I felt myself being lowered onto a bed and firm arms wrapped around me protectively. Images of my father doing the same to me when I was younger clouded my mind and I cried softly.
"Dad?" I called out, my voice barely above a whisper. I craved his fatherly touch. I heard a sigh and the arms wrapped around me loosened a little, making me miss their warmth.
"Emily? It's me, Jake."
I blinked away the tears and began to make sense of my surroundings. I was lying on a double bed, the sheets crisp white and soft. The walls are painted a baby blue shade, the furnishings white to match the rest of the decor.
"Jake?" I said turning towards him, my voice shaking. I watched as he sighed heavily, his gaze dropping to the floor to avoid making eye contact with me.
Embarrassment filled my body and I sat up, stepping off the bed to leave the room.
"I have to go" I mumbled, my mind disorientated and confused. My legs buckled underneath me weakly and I closed my eyes, getting ready to meet the floor. Jake's hand flew out, circling around my waist. He guided me so I was stuck between his legs, one on either side. I sighed and pushed on them in an attempt to be free but they didn't move an inch.
"Stop struggling Emily, turn around."
His voice was quiet, smooth.
I did as he asked, my hands trembling by my side. He was so strong. I turned around, my head hung low which caused my hair to fall over my face. I liked it, it acted like a curtain to protect me.
I think Jake knows my secret. Nobody else ever suspected a thing, beside Jake. I figured it out by the way he treats me, gentle and caring. He treated me this way because he knows my secret and he feels sorry for me.
The girl who's beaten by her stepdad.
Jake's hand reached up, hovering near my face.
"I'm not going to hurt you, don't flinch," he whispers. I stopped breathing from his words, my heart beating wildly against my chest.
He slowly tilted my chin up until I was looking directly into his eyes. They were soft and warm, completely opposite to the murderous look he was sporting before.
When Jake is like this, he's harmless. Yet with everyone else, he's as cold and dangerous as the first time I'd seen him in the classroom. His thumb stroked my jaw and I sighed, completely content with the slightest bit of affection. I had missed this, someone to give me a small amount of attention that felt good. Jake chuckled at my reaction, his stomach vibrating and I blushed in embarrassment.
"Stop laughing at me." I muttered, my cheeks flaming up in embarrassment. My heart was beating wildly against my chest, Jake's close proximity doing nothing to help. His scent was warm, wrapping itself around my body.
"You're adorable, I can't help it."
He gave me a cute, lopsided smile. I felt my heart somersault and I opened my mouth to reply. The words I really wanted to say were lodged deep inside my throat. I want to tell Jake how much I like him.
When I'm around him, I feel butterflies, constantly. His intense blue stare causes me to weaken at the knees and drown in the shade of his eyes. His touch sent electricity shooting through my body and I love it.
"Can I ask you something?"
Jake cocked his head slightly at my question, his eyes focusing directly on me. I felt my body heat up under his gaze but I continued to hold his stare. Something about his eyes, I couldn't look away from. Something about him, I couldn't stay away from.
"Hit me with it Muffin" he whispers in response, blue eyes twinkling at me.
I opened my mouth to reply but suddenly lost all confidence, his deep voice distracting me.
It's just so damn fine.
"How old are you?" I blurted out, instantly regretting my dumb question. I already knew how old Jake was, my nerves got the better of me. I bit down on my lower lip, breaking off the stare with Jake. He barely took a second to respond, his voice calm and cool.
I nodded, acting like I didn't already know that.
Why don't I have the confidence to let him know how I feel?
I pushed back away from his legs, building up the courage to let him know what's really on my mind. I walked around the room, stretching my legs as I examined it, it was my way of buying myself some time.
"Don't do that" Jake said suddenly, pushing himself off the bed and walking towards me. My eyebrows creased in confusion and I looked back at him, frowning.
"Don't do what?" I ask, my back hitting against the wall. Jake's eyes landed directly on my lips, causing my heart to stop for a moment.
