Ryan loses his temper.
I couldn’t turn back to Ryan now though. I couldn’t. He’d kill me.
“What the fuck Avery?” Brendon’s sleepy voice nearly made me scream in joy. “It’s 3:30 in the morning. Why are you even up?”
Usually I would have something sarcastic to say in return to that stupid statement but I was too busy trying to choke back tears. “Brendon, can you come get me?” The emotion dripped from my voice, thwarting any plans to lie about how I was. I wasn’t okay. That much was obvious.
Brendon’s tone sobered up, fast. “Where are you?” I could hear movement as he got out of bed. When I didn’t respond fast enough Brendon repeated himself, “Avery, where are you?”
“I-“ I glanced around at my surroundings. “I’m walking by Fred’s. Uh… the only other really noticeable thing I see is-“
Brendon cut me off, “Stay right there. I know exactly where you are.” I could hear his car keys jingling in the background. “Why isn’t Ryan with you?”
“I just went for a walk.” I lied, “Then I got lost.”
“Jesus Avery, that’s not safe.” Brendon breathed out. “Stay on the fucking phone with me. I don’t feel comfortable with you out there all alone. Ryan is going to be furious.” Well, that was a given…
“I’m sorry.” It was really cold out, and I was really tired. Ryan would be mad. Brendon was mad. I was so tired of being so stupid and causing so much drama. “Can I stay with you tonight?”
Brendon paused. All I could hear was the sound of his breathing. “You know that you can stay with me whenever.” He finally responded.
I yawned loudly, “I’m exhausted.”
Brendon chuckled, “That’s why you don’t go for walks at four in the fucking morning.”
“It’s not four yet, is it?”
“That’s not the point.” Brendon replied, and I could just see him rolling his eyes.
“I love you Brendon.” Oh, and I did. He was the best big brother ever. I didn’t tell him I loved him enough. I didn’t show it enough.
Again Brendon paused, “Are you okay Avery?”
“No.” Then I started sobbing. “I’m not okay at all Brendon. I’m cold, and I’m wet, and I’m tired.”
“But you still complain like always.” Brendon joked, but then his tone turned serious. “I love you too Avery.”
It felt good to hear that and not associate it with being hit, or having it followed up by the word ‘slut’ or ‘whore’.
“I’m here.” Brendon notified me, though I already saw his car pulling up next to me.
“Thanks.” I muttered, before ending the call and opening the door to his car so that I could get inside.
Brendon didn’t drive away but instead stared at me, as if trying to assess whether or not I was physically okay. “What?” I finally snapped, though there was no real anger behind the word.
“You’re drenched.” Brendon answered.
Well, I knew that.
He unbuckled his seat belt and twisted towards the backseat, grabbing his black hoodie from the back. “Take off your shirt.” He glanced outside but the windows were covered with water from the pouring rain, and no one besides me was stupid enough to be out at four AM.
“Uh, no. I’m fine for now Brendon.” I’d never been self-conscious in front of Brendon before. He was my brother! But now… now I had a lot to hide, like the bruises his best friend had given me.
“You’re gonna catch a cold.” Brendon sighed in annoyance. “I’m your big brother. It’s my job to take care of you.”
“So when I get a cold you can make me some chicken noodle soup.” I responded, grabbing his hoodie from him. I slipped it on, despite how soaked my shirt was. It still made me a little warm.
Brendon rolled his eyes and pulled away from the curb. “I’ll make you vegetable soup actually.”
I stuck my tongue out, and even though he wasn’t looking at me he still knew it and stuck his tongue out in return.
Away from Ryan I felt safe.
“Did you call Ryan?” Brendon locked his apartment door behind us.
At first I wasn’t sure what he was talking about, but then I realized. It would be normal under any other circumstance to call your boyfriend after taking off in the middle of the night. “Yeah, I left him a message before I called you.” I lied.
