Christian begins to have doubts.
“No.” Jon laughed loudly, “I’m not going to hit you Christian.”
“Oh, then what are you going to do to me?” Christian asked, nibbling on her bottom lip.
They were both at Jon’s gym, and since they’d woken relatively early they’d beat the crowd- not that the gym was ever really crowded on a Monday morning, or ever. Jon had joined because of how exclusive it was, and because of the fact that it was open 24/7. It was generally busiest between the hours of eleven p.m. and one a.m.
Jon stepped closer to Christian, glancing at her with a smile, “Relax sweetheart.” He finally said, as she struggled not to take a step back. “I’m just going to teach you how to protect yourself.”
“Without hitting me?” Christian raised an eyebrow in disbelief, “I have a feeling this is going to hurt.”
“That’s the point.” Jon teased. “I want you to hurt me, as if I’m attacking you.”
Christian shook her head. It had taken Jon over an hour to talk her in to even coming once she’d woken up, and now she was rethinking it again. She didn’t want to hurt Jon. She didn’t want to hurt anyone. “Can’t we just watch an educational video on self-defense or something?” Christian asked, wincing as Jon brushed a few stray strands of hair away from her face. The majority of her hair was currently held back by a hair tie.
“You promised me.” Jon reminded Christian. “You promised me that you would let me teach you how to protect yourself.”
Christian took a deep breath, “You’re right. I did.”
Jon was wearing the protective padding but Christian had sucker punched him, surprising them both. He was cradling the side of his face with his hand, groaning in pain. Christian watched him with widened eyes, “I’m so sorry.” She finally spit out. “I didn’t mean to.”
Jon finally looked up at Christian and she was surprised to see him grinning at her, “Good job babe.” He gave her a thumbs up, to reiterate how proud of her he was.
“But I hurt you.” Christian said, frowning. She stepped closer to Jon, extending her hand to him. He took it and allowed her to pull him to his feet. His cheek was on fire where she’d hit him but in his mind that was a good thing.
She hit him, and she hit him hard.
Jon just grinned down at her, brushing some sweat off of her forehead. “Do you need a break?”
“From hitting you? I’d love one. Why don’t we actually work out?” Christian asked, dying to look around the gym.
“What did you want to do?” Jon asked, grabbing a towel to wipe off his face. Once finished he started unstrapping the protective pads.
“I just want to look around.” Christian replied, “Maybe work some muscles.” She suddenly cried out, at the realization that her knuckles hurt. “Maybe put some ice on my knuckles? That actually hurt.”
Jon blinked in confusion, “Christian that’s why I told you to wear the knuckle covers. Why didn’t you?’ He immediately took Christian’s hands in his own hands and turned them over to get a good look at them. There was some blood on the top of her right hand.
Christian frowned, “I’m sorry. They were uncomfortable and I didn’t realize that was what they were for.”
Jon shook his head, “You don’t need to be sorry. You aren’t in trouble. I just- I hate to see you bleed.” He muttered, letting go of her hands much too quickly for her tastes. “I’m going to grab you a wet wash cloth.” He paused next to the door. “And Christian?”
“I’m not doing this to punish you.” Jon promised, noticing Christian’s lack of desire to take part in self-defense. “I just want to make sure that you’re safe, even when you’re not with me.”
“I know.” Christian muttered.
Jon left the room quickly but Christian didn’t wait for him to come back as she slipped out the door after him. She still wanted to explore. She’d seen nothing other than the darkened room she was escaping- the room that Jon had forced her to hit him in.
She didn’t like violence, and though she knew he had the best intentions… She didn’t like that he was rubbing her weakness in her face. She knew she couldn’t protect herself, and she knew against Benjamin that a simple hit would do nothing other than anger him.
Her somewhat sad thoughts evaporated as she took a turn and entered a room filled with exercise equipment. She had only ever been in one gym before and it was small. This room was like exercise heaven!
“Excuse me Miss?” Christian turned to find the guy that had greeted her and Jon at the door.
“Hi.” She replied, trying to hide her ridiculous excitement at the sight of the room.
