Authors: Selena Kitt
Tags: #Fiction, #Romance, #African American, #Erotica, #General, #Contemporary
Maybe I’ve deserved every horrible thing you’ve ever done to me.” Her voice shook as she watched him stacking the scarred and pained words of her adolescence into a cardboard box. “I just hope it was worth it. Did it make you feel like a man—fucking your twelve-year-old stepdaughter?”
He turned to her, his face red with anger at the words, but Lindsey didn’t stop.
“Oh right, I’m not supposed to talk about it—and who would believe a little slut like me, anyway? Certainly not my own mother. Not after the stories you told about me.”
Lindsey paused to take a shaky breath, remembering the slow erosion that had happened between her and her mother over the years as he started to harp on Lindsey about her clothes, her developing body.
“I wasn't a slut until you made me one... going on and on about all the boys I’d fucked at the ripe old age of twelve… when the truth was, the only one who ever touched me was
Shut up!” He came toward her, his posture threatening, but she couldn’t stop. Something had cracked open in her tonight. Maybe it had happened in the woods, when they tied her up, forced her down, worked her cunt as if that was all she was, holes to be filled, something to be used and tossed away. It had begun seeping out then, like the blood from her lip, but now it broke open, a flood.
Like the night the moon was in my window
She remembered that in a flood, too, a deluge, and the memory tasted bitter, like copper on her tongue.
Even that memory was unsafe. It came in a flood, like the blood between her legs had flowed when he forced himself on her, in her, and she couldn’t do anything but endure. The moon had floated in a square patch of window, and she had gone away then—
I fell down, Daddy
—all the way to the moon, just like she had earlier tonight.
You knew I was a virgin!” Lindsey screamed, the ache in her chest bursting as she sobbed, not wanting to but remembering everything she’d been hiding, covering, holding back—everything she had poured into those journals. “And you left me… in all that blood… so much blood… ”
Her voice cracked and she spat the last at him.
“I had to throw the sheets away and turn my mattress over so my own mother wouldn’t see what you’d done to me!”
Lindsey grabbed the edge of the bed and shoved it toward the wall, tipping the twin mattress up, revealing the darkened stain underneath as it slid off the box spring. She pointed to it, trembling, remembering how she had scrubbed and scrubbed, tears and snot mixing with the blood on the mattress, wishing she could just melt away, erase herself, until she became transparent.
“Get out!” He reached past her for the doorknob, his voice shaking. “I want you out of my house.”
Oh, I have no intention of staying.” Lindsey turned to go, and they both saw her mother standing just outside the door, hand raised as if to knock, her face pale, eyes wide.
Lindsey just brushed past her, not saying a word. Her whole body ached as if it was on fire, beaten, broken, but somehow she felt lighter as she walked, barefoot, down the street, looking for the nearest pay phone where she would call Zach and ask him to come for her. Maybe, she whispered to the rising moon, just maybe, there was finally someone in the world who might believe her.
She wouldn’t have done it for anyone else, and her eyes sought Zach’s after every question. Yet she still found the words sticking in her throat as the officer scribbled on her pad, trying to look unbiased and nonjudgmental. Lindsey didn’t think she was doing a very good job, and she thought sending a woman was just cheap—as if she would feel more comfortable with a female? Not likely.
“So, did you know any of your assailants?”
Lindsey cleared her throa
t. “I… no.” It was the first time she’d lied, and the first time she didn’t lift her eyes to Zach’s.
And you obviously resisted, fought back, told them no?”
Yes.” She traced the top edge of the thin hospital sheet covering the hospital gown the nurse insisted she wear. Her voice was almost inaudible, but she couldn’t seem to make it any stronger. “But I always tell them no.”
What?” The detective leaned in, tucking a stray blonde hair from her ponytail behind her ear. “What was that?”
I always say no.” Lindsey still didn’t look up, feeling something burning in her throat, but she went on. “It’s a game. It’s a thing. I just… I like to say no, and have them, you know, do it anyway.”
She felt their eyes on her and didn’t want to look up and see their faces—especially Zach. She half-expected him to get up and go, right then. The silence seemed to stretch forever, and then, finally, the detective spoke again.
“How are they supposed to know the difference?”
I don’t know.” Lindsey shrugged. “Does it matter?”
Did you have an agreement with these men? Did they know that your ‘no’ meant yes?”
Lindsey thought of Brian—of all of them, he was the only one who really knew the game. Had he told the new ones, the others? She didn’t know, but figured he must have. His continuous apology, both verbal and non, told her that much. They knew the game, but when her
“no” had turned insistent, when even Brian knew she didn’t want to play the game anymore, the others had gone on.