“Good.” Brendon pulled his shirt off and tossed it on the floor. Some things never changed. Becoming a rock star didn’t help him with his cleaning skills. “Why don’t you put some dry clothes on? You’re seriously going to get sick sis.”
I nodded, “Could you make me some hot chocolate?” I loved when Brendon and I used to drink hot chocolate together.
Brendon stopped in place. “What is going on?”
“What?” I tried to sound innocent but I failed.
“Hot chocolate is reserved for break ups.” Brendon informed me. “What really happened tonight?”
“I think it’s about time we change that tradition, don’t you?” Brendon could see right through me though. Why was I stupid enough to come to him?
“Did Ryan break up with you?” Brendon’s tone softened, “That doesn’t make any sense. He really loves you Avery.” Brendon let out a large sigh, “I’ll kick his ass for breaking your heart.”
The tears started up again and within seconds Brendon was by my side, holding me tightly. I needed my big brother right now, but what I really wanted was Ryan. I wanted my old Ryan. “It’s okay.” Brendon whispered, as he hugged me tightly. “I’ll make you a big cup of hot chocolate.” He promised.
I pulled away and tried to wipe all of my tears away. More tears fell. It was a lost cause. “I’m going to go change. I’ll be out in a second.”
Brendon nodded and went towards the kitchen.
Now I was stuck in another lie. I couldn’t tell Brendon the truth, but how could I tell him that it wasn’t a break up that was tearing me apart?
Once I was in Brendon’s bedroom I locked the door and tore off my wet clothing. One look in his full length mirror strengthened my resolve. The bruises were fading but they were still there.
I found one of Brendon’s t-shirts and a pair of his boxers and quickly dressed. Normally this would be fine, but now I had bruises on my legs where Ryan had grabbed me. With an annoyed sigh I pulled on a pair of Brendon’s sweats as well, finding that hot chocolate might just be a little too hot with how I was dressed.
(Third Person POV)
“What the hell is taking so long?” Ryan called from the bedroom. When he heard no answer he pulled himself out of bed and went to the kitchen, finding that Avery was nowhere in sight.
He was just about to walk past the kitchen and look for her elsewhere when the shine of her wedding ring caught his eye.
Ryan put the pieces together quickly but he didn’t want to believe that Avery would leave him.
He grabbed the ring and glanced at what had been engraved. Metaphorically, it was his heart on a platter, served up to Avery… and she’d turned him down.
Ryan sank down to the floor, his eyes never leaving the ring.
And there on the kitchen floor he cried.
Brendon laughed as Avery flailed, uselessly trying to bat his fingers away from her sides which were aching from all the tickling she’d been subjected to. “Stop!” Avery’s eyes were filled with tears, as laughter ripped through her body.
Brendon continued for a few very painful seconds but then he allowed Avery to catch her breath, “You know what I haven’t done in a long time?”
Avery was almost afraid to ask, “What?”
Brendon grinned, and before telling Avery what he was going to do he pinned her down beneath him. “You used to hate it as a kid, but it always made you laugh.”
“Oh no.” Avery looked horrified as she realized what Brendon was going to do. “No, this isn’t funny. Please don’t Brendon. Please don’t.”
Brendon thought the pleading was normal because she used to do it as a little girl too. In the end she was always all smiles though, so he continued on. He let his cheeks fill with air as he prepared to blow on Avery’s stomach but all of the air left him as if he had been punched when he lifted up her shirt and saw the evidence of what had been done.
Avery’s eyes widened as Brendon’s entire body went slack. She was quick to pull down her shirt but the damage had already been done, and could not be unseen.
“I’m sorry.” Avery whispered. She was so used to constantly apologizing that the apology just slipped from her lips, without her even thinking about it.
Brendon pulled away so that he was no longer pinning Avery down. She curled up slightly, hugging her arms against her body.
It was silent for a while, as Brendon internally struggled with how he was feeling. He could barely hide the revulsion, and the anger.
“Who did it?” Brendon finally asked. He couldn’t imagine Ryan ever laying a hand on Avery. He loved her too much. No, Ryan was a good guy. Ryan, his best friend, would never hurt Avery.
