Chapter 40: Ground Shaking
The twins and I sat in silence in our own booth and Natalie and Dave sat across from us at a table of their own. It looked like no time had been lost between them at all. Had I not known the story, I never would’ve guessed that they’d ever been separated from each other. Upon a closer look at Dave, it looked like he was still frozen with disbelief. He was enjoying having his friends back, but the questions were still on the tip of his tongue.
“Told you Phoenix. You were wrong about him this whole time.” spat Steph knowingly.
“Persephone Stephanie Penelope Jeremiah I fucking get it already. I was wrong about the guy. I’ve already apologized. Move on!” I shook my head laughing at them as I rolled my eyes. It’s been about an hour since the two had been reunited and the twins were having this same argument over and over.
“I think it’s sweet.” I blurted trying to cut them off. I didn’t want the two of them to start up again.
“Huh?” asked Nix.
“I mean think about it. He thought she was gone forever and she feared that he was next. For years they were hurting and even though it was something they could do about it, they wouldn’t dare put the other at risk. It’s a beautiful story and friendship to tell. It’s like no time has been lost between them.” I was beginning to tear up as a weirdly jealous ache forced its way around my heart and sticking its thorn in it. “Don’t mind me. It’s just...I wasn’t born with my best-friend and I won’t ever come close to a story like theirs. I think I’m a little bit jealous to be honest. My childhood bestie tried to harm me in the most ridiculous of ways and shows no remorse for it.”
A part of me felt bad about lashing out at them, but another part of me wanted to completely ignore it and drag Dave away with the promise of sex. However, a very small voice was telling me now that he has Natalie back there wasn’t a need for me anymore. It was that small voice that kept me seated.
“You still have Dave, Spice.” sighed Nix reaching over and grabbing my hand. From the corner of my eye I could see Dave watching. It was weird, it was like he knew exactly when to look over.
“I’m not too sure I’ll have him for much longer.” I sighed. “They only have three weeks to catch up before we all have to go back to our lives of barely communicating and not sleeping. Not to mention the no sex. So I’m going to let him catch up with his person. I can’t deny him that because I don’t have one of my own that goes back as far as they do.” My heart was beginning to ache the more I watched them. I loved Amar, but it had been four months and I wasn’t too excited about having to share him.
I may have grown a bit clingy out of fear that I would do something stupid without him around, but I was trying to maintain it. No one likes a jealous girl. The twins were sharing a thought that I wasn’t allowed to hear, but pretty sure it was about me. Dave continued to glance over this way while still chatting it up with Amar. I liked that he was concerned about me, but I felt guilty about it. He should have been focused on this rare second chance. My head was starting to hurt, and that was mainly due to all the damn nicknames circling around. I would be lying if I said the little demon inside me was happy right now. She’d gone full blown red, damn near magenta as she watched the two catch up. She wanted to play games we both knew he would hate. She wanted to piss him off and make him cry; sadly a part of me wanted it too. A part of me wanted to hurt him out of jealousy because he’d gotten what I could only wish for.
“I can’t believe this.” I breathed still in complete disbelief. I couldn’t believe that she was sitting in front of me right now. I couldn’t believe that I could see her, touch her, hear her and smell her. It was really her. She wasn’t a brunette anymore, had gotten a nose job and was clearly older, but it was her. I’d recognize her and her voice anywhere.
It was her.
“I’m so sorry I couldn’t tell you Scar. You don’t know how many times I almost said fuck it just to make sure you knew and that you were okay. Hell, at some point I began begging my parents to do it even though they thought it was too dangerous. Somehow Justin had found out that I was in the hospital and had sent threatening texts to me. Someone told him that they heard the EMT’s had managed to revive me in the ambulance, but it wasn’t looking too good for me surviving. I mean the first part was true. He was ruthless though. Most of the messages were about how I better hope that I didn’t make it through the night because it would only be worse if I did. Some were even about you. He swore to destroy me and the boy I loved. I had to protect you. That was the only reason I testified, and everyone agreed it was probably best to send me out to California with my aunt for safety reasons. I knew they were right, I just wish I didn’t have to lie to you about it. I just wish that I didn’t have to leave you.” she held her head down clearly, filling with regret over the past. I smiled to myself as I reached over and lifted her head until we were making eye contact again.
