Chapter 32 | Right Here
Mark finished his food while Elizabeth was in the comfort room. He took the last sip from his wine and leaned back in satisfaction.
With nothing to do, he called for a waitress and asked for the bill. It was quick, and he paid for the meal, sparing Elizabeth’s wallet. He knew she would be mad again, but it might be another reason for him to meet her again and that was enough reason for him to do so.
Tonight, she looked stunning. Taking his breath away as soon as he saw her exit her front door. Something about the conservative semi-formal outfit really did it for him and he laughed at himself for it.
Mark shuffled about the pieces of paper in his pocket. Today, he hoped to give something to her, but he decided until after the dinner. He was really anxious about how he would go about it, but knew it would eventually go well.
He looked at the time on his watch and thought Elizabeth was unusually taking a long time in the comfort room, longer than necessary. After deciding on the thought, he stood up and went to ask her if she was doing fine.
Mark slowly made his way to the bathroom and walked in front of the women’s comfort room door. He believed Elizabeth was the only one inside because there wasn’t really a substantial amount of customers dining.
Respectfully, he knocked on the door. “El! Are you okay?”
There was no answer.
So again, Mark knocked, louder this time, ” Elizabeth?“. Still, there was no answer. He threw away all shame and got worried, so he pressed his ear on the thin wooden door.
In it, he heard muffled screams and deep breathing, as if there were two people inside. “Give in.” A male voice sounded through.
And that was enough for Mark to lose all sanity. In that moment, he busted the door open, thankful that it wasn’t locked.
There, he saw a scene that was scarring. Elizabeth disheveled on the sink counter, pushing the unknown man as much as she could while he held her in his arms and covered her mouth with his palms. Tears were flowing down Elizabeth’s face and with it dripped down lines of mascara. He could see her pain and her hopelessness.
In that split second, as the bastard was feeling up every inch of her barely covered body, Mark stepped up and punch him as hard as he could in his face.
He was knocked to the side with a grunt, holding in the pain in his head. But that didn’t matter. Mark beat him up more. Punching his stomach, eventually knocking him out on the floor and beating him up from there. Insanity and anger swallowed him.
“You bastard!” He remarked. The man was all broken up with bloodied skin and visible bruises. He had forgotten about Elizabeth’s presence behind him, who just let him do his thing.
Elizabeth couldn’t help herself and drooped down into the floor, tears forcefully coming out of her eyes. She tried her best to slowly fix her clothes back in place. The floor was cold yet comforting by numbing her shaking legs. She lost all her strength. Mark still hadn’t finished beating up Felix beside her, so with her shaking hands, she grabbed his back slowly.
Mark looked back at her and regained control, stopping himself from doing more damage. As he looked at the unknown man, he was satisfied, as now he was unconscious on the floor. Mark softly approached Elizabeth and with worried eyes asked, “El, are you okay?”
In that moment, Elizabeth shook her head ‘no’ and grabbed Mark’s torso closer, now crying in his chest for comfort. Mark was momentarily shocked, but then pulled her in closer as he patted her head in comfort. She held on to his shirt as sobbed. It felt strangely comforting as she did so, not like Felix, who was just disgusting.
She could not get what just happened out of her mind. He was almost there, and she didn’t know what to do. Thank god Mark was there. Still, she couldn’t stop shaking.
The atmosphere was silent as the two sat on the floor like that. Mark held her closer and rubbed her back to let her cry. She didn’t notice Mark grabbing a hold of his phone and dialing the authorities, reporting on the problem at hand.
After he did so, he helped her up and made their way out of the comfort room. He still supported her, his arm over her. Mark went over to one employee and said,
“A man in the woman’s comfort room had just tried to rape my company. Police will come over to take him. Check on him for me. We’ll be going first.” And with that, the two exited out of the restaurant and made their way back to the car.
Luckily, the employee Mark had just talked to was fairly new into the job and didn’t have a care if they put the owner to jail or not after confirming it was him in the room. He also knew Mark and was actually a fan, but after what they had just experienced, he didn’t dare ask for anything. Instead, he trusted in his idol’s words and thought of his boss to be a disgusting human being.
With the best of his ability as an employee in the restaurant, when the police arrived, he explained everything to make sure justice was served. They asked for the victims, but he said they had left because of emotional instability, which they had understood.
With enough proof of the CCTV cameras across the open door of the bathroom, who saw him almost rape the woman as Mark opened the door as well as him beating the shit out of Felix, there was enough evidence. In the end, Felix Denver was taken by them and their shifts had ended early.