She remembered Smooth
, the look in his eyes. He didn’t care about the game—he didn’t want her to like it, and most especially, he didn’t want her to be in control. Everything he did made it clear she was helpless, powerless before him. He’d known she didn’t want what they were dishing out, that her “no” had really meant “no.”
But there was no way to tell the detective that. How could she
possibly defend herself? And if she told this woman there
some sort of agreement, she would have to admit knowing Brian, tell them about her encounters with him before, even though the rest of them had been strangers to her. She remembered the tears in Brian’s eyes, the apology there, and knew she couldn’t.
No… ” Lindsey sighed. “It was just a game I played in my head.”
The detective, who had kept her distance the whole time, business-like,
writing in her little note pad, took a step toward the bed. Lindsey flinched, only able to bring her eyes up to the level of the woman’s badge.
That’s a dangerous game, Lindsey.”
She snorted, finally looking at the woman’s face through half-closed eyes—she couldn’t open them any further, and they were still crusted with blood.
We’ll have a sketch artist contact you and I want you to look through our mugshots.” The blonde—her name, officer Deborah Bills, was embroidered on her uniform pocket, and Lindsey wondered for a moment if the woman had done it herself—closed her notebook and tucked it away into that pocket for safekeeping. “If you can identify the suspects and there is enough evidence to charge them, you’ll be asked to testify.”
The thought made Lindsey’s stomach drop, but she just nodded.
“Can I go home now?”
You’ll have to talk to the doctor about that.” The officer took a card from a holder and put it on the adjustable hospital bedside table. “This has my number on it. If you’ve forgotten anything, or there’s something new you have to say, give me a call.”
The doctor insisted she stay, but Lindsey signed herself out AMA.
“I’m eighteen. I can do that, right?”
The doc was a short Asian woman with a cruel mouth that twisted when she was mad—like now—but kind eyes, and she looked like she wanted to say,
“No,” but she didn’t. “Technically, yes.”
Zach spoke up then for the first time in what felt like hours.
“I can take care of her, if she wants to go.”
The Asian doc looked him up and down for a moment, and finally even her mouth softened with a resigned sigh.
“She’s had a good deal of head trauma. Check her often during the night, look at her pupils… ”
Lindsey ignored the rest, hopping off the bed like a five-year-old who just got her own way and, after checking one last time with the doc, went to take a shower. It was more painful that she would have believed, in more ways than one. The
hot water over her lacerated back and legs hit her like sharp needles, and anywhere she touched herself with the soap felt bruised and broken. She didn’t even attempt to wash the purple and, in some places, near-black nubs of her breasts, just let the suds from her shampoo drip down her body—and that burned, too, in the little cuts and nicks along her abdomen and the front of her thighs.
She stood there a long time in the heat
, letting the water massage her front, washing away the dried residue of their cum. Her memory was too clear and bright, even if it only came in flashes, like someone taking photos at night. She saw herself, still, outside of herself, hanging suspended, beaten, aching, bleeding.
A slim girl spread flat in the pine needles and dirt, three men kneeling over her, working their way into her, on her, in one way or another.
Brian’s face an apology, his trembling hands gripping her hips.
Running, desperate, the birch trees like negatives in the growing darkness.
Her stepfather, looming.
A blood stained mattress, the darkness spread like a question mark, or a crescent moon.
Zach’s stunned face, the twist from disbelief to anger, his hands gentle, his words soft.
She cried then, turning the water salt, shoving a washcloth into her mouth to muffle her sobs. Zach was right outside the door, and listening, she was sure of it. There was only so much pain one man could stand, she reasoned, as she bent over double, retching, nothing in her stomach, but vomiting anyway, as if she could rid herself of every memory but the last.
Finally, she stood, paying special attention to the area between her legs then, using one of the harsh, bleached hospital washcloths laved with soap to scrub herself clean. Her whole body felt raw as she used the rough, stingy towels to dry off and realized she didn’t have any clothes to put on, the hospital gown just a blood-stained ball on the floor.
Zach?” Poking her head out the door, she spoke in a stage whisper, looking around for the doc, but she was gone. “I don’t have anything to wear.”
He looked up from where he was sitting, head in hands, in the chair next to the bed.
“She left you something. I guess they… they keep stuff on hand for when… ” He let his words trail off, but the sentence finished itself in her head, anyway.
“For when women get raped.”
Lindsey held out her hand, thinking about the sentence he hadn’t wanted to finish, and he put a bag into it.
Raped. And so, she had been.