"Don't bite your lip like that."
"Sorry erm, it's a thing I do when I'm nervous" I explained chuckling lightly.
Jake silently walked towards me, closing the space between us. His hand reached up and combed back his dark hair, leaving me melting from the way his biceps tensed.
"What did you really want to ask me?" Jake whispered, placing a hand on the walls on either side of me. He leaned down so his face was hovering in front of mine, inches away. I was knocked back by his sudden question and I simply blinked at him in return.
"N-nothing" I stuttered, cursing myself silently. Whenever I'm around Jake, I lose the ability to act or talk like a normal human being.
"You're still doing it" Jake muttered, his eyes flickering between mine and my lips. As he spoke, his warm breath fanned my face and I swear, my legs actually buckled underneath me.
"Don't stare at me and it won't bother you," I shot back, my confidence levels rising.
"Don't be so beautiful and maybe I won't stare" he smirked back, barely hesitating with his response. I let out a small squeak at his words and immediately regretted my decision.
Nice move Emily.
Jake's eyebrows shot up in amusement, blue eyes twinkling at me. I pulled my lower lip into my mouth, biting down on it hard from my nerves.
He glared at me and I glared back in response, daring him to break eye contact. The corners of his lips were tugging up and I knew he was on the verge of laughing. In one swift move, Jake grabbed hold of both my wrists, surprising me.
The pain shooting through my arms was instant and I hissed, feeling fire burn through my skin. My reaction was one I deeply regret.
I instantly lift my knee up, hitting him hard between his legs.
Jake groaned loudly, dropping my wrists and fell to the floor, his eyes squeezed shut tightly.
"What the hell Emily?!" He yelled, his voice strained as he struggled to stay calm.
"There goes my chance of ever being able to have kids," he wheezed, his features full of pain.
I didn't respond, the pain becoming unbearable to handle. It was shooting down my arms, making me lightheaded. Pain flashed through my face and I turned to face the wall, not wanting Jake to see my tear stricken face.
I heard him grow silent behind me and a hand was placed on my lower back. Jake gently turned me around, his eyes full of worry and confusion. He glanced down at my hands that were clutching onto my wrists tightly. Fresh tears stung my eyes and I blinked, feeling them slide down my cheeks. Jake silently reached for my wrists, his jaw clenching tightly.
"Stop Jake!" I whisper, my voice breaking apart as I spoke. I don't want him to know I had failed miserably. I don't want him to know how broken I really am.
Jake took no notice of my protests and silently tugged my sleeves upwards. I sucked in a breath, feeling like I'd been punched in the gut. Two bandages stared back at us, wrapped tightly around my wrists. They were a constant remind of what I did to myself, the ugly scars that lay beneath.
"Emily, what have you done to yourself?"
His question was full of sadness, his words soft and gentle. He remained holding my arms, his thumb stroking my exposed skin.
I close my eyes and inhale deeply, waiting for him to walk away. That was my expectation.
I thought Jake would take one look at a broken me and he would walk away. Away from the pain and misery in my life. Instead, he drops one of my wrists, using his hand to clutch my chin. He lifts it slowly so I'm staring into his eyes. He was searching me intently, blue eyes flickering between mine.
"Let me help you," he pleaded his hand stroking my cheek gently. I had never heard those four words from anyone in my entire life.
Let me help you.
I pushed Jake off and walked towards the door, locking it. My heart was beating so fast against my body, I could practically hear it booming through my ears. I inhaled deeply and looked at Jake. He was watching me carefully, his eyes trained on my every move.
"Please don't judge me" I whispered quietly, my shaky voice barely filling the small room. Jake nodded silently, his face completely emotionless. I had to tell him, tell someone. It was making me go crazy, my sanity slipping away every second. I didn't eat anymore in fear and I definitely didn't sleep. I was plagued by nightmares of Trevor every single night, each one of them more terrifying than the last. You don't know what it's like to live with a secret for years, waiting for the right person to come along to reveal it to. He was it, Jake is the right person. I could feel it.
