Riding with the Pack

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Chapter 8

Tessa

“Pink or blue?” Grace asked over her shoulder as she clutched two bouquets of flowers closely to her chest.

“Neither,” I replied flatly.

“Oh don’t be such a sour puss!” She fussed at me while gaining approval of the pink flowers from mom.

“Yeah seriously Tess, don’t ruin this for us!” Monica added sharply as she tried on several mossy headpieces.

I ignored my sister’s hushed criticism of my ever-lacking enthusiasm and stormed out of the bridal shop happily without another word. I wasn’t really in the wedding planning mood anyways, nor would I ever be. It had been a few weeks since my ‘date’ with Ethan and my sisters were readying themselves to be married, pronto.

I had avoided participating in fittings and choosing a dress all together in hopes that I could avoid questions about the horrid bruises and bloody scabs that he had left on me. I was almost completely healed by now but I had taken to wearing long sleeves lately and now it was just becoming a habit.

I rolled my eyes at the sight of my sisters giggling to one another cheerily through the store window. It looked like they were having the time of their lives without me shitting all over their lace-covered parade.

I understood that they likely didn’t need me starting shit with them right before Grace’s ceremony, so I decided that the best thing I could do at the moment would be to go home and get ready.

Both of my sisters deemed it necessary to have their own wedding even though we were all betrothed to the same man. Technically, we all couldn’t legally marry him in the state of Michigan due to the taboo subject of polygamy and things of that nature.

So, while Grace and I have a big overpriced ceremony that is totally unnecessary and constitutionally meaningless, Monica had anointed herself to be Mrs. Ethan Buhtram in the eyes of the law.

That’s right.

Sound it out.

The man’s last name is Buhtram. As in butt-ram.

I can’t make this shit up.

Regardless of my injuries, tonight I would be forced to wear a hideously snug dress that was the ugliest shade of pink that I had ever had the misfortune of laying my eyes on. Grace’s wedding was scheduled for this afternoon and she had insisted on all of us wearing the lightest hue of rose she could find.

She had also found it necessary to drag all of us out of bed at the crack of dawn to accompany her for a last minute fitting that eventually turned into a shopping trip for even more ‘wedding essentials’ for Monica. I seriously didn’t understand their infatuation with this stuff in the first place. It all struck me as being a bit redundant.

Nonetheless, I hated the fact that I was basically ruining this special moment that my siblings had been dreaming of since we were toddlers. I didn’t want to be the bad guy here, I really didn’t. But I just couldn’t put my hatred for Ethan aside and the fact that they were trying so hard to force his existence into my face was really starting to piss me off.

Of course, I couldn’t blame them. After all, they were totally head-over-heels in love with the guy and who was I to get in their way? I mean, it wasn’t like they knew that he tried to rape me or how badly he had hurt me.

Seriously, if they heard about how he lured me into a dark smelly motel room in the middle of the night and tried to take advantage of me, we wouldn’t be shopping for last minute bridal attire now would we? Because surely if they knew what had happened, they wouldn’t think twice about dumping his sorry ass and consoling their loving sister instead.

Only, they did know. They knew everything. I had told them word for word what had happened and even showed them the cuts, bites and bruises that he had inflicted on me. Once I had gained enough strength to peel myself up from the bathroom floor that night, I had woken them up in search of compassion and support. I sobbed my heart out to them as I recounted an entire play by play of the evening, and they STILL wanted to marry the guy!

Hell! Monica had even gone so far as to accuse me of lying and somehow managed to twist my words around, eventually insinuating that the entire situation was my fault. Not to mention the fact that she straight up admitted that she didn’t believe a word I had said and went so far as to convince everyone that I had made the whole thing up. What a bitch.

Meanwhile, he-who-shall-not-be-named, had gathered the nerve to show up to our family home a couple of days after our incident in a futile attempt to explain himself.

I recalled him waltzing through the front door bearing the heavenly twists of stitches that started at his temple and trailed all the way down to the side of his neck in four satisfyingly jagged lines awarded by yours truly. He also sported a bulky nasal splint to accessorize his badly bruised nose that I had so lovingly broke along with a thick layer of medical tape that was struggling to keep the gaping hole in his bottom lip shut.

I had taken pride in his damaged appearance at the time and even bragged about it a bit before my sisters decided to take it upon themselves to exact revenge. They tried fruitlessly to rip my freaking head off and it eventually led to me and Grace rolling around on the floor in a mini sparring match. After a small scuffle between my siblings and I, the bastard had the audacity to request speaking to me in private.

I undeniably refused for obvious reasons, which prompted my father to drag him out of the house by the nape of his neck unapologetically. I hadn’t gone into detail when explaining what had happened to my dad for fear of what he might do to the poor bastard had he found out. While I hated the man, I didn’t view him worthy of causing my dad’s inevitable incarceration.