Avery was surprised by the question but she also felt hope. She was hopeful that Brendon wouldn’t figure out Ryan did it. She didn’t want that drama. Plus, she still couldn’t quite admit that Ryan hit her. “It was an accident.” The words were stupid. “An accident that you saw them.” Avery corrected, knowing Brendon would never fall for the ‘it was an accident’ excuse. “I’ve been playing hockey.” It wasn’t that farfetched. She used to play hockey in high school. “Ryan doesn’t approve so I didn’t tell him.”
“I don’t remember hockey being that brutal.” Brendon muttered.
“I’m not in high school anymore.” Avery teased, “Things are a lot tougher.”
“Do you, like… do it for money or something?” Brendon sounded torn, “Because you know you don’t have to hurt yourself for money, right? I will give you money if you need money.”
“I’m not hurting myself Brendon! I’m just having fun.” Such a lie. Avery was getting better at lying though.
This could be my way out but I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t voice the fact that Ryan hit me, and I couldn’t let Brendon know. I couldn’t stand the look of pain that would be reflected upon his face, or the pain that would follow. I wasn’t the only thing at stake here. Brendon’s friendship with Ryan was at stake, and their entire band hung in the balance. I couldn’t break that up, and I knew if I told Brendon… He wouldn’t take the news well, and the fact that he would probably try to beat the shit out of Ryan wouldn’t be good for the band. Avery tried to shake the thoughts off.
She knew something that would distract Brendon from her bruises, “Ryan proposed.” Well, kind of.
“What?” Brendon’s face lit up, but then he frowned. “And you’re over here?”
“I don’t know what to do Brendon.” It was partially true. She just wanted to break down to Brendon. She just wanted to be honest, but honesty wasn’t an option anymore. “I’m scared.”
“Oh Avery.” Brendon sighed and fell back down beside me. She was grateful when he put his arms around her and pulled her close. “This is because of our parents, right? Because of their stupid divorce?”
No, not really. “Kind of. I guess I’m just afraid to commit to Ryan.” Despite her dishonesty she still felt safe in Brendon’s arms.
“Are you afraid he’ll leave you?”
“I’m afraid… he’ll turn in to someone else.” Avery whispered, as tears formed in her eyes again. “I’m afraid this marriage will change him.” He already changed.
Brendon was about to speak but their attention was stolen by the door knob turning. “I thought you locked the door.” Avery whispered.
Brendon sat up, “Yeah, and you’re the only one with an extra key.”
“I left my key at home.” Avery whispered, as she realized who was coming in.
Ryan gently pushed the door open and stared at Brendon and Avery.
Brendon relaxed but Avery did not.
Ryan was soaked, just as Avery had been. The water dripped from his body on to the hallway floor outside of Brendon’s apartment.
“Why don’t you come in bro?” Brendon finally broke the silence.
Without a single word Ryan stepped over the threshold and walked to Avery. Avery sat up beside Brendon and tried to think of what to say. She almost apologized, but stopped herself just in time.
“Don’t do that.” Ryan finally spoke, and his voice was thick with emotion. “Don’t leave me again.”
Brendon shifted awkwardly before standing. “I’ll just, uh, leave you guys.” And with that said he disappeared to his bedroom, shutting the door behind him.
Avery stared in to Ryan’s eyes but she wasn’t even sure what she was looking at anymore. She didn’t know if it was the Ryan that loved her, or the Ryan that hated her… and they were two very different people. It was deadly for her to confuse them, and she knew that. Ryan reached out and Avery flinched, “Please not here.” She begged, thinking Ryan was going to hit her.
Ryan pulled away, and his mouth fell open but at first he said nothing. Finally when he did speak, Avery still couldn’t tell what kind of mood he was in. “Can we talk somewhere else?”
“Where?” Avery’s voice was strong but she didn’t feel strong.