I squeezed my eyes shut and felt for the hem of my top. My fingers found the soft material and I clutched it tightly, pulling the fabric up to reveal the top half of my body. I felt cold air hit my bare skin and that's when I knew there was no going back.
My secret and I were exposed.
I opened my eyes, feeling the tears escape and slide down my cheek, fighting over one another. My hands were shaking uncontrollably and I let go, allowing it fall back down. Jake was stood opposite me, his eyes fixated on my body where my skin was exposed seconds ago. His eyes were completely emotionless but his jaw clenched tightly in anger. His hands were tight fists by his sides and he appeared to be rooted to the spot, frozen.
"My step-dad does this to me," I whispered feeling the need to explain myself.
My secret was out.
I looked down at my body, knowing what lay underneath the clothes and recoiled away from it in disgust. Black and blue bruises covered my whole stomach. Scars ran up and down my legs and arms from years of abuse and my wrists were a mess from what I had done to them. I lifted my head and searched Jake's eyes for some sort of reaction but he remained emotionless.
"Say something Jake," I urged him, fear settling inside my stomach as I couldn't make out his reaction.
"I think you're insanely brave and strong. Come here," he finally whispered, his eyes flickering up to mine. He walked towards me, arms outstretched and I exhaled a deep sigh of relief.
"Do you think I'm ugly?" I ask vulnerably, my voice shaking with fear as I fell into his embrace. His warmth wrapped around me tightly and I closed my eyes, feeling safe. Jake rubbed my back soothingly, his face nuzzling inside the crook of my neck. I knew he was trying to comfort me but I felt butterflies fill my stomach from his loving actions.
He was acting like a boyfriend.
"I think you're beautiful," he whispers, his arms closing around my body gently. Almost as if he was protecting me from the danger that lurked around me.
"Happy Birthday Muffin."
I blink several times, feeling like I'm sensitive to the entire world right now. I let out a low groan, the pounding in my head growing to be ten times worse.
"Is this a hangover?" I mutter rhetorically to myself, clutching the sides of my head. My eyes squint as they adjust to the brightness. I glance around, realising I'm still at Ivory's house.
"Happy Birthday to me . . ." I sing bluntly, massaging my sore temples. My thoughts turn back to last night.The party. Austin and Jake.
It's that exactly moment that I realise what I've done. My mouth falls open with shock and snap it shut again. "No, no way. What have I done?" I murmur, my head falling into my hands. Holy Mother of Jesus.
I told Jake my secret.
I climb out of bed quickly, glancing down at my outfit from last night. It's crumpled up, clinging to my body unattractively. I pull at the material, grimacing from the way it feels against my skin.
Does Ivory know I spent the night at hers?
Did Jake bail on me last night?
There's a soft knock on the door, snapping me out of my thoughts. I smooth down my clothes, tugging at my hair self-consciously.
"Come in," I say out loud, clearing my throat. The door opens and Ivory pops her head around. Her auburn hair is pulled back into a messy ponytail, dark bags underneath her eyes.
A sign of a good night.
"Hey Emily," Ivory said softly, entering the room and closing the door behind her. I give her a small smile, running a hand through my hair.
"Thanks for letting me crash here." I mumble, staring at the floor instead of making eye contact.
"Don't worry about it." Ivory smiles.
"Good night?" I ask, feeling my muscles relax. Ivory laughed quietly, reaching up to rub her temples.
"Amazing night. I'm paying for it today though, I feel like I've been dragged through a rose bush backwards." She groaned, taking a seat on the edge of the bed. Her eyes meet with mine, flashing briefly with sympathy.
"Jake mentioned you needed a place to crash, you're welcome here anytime."
My stomach churns uneasily as I try to figure out whether Ivory knows my secret or not. I try and not think of Jake telling Ivory every last detail I told him.