Either way, this cycle repeated itself every other day for the next few weeks and I think we were all sick of it at this point.

Whether I accepted his apology or not would have little impact on our upcoming nuptials, so my will was beginning to wain at this point. My mom and sisters were adamant on forcing me to marry his sorry ass by the end of the week and they’d even gone so far as to plan my entire wedding for me. They’d already bought my dress, picked my venue, and chose the theme for me in a matter of days.

Our separate ceremonies were all scheduled to be exceptionally close together and were all booked for this week. Grace chose to go first and have her reception an outstanding butterfly garden that was about an hour away from our home on Tuesday (today) so she could, and I quote, “Get the frilly shit out of the way”.

I was scheduled to sell my soul this Thursday in a budget-friendly backyard ceremony, while Monica’s over the top beach wedding would be this weekend in Hawaii.

You heard right.

While I was stuck with the bootleg matrimonial service in the woods, my sister would be wedded in fucking Hawaii. I mean, it only made sense of course. They had already planned for our honeymoon to take place in the Aloha State, so why not get legally bound to him while we were there? That way, we wouldn’t have to wait for the real fun to begin. Life just keeps getting better and better.

I finished my hair and makeup quickly so that I could take my time driving my dad’s truck to the exclusive ceremony. As soon as I arrived, I was rushed through the heavenly building by Monica who was chewing me out for being late.

I hurriedly threw on my horrendous garment and eventually made my way down the lengthy aisle alongside one of Ethan’s groomsmen. I was vacuum sealed into a tight baby pink strapless dress that I was surely going to pop out of at some point. Trying to ignore my crushed diaphragm, I anxiously waited for Grace to make her grand entrance.

The venue she had chosen was surprisingly pretty. It had a secluded garden that featured all types of colorful flowers and provided tons of privacy due to the overgrown rose bushes that were ordained with hundreds of delicate butterflies.

The band strummed their instruments lightly and their whimsical tune mixed melodically with the babbling of a nearby creek. Everything about the girly details of this place absolutely screamed Grace and I was surprisingly very happy for her.

She was getting everything she ever dreamed of and as her sister, that’s all I really wanted for her. I just couldn’t help but feel disappointed that they didn’t seem to feel that same for me.

My self loathing was cut short after the live band changed their tune to indicate that Grace was coming and I looked on in awe at my sister.

She was wearing a breathtaking lace gown that hugged her toned body like a second skin. She had a sheer veil covering her face and a dainty bouquet of white roses that seemed to illuminate the skin of her arms that were clutching Gavin for dear life.

Her makeup was simple but incredibly stunning and the sight of her was almost enough to make me cry. Almost. Maybe if she wasn’t marrying a total asshole I would be blubbering right now, but I digress.

Her dad handed her off to my abuser. I tried my best to ignore the mushy vows and shallow promises that she and Ethan made to one another. The sound of his voice made me sick to my stomach as he professed his love for her with a short acknowledgement of the rest of us.

There were several prayers and promises that they were asked to repeat to one another before sealing their eternal love with a sloppy kiss. Bile arose in my throat and while everyone in attendance seemed to be fighting back tears, I was losing a fearsome battle with the blueberry muffin that I had for breakfast.

Thankfully, they wrapped things up swiftly before I had the chance to hurl. They soon made their descent down the long aisle together and the garden surrounding us wept with joy.

Grace’s reception was exceptionally loud and hard to ignore. There was dancing and rounds of shots being poured down the throats of everyone in attendance, including Ethan. I had tried to make myself scarce during the main events, but when the DJ began playing most of the songs I had grown up to, I couldn’t help myself.

I stormed onto that dance floor like I owned it and shook my rear with my sisters like no one was watching. We jumped and laughed and held hands as our bodies writhed around like legless monkeys. I’m not ashamed to admit that we were having the time of our lives.

Maybe it was the booze.

Nonetheless, I was enjoying myself.

Suddenly in my alcohol fueled enjoyment, I became fixated on reenacting the scene from Dirty Dancing. Grace and I had spent countless hours practicing that very move in our living room growing up and I was more than ready to show off our years of hardship.

“Grace!” I yelled far too loudly before realizing that she was right behind me.

“You don’t have to yell!” She chastised with a smile. “I’m right here!”

“Dirty Dancing!” I blurted out, deciding to get straight to the point before I allowed common sense to take over.

“Are you nuts?! We can’t do that!” She gasped while glancing at her exquisite dress.

But the wide grin that fell upon her glossed lips told me all that I needed to know.

“So you’re in?” I clarified giddily.

She simply nodded and without another word, we both walked to the opposite ends of the dance floor. The crowd around us separated and engulfed us in a sea of drunken applause. Monica simply looked on in distaste.

