Title: Time Goes On
Chapter: Chapter 5 of 10
Warning: This fictional story contains mature content such as; alcohol-usage, profanity, sex and violence, consider youself warned.
Excerpt: “Do you remember what I told you about staying out too late? Do you remember agreeing that you wouldn’t?” Tears fell from my eyes and I nodded. “You, being the defiant person you are, were out until 3 a.m. Do you think that’s late? DO YOU?!” His grip suddenly tightened when I hadn’t answered him right away. I nodded quickly as fear and uncertainty took over. He began to breathe deeply. “Do you know that I can kill you right now?” He gave an evil smile and I realized that was his hook in this particular situation. Zac would never kill… but oh how he loved mind games! I started crying harder but knew better than to scream or… or look away from him. That was another part of the mind games I think. Not being able to look away forced me to see the rage in his eyes and the satisfaction he got from it all.
Be careful… I love you like I love my sisters… I’ll always be here for you… She’s right it’ll only get worse… be careful… I thought about Ike’s words all the way home. We walked into the house and took off our jackets. I began to sit down on the couch and then heard Zac behind me. “C’mere.” I turned around and Zac locked the door while looking at me. He smiled at me as I walked over and we hugged tightly. “I’ve missed you,” he whispered. I looked up and instantly wanted him. I inhaled deeply, smelling his mixed scent of wintergreen breath mints, Dial soap and “Obsession for Men.” He kissed me, barely touching his lips to mine, then harder. He picked me up and carried me to the bedroom. Like times before, he was gentle and loving. His hands ran over me like it was the first time he’d touched me. His eyes expressed love and desire. I wanted him to make me forget everything that had happened. I knew he would. He kissed me, his finger tips running over my lips afterward. I unbuttoned his shirt and he dropped his arms to let me pull it off.He bent his head to kiss my neck and as I tilted my head back, he ran his fingers over my throat and began to lick and bite at my ear. As he kissed my lips again, his hand moved from the back of my neck into my hair and he easily pulled the the hair clip out. Then his hands went to my back, unzipping my dress and letting it fall to the floor. He then picked me up and laid me across the bed he had begun pulling my boots off as he kissed my legs. Then he stood and took my hands causing me to sit up. He bent down and kissed me as I started to unbuckle his belt and slid his pants down. After slipping off his shoes, he stepped out of his pants and crawled onto the bed. We slipped under the blanket and became instantly lost in passion and desire. His fingers grabbed the sheet next to my head as the other hand became laced with mine close to the headboard. I felt his grip tighten and we were both breathless as a release came and he collapsed on top of me.
We laid still for a few minutes, regaining control of ourselves until our breathing and hearts had slowed down. He raised his head and kissed my chest, neck then my lips and finally my forehead. His lips gently touched the cut and his fingers ran over it as he looked down at me. I saw his eyebrows wrinkle as his eyes became filled with regret. I put my arms around him and smiled. His face relaxed and he smiled back then kissed me again. Then, rolling over to lay next to me, he pulled me into his arms and began to twist my hair around his fingers. “I love you.” he said quietly. I looked at him and said “I love you too Zac.”
We talked softly for a little while about the day and his family. It wasn’t even a full 30 minutes before we started to drift off. I felt a tightness in my chest as his fingers gripped me in his sleep. At the same time though, I was happy that I’d had some time with him. I loved him and couldn’t stand to think of not having him. Still, I couldn’t get Ike’s words out my head… they just kept coming back. I heard his voice repeating them over and over: “Be careful… I’ll always be here for you… I don’t know what else to do… I love you like I love my sisters… It’ll only get worse… I’ll always be here for you… Zac makes it hard to love him sometimes… We all thought he’d changed… I don’t understand why you’re still with him… Be careful… I love you like I love my sisters… It’ll only get worse… Be careful… Be careful… Be careful…”
“So tell me about Ricky, is he a playboy?” Zac asked. I started to answer but was interrupted “Ladies and gentleman, this is your Captain speaking, we will be landing in about ten minutes so please remain in your seats and fasten your seat belts.” I reached over to fasten my seat belt as I answered Zac. “No. Well, he was but not since he met Lacey.” I smiled. Zac and I had been through a rushed and chaotic morning and were happy to be landing. The guys had finished the album the day before and Zac and I were on a plane to go visit Lacey and Ricky. “Good,” Zac nodded, “Then I won’t have to worry about him getting too close to you.” I looked at him with a little laugh and he grinned and lifted my hand to his lips as the plane started to lower toward the ground. Once we had landed and exited the plane, we got our bags and climbed into the car that Zac had arranged to take us to the hotel. When we got there, we signed in and took our key card. We took the elevator to the 13th floor and opened the door to our room. It was beautiful and I gasped when we walked in.
