The walls of the bedroom were stark white and bare save for a few photos that I couldn’t make out. The bed was smaller than mine, probably a queen, and fitted with red sheets. I tried to focus on the furnishings but couldn’t. The events from last night began to come back to me and I groaned aloud, slumping onto my back.
I shouldn’t have called Gabe- wait, speaking of Gabe… I looked around but didn’t see him anywhere. My eyes zeroed in on a door slightly ajar, leading to a bathroom. He would have to wait. Sighing happily, I stood up and made my way over, softly closing the door behind me. I heard a distant crash and a string of swear words just before locking it. Laughing lowly, I turned, gasping at the sight in the mirror. My eyes were tired looking and dark bags were evident. A large purple bruise had formed on the side of my face and there was dried blood on the edge of my lip. My hair was a mess and I was wearing an oversized tee shirt that was obviously not mine.
Running my hands down my body, I was relieved to find my undergarments still in place. I should have known though. He wasn’t the type to do something sleazy like that. I washed my face, cleaning the blood off slowly. My face was sore and I whimpered each time I ran my fingers over my cheek or lips.
I raised my head from the sink and groaned in frustration. I still looked like absolute shit and would have to face Gabe. I needed to tell him that while I was thankful for what he did, it didn’t change thing. My emotions were everywhere last night; I had no idea what I was doing. He would understand, I reasoned as I left the bathroom and searched for my dress but came up empty handed. Squeezing my eyes shut to keep from crying, I took several deep breaths. This morning was not going well so far.
With one final deep breath, I pulled the bedroom door open and walked tiredly down a long hallway. Much like the bedroom, the walls, though crème colored, were bare. There was nothing really personal here, it seemed like he didn’t even live here.
As I neared the end of the long hallway, passing a few doors along the way, I followed the sounds of what sounded like Gabe cursing. Figuring he was in the kitchen from the sounds of pots and pans, I contemplated making a break for it. I scolded myself for being so selfish. Let’s face it, once he sees my face, he’ll kick my sorry ass out anyways. Hopefully he’ll give me my dress beforehand.
I poked my head around a doorway, immediately knowing I was in the right place when I spotted a microwave and oven. I took a few steps inside and found him standing in front of a sink with his back turned wearing loose sweat pants and a tee shirt. He was muttering under his breath and had his hands in front of him. I could smell food but whatever he was making, it smelled awful.
“Gabe?” I spoke somewhat quietly so as not to startle him too much. I failed in my attempts though when he spun around and nearly fell on his face.
“Fucking hell Sophie!” My eyes widened and I fought a smile. He glared playfully at me but his expression quickly softened upon seeing the damage. I ducked my head and closed my eyes, letting my hair fall in front of my face. I didn’t want to be looked at, especially by him. Not this morning. Why couldn’t I be one of those girls who carried makeup with them? That would’ve really helped this morning.
My eyes shot open when I felt not only his fingertips on my clean cheek, but something else that was rough. Drawing my head back, my gaze zeroed in on his knuckles which were wrapped, quite crudely, in gauze. My eyes flickered to his other hand to find it in the same condition.
“Gabe,” I started hesitantly, “what did you do?” I looked at him, noticing him wince. His whole body tensed and he mumbled something but I couldn’t hear him. He seemed ashamed of whatever it was. I placed a hand on his upper arm and stepped closer, tipping his chin and looking into his eyes.
“What was that?” I asked. He sighed and pulled away from me, crossing his arms in front of his chest.
“I couldn’t just let him hurt you like that and get away with it.” Everything immediately made sense. He had gone after the douche bag from last night. He had gotten revenge. Whether it was for my benefit or his, I didn’t really care. I was touched he would put himself in danger for me. It was senseless and he shouldn’t have done it, but there was no going back now.
I stepped forward and took his hand gingerly in mine. He watched me intently but said nothing. Tears came to my eyes as I unwrapped his hand and saw each knuckle was split and bruised.
“Hey, don’t cry. I’m sorry I went, I shouldn’t have intervened. But I couldn’t let him do that and then just go home because-“ I pressed my lips to his softly, effectively silencing him. He stood still, letting me kiss him but not responding.
“Sophie, I don’t want to hurt you.” He whispered against my lips. I finally broke, choking out a sob and kissing him harshly. He didn’t really have time to respond before I pulled away and buried my face in his neck, tears running down my face. Gabe wrapped his arms around me and held me tightly, softly crooning in my ear.
“Shh, it’s all okay baby, I promise everything is alright.” I pulled back and smiled at him. I couldn’t even come up with the words to thank him appropriately so I took a hold of his wrist and led him into the master bathroom. Pushing on his shoulders gently, he took the hint and sat on the toilet seat. I rummaged through the cabinets, finding what I needed to wrap his hands correctly. Wish a deep breath, my heart rate began to calm down and I wiped the last of the tears from my eyes. Standing in front of him, I took all of the gauze from his hands and tossed it in the trash.
“This may sting a little bit.” I warned him, reaching for his hand. He took it away quickly, wrapping an arm around my waist and pulling my forward so I was on his lap, straddling him. I gasped, thinking that now really wasn’t the time, but he shocked me by giving me his hand and resting his forehead on my shoulder. I realized that he needed comforting, needed me to let him know I wasn’t mad at him. I kissed the top of his head and dabbed at his knuckles with the disinfectant soaked cloth. He grunted and squeezed my thigh with his other hand but said nothing.
In silence, I cleaned, treated, and re-wrapped each hand carefully. I told him that I was done and moved to stand up but he tightened his grip and shook his head. I began to run my fingers through his hair, soothing him as his breathing began to slow down. Thinking about it, I doubted he had gotten much sleep, if he even had a chance to sleep at all. I turned my head and pressed my lips to his temple.
“I’m tired, will you lay with me?” I knew he wouldn’t agree if I told him he needed some sleep. Plus, I actually was tired. He smiled and nodded, wrapping me up tightly in his arms and carried me into the bedroom. I inched across the bed after he set me down, waiting for him to join me but he just stood there.
“Gabe? Everything okay?” I asked him. He looked up at me, his face emotionless.
“Are you sure about this? You don’t have to be here if you don’t want to be.” I was shocked. What the hell was making him say this? Why would he doubt me?
“I want to stay as long as you want me here.” He blew out a long breath and climbed in beside me. I snuggled into his chest while he held me close, thinking about how comfortable I felt laying with him like this. Without any worries, I closed my eyes and drifted off to sleep.