I had no idea who I agreed to date. Sure, Liam and I had hung out, but we were always with other people. He treated me nicely and took me places, but none of it made me truly happy. With Dex just going through the motions whenever Liam was around, I couldn't help but feel so guilty. I was in senior year now. Things had flashed by so quickly, but I think it was because I wanted it to.
Liam started to get violent. He started out by saying mean things to me. He would yell at me and tell me how I should be grateful to have him because he was the only person who liked me despite my scar. It stung and I knew it wasn't true, but I couldn't help but think I deserved this. I'd chosen wrong and now I needed to live with my choice, no matter how painful it was.
My face had bruises on it, but I covered it with makeup. No one knew about what Liam did to me. I never talked to my mom or Mark anymore. They just weren't apart of my life. Dex didn't even know what was going on. I didn't want him to know. He would take things too far and end up getting in trouble.
One night, Liam and I were hanging out at his house. I was about to go home when he asked me if I would want to go to the city to see the Thanksgiving parade.
"Um...I don't think so. I promised Dex I'd hang out with him that day. They invited me to Thanksgiving dinner a while ago."
He got angry and began to pace back and forth on the hardwood floor. "What's wrong with going with me? What's so special about him, huh? Are you cheating?"
"No! He asked me a while ago though and I already said yes to him. It wouldn't be fair if I cancelled on them." I backed up. "Why are you getting angry?"
He lashed out at me, punching me in the jaw. He continued to hit me until finally, after what seemed like hours, he stopped. He stepped back and wiped the sweat from his brow. As I cried and wiped the blood from my nose, he yelled at me again. "You don't know what I've been through! You don't know what I've done for you!" Then he hit me again.
Later that night, I went home and washed up in the bathroom. I cried and didn't know what else to do. So I text Dex and asked him to come over. As I stood in the mirror, I noticed I looked less alive. I lifted up my shirt and saw that I had five fingers branded on my side. Suddenly a wave of emotion washed over me, but I stopped crying. I didn't know why. There was a light knock on the door.
"Avery?" It was Dex.
I opened the door and smiled slightly. "Hey, Dex."
"Woah. What the hell happened to you?" He came into the bathroom and shut the door behind him. "Who did this?"
"Um...Liam. He's been doing this," I replied, self-consciously touching my face.
Dex stared at me in disbelief. "Are you serious?"
I nodded slowly.
"What kinda man lays his hands on a woman? And shows no remorse? You don't understand just how beautiful you are. You are too beautiful, Avery. Your heart wants something more than what he's capable of giving you. This should not be happening. Now I understand why you hide your face. Well, Avery, those shades of blue on that face you always hide? They hide that smile that beats in your chest. Why wouldn't you tell me?"
"I was scared that you'd go and try to kill him or something stupid like that. I didn't want you to get in trouble," I stated, hugging myself. "I'm sorry."
He moved my arms and reached for my shirt.
"What are you doing?"
"Let me see. I know he's hit you other places, Avery."
Reluctantly, I let him lift my shirt.
He ran his hand gently over my bruises and scars. He turned me around and looked at my back as well. "Why would you let him do this to you?" His voice was only a whisper.
"I..." I gulped, turning to face him. "I thought maybe this is what I deserve for treating you like I did. I don't want to hurt his feelings. He'll stop if you make him, Dex."
Dex stared at me and looked down at his hands on my scars. "I'll call him right now."
As I waited for Liam to pick up, I hoped he wouldn't beat me for telling Dex. In my mind, I knew I should leave him, but Dex still seemed sad about me, so I needed to endure a bit more. I deserved to suffer until he got over me. It needed to be done. I never wondered about the note I gave him. It was too late for that.
"Liam? What the hell do you think you're doing beating on Avery? No, I want a straight answer. I told you to take care of her! Do you think this is taking care of her? You better not fucking hit her again. You do, and I swear to God, I'll fucking kill you. Yeah, that's a threat. Oh, really? Okay and when the cops come to get me, I'll just have Avery here show her bruises and scars to them. Yeah, I'm with her. If you beat her, I'll kill you. Got that? Got it? Good." He hung up. "I don't think you'll have any problems...are you sure you don't want to bring the police in and dump this asshole?"
I shook my head. "For reasons I can't explain, I have to stay with him a little longer."
He gave me a worried look, but gave in. "Okay...I won't say anything unless you tell me too..."
Hugging him, I felt myself actually slipping into a spiraling downfall.
After Dex confronted Liam, I was safe. Liam never hit me again. I knew though that I would have to confront him myself. If he ever touched me again, that would be it. I couldn't guarantee that I'd live, but I'd break up with him. It was easy for other people to say that I should leave, that it was easy to leave. But it wasn't. I hated not wanting to leave, but at the same time, I knew I deserved all the pain in the world.