She’s just mad because none of us could lift her heavy ass, I remarked to myself.

As if on cue, I overheard Monica explaining to Ethan that she was far too ‘mature’ for such childish acts. Yeah, right.

I ignored my bitchy sibling and met the eyes of my much bitchier, but far more fun at parties and wrestling matches, sibling. I nodded to her and we simultaneously made a dead sprint at each other.

I stopped midway and extended my arms to prepare for the brunt of her weight. My hands were immediately met with Grace’s firm stomach and I hoisted her tiny body into the air effortlessly. The crowd around us erupted into vigorous cheers and screams much to our amazement.

“We did it!” I exclaimed excitedly.

I twirled her around happily as she straightened out in the air and the cheers grew louder. I spun her again once, twice, thre- OH SHIT!

My dress got caught beneath my damned heels and we came crashing down to the ground in a pile of baby pink fabric and a fit of giggles.

“YOU DROPPED ME!” She yelled while crying with laughter.

“I know!” I giggled back. “I guess that’s why Patrick Swayze wasn’t wearing heels when he-” I began before a rather peculiar sensation danced across my chest.

I looked down as I felt a chilling breeze cut through my dress and- Oh my God! My DRESS!

My strapless dress had been pulled down in the fall and now my bare breasts were on full display in the middle of the fucking dance floor! My entire body burned a deep shade of red as the embarrassment set in.

Grace must’ve realized my predicament as soon as I did because she immediately roared out in a new onslaught of laughter.

“TESS!” She cried out with her watery eyes wide. “Your tits are out!”

I hurriedly threw my hands up to cover myself while she quickly threw her arms around me, enveloping me in a big bear hug that shielded my torso away from the rest of the crowd. I made quick work of putting the girls away and fell against my savior’s shoulder. My saving Grace, if you would.

I chuckled at my silly inside joke and the entire reception area erupted in laughter with me.

Why are they-? Oh! Right, we fell in the middle of the dance floor and my tits popped out of my dress. My sober mind reminded me. Great.

“Kill me!” I snorted as I pulled away from my sister’s embrace to meet her large grey eyes.

Her face was flush with amusement as she gasped for air between several unflattering cackles. I soon was able to pinpoint the familiar bell-like laughter of my mom and a whole new wave of embarrassment set it.

EVERYONE saw me ruin Grace’s wedding!

“Grace, I am so sor-” I tried to blurt out but was instantaneously waved off.

“Oh my God! That was HISTORICAL!” Grace coughed out as fresh tears ran down her rosy cheeks. “I can’t breathe!”

“Yeah, Tess. Way to bring the house down,” Monica teased as she began to lift the two of us off of the wooden floor.

Most of the guests were still laughing at our little show but none more than Grace. She was scream laughing at this point and crying out unintelligible words every now and then that seemed to pull her into a deeper fit of giggles. She was bent over and holding her abdomen as she howled loudly, causing my sisters and I to snort and chortle at her hilarious display.

Suddenly, she stood up right with a horrified look on her face.

“I’m gonna pee!” She squealed without so much as a chuckle in her voice.

“Oh shit!” Monica appeared like a well dressed bodyguard.

It was obvious that Grace wasn’t going to make it to the bathroom in time. She had been a serial bed-wetter as a kid and her sick childish habit had blossomed into a fully grown handicap. The woman couldn’t laugh without peeing a little and there was always the risk of her bladder unleashing its hellish substance wherever it damn well pleased.

All I could do was pray that we could get her to the bathroom in time without her cotton colored dress taking on a not-so appetizing lemony hue.

We gripped her wrists like a vice and ran for dear life to the ladies room, shoving any poor soul aside that dared to get in our way. Once we reached the doors, Monica charged inside and readied a stall for our panicking bride.

“I’m not gonna make it!” She cried out.

“The bathroom is small and it’s out of toilet paper,” Our oldest sister began as she ushered Grace into the tiny space. “I’ll run to the men’s room and grab some more.”

“Tess, I need you to make sure nobody tries to come in here. The last thing I need is a bunch of nosy aunts and in-laws stressing me out,” Grace ordered.

“Got it!” I chimed.

“Back in a flash!” Monica called back as she made a slow jog in her heels to the other side of the building.

I stood idly by for several moments and decided it was probably time for me to kick off my heels. The floor in this area was carpeted and there was a small corner that shielded the bathroom doors away from the rest of the guests. I was most definitely buzzed and busy fiddling with my stilettos, which may have been the reason I didn’t hear him sauntering into the enclosed space.

“You put on quite the show tonight,” the deep familiar voice that haunted my nightmares slurred out from above me.

I looked up to meet the cinnamon gaze of my former aggressor and instinctively straightened my posture while taking a large step back.

