AN: go read part 2 out now!!
My hands shake and my vision clouds as the seconds seem to speed up and the nerves climb higher in my throat.
The knocking on the door gets louder and I try to call out but my voice gets caught and I swallow the unsaid words down. My brush slips out of my hands and clangs onto my bathroom floor. I stand there, helpless as more seconds go by. My mind is blank, empty, and I have to force it to function before I go insane.
Two steps out of my bathroom.
Two more into the hallway.
Another two and another, and another, until I finally reach the front door.
Breathe in, breathe out. Breathe in, breathe out.
Immediately after unlocking it Julian steps inside and grabs my wrist, squeezing his grip around it.
“How long does it take to let your boyfriend into your house? What the hell were you doing?”
I blink slowly, trying to steady my breaths as a wave of tears pricks at the back of my eyes.
God, Amaya, don’t be so sensitive.
I force my gaze to my shoes, fully aware and terrified of Julian’s grip tightening around my wrist.
“I’m so sorry, I was trying to get ready.”
“How long does it take someone to get ready? For all I know you were texting some guy on Instagram.”
I glance up at Julian, shaking my head.
“Baby you know I wouldn’t do that.”
“Let me see your phone then.”
A flash of disbelief crosses my expression and I’m thankful I went back to staring at my shoes. Julian’s grip around my wrist tightens and he digs his finger nails into the skin. I am a helpless, powerless bug caught in a venus fly trap about to be eaten. There’s nothing I can do to escape the clutches of anger-stricken Julian.
“Do it now.”
He drops my wrist to take my phone from my free hand and starts to scroll. I rub my thumb over one of the marks his nails had left and try to wipe the small bit of blood away. He mutters something under his breath before thrusting the phone towards me and running a hand through his hair.
“God, Amaya, why do you do this to me? I’m trying to be a good boyfriend but you’re making it impossible.”
A flare of anger shoots inside of me and my lips form a straight, thin line.
Don't be angry, I tell myself. He’s probably right.
“I’m not doing anything to you. I told the truth.” I say quietly, not sure if I want him to hear me or not.
He takes my chin and tilts it up so I have to meet his eyes, but it’s not in a loving, comforting way. It’s in a glaring, aggressive way and suddenly I’m afraid of the guy in front of me.
This happens all the time Amaya, you’re overreacting. You never actually leave. You never leave because you love him.
I tell myself the last words a few extra times, nailing it into my head. Those words are always louder than the others that crowd my brain.
“Don’t back talk me, Amaya. I am not in the mood.” His voice had dropped and I wait for the stinging that would soon come to my cheeks.
“Julian, you have to understand, it’s a lot of pressure to be dating someone. I really am trying my hardest and I-”
Pricks that feel like needles flood my cheeks and I hold in a cry as I reach up with a shaky hand to gently touch my face. I tell myself not to be surprised as I try to steady myself in the moment. I stepped out of line. I deserved it. Julian’s right. He’s always right.
“What did I say about talking back to me? I already told you I’m not in the mood.”
I nod slowly and Julian takes his hand off my cheek, jerking my neck again. I rub it, trying to soothe the pain as he shakes his head and looks down at me, disappointment painting his expression.
I curl my toes inside my boots, praying in the silence that we can just leave and get the date over with. The more in public we are the better when Julian gets like this.
“You know I expect better of you, Amaya. It’s not that hard to be a good girlfriend and you’re being very difficult. I’m trying to be here for you but you always shut me out.”
Guilt hits me like a tsunami as a tear slips out of Julian’s round blue eyes, and suddenly I’m not paying attention to the way his voice sounded like he wanted to kill something a few seconds ago, or how mad I was when his hand slapped me across the face. Instead I am taken aback by how good Julian’s shining curls look in the afternoon sunlight peaking through one of the windows, and how his eyes seem to be filled with disappointment and love at the same time.
Amaya you’re an idiot. Why would you break up with him? You love him.
Fresh, salty tears slip from my closed eyes and Julian ropes me into a protective hug, holding me close to his chest.
“I’m sorry babe, I’m so sorry. I’m so stupid.”
“You need to learn Amaya, ok? This happens too much. If you would just tell me more and listen to what I tell you, things would be perfect. You would never feel stupid. Can you do that for me?”
No. A voice inside of me says, but I ignore it, sucking in the sweet moment of love as I nod.
“Yeah, I can do that.”