One night I was sitting alone in my room and my mom walked in. She announced that she was pregnant and was going to have the baby. I didn't know how to take the news. I wasn't excited and she knew it. My only response was that I would be gone before the baby was even born. I'd been saving up all of high school by working and gift money. She merely nodded and left the room.
School was different with Dex knowing what had happened. He hung around more and constantly checked my bruises to see if there were more. People never suspected anything, since we were best friends. Which leads us to the yearbook incident.
We had to vote on bests and mosts for our school yearbook. I didn't know I was so popular. To be honest, I never thought people knew I existed. The categories I happened to win, Dex won as well. There was always a boy and girl to win it. It was part of the tradition. We won best friends, biggest heartthrobs and most likely to get married. When it came time to take pictures for the yearbook, everyone who was involved with the yearbook stared.
"Wow, I didn't know we were this popular..." admitted Dex, looking at poses from the previous yearbooks.
"Me either," I sighed, looking around. "So, what poses are we going to do?"
"Let's make up our own. I hate copying other people's."
"Okay, how are we going to pose for best friends?"
The girl with the camera waited patiently.
"Let's do a pinky swear and tilt our heads together." He decided.
We walked to a bench and did our pose, smiling at the camera. After that, we came up with another pose for biggest heartthrob. Dex gave me a piggy-back ride while we smiled at the camera. Then our last pose was what had me worried. Since we had been voted most likely to get married, Dex was going to want a romantic pose.
Sure enough, he pulled me onto his lap and kissed my cheek. The camera snapped and we separated. As the yearbook girl said thank you, I stormed off. Dex was going to get me killed. I made my way to the parking lot, trying to get away from him. He caught up, though, and stopped me from opening the driver door.
"What's wrong?" he demanded, crossing his arms.
"You! Why would you do that? You know that if Liam finds out then I'm going to get beat!" I snapped, throwing my arms up. "I can't believe you!"
"I can't believe you," he retorted coldly. "Why are you still with him?"
"Because it's what I deserve!"
He stared at me.
"I left you standing alone and with that stupid note. I let you know that I wanted you, then chose someone else. I deserve everything I get, Dex. I deserve it until you don't want me anymore." I sniffed, shoving my hands in my pockets. "I'm sorry."
He pulled me close and hid his face in my hair. "You don't deserve this though...I do. I waited too long and I realized it too late. It's my fault."
I hugged him back and closed my eyes. "You have to let me do this, Dex."
He pulled away a little. "But I don't want to."
"I'm sorry, but you have to." I moved away from him and opened the driver-side door. "I'll see you later, Dex."
I turned to face him.
He surprised me by pulling my face to his and kissing me. Then he smirked and began to walk away. "I'll never get over you."
My face burned as he walked away. I got in my car and drove off to Liam's house like I was supposed to. I hoped he hadn't somehow found out about our pose choices. I didn't want to get beat up, but then again, I did deserve it. Especially now. When I pulled up to Liam's house, I took a moment to breathe. I prepared myself to be calm and talk to Liam. I knew he'd be angry already with the fact that Dex and I had been voted most likely to get married. When I knocked on the door, I heard arguing inside. Then the door burst open.
"Just stay away from her, now!" yelled Liam, hanging up his phone. "You cheatin' with Dex?"
"No! What the hell?" I backed up.
"Well you guys got voted most likely to get married while dating me!" He stepped towards me.
"That's other people! I haven't done anything!" I fumbled for my phone. I pressed the call button twice, knowing I had called Dex last. With the phone calling Dex in my pocket, I began to back towards my car.
"Where are you going?" He charged at me.
"Away from you!" I turned and to open my car door, but it was too late.
He caught me and slammed my head against the car. "No you aren't!"
I fell to the ground and gasped in pain.
"You are staying right here!" He picked me up and slapped me. "You have been cheating on me, haven't you? I know you have!"
"Let me go!" I cried, trying to force his hangs off me. "If you let me go I won't press charges!"
He punched me. "Shut up!"
"You better let her go right fucking now," demanded Dex, storming up the driveway.
Liam let go and stepped up to Dex. He swung at him and missed as Dex ducked to avoid getting hit. They rolled on the ground, punching each other and kicking. Dex put Liam in a choke hold to contain him.
"Stop it!" I yelled weakly, my voice broken and rough from being strangled. "Dex, let him go!"
Dex released him and came to my aid.
Liam got up, gasping for air and glaring at Dex. "We are no longer friends."
"Fine by me." He looked at me. "We all need to talk. Right now."