It had a sitting area and kitchenette, and a bedroom on one side. There was a small table by the door that had a phone and a cream colored vase with fake wild flowers in it. The sitting area was straight ahead and sunken. There was wall to wall cream colored carpet. The couch was in a pale blue with cream and light blue throw pillows on it. In front of it was a dark cherry wood coffee and the large TV faced the couch. On each side of the couch was an end table that had a small lamp on it with pale blue lamp shades. There were two small chairs in the room, at each end of the long coffee table. Both were pale blue and had a cream colored throw pillow on them. The balcony doors behind the TV, opened onto a small area with an amazing view of the mountains. (Lacey and Ricky had decided to get married close to his aunt’s house in Montana, where the reception would be.) The bedroom was just before the wall to wall stairs that led into the sitting area. Double doors led into the spacious bedroom. The large bed was in the middle and dressed in shades of blue and on each side was a night stand and on it a small lamp. There was a small double shelf that had drawers in the bottom part and a TV and phone on the top. The bathroom was inside the bedroom and decorated in shades of cream and peach. It had a gigantic whirlpool tub and a double sink. The kitchenette was across from the bedroom. It was all in cream and stainless steel.
“Zac, this is amazing!” I said as I walked back out into the entrance.”Mmm hmm,” he said with a nod as he dialed the number to call Diana. I took our luggage into the bedroom and started unpacking. We had been worried about leaving with Karen being due any day now so Zac wanted to keep in close contact with the family in Tulsa.
“Well, things are OK at home.” Zac said as he came in and stood by the bed. “I like this. I had no idea the state had such beautiful scenery and it seems so… peaceful.” He grinned looking out of our bedroom window. “Good,” I said returning the smile. “Me too. I think it’s wonderful.” I zipped up a suitcase and shoved it under the bed. “Oh! I need to call Lacey. “I said picking up the phone. She and Ricky were staying at his aunt’s house. I dialed her number. On the second ring, Lacey answered. “Hey Lace…! Yeah, we’re at the hotel. We landed about 45 minutes ago… Oh yeah, we both love it! It’s so pretty!” Zac lay on his stomach across the bed and looked over a city guide/sightseeing book that was in one of the drawers, while I chatted on the phone. “…Dinner with you and Ricky tonight? Um,” I looked at Zac and he shrugged and smiled “OK, that sounds good… yeah… yeah… OK see you then… me too… bye.”
After a 30 minute nap, Zac and I both showered and changed. Then we went downstairs to meet Lacey and Ricky in the hotel lobby. “Mel! Oh my God!” Lacey came running up to me as soon as Zac and I turned the corner. “I’ve missed you so much! How are you? Let me look at you!” Lacey stepped back and looked me up and down then we embraced again. She showed off her engagement ring and we hugged again. “Hey, hey, hey! My turn!” Ricky said laughing as he pulled Lacey’s arms from around my neck and hugged me. Then after taking a moment to compose ourselves, I said “Lacey, Ricky, this is Zac Hanson. Sweetheart, this is the blushing bride and groom-to-be, Lacey Brooks and Ricky Tillman.” They all exchanged handshakes and polite greetings and then Ricky, putting his arm around Lace, said “Well, we have a great place picked out for dinner if you’re ready.” Zac took my hand and with a nod, smiled saying “Yeah, let’s go.”
We laughed and talked all through dinner. Lacey and Ricky took it on themselves to tell Zac every stupid thing I’ve ever done or said and although it was embarrassing, I too had to laugh at the memories of my younger years. “So, how’s the family Zac? I hear you’re gonna be an uncle soon.” Lacey smiled. Zac looked up over the rim of his wine glass then lowered the glass and swallowed while nodding. “Yeah, my oldest brother Isaac and his wife Karen are expecting their first any day now.” The waiter came to the table and took our dinner dishes and then handed us four dessert menus. As we skimmed the menus, Lacey and I chatted about her wedding plans. Then she said “So, are you two gonna tie the knot soon?” We all laughed at each other as Zac and I traded glances. Ricky said “Yeah Zac, you gonna make Melissa an honest woman?” I froze as my whole body tensed. Zac looked at Ricky as though he’d grown an extra head. Then Lacey added “Ricky, I think their blushing!” with a laugh. Zac and I smiled and he said “Naw, Mel and me have too much fun to be married yet.” With that, we all laughed and went back to looking over the dessert choices. The firm squeeze Zac gave my knee under the table and the glare I got as I grabbed his hand and glanced at him, told me that I had made a mistake telling Lacey anything about our relationship. The mood was seemingly good after that. We continued on with small talk about the wedding and our families and friends throughout dessert and coffee.