“Bear, there’s nothing to apologize for or even regret about. I’m just happy that you’re okay. Happy and alive. You are finally the girl I’ve always been able to see you as and so much more. That’s all that matters.” I meant every word I said, but that monster inside was yelling how we went through all of that for nothing and then he’d look at Maria and sigh. For her, to him, it was worth it.
“You’re so different now.” she said softly, bringing my attention back to her. “You’ve learned to relax your shoulders for once. No need to tell me, I already know. I mean I’ve met both of them and heard the stories so I get it. I’m still sorry you had to go through all of that on my account, but it’s not all too bad. That girl over there is a beautiful soul. The kind you only meet once in a lifetime. I can tell how much she loves you Scar. She talked about being jealous of me with neither of us realizing it and still she puts you first. I’ve been replaced in your heart and honestly, I’m happy about it. I love her and I will make it my mission to steal her for myself, but seriously, don’t mess it up. Balance is key. We can catch up any time, but she has your heart and you have hers. I can see the two of you being together for a long time. Sidenote, I love the story behind that chain around your neck.” I smiled at her trying to hold back the tears. I was feeling entirely too much. It was one thing to assume they’d love each other, but it was another to know I was right. They truly were so much alike. More than I’d realized. Both would give up there alone time with me for the other and didn’t care what I wanted.
“Are you happy?” I asked, gesturing towards Phoenix. She blushed as she looked down at the table and away from me. I guess he and I were going to learn how to truly get along and not just fake it for a few hours. In the quiet the door chimed with incoming people. I was still waiting for a response when I heard it.
“Look it’s fuzzy!” came the gleeful voice from by the counter. He sounded a little too excited for my liking.
“Leave her alone Chase.” whispered the other voice and now my little monster was on alert too.
“Fuck off Jace. Stop being a wimp because you fucked up, let’s go say high.” and now I was no longer paying any attention to Natalie at all. Something was telling me Maria needed me, but I had to make sure first. Why did this Chase guy give me bad vibes?
I heard them before I saw them and instantly my chest began to tighten. It felt like I couldn’t breathe as I tried to calm myself down. I didn’t need to have a panic attack, not now. Not when things are finally starting to move forward; but the more I heard his voice the clearer that night became. The memories had already begun to clear to the point where I could recognize him, but I still didn’t want to believe it. Now I had no choice. It had been him. I never understood why and I never would. He was Jace’s best-friend. I was losing my grip on reality as my grip on Phoenix’s hand tightened to the point I was sure my nails would end up drawing blood.
“Wheb...wheb…” I was trying to ask her where were we going, but I couldn’t seem to get the words out. My tongue felt heavy in my mouth. It was like I was losing all control of my muscles. My body felt limp and I was getting tired. I didn’t understand. I hadn’t drunk enough to be intoxicated like this. I was nauseous, but I didn’t know why. Or maybe it was all in my head. Maybe I had drunk more than I thought. Or I’d drunk it to fast and it was all hitting me at once. “Lari…” I groaned feeling my foot slip, but she caught me.
“Shit. I’m so sorry Maria. I don’t know what I was thinking. I wasn’t thinking.” Clearly she was talking to herself. It was almost as if I wasn’t here with her. “I really am sorry, although you won’t remember any of this. You won’t even know it was me behind it, but I need to say it for myself. You really are good, but you’re just too good. I need to be the best. I have to be the best.” her words were getting lower, almost a whisper. Did she not think that I could hear her? She did say that I wouldn’t remember. What was going on?
