"I think you look stunning," Broderick leaned over and caressed my cheek, "Such a pretty face hm?"
This made me turn and actually look at him. Strange attitude this was for him. Compliments? He hardly ever dished those out anymore.
But I did try to dress nicely. He spoke of what we were doing very briefly, only telling me to dress nice.
And I had to say that I did. This was my favorite dress and I decided on wearing it, no matter the fact it revealed Cooper's necklace and the welt Broderick gave me.
"Where are we going? Am I too overdressed?" I was seriously curious. Where would he take me?
"Well it has to be a surprise dear. Besides, you'll look perfect anywhere. Here," he showed me a bandana, "To keep it as a surprise."
Before I could protest he had already had his firm grip tying to cloth around my eyes. It smelled of sweat and Axe, a gross combination that made me cough.
The rest of the car ride was silent since I was blindfolded, but the entire time Broderick held my hand, rubbing my thumb gently. This was strange, almost too strange.
The car eventually came to a stop and Broderick helped me out of the car. He led me forward for a couple more paces, and then removed the sweat-scented bandana, "Ta-da!"
It was one of my dreams. It was the town's park's gazebo, only it was decorated with little lights and orchids of all sorts of kinds and colors. And in the cent was a table with four chairs all around it. On the table were more orchids along with tiny sequins.
"Brody," I never called him that, "Brody, it's beautiful. How...How did you know?"
He shrugged, "Guessed? You once told me your favorite flower was an orchid so I just went from that. Do you like it?"
"I love it."
We took our seats, Broderick sitting across from me, "Who are these seats for?" I asked while pointing to the duo of empty chairs.
"The in-laws dear. They'll be here shortly," he snapped his fingers and someone in a baseball cap appeared, "Here are your menus," the voice was lowered but still as clear as day. I studied the kid who, tried as hard as he could, could not hide his messy black hair under the cap.
"We don't need menus. There's only one choice," there was a hint of annoyance in Broderick's voice, but Cooper remained suave, "It's for atmosphere," and we were given the menus.
When mine was opened a slip of paper fell out. I shook my head. What was Cooper getting at?
Don't go home with him.
Don't go home with him? What was I suppose to do? I responded in the only way I could and returned the menu, note inside.
When Cooper left it was silent. I stared down into my lap, wondering how he could've snuck his way into working here. He obviously was pretending to someone else.
"Strange, didn't know Jeff was coming tonight for me," Broderick mumbled to himself.
I needed to get Cooper away from here. He shouldn't have come, no matter how much his caring brings my heart to skip. There was nothing he could do. I was going to eat here and follow Broderick's bidding, no matter what it was.
Luckily the second thing I wrote in the note after Cooper came back got him to leave. Our food was brought in by a real football star.
"Brody baby!" a voice cried out from across the lawn. A brunette woman rushed towards us.
She appeared old enough to have white hair, leaving me the assumption it was dyed, "Oh my charming boy!" she kissed his forehead and immediately took a seat. Her face was uptight and when she stopped smiling her lips fell into a strict purse, "You must be Sophie Farro?" the pursed woman meant the question to be cheerful, but her dark eyes seemed so questioning, so calculating.
"I suppose you are Mrs. Reams?"
"Of course. Couldn't you tell?"
The only similarities between Broderick and this woman were the dark brown eyes and the same attitude.
His father approached us in a calmer manner. He was where Broderick got his attributes. Even though it was thinning, you could still see the definite red in his hair, "Ah yes, food, excellent," he mumbled as he took his seat, "I am starving after that plane ride," Mr. Reams ordered food while the Mrs. got right into business, "So my son has proposed to you and you haven't said yes yet?"
That was when it struck me. This whole evening, Broderick's kindness, the dinner, it was all for one thing: the proposal. Everything seemed to go back to that rung, the gaudy ring sitting on my desk.
"Uhm yes, he did. I just want to make sure he is right for me is all."
