Hello everyone and thank you for reading this far! I just wanted to quickly flag that this chapter and the one following contain mild references to abusive relationships that might be triggering for some people! Feel free to skip it if you think that could be the case for you and don’t worry you’ll be able to understand what happened in the upcoming chapters!
James rolled his eyes when Karen sent him the pictures taken by the paparazzi the night before.
So apparently a hug makes us an item. Where’s my diamond ring, honey?
She had texted.
Haha, I should be so lucky! But yeah, smh...they have no shame. And apparently, nothing better to write about...
No, at all. I’m sure the story will die on its own. Hopefully, it won’t get you in trouble with your lass.
It can hardly be called a story! And on that note, I wish this were our biggest problem...
Trouble in paradise?
Are you free any of these days? Fancy a glass of wine, apple of my eye?
Ooh, a face to face discussion. That bad?
James looked at the photos again and thought of Lucy. They hadn’t spoken since that Sunday morning almost a week before when he’d found out about her boyfriend, or soon-to-be-ex, from what he had gathered (and hoped). He missed her in his life but needed to be cautious because he didn’t want the attraction he felt for her to cloud his judgement.
He opened her Instagram page for the first time in days and saw nothing out of the ordinary: stories and pictures about her vacation, photographer level photoshoots of her on a beach, on a boat, in a tree.
The length some girls would go for a good picture, he thought. And the pictures were good. She was stunning with a new suntan, glowing hair under the sun; they made him want to kiss her and bite her everywhere.
He clicked on one photo of Lucy in an oversized t-shirt, her hair in messy waves and her lips plump and red with lipstick. She was sitting cross-legged on a chair on a balcony, the sunset over the ocean behind her.
It reminded him of one of the times she had come back from a trip, got out of her uniform and straight into bed with him. When he was done with her, her hair was messy, her lips still red and she looked so fucking sexy.
He closed Instagram and put his phone on inflight mode, he couldn’t torture himself like that.
With a Nirvana playlist on full blast, he entered the gym and started his boxing training.
Lucy and Harriet were chilling on the balcony of their hotel room, they had opted for a quieter evening in and, after buying alcohol and mixers, they had gone back to the hotel, put on some music and enjoyed a relaxing girls night.
“You know, regardless of everything that’s going on, I still can’t believe you had sex with James fucking Kent, it still doesn’t sit in with me! I think about it from time to time...”
“That’s creepy Harry...” said Lucy grabbing a handful of popcorn.
“Well I don’t think about...that! Just the idea. It’s crazy! And you know what’s even crazier? The fact that is our new normal! And that I can’t watch his films or shows as I did before because of a few things you told me”.
“Sex scenes don’t do him justice...”
“You little slut...” said Harriet with a grin.
Then Lucy’s phone rang.
“It’s Sam!” she said surprised and worried.
“Don’t answer it,” suggested Harriet.
Lucy shook her head
“He’s just gonna become more insistent...”
She pressed answer and put on the loudspeaker, as a mean of psychological support.
“Sam. What’s wrong?”
An obviously tipsy deep voice came from the other end.
“Jees, baby that’s a cold hello. Where are you?”
“I told you, I’m on holiday”.
“I know that. Cancun right? I mean where are you now? Are you out?”
Lucy rolled her eyes, annoyed.
“No, I’m in my hotel room. Are you calling for any specific reasons?”
The man chuckled “Can’t a man call his girlfriend? Because unless I missed something you’re still my girlfriend. Who are you with?“.
Lucy shook her head in exasperation.
“Sam, we’ve talked before I left and we will again when I come back. Now I need some time to think...“.
“You took four bloody months to think. And I respected that: we haven’t talked decently in four months. Who are you with?“.
“No, I haven’t talked to you in four months. Your presence has been ever so prominent,” Lucy was heating up and Harriet gestured to her to calm down.
“Can you answer my fucking question? Who are you with? You want to be free to fuck as many as you like before you go back to me? Cos you always come back Lucy, let’s face it. You just want to be desired...”
Lucy took a deep breath.
“Well then maybe this time you should do yourself a favour and forget about me”.
“You belong to me, Lucy. You know you are nothing without me". Sam yelled in frustration.
Lucy wanted to scream. But she didn’t. She blocked her ears with the palms of her hands and after closing her eyes for a moment, she hung up the call.
“Well done sweetie!” said Harriet, hugging her. “Are you ok?”
“Yes, I am. I’m so over it, honestly, he can’t keep treating me like that!“.
Harriet stroke her hair
“Of course not honey! It’s about time you let that sorry-not-sorry ass go! I think you’re just postponing the inevitable if you keep telling him that you need a break”.
“I know, I’m just gathering all my strength. I’ve been there so many times before and still here we are, five years later”.
“What makes you think this time is going to be different?”
Lucy thought for a moment, looking for the right words to explain
“I feel like something in me has been pushed open and I can see what the outside is like. And I want to be outside. I need to do it in person because that would be the ultimate proof that I can definitely call it an end. If I can look into his eyes and say it, then I know I’m free”.
Lucy’s phone illuminated as Sam tried to call again.
She pressed decline and blocked his number.
“No drama vacation”. she said with a tentative smile.
In the toilet Lucy allowed herself to cry; not because of what happened or what Sam had said in the call but because she had allowed him to make her feel trapped once more. A while back she would have screamed at him and insulted him, probably even got into a physical fight with him had they been together. And he would let her win because that’s where he took his strength: the guilt, the psychological strain on her worth. He was able to create this spiral of shame and helplessness and she was forced to believe that he loved her because he would put up with her attitude. He lived for the toxicity that resulted from his subtle psychological abuse. For long Lucy had been sure that nobody but he could love her damaged soul, that’s why she had always come back, without realising that what was damaging her soul was him.