“Is there a piece of equipment that you would like some help with?” He asked, smiling kindly at her.
Christian smiled brightly, “Actually… I was wondering about that one.” She pointed her finger at an odd looking machine and the man started rambling, seeming just as excited as she was to have found something to do.
Jon sighed and leaned his head against the wall before heading back in to Christian. He felt so bad forcing her to do this and it wasn’t turning out how he wanted it to. He wanted it to be at least somewhat fun, and he wanted her to learn tricks to protect herself but in all honesty she was a little ball of fire and Jon knew that if she was cornered… She would react like a wild animal, and hurt her attacker in some way. He just didn’t know if that would be enough if she were ever to run in to Benjamin again.
The idea stressed him and he was taking it out on Christian. He had been taking it out on her all morning and though he didn’t want to… He couldn’t seem to stop.
He just wanted her to be safe.
He pulled open the door, holding the bag of ice in his hand. “Christian, how about we go catch a movie or somethi-“ The words died on his lips as he realized the room was empty, lacking Christian’s presence.
He quickly spun around, glancing down the hallway as if expecting her to just be standing behind him.
Panic he’d never felt before started bubbling in the pit of his stomach and he took off down the hallway, tightly gripping the small bag of ice.
Just as Jon was about to turn towards the entrance he heard Christian’s voice and paused, “I can really feel that, right here.” He heard a guy laugh, and realized it was Derek. She was just looking at the machines! Jon felt relief flood his body; he hadn’t scared Christian off after all.
He calmed down gradually as he walked towards Christian’s voice, smiling as he saw her stretching her legs. She was standing next to a set of machines, rubbing her thighs. “Jon!” She immediately caught sight of him.
Jon’s smile grew as he walked towards her, “You disappeared on me.” He joked, handing her the bag of ice.
“Thanks.” She held it to her knuckles, “Derek was just telling me that they are hiring! How great is that?”
“Uh, great.” Jon shrugged, “I’m not really looking for a job though, doesn’t mine pay enough?” He teased.
Christian laughed, “Silly Jon, I mean for me! I still need a job.”
Derek nodded, speaking up. “Christian, you’ve got great spunk. It’s just what we need around here to get people pepped up about working out! I’ll talk to Caleb when he comes in today, okay?”
“Okay.” Christian smiled, “So, are we working out?”
“I didn’t wear you out?” Jon joked.
Christian grinned as Derek wandered away from them, heading back towards the front desk. “Actually I could stand to get a work-out in but you look exhausted, and kind of beat up.”
“It was a love stick up.” Jon replied, making Christian roll her eyes at how corny it sounded.
“Did you give up all of your love then?”
“Of course I did.” Jon clutched at his heart, “I have to hand over my heart the minute it stops beating.”
“Which will hopefully be a long time from now.” Christian replied, “What did you want to do?”
Jon’s phone began ringing loudly. He glanced at it, “Oh, it’s my Mom. Give me a minute, okay?”
“Okay.” Christian started looking over the machines again as Jon wandered a few steps away.
He returned quickly, a worried yet happy look upon his face. “Uh, Christian… I have a proposition.”
“What’s that?” Christian let her attention fall away from the exercise equipment.
“My Uncle Todd invited us to his place for the weekend. He’s actually going to be gone on business but my Mom will be there and she really wants to meet you, and my little cousin Bella will be there.”
“It sounds like a family thing…” Christian bit her lip nervously, “Like something that just you should go to.”
“I’d prefer if you came along, and I’m sure Bella and my mother feel the same.”
Christian shrugged but the nervous look didn’t evaporate, “Are you sure?”
“I’m positive. Do you not want to go?” Jon thought that over, concerned that maybe Christian thought he was moving too quickly; after all he kind of was.
Christian plastered a smile on to her face, “I’d be honored to go along, as long as you really want me there.”
“I do.” Jon promised, leaning down for a kiss.
It would have been romantic if the side of his face didn’t explode in pain when Christian went to place her hand there, in what was also supposed to be a romantic gesture. “Shit, I’m sorry. I’m really sorry Jon.”
