What's Love? Ch 6
This chapter includes a trigger warning for sexual assault
I finally doze off at some point in the night, only to be woken by phone’s alarm. I grab it up, groaning in response. It’s already eight, and I have lots more to do today. Wearing the tank top and booty shorts I sleep in, I walk over to the door and press my ear to it, trying to decide if James is still here. I don’t hear anything, so I unlock the door and walk to the kitchen to get some tea to start my day.
I sit down at the kitchen table with my tablet and look over my schedule for the day. At nine, people will be here to pack my things. While they are doing that, I must make a call to a few people in Seattle to discuss my new security programs and a law firm in Forks that is interested in having me on retainer. Also, the Forks High School has an ad for a counselor that I must talk to them more about.
The doorbell catches my attention, and I frown. I'm not expecting anyone yet. Cautiously, I walk to the door and peer through the peephole. I see a man holding some beautifully arranged flowers, so I open the door the few inches the chain lock allows.
“How can I help you?” I ask.
“Hi, I have a delivery for Bella Hunter.”
I furrow my brows. “From whom?”
I shut the door and unlock the chain before opening it again, signing for the flowers and taking them into the house. Setting them down on the counter, I grab the card.
‘My Bella, I know I made a mistake. Let me court you once again and show you how I am dedicated to you. Love you, beautiful.’
I stare at the card, dumbfounded. He can’t be serious. I grab my phone and call him up.
“James Hunter speaking.”
“What the hell are you thinking?” I fume.
“Bella, you got the flowers!” I can hear the smile in his voice.
“James, first off, my last name is not Hunter, and it never has been. Second, I am moving out of the state. There will be no courting me, there will be no getting back together. Once I leave here, I won’t be giving you a second thought,” I seethe.
“That will make it all the sweeter, love across the states. It’ll make us closer, and when it's time, I’ll come to you, and we can put all this behind us.” His voice sounds mystical and wrong.
“You need help, James.” I hang up on him.
Grabbing my tablet, I begin to look up stalking laws and proceedings in both New York and Washington, making sure I have my bases covered. I hope moving will dissipate his delusions.
10 Years Ago
I could feel tears streaming down my face, my heart racing in my chest. I nodded in compliance, trying to contain the sob that was threatening to come out.
I felt him working to take my pants off with his free hand, the other still over my mouth. Staring at the ceiling, I could feel myself starting to shut down. I felt his hand touch my stomach before taking my underwear off me. He hummed in what sounded like appreciation.
A sob escaped me and vibrated against his hand. His other hand was rough as he pushed two fingers inside me. I groaned in pain, it hurt so much. He removed his hand from me, and I heard his zipper before his whole weight came down on me.
Think, Bella, what are your options?I could scream and hope that I could fend him off until help came. But what if no help came? And if I couldn’t fend him off, I might die. Option two, I fight him off, get out of the room and run until I find help. If I even got away, would anyone believe me?
Something had to be better than laying there and allowing it.
“Please no, please stop,” I cried out from under his hand.
“Shut up.” He slapped my face.
I screamed louder and began to squirm; when I got my arms free I hit and scratched. I bit whatever flesh was nearest to me.
“Damn it.” He pushed away, which allowed me to get away from him and to the door. Jasper met me there with a bat in his hands, his eyes full of rage.
“Please, Jasper!” I cried.
I was only wearing my t-shirt when Jasper grabbed me and pushed me behind him, taking a protective stance in front of me.
“I called 911, they should be here soon,” Jasper declared loudly.
“You little shit!” John lunged after Jasper, but Jasper swung the bat and connected to John's knee. I heard the crack against it, as John clutched his knee and screamed out in pain.
Samantha finally appeared in the hallway.
“What did you do?” she shrieked, shoving me and Jasper out of the way to get to John. I saw Irina then, having almost forgotten about her during my attack. She was lying on her bed, but she was too still to just be sleeping. Before I could try to attend to her or see if she was okay, the police began to pound on the door demanding it to be opened. Jasper drug me to the door with him and let them in.
Hours later, Jasper, Irina, and I were still at the hospital. Irina had been sexually assaulted and choked until she passed out. Jasper broke John’s knee, but wasn’t being charged with anything since he was acting in self-defense.
John and Samantha were leveled with multiple charges, but I didn’t bother to listen as they were arrested. I just shut everything out, still in shock and knowing the only thing holding me together was Jasper.
Paul finally showed up.
He looked at us and exhaled, guilt all over his body language and in his eyes. He sat between us, leaning down on his knees.
“I’m sorry that you guys had to go through this. I wish I’d known; I wish I understood why you couldn’t tell me, Jasper. But I don’t want to dwell on that, I want to get you guys somewhere safe where you can get some sleep.”
“Safe? Seriously?” My voice was laced with venom. This man couldn’t be serious.
“I know you’re still processing everything, but Bella, I swear to you. You will be safe where I’m taking you.” He got up, looking back and motioning to follow him.
“What’s going to happen with Irina?” Jasper asked in a worried tone.
“The police are taking her statement. She has a separate caseworker now that will be taking care of her.”
We followed him in silence out to his Tahoe and got in.
The first place he took us was back to the house to grab our things, and then we were back on the road again. I fell asleep on Jasper’s shoulder during the nearly hour long drive.
“Here we are,” I heard Paul announce, waking me up. I took in my surroundings; every tree on the street was covered with white holiday lights, and the streetlights had big red bows wrapped around them. The house we were standing in front of was no exception to the the decorations; there was a nativity scene in the yard, Santa and his reindeer on the roof with a spotlight on them, and the whole house had dancing lights that changed from red to blue to green.
“Where are we, exactly?” Jasper beat me to the question.
“There weren’t a lot of options for emergency placement, so we had to go out a little of the normal comfort zone This town is called Sequim. The couple who lives here is a bit older. They haven’t taken any children in lately because of their age, but they have agreed to the terms that it’s temporary until we can find another place.”
Holding my messenger bag as if it was my lifeline, I followed behind Jasper as we walked up to the house. Paul knocked on the door a few times, and I could hear a barking dog from inside.
“Hush you,” I heard an older voice scold the dog as the door opened, revealing a woman of at least 60 in a purple house coat.
“Hi, Mrs. Crowe, I’m Paul. We spoke on the phone.” His voice was gentle, but a little louder than I’d normally heard him address someone.
“Yes, yes, Paul. I am guessing these very tired looking children are Jasper and Isabella?” Her voice was so sweet, it reminded me of honey.
“Yes.” He nodded, and I saw a faint smile on his face.
“Good, good. I have the bedrooms all set up for you. Come in, get some sleep. I’m sure you need it.” She ushered us in, leaving Paul at the door.
“I’ll call tomorrow with an update,” he called from the door before we heard it shut.
“Alright, sweet peas. This one is for you, Isabella, and the second door is yours, Jasper. Sleep good.”
I looked at Jasper, who looked back at me and nodded in reassurance. I swallowed hard before going into my assigned room.