Wouldn’t be the first time
, she mused, digging through the bag. Sweatpants, bright pink, size large—she was going to swim in them—and a t-shirt with a logo she recognized from another business-sized card sitting on the table out there in her hospital room.
It was the place that other woman was from, the one who said she was a social worker, an advocate. Lindsey had dispatched her pretty quickly, she remembered, pulling the clothes on, tying a knot in the sweats on the side so they would stay up.
Get out,” Lindsey had insisted, pointing toward the door in case the young social worker had missed the way. “I don’t want to talk to you.”
The dark-haired woman had persisted for a few minutes, trying to explain her role.
“I’m just here as a friend, really,” she explained. “Someone you can talk to.”
What part of ‘I don’t want to talk to you’ didn’t you understand, lady?”
Lindsey had submitted to the examination, the questions from the nurse, the doctor, demanding in spite of their objections that Zach stay by her side—she squeezed his hand the whole time—not because she wanted to, or even thought it was necessary, but because he had insisted
she report it. But this, this woman claiming she just wanted “to talk”—that affront was just one step too far.
She’d heard the woman whispering with the cop in the hallway, but hadn’t seen her again after she’d left her business card.
“Ready to go home?” Zach looked up when she came out of the bathroom, still tugging up the sweats.
She didn’t have a home anymore, she remembered. She couldn’t ever go back there again. Part of her was gleeful at the thought, but another part ached with a loss that made no logical sense at all. Zach slipped his arm around her waist, tucking her discharge papers into his back pocket. She made her best effort not to wince at the pain as they made their way down the hospital hallway, ignoring the eyes of the cop, who was still filling out paperwork at the desk and talking to the social worker Lindsey had kicked out of her room.
It’s gonna be okay, baby,” Zach murmured, pushing the button for the elevator, his hand moving up to cup the back of her neck, massaging with his thumb.
She nodded, stepping in as the doors opened, and
couldn’t believe how much she wanted to trust him.
* * * *
“I should have stayed at the hospital!” Lindsey groaned as Zach turned off the alarm and flipped on the light next to the bed for the thousandth time that night.
Open your eyes,” he insisted, pulling her arm from across them.
She sighed, blinking at the brightness, shaking off the dream she’d been in the middle of—something about swallowing small blue marbles, one after another, until she felt impossibly full. His gaze moved over her face, flickering between each of her eyes in studied concentration.
“Okay,” he said finally, giving her a reluctant nod. “We can go back to sleep.”
Ha.” She stuck her tongue out at him. “Aren’t you supposed to heal best while sleeping? I don’t think getting up every two hours constitutes sleeping!”
Sorry, baby.” His smile was infuriating as he reached for the light switch. “At least we don’t have to get up in the morning.”
You’re worse than any nurse,” Lindsey muttered, yanking the sheet up over her shoulder and turning away from him. The weekend, she realized—no school for her, no work for him. But what about Monday? What then? Would everyone know what had happened? Her reputation had been in shreds for years, so she didn’t care a bit about that, but whatever she’d done before had been her choice, she reasoned. This time…
You cold?” Zach pulled the comforter up to join the sheet at her neckline when she shivered.
No.” She winced at the pain of his touch on her tender back. “Yes. I don’t know.”
He lowered his head to touch hers in the darkness, kissing the top of her ear.
“I wish… ”
Don’t say it.” She didn’t think she could stand another ounce of kindness or pity.
Zach sighed, his breath warm on her neck.
“I don’t think I have the words, anyway.”
He feathered kisses over the back of her neck, pushing her long hair out of his way.
I was,” she sighed as he settled in behind her, pressing his chest to her back, forgetting, she knew, but she couldn’t help her gasp of pain at the sudden pressure.
Ah damn!” He moved back a little, his big hand resting on her hip. “Oh damnit, Lindsey. Damn them!”
His sudden change, the vehement anger in his tone, startled her. The Zach she knew didn’t get angry, not really. The
hand moving over her hip shook, and she knew it was trembling with rage.
I could kill them.” He whispered it under the cover of the darkness, as if he’d been afraid to speak the words aloud before, in the light, with all its possibilities. “With my bare hands.”
She believed him.
“It was my own fault.”
No.” His grip tightened, and his hand would have made a fist if he hadn’t been squeezing her hip. “I don’t care what you said about the little games you play—
,” he made his insistence on past tense perfectly clear, “with these guys.” His voice broke and she heard nothing but his breath, harsh and uneven, for a moment. “No one deserves what happened to you. You didn’t do this to yourself, Lindsey. You didn’t beat your back into a bloody pulp, or… or…”