"Thank you. I appreciate it," I respond tightly, disappointment washing over me.
"Follow me." Ivory grins, stepping off the bed and heading for the door. I inhale deeply before following her close behind. The smell of warm pancakes and chocolate wafts through the air and my stomach rumbles loudly.
Huh, I guess it knows what it wants.
Ivory giggles, glancing at me from the side.
I grin back at her sheepishly, biting on my lower lip.
"I guess I'm hungry." I state obviously, causing Ivory to giggle further. We both head down the stairs that were completely covered with rubbish and empty cups from the night before. Beside from the aftermath of the party lying all over the floor, the house is very beautifully designed.
Ivory pushes back the door of the kitchen and I followed her, glancing at the dining table that's covered with half empty alcohol bottles. My stomach churns and I quickly avert my gaze so that I don't embarrass myself and throw up. I'm so not ready to face alcohol just yet.
My eyes land on Jake who's stood by the cooker, spatula in hand. I raise my eyebrows in surprise and immediately feel a blush rise to my cheeks from the sight of him. He's flipping pancakes casually —
"Jake?" I frown, feeling confused.
Did he stay the night too?
Ivory glances between me and Jake before grabbing an aspirin box off the counter and clutching her head. I can tell the girl has a serious hangover.
"I'll leave you two to it." Ivory says, saluting at me half heartedly. I give her a small smile and she leaves the kitchen, shutting the door softly behind her. My attentions diverts back to Jake and I stand watching him for a few seconds. He's still wearing last nights clothes, his dark hair ruffled messily across his head. I begin to feel extremely self conscious standing there so decide to start a conversation —
"Last night was . . . Interesting." I say quietly, mentally slapping myself for bringing it up. I've decided my brain turns into an unreliable pile of mush when Jake Melvin is around.
"I guess so, sit down Emily." Jake says quietly, signalling at the table. He doesn't make eye contact with me and I nibble on my bottom lip, silently taking a seat at the table. I feel my hands begin to grow clammy with nerves so I decide to try to make conversation again.
"You cook pancakes?" I ask him, amusement lining my voice. This time he finally turns around, a sheepish grin on his face. He holds the spatula in the air, shrugging a little.
"You got me," Jake winks, a sparkle in his eye. A flutter grows inside my stomach and I smile, dropping my eyes to the floor.
"Can I have one? I'm starving." I admit, holding my stomach. Jake nods and plates two up before dropping them down in front of me. He holds up a bottle of syrup, the muscles in his arms tensing. I try not to stare but it's so hard when he looks so. . . Good.
"You like syrup?"
"Of course I like syrup, what kind of question is that?" I tease him, rolling my eyes. Jake shakes his head, biting back a smile before squeezing the syrup all over the pancakes.
I take the fork he's offering me and try a small bite, moaning with pleasure from finally eating. It doesn't help that Jake's pancakes are incredibly delicious. I can't remember the last time I had pancakes. When I'm on my third bite, I glance up at Jake, ready to applaud him on his pancake making skills but he's watching me, head tilted to the side. A smirk plays on his lips — "You moan when you eat Muffin?"
I choke on the piece of pancake in my mouth, dropping the fork onto the table. My eyes glare at Jake who begins to splutter with laughter. The blue in his eyes sparkle and despite being mad at him a second ago, I'm not anymore. I laugh alongside him before defending myself.
"You make amazing pancakes and I haven't eaten properly for days. This is like heaven to me."
Jake's laughter dies down, the carefree expression on his face disappearing. He pushes the plate towards me silently and I stir in my seat uncomfortably.
"Eat as many as you want." He finally says, breaking the silence between us. He stands up and turns his back to me, running a hand through his wild hair. His shoulders are squared up, full of tension and I know he's thinking about last night.
"Emily, can we talk about—"
I stop Jake short by shaking my head.
"No, not now. Let me enjoy some food before you grill me over last night." I explain to him, giving him a small smile. He returns the smile, nodding his head in agreement.