When we got back to the hotel, Lacey and Ricky walked into the lobby with us and said goodbye. They shook hands with Zac and both hugged me. As they were walking out, Lacey said “Don’t forget Mel. Tomorrow at five o’clock, we’ll pick you up in the lobby here.” I smiled and nodded as they walked out.
Zac took my hand firmly and led me to the elevator, my stomach tightened and I began to feel my knees weaken. We got into the elevator and just as the door was about to close, an older couple stepped on. I could tell this annoyed Zac and knew right away that he’d had no intention of waiting until we got to the room to deal with me. They were dressed up in very nice clothes and as the doors closed, the older gentleman looked at us and cleared his throat. “Uh, 8th floor, please.” Zac smiled and reached up to push 8. They smiled at us a couple of times as we made our way slowly to the 8th floor, but none of us spoke. Zac’s grip on my hand became tighter as his anger at me and his frustration about having to hold it in began to take it’s toll. When the elevator stopped, the older couple smiled and waved as they got off. As the doors shut, my heart sank and I tried to mentally prepare myself for what would take place. Zac was very unpredictable though. I was barely unaware of the fact that he had let go of my hand, then I heard his voice. “Melissa, look at me,” he said calmly. I was nearly shaking but I slowly raised my head and our eyes met. After a moment, and no warning, he calmly drew back his hand and slapped me, hard and fast. His hand grabbed my throat and pushed me against the wall of the elevator. He leaned in close to my ear, then clenched his teeth and said “One way or another you are going to learn to keep your mouth shut!” Then he let go of me with a shove and stepped back as the elevators opened on our floor.
I didn’t cry, I was expecting it in a way. We walked silently to our room, walked in, and then he locked the door. He walked over to me as I stood by the couch. He wrapped his arms around me and turned me around to face him. Gently, he ran his fingers along the side of my face that was still stinging from his hand fiercely connecting with it. He leaned down and kissed me. Then as he raised his head, I saw tears in his eyes. We stood, silent, for a few minutes. He was staring at me. Then he dropped his hand from my face and said quietly “Come to bed. I know you’re tired.” I followed him into the bedroom. I went to the bathroom to change, wash my face and brush my teeth.
When I came out, Zac was on the phone. He said “Here she is… hold on.” Then he put the phone on the bed and walked into the bathroom saying “Isaac wants to talk to you.” I picked up the phone and chatted with Ike a few minutes. He asked me twice if anything had happened. I just said no, knowing by his long pauses and sighs that he knew differently. Then we said goodbye and as I hung up, I heard Zac say “Ya know,” I turned to face him as he stood in the bathroom doorway and wiped his hands on a towel, “I like Lacey and Ricky.” I faintly smiled. “I’m glad, they like you too. Lacey told me when she and I were in the restroom touching up our makeup.” He climbed into bed.
As I lay there about to drift off, I faintly heard Zac say my name. “Hmm.” I opened my eyes. “Where are you going tomorrow at five? What was Lacey talking about?” I yawned as I answered “Oh, all the girls are getting together to go out for a while. Since not many of her friends could’ve made it to the bridal shower, she canceled it and decided on all the girls going out instead.” His silence made a knot form in my stomach. “Zac? Is that okay?” I asked raising my head. He looked at me and nodded “Uh-huh.” He kissed me and I laid my head back down next to his. He took my hand and brought it to his lips, kissing my finger tips. Things were once again fine with me and Zac. The anger had dissolved, and the pain had gone away.
