Agape

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P-please d-don't look at me

Chapter 20

Ella:

My phone is blowing up, message after message, ding after ding, notification after notification. It’s been like this ever since we left school, even after we arrived at Declan’s apartment my phone has been lit up, only showing a dark screen for a moment before coming back to life with something new. Not once have I looked at them, not wanting to see or face my very real issues, avoiding them as long as possible.

It’s one thing after another, a pile of crap piling on and burying me deep under, us under. There’s no other way to explain the list of things that just so coincidentally keep happening. I just want to crawl up in a corner and hide, shadowing myself from the world until it forgets about me completely. Stress and I have never mixed well, and now every fudging thing keeps becoming that much more complicated, a ship on the border of sinking.

My body is aching both physically and mentally, it feels like I just got hit by an actual train. Dried blood is still sticking to both me and my clothes, staining them dark crimson, almost black. The smell is so repulsive it’s making my gut churn and I can’t help but cringe every time I get a whiff of it. I need a shower. I wish it could not only wash away the remnants of someone else’s grime but also wash away the moment I wanted so miserably to forget.

As Declan and I pass the threshold into his apartment, my stupid phone dings again sending bolts of anxiety straight to my chest and down to my queazy stomach. Declan shuts the door, our eyes connecting as he does so. “Give me your phone,” Declan orders seriously, holding out his hand in front of him.

Not breaking eye contact, I pull the device out of my pocket and hand it to him without a second thought. He takes it without looking at the screen and powers it off completely so any new notification that happens to come in won’t be heard or seen until I decide to turn on my phone again. That simple action makes me feel the littlest bit better, at least for right now they won’t distract me or make me feel worse than I already do.

There he goes again, always knowing what to do. A sigh of the tiniest bit of relief falls right past my dried chewed lips. “Thank you,” I mumble, gazing away from him feeling insecurity sink in, knowing how awful I must look right now. Not to mention the horrid smell leaking right off of me. I probably look so ugly, is he thinking the same thing?

Declan tosses my phone so it slides across the kitchen counter from where we’re standing. He then gazes back at me, and the feeling of me wanting to shrink into myself is so insanely intense. That look, those eyes, seeing me, watching me, knowing me deeper than any other person who walks this earth. He’s reading me, my expressions, my appearance, and how I’m holding myself.

I’m motionless under his reckoning stare, my muscles frozen, eyes open, and heart seemingly awoken. No hiding because I can’t. He sees me like this and there’s nothing I can do but just stand and cripple inside thankful he can’t read my mind too. It feels like an eternity when really it’s only a couple seconds. The time has not stopped, it’s just me picking apart all the details I take in and making myself more nervous then needed be. That’s how my stupid brain works.

He brushes off my thank you, barely acknowledging it, he hates when I tell him that for whatever reason. “If I heard it go off one more time I thought I might break it.” He mutters, and I’m pretty sure he’s not kidding but still an embarrassed smile tugs at my worried lips. “I swear some people have no life so they’re always caught up in others to make up for it.”

Declan then takes my hand and leads me to his room. “What would you like to wear today my lady,” Declan asks, watching me with playful eyes. “Cozy casual or warm and lazy.” He then lifts my hand to his lips and places a kiss right before my bruised knuckles.

My lady. My heart stutters and my skin twinkles where his lips just touched, warmth seeping it’s way to always rosy cheeks. He’s so special to me, so so special. “Umm, what’s the difference?” I giggle, looking at my hand he just kissed not being able to help it. Doesn’t cozy and casual and warm and lazy mean the same thing? Or am I just plain right dumb?

When he doesn’t say anything, I glance up. He’s grassy green orbs are staring at the bruises on my knuckles, his soft lips pulled into a straight line showing his discontent and anger. I try to tug my hand away but he holds it tighter. “They’re just bruises D, they will heal. They don’t even hurt.” I say gently, though they are a bit sore, well more than a bit.

His thumb brushes over them, then suddenly he applies a bit of pressure in which I flinch not meaning too. “They do hurt, your whole damn body probably hurts.” He says through gritted teeth, looking me up and down. His eyes lingering on the blood. My heart drops at his accusations because he’s right.

“It doesn’t.” I deny it instantly. “It’s n-not a big deal anyway. We have o-other problems.”

Declan ignores me and instead tugs at the end of my shirt wanting to pull it up. I grab it before he can, stopping him. He lifts his chocolate head of hair, meeting his very intense eyes with mine. “Let me see.” The way he says it, his voice both pleading and demanding tugs at my heartstrings. He’s my protector, my shield, my hero, and my rock. He’s my Declan and he’s worried. “Ella.” He growls lowly.

Once I hear my name I give in and drop my hands to my sides blowing out a mouthful of air. He wastes no time and tugs my shirt up, holding it to just below my sports bra, and examining the exposed area of my stomach. Without warning his warm fingers brush my skin, tracing the faint blue and purple marks, he then gently turns me around and does the same with my back.

