The End of Me
Page 20

 Tara Brown

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I felt the relief creeping through me, trying not to be obvious. He released me and scowled, "Go wash his hands off of you," he muttered and turned away.
I staggered, feeling the breakdown coming on as I walked into the bathroom, slipping the belladonna from my purse. When I got into the massive bathroom, I leaned against the counter, slipping the teensy packet under the tissue box. I took one of the tissues and pretended to blow my nose, as I pulled off my heels. I flung my purse in the opposite direction of the belladonna and started to pull clothes off. My back and feet weren’t killing me, as I assumed they would be.
When I stepped down, my feet spread back out. They hadn’t hurt when I was wearing the heels, but being barefoot was nice.
I struggled with the zipper on the halter and the clasps of the bra. My fingers were weak.
I killed a man.
My first kill; he was dead and I was alive. I killed him to survive. I was no better than Servario, or Coop, or my father.
I dropped my clothes to the floor and stepped into the ridiculous shower. The whole room was ostentatious, but the shower was like Extreme Home Makeover.
Six showerheads lined the wall with double-rain showerheads above and steam jets. I turned it all on, as hot as I could take, and tried to let it wash off some of the bad things I let them put on, and in me. I squeezed disturbing amounts of body wash into my hand and started to scrub. I used my nails, raking them over every inch of me. I washed a second time before starting on my hair. I scrubbed until there was nothing left but false lashes, floating on the floor for the drains.
Under the hot water and hiding in the steam, I let it out. The tears mixed with the rain from above and my back slid down the tiled wall.
I slumped and rocked and let it hurt for the minute I could give.
The problem with only having a minute to succumb to the greatest pain you've ever been in, is it hits like a truck.
I was curled in a ball and rocking back and forth when he stepped in with me. He lifted me into the air and cradled me against him.
"Not so tough, now are you?" he asked.
I sniffed and sobbed and let him hold me, "I've never killed anyone before."
He kissed the top of my head, "If I wasn’t so angry with you for the way you played me, I would say it was the best hit, I have ever seen."
I didn’t take the pride he was trying to pass me. I ignored it all. I finished crying and looked up at him.
He set me down, "You okay?"
I frowned and wiped my face, "Do you care, if I'm not?"
His eyes were greenish under the light, set off by his tanned face. He shook his head, "I don’t want to."
I swallowed my hate and nodded, "I sort of assumed that."
His eyes narrowed, "You are the most dangerous kind of woman in the world."
I snorted and shook my head. I stepped under the water again, covering my breasts.
His words turned to a whisper, "You make me want to be worthy of you. That’s a dangerous effect to have, on a man like me."
I kept my eyes closed and tried to block out the fact, that again he had said the nicest thing ever spoken to me.
"I don’t want you to be anything but mine," he said and stepped closer, taking the water from me.
I looked up into his eyes. They had darkened like a storm had rolled in, and he looked like the most dangerous man in the whole world. The difference between us being, that HE was one of the most dangerous people in the world and I was a yoga-addicted widow.
His arms wrapped around me, pulling me in. He bent and kissed the top of my head, "I don’t want to have to kill you to make this feeling go away, Evie."
His words made me instantly sick. I was at my threshold for disturbing shit.
"Don’t make me love you," he muttered, "Because it will end badly for us both." He finished washing and left the shower.
The trembling housewife was back instantly. I held myself and tried to come up with a plan.
When I left the shower, my clutch was emptied onto the counter. I had assumed he would go through it, but I sort of expected him to put it back like he hadn't. My clothes were gone and in their stead was a sexy, silk nightgown. I sighed and stepped into the body dryer on the wall. I lifted my arms and pressed the on button.
I ran my hands through my hair, maximizing the hot air's effects. I needed to be a bitch. I needed to nag him and whine, and make him see the real me. I had the ability to drive my husband into the arms of every woman we knew. I was badass at not being loved.
The hot air spared something inside of me. Something that made me want to finish it. The death of the fat man was a disturbing guilt that ate at my insides, but the survivalist in me was ready to let that one death slide. She was ready to finish this and get her family back. I liked my survivalist's instincts.
I slipped on the fuzzy robe on the back of the door and tossed the silk on the wet floor. I dragged it with my foot and left it there, on the floor. If I had learned anything in a decade, it was that men hated wet women's clothing on the floor of the bathroom. Which was odd, since they always seemed to leave everything of theirs on the floor of the bedroom. Either way, it was us women who picked it all up.
I left the bathroom and the belladonna. I didn’t need it. I had a decade of experience, I hadn’t even harnessed yet.
