my brothers and father. They always said a true man never hurts a woman, no matter how mad he is."
"And they are right," he begins, "a true man never hurt a woman but he isn't a true man. He hurt you badly, not only emotional but physical. And, Delaney, it's not to late to learn self defense. My brother, Toly, is the owner of an gym with a boxing studio in it. You can talk with him and make appointments to start. He will gladly do it. We were taught to never hurt woman and we all despise them and I bet your family will be more comfortable to know you can protect yourself from this bastard." the way he spat the word bastard shows how angry he really is.
I sigh, "but I can't just do that. I bet he has many clients and no time and I really don't want to take his time away for this." I pull away from him slightly.
He looks at me, "none sense, he will gladly do it. Trust me."
Trust me. I trusted Ethan but he cheated and beat me. I trusted Rebecca but she betrayed me. Call me naive or simply stupid but I trust North.
I look him in the eyes, "I trust you."
He gives me an breathtaking smile which shows his dimples.
"I will go get him and you talk. You can tell him what happen or not. It's your choice okay?" I just nod at him and he kisses my head before going inside.
I take a deep breath and close my eyes. Overthinking my decision but before I could think more about it, the door open once again and out comes the oldest Relish brother with the somewhat normal name.
He sits on the seat where North just sat only minutes ago, "Hey you okay? North said you wanted to talk."
I take a deep breath, "yeah, it was actually his idea and I tried telling him no but he wouldn't take no as an answer so if you say no it's okay. Really, it is. Don't feel pressu-" before I can finish my sentence, he stops me.
He chuckles, "calm down Del before you get an heart attack. Just talk to me okay?"
I sigh and nod, "so you know how I said the engagement is called of right?" He nods confused so I continue, "it's way more complicated than that. I found him cheating on me a few days ago and when I broke up with him, he got physical. He punched me and the next day, at the office when I had my meeting with North, East and Daniel he came and threatened me while holding me in chokehold. North said that you own a gym with an box studio in it and told me to ask you if you could help me with self defense. If you are too busy it's no problem of course."
Without hesitation he answers, "I will do it. We won't let him hurt you again. I will show you everything you need to know." He holds a promise in his words while I'm sitting here, shocked.
"Are you sure?"
He chuckles, "of course. A man should never lay his hands on a woman."
I sigh, relieved, "thank you so much Toly, really, it means a lot."
He laughs now, "don't worry honestly. I'm glad to help. Now come on, let's go inside. The boys are in the 'boys lounge' getting drunk with your brothers. We can't miss that."
He takes my hand and leads me inside and down to the basement. The lounge is huge and totally boyish.
They all stop what they are doing, looking at me shocked, mostly west and South as they see the bruises for the first time but don't speak up on it, thankfully.
Soon enough we all are sitting on the couches, drinks in our hands and telling each other the most ridiculous stories from our childhood.
Suddenly Adrian and Ashton are jumping on the couch, standing on it and shouting, "SHOTS SHOTS SHOTS."
It's gonna be an interesting night. That's for sure.