She scoffed, "Well of course he is. Look at him. He's strong, charming, rich, and absolutely perfect. And look at you. You'll produce beautiful children that is for sure. Except for that strange mark," she was pointing to my welt, nose upturned in disgust. I almost chuckled from the cynical humor within how she acted towards what her son produced.
"Oh that's just a birthmark is all," Broderick said this while staring straight at me, his eyes keeping me quiet, "which reminds me," he leaned over to a side of his char and grabbed a small parcel, "For you my dear."
It was another velvet box; similar to the box the ring was in, but more rectangular than cube-like.
There was a gasp from Mrs. Reams as I opened the box, "Oh goodness it is beautiful!"
It was a medium length gold chain with a teardrop-shaped blue sapphire at the end. In any normal circumstances it would have been beautiful, but the gem was the size of half of my fist. The enormity of it ruined the entire gift. And I knew that I didn't have to ask about its genuineness. It was definitely real.
"Oh goodness it's amazing! Look Brody she is speechless from it. I'm sure she's never seen something like that in her lifetime."
That statement brought anger to my heart. She probably didn't even know she just insulted me and where I came from.
"I believed it could serve as a replacement for that ugly thing you always wear," Broderick was smiling ear-to-ear; another ploy I suspected.
I put my hand on the charms on Cooper's necklace, remembering the promise of how I'd never take it off.
"Try it on! I want to see it on you!" Mrs. Reams exclaimed. Was she happy? I couldn't tell.
I tried to come up with an excuse, "But...my dress, it doesn't match my dress."
"Oh just put it on. You want to," those dark eyes, like Broderick's, led my hands to the clasp on the back of my neck. I placed Cooper's necklace as carefully as I possibly could into the box before putting on the large, heavy looking jewelry around my neck.
"Oh look how beautiful she looks. That almost takes the eye away from that awful birthmark, doesn't it dear?"
"Honey I don't that birthmark is really that noticeable to begin with," Mr. Reams' comment made me smile just a bit and he gave me a kind wink.
The Mrs. blew his comment off with a wave of her hand, saying he must need a new prescription for his glasses, "Anyway, I'm guessing you've finalized on the colors of dark blue and gold for the wedding, am I correct?"
And suddenly, like a river finally freed from a dam, Broderick recited all of his plans for a wedding I didn't even agree to yet. His mouth continued moving but I didn't listen to what came out. I didn't want to.
I felt there was no way out anymore, I was doomed to be with this man forever. This man who had made one too many marks on me. The necklace on my neck, the stone cold, weighed my heart down just as much as it did to my neck. I felt such hopelessness. I imagined pictures with a smiling man with equally smiley beautiful children, with shiny green eyes and long red hair. But there was something odd with the mother. She was smiling a toothless smile, eyes and face looking weary, weary from her life. And her arms, so tiny and innocent, were rich with shades of blacks and blues and greens, a sight horrible enough to make anyone turn away and pretend they saw nothing. She herself as a slave to her life, a life of production and nothing else.
"Sophie?! Are you okay?!"
I snapped out of the visions in my head to see I was hyperventilating. I glanced at each other their worried faces, the looked up at the top of the gazebo which I now saw instead as a cage, trapping my fate into inevitability, "I...I need a moment," and rushing out of the gazebo I ran, hoping to run into the only one that made me truly happy.
I didn't get far though. About twenty-five feet away I tripped on my own feet, with no real desire to get up out of the grass, beginning to gather dew. The feeling of hopelessness overtook me and I laid there in the damp grass and allowed myself to finally let my tears escape, "Cooper..." I moaned to myself. He wasn't going to come to me though. I pushed him away.
When I returned to the gazebo, calmer albeit with bloodshot eyes from crying, the place was strangely empty. Broderick's parents were gone, "Soph...Baby," Broderick rushed up to me, embracing me, "Oh you looked so terrified at dinner," he began stroking my hair, "What was that all about anyway?"
"It was just...a moment for me. An episode I guess you could call it. And it was tight in that gazebo."