Jon laughed, “You hit really hard. I just wish you hadn’t hit me in the face. I’m going to look like I’ve been hanging out on the corner of assault and battery when we go visit my family.”
“I could, uh apply some make up? I’m really good at making it look natural.” Christian promised, feeling horrible about hitting Jon.
Jon frowned, “I wish that wasn’t something you knew how to do, especially since it stems from experience.”
“It’s helpful.” Christian whispered.
“I’ll go all natural baby.” Jon replied, “Plus, I’m so proud of you. You did really good today. I think that maybe you should actually attend a professional class from now on though, one in which I’m not the target. I’m a little too sensitive. There is a class here on Tuesday’s- maybe you could sign up when we get back?”
“When do we leave?”
“Tonight.” Jon grinned.
Christian was nervous.
Cold air filtered in through the car window, and all Jon could hear was Anna lecturing from the other side of the phone which Christian was holding away from her ear. “Stop it.” Christian breathed out, shooting an apologetic glance towards Jon. “He’s in the car with me right now, you know that right? He can hear you.” The entire lecture was about Jon, and how little Anna trusted him.
“Look- I get it Christian. He’s hot and you’re rebound girl.” Christian closed her eyes tightly as Anna continued, “But how do you know he’s any different? He probably isn’t. You need to come home to me. You don’t need to be leaving state with him. Do you know how dangerous that is? What if he isn’t even taking you to visit his family? If you don’t call me every single day then I am filing a police report.”
Jon’s hands tightened on the steering wheel.
“We will only be gone for a few days Anna, don’t be ridiculous. Jon isn’t a bad gu-“ But Christian was cut off.
Christian didn’t say anything as Anna began lecturing again but much to Jon’s surprise she snapped her cell phone shut. “She really hates me.” Jon muttered, staring straight ahead.
Christian quickly texted Anna but Jon couldn’t see what, “She has no right to say those things about you. I’m sorry for anything you heard, she just doesn’t understand. We- Well we, we aren’t really a we but I’m staying with you and that’s’ a pretty big step, or would be if we were in a relationship, and well, now you’re taking me to meet your family and- she just doesn’t understand.”
“It seems like you don’t either.” Jon responded, “Um, are you hungry?”
“We haven’t been on the road for long.” Christian replied.
“Sure, I could eat.”
“Good, there is a nice little restaurant-“ But Christian’s cell phone rang again.
She groaned, rolling her eyes. “You know, I probably won’t even have this for much longer. I really need to find a job.”
“Why won’t you have it anymore?” Jon asked, confused.
She clicked ignore on her cell phone and shrugged, “Ben pays for it.”
“You didn’t tell me that.” Jon replied, grip becoming tight upon the steering wheel once again, “What other bills does he pay for?”
“I’m unemployed Jon. He used to be my- my boyfriend.” Christian stumbled over the title, “How did you think I was paying for things?”
“That’s probably how he knew where you were Christian.” Jon whispered, trying not to get mad. He wasn’t mad at Christian, he was mad at Benjamin but she wouldn’t understand that.
“Oh.” Christian dropped her cell phone, leaving it next to her feet. “Oh.” She repeated, feeling stupid.
Jon turned in to a parking lot and waited a few seconds after turning the car off before looking at Christian, “It’s going to be okay.”
“I was so stupid.” Christian said, directing as much hate as she possibly could at herself.
“I think you’re quite the intellect.” Jon replied, smiling a little.
Christian laughed, “You’re just trying to make me feel better.” Then she shook her head, “And it’s working. It always works. I hope I never make you hate me.”
“You couldn’t.” Jon promised, “Now shall we dine?”
Christian extended her hand to Jon, as he reached for it. She watched him intently as he brought her hand to his lips and kissed it, before lightly dropping it and coming around to her side of the car to let her out.
It was romantic and worthy of a Disney movie, with no bad things happening- and Christian could just imagine the fireworks that were exploding in her chest as she gazed at Jon.
He was her prince charming.
As soothing as the thought was supposed to be it instead created a panic in Christian that she couldn’t make disappear.
Now she had a lot to lose.