“You better live up to it, I’m counting on you, baby.”
I nod again and pull my head away from his chest but he keeps his arms wrapped around me.
“I don't like arguing with you Amaya, but I want the best for you, and I am the best for you. You know that, right?”
“Yeah, I know that.”
“Then stop acting like you doubt it.”
“I’m sorry, I will.” I’m completely in a trance as he smiles and I feel like I’ve lost all other thoughts. His sweet cologne wafts off his sweatshirt and it’s the smell of familiarity that I feel myself grasping onto in the silence.
“So don't ever try to leave me again, ok? I am what’s best for you and I will give you the best.”
I nod again, not sure what else to say. It feels like I’ve just sold my soul to the devil, and maybe if that’s the case then I love the devil. No matter what Julian does to me I always seem to fall back into his arms.
Julian takes one of his arms off my back and pushes a curl behind my ear and I feel his eyes fall on my lips. The warmth of his touch on my cheek fills me with comfort and I lean forward, melting as my lips meet his.
Julian pulls away, despite my efforts to push our lips back together and says, “Amaya, you’re the only reason I’m alive.”
I tense up, registering what he had said and tilt my chin up before we can go back to kissing, searching for some sort of falter in his expression.
“Julian I- you can't really mean that.”
Julian’s twinkling eyes narrow and I am snapped out of our perfect little moment.
“I mean it with every bone in my body. If you care about me, you’d stay with me. You care about me baby, don't you?”
I stumble out of his arms, reality crashing onto my head and making it impossible to think straight.
“Well, I, yeah I care about you. But c’mon babe, I don't really think it’s fair to put that kind of weight on my shoulders.”
Julian’s smile flashes with anger and I suddenly feel like an ant that’s seconds away from getting stepped on by a giant boot.
“One more step out of line and you won't be able to go out to eat with how bloody your nose will be.”
I swallow, shoving down the terror that bubbles inside of me. Julian has me backed into the corner of the kitchen and I plead for someone to walk through the door and save me. Julian had made threats before, and he had carried through with those threats occasionally, but they never felt this intense. The anger inside of Julian radiated around the room and even my cat, who had been curled on the couch a few minutes before, seemed to be on edge.
Julian steps back and straightens out his jacket, cracking his knuckles with clenched fists.
I feel like we’re in a boxing rink to do the final showdown and the crowd has fallen silent. It’s only the two opponents left, staring each other down.
I suck in a nervous breath before deciding I might be able to escape, at least for a little so Julian can calm down.
“Why don’t we just stay home tonight? My parents are in New York for a conference and wont be home until early tomorrow morning. We can binge some movies and just hang out. And I can run to the store and grab something for dessert and a frozen pizza.”
Movies. The easiest way to control Julian. If you do what he wants, watch what he wants, and stay quiet, he’s calm. Happy. Happy Julian is my favorite Julian, but I rarely see him anymore. At least for not long periods of time.
“I see what you’re doing Amaya. Trying to get away from me. Do you really not care about me?”
“God I can't with you today! Why are you so suspicious? I’m just trying to be nice! You’re impo-”
Two more smacks silence my protest.
I glare at him and Julian kicks my shin, “Do not give me that look, girl. I don’t want to see it. You’re fine.”
“I’m not fi-” Julian’s fist goes into my gut and I fold forward, clutching my stomach. I heave, but the throw up never leaves my mouth and I’m able to swallow it back down.
“Why did you do that?”
Julian’s jolts forward and I cry out, terrified.
God I cant keep my mouth shut.
“What is wrong with you today? I’m trying to be a good boyfriend! Stop being so difficult!” His voice hits me harder than some of his punches.
The boy in front of me holds every single ounce of power that I used to possess in just one of his hands and he could easily crush me with it in seconds.
He hasn’t yet because he loves you, Amaya. An annoying, Julian obsessed part of my brain tells me.
But he had. Julian had crushed me a long time ago, from our first date. Little did I know it then, but Julian had already bewitched my brain into believing every cruel, manipulative word that left his lips. The power and control he had over me was buried to deep inside to ever recover, and all I am now is a scared little girl holding on for dear life. Holding on to Julian who’s emotions cant seem to stay the same for more than a few minutes. I am his puppet and I hang from his strings, just hoping there’s a light at the end of the tunnel that will fix everything.
“I’m sorry I’m being difficult, and I mean that in the most sincere way possible. Would you rather go out tonight? I will do what you want to do.”