“My car is out front.” Ryan answered. “We don’t have to go anywhere. We can just sit… and talk.”
Avery didn’t say anything as Ryan held his hand out for her. It was a shock to her system but she still managed to place her hand in his and ever so gently he helped her up off of the couch.
It was the first nice gesture she’d received since Ryan caught her cheating.
Ryan didn’t let go of her hand as they walked to the door together, and he held it open so that she could walk through first.
It was kind of romantic and that’s all Avery really wanted. She just wanted romance, the kind she’d had with Ryan before. She wanted to hold his hand, and hear him laugh. She just wanted him.
Once they were inside Ryan’s car he turned the heat on.
Neither really knew what to say but it was Ryan that spoke first. “I thought I was over it.” He whispered, “But I can’t get over it. I can’t forget seeing you kissing that guy.”
“I d-“ Avery quickly shut up out of fear.
Ryan kept talking. “I’ve been punishing you because I thought… I thought that would things better. I thought maybe if I hurt you enough then we would be even, but I-“ Ryan’s voice broke. “I have no right to hit you.”
“You can’t just say you’ll stop.” Avery whispered. “I’m afraid that’s not enough.” She still couldn’t help but be a little overjoyed. This was the first time Ryan had talked to her since seeing her with that other guy, well the first time he’d talked to her without insulting her or hitting her. It was a step forward, and she couldn’t ignore that.
Ryan nodded but didn’t say anything, and Avery suddenly felt cold again. “You didn’t say you’d stop.” She realized, out loud.
“I didn’t.” Ryan agreed quietly.
“I’m afraid of you Ryan.” Avery whispered. “I don’t want to be married to a guy that gets off on beating me.”
“I don’t get off on it.” Ryan responded. “I hate it.”
“Then don’t do it. Please, don’t do it Ryan.” Avery was pleading again and it felt to her like she’d been brought right back to square one. It was pathetic and demeaning and she hated herself for it.
Ryan gripped the steering wheel tightly, despite the fact that he wasn’t driving.
“J- just please leave me, but don’t hurt me.” Avery begged.
“So, you want me to leave you?” Ryan asked, sounding a little surprised.
“I don’t want you to but it’s the lesser of two evils.” Avery responded.
“I’ll try-“ Ryan sighed heavily, “I’ll try not to hit you but…”
I stayed silent, waiting for what he was going to say.
“Please believe me when I tell you that if you try to leave me again I will put you in the fucking hospital.” Ryan whispered the words but they came out deadly and clear.
Avery looked away as tears built up behind her eyes, “I believe that.”
“So?” Ryan’s tone was impatient.
“So what?” Avery asked, clearly confused. All of the warm fuzzy feelings she felt towards Ryan had disappeared with his threat.
“Are you ready to come home with me?” Ryan pulled the wedding ring out of his jacket pocket and extended it to Avery.
Avery glanced at the ring and thought over her options. She felt trapped, like an animal- with no way to fight back.
Instead of accepting the ring Avery shook her head, “I can’t do this.” She admitted. “I loved you but I don’t think that I do anymore. You can’t treat me like this and expect me to stay.” Avery opened the car door.
Ryan’s eyes narrowed, “I warned you…”
Avery cut him off, “Do your worst. I’m not your girlfriend anymore. You can take that ring and shove it up your ass because I’ll never marry you. I fucking hate you. I hate you, do you understand that Ryan? I fucking hate you Ryan Ross.” The words felt freeing and as Avery shut the door behind her she thought that was actually going to be okay.
Until Ryan stepped out of the car and followed her.
She tried to remain calm. They were out in public after all, what harm could he really do? Except for the fact that it was early in the morning and no one was really out. They were as alone as they would be at home.
“You hate me?” Ryan asked, quite loudly.
“Stay away from me.” Avery placed distance between them as she sped up, trying to get away from Ryan.
Ryan grabbed her by her hair, keeping her in place. “I warned you.” But that was all Avery heard before she fell in to a very dark place, filled with nothing other than pain.