Read Southern Charms Online

Authors: S. E. Kloos

Southern Charms (2 page)

BOOK: Southern Charms
9.12Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub


Chapter 3

Lying in bed over an hour later, Elizabeth just laid there staring at the ceiling, her mind refusing to go silent for her get some sleep. Her thoughts were flying a mile a minute. They wouldn’t be thwarted no matter what she did.  She thought about the friends she knew she wasn’t going to see again for a very long time, if ever again. She thought about the job she left, causing her heart to constrict. It wasn’t the job itself, but everything she put into it... how far she climbed the ladder, completely on her own. She put everything she had into it, then lost it all -- all because of a jackass she should have known better than to get involved with.

Rolling onto her side, her eyes went distant as
surfaced in her mind’s eye. She pictured his perfect face, the tousled hair that he never did anything with, yet it always looked amazing. His eyes, which looked like sea foam with specks of gold.

She had met Brandon in high school and had an instant connection, though they didn’t start dating until their second year of college. In the beginning, it was perfect. He was just the right amount of clingy to make her feel wanted without feeling smothered. He was soft and caring, loving and gentle. He was her best friend. Things were beyond imagining for so long; so, so long. Then, everything changed.

She had gone to visit her father for a long weekend from school, since it had been nearly a year since she’d had the time, because she had taken summer courses to graduate early. While she was there, she had met up with some old friends from high school and went out to the bar.

It was there that the turning point in her life had started.

A very old family friend was out celebrating his 21st birthday with some of the other guys that she had known since they were all kids. She had excused herself from the group she had gone with to go over and buy him a drink as she had promised she would the last time she saw him. There was no way to know that he was already hammered, since she hadn’t talked to him yet. She expected drunk because she knew that particular group of friends
well, but not sloshed like he was.

When she reached the table to say hi and ask what he wanted to drink, Cole had cheered at the sight of her before leaping from his chair, grabbing her by the back of the neck and pulling her to him. He crashed his lips to hers in what was the wettest, sloppiest kiss she had ever been a part of. With wide eyes, she tried to push him away, though the damage had already been done.

One of the guys that she had gone out with was on the football team with Brandon, and they were still ‘homeboys’. The moment he saw her lips locked with some other guy’s, he had pulled out his phone, taken a picture, and sent it off to Brandon without ever waiting on an explanation about what the fuck that was. Man, did he feel like shit when as soon as he hit send, she kneed Cole in the balls before laying into him about how she had a boyfriend and that was completely uncalled for. However, not bad enough to tell her he did that, though, so she could head it off at the pass. She’d have been able to call Brandon and explain it to him THEN, instead of looking like she was trying to hide it from him.

That was the first time he hit her.

She had gotten back from her trip, all excited to see him at the airport, only to be disappointed when he wasn’t there. So she took a cab home and called him once she got to her dorm. He was already there waiting. Not expecting anything to be wrong, she had run as fast as she could through the halls to her room, threw the door open and darted into his arms… or tried to, anyways.

She remembered the look in his eyes -on his face- when she looked up at him to ask what was wrong, the coldness there. It still sends ice down her spine. His voice was dark, flat when he finally spoke. “Do you have anything you want to tell me, My Darling?”

She had blinked at the cruelty in his tone, but couldn’t think of anything other than how much she missed him, and told him as much. She would never forget how the back of his hand felt against her cheek, or the growl that seemed to take over his voice when he spoke to her again.

Fear flooded her chest as she looked up at him from the floor and caught sight of his dark green eyes. “Do not lie to me, Elizabeth. I saw it. I saw the fucking picture of you being a whore with that piece of shit.” He had walked -well, more like stalked- over to her before crouching down, grabbing a handful of her hair, then yanking it back so she would look in his eyes, making her cry out from the pain in her scalp. His face was dark and dangerous, his voice quiet and full of promise. “You are mine, do you understand me? If you so much as ever look at another man again, I will rip your fucking eyes out. You belong to me and I swear to god, if any man ever touches you like that again, I will kill him. Do you understand me, you little bitch?”

