Our casual dinner conversation had turned into flirting, and our feet tangled underneath the table. His dark eyes held life and his hair was slicked back like how he wore it to the office. I liked it that way. His gray suit made him look clean and polished, but the top two buttons on his shirt were undone, revealing the smallest bit of his chest.
“You look beautiful tonight,” he told me.
I blushed. He told me that every night, whether I was in a silky plum dress that showed quite a bit of cleavage or pajama pants and a hoodie at home making dinner.
We chose to forgo dessert, and while we waited for the valet, we could barely keep our hands off of each other. On the drive home he kept his hand on my thigh, his fingers brushing just underneath the hem of my dress.
It was easy to ignore the doorman and the concierge because all I could see was him. There was no one in the elevator, so he slipped his hands under my dress and I unbuttoned more of his shirt. His slicked-back hair was no match for my hands.
As soon as the door to the loft closed, he threw my dress off. We didn’t even make it to our bedroom; rather it started in the kitchen, the marble countertop cold on my skin, then we moved to the plush couch in the living room. I hoped our neighbors didn’t hear the sound of our lamp fall over and crash on the floor.
We fell asleep to heavy breathing and hearts beating, not bothering to clean up any of the mess we made.
I woke up before the sun rose. The loft was silent–I couldn’t even hear the sounds of Manhattan traffic below.
He lay asleep beside me on the couch, the blankets and pillows bunch around his body, his breathing slow and even.
He looked so peaceful, almost childlike, curled up with the cushions. Last night reminded me why I had fallen in love with him. But when I stood in the bathroom with a blanket wrapped around me and saw the bruises on my cheeks and shoulders and wrists, now visible with my make up rubbed away, I remembered why I had a bag packed and hidden under the bed.
I covered up the bruises again and put on warm clothes. It was time to get away. With my duffel in hand and a wad of cash I had been saving, I snuck through the living room.
He was still sleeping peacefully on the couch. I kissed him one last time and whispered, “Goodbye.”
I took in the clean and sweet smell of the loft, the quiet classical music in the elevator, and the click-clack my boots made on the tile floors of the lobby.
“Goodbye, Benny,” I said to the doorman. He was the only one who knew about the abuse.
He hugged me tightly. “Get somewhere safe.”
Light was beginning to peak between the buildings and skyscrapers. The honks of taxis and impatient New Yorkers did not bother me as I walked to the bus station. I sat quietly by myself as the bus drove through Lincoln Tunnel and emerged in New Jersey.
I thought of him. How sweet and loving he was…but he had a temper. And he liked to threaten me when I did anything that didn’t live up to his standards. I had strived to be his Perfect Woman, and I was having a stretch of success. But he didn’t like that I had a good job and that most of my coworkers were men.
My newest bruises were the result of a late-night business meeting I had with my assistant Carlos. It kept me a little too late for his liking and I was greeted at the loft with airtight grips on my wrists and whiskey on his breath.
The flashback carried my through the taxi ride to the Newark Airport, and sleep finally found me on my flight to Europe. My boss transferred me across the pond into a position that kept me traveling.
I was finally getting away. I was finally going to escape. And with the ascent of the plane, a weight was lifted off my shoulders.
Find the prompt here.
PS Star Wars was fabulous. A definite must-see.