The next day was sunny and although chilled, it was a nice day, Zac and I did a bit of sightseeing and went out to lunch. The night before ‘forgotten’, we were laughing and talking as though we were a normal, happy couple who were deeply in love with each other. The day went on smoothly as we shopped and bought gifts to take back to Tulsa. Later that afternoon, we went back to the hotel so I could get ready to go out with the girls. As we walked into the lobby, a young receptionist called to us. “Mr. Hanson!” We walked over to the desk and she handed us a piece of paper. “You have a phone message here from your dad. He asked that we give you this and tell you to call this number as soon as you returned. He said it was important that you call right away, that it’s a family emergency.” She was almost losing her breath from talking so fast. “OK, thank you very much.” Zac said as he and I nearly ran to the elevators. “Come on, come on.” Zac said bouncing as the elevator slowly made it’s way to our floor. Panic was hitting us both. Before the doors opened all the way, Zac grabbed my hand and we jogged to our room. Zac opened the door and grabbed the phone quickly dialing the number written on the paper. “Hey, Jessica…? It’s Zac, what’s going on?” he said breathless as I sit our bags on the couch and went to close the door. I walked over to stand next to him. “WHAT?! WHEN?!” he asked. “Oh my God!” was his next reply to whatever his sister was saying. “OK… uh-huh…” I crossed my arms as I listened to his end of the conversation. “Zac, what is it?” I asked quietly. He put his hand up toward me as he continued to talk “…Yeah… uh-huh…” After a few minutes of this, he finally hung up. “Zac? What happened?” I asked, seeing the dazed look on his face. “Karen… she went into labor early this morning. She’s at the hospital now. Avery, Mac and Zoe are with aunt Sherry, and everyone else is at the hospital.” I uncrossed my arms and stepped closer as his voice trailed off. I took his hand as he sighed. Then he continued. “She’s having a hard time. Every time she’d push the baby’s heart rate would go way down. Then the last two times, the heart would stop all together. They decided to do an emergency delivery by cesarean. They won’t let anyone except Ike and her mom in the room so that’s where Ike and Karen are now. Everyone else is in a private waiting room. Jess said the doctor just came in on his way to the operating room and told them that the nurse would call them when it was over. Jessica said they’d call someone here when they got any news.” I sighed. “OK,” I said walking over to my purse on the couch, “I’m gonna call Lacey,” I began digging through my purse to find my notepad where her number was written, “and tell her I can’t make it.” Zac looked up and walked toward me.”No, no. Don’t do that. Just go get ready. She and you both were counting on you being there. You go ahead and go out and I’ll stay here and wait for the call. We’ll just have to leave tomorrow night after the wedding instead of staying two extra days like we planned.” I crossed my arms. “But Zac, I want to know what happens. We’ll leave tonight after we get the call. Lacey will understand.” Zac took my arms and replied “No, go out with your friends. I’ll let you know when you get back. Besides,” he pulled me toward him for a hug, “There’s nothing we can do but wait if we were there. So let’s just go on to the wedding tomorrow like we planned and then go home. I’ll get us a flight for tomorrow back to Tulsa and then we’ll go and meet everyone at the hospital and meet my new niece or nephew.” He smiled at me as we pulled apart. “Zac, are you sure? Lacey will understand and Ricky too. Believe me, we can go back tonight.” He just shook his head and said “I’m sure. We’ll leave tomorrow.” I eventually gave in and went to take a shower. After getting dressed and fixing my hair, I put on some makeup and Zac walked me down to the lobby. Zac kissed me goodbye and whispered “Don’t be out too late.” I nodded, saying “I won’t,” and walked out with Lacey.
The evening started with dinner and catching up with some old friends and meeting new ones. We had a great time and laughed and talked without a care in the world as time flew by. I had forgotten about Karen and the worry that Zac and I felt at the situation. I got so caught up in the conversations and carefree dancing and drinking at the bar and grill we were at. Around midnight, our friend, Rachael, led everyone out to the car where Lacey was blindfolded and we were taken into the back entrance of a building a few blocks away. We walked in and were taken by a bouncer to a private area in the back. “Wait here please.” he said as he walked out. We chatted for a few minutes until a guy walked in dressed as a cop. He walked over and led Lacey to a chair in the middle of the room and took her blindfold off. The expression on her face was priceless. We stayed in the room for another two hours, where Lace was treated to a total of three different strippers and we were given more drinks. We were like a bunch of wild and single high school girls, the way we were screaming and squealing. At around 3 a.m, I glanced at my watch. “Oh My God!” Lacey looked up from adjusting her ring. “What?” she asked. “It’s three in the morning! Oh God! Zac… he didn’t want me out late.” I tried to explain as I tugged on my jacket and said a quick goodbye to everyone.” I heard Lacey call after me as I got to a cab. “Lace, I’m sorry but I have to go. I’ll see you tomorrow.” I said as I climbed in and gave the address of the hotel. I paid the cab driver and hurried inside to the elevators. I wasn’t really drunk but felt a sick, tight feeling in my stomach as the doors opened on the 13th floor. My breath became quicker as I nearly ran to our room. I was starting to sweat and a sense of fear came over me. Zac was in the room waiting and my mind couldn’t grasp what his reaction might be. I quickly walked in and shut the door. I locked it behind me and put my purse down on the floor as I slid off my jacket.