As his finger study shivers tremor down my spine and through my bones raising the hairs on my skin up like static electricity all over my body. “I’m okay Declan.” I murmur, watching him with butterflies settling in my stomach.

“These aren’t okay Ellie, not when they’re on you.” He says roughly not taking his eyes off of them. Suddenly he kneels down and without warning his lips plant kisses all over my stomach, warm and gentle and sweet. My heart leaps, playing hopscotch under my chest swelling with so much love for this boy. As much as I try to stay still, I squirm each time his lips come in contact with my skin. Finally, he stops and brings his ever so green orbs up to mine. “I hate bruises—especially when they’re on you.”

I nodded not knowing what to say, because the emotions he makes me feel are too much and there are no words that make sense that will fit. He doesn’t like bruises probably because of his childhood, but when he sees them on me he gets really upset, and it makes me wonder about all the things I don’t know. What had his mother gone through being with a man like Julian and how much of it did Declan see?

How can he always be so worried about me when he’s got all this stuff going on in his own life? “How can you kiss me when I’m gross,” I whisper, admiring the carpet as it now seems so completely interesting. Well, more like me trying to hide my very present and very prominent embarrassment.

Fingers grasping my chin has me bringing my gaze up, having no other option. With his jaw tight, his cheeks bones are extra sharp. “Are you kidding?” He asks, voice deep but it’s not a question. “You think I care about fucking blood?” He pauses, scanning my face up and down. “It’s going to take a lot more than a little blood for me to think you’re gross baby. If that thought were even possible to begin with.”

“But I feel gross D, I feel so gross,” I mumble, blinking rapidly. “I hate myself for what I did.” The words trail off my tongue so quietly, I can barely hear them myself. Declan drops his hand from my chin, then the next thing I know I’m being picked up, his hands under my thighs, and my legs being wrapped around his torso. “Declan.” I gasp. He carries me into the bathroom and flicks on the light, without putting me down he walks over to the shower and turns the nobs testing the water.

Setting me down on the floor Declan looks me in the eye. “I’m going to get you some clothes.” He tells me. “But when I get back we’re going to have a little chat.” With that being said he turns around and walks out the door, shutting it as he leaves. For a second my line of sight stays on the door, his absence feeling cold. He hasn’t left my side since we left school and now with him only a room away, chills sprinkle down on me leaving distinguishable goosebumps.

Shaking my head, I begin to peel off my filthy clothes. Get yourself together Ella. The words become a chant in my head as my feet step into the tub and my hands pull shut the layered slate grey curtain. What did Declan mean were going to have a chat? A chat about what? I plunge into the warm steamy water, not wanting to be cold anymore, hoping it will help my kindling nerves.

As I look down at the tub floor, I see red drops sliding down my legs and pooling the white porcelain a light pink streaming towards the drain. Blood, her blood, the girl I hurt.

I need to get the blood off, I need to get it off.

With an unsteady heart and air-lacking lungs, I reach for Declan’s Old Spice body wash at the far end of the tub in one quick motion just wanting to scrub myself clean. As I step and reach at the same time with little patience, my foot slips on a loofah sponge laying on the shower floor, and instantly my balance is lost and I’m falling, my knees hitting first then my hands. I cry out in pain not being able to stop it, as my knees erupt with it. On top of that, the body wash container falls hitting my back and then after hits the tub, echoing a loud noise.

Tears tumble out of my eyes right on cue as I quickly get off my knees and pull them to my chest feeling the hurt in them. Footsteps come pounding down the hall immediately, heavy and forceful until finally, the door pushes open slamming against the wall. A second later the curtain is being yanked open and those forest eyes are on me, seeing me in just my skin and no clothes. “Oh, Ellie.” Declan’s breathes, immediately climbing into the tub and reaching for me as I cry silently. “Where does it hurt?”

Fear circles my stomachs as my eyes blur and squeeze shut. His hands pick me up and pull me to his lap. My arms cover my chest on instinct as I squeeze my legs together, my knees aching in sharp stabs. He can’t see me like this. He’s going to think I’m ugly. He’s going to see my stretch marks. “P-please d-don’t look at me,” I whisper through trembling lips, wanting so badly to rub my knees but won’t because they’re protecting my chest.

Declan strokes my hair. “You’re fucking beautiful Ellie, you have nothing to be ashamed about so open those blue eyes for me.” He coos, and I do what he says and force my eyes open. “There you go, now tell me where it hurts.”

“My knees.” I croak, cheeks hot as burning coal. This is my Declan though and he’s never made me feel bad about myself.

One of his hands goes to my knees and begins to rub them soothing the ache. “I love you, Ella, all of you, that includes all the pieces you don’t love.” He murmurs, making my insides quench, momentarily forgetting about my knees. “So believe me when I tell you you are stunning—all of your skin and all of your bones are something wonderful.”

“D.” I mumble hiding my head into him.

He chuckles softly. “No need to be embarrassed, you’re mine and that’s how it’s always going to be.”

*

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