Authors: Courtney Lane
Every time I attempted to reject him, within minutes, he overcame my defenses and drained my ability to turn him down. He easily manipulated me—everyone around him—because of the way he single-mindedly and callously obtained everything he wanted. Nothing could stand in his way…even if it meant he had to kill to get it.
He had a way of pulling everyone into his darkness and making you think you enjoyed it there—
He was, without a doubt, the most lethal man I’d ever met.
“WHAT ARE YOU playing, fuckhead?” My brother, Thaddeus, hit me upside my head, hard.
I dropped the controller to my Super Nintendo and ended my winning streak in
Street Fighter II
“Nothing,” I said, staring at the TV.
He sat sideways on the couch, draping his legs over the end. Spinning the cordless phone by the antenna, he kept staring at me. “I have a girl coming over, and I don’t want you messing it up for me. I’ve been trying to fuck this bitch all year. I don’t want to screw it up with you being around, being creepy. Go upstairs or I’ll give you another black-eye to match your right eye. You’re going to—”
The doorbell rang, stopping him. He stood up, fixing his clothes and hair.
The clacking of high heels on the hardwood floor hurt my ears as two girls rounded the corner and came into the living room. The older girl, wearing shorts and a belly-shirt, looked a little younger than Thaddeus. The girl with her, wearing a suspender skirt with one side down and a crooked ponytail, looked to be about my age. The younger one’s eyes glazed over as she stared at me.
“So…” The older girl walked over to me. “This is your cousin.” She bent down to see me. While she did, her boobs spilled out of her shirt. “He’s adorable.” She ruffled my hair like I was a dog.
I got up and tried to leave. Moving fast, she stood in my way and kept moving in front of me every time I tried to get away from her.
“Can you please move, ma’am?” I asked, my voice cracking, thanks to puberty.
“Ma’am?” She giggled. “Did you just call me ma’am? Aren’t you cute.” She pinched both of my cheeks with her too-long talons. “I’m Natalie, and that’s my sister, Tamala.” She nodded to the girl whose cheeks turned bright red when I looked at her. “Don’t you want to spend some time with me?”
“I have homework to do,” I answered.
Natalie touched my chin and made me jolt backward.
Thaddeus pounded his chest, trying to get Natalie’s attention. “Hey, I thought you were here to see me?”
“She’s only here because—” Natalie covered Tamala’s mouth, stopping her from speaking, while she shot her a look to make her shut up. Her sister looked down at the ground.
Natalie pushed me until I sat down on the couch. “Your father got some blow? I heard his warehouses are full of it.”
“I can get into the stash he keeps for his parties,” Thaddeus said.
“I didn’t ask you,” Natalie snapped. “I asked your brother.”
“I don’t want to get in trouble.“ I stood only for her to push me down again.
“Thad, your cousin is being a mood killer.” Natalie pointed at me and clucked her tongue. “Maybe you should make him feel welcome.”
Puffing out his cheeks and balling his fists, he punched his palm. “Fuck that kid.”
“You know what would be hot?” Natalie asked. “If you two kissed and made up. I think it might put me in a better mood.”
Nodding, Thaddeus smiled. “A better mood to do what?”
“I don’t know…” Natalie winked at me. “A blow job maybe.”
“I’ll go get the llelo,” Thaddeus said quickly.
Natalie sat next to me, almost on top of me, and wouldn’t top staring at me. “You must’ve really pissed someone off, cutie.”
“What are you talking about?” I asked, my voice cracking again.
“Oh, nothing.” She kicked her leg back and forth and shot an angry look at her sister, who stood in the middle of the living room.
When Thaddeus came back with the drugs and Natalie snorted a line of white powder up her nose, I tried to escape to my room.
“Don’t leave. I’ll keep you company,” Tamala grabbed my arm to stop me.
When I looked at her hand, she pulled it away and apologized. “What happened to your eye?”
“Nothing.” I shrugged. “I’m sorry. I just want to be alone.”
I couldn’t get comfortable in my bed. More people showed up downstairs and the noise made it hard to sleep.
I looked at my clock. It was 4:14 in the morning.
My door swung open hard and fast; it banged against the wall.
I jerked up in bed to see who it was. Thaddeus and Natalie were in the doorway.
Sighing, I rubbed my eyes. “Just leave me alone, all right?”
Thaddeus marched up to my bed, and without warning, punched me in the mouth. My entire face throbbed in pain. I clutched it without saying a word to him.
I was so scared, I didn’t fight when he flipped me over and pinned my arms to the bed. I could hear the Natalie laugh, feel her hands around my wrists as she helped him hold me down. My boxers were shoved down.
Through my tears and muffled shouts, the bright red light of my clock was the only thing I could see. It read: 4:17 A.M.
“ETHAN?” LUPITA, THE HOUSEKEEPER, shook my bed while she stood over me, her eyes wide. In one hand she had a basket of laundry, in the other hand a pair of my boxer shorts from last night.
I carefully sat up in bed and rubbed my face. “What the fuck do you want, Lupita? I was sleeping.”