Her body was vibrating with fear as she tried to nod, her voice so soft that it was nearly lost to wind. “Yes, I understand Brandon.”

The smirk on his perfect face was nothing but that of a demon as he stared at her for a second before shoving her away from him by the grip he still had on her hair. As he stood, he looked down his nose at her, “Good girl. We have reservations for dinner tonight at six.”

Then he left without another word.

Sniffling softly and wiping the tears from her cheeks, Elizabeth rolled over, curling into a ball as other times he abused her assaulted her memory. There were so many, and every one was worse than the last. For six months, it went on. Over that time, she had gotten broken ribs, cuts, bruises, a broken arm and a sprained wrist. Sure, she had tried to defend herself a few times in the beginning, who wouldn’t? But, she was ten inches shorter than he was, as well as about fifty or more pounds lighter. She never stood a chance in Hell against him. The last time Brandon was physical like that with her was the first time she tried to leave, which was the reason she was where she was now.

Family and friends had come up for graduation, including Cole. She tried to keep her distance, tried her damnedest to not get too close to him, and stuck by Brandon’s side the whole time. That wasn’t the world’s best plan she knew, but it was the only one she had to work with when she saw him come into the room with her dad. Thankfully, Cole had gone over to the buffet nearly immediately, so she was able to go say hi to her dad without it looking something it wasn’t.

Everything was going well. She was having so much fun that she had forgotten, for only a moment, that nothing was alright. She said hi to Cole when he had come over with her father as they were getting ready to leave. She honestly hadn’t given it a thought at that moment. She really should have.

Brandon had ended up seeing them.

It was three hours later that they had left the party, her still on her happy high of finally graduating college, getting to see everyone… of knowing that in only a few days, she would be off to the other side of the world, on a vacation that her parents had gone in on together for her.

She didn’t see the warning sign until it was too late.

Once they got back to the apartment that they had gotten together, the second the door closed, she found herself slammed into the wall with an irate Brandon in her face, sneering and glaring at her. All she could do was stare back, uncomprehending as to what she had done to cause this. Fear filled her being as he continued to look in her eyes, a sick, twisted satisfaction entering his eyes at the terror in hers.

Time seemed to crawl in slow motion as she saw his hand come up, only to speed up as that hand came flying at her face. It connected, snapping her head both to the side and back into the wall, a cry ripping from her lips that she couldn’t silence if she tried.

She didn’t remember hitting the floor, but looking up from the middle of the living room carpet, she took a guess at how she got there. Wide eyed and terrified, she stared at Brandon from her position as he continued to glare at her. Her lips trembling, she tried to get her tongue to work, to ask what brought on his anger this time, but she never got the chance.

A blood curdling scream ripped from her throat as Brandon dove at her. She scrambled back, but wasn’t fast enough to get completely out of the way. She dug her fingers into the carpet when she felt Brandon grab her ankle. She jerked against him, trying to get free, but felt herself get dragged back.

She couldn’t describe the feeling of petrification that gripped her. She couldn’t tell anyone how terrified she had been of the look in his wild eyes when she looked over her shoulder. She didn’t know what it was that came over her in that moment, but she rolled to her back and used the foot that wasn’t in his grip it kick with everything she had. The sole of her shoe connected with his forehead. It wasn’t what she was aiming for, but it had the desired effect. He let her go, so she took her chance, rolling to her feet and dashing out of the house before she got really hurt.

She got out the door. She got to the end of the balcony. She got to the top of the steps.

That was as far as she got.

She felt his hand grab her by the hair, then yank her back from her only exit point before she hit the concrete walkway. She screamed again when she felt her shoulder crack before the side of her head met the pavement.