We finally made it wherever she was taking me and she helped lower me down onto what felt like a bed. It was soft and I sunk right into it. Yet, every part of my body was on alarm and wanted to run. My brain was screaming at me to move, a voice I’d never heard before was screaming danger in my ears, but my body was in a deadlock. I couldn’t move even if my life depended on it. It was like all muscles had simultaneously decided to give up.
“I have to go now. Don’t worry, It’ll only be Jace coming in. You’ll be okay. You two love each other anyways, right?” I had no idea what she was talking about, but I didn’t like the tone of her voice. She was saying all the right words to make it seemed like she was on my side, but her tone was telling me that she wasn’t. That she was my enemy and wanted to hurt me. My head was spinning, but I had to muster up all the energy I could to talk.
“Clare…” I groaned my mouth feeling dry. She paused for a moment and looked as if she had tears in her eyes before running out the room. Not even a second later the door opened again.
“Well well well. What do we have here?” came a voice. It sounded familiar, but it definitely wasn’t Jace like Clarissa claimed it would be. Was that Chase? Why was Chase here? Was he drunk too? “Awwn, look at you Fuzzy, all partied out. Can’t even hang. I have no idea what Jace sees in you. You’re a little girl. Barely a woman. Or maybe you’re a woman in all the places that matter.” I could feel as his hands began to touch me, pulling off my clothes and feeling on me. I wanted to scream. I wanted to push him away, but for some reason I couldn’t. I had no idea what I was happening to me, but I didn’t like it one bit.
“No.” I cried the word barely coming out as a whisper before everything went black. The last thing I remember was his mouth on my privates as his fingers explored my insides. He kept telling me to be quiet and relax. That he was only warming me up for Jace and would be done soon.
At this point I was using the five senses to keep calm and not embarrass myself.
What can I see?
I could see Dave and all my friends staring at me worriedly.
I could see my demon reaching out, panicking for her beloved monster.
I could see Jace and Chase noticing me.
Oh no! I can see them heading our way.
What can I smell?
I could smell the meat cooking.
I could smell onions and cilantro.
I could smell Nix’s cologne mingled in with the aromas.
I could smell my own fear pouring out of my pores.
I could smell the faint scent of Dave’s cologne still lingering on me.
What can I hear?
I could hear my name being called.
I could hear the tics on the clock.
I could hear the sizzle from the cooking meat.
I could hear my heart thumping.
I could hear my demon screaming for the monster across the aisle. I recognized her voice now from the one that had been screaming danger. She wanted Dave’s protection, but even he couldn’t save us now.
What can I taste?
I could taste my own saliva. It tastes a bit salty from the tears pouring down my cheeks. Some get into my mouth.
I could taste that my mouth was almost as dry as cheap tissue despite the extra water.
I could taste the remnants of the taco sauce I’d eaten.
I could taste my own fear as his knowing eyes peered me down making me feel like his victim. It made my mind begin to wonder, but those thoughts would only ensure a full blown panic to burst.
What can I feel?
I could the necklace around my neck choking me and I wanted nothing more than to get it off.
I could feel the bracelet on my wrist practically burning into my skin.
I can feel my heart pounding in my ears. Beating so hard it’s like it’s racing against my blood flow.
I can feel my blood pulsing through my body, racing to get where it belongs. Trying to press the flight button hard enough for me to just get out of here.
I can feel my leg bouncing nonstop both frozen and restless at the thought of him touching me again. At the thought of him being so close to me pretending like everything was normal knowing what he’d done to me.
No no. Focus on positive feels.
What can I feel?
I could feel Nix’s hand tightening on mine trying to give me comfort. He may not have known, but I was sure he was starting to understand.
I could feel the warm air from the restaurant’s heat.
I could feel the proof of Dave’s love around my neck and on my wrist claiming me forever as his.
I could feel droplets of sweat building the closer he got and soon they were standing right in front of me.