“Zac!” I called for him. The room was dark except for a small lamp on by the end table next to the couch. I called his name again. After I didn’t get an answer, I relaxed, thinking he must’ve gone to sleep. I leaned against the wall and closed my eyes, with a deep sigh. Then I jumped when I heard his voice. “Get in here, now.” he said calmly. I looked over at him. Drunk… Oh God, he’s drunk! I thought to myself. He was standing, leaning against the door jamb of the bedroom. He was only wearing jeans, and he had a bottle of beer in one hand. The other hand he brought up and used his index finger to point and me and he smiled. Then as he took a long swig of beer, he made a “Come Here” motion with his finger. I nearly started crying but walked to him anyway. He took my hand and led me to the bed, and I sit down. He stepped between my feet, his legs forcing mine apart. I leaned back on my hands and looked up at him. He smiled at me and started playing with the angel pendent on my necklace. He’d bought it for me a couple of weeks before. He took another drink of the beer in his hand. His other hand slid from my necklace to the back of my head where he began to pull the clip out of my hair, letting it fall down my back. “Damn, you just get more beautiful everyday.” he said dropping the clip on the floor and looking down at me. “Zac, I’m really tired. Can we please not do this tonight? Please.” A smile slowly came onto his face and he kinda laughed as he raised the bottle to his lips again. When he lowered the beer bottle, his fingers traced over my lips. “Zac, please. Not now, I’m really tired. Please Zac, just let me go to sleep.” Then he leaned down and kissed me, not with passion or love, but with drunk desperation. He raised his head and said “You have no idea how bad I want you right now.” The room was starting to spin… the alcohol I’d drank was making me dizzy and tired. Tears were burning my eyes and blurring my vision. I really didn’t want this, but the way he touched me, I was speechless, unable to beg him to stop anymore, nearly unable to move. He dropped to his knees and his hand began to rub my thigh and slowly slid my dress up. He turned and sit his beer down on the nightstand. Then turned back and smiled at me. His hands slid up my dress as he kissed me again. I felt his fingers take the waistband of my panties. He pulled away and looked at me. “Stand up,” he said quietly. I did and allowed him to pull my panties off. As I stepped out of them, he kissed each leg as it was lifted. I sit back on the bed and allowed his hands to roam freely over my body. His hot fingers dug into my thighs as he kissed my legs. I leaned back on my elbows and tried to concentrate on the pleasure he was giving me instead of the dizziness and being tired. He thrived on the fact that he’d made me submit to him with a few touches. Tenseness flooded my body and my breaths came quicker. I tilted my head back and a loud whining moan escaped my throat as I felt two fingers slid inside me. He crawled up on top of me and began to slowly move his fingers in and out. He lay on top of me with his forehead pressed against the side of my face, whispering in my ear. I bit my lip as I listened to him and felt his hot breath on my neck and ear. I could smell the strong alcohol on him but it didn’t bother me. “See, I know just how to make my baby girl feel better,” he was saying through quick breaths. “God, you turn me on. You like this don’t you? I know you do, you always like this. God, I love you! I love you! Oh God, I love you so much!” His words were louder as I began to let out near screams when his hand brought me to a complete and blissful climax. When I opened my eyes, he was on top of me and I moved with him as we situated ourselves on the bed. His eyes were glazed over but as I looked deeper, I saw not love but anger. The look brought a sense of fear and confusion. “What’s wrong?” I asked. He didn’t answer, his jaw clenched and his eyes in a hard stare. “He slowly brought his hand up to my neck and closed his fingers around my throat. He had me pinned to the bed with one of his legs on each side of my thighs, one of my arms between his leg and mine, and his other hand holding down my other wrist. His fingers tightened around my neck causing my breathing to become quicker because it was restricted. He talked calmly. “Do you remember what I told you about staying out too late? Do you remember agreeing that you wouldn’t?” Tears fell from my eyes and I nodded. “You, being the defiant person you are, were out until 3 a.m. Do you think that’s late? DO YOU?!” His grip suddenly tightened when I hadn’t answered him right away. I nodded quickly as fear and uncertainty took over. He began to breathe deeply. “Do you know that I can kill you right now?” He gave an evil smile and I realized that was his hook in this particular situation. Zac would never kill… but oh how he loved mind games! I started crying harder but knew better than to scream or… or look away from him. That was another part of the mind games I think. Not being able to look away forced me to see the rage in his eyes and the satisfaction he got from it all.
“Do you remember when I told you about Courtney? How I always wanted to wrap my hands around her throat and hear her beg me not to kill her?” I quietly said “Yes Zac, I remember.” My voice was shaking and I knew what was coming next. He leaned close to my face, a couple of inches from my ear. His hot breath on my neck sent chills down my spin. He whispered, calmly and with a satisfaction in his voice that he knew I would do exactly what he told me to. “Beg me not to kill you.” He raised back on his knees and looked down at me. Then his fingers tightened, as he smiled and said with raised eyebrows “Beg me not to kill you!” So I did. I begged him over and over. His smile was evil and his eyes never left mine. His fingers would get tighter and he would tell me “God I love you but I don’t think you want to live bad enough and frankly you are becoming more trouble than you are worth.” I would beg more, louder. Then his fingers would loosen and he’d say “On the other hand I do love this power and hearing you… God I love hearing you beg for something from me.”
Then he would laugh and that would cause me to be quiet with the thought that he was loving every minute of it. My suddenly stopped pleas would bring on two different reactions… twice he would become angry and yell at me that he didn’t tell me to stop, the other reaction was he would smile and say it in a seductive voice “Beg for your life, beg me to stop.” I would continue begging him not to kill me, begging him to just let me go and making promises that I would never ‘disobey’ him ever again.