"Well as long as you're okay. Come," he ended the hug but kept a hold of my hand, "let's go home," he picked up the box that had held the necklace gift.
I took the box away and looked inside, smiling when I saw Cooper's necklace was still inside, "Yes, let's go home."
If only our ideas of home were the same. When we got out of the car we were in front of Broderick's fraternity house. And with each step to the second floor I became more and more nervous. What else did he have planned?
When he opened the door to a room I saw a rather plain room. There were more orchids everywhere along with candles providing as a light source, but nothing else. Noting else but a king-sized bed in the middle of the room.
A bed that made a lump form in my throat.
"Sophie," he was speaking softly and seductively right into my ear, "I don't think I can wait until we get married. You're too beautiful to resist," he nibbled on my ear, making me stiffen with fear. There were no windows, no quick escape like last time. Plus, Broderick was perfectly sober, not a cloud fogging his eyes.
Not only that, but the nibble also made me gasp with almost a sense of excitement.
"Please Sophie. Just...humor me," he kissed my temple very gently, causing me to hold my breath. His kisses were making me shiver, but not in the way he usually does. I was interested, what else could I say.
I interrupted his kisses to turn around and face him, "Are...are you sure?"
This made him smirk, "Relax, I'm a professional," and he began reaching around to unhook my bra.
"Wait!" I tore myself away from him and paced around the room for a bit only to sit on the bed's side, "You...you know I haven't done this before, right?" A lie. A total lie that I hope he didn't catch.
"Oh Soph," He cooed, rushing beside me and taking my hand, "I know you haven't and that's okay. I actually prefer that. I'll help you through."
His hand was moving slowly up my thigh, going past the hem of my dress, "Of course I do, now get down here," he motioned for me to lay down on the bed, which I followed, and he immediately began kissing my jaw, "Uhm...Broderick?"
He gave a slight sigh of annoyance, "Yes Sophie?"
"You...you have something right?"
He sat his head on his hands and studied me, eyes giving a look of impatience, "Can't we do without? You're on the pill aren't you?"
I shrugged, "Extra precaution," I was thinking more of all the women he had sex with before me and what they could have carried.
"Only because I love you," and after a kiss on my nose he got up to get his wallet, which he had put onto the one dresser in the room when I wasn't looking.
Love? He loved me? I couldn't believe his words and I could even feel my face brightening with happiness. And when he found what he was looking for and plopped back onto the bed I gave him a sly grin, "And by the way, my bra unhooks from the front, not the back."
"My favorite," and then he was on top of me.
It was different from Cooper. Very different. Cooper was much more loving while Broderick was rougher. When we were finished I laid absolutely spent beside him, so much that I was panting.
"Broderick," I said in between my gasps for air, "That was...incredible. I...uh..." I couldn't even form words.
"Shush, you don't need to speak. But aren't you glad you didn't wait until we got married for that?" I nodded sleepily in response, closing my eyes. Perhaps marrying Broderick would be okay. As long as he would never drink of course.
I opened my eyes again when I felt him move. He was sitting up, stretching, allowing me to see the deep creases of abs on his stomach perfectly. But then he stopped. He stopped and studied my naked body. He studied me so closely that I felt self-conscious enough to ask, "Is...Is something wrong?"
He put his hand up as a signal for me to be quiet. As he continued looking at me his brow slowly furrowed into a straight line of confusion.
"Where's the blood?"
I propped myself up on my elbows, "Blood? What are you talking about?"
"You said you were a virgin. Therefore I popped you. Where's the blood?"
With these words so much blood drained from my face that it might as well have come out of me and made everything better again, "Well uhm you can be popped from pretty much anything. Stretching too much, a tampon-"
"You lied to me didn't you," Broderick's eyes were darkening with every word he said. He hopped out of the bed and put his boxers back on, and walked away from me.
"Broderick listen," I wrapped the sheet around me, seeing as I couldn't find my bra or undies, and rushed to him, sitting on my knees and holding his hand, begging him to understand, "Didn't you hear me? I've used plenty of tampons in my day," my voice was edging on hysterical and I tried desperately to calm myself. But I have never seen what happens when he's angry and sober.