She must have lost her sight for a minute or two because when she looked up, she expected to see Brandon over her, but it wasn’t him. It was one of the guys that lived on the floor below them, who she had seen at the mailbox a time or two. She saw his lips moving, but couldn’t hear the words coming out of his mouth. She saw the anger and concern warring in his eyes, but couldn’t react to it. She did, however, jump a mile out of her skin when he touched her though.

All the sound that was muted was now roaring in her ears as the reality of the situation crashed into her. She tried to push herself up to a sitting position, crying out again when the shoulder that was popped out of its socket was moved. When the guy -Matt, she thought- reached to help her, she jerked back out of reflex, looking at him in complete terror.

He gave her an unthreatening smile as he held his hands up. “I’m not going to hurt you, Sweetheart. I’m just going to help you sit up.” He had moved with exaggerated slowness, pausing  right before he touched her, then gently slid an arm under her ribs, pulled her into a sitting position, and kept hold of her when she swayed a bit. He had dipped his head to catch her eyes. When he saw her looking back at him, he spoke quietly. “We heard you scream. The police are on their way.” Then he broke off eye contact to glance over his shoulder at his roommate, who had taken it upon himself to restrain the son of a bitch, before turning back to Elizabeth. “Do you think you can walk?”

Blinking and confused, she just looked at him, not understanding to what was going on at the moment. All she knew was that her shoulder hurt, her head hurt, and her face was killing her. When she didn’t say anything, the guy sighed before changing how he was holding on to her, slipping an arm under her bent knees and the other behind her back. Being extremely mindful of her shoulder, he lifted her from the ground into his arms, carried her down the other end of the walkway to the other set of steps, then down into the courtyard.

As he was setting her down on one of the benches, one of the other tenants made their way over, having heard the commotion from the rescue. “Is everything alright?”

Both she and Matt turned to the new voice, the surfacing bruise on her face catching the old lady’s attention, with Matt seeing it out of the corner of his eye again. He turned back to her for a second before looking at his neighbor. “I think she’s in shock, Miss Adams. Can you get her a glass of water?” Once the old lady went to fetch a bottle of water from her fridge, Matt turned back to Elizabeth, snapping his fingers in front of her face to see the reaction it had.

She screamed and jerked away, nearly falling backwards off the bench.

Matt caught her before that could happen, apologized, and told her that everything was going to alright now, that she was safe. She didn’t even know what that word meant any more. She would never be safe again.

While she was in her own little world, Matt was looking up at the balcony where his roommate had the son of bitch pinned to the ground, holding his face to the hard and unforgiving concrete by the fucked up hair on his head with a knee in his back. Patrick’s mother was in this kind of relationship for years and Pat didn’t play that game. He took a massive amount of pleasure in beating the hell out of guys that got their rocks off hitting a woman that was half their size, much like the girl he was tending to was in comparison to the guy that was making out with the floor. It was five minutes later that they heard the sounds of the sirens coming down their street.

Elizabeth brought her hand up to her face, gently touching the cheek that was still bruised and tender from the hit she took, which was hard enough to crack the bone.

Seven minutes. It took them seven minutes to get to the apartment after the 911 call was made. She shuddered to think about what might have happened had Matt and Patrick not been home that night. She had been taken to the hospital, treated and released that night.

She had called Cole to pick her up.

The next morning she was in a courtroom for Brandon’s arraignment on charges of domestic violence and assault 1. She was granted a restraining order. He was granted bail. An hour later, he was nowhere to be found. Two hours after that she was on a plane to the middle of BFE Texas, to stay with her mother’s brother that Brandon didn’t know about, in a small little town no one ever heard of until he could be found.

BOOK: Southern Charms
9.12Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Other books

The Order War by L. E. Modesitt, Jr.
Radiance by Shayne McClendon
Boy Toy by Barry Lyga
Edge of Moonlight by Stephanie Julian
Death Match by Lincoln Child
Bride for Glenmore by Sarah Morgan