“What is this?” She waved my boxers around like a flag. “Almost every day. Almost every day the same thing.”
I forgot to burn them. I forgot to do a lot of shit last night because of Thaddeus.
,” she declared as she clutched the cross around her neck. “I’ll tell your parents.”
I jumped up and winced, holding my hands out to stop her. She gave me the once over and shook her head.
I told her everything she needed to know without saying a word. She shook her head again, this time in pity, and disappeared down the hall.
Wincing as I walked, I followed her down the west wing toward my father’s office.
Frowning, like he always did, he was in the middle of a phone call, speaking in rapid fire Spanish.
“Mr. Me—Brae,” Lupita called him. She was so pissed, she almost called him by the name he was born with, even though she was told if she ever did, she’d lose her job.
I should’ve been worried; she was going to tell Eamon something I didn’t want him to know. I was too numb to feel anything. I’d been here before. I’d told Eamon. I’d told his wife once, too. Tamala tried to drag me to the police station once to report Thaddeus. None of it made a difference. No one did anything to stop it.
After the trip to the police station with Tamala, Eamon hit the ceiling when he found out. He beat me so bad, I woke up two days later in my bed—my face didn’t look like me anymore. I learned pretty fast that my family didn’t give a shit about me because almost every night, I’m screaming into my pillow.
I don’t feel anything anymore.
“This better be fucking important,” my father barked at Lupita.
“I’ve worked for this family for a while now,” Lupita said to him. “I’ve been silent about the goings on, but I won’t be silent anymore. Thaddeus needs help…or prison. He needs something to make him leave this poor child alone.”
My father’s frown deepened when he glanced at me. “He’s hardly a child. He’s capable of making his own decisions. If there is anyone at fault, it’s him—my
son—for not being fucking man enough. For being a sugar pants fairy who likes to suck cock.” He looked me dead in the eye. “I’m just glad he isn’t my son.”
“Cousin’s son,” she muttered, not buying the lie that everyone else did.
“What was that?” my father asked, turning red with anger.
“Nothing, sir.” She kept staring at me, wanting something from me.
She wouldn’t get it—whatever she wanted. Today would be Lupita’s last day, and I knew what would happen when she left. I wished I had stopped her from doing what she thought of as helping me. Asking for help meant a broken nose, a knocked out tooth—anything that meant I was bleeding and apologizing. Eamon didn’t give a shit about me. As long as I kept my head down and was quiet, that’s all he cared about.
“Fuck it.” I shrugged. “I’m going out.”
“Ethan, wait,” Lupita dropped her laundry basket and grabbed my arm. “We’ll report it together, if he’ll do nothing about it, then you can come live with me. You don’t have to be here.”
“Lupita,” my father shouted loud enough to make me jump, “I don’t have to tell you that your need to stick your nose in business that doesn’t concern you has garnered a termination of your employment.”
“Ethan, come with me,” she pleaded. “Come with me. I can get you help. I can get you out of here.”
“He’s not going with you to slum it in the projects.” My father reached inside his desk and pulled out his checkbook. He angrily scribbled on the pad, ripped off a check and threw it into the air. “Your severance pay. If I see you here, or near my cousin’s son again, you’ll wish you’d never met me.”
I pulled back my arm and shook my head at her. “Told you. No one can fucking save me.” I stormed down the hall, but stopped walking when my father called my name from behind me.
“You better turn around, Ethan. If you think you’re going off to do a job for Vic, like you’ve been doing, you sure as hell won’t. I’m not bailing you out of jail every time your stupid ass makes a mistake on a job you never should’ve been given in the first place.”
Keeping my eyes to the ground, I turned around to face him.
“You think you can be me?” Marching forward, he balled up his fists. “You’re not fit to spit-shine my shoes.”
I looked past him, watching Lupita as she disappeared down the hall.
Fuck it, and fuck him.
“You’re always acting like you’re so fucking bad. Charlie and Vic are your bosses and they have more power than you. If they say I’m good—better than you—the fuck do you look like?”
Raising his hand, he backhanded me. I met the wall, face first. “What the fuck did I tell you, you piece of shit? When I’m done with you, you won’t have any goddamn teeth left in your mouth.”
His punches came harder, faster, until I was beaten down to the floor. He spit on me, landing his saliva on my swollen eyelid. “If you’re not man enough to make Thaddeus stop, no one will. He fucks you because you’re a pussy. He fucks you because you’re nothing. Find your goddamned balls and do something about it.” He kicked me in the ribs. I knew something cracked. I should’ve felt it, but I barely felt any of the pain anymore. I don’t feel anything after what Thaddeus had done, and kept doing to me. “I rue the day I ever stuck my dick inside your mother. You are an utter disappointment. You’re a worthless piece of shit she should’ve aborted.” He kicked me one last time before he walked away.
I didn’t cry anymore. There wasn’t a point. If I cried, he would’ve made it worse. I stared at the ground as the blood trickled out of my nose, feeling…numb.