He removed his hand from my grip and I looked at him with big innocent eyes, hoping he would fall for the tampon bit.
Then his hand came in contact with the side of my face as he brought it down to slap me. Hard. Hard enough for my teeth to bite the inside of my cheek and make it bleed. I fell down from the blow more for the shock of it than the pain. As I wiped the blood that was beginning to fall out of my mouth Broderick grabbed me by my upper arms and lifted me so that we were at the same eye level, "Who was it Sophie? Who was it?"
"I..." I wouldn't dare look him in the eyes, those evil commanding eyes. He must have noticed this and began shaking me fiercely, "Look me in the eyes and tell me who it was," he spoke through gritted teeth.
"I...I don't know! Some kid from high school. I can't remember that long ago anymore!" My voice was hoarse now. I was crying? When did I start?
He tutted like a Catholic nun would do to a student in Catholic school before she'd swat the back of his hand for misbehaving, "I expected more of you, Sophie," and to finalize his distaste in me he threw me against the wall, enough to make me see stars for a split second in my vision. The tears were falling much more freely now for the pain that I felt on my head and back as well as in my heart.
He leaned down and squeezed my cheeks together with one hand, "Don't talk anymore. You have nothing more useful to say to me."
There was something in his other hand. My spinning head tried to put things together, but it hurt so badly, "B-B-Broderick," in the distance I heard someone bawling, almost like a baby. Something told me it was I.
There was that object again. What was it? I squinted to get a better look, but that only made my head hurt more.
And then...I blacked out.
It was like I was floating around. I wasn't dead and I wasn't alive, just in a sweet limbo where my head stopped throbbing for at least one second. But then the pain returned slowly to me, and with a giant whoosh I was literally dropped into reality as Broderick dropped me from the height where he had carried me to the floor just outside the room we were in. There were plumes of pain everywhere it seemed and I groaned from how hard the wooden floor felt. Something else was thrown at me and then I heard the door slam.
And then, I blinked, trying to understand the situation fully. My vision was still fading from being clear to extremely fuzzy as I looked myself over. The sheet was still wrapped around me, but I was still technically naked in the hallway of a fraternity house. Worse, there were red stains on it as well. Where did those come from?
I reached around to my side, as painful as the task was, to find what he had thrown on me before he slammed the door.
It was a box. A familiar enough box to make me rush as fast as I could to open it, praying it would still be in there.
It was. Cooper's necklace remained in once peace. I smiled, as painful as that was too, and took the necklace out and wrapped my hand around it, protecting it in my fist.
Oh my God, I thought to myself, He was sober, yet he did this to me...How...how could that be?
"You were sober," I rasped, throat hurting too much to speak any louder, "You were sober I don't understand," the tears were coming at full force again, "You were sober."
I heard another door open. Only this person carried me in rather than throwing me out, "Broderick..." I moaned.
"No no. It's Jeff. Please don't talk you'll make things worse."
I studied this man. It was the guy Broderick mistaken Cooper for at dinner. He didn't look like the other frats, similar to how Bridget and I didn't look like the other sisters.
Jeff laid me down onto the bed in his room and removed the sheet from me, "Holy shit!"
I moaned and blindly reached for the sheet to cover my exposed body, but I didn't find it.
"Relax; I'm majoring in Human Phys okay? I'm going to be a doctor. Just let me look you over," and, as exhausted as I felt, I easily gave up on my morals and tried to remain as unmoving as possible. After all, at this time moving seemed to lead to plenty of pain for me.
He was whistling, though for what I didn't know. I didn't even care. My whole body seemed to hurt, but nothing hurt more than my heart. Broderick was sober, clean as a whistle and yet...he managed to hit me anyway, "You were sober," I moaned, "Why?"
"Relax Sophie. You're in a good place now. You're safe for now."
"Jeff?" My voice was a whisper now; it was all I had the strength for.
"Please don't tell on Broderick."