“Who knew you'd be that fun at parties?” He smirked while taking a large step toward me.

“Leave me alone, Ethan.” I ordered loudly.

“Oh come on, why you gotta be like that?” He cocked his head to the side and gave me a crooked grin.

“Please just go,” I pleaded.

My voice came out smaller than I had intended as fear gripped my windpipe. He shook his head from side to side as he woozily made his way closer to me. I backed away again, only to feel the sickening roughness of the solid brick wall kiss my bare shoulders. I looked around quickly for a means of escape but he was on me as soon as I broke eye contact.

His hands slammed against the wall on either side of my head, pinning me between them and forcing me to stand compliantly in his rancid grasp. I could smell the booze on his breath and he was obviously well past the point of being drunk. I highly doubted that he would even remember any of this in the morning.

“You know,” he began. "They look exactly how I thought they would.”

His gaze fell down my body to take in an eyeful of my cleavage. Great. So the sick perv saw everything.

As if affirming my fears, he roughly ground the stubby tent that had formed in his pants against my hip and I had to swallow back the bile biting my throat.

I dug my nails into his chest and tried to shove him away with all of my strength but he pressed himself against me firmly. His body molded to mine like a second skin as he held me in his clutches like a parasite latching onto it’s host. In the same instance, he ruthlessly nipped at the sensitive lobe of my ear while greedily running his hands up and down my curvy figure.

“Ethan, stop! Not here! Please stop!” I begged as tears welled in my eyes at his ever present touch.

“Sh, don’t fight it.” He purred as his teeth dug deeper into the flesh of my ear. “We’re getting married in a few days anyway, so what’s the point?”

Fresh tears rolled down my face in a never ending stream as the memories of our last encounter bombarded my thoughts. My hands desperately fought with his as he allowed his left paw to begin aggressively lifting up my gown while his right simultaneously clawed at the small bit of fabric that hid my ever-blessed chest. My body seemed to be going numb and my legs were losing their fight as I tried in vain to knee him in the groin.

“Help me!” I cried out weakly past the lump in the throat.

He used the hand that had been meddling with my top to cover my mouth. He then roughly forced my face to the side, pressing my tender cheek into the sharp brick wall.

“No one’s going to help you, you’re mine.” He garbled with his teeth bared before shoving his slimy tongue into my ear.

His proclamation of ownership over me seemed to fuel a new onslaught of assault as he swiftly ripped my top down, exposing my girls for the second time that evening and officially ruining my dress.

His gluttonous hands fondled my chest as I punched and scratched at him as hard as I could but the drunk bastard wouldn’t budge. His filthy paws ran down the length of my body once again and made their way to my nether region, where he began fooling with the thin lace of my underwear.

“Help!” I sobbed out brokenly as I viciously fought against his grip.

Just when I was beginning to lose all hope of being rescued, a small gasp sounded at the end of the hall. Ethan paused his attack momentarily and loosened his grip slightly, giving me enough leeway to thrust myself from his grip.

My body slammed against the ground but I didn’t care. I lifted my top to cover as much of my exposed bust as possible and scooted as far away from his as I could.

I looked up to see who had come to my aide so heroically, only to be met with the wide grey orbs of my sister. Grace's head peeped out of the open bathroom and tears stung her retinas.

“What the hell?” She choked out as she stared at Ethan.

I could see the wheels turning in the sick fucker’s head.

“Gracie, listen.” He drunkenly begged. “She was all over me and-”

“Bullshit!” Grace snapped furiously.

She stormed out of the washroom and her entire body was shaking. She was pissed.

Thank God.

“Baby, I know this looks bad.” He uttered as he swiftly closed the distance between them. He reached out to caress her face without thinking.

Idiot.

“Don’t fucking touch me!” She screamed. Her thick painted claws dug deeply into the skin of his arm, drawing blood.

He winced at the pain and dropped his hand quickly.

“I’m sorry! I-” he blurted.

“Shut up!” Grace snapped. “Don’t you dare say another word to me you pathetic drunk!”

“Okay! I’ll just-” he began again in a hushed voice, likely not wanting to gain anymore attention than he already had.

Just then Monica returned with a roll of toilet paper. She looked at us questioningly and analyzed the situation before her. I decided that this would be as good a time as any to make my grand exit.

I covered as much of my body as I possibly could with my tattered dress and ran out of the building as fast as I could. I didn’t stop running until I reached my dad's truck and drunkenly navigated my way home. My eyes burned from the long drive but it gave me time to think.

Correction, it gave me time to plan.

After tonight’s events, there was no way in hell I was marrying that asshole. I would rather die than be stuck playing the subservient housewife to that walking shit stain for the rest of my life.

No. I won’t marry him. I promised myself. I’m getting the hell out of here, and I know exactly how to do it.

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