Julian turns toward me and my hope of seeing regret in his eyes immediately dissolves. I hold my hands over my stomach, hoping I can protect myself in case another blow comes my way.
“I’ll go to the store. I don’t know if I can trust you tonight.”
I nod, anger and guilt stirring inside of me. Half of my brain tells me I’m done with him and should drop him, but the other half knows I couldn't leave him even if I tried.
“Give me your phone,” He says, holding his hand out.
“Don’t want you to do anything suspicious.”
He starts towards me but I retract, pulling my phone closer to my chest.
“But Julian I-“
“Give it to me. If you need to call someone you can wait. I’ll be home in a half hour.”
When I hesitate another second Julian’s expression softens and the butterflies inside of me shove the lies further down.
“C’mon babe, you gotta build back my trust. You want me to trust you, don’t you?
I nod, handing over my phone while, not taking my eyes off of Julian.
Julian’s full lips curve into a soft smile and he kisses my forehead.
“You see what happens when you just listen to me? We’re both happy. Make sure it stays that way Amaya.”
And just like that a switch inside of Julian had been flipped and he was calm. The storm had passed, but I know by now that it will circle back soon.
Julian runs out the door, grabbing his coat on the way out and I’m left alone with too many thoughts to just sit with myself.
I go to the bathroom to see if any of his other “disciplinary methods” had left marks. I stare at myself in the mirror and wonder what Julian sees right before he’s about to hit me. Does he see a scared, powerless little girl? Or someone who’s just desperate for his love? Because I think at this point I’m both. I haven’t left Julian yet because I crave the moments where it feels like he truly loves me. Those moments fill me with a feeling I cant get anywhere else. Even the moments where he hurts me, I can convince myself that he’s doing it because he loves me and he knows what’s best. Julian always knows best.
There’s a knock on the door and I jump, hurrying out of the bathroom and to the door. I peer through the window and fall back on my heels.
“Oh my god,” I say under my breath and throw the door open.
I throw my arms around the tall figure in the doorway, “Levi!” I say as he hugs me tightly back.
We break away and I check to see if Julian’s back before letting Levi inside.
He beams, matching my giant grin and he follows me into the dining room.
“What are you doing here?”
“You left your bag in my car after I drove you home, so I thought, since I’m the best friend ever, that it was only right to bring it back to you.”
I gladly take my bag and set it by my shoes back in the foyer.
“And I did your homework, because I’m the best friend ever.”
“And you have no life.”
“I have a life!” Levi shoots back.
“For your information I went to a party at Eli’s house earlier.
“So, recap. You went to a party with the baseball dudes and did homework?”
“Amaya I think you’re forgetting that I too am a baseball dude. And yes, I did homework at the party.”
“Nerd!” I shout, laughing mostly at the scowl forming on his face.
He kicks my foot under the table and I flinch but it’s a small enough reaction that I don’t think Levi notices. That and he’s way too busy plotting his revenge.
“Well you know what you are Amaya?”
I sit up straighter in my chair, excited to hear it. Levi sucks at comebacks.
“You’re a dimwit.”
“And what makes me a dimwit?”
“You forgot your backpack in my car and then slipped on your driveway walking in.”
I stifle a laugh and try to keep a straight face.
“I still don’t see how that makes me a dimwit?”
“How about an idiot then?” Levi suggests and I push his shoulder back.
Levi laughs and starts to bounce on the balls of his feet, mimicking a boxer.
“Oh so you’re an idiot that thinks she can beat me in a fight? Alrighty then.”
I jump up and we circle around each other, doing exactly what we’ve been doing since we were 7. We thought we were gonna be the best duo boxers in the country, maybe even in the world.
“The All-Mighty Amaya and Levi Leviticus step up to the rink but their duo is broken. They will face each other.”
I pause and raise an eye brow, “Levi Leviticus? I’ve never understood that.”
“Can you come up with something better?” Levi asks, karate kicking the air.
“Levi the Loser?”
Levi laughs, “Oh you’re going down!”
His hand goes up and almost immediately I stumble a step backwards turning my head away as my eyes fly shut. 2 seconds pass before I straighten myself out and force a smile.
I should’ve known I was gonna flinch. We were fighting after all, but I thought I would be able to stay calm. It just felt too real as his hand went up. I just made it blatantly obvious to my meddling best friend that something is really wrong.
God, Amaya, how the hell are you gonna cover this one up?