"Is there anything to eat?" I asked, almost rudely, when I left the bathroom.
He was on the phone. He looked unimpressed with my fuzzy white robe and huge blown out hair.
"Babe…” I clapped my hands at him, “Food?" I said again and mimed eating.
He looked horrified and shook his head.
I rolled my eyes and walked to the mini bar that wasn’t so mini. There were stacks of chocolate bars and different types of packaged foods. All the expensive stuff, no Hostess or Nestle. I grabbed a jar of caviar, some crackers, a chocolate bar, and a soda. I purposely left the really good toasts that the caviar was no doubt for. The cheaper crackers would taste better. They always did.
I ate the chocolate first in huge bites. I was starved. If European men hated anything, it was the way Americans ate. I stuffed my face, like I was at Bob's Big Bar, and opened the can of soda. I drank it back and burped a little. Soda always made me gassy. I covered my mouth and wiped with a napkin. I left the unfinished chocolate and dirty napkin on the small table and walked with the soda and remainder of my meal to the huge couch. I sat on it cross-legged and turned on the TV. Designing Women was on. I smiled and sat back.
I crunched loudly and left crumbs. The caviar and soda was interesting but I ate, moaning and enjoying.
He scowled at me, so I returned the look. If he didn’t want to love me, I would just treat him the way I treated my husband.
A major flaw in the plan of course, was the fact Servario was ridiculously scary, and considerably hotter, than my husband.
I looked back at the show and forced the crackers down. I started to feel sick. Too much liquor and not enough food was starting to catch up. I put the food on the coffee table and finished my soda. He was about to see something that would turn him off forever.
I had been bulimic for years as a dancer, when I was a young girl. Our dance teacher taught us we could be hungry or just throw our food up, but we were forbidden to gain weight. I was a foodie so I had chosen to throw up, rather than starve.
I quit when I was eighteen; my dentist told me he knew what I was doing. It was affecting my enamel. He threatened to tell the commander (aka my father), if I didn’t quit. I quit doing it, enlisted, and was scarfing back enough carbs to kill someone, when I went through basic. I couldn't keep weight on then. I stopped being bulimic then and never looked back. Well, I tried not to. Sometimes when I felt a loss of control in my life, I would succumb to a binge and purge. James had thought I was lactose intolerant. It was a sad secret no one ever knew about, except Dr. Miglio and the other dancers.
The sad memories brought back flashes of seeing the other dancers later. We were mid-twenties and all of us were still damaged from the effects of Mrs. Smithers. The effects of constantly seeking approval and hurting our bodies, to be what she wanted.
One girl was still on mass doses of laxatives and ephedrine. Another was anorexic. My favorite, Becca, was three-hundred pounds. If you traced each of our timelines back, you would see the corresponding moment we ended being the person we were supposed to be, and became who she wanted us to be. When the pressure was too much, we snapped and quit but our bad habits stayed with us.
I had quit dancing before the rest of them, but I still had an ulcer and a lot of cavities. I still had triggers that made me sick—fast food, milkshakes, cheesy pasta, and chocolate eaten while drinking soda.
I burped again and placed the soda on the table. I took a deep breath and closed my eyes and started my visualizations.
I was swimming in a cool lake, the water was lapping against me, rocking me. The chilly breeze swept across my face. I could see the rocky shore and hear the laughter of the other kids swimming.
It was the only memory that made the nausea go away.
I burped again and shot up from the chair. I leapt the coffee table and skidded across the silk nightgown on the still-wet tiles. I landed with my face in the toilet, thank God. Everything left in a series of heaves. My body was still the professional purger it had been all those years before.
The sickness left as quickly as it had come. I flushed and waited for the feelings to completely pass.
"You are disgusting. That was a horrif…are you alright?"
I cursed myself silently when he started out annoyed and turned to sympathetic, upon seeing me kneeling over the toilet.
I flushed again and waved him away, but he didn’t leave like James would have. He crawled up behind me, kneeling in the water and silk. He held my hair and rubbed my back and speaking in a soft tone, "When I was seventeen, my father took me for a ride in the car. He told me that he was going to make me a man."
I cringed, imagining where the story could go. I knew a lot of bad things about his father.
He continued softly, "I imagined he was taking me to one of the premier brothels in the area. Of course, I was already a man, but I was willing to humor him. Instead, he drove us to his factory. He owned a company that packaged goods. He parked and we walked into the factory. I was disappointed, I could have gone for a whore. I'd only been with teenage girls at that point."