Mark sat Elizabeth down in the front seat. She had already let go of him, but the tears didn’t seem to stop. Mark’s shirt was wet from tears, but he didn’t care. He grabbed the handkerchief folded into his pocket and gave it to her. With no other questions, she got it after saying a soft thank you and wiped her ongoing tears.
He sighed as he tried to stop himself from taking her into his arms once more. She looked so broken. Instead, he made his way to the driver’s seat and started the car. They were going home. Home to Elizabeth’s house, he decided.
The journey was silent, but on the way, she had calmed down a bit. She tried to breathe in and out deeply and forget the scene from her mind, but she just couldn’t. At least, her tears already stopped, and all that was left were its dried marks on her cheeks.
“Thank...you.” She softly muttered in the silent car. It was enough for him to hear.
But Mark didn’t agree with her thanks and thought it was only right that he was there. Instead, he replied, ” El, you are fine now, don’t worry anymore, I’m here”.
Those words had comforted Elizabeth so much that she had slowly relaxed with the reminder of him beside her. She was safe. And it was all because of him.
They had arrived and together, the two made their way up the elevator and into Elizabeth’s apartment, which she had unlocked silently. Wordlessly, she entered, but Mark didn’t and froze, standing in front of the door.
He couldn’t enter. It felt wrong not being invited. He smiled at himself because of how he thought, but he still stood there as Elizabeth was already making her way to the couch in front.
When she had noticed, he hadn’t followed, she looked back and said, “Come in.”
“It’s late.” Mark answered briefly as he smiled at her in the dark.
Elizabeth wiped her face once more, now conscious of how she looked compared to him for a split second. Finally, a smile escaped her lips as she thought of his chivalry. “Come in.” She said for a second time.
With that, she slammed herself down on the couch and Mark followed, closing the front door behind him. Elizabeth continued to wipe the stains on her face with wipes placed on the coffee table.
“Tough night.” She muttered jokingly as she leaned back against the soft headrest.
“El, what did he do to you? Are you okay?” Mark worriedly asked as he looked towards her.
She didn’t answer, but sighed. She was fighting tears again. With no thought, she grabbed Mark closer and hugged him as she did. How many times will I break down tonight? She thought, yet she couldn’t really help it.
Between the tears she said, “I was so scared... He-.. he grabbed me... and held me. He kissed me Mark. No...no, I don’t want to be like mom...Mark...”
Once again, Mark patted her back as they laid together on the soft sofa. “That will never happen to you again, I promise to protect you.”
“He started taking off my clothes... but I - I pushed him. He wouldn’t let go... He didn’t get there, but... It was frightening.”
Mark patted her back and pushed her away from him, wiping the tears on her face with both of his thumbs as he looked at her. “It’s alright now. You’re safe.”
Elizabeth looked at him comfortably, just like before. But then Mark stood up from the couch and tried to walk. She hurriedly grabbed his wrists, holding him back. He looked at her as she said,
“No! Don’t leave Mark. Please! Don’t abandon me, just like before.” She held his hands, pulling it closer to her forehead, trying to hide her tear-stained face. “Don’t leave me again.”
Mark looked at her and sat back down, “I was just going to get water for you somehow.” He was confused by her words. He never left her. Did he?
“I will never leave you El, I never did.”
Elizabeth pushed him away from her and said in anger, ” You did!” Without thought, she continued, “Back then, I trusted you. I told you about our family, the beatings... the pain, the absence of a father. And... and after a few days, you - you and your sister didn’t see me anymore. Saying you were busy at school and shit. You hated me Mark, you hated how filthy our family was. Both of you left.”
Mark, shocked at her revelation, shook his head, “No... El, I didn’t leave you.”
“You did Mark.” She wiped her tears and muttered under her breath, “I loved you...”
” El, I’m sorry. Hell, I didn’t know you thought of it that way.” He ruffled the hair on his head as he continued, “I tried to see you a few weeks after, but I just couldn’t. Michelle and I got caught up in club activities and tried to go home early every time to see you. But Mom said you already left after asking for us, saying you had something to do as well. So I focused on practicing.”
Elizabeth slowly realized the situation from before. Mark continued, ” I did soccer, and Michelle did something else. I loved the sport which I why I am doing what I do now today.”
“I’m sorry Mark... I didn’t think about your circumstances.”
“It’s all good, El. I would have never stopped seeing you if it weren’t for the club. I always enjoyed spending time with you. You were fun, smart, and kind to the two of us. I never hated you.”
“I’m sorry. I even avoided you two after that.”
“It’s fine. At least, we’ve fixed it now. And the authorities probably took that bastard from before.”
Elizabeth laughed and unconsciously hugged him once more, “Thank you Mark... Really.”
“Thank you, too, for accepting me once more. Forget about before,
I’m here now.”