After close to an hour, he slowly let go and crawled over me to stand up. After a moment, I sat up on the bed and stretched as I stood. As I walked to the bathroom, he grabbed me and spun me around to face him. He jerked me close to him and said “You will never know how much I love you. But if you ever disobey me again, I will show you just how dangerous I really am.” I sucked in a breath and said “I won’t. Zac, please let me go.” Suddenly, his hand raised and fell, his knuckles connecting with the side of my face and sending me back onto the bed. He turned me over on my back and grabbed my ankles pulling me to the floor with one quick motion. “Oh God Zac don’t! Please!” I begged as he jerked me up and slammed me against the wall. His hand connected with my face again, this time his palm. I fell to the floor and he again grabbed my arms jerking me up. He pushed me onto the bed and got on top of me. He began to slap me and scream. I was in pain and crying so much that I couldn’t even hear what he was saying. I just kept begging him “Zac no, please don’t, Zac stop…” all to no avail. He kept hitting as I tried to cover my face. The hits were getting harder as they continued.
When it was over, he was passed out on the couch, with the TV on. He’d simply got up and walked out, closing the bedroom door. I stood in the bathroom, pain running through every part of my body. Tears mixed with blood and I watched as the blood dripped from my face onto the sink. My mind raced as I thought of calling someone. But I kept telling myself that when he sobered up, things would be normal again. They always were, and he and I would go on with our lives.
The next morning as I lay in bed, thinking of the night before, I felt Zac’s arm slide around me. I jerked and he paused, then continued until he was laying next to me and had his arm around my waist. I turned from my side to my back and gazed at him. He looked at me and then his eyes closed as he slowly lowered his head and laid it on my abdomen. His arm tightened around me and he began to cry. All he said was “Oh God, I’m sorry.” Over and over he repeated those words. After a few moments, I took his face in my hands, raising his head so that he looked up at me. “Why? I don’t understand what happened? That couldn’t have all come from me being out late did it?” I felt tears in my eyes now. I had a need to know what had taken place to make him that angry. I had long since learned that Zac is the type who takes his feelings… anger, stress, sadness… out on other people. He looked at me and then raised back on his side to sit up. I watched trying to catch some sort of emotion in him but his face was blank as he stared into space. I waited silently and then came the answer for it all. “Karen lost the baby.” he said in a emotionless tone. I sat up now, leaning against the head board of the bed. “What?” I asked. I was shocked and could no longer hold back the tears. He looked down and continued. “The baby died. About an hour or so after it was delivered. It stopped breathing and then the heart stopped and they couldn’t get it started back. They had it hooked to machines but it couldn’t survive without them so Ike and Karen decided that they’d just turn them off and let her go.” Tears began to fall down his face as he finished and I quietly asked “It was a girl?” He nodded. “Yeah, she was 6 lbs, 4 ounces. Mom said she had some sandy colored hair but they didn’t know what color the eyes were cause she never opened them. It was like she was asleep. They said she looked healthy but inside nothing was working. Her heart, her lungs, her kidneys, nothing was working without the machines. They said she wouldn’t respond to anything and they thought she may have had brain damage since her heart rate and breathing was so unstable for the time they tried to deliver her naturally. Then when the doctor took her out, she wasn’t crying or anything. Ike and Karen are both wrecks. Karen had to be sedated after the machines were turned off. Ike nearly collapsed. I told mom we’d be home tonight.” I sat quietly crying and listening to Zac. He too was crying and I said “Zac, we should go now.” He looked at me and shook his head. “No. I got us a flight that leaves at 8:15 tonight. We can go to the wedding. Besides, they aren’t going to send Karen home right away. There’s really nothing we can do and mom told me to stay and just come home after Lacey’s wedding this afternoon. We’ll just go back tonight.” I nodded as we embraced in a tight hug, both of us crying on each other’s shoulders. He then looked at me and said “Oh my God! I’m so so sorry baby! Oh shit, look at what I’ve done to you.” With that he quickly got up and went into the bathroom. He came back a moment later with a wash cloth wet in warm water. He began to rub my face softly. Over and over he kept saying “I’m so sorry. I love you.” I couldn’t bring myself to stay mad at him. Yes, he had gotten drunk. Yes, it was wrong of him to hit me… but I just kept reminding myself of the horror he must’ve felt when he got that phone call from Diana.
If he’d not been alone, he’d have turned to me instead of the alcohol, then he wouldn’t have gotten drunk, then he wouldn’t have hit me. That’s right, it was my fault for leaving him. I had convinced myself of that within the next few minutes.