I clenched my nails down in Nix’s hand again as my breathing became more and more labored. He was saying something, but I couldn’t hear. There was a ringing in my ears. The treatment method I’d learn wasn’t working. The more he smiled at me the more that night flashed in my mind.
I could feel his nasty hands on me as his lips kissed from my neck and down my body. I could feel those same hands holding me down when I’d gotten a burst of energy to squirm. I could feel those horrible fingers as if they were still inside of me, assaulting me, making me feel disgusting. I could feel his mouth on me only stopping to tell me how much he thought I liked it. He thought I was moaning in pleasure when I was really crying on the inside begging for him to stop. I couldn’t make my mouth move to make the words, but my insides were crying out. I could still hear him saying that it wasn’t a big deal. How he was just getting me started for Jace. I could feel him taking advantage of me. Right now those cold brown eyes staring back at me was remembering every detail I wanted to forget and he was enjoying making me uncomfortable.
I still didn’t know if Jace knew or not, but none of that mattered anymore. I was losing it and I was losing it fast. Where was Dave? Why wasn’t he here to protect me?
Everyone was watching her waiting for her to say something, but she didn’t. Tears were starting to come out of her eyes even more. Phoenix was staring at me pain in his eyes before it all clicked for me. Whoever this Chase dude was he had something to do with that night. The one that continuously haunted her. Forgetting about Natalie I was quick to get out of my seat and rush over to her.
“Baby, baby what’s wrong? Just calm down.” I didn’t want to panic because she was panicking. That would only make things worse. I had to remain calm until she was. “Focus on me Minnie, just focus on me.” I cooed bringing her face between my hands. That turned out to be a big mistake.
“Don’t touch me!” she screamed, making us all jump back wide eyed from the amount of fear in her voice. “Please don’t touch me.” she whimpered out trying to scoot further away from me. She was in full blown panic mode and wherever her dazed mind was, she wasn’t coming back. It didn’t help that I’d made the mistake of caging her in the booth making her freak out more and now I was pissed. It definitely had to have been him.
“What did you do to her?!” I growled my little monster taking the reign. I was pissed. Not once did she take her eyes off of him. This was because of him. I was going to kill him. “What did you do to her that night?!” I screamed, grabbing a fist full of his shirt as I cocked my fist back ready to beat him bloody.
If I had allowed myself a moment to think, I would’ve realized that doing that in front of them was not the right time. I could hear both Bear and Pumpkin begging for me to stop as Minnie sat there screaming with her hands covering her ears; but it was like I couldn’t hear them. Almost as if I didn’t care that I was terrifying them. The monster had taken over and it felt good to let him out for once as each punch connected exactly where I wanted them to land over and over again.
Not even her screams could calm me down.
It was like I was stuck in a trance of that night constantly on replay. I could hear all the commotion around me, but I was stuck in the memory of that night. I could hear him calling for me to breathe, but as soon as he touched me all I could do was freak. Once I started screaming I couldn’t stop. I could feel everyone eyes on us and it just made it worse. I knew I was safe, but I thought I was safe last time also. It was like I was having a severely delayed reaction to that night.
I didn’t know who I was searching for or why I even was, then I heard his voice.
“Princess it’s okay. It’s okay.” he whispered sitting next to me. His tone felt familiar and comforting. I could see him slowly reaching out to grab my face. My eyes focused on his and everything else seemed to drown out. “It’s me Princess. I’m here. I’m here, okay?” my breathing started to slow as I forced myself to focus on him.
“Where were you?” I cried bringing my hand up to enclose it over his as I clung to him desperately. “Why did you let him do that to me? Why didn’t you help me? Where were you?” he pulled me into his chest whispering about how sorry he was as I just cried. My body was still in shock as I just sat there letting him fail at soothing me. Only a few things were left roaming in my mind. Did he know? Had he known all along and just pretended he hadn’t? Did he choose his best-friend over me and that was the real reason he’d moved so far away? “Where were you Jace?” I cried as he hugged me tighter. “Where were you?”