Dominic texted me early Saturday morning, before I had woken up. His texts are always brief, to the point, and final.
"Come by this afternoon, around three. I want you to wear something blue."
I pull on some old black jeans and start looking. It takes me a while to find something blue in my closet. I have an old shirt, soft heavy fabric, but it’s a nice navy blue. I don’t usually wear it because I worry about the neckline dipping too low. It’s my only blue shirt aside from the one Jordan got me, but I refuse to pull that out, I’m not risking making Dominic mad.
At least I get to see his family, they’re definitely a silver lining in all this, they’ve been very accepting of me. I usually stay an hour or two after babysitting just to talk to his parents.
Grabbing my keys, I tip toe past dad’s office. I can hear him searching in there, he’s probably almost out of booze. Another sober spurt would be welcome right now, but I know it’s a couple days off, he usually starts searching when he’s on his last two bottles of whatever. Before I forget, I gather the cash I hide in the kitchen, if there’s no cash in the house he won’t be able to get anything new to drink. All cash lives in my glove compartment until dad is sober.
I pull on my jacket and step into the cold. It’s not even forty degrees but at least it’s mostly sunny, it won’t be too bad of a drive. There are a lot of neighbor kids outside playing, seeing them as I get in my truck makes me miss being that age. When I had my family, my best friend, when I had my life.
Pulling myself from my thoughts I move quickly. If I take too long I’m sure Dominic will have a few things to say about that. Tapping the wheel gently, I make my way through town and to his house.
Pulling into the driveway I’m surprised to not see his mom’s car. Must just be getting it clean or something. I try to bury my dread as I grab my keys and march up to the door. Ringing the bell I wait for the door to open.
“There you are,” Dominic leans on the door frame but blocks my ability to come in, “Damn, blue really does look good on you.”
I’m shocked, that’s the only time he’s given a compliment that felt even remotely sincere.
“Thank you,” I keep my head down as he steps aside and pulls me in the house, it’s way too quiet, “Where are your parents?”
Not even three steps in, he’s slamming the door and pinning me to it. Panic sets in and I try not to scream. I didn’t do anything wrong, did I?
“They took Emily out for the day, they won’t be back until tonight,” He doesn’t look mad. He’s looking at me and groaning with frustration, he licks his lips and flashes me a new kind of twisted grin.
“I can only imagine what’s under here,” He runs his hand along the waist of my jeans, wiggling his fingers to make a space between my pants and shirt.
His hands are cold and unwelcome, I try to gently push him away, praying that he has some boundaries.
“Shh, stop it,” He whispers against my neck, “Just take the easy way Rhea, just relax.”
I don’t stop, even though every fiber of my being tells me to heed his warning. My hands push against his to keep them off as he tries to travel up my chest. He pushes hard, pressing into my bruises, I flinch at the pain but keep trying to get him off me.
Slowly the fighting gets more intense, I have to move fast to keep up with his hands. I’m crying and begging him to stop, pushing his hands and body off me as best I can. He’s clearly getting angry with me as I try to slide out from under him. I try to push him, hard, to get him to back up but the moment I do I realize I’ve made a mistake.
“Goddamn it!” He grabs my wrist with one hand and slaps me hard across the face with the other.
I fall, landing on the small table by the door. I feel the wood corner drive a scratch into my face, touching the wound I cringe at the sight of the blood, but Dominic isn’t done.
He yanks my hair, pulling me to face him, “I told you that we could do this the easy way, or the hard way. Just know that you could have avoided this, this is all your fault.”
My tears burn my cheeks as I stare at him in terror, waiting for him to just get this over with. He pulls hard on my hair again, making me cry out in pain. I see the smile spread over his face as I cry harder.
“Please,” I beg, “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry. Please don’t. Please Dominic, please let go.”
I try to push his hands off my hair, only making him tug harder. He drops my hair but grabs my arms instead, pulling me up the stairs and to what I assume in his room. He shoves me hard onto his bed and stands over me.
I feel my whole body shake as the tears flow down my cheeks, mixing with the blood from my cut.
“Last chance Rhea, are we doing this the easy way or the hard way?” He keeps his voice low as he leans down over me and sniffs my hair.
“Please don’t do this,” I choke out between sobs.
He growls and grabs my throat, “Shut up, or I swear to god I will push you down the stairs when I’m done with you.”
I nod as best I can, I can’t breathe. I just want him to let go, but he doesn’t, he eases his grip a little while his other hand travels down to my jeans to unbutton them. He squeezes my throat the more I shake but I can’t help it, I can’t stop no matter how badly I want to.
"Take yourself to a happy place, take yourself to a happy place,” I think to myself as he lets go of my throat and lets his hands travel over every part of me.
I flinch when he pulls my shirt up. He stares at my bruises that my father gave, he doesn’t look concerned or scared. He chuckles!
“You’d think with all this you’d know better than to fight, such a shame,” Dominic says as he continues to pull at my clothes.
I close my eyes tight and try to pretend I’m somewhere else, anywhere else. I think about sitting in the middle of the desert at night, counting the stars.
"1...2...3...4..." I still feel Dominic’s hands, the more places he touches the more I count, ”5...6...7...8...9...10..."
I think of the park Jordan took me to, the swing and the ice cream shop. I think of the way he held me when I was scared, I try to focus on that feeling but it’s blocked out by a sharp, sudden pain between my legs. I cry out.
“Stars, count the stars,” I tell myself again, ”11...12...13..."
I sob quietly as I feel Dominic’s body press to mine, he bites me on the shoulder and neck, hard enough that I start crying more.
I feel like time is slowing down, like this will never end as he grips me hard and pulls me closer to him. His nails drag down my body, making every scar and bruise ache. I whine and try to push him away, his only response is to pin my arms down and keep going.
I try to count again, but I can’t remember where I was, I can’t find that happy place. So I just sit and cry until he finally pulls away from me.
My body is covered in his sweat, my hips hurt and my body aches. The spot between my legs feels warm and drippy. I start shaking and crying again as he gets dressed, I jump as he throws my clothes at me.
“Go home and clean up,” He says, as if everything were normal, “I’ll tell my parents you can’t babysit tonight, that you’re sick. Don’t come back until that cut on your face is gone,” His voice gets darker as he turns to stare at me, a smirk resting on his face, “Maybe now you’ll learn to take the easy way.”
He leaves me there as he walks out of the room, not bothering to close the door behind him.
I cry harder than I think I ever have before. I keep my hands up and away from my body, everything hurts and I feel... Dirty.
I somehow manage to stand, even though my legs shake under me. I get dressed and hurry down the stairs, stopping when I see Dominic standing at the door.
He just stares at me like it’s any normal day. I slowly walk over to him and he pulls me into a hug, I tense as he holds me.
“Drive safe, we wouldn’t want anything to happen to you, now would we?”
All I do is nod as he pulls open the door and I leave. I feel like I may get sick, I can’t go home right now. I can’t.
I pull over faster than I should. Moving fast, I swing open my door and throw up. Coughing and spitting out the last of the bile, I pull my door closed and try to calm down. I have to tell myself to breathe, otherwise I won’t in an attempt to stop the crying. It does nothing.
Making my way back down the road, my vision blurs from tears that I have to keep wiping away. I need something, something good again, I need Jordan. I know it’s ridiculous, and I know he wouldn’t pick up if I called, but I know I still have his shirt and that will do for now.
"Just get home, just get home,” I repeat in my mind.
I press on the gas a little harder, already smelling the comforting smell of chili powder and chocolate.
"Just get home.”