Zac stopped washing my face and said “Let me go run you a bath.” He got up and walked into the bathroom. I heard the faucet turn on and the water filling the bathtub. I slowly got up, my body still ached from the night before, and stretched. I walked out of the bedroom and into the kitchenette. I got a bottle of orange juice and a cup of mixed fruit out of the fridge. I walked over and sat on the couch with my feet on the coffee table and started eating breakfast. A while later Zac came in and said “Your bath is ready baby.” I smiled and got up. He said “I’m gonna call and see how things are going with Karen and Ike.” I nodded as I walked into the bedroom. I shut the door of the bathroom after walking in and quickly noticed that the mirror was steamed up. I got undressed down to my bra and panties and wiped my hand across the huge mirror. For the first time, I caught sight of myself.
The right side of my face was slightly swollen and discolored. I had a bruise under my left eye and a split lip. I had a little discoloration on each side of my neck and a bruise on the side of my forehead. My wrist were stiff and my arms and back ached. I sighed, quietly saying a thank you prayer that I’d decided to bring all of my makeup, as I turned away and slid off my underwear. I slowly stepped into the hot water, instantly loving the way it felt around me. I washed my hair and lathered up with my body wash. After I got out, I reached in and pulled the plug to drain the water as I wrapped a towel around me. My muscles had felt better and I began to rub lotion on. I heard Zac come into the bedroom and I quickly finished up. I walked into the bedroom and smiled at Zac. “How is everything?” I asked as I dug out a bra and pair of panties from the drawer. “Well, Ike ate a little breakfast this morning and Karen is awake and talking. Everyone is tired but mom said they’ve been sleeping in shifts. They are gonna let Karen go home next week if she does okay and then they want to have a short memorial service for the baby. No one thinks anybody could get through a full out deal. So they just want to have a short service, prayer and then bury her with just the close family there. There won’t be a lot to it.” I nodded as I pulled on a pair of jeans and then a t-shirt. Lacey’s wedding was later that afternoon and I was going to Ricky’s aunt’s house with all the girls to get ready. Zac was going to meet us at the church. After a few minutes, Zac and me walked to the elevator and got in. The doors closed as he pushed the button to take us to the lobby. “Are you sure you don’t want to go home now? I’m sure we can get an earlier flight.” I asked taking his hand. He just shook his head and said “No, let’s just stick with what we’ve got planned.” I leaned against the back wall of the elevator. When the doors opened, Zac took my hand leading me to the front doors and kissed me. “I’ll see you after awhile.” I nodded and walked out getting into the cab he called for me earlier. This was going to be a long day…
“Hold still!” I said to Lacey as she was in constant movement, in the chair. “I’m trying! God, I’m shaking!” She said. I sighed as I pulled the curling iron out of her hair and handed the strand to Rachel to be pinned back. We were all gathered in the back of the church doing our best to keep Lacey still while we tried to tame her hair. “Of all the times for you to have a bad hair day. “Rachel said as she let go of the curl once it was secure. Lacey sat in her dress, shoes on the floor and her veil on the closet doorknob. Rachel and me were in our dresses, hair done and makeup on, but still without shoes. Ricky’s cousin was snapping pictures of the chaos going on in the ‘dressing room’.
After we finally managed to get finished with Lacey’s hair, her makeup was applied and we all go into our shoes and got her veil on. The photographer took no less then ten photos of the bride-to-be, her 4 bridesmaids and two flower girls. Then he took about five photos of Lacey. Then Ricky’s aunt came in the room saying it was time. Once last hug, and a scolding from Rachel about crying while we wore makeup, and the wedding began. It was beautiful. The traditional bridal march played as Lacey walked down the aisle. I don’t think there was anyone, not one of the 95 guest, that wasn’t at least a little teary eyed when Lacey and Ricky kissed.
The reception was a lot of fun. Everyone seemed so happy and your’s truly caught the bouquet… after that Rachel would nudge me with her arm every chance she got. That, for the obvious reasons, made me very uneasy. After Lacey and Ricky left, I hugged everyone goodbye and explained that Zac and I had to return home early due to a family situation. I had already gotten a lecture from Zac, along with a hard slap across the face a couple of days before we came about giving out unnecessary information. So, Zac and I headed back to the hotel and changed. After we got our bags and checked out, we went to the airport. Before long, we were on a plane back to Tulsa.
We landed in Tulsa late that night and were picked up by Taylor. “Tori’s at the house with Zoe, Avery and Mac and everyone else is at the hospital with Karen.” Taylor said as he pulled out onto the highway. “How’s Ike?” Zac asked. Taylor just shook his head without looking away from the road as he drove onto the interstate. “Not good… he’s really not good.” Taylor looked in the rear view mirror and asked “How was it? The wedding? I know you have to be exhausted.” I just nodded with a slight smile and asked “How’s everyone else doing?” Taylor nodded and answered “Well enough I guess. We’re all just tired and kinda at a loss about how to help. I mean, there’s really nothing we can do so we’ve just been trying to make sure everyone eats and the little ones stay occupied. We’ve been taking turns sleeping, babysitting and stuff. I think once Karen is back home, things will get back into a routine and everyone will be a lot better.”
We rode in silence the rest of the way back to the Hanson’s and went inside. Taylor and Zac brought our bags in as I was tugged on and hugged tightly by the kids. I was amazed that in their minds, everything would be fine. They simply couldn’t grasp what had happened and the seriousness of the whole thing. I smiled as Tori and I hugged and she said “Everyone’s missed you both. We were all so glad to know that you and Zac would be coming home tonight.”
After getting settled in and telling everyone about our trip, mainly to satisfy Zoe, we both took quick showers and changed. As I was putting on clothes in the bathroom, I heard a knock on the door. “Be out in a sec.” I yelled as I tugged my shirt over my head. “Mel, it’s Tori.” I heard from the other side. As I pulled down my shirt, I opened the door. “Tori, is everything okay?” I asked and she nodded and said “Yeah,” she continued after closing the door and sat down on the side of the tub. “I just wanted to see if everything was good with you and…” her voice trailed off as she began to stare at me. “What?” I asked. “Mel, what happened to your face?” I turned quickly to look in the mirror and realized that I didn’t have any makeup on. Though the swelling had started going down, the split on my lip and the bruise around my eye and on my cheek, and some of the markings on my neck were clear. “Oh,” I said raising my hand to my face. “I just… well, it’s…” I tried to think of something that would cause the bruises. Some kind of excuse… It’s not like I could have said ‘Oh It’s okay. Your brother-in-law just smacked me around a bit.’ “I was…” I started to answer but Tori stood and crossed her arms “Don’t ok. Just don’t.” She said as she walked out. I stood in the bathroom for a moment, my stomach tight and heart pounding. “And so continues the saga…” I said quietly out loud to myself. I turned and opened my makeup bag to quickly cover what was left of Zac’s drunken rage over the trauma that had come over his family.
The next week was spent with everyone alternating babysitting and overnight hospital stays. It was tiring but no one wanted Ike or Karen to be alone and besides, if someone wasn’t there to shove food at them every few minutes, they certainly wouldn’t have eaten. I’d decided to stay at the Hansons until after the memorial service. None of us slept any more than an hour at a time. It was usually short naps here and there. We were all so tired by the time Karen got to come home by that Thursday. She was still sore but doing well. Everyone was thrown into their own ways of trying to help and I quietly dealt with the added stress of trying to keep makeup touched up. Although, by the looks I’d caught Diana, Ike and Walker giving me at times, I’d figured they’d seen the bruises. It was rare for Zac and I to be left alone and when we were, it seemed like every few minutes or so, one of them was coming into the room asking if everything was fine. Taylor was the first to start the ‘checking up on Melissa ritual’, which told me one thing – when Tori knows something, Taylor does too. The looks from the family continued on although the bruises were almost gone and the soreness had completely disappeared.
The service was held on that Sunday evening and Angel Noelle Hanson was buried in a small cemetery in Tulsa where the Hanson family had several plots bought. The service was small with only some of the family and a few close friends present. Angel was so beautiful and looked like a normal, healthy baby.
We knew as time went on things would get better and easier but for the time being, it was fairly quiet around the house and it took all we had just to get through the day. Karen hardly talked on the rare occasions she got out of bed and Ike would simply sit and stare into space for hours. They both seemed to mostly be unaware of anything or anyone around them… even each other. Diana and Walker had asked me to stay for a while longer and I’d agreed. Zac had driven me to my house to get some more of my stuff and I had moved into his room. Diana and Walker didn’t exactly approve but were too lost in Ike and Karen and how Christmas would be to say much about it. We tried to have as normal of a Christmas and New Year’s as possible, but needless to say, although it was somewhat enjoyable, it was far from what anyone had planned. So much had happened and I had somehow, over the time that was passing rather fast now, moved in with the Hanson family in what looked like would be a permanent arrangement. I didn’t mind though, I loved them as my own family and wanted to be around them.
As January turned into February, things had started to get back to what most were calling normal. Everyone sorta went into a routine. Ike and Karen slowly came around and started to act their old selves again.
However things wouldn’t be normal for long as, unknown to us, the family was once again about to be thrown into another storm. This would be what changed everything, not only the family’s lives but mine as well. In a turn of events that no one could have ever predicted, but would turn out to be what I am now convinced was my saving Grace…
This fictional story is hosted at The Gifted